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John S. Lewis On the Space Commodities Market 61

John S. Lewis -- Deep Space Industries' chief scientist, author, and University of Arizona professor -- speaks in an interview with Air & Space magazine about the practicalities and possibilities of deep-space mining, a topic on which he is unapologetically bullish. He points out, though, that some of the artist's-conception version of space mining skips over some of the economic realities of getting back to Earth metals that are scarce here. From the interview: But—and here’s the big conditional—if we develop an industrial capability in space such that we’re processing large amounts of metals to make solar-powered satellites, for example, then as a byproduct, we would have very substantial quantities of platinum-group metals, which are extremely valuable. So if you have a market for the iron and the nickel in space, that would liberate the precious metals to be brought back to Earth. So the scheme is not based on the idea of retrieving platinum-group metals—that is simply gravy."

Dungeons & Dragons Is Getting a Film Franchise 210

New submitter IT.luddite sends word that Hasbro and Warner Bros. have announced Dungeons & Dragons will be getting its own film franchise. They already have a script, and they'll be working with production company Sweetpea Entertainment, but they haven't picked a director, yet. They'll have at least some of the people on board who worked on the D&D movie from 2000, which was a flop. The deal between Hasbro and Warner Bros. comes after a prolonged legal battle about who owned the rights to a D&D movie. They note, "All rights for future Dungeons & Dragons productions have been unified and returned to Wizards of the Coast, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hasbro."

Comment Re:Switzerland (Score 1) 674

One of the "unspoken rules" of society though is that any outlet exposed in a public place is fair game. And some of the "actual laws" cover the fact that any outlet must be safe to plug into, and any device sold must be standards compliant to safely plug into any compatable outlet. Seriously, the outlets aren't safe to plug into when the train is moving? Why the hell are they on and available? Someone with bad eyesight, or illiterate, or not English-speaking, or seriously drunk could be plugging in. It should be an electrical code violation to have a socket that isn't safe for any (standards compliant) plug to connect to.

Comment Re:Unacceptable... (Score 1) 333

Democracy is about convincing the voting public. If you annoy the voting public so much, that they call on the government to give in just to shut up the protesters, then it's a job well done!

I don't think that could ever really happen. Leaving aside the fact that I don't think it's morally acceptable to interfere with other people's rights to advance your own (two wrongs, etc.), I don't think it could ever be effective. If you block someone from going about their normal life, their emotional response is to hate you. Even if they would have been sympathetic to your cause, they will now start rationalizing why you are "wrong". If they start calling on the government, it will be demands that they put a stop to your group. The best you can hope for is they will think "I agree with their goals, but these jerks go too far!"

Comment Re:Excellent. Now how about High Fructose Corn Syr (Score 2) 851

This is what pisses me off every time HFCS comes up in a debate. You're not supposed to replace HFCS with sugar. You are supposed to replace it with fresher, less processed foods that don't need added sugars.

The problem I think was that 2 different anti-HFCS groups got some publicity at the same time. One was Dr what's-his-name who called HFCS "poison". But he really meant all sugars. It's just that HFCS was the main one found in everything at the time (because it's cheaper, easier to add since its liquid, and the corn supply is more stable than the sugar supply).

At the same time, the "Passover Coke" crowd was making noise about how much better CocaCola tasted with cane sugar, compared to HFCS. I agree that it does taste awesome, but that has nothing to do with health.

Unfortunately, these two movements collided in the public conscienceless and became "HFCS is really bad for you, and should be replaced with sugar". So now you have idiotic things like Raisin Bran that proudly says "No HFCS" on the box but is full of added sucrose. Raisins are supposed to be the sweetener in Raisin Bran, the only other ingredient should be bran.

Comment Re:Arab? (Score 1) 190

I've spent significant time in Europe and Asia and "America" is universally understood to mean USA and "American" to mean people from the USA, even by people who can barely croak out an English sentence. They might understand "USA", but "U.S." or "United States"? Forget it.

The only people who take issue with that usage of "America/American" (aside from internet pendants) are Spanish speakers who rather arrogantly insist that the English word "American" needs to match up with the Spanish word "Americano".

Personally, I say we adopt "Americano" into English as a word meaning "person from the Western Hemisphere" and end the debate.

Comment Hospitals need to employ people (Score 3, Insightful) 532

What bugs me about medical billing is apparently hospitals don't have any employees. Hospitals are apparently just flee-markets that provide space to hundreds of independent individuals and companies who all send separate bills for their services whenever they get around to it.

The hospital sends their own bill. Then the doctor sends a separate bill (WTF? The doctor isn't even employed by the hospital?) The EKG tech, sonogram tech, x-ray tech, all send there own bills (often months later). Anesthesiologist, separate bill.

What exactly is the hospital bill for? Apparently, the only employee the hospital has is the billing co-ordinator, who makes sure all these separate entities know who to bill.

Comment Re:Future? (Score 1) 451

I've already seen self-driving forklifts in some factory environments (they've existed for at least a decade). The process lines summon them when a large roll/bin/whatever is almost complete and they (slowly) drive over just as it finishes and take the product over to the warehouse. The vehicles automatically stop if you get within about 2 feet of them. When not summoned anywhere in particular they drive themselves over to a designated out-of-the-way spot and line up in a neat queue to wait for orders.

Comment Re:Storage (Score 1) 197

Wait what? Gas (combustion) Turbines have way higher efficiency than steam turbines, mainly because they operate at much higher temperatures than steam turbines.
Gas turbines these days are getting close to 40% efficiency, and close to 60% if you put them in combined cycle (where you use the exhaust heat to boil water to run a steam turbine).

Comment Re:Correlation is not Causation (Cliche) (Score 1) 305

Count me in that group too. I used to be all uptight about alcohol, but I got over it with age. Now that I'm theoretically ok with making oneself stupider, I've tried to take up drinking. But I find that all the alcoholic beverages I've tried to drink taste horrendously bad. I've so far been unable to drink enough alcohol to notice any effects on myself (it takes me about an hour and a half to choke down a bottle of beer). I don't know how you all manage to consume that stuff.

"Ignorance is the soil in which belief in miracles grows." -- Robert G. Ingersoll