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Comment Re:Batteries just don't store enough energy... (Score 2) 324

Interesting idea. I wonder, at least for a relatively short hop, how the energy costs factor between the stages of a flight. I mean, taxing over to the runway or back to the terminal is probably not very much. You could actually be recovering energy during a landing.

So how much fuel is used during takeoff vs gaining cruise altitude?

How much energy could you save if you, say, had a plane with electric engines and you launched it using a catapult/cable/power line that provided all energy needed for the engines until it hits 1k or so feet in altitude?

That's before you get into crazy thoughts like ground-based wireless energy transmission by laser or microwave.

Comment Re:sunfire / in my stellerator / makes me... happy (Score 1) 98

The Wendelstein was only built to investigate how well stellarators can confine plasma over a long period of time. No fusion will actually happen in this facility.

Incorrect. The Wendelstein will reach pressures and temperatures necessary for fusion. Fusion will occur in it unless something seriously goes wrong. What won't happen is electricity generation.

You are correct on the 50 years though - the director of the Wendelstein mentioned that there will need to be another generation of test systems before power generation will be able to be seriously considered.

Comment Re:The problem is lackadaisical battery manufactur (Score 1) 310

And the sloth and complacency of the battery manufacturers vs. the tech industry is what's holding us back. If they were investing into the R&D to keep up with Intel and Moore's law...

And how many trillions would this cost? There's actually massive investments into battery technology. We've come a long ways in the last 20 years. But consider, they're figuring out that we had batteries way back in BC times. The Greeks had them, sort of, they think they were used for electroplating stuff.

But they started entering common use in the 19th century. We've put a huge amount of development work into them. But batteries, it turns out, run into physical laws much quicker than the 'completely new' field of semi-conductor technology. But we're running into the physical laws with semi-conductors now, which is why we haven't seen clock speeds increasing like they used to, and why parallel operations are far more important than they used to be, why we're seeing quad core and even octa-core processors in consumer machines today.

Comment Re:How about we treat the rest of the world better (Score 5, Insightful) 346

Indeed. Our post WWII conduct with other countries was often extremely shameful. I termed my service as 'cleaning up the messes of our parents and grandparents'.

We should have a policy of conducting ourselves with honor - we make a deal, we keep it. We don't support people who are anti-ethical to our beliefs. Democracy isn't wrong, even if the population doesn't like us. Keep acting honorably and they'll eventually change their minds.

Comment Re:Planning for driverless cars (Score 1) 180

Drivers who don't have a fare will tend to wait in an area where they think they'll get one, or drive to such an area. This ties in perfectly with "cars in your area", since they can predict how many cars will be there in x number of minutes, even if they aren't there right now.

Okay, that helps when they have human drivers, but what about when that's automated? That's when it shifts to using algorithms to predict where rides will be needed.

Or heck, use actual ride data to give drivers guesses on where the best spot to go to pick up their next customer is.

Comment Re:Something's changed at Morgan's management (Score 1) 51

Once again I must ask - why on earth would they stop producing their existing cars just because they are producing electric cars?

A reason to stop, not that they're taking it?

Business concentration. If regulations for IC engines gets too complicated without the usual exemptions for small manufacturers, they could end up saying 'screw it' and going electric where there's fewer rules.

Comment Re:Something's changed at Morgan's management (Score 1) 51

This makes no sense. Why would you pay a lot of money for management consultants to improve profitability then ignore their advice?

There's a difference between ignoring and 'considers, then rejects', and it sounds like the latter.

Basically, I've seen consultants suggest changes that would ruin a company in the long run all the time. That's what it sounds like here. The consultant was the former CEO of a very large chemical company. He was giving mass market advice to a custom build company. That would kill them, because they'd lose their uniqueness.

That, and the TV show probably played up the 'useless' parts and played down the parts where they did take his advice.

Comment Forgot the conclusion... (Score 1) 51

All that and I forgot the conclusion - They can't compete with the major car makers in cheap or fast. They have to differentiate themselves - quality, hand made, story, etc...

Cheap out and/or actually satisfy all the demand? That's a step towards losing their uniqueness. That would kill them quicker than anything. Sure, it might be Rolls-Royce and not Lexus, much less VW that kills them, but they'd be dead all the same.

Comment Expert didn't get it. (Score 3, Interesting) 51

The visiting expert tried to convince them to automate some of the manufacturing to increase production volume, and to start using cheaper materials to reduce costs.

That expert really didn't get the business model. If they had taken his 'advice' they would have been sunk.
Here's the problem. Automated manufacturing is the realm of the major automobile companies. No small manufacturer is going to be able to compete with the likes of Ford, Toyota, VW, and such in the realm of 'cheap' and 'automated'.

I just so happened to catch a piece on NPR last night about how there's a surge in crafted goods. Up something like 500% over the last decade. As so much of what we purchase and use becomes automated, people become more interested in crafted goods. As the program mentioned, people want stuff with a story behind it.

So you're a tiny car company. You HAVE to distinguish yourself from the 'big boys'. What are they known for? Cheap, plastic, mass market, soulless, etc... So what do you do? Make your car out of wood. That's unique, no mass market car company does that. Not even Rolls-Royce does that anymore. Not just wood though. Hand worked high quality wood.* The whole car made mostly by hand. Hell, sell the car with a photo-album of the crew putting their new car together. You have a waiting list? So much the better! I can smell the snobbery from here. Wood is even renewable, so points there.

Probably what happened is they had enough customers express an interest. Remember, Leno has a couple of century-old electric cars. Yes, electric cars can be 'classic'. Plus, given the way the drive-train works for an electric, it's relatively easy to customize the body you put on top.

*the right types of wood can approach and even exceed the strength of steel for a given amount of mass. It's just a lot bulkier.

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