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Comment Re:Scientists and Conservation (Score 3, Insightful) 203

At first glance this sounds for all the world like another perpetual motion machine. It deserves a second glance.

We (Physicists) know for absolute fact that a phenomenon called "dragging the metric" exists. The results are small, but every attempt at verification shows that the effect exists, and that general relativity predicts the magnitude of the effects. It is conceivable (though absolutely unverified) that a device might create it's own drag on the metric, and thus provide "impossible" thrust.

History is replete with experiments that show impossible results (two slit electron experiments, superconductivity) that have turned out to be true. Any experiment that provides verifiable evidence that contradicts theory shows that the theory is wrong, period. (Feynman Lectures)

The ostensible effect is small, and right up against the boundaries of bad science, but it needs to be verified, again and again, until the numbers either show that it doesn't exist, or show that it does. And if it doesn't exist, it's important to know -why- the results seemed to show it. This one is a long shot, but hey, -somebody- wins the lottery. Stick with it.

Comment Carbon Sequestration (Score 1, Offtopic) 103

We have seen that the relatively minor amount of water injected into the ground during fracking operations tends to induce earthquakes.

Carbon dioxide under pressure (supercritical CO2) is a solvent that is at least as good as water, and sequestration proposals call for pumping gigatons of liquid carbon dioxide underground, into the same kind of strata that once held oil. Does anyone think that this will not tend to induce earthquakes?

Releasing oil from a storage area would cause an environmental mess - some would use the word catastrophe, I would not. Oil on the loose mucks up agricultural areas, sometimes makes for fires that kill a few dozen people and wildlife. These are minor effects.

A release of multiple millions of tons of carbon dioxide would be an actual catastrophe. Look up "Lake Nyos" and observe that a natural release of CO2 managed to kill 100 people and thousands of livestock, not to mention hundreds of hectares of crops and wildlife, all in a very sparsely settled area. And that was from a very minor release.

What I fail to understand is that the very same people who eschew nuclear power because the waste products "Will be dangerous for centuries" don't have a concern about storing vast quantities of carbon dioxide underground. If the radiation release at Chernobyl had been carbon dioxide instead, it could have left all those people who were evacuated dead in their homes before anyone could worry about sending them elsewhere. RadWaste is dangerous for hundreds of years, stored carbon dioxide is dangerous forever,

Let's think twice about how to "fix" carbon emissions.

Comment MHZ Envy (Score 1) 94

Now what red blooded engineer doesn't want a bigger tool?

There are a constant barrage of cable channels explaining how you can take the proper suppliments, all for a bigger tool. And mechanical devices!

So why should your average pundit who reviews microprocessor tools and toolkits, and then goes home to take his EnZip and Vacupro and SusTane products, and then sits in front of a TV alone and dreams of JustOver19 dates, know anything at all about "Fitting a tool to a Job" ?

Come on, you're expecting rationality. Ain't gonna happen.

Comment Growing together is much better than competing (Score 1) 40

I couldn't agree more, however...

Competition is also necessary. Just because one person (corporation, club, etc) does something well, does not mean that someone else cannot do it better. And the human tendency and corporate -mandate- for NIH means that good ideas tend to be enshrined.

The beauty of open source development is that someone with a better idea can take an approach that has been elevated to axiom and improve it. If the original developers aren't interested in the improvements, well no problem. Just take the new approach to the universe of possible users, and let it compete with the golden child. If it is -actually- better in some respect, people will end up migrating.

And being open source means, fundamentally, that "Gee, I can do better than that" can (and often does) end up as "Everyone gets to benefit".

Comment Virtual Reality? (Score 1) 176

What makes anyone think that one solitary person is going to obey drone regulations?

You can buy a cheap drone for $200, and a really good one for $1000.

People who seriously contemplate passing rules that will regulate drones are living in some sort of off beat virtual reality. What's next, laser pointers?

Gimme a break.

Comment Fake? Who said anything about Fake? (Score 1) 163

Let us be just a little bit realistic here.

The stuff the company aims to produce is not fake rhino-horn, after all it has rhino DNA in it. And the matrix is keratin, which if memory serves me at all is what rhino horns grow from.

So, rather than bandy about that awful word, "Fake", let us elevate this issue and note that this company is making engineered rhino horn.

Last I heard, people in China (and USA and India and UK and...) buy Real Krab (or whatever the local name is), which is engineered from Real Surimi and crab flavors.

The quality control will be far higher than on the "natural" product, and it will work just as well.

More power to them.

Comment Still Don't Get Geologic Time (Score 4, Interesting) 294

This paper talks about the background rate, averaged over 350 million (with an M) years, since the Cambrian Explosion. In the middle of that "background" we have had tidal shield volcanism, planet-killer asteroid strikes, the utter destruction of the global ecology by graminoids, and the nearly complete extinction of all anerobic life by cyanobacteria.

Now, compare this against the "current time frame" -- 100 years. 100 Years! That's insanely short. The analogy is comparing the overall murder rate of people attending church, averaged since we had statistics, to the single two hours in Charleston and then making the claim that "Church Murders are 500 Time Higher."

Comparing rates is tricky stuff. The data curve is hugely noisy, with one event causing a spike, other times things average out. In mathematical terms using the derivative of a function over short periods to extrapolate a long term event is suspect at best, and an exercise in blithering ignorance at worst. 100 years sounds like a long time to humans, but in geological time it's not even a clock tick.

Comment No. (Score 1, Insightful) 700

First off, whether or not anyone thinks they are whacky or not, they are in fact a Religion, by all the criteria that count.

Second, elminating their tax exempt status will set loose unbridled lobbying efforts. Look at the history of what happened when the NRA was denied tax exempt status. An otherwise annoying bunch of gun nuts suddenly became a major political player.

Don't play with fire.

Comment How about the Thorium (Score 1) 215

Since the rare earth processing plants are there, and since they dump into the lake, the question is, is that where they put the thorium?

Rare earths (not rare at all) always come complete with thorium. The problem with producing rare earths in the USA isn't the rareness, it's the waste disposal of the thorium residues. Nobody in the US will buy or store thorium. Thus it must be branded as a waste product, and disposing of a radioactive waste product is insanely expensive if it is possible at all.

So is the sludge lake also a glow-in-the-dark lake?

Comment Re:Manufacturers Restrict their Products (Score 4, Insightful) 168

So, what is being suggested is that every drone carry with it every person's address that doesn't want a drone above it?

Doesn't that sound a whole lot like a list of addresses the police would love to have? And if you sign up for this list, then somebody who uses a drone for nefarious purposes will respect this address, as opposed to (say) disabling the GPS receiver?

This is a great idea, because we know that you never get unsolicited cell phone calls from Credit Card Services or "Hi, Seniors..."

This is without a doubt the most ridiculous solution to a problem that doesn't exist that I have ever come across.

So, let me state the obvious, just in case someone has missed it: That genie is out of the bottle, and there's no putting her back in.

Comment Nothing like Biological (Score 2) 33

To say that "artificial neural networks are nothing like what the biological brain does" is no more correct than to say "artificial neural networks are just like the brain."

Machine learning neural networks do the same flavor of thing that a real organic brain does, but at a complexity that is -many- orders of magnitude smaller. They also tend to be directed at a single skill, and don't have to cohabit the network with, well, everything.

They're not the same, but they're not totally different, either. Truth is not well served by hyperbole.

Comment New and Modern, Baah Humbug... (Score 1) 263

Axis webcams permit loading a single jpeg, using one of several tools, none of which include their super fancy "look at the webcam" web app.

For example, using the *nix command "curl" gives you a jpeg of what's currently being watched, presto, no grief, no complications.

What you -do- with the jpeg is very much up to you.

I run multiple cameras looking out of my residence, and stuff them into motion jpeg files on a terabyte disk. I use a cron file to change files on an hourly basis, and with the number of cameras I have, I have on hand about four weeks of video coverage. I'm using an atom processor, and the whole affair was cheap and very easy to maintain.

Comment Don't confuse power production and nuclear weapons (Score 4, Informative) 166

The huge (and they _are_ huge) cost of cleanup from places like Hanford has to be understood in the context under which it was created.

The people at Hanford were tasked with creating weapons to kill people, a million at a time. Given that criterion, is it any wonder that they weren't worried about a few salmon, or clean groundwater. They believed at the time that "Nuculer war, toe to toe with the Rooskies" was right around the corner, and they were dealing with the possibility of hundreds of millions of dead. All other reasons just didn't matter.

That turned out not to be the case, but hindsight is always so excellent.

Now, the pendulum has swung so far the other way, we want to clean up Hanford (as an example) well enough that we could build a school on the location. That doesn't seem like a realistic goal. As for a plutonium contaminated waste facility, I should point out that Los Alamos had quite the plutonium problem. They solved it by painting the walls coral - bright bleedin' orange - and then painting over with white paint. The rule was simple - if you see orange, call the safety people. It was (and is) not a perfect solution, but it was (and is) a workable one.

Make it right before you make it faster.