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Comment: Re:Okay... (Score 1) 208

by hey! (#49769947) Attached to: D.C. Police Detonate Man's 'Suspicious' Pressure Cooker

Pressure cookers have actually made a comeback among foodies. The difference from grandma's pressure cooking style is that times for anything but pot roast are *extremely* short. For example if you're cooking broccoli it's done after two minutes at pressure. Grandma would have kept the broccoli in the pressure cooker for five minutes and removed it as a pale gelatinous goo.

A pressure cooker is a good acquisition when you're setting up a kitchen because even though you might use it only a couple of times a month, if you don't lock down the lid what you have is just a nice, heavy pot. Slow cooked is still the way to go for chili, but if you don't have eight hours you can get passable results in well under an hour with a pressure cooker.

Comment: Re:I'll believe it when I see it... (Score 1) 114

by Rei (#49767671) Attached to: India Ends Russian Space Partnership and Will Land On the Moon Alone

Its not that simple. You can't just recover it from nuclear reactor waste because it's mixed in with other isotopes of plutonium, and isn't in that great of quantities to begin with. So first off you have to reprocess nuclear waste to extract the neptunium - which again, itself isn't in very great quantities, it takes a lot of waste, and most places don't want to do waste reprocessing to begin with due to cost and liability issues. You then have to make neptunium targets and expose them to a neutron flux - that is, using neutronicity that could otherwise be used for power generation or other valuable purposes (it takes a lot of neutrons to make a tiny bit of Pu238). Pu238 should be more thought of as a manufactured product than as a byproduct of particular types of nuclear reactors.

There are a few other candidates for use as space power sources that actually are waste products, but they're all significantly worse performers. There are two other alternatives. One is to make a Sterling RTG, which was in development, but funding has been cut off (it's also kind of tricky because you have to ensure that something with moving parts will operate for decades in the harsh environment of space). The other is to make an actual nuclear reactor. This means almost limitless power, but it comes at the expense of not only massive development costs and public opposition, but a large minimum size and massive radiator requirements, as well as the same reliability challenges of sterling generators.

There's no easy solutions. Except, of course, to stop bloody wasting plutonium once we have it.

Comment: Soverign debt (Score -1, Troll) 583

I'd like to hear what the economists here think should be done about Greece.

"Soverign debt is not like personal debt!"

That's what the economists on this very blog say, when discussing US debt. It doesn't matter how far into debt the US is, anyone can see this by comparing our debt to our GDP: the latter number is really big, while the debt is really small.

See? You can't just say getting into debt is bad, because the two are entirely different.

I'd like to hear what the Slashdot economists think should be done about Greece.

Comment: Re:Funny, that spin... (Score 3, Insightful) 354

by hey! (#49765025) Attached to: What AI Experts Think About the Existential Risk of AI

Spin, sure, but it's a waay bigger minority than I expected. I'd even say even shockingly large.

The genius of Asimov's three laws is that he started by laying out rules that on the face of it rule out the old "robot run amok" stories. He then would write, if not a "run amok" story, one where the implications aren't what you'd expect. I think the implications of an AI that surpasses natural human intelligence are beyond human intelligence to predict, even if we attempt to build strict rules into that AI.

One thing I do believe is that such a development would fundamentally alter human society, provided that the AI was comparably versatile to human intelligence. It's no big deal if an AI is smarter than people at chess; if it's smarter than people at everyday things, plus engineering, business, art and literature, then people will have to reassess the value of human life. Or maybe ask the AI what would give their lives meaning.

Comment: Re:I'll believe it when I see it... (Score 4, Interesting) 114

by Rei (#49764673) Attached to: India Ends Russian Space Partnership and Will Land On the Moon Alone

"Love" is the nice way to put it. "Largess at the expense of all other solar system exploration" would be more accurate. Here's a graph. And it's always the same stupid justifications - how many times can we pretend to be excited about "revelations" that Mars was once in its past a wet place? Or that we're going to stumble into life any time soon in its perchlorate-rich, destroys-organics-on-contact regolith?

And it's not just huge amounts of money that they're wasting - they're also throwing away most of the remainder of our plutonium supply. At least there's money to start making it again, but it'll take time. Plutonium is precious, and it's needed for outer planet missions.

Comment: Re:Twenty five years of science destruction... (Score 2, Insightful) 114

by Rei (#49764639) Attached to: India Ends Russian Space Partnership and Will Land On the Moon Alone

I hate to be the one to tell you but academia generally pays poorly outside of the US. More so in a country like Russia that is still clawing its way back up from the economic collapse that occurred during the transition from communism to capitalism.

Perhaps if most of the country's wealth wasn't concentrated in the hands of a handful of corrupt oligarchs who live like a modern version of Roman emperors they'd be able to pay researchers a living wage.

Comment: Re:Truth be told... (Score 4, Interesting) 134

by hey! (#49764209) Attached to: Al-Qaeda's Job Application Form Revealed

Dear moderators: "Troll" is not a synonym for "I disagree with this".

That said, I disagree with this.

We've known since the investigation of 9/11 that suicide bombers are not necessarily dead-enders except in the literal sense. Economic powerlessness might play a role in the political phenomenon of extremist violence, but it is not a necessary element of the profile of a professional extremist. These people often come from privileged backgrounds and display average to above average job aptitude.

Mohammed Atta's life story makes interesting reading. He was born to privileged parents; at the insistence of his emotionally distant father he wasn't allowed to socialize with other kids his age, and had a lifelong difficulty with relating to his peers. At university he did OK but below the high expectations of his parents. He went to graduate school in urban planning where his thesis was on how impersonal modern high rise buildings ruined the historic old neighborhoods of the Muslim world.

That much is factual; as to why he became an extremist while countless others like him did not, we can only speculate. I imagine that once he decided modernity was the source of his personal dissatisfactions Al Qaeda would be attractive to him. Al Qaeda training provided structure which made interacting with his new "peers" easier than ever before. And martyrdom promised relief from the dissatisfactions of a life spent conscious of his own mediocrity. Altogether he was a miserable and twisted man -- but not economically miserable.

Comment: Most guys here are missing the point. (Score 1) 288

by hey! (#49763589) Attached to: Study: Science Still Seen As a Male Profession

And that point is encapsulated in a single adverb: still. "Still" is what makes this news; it wouldn't have been news twenty or thirty years ago.

I am old enough to remember when genital equipment was considered employment destiny. When my wife went to oceanography graduate school the sysadmins of the school minicomputers were all female. The all-male faculty called them -- I kid you not -- "Data Dollies". Data dolly was considered a good job for a technically inclined woman because it paid well for an entry level job, involved computers, and was an easy job to hand off when you quit to marry the professor you'd snagged. Plus they'd have a hard time getting work in industry. Clearly that was a transitional moment because there were a substantial minority of women graduate students in the program, but *no* female professors, much less senior administrators.

But given the strong cohort of women in that class, it is surprising the thirty years later there is still a lingering perception in this country that science isn't for women. But maybe it shouldn't be surprising. Change doesn't happen instantaneously, nor does it necessarily ever become complete. When I was in college the notion that women had to become full time homemakers was still predominant -- not among students, but of people over thirty or so, practically everyone in positions of hiring and authority. That attitude seems weird and foreign to a young person today; I expect it's hard for a young person to grasp how pervasive and indeed how genuinely oppressive that belief was. It's a bit like the difference between the way I experience watching Mad Men and the way my kids do. I actually *recognize* that world where smoking was everywhere, big shots drank during office hours, and "womanizing" was a word people actually used without irony. It was fading fast, but still there. To my kids it's like an alien civilization in Doctor Who. So yes, the news that many Americans see science as a profession that somehow belongs to men is a bit like discovering a Silurian in the closet.

The women of my generation fought hard to establish a beachhead in male dominated professions, and if they're sometimes a bit snippy about it, well they earned the right. It wasn't easy to be an oddball among your peers and freak to your parents, teachers and and people in authority generally. And this was at a time when there was no such thing as geek chic to offset the disadvantages being an oddball. Being a geek was bad, period.

Now that cadre of pioneering women is at or approaching the apex of their careers. They're still a minority in their age cohort, but they left a wide open hole in their wake for the next generation. It's taken awhile for that hole to fill up because when opportunities open for a group they go for more high-profile professions (47% of medical students are women, as are 48% of law students). But in another generation I am sure the view that science belongs to one sex or another will be a truly fringe belief.

Comment: Re:Ducted fans? (Score 1) 74

by Rei (#49763377) Attached to: The Hoverboard Flies Closer To Reality

You don't need "antigravity" (which in all likelihood is impossible). Diamagnetic hoverboards would be possible... if we could make ridiculously powerful, compact halbach arrays in the board. Also you'd need a clever mechanism to detect and deal with flying over ferromagnetic material, or otherwise it's going to smack into your board really hard.

Comment: Re: just what we all love (Score 1) 237

by mcelrath (#49763241) Attached to: Amazon Decides To Start Paying Tax In the UK

the paperwork involved with understanding and filling out dozens of tax returns in langauges you don't speak would just be overwhelming

But somehow marketing in all these different languages isn't overwhelming enough to stop them from selling their goods in these countries. And if you're worried about efficiency, let's remember that it would be FAR more efficient to only tax corporations, than to tax EVERY SINGLE CITIZEN.

Comment: Re:Whistleblower (Score 1) 384

"Accidentally" isn't certain here. If I was part of something that was wrong and I wanted it to be known, I would very well "accidentally" leak it too.

Except I don't see how that applies in this case. Stay or leave -- it's not the bank's call. But if politicians are putting leaving the EU on the table, even as an empty gesture, then naturally the bank has to start thinking about contingency plans. That's just common sense, even if you think the very idea of leaving the EU is mad.

It's also common sense to keep that on the DL to prevent misguided overreaction to what is after all still a hypothetical scenario. The Bank of England a central bank and so people must be constantly scrutinizing it hoping to glean inside information on future monetary policy. That's to say nothing of having to deal with the conspiracy theory nutters.

This is now. Later is later.

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