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Comment Re:Robots first (Score 1) 211

There's a 1001 things that could go seriously wrong on Earth without it affecting Mars, and very few that would affect both.
Gamma ray bursts and something wacky happening to the sun are the only things I can think of were a Mars colony probably wouldn't help.
The list of possible extinction level events on Earth were a Mars colony would help - asteroid collision, supervolcano, nuclear war, sudden rapid climate change (>8C change), airborn virus with long (contagious) symptom free incubation period and extreme mortality rate, + a hundred more we haven't thought about yet.

We need a large colony on Mars. Preferably > 100 000 people.
That's not going to happen this century, BUT - if we keep putting off doing ANYTHING, nothing will ever happen.

We need to start solving some of the problems and create a plan for putting a long term manned research base on Mars.

Comment Re:Evidence of the Great Filter? (Score 1) 365

Good point.

Also, consider this:
What if FTL is impossible?
Matter would then be in short supply for a Type II civilization. How much IR radiation do we expect to come from an energy->matter conversion?
Would we be able to observe anything at all (expect gravitational forces) from a star system where 99.9% of the total energy output was used to create matter?

Comment Re:Evidence of the Great Filter? (Score 2) 365

This particular study was looking for Type III civilizations.
It's entirely conceivable that Type III civilizations doesn't exist anywhere - simply because the technology required to harness the total energy output of a galaxy cannot be created (the great filter is in our future).

Type 0 - type I civilizations would be hard to observe from earth unless they were actively trying to get noticed or just happened to have their (probably short) window of high-power radio era just at the right time for us to observe them. Our own high-power radio era is almost over.

Our understanding of the physics required to create a type II or type III civilization (if at all possible) is probably so incomplete that we wouldn't know what to look for anyway.

Comment Re:"Infringing"? (Score 1) 215

No, not from the US.
Every bank here have a common electronic system for passing payments back and forth.
It's used for both bills and person to person transactions. Depending on the bank it costs between $0 and $0.15 per transaction. Processing is done 4 or 5 times a day, but a system for instantaneous transfers is underway.

The infrastructure for passing payments between the various banks, paved the way for a common e-invoice system that's connected to me as a person (not my bank account), this means I can log on and pay the invoice from any of my accounts (in different banks, or charge it to a credit card).

Didn't quite understand what you meant about ATMs and checks? Do you have ATMs that will let you cash checks? Never seen anything like that.

Comment Re:"Infringing"? (Score 1) 215

Over here sales tax is 25% on both goods and services.
In addition to being liable for the sales tax, you are liable for any income tax, employment tax or company tax if the payment ended up being off-book.

Processing a check costs time and money and is an extremely wasteful way of transferring money. Last time I checked the price list for bank services, the fee for cashing a check was $20 (or $40 if you do not have an account where you cash it).

Comment Re:"Infringing"? (Score 1) 215

I've used at least one check this year, to pay a plumber. I use checks for a lot of things involving real estate. Money going to relatives is often in the form of a check for me, since a lot of my family is tech-averse. I grew up with my father paying bills using physical checks (and he still trusts them over online bill payment services) and with my mother paying for groceries by check, around the time that credit cards were still usually used with a mechanical imprinter.

It sounds odd to me not to have seen checks in 30 years. Apparently we've had very different life experiences.

I've used at least one check this year, to pay a plumber.

Paying a contractor with a check or in cash for anything above $1000 is actively discouraged where I live, you will be held accountable for any unpaid taxes on the payment if you pay in cash (or check).

A brief history of our recent banking history (to explain why checks are considered a relic of the past):
Checks were introduced in the 60s.
In the early 70s a common (digital) system for transferring funds between any accounts in different banks was introduced (giro transfers). All banks used the same form, and a standardised accountnumber that also identified the bank. The system was expanded to accommodate telepay, pay by letter and automatic payments.
ATMs were introduced in the late 70s.
ATMs, payment terminals and direct payment (giro) replaced checks during the first half of the 80s.
A system for debit-card payment that worked with bank cards issued by any bank (no VISA/MC/AE-fees, direct digital transfer) was introduced early in the 90s.
Many shops stopped accepting checks around the same time.
Internet banking started up in 1996 and was considered mainstream by 2001.
By the end of 2003 55% of all inhabitants age 15 and above used internet banking.
By the end of 2014 90% of all inhabitants age 15 and above used internet or mobile banking.
E-invoicing is replacing paper invoices at a rapid pace, for both B2C and B2B payments.
E-invoicing is compulsory for government contractors.

Comment Re:If it is 1/3 the power of the sun... (Score 3, Interesting) 64

Sun to electric power conversion is ~15-25% efficient.
Microwave power transmission is up to 50% efficient.

Satellite power provides power 24/7 and does not need any form of energy storage, and would be a full replacement for traditional base-load power generation (like hydro, nuclear and coal).
Solar power is limited to roughly 8 hours a day, and needs either energy storage or other base-load generation. Power storage is either inefficient or costly.

The only relevant question is if it is possible to make it cheap enough, without the pie-in-the-sky Skylon.
What would it cost with Falcon-9 or Falcon-Heavy as launch vehicle for the satellites?

Comment Re:Electric not the answer (Score 1) 212

New cars registered last year: 144 202
Zero emission cars: 18 094, of which 4 were hydrogen and 18 090 were EV.

100 * 18090/144202 = 12.54%
Source: (in Norwegian)

There's also a Wikipedia page in English with statistics for parts of 2014:

During the first quarter of 2014 all-electric car sales reached a record 14.5% market share of new car sales, and for the first eight months of 2014 the all-electric segment market share was 13.0%, and climbs to 14.2% when plug-in hybrids are accounted for.


EV sales the last quarter of 2014 dropped a bit, probably in part because almost everyone with a Tesla-order with delivery in that quarter changed their order to the 4WD 85D with delivery in 2015.

What this country needs is a good five cent ANYTHING!