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Comment The tighter you squeeze... (Score 1) 935

Rather than ever more oppressive laws that strip the people of power, it would be more effective to consider the motivations of those who would commit violent crimes. It is the pervasive poverty and egregious wealth inequality that drives most crime, along with our worsening system of injustice. Similarly, we should be considering the causes of terrorism, rather than allowing our leaders to exploit it to cow us with fear.

When the minimum standard of living becomes sufficient to afford everyone a decent existence, such problems will naturally disappear. Desperate and hopeless people will do terrible things, and no amount of force is going to prevent that. Fortunately, outside of the mentally ill, few would risk a comfortable life to engage in serious criminal activities. (Assuming a reasonable set of laws and fair enforcement.) Even the religious fanatics would see their numbers dwindle, with no oppression needed.

With abundant and cheap energy, eliminating poverty is entirely possible. That result will not come from energy conservation and renewables alone though; it will require nuclear power. Objectively speaking, nuclear energy has the lowest cost and least environmental and health impact of any energy source, and advanced reactors can do better yet. The Star Trek economy is within reach, if only people had the courage to embrace a change for the better, and to rein in the special interests.

Comment Derailed what? Nothing was accomplished... (Score 1) 339

Here is what James Hansen has to say about it. Even that is probably not enough though; a fee on CO2 may have some effect in the developed world, but the rest can not afford it, and will not accept such limitations. Even the terrible consequences looming are nothing next to the abject poverty that billions are subjected to daily. As bad as burning coal is, inexpensive fossil fuels still offer a desperately needed improvement in their lives, and it is not right to deny that to anyone in such circumstances. (It is also better than burning wood, as many "environmentalists" would have us do.)

The only practical way forward that results in rapid decarbonization, is to offer the developing countries a cheaper option, before the countless gigawatts of planned coal fired capacity are actually built. We know that nuclear can rapidly displace coal, as it has done so in the past in a number of countries. China is ramping up conventional nuclear, and developing advanced reactors. Newer mass produced LFTR or Thorcon reactors will make nuclear energy even cheaper and safer yet. See also Thorium: energy cheaper than coal for details.

These summits which result in plans too cowardly to even mention the words carbon dioxide or nuclear are perverse. Until nuclear is at least acknowledged and proposals are on the table for encouraging development and deployment of advanced reactors, they are a total waste of time.

Comment "Green" technologies with Chinese rare earths... (Score 1) 760

are an environmental catastrophe. Solar panels and wind turbines require huge quantities of rare earth elements, and they all come from China today--even the ore mined in the US is shipped to China for processing. Until this is addressed, the so-called "green" technologies are not remotely green. Restoring our local rare earth industry would also enable local manufacturing of high-tech products, most all of which has been moved to China, for access to their rare earth resources.

There is no shortage of rare earths, and they could be mined and produced locally in an environmentally friendly manner. However, it would require changing the insane regulations surrounding thorium, which drove the industry to China in the first place. Concentrated ores invariably have high thorium concentrations, and the thorium could easily be separated and safely stored if only regulations allowed it. It is just barely radioactive, not water soluble, found in rocks everywhere anyway, and probably the least problematic of the mining wastes. Even ingesting it is essentially harmless; only inhaling thorium dust is of real concern. As it is a metal, there is a rather trivial way of preventing that from happening.

While this town may be shunning solar for the wrong reasons, there are good reasons. The area looks heavily wooded as well, and clearing vast areas of forest to collect a pitiful amount of unreliable solar energy is not productive. Moreover, unlike wind, PV solar does not coexist with vegetation at all, as even a stray leaf can damage the cells. The entire solar farm becomes a lifeless monument of irony to Big Green, which will long outlive the panels themselves.

Sadly, the greenest and most promising energy source is equally hampered by insane regulation. Nuclear is not only the least resource intensive, it also has the least environmental impact by far, and has proven to rapidly scale and displace fossil fuels in a number of countries.

Comment Squares are wasteful, try Goldberg polyhedra... (Score 1) 393

They make it sound like mapping squares to a sphere only introduces a minor deformity near the poles, but it inflates the required addressing space by a factor of four. If instead they used an efficient and nearly uniform mapping like a Goldberg polyhedron, it would reduce the set of words required from 40k to about 25k to address a similar area.

It would require a little more calculation for the mapping, but it seems more consistent with the goals of the system. The icosahedral symmetry also allows for another interesting possibility of using one of the faces of the Dymaxion map as a part of the address. The region would then be specified by a single letter, and then 3 words chosen from a set of less than 9000. Even if the region is not made explicit, the mapping could take advantage of the fact that a number of the faces are primarily water.

The three word address is an interesting idea, but it may not be wise to assume that every language has 40000 words at its disposal. I also question the value of being able to specify an arbitrary address, when people may not have the hardware to do the mapping translation, or a means of navigating to the location. I'm guessing that many of those places without real roads may also lack things like electricity.

Comment Dam failures and ecosystem loss... (Score 2) 232

Hydro is great if you don't mind the expansive ecosystem loss to reservoirs and occasional dam failure, like the one at Banqiao which killed 171,000 people and cost 11 million their homes.

There was a time when environmentalists recognized the extensive damage wrought by hydro, and fought tooth and nail against its expansion. These days though, "environmentalists" are shameless enough to apply the green label to burning forests and crops--actual environmental impacts be damned. Or wind backed up by inefficient peaking gas plants where the combination is actually worse than exclusively running efficient combined cycle gas turbines, both by environmental and economic metrics. When "environmentalists" are pushing natural gas as the "green" option, something is seriously wrong. It would behoove the supporters of those organizations to learn where their funding comes from.

This poll demonstrates the problem perfectly, with "Unlimited power from the sun" taking the lead. Data centers require reliable power 24x7, and the sun does not provide that, no matter how much wishful thinking is applied. Popular opinion reflects that people can't do math, and they continue to make or at least support stupid decisions, which would leave us with an entirely non-functional Internet if they had their way.

Comment After nuclear engines&reactors are developed.. (Score 1) 173

Attempting anything at scale in space with chemical rocketry is utterly foolish. Also, even if we put people on Mars, they need a dense, compact, and reliable source of power. Nothing but nuclear engines and reactors even remotely fit the demanding requirements for long-term space activites. A molten salt reactor can be made compact enough to power an airplane, and would be suitable for use in a Mars colony, providing electricity, heat, and production of chemical fuels. The endeavor was scrapped because ICBMs made it obsolete, but the only practical challenge was shielding, and that would not be an issue on mars.

In any case, we have a much greater need to develop the technology here on earth first; nuclear power is the only option capable of providing clean and reliable energy at the scale humanity requires. Until people can accept that, we will continue to waste massive resources on the fantasy of wind/solar, while our reliable power continues to be provided by fossil fuels, or worse yet, by burning trees or other "biofuels".

Comment Energy farming... (Score -1, Troll) 145

“It is ordinary human habitation and use (farming, forestry, hunting) of land which does most ecological damage.”

That includes energy farming as well, wether biofuels, biomass, or wind and solar. The latter aren't quite as bad as feeding crops and pelletized forests to the flames, but wind and solar are still extremely diffuse, and the collection hardware has a large ecological footprint. Not only the vast swaths of land permanently occupied, but the access roads and transmission lines. Moreover, wind and solar are both highly resource and energy intensive to manufacture, and that energy comes from coal. It is an extremely inefficient use of our resources for very small, if any benefit.

Energy density matters, as do modern farming techniques which allow more food to be produced on less land. We should be focusing on concentrating our activities in the smallest possible area, not "harmonizing" with nature by using expensive and ineffective technologies which were abandoned centuries ago. Ecomodernism shows us the way, while conventional "environmental" organizations demonstrate no regard for preserving ecosystems, and only a single-minded focus on anti-nuclear activism, which inevitably translates to burning more fossil fuels.

Comment Pixel C is A5 (Score 1) 208

The Pixel C is almost exactly the A5 ISO paper size. The display is 2560x1800 at 308ppi, and the speaker even mentions the sqrt(2) aspect ratio, so this isn't likely to be a coincidence. Another attractive device, following the 3:2 (2560x1700) Pixel. It is unfortunate that more manufacturers don't follow suit and insist on using TV resolutions.

Sadly, the usual complaints apply: no pen/digitizer, and pitiful storage options. Also disappointing is the still missing nexus7, which was a very nice device at reasonable price point. An A6 replacement for the 16:10 nexus7 would be welcome. The size would be only a bit larger, but with a better aspect ratio for print or web pages.

Comment Re:For future reference, (Score 2) 221

You keep arguing as if the Lapcat A2 uses a conventional engine, which it does not. An entirely new thermodynamic cycle takes advantage of the extremely cold fuel to significantly improve efficiency. Rather than armchair speculation based on generalizations, I'm more inclined to trust the actual modeling done for these engines and aircraft, for which the numbers look very promising. The engines are based on SABRE, and the ESA is confident that the design is sound.

Comment Re:Wind energy is such shit (Score 1) 327

That is a reasonable argument, but consider that a nuclear plant is closer to 8 acres per GW, and that is 1GW 95% of the time, not some pitiful fraction of renewable nameplate capacity. Together, these factors give nuclear a footprint many thousands of times less than renewables. Please, let us not pave the world to harvest the sparse energy of wind and the sun, when there are better alternatives.

Once one considers the resources that wind and solar require, including land, materials, and the fossil fuels to produce them, the only reasonable conclusion is that they are an environmental travesty. Beyond the thousands of tons of concrete, steel, and rare earths required for each unit, there are vast expanses of land which must be razed to make way for access roads and power transmission infrastructure out to the middle of nowhere. (Which will be poorly utilized because of the low capacity factor, and not economically viable.) One can appreciate how fruitless and ludicrous this exercise is with only a bit of math, or by objectively viewing the results of the "progress" to date. See The Renewables Future – A Summary of Findings.

Comment Re:The oceans have radically changed before ... (Score 4, Insightful) 417

For those who don't read the article:

“The level of CaCO3 saturation would decrease by 50 percent or more, and colder oceans would become corrosive to CaCO3 shells,” Taro said. Plus, the last time the oceans got this acidic this fast, 96 percent of marine life went extinct.

Once it gets acidic enough the plankton are done for, and they compromise the base of the food chain in the ocean. Yanking that out kills just about everything else, save a handful of species like jellyfish. The many humans who depend on the ocean for food will also be troubled to say the least. This really isn't an academic matter about what is normal or changing; this issue is both more urgent and far more serious than any expected effects of global warming.

The science is rock solid and very simple, and the historical record leaves no room for misinterpretation. What CO2 we put into the air, ends up in the ocean, and we can project the acidity like clockwork merely using the record of the carbon we dump into the air each year. By 2100 it will already be too late; we need to begin addressing this before 2050, and in earnest. It is difficult, but not impossible with a rapid expansion in nuclear power, but no other source can scale fast enough.

"Environmentalists" fighting tooth and nail to dismantle carbon-free nuclear generation, and insisting that we can decarbonize with renewables alone will doom the oceans if they have their way. If you are supporting anti-nuclear organizations like Friends of the Earth, Green Peace, or the Sierra Club, please think about just how foolish their priorities are before the challenges we face. Consider Ecomodernism for a perspective that values preserving the environment, rather than adhering to a rigid and ineffective ideology.

Acidification, Climate & Energy is a talk given by Dr. Alex Cannara at TEAC7, and it outlines the staggering extent of the problem, and how we can begin to address it. Dr. Cannara has also given a number of other talks on the subject, and searching for "ocean acidification" on youtube will keep one busy for hours. Incidentally, addressing ocean acidification will also resolve global warming, particulate pollution, energy poverty, and population growth as welcome side effects. It all begins with rational energy policy though, and discarding the notion that we can afford to rule out our most powerful carbon-free energy source.

Comment Re:8 years, and still stuck at 2-4 cores... (Score 1) 98

You missed the part about minimum; it is meaningless if Intel offers some hideously expensive outlier part. Granted, there are some six core variants which cost less, but they are still expensive 130-140W LGA2011 parts. The mainstream is still stuck squarely with 2-4 cores. Two cores in 2015 is pitiful.

Comment Re:Moor? (Score 1) 179

More importantly, it is byte addressable and doesn't require any of the block erase nonsense of NAND. There is no window during which some (possibly old) data or even the entire device becomes corrupted because of a power loss during a read-modify-(erase)-write cycle. It would be genuinely good if such reliability became a standard feature.

Comment Blame NAND Flash Memory... (Score 1) 184

While an apology is due, this sort of problem is inevitable given the nature of the technology. TRIM on NAND is a crutch for a technology that is poorly suited to data storage. Transforming NAND into a usable storage device requires heroic efforts on the part of the vendor, and it is hard to blame them for the bugs. Likewise, it is hard to blame Linux developers for their heroic efforts to work around the extensive deficiencies of NAND flash. Trusting in cheap commodity devices that don't even claim to protect against power loss is ill-advised.

Using TRIM as a band-aid for the performance woes of over-filled NAND devices is just asking for trouble. It has long been known that filling up filesystems leads to terrible performance, and the same applies to NAND drives. It is irresponsible of the vendors to provision the drives with insufficient reserved space, but one can compensate by setting aside an empty partition covering 5% of the space. It is much safer to disable TRIM and under-provision the drive, and it achieves the same effect of limiting write-amplification, without having to worry about bugs trimming away live data.

The only place were TRIM really makes sense is in the context of virtualization. Recovering space in sparse virtual disk images has real benefit, and operating system vendors have a lot more incentive and ability to make it work properly.

Comment Re:Everything has consequences (Score 3, Interesting) 105

2. is the renewable option, which is worse than doing nothing as it has large ecological and economic impact for virtually no benefit.
3. may be necessary at some point for things like ocean acidification, but doesn't solve the fundamental energy problem.

However, limiting oneself to three unworkable options isn't productive, so let's introduce another:

4. the nuclear option; ie. doing something which actually works. The BRIC countries are already embracing this one.

I prefer 4, as it provides reliable carbon neutral energy with minimal environmental footprint. Density is key, in energy as well as other human endeavors. I refer people to An Ecomodernist Manifesto for the motivations. Those who truly value the environment and prosperity of humans should read that. The end goal is well within reach, but indulging in the "green" fantasy won't lead us there.

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