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Comment: Re:I believe solar thermal does benefit from scale (Score 2) 409

Solar thermal still makes sense where the aim is to generate heat, rather than electricity. As a method of heating water (either for domestic or industrial purposes) it will always be tough to beat, boasting as it does a zero wastage conversion rate (because there is no conversion- you produce the desired end product straight away).

An awful lot of energy is expended to produce heating, so cutting out the electrical middle-man is no bad thing. There is also no reason why you can't distribute hot water via pipes from a central solar heating installation.

Comment: Re:My favorite test (Score 5, Funny) 147

by Patch86 (#47493263) Attached to: Can the Multiverse Be Tested Scientifically?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but this would only "prove" the existence of (that variety of) multiverse in a very small subset of universes.

So, let's say I try to poison myself with a pill from a bottle containing 99 cyanide pills and 1 sugar pill. There is a 99% chance I'll die, and a 1% chance I'll live. So in 1% of all universes, I live. I repeat the expriement multiple times, until only 1 in 1 million universes has a surviving me in. That means that in 0.0001% of universes, a very smug version of me is winning a Nobel prize for proving the existence of the multiverse. In 99.9999% of universes, I am dead and nothing has been proven except that I really shouldn't be allowed access to the lab's supply of cyanide pills.

Comment: Re:Dude! Sounds like a real way to make some bread (Score 1) 159

by Patch86 (#47449305) Attached to: Biohackers Are Engineering Yeast To Make THC

Both wine and "ale" beers are made with saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast. Although there are different strands preferred for different styles of wine and beer, the differences shouldn't be too over the top. You're not going to end up with a fine best bitter with champagne yeast, nor are you going to get a competition-standard claret with ale yeast- but the results will be drinkable and tasty enough. See, for example, "champale" (beer brewed with champagne yeast which has been sold commercially).

Lager is made with a different species of yeast (s. carlsbergensis). So using a wine yeast is never likely to make a decent approximation of a lager.

Source: Have been making wines and beers for a decade, including many experimental batches as per the above.

Comment: Re:A lot of bits (Score 1) 323

As others have pointed out, you wouldn't need to describe a human to a molecular level. You could create a biological clone using just the DNA- the human genome is some 24 gigabits (3 gigabytes?). That'd be something like "a few hours" to transfer over a standard home internet connection. Arguably, there are big chunks of that genome which will be common across individuals, so you wouldn't even need to transmit the whole thing every time.

Transferring a human's consciousness would be more difficult. As far as I'm aware, there are no serious estimates as to how "big", in bits/bytes terms, the human consciousness might be. Even if you could scan one, and it was a reasonable size for transmission, I can't even imagine how you'd go about "implanting it" into another human body (e.g. a clone). Without that, there's no "I'll just download into a Martian clone and have an explore".

Comment: Re:Hmmm ... (Score 1) 323

Growing clones is hardly magic (and that is all "printing humans" means in this context). We can already do it with provisos (i.e., with the right embryonic cells and so forth)- there's no reason to assume we won't learn better methods as biology progresses. Animals grow new animals in their wombs out of nothing but carbon and nutrients all the time- can't be impossible to replicate.

The "magic" bit is transferring consciousness of one human to another human body. Nobody has the foggiest how that would work. But then, if all you wanted was a populated colony, who said you even need to do that? Grow the little humans to adulthood and raise them using robotic machines, and voila- one new colony, without the hassle of transporting 100's of humans 10's of light-years through space.

Programming

R Throwdown Challenge 185

Posted by timothy
from the if-you-pirate-it-so-much-the-better dept.
theodp (442580) writes "'R beats Python!' screams the headline at Prof. Norm Matloff's Mad (Data) Scientist blog. 'R beats Julia! Anyone else wanna challenge R?' Not that he has anything against Python, Matloff adds, but he just doesn't believe that Python or Julia will become 'the new R' anytime soon, or ever. Why? 'R is written by statisticians, for statisticians,' explains Matloff. 'It matters. An Argentinian chef, say, who wants to make Japanese sushi may get all the ingredients right, but likely it just won't work out quite the same. Similarly, a Pythonista could certainly cook up some code for some statistical procedure by reading a statistics book, but it wouldn't be quite same. It would likely be missing some things of interest to the practicing statistician. And R is Statistically Correct.'"

Comment: Re:And what's better? (Score 5, Informative) 200

by Patch86 (#47047765) Attached to: China Bans Government Purchases of Windows 8

It is disingenuous to count XP's support period from its first release date, considering that each Service Pack represented as big a change to the OS as each Ubuntu release (for example).

Support for original XP (without a Service Pack) ended in 2005- only 4 years supported. The last Service Pack, SP3, was released in 2008- giving it a respectable 6 years supported. If XP had exited support when it was scheduled to (2012- it was only extended due to a Microsoft product-line-up cockup at the hight of the netbook craze), it would have had 4 years in support too- less than any of the others you named.

Even if you stubbornly disagree with what I'm saying about SPs and wish to count it all the way from SP0-SP3 end of support, might I also reiterate above that support was only extended at the last minute due to a Microsoft cockup- namely, that Vista was wildly unsuited to the then very popular netbooks. The standard offer from Microsoft is 10 years support (which is what you might reasonably expect to receive from Windows 8). This is the same as Red Hat, and comparable with other Enterprise-market OSs.

Comment: Re:frosty piss (Score 1) 664

by Patch86 (#46918949) Attached to: Death Wish Meets GPS: iPhone Theft Victims Confronting Perps

Morally, no. Legally, yeah it's still wrong. There are pretty strict laws against vigilantism. At its simplest, you've got the principal of "innocence until proven guilty" to contend with- you THINK he did it, in fact you think you KNOW he did it, but no court has been persuaded of that fact. You're pretty damned sure that the laptop you took is yours (pretty bloody damned sure- they're easily identifiable items)- but unless you've persuaded a court that it's yours, you're still in the wrong.

It sucks, but it's life.

Comment: Re:LibreOffice (Score 5, Interesting) 285

by Patch86 (#46781553) Attached to: Apache OpenOffice Reaches 100 Million Downloads. Now What?

Debatable, but I would bet the long-term money on LibreOffice. Why? Licensing. LO is under the LGPL, while OO is under the APL. LO is able to reuse any OO code that they like, nicking any cool new features Apache develop. OO cannot- the LGPL will not allow it. So if OO develop any cool new features or improvements, they'll turn up in LO one release later. If LO develop any cool features or improvements of their own, it remains an LO exclusive.

Space

Pluto May Have Deep Seas and Ancient Tectonic Faults 47

Posted by samzenpus
from the mi-go-beach dept.
astroengine (1577233) writes "In July 2015 we get our first close look at the dwarf planet Pluto and its moon, Charon — a fact that has scientists hypothesizing more than ever about what we might see there. One of the latest ideas put forward is that perhaps the collision that likely formed Pluto and Charon heated the interior of Pluto enough to give it an internal liquid water ocean, which also gave the small world a short-lived plate tectonics system, like that of Earth."

Comment: Re:Simple math (Score 1) 245

by Patch86 (#46739131) Attached to: PC Gaming Alive and Dominant

Cost of a PC monitor = the cost of a TV to use with a console. Do you count the cost of the £500 TV in your lounge when you count the cost of your PS4? In my case, I've had the same two monitors (dual screen) hooked up to my PC for around than 10 years now- and one of them was free second hand in the first place. My lounge TV, on the other hand, I chose specifically and spent good money on not so long ago.

Cost of a router applies equally to both console and PC. Both of them need to connect to the internet, and both of them will have the same "advantage" in reduced latencies, if you're so inclined.

So the cost of my PC which could be fairly compared to a console would be- the PC itself and all internals came to around £500. The mouse was £50, but it is getting towards 10 years old now (was a good Logitech MX518, and is still going strong). The headphones were about £7.50. I own a joystick, and although I hardly use it I'll include the cost- it was around £25, bought in an offer along with X-Wing Alliance back in 2000 or so (Microsoft Sidewinder, still works perfectly). Keyboard came bundled free with the PC case (as did a decent mouse which I don't use). So total cost- perhaps £580 or so, ignoring the fact that several peripherals have survived multiple PCs.

More expensive than a console with a single controller, sure. But not exactly breaking the flipping bank.

Comment: Re:With Linux Support! (Score 1) 89

by Patch86 (#46738915) Attached to: <em>Civilization: Beyond Earth</em> Announced

People say that Slashdot has fallen a long way...but that's just sad. A thread about a AAA game which is being released on Linux- with no mention in TFS, nor the chosen TFA, and only a tiny comment batch discussing it.

Even Reddit managed better coverage of the fact this is a Linux game than Slashdot. If I was just relying on Slashdot for my news, I wouldn't even have known this WAS a Linux game.

Put your Nose to the Grindstone! -- Amalgamated Plastic Surgeons and Toolmakers, Ltd.

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