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Comment: Re:WTFis "as much energy as well-thrown baseballs" (Score 2) 138

by Idarubicin (#47415289) Attached to: Physicists Spot Potential Source of 'Oh-My-God' Particles

WTF is "as much energy as well-thrown baseballs"?

That should technically be something like "as much kinetic energy as a well-thrown baseball". In other words, about 50 joules: what you get from a baseball at about 60 miles per hour. So, not major-league fastball fast (90+ mph) but quite a respectable velocity.

And we're not going to talk about assorted forms of chemical or nuclear potential energy in the baseball. If you set fire to a baseball, you could get quite a bit more thermal energy. And you could get a heck of a lot more energy out of a baseball if you fused all its component atoms down to iron.

Comment: Re:Windows as point of weakness (Score 1) 463

I would say that cockpit windows are a solved problem.

You could say that, but you would be wrong. Cockpit windows remain a weak point aboard modern aircraft. Extensive and costly preventive maintenance programs reduce the risks, but they still regularly crack and leak, and occasionally fail spectacularly. A bit of Googling turned up this freedom-of-information response from the UK's civil aviation authority. It lists 88 pages of in-flight incidents of windscreen damage and failure that occurred - just in the UK - between 2008 and 2013.

Comment: Re: Failsafe? (Score 1) 463

This illustrates an important point. From a purely rational safety perspective, you don't actually need the electronic display system to be perfect, with an absolutely impossible zero risk of failure. You just need the system to be less likely to fail - in a way that causes a serious accident - than the known weak point (window) it replaces.

Comment: Re:Why? (Score 1) 463

Nobody complains about all those people jammed into a metal tube with no windows powered by a nuclear reactor and dumped into the ocean(s)...

On the other hand, the number of accidents per passenger-mile is probably a lot worse in nuclear submarines than in passenger aircraft. Broadly speaking, an overall higher risk of accidents and fatalities is tolerated in the military.

And honestly, military submarines (or any submarines, really) tend to be much more heavily built than aircraft, and travel at much lower speeds, both of which tend to make crashes much more survivable. Consider, for example, the 2005 collision of the USS San Francisco with a poorly-charted seamount. The fast-attack sub was travelling at its maximum speed (probably around 40 mph) when it smacked into solid rock--that it couldn't see, as they had no windows. Nobody drowned; the ship didn't sink; all of the injuries (and the one fatality) were caused by crew members getting bounced about by the collision. Compare and contrast with just about any aircraft incident involving controlled flight into terrain, where aircraft crumple like beer cans and everybody dies.

Comment: Re:Failsafe? (Score 3, Interesting) 463

No, that would wreck the entire engineering of getting rid of the windows in the first place.

In principle, there could be 'emergency' windows that were smaller or more awkwardly placed (perhaps even requiring the use of a periscope or physical light pipe) that could nevertheless still be used to land a plane in the event of a complete failure of the electronic display system. From an engineering standpoint, even a switch from giant wrap-around windows to small portholes is still going to provide some improvement in strength and weight.

That said, it's worth noting two things. First, modern aircraft are so heavily electronics-dependent (and fly-by-wire driven) that in the event of a catastrophic failure of onboard electronics, the loss of virtual windows may not actually be the biggest problem on your plate. Second, modern aircraft are often rated for landing completely blind (at suitably equipped airports); even if you lose the view from the entire front 'window', a landing on instruments is still a reasonable option.

Comment: Re:Efficiency (Score 3, Informative) 133

The point is, those solar lights at the dollar store? Yea... Make millions of them, throw them out in the desert, viola, carbon sink. You need to do something more with it beyond the acid, but this is the sort of idea we need to reduce already emitted CO2 after we've stopped creating all the extra.

Even if we ignore the carbon (and other toxic) footprint of creating and strewing millions of semiconductor devices across the desert, I really think you need to think about what happens to the formic acid. Left to its own devices, formic acid slowly and spontaneously decomposes to water and...carbon monoxide. Which is unpleasant enough by itself (and a greenhouse gas in its own right), but which in turn is slowly oxidized in the atmosphere right back to...carbon dioxide.

Comment: Re:Treatment sort of worked (Score 2) 295

by Idarubicin (#47375415) Attached to: Site of 1976 "Atomic Man" Accident To Be Cleaned

He died of heart problems. If you read the health effects they are claiming many of them seem just normal for a older person at that time. The rest might could also have been caused by chemical issues more than radiation. Heavy metals are for a large part things you want to avoid putting into your body.

For people who are interested in this sort of thing, the TOXNET entry for americium contains a number of excerpts from published work about the case, medical follow up, and eventual autopsy results. The first six case report entries on that page all involve publications involving McC|uskey; look for entries that refer specifically to "US Transuranium Registry (USTUR) Case 246". Because americium is an alpha emitter that principally deposits in bone, it is the bone and bone marrow that are most affected by exposure, and which show the most lasting (and ongoing) damage.

"...Eight yrs after a 64-year old man was exposed to americium-241 in a chemical explosion/, leukopenia was evaluated by a hematologist. Diagnosis of a possible hypoproliferative, myeloproliferative, or myelodysplastic syndrome was considered...."

"...The bone marrow of /USTUR Case 246/ had been substantially damaged by alpha-irradiation from americium, principally on the bone surfaces. A ... finding was a marked decrease in bone marrow cellularity associated with dilatation of blood sinusoids. The severity of these effects varied according to site and was greatest in the vertebral body, where the marrow was almost acellular, and least in the clavicle. In addition, extensive peritrabecular marrow fibrosis was present in some bones, including the rib and clavicle. ... Fibrosis is a common observation in bones irradiated by bone-seeking radionuclides and has been linked to bone sarcoma induction...."

"...The bones examined were the patella, clavicle, sternum, rib, vertebral body and ossified thyroid cartilage; all showed evidence of radiation damage. The cellularity of most bones was reduced, and little evidence of recent active bone remodeling was seen in any bone other than the vertebra, as concluded from the redistribution of the americium in the vertebral body. In several bones, the architecture was disrupted, with woven bone, abnormal appositional bone deposits, bizarre trabecular structures and marked peritrabecular fibrosis. Growth arrest lines were common. When compared with trabecular bone modeling, that of cortical bone in the rib appeared less disrupted. Overall, the results obtained are consistent with those observed in dogs at a similar level of actinide intake...."

In other words, he was 'lucky' that this accident occurred when he was in his mid-sixties, and that he managed to die of heart disease in his mid-seventies. If the patient had been forty years old instead, he likely would have been looking at a cancer of either the bone (an osteosarcoma or some such, and probably at multiple sites if he lived long enough) or the blood-forming cells (leukemia of some sort).

Comment: Re:Well, this won't backfire! (Score 1) 268

by Idarubicin (#47323979) Attached to: Wikipedia Editors Hit With $10 Million Defamation Suit

I'm assuming that he's filing suit in California because the Wikimedia Foundation headquarters is there, and it's easier to do it that way than to file fifty-four separate suits (four named editors plus 50 John Does) in 54 different jurisdictions. Further, Barry's lawyers can argue (don't know if it will work) that personal jurisdiction exists for all the defendants, as all of them were engaged in a relationship with the Foundation. Otherwise their case gets a lot messier and a lot more expensive.

Of course, not every lawsuit that is filed is followed through to trial and judgement. (Just as a general observation not related to this particular case -- not every lawsuit is filed with the expectation or intent to follow it through to trial. Lawsuits are often part of PR strategies, sometimes simply to chill public discussion on a particular topic. A big flashy statement of claim is sometimes just a route to a quiet small- or no-money settlement and a gag order.)

And heck, your original point stands. Suing U.S. defendants in a U.K. court would be pretty transparent libel tourism; it wouldn't have a beneficial PR effect, and judgements wouldn't be readily enforceable in the States.

Comment: Re:Imminent Threat (Score 1) 249

by Idarubicin (#47318411) Attached to: Supreme Court Rules Cell Phones Can't Be Searched Without a Warrant

But personally, I could this as the worst administration in history.

That wasn't the worst sentence in history, but it's got to be right up there.

I'll leave aside your amusingly delusional implication that unwarranted invasions of privacy somehow didn't happen - or weren't attempted by law enforcement with similar enthusiasm and vigour - under the preceding 43 Presidents...

Comment: Re:Thanks for pointing out the "briefly" part. (Score 1) 461

by Idarubicin (#47316607) Attached to: Half of Germany's Power Supplied By Solar, Briefly

Wind and nuclear I understand, but how does gas significantly reduce carbon emmissions? Isn't it still burning stuff and thus producing CO2? How is gas better than coal in this respect?

Nuclear is for a big chunk of base load capacity--plants that take days or weeks to start up and shut down, and so run essentially continuously at their rated output. (Coal plants fill essentially the same niche in fossil-fuel-based generation.) Wind (and solar) stack on top of that; these are variable output plants that can be switched in and out of service quickly as needed to meet demand. Gas turbines, while not emission free, are more efficient (in terms of energy output per ton of carbon emissions) than coal or oil burners, and can be spun up relatively quickly (in a few minutes) to meet spikes in demand. They're a compromise - good fuel efficiency but also high cost - that would be used for a few hours a day, or a few days a month, to fill in gaps in supply.

Comment: Re:Well, this won't backfire! (Score 1) 268

by Idarubicin (#47314631) Attached to: Wikipedia Editors Hit With $10 Million Defamation Suit
That is true, and interesting...but beside the particular point at issue here. The SPEECH Act (ugh) deals with defamation suits against U.S. citizens and residents filed in foreign courts. The case here is the mirror image situation: a case filed in the U.S. against a (hypthetical) overseas defendant.

Comment: Re:The Truth? (Score 3, Insightful) 268

by Idarubicin (#47314527) Attached to: Wikipedia Editors Hit With $10 Million Defamation Suit

There is, however, an expectation that Wikipedia editors will present information about a person (or any topic, for that matter) in a way that is proportionate to its relevance and importance. Under- or (especially) over-stating the importance of particular facts to give a coloured perspective isn't on; see the section of Wikipedia's neutral-point-of-view policy on Due and undue weight.

In other words, if George W. Bush's biography opened with

George W. Bush was a fighter pilot with the Texas Air National Guard, serving without particular distinction from 1968 to 1974.

It would be an undeniably true statement that nevertheless failed to comply with Wikipedia policy.

Similarly, Wikipedia's policy against using Wikipedia as a venue to publish original research specifically forbids "synthesis of published material". That is, you can't cherry-pick a bunch of sources (or parts of sources) and use them to state - or imply - a particular novel conclusion that hasn't been presented by a reliable, independent source. I could go on at length, but suffice it to say that Wikipedia content is ruled by far more than "It appeared in the newspaper so we have to put in Wikipedia".

Comment: Re:Who is that? (Score 5, Informative) 268

by Idarubicin (#47314357) Attached to: Wikipedia Editors Hit With $10 Million Defamation Suit

Kind of like how climate change activists erased the Medieval Warm Period off of Wikipedia a few years ago.

[citation needed].

Here's the current article: Medieval Warm Period. It has a couple of pages of detailed text, a pair of graphs of temperature records, and three photographs of locations or artifacts relevant to the MWP's effect on human history. The article has 41 footnotes, mostly to peer-reviewed journal articles.

Five years ago: 2009 version. A little over a page, one graph, one photo. 25 footnotes.

For fun, ten years ago: 2004 version. Six paragraphs (three of which are a single sentence). Zero figures, zero photographs. Just 4 inline references.

Scrolling through the article's editing history I don't find any period where anyone "erased" the MWP, aside from some short-lived vandalism. At no point is there any intimation in the article that the MWP didn't occur or was otherwise not a real thing. The article appears to have grown steadily in length, quality, and detail over the last decade, but its central points appear to have remained essentially unchanged. Your comment, however, appears quite typical of climate change deniers--boldly stating things that are patently untrue in order to gain the emotional support of people who don't fact-check you, while wasting the time of the people who do.

Comment: Re:Well, this won't backfire! (Score 2) 268

by Idarubicin (#47314169) Attached to: Wikipedia Editors Hit With $10 Million Defamation Suit

I just hope that none of the poor bastards he is suing happen to live in the UK... If so, they are six flavors of screwed.

The defamation laws and precedent which apply depend on the jurisdiction in which suit was filed, not on where the defendants live. And the second sentence of the article indicates that suit was filed in Ventura County Superior Court: in other words, California.

(Indeed, it might be preferable for a defendant to live in the UK; depending - very much - on the particular details of the case, a California court may dismiss a defamation suit against a UK defendent due to the court's lack of personal jurisdiction. Or, in the event of judgement in favour of the plaintiff against a large number of defendants, the plaintiff may decide that actually trying to extract payment from a person in another country isn't worth the time, effort, and additional billable hours.)

"An open mind has but one disadvantage: it collects dirt." -- a saying at RPI