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Comment: Re: Nature is fighting against gays... (Score 1) 134

by RockDoctor (#47764099) Attached to: 13-Year-Old Finds Fungus Deadly To AIDS Patients Growing On Trees
Substituting EVD (Ebola Virus Disease) for HIV/ SIV, and bats for primates ... and you've got a good description of the probable source mechanism of the current Ebola outbreaks in West and Central Africa.

Incidentally, "improper animal handling procedures resulting in blood-to-blood contact" may include chopping up an infected animal for dinner (as most people envisage it), or digging bits of splattered bat out of the radiator of your car or from your clothing after the bat has become road kill. Which is certainly what worries us and our medical advisers as we travel near to infected areas.

Comment: Re:Average lifespan is misleading (Score 1) 277

by RockDoctor (#47764021) Attached to: The Evolution of Diet

We tend to make the assumption that an average lifespan of 30 means that nobody lives past 35 years old

We who? I doubt anyone thinks that.

To misquote someone, nobody ever lost money by underestimating the statistical ineptitude of the common man. Or something like that.

I wish it were true that nobody really thought that poorly. But I am realistic enough to recognise that there are significant numbers of people who really are that ignorant and incapable of basic maths.

Comment: Or stay offline. (Score 1) 272

by RockDoctor (#47763987) Attached to: Dropbox Caught Between Warring Giants Amazon and Google

But that might be the only thing keeping us from choosing between the Wal-Mart-A and Wal-Mart-B of online storage.

I carry 2x1TB drives around with me, and synchronise between them. No online storage for me.

Then again, with 1MBPS of public network link shared between 180 people, no online storage for anyone on this job either.

Comment: Re:Global Warming? (Score 1) 272

by RockDoctor (#47763955) Attached to: Numerous Methane Leaks Found On Atlantic Sea Floor

We're dumping centuries worth of CO2 into the atmosphere every year.

Looking back into the rock record (I used to use the rocks associated with this event as steering information to earn my bread and butter ; I work in a different part of the world this year), we've released as much CO2 in under 2 centuries as the PETM (Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum) took around 6 millennia to release. Dull, boring fact - like I said, my bread and butter for over a decade.

(look at the "clathrate gun hypothesis" for an example of what could happen).

s/clathrate gun hypothesis/PETM/ (or the interface between Forties / Andrew Sand Formation and the overlying Sele and Baldur Formations (spellings vary between countries and companies).


Dull boring facts, again.

Global warming deniers can bullshit all they want. Here in the oil industry we've no doubt what is happening. If our managers (not being geologists) want to lie about geology (or pay shills to lie for them), that's politics, not geology.

I suppose I'd better go and drill my hole in the ground now.

Comment: Re:It's only ahead of Siding Spring by a month (Score 1) 66

by RockDoctor (#47763867) Attached to: Mangalyaan Gets Ready To Enter Mars Orbit

Will it have time/fuel to "duck and cover" by getting to the far side of the planet before the close approach of the comet and the potential of a cometary dust storm that could wreck it?

While this is a non-zero probability event, it is a low probability event. I doubt that the mission planners are particularly worried about it.

Maybe if there's a mission-compatible way of sequencing things that will reduce this low probability even further, at little cost (which is what Hubble did during a predicted Leonid meteor shower ; but the Hubble Deep Field South was already planned, and the only real change was when the exposures were scheduled. Which by coincidence pointed the HST away from the radiant of the meteor shower.)

Incidentally I note that the mission is being monitored by the Indian Deep Space Network. Which either operates for a few hours a day (per mission, depending on direction to the spacecraft), or indicates that India has done some significant multi-national diplomacy to get their ground stations into a number of countries.

LMGTFY. There's a Wiki page that says it's one site near Bangalore. And that mentions the use of steerable antennae to " improve[s] the visibility duration". But this site says there are a number of other tracking sites. "ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) [...] has a network of ground stations at Bangalore, Lucknow, Sriharikota, Port Blair and Thiruvananthapuram in India besides stations at Mauritius, Bearslake (Russia), Brunei and Biak (Indonesia). " So, maybe several different organisations, with overlapping missions and facilities. Like Topsy, it's probably something that "just growed".

Comment: Re:Things (Score 1) 190

by RockDoctor (#47763271) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: How Prepared Are You For an Earthquake?

A short-wave transciever could come in mighty handy should disaster come.

Several people each having working and mutually compatible transceivers would be much more useful. So you need to have been, in practice, drilling with your local emergency services professionals to ensure that you know how to contact them, what to report and how to triage ... in short, you need to spend considerable time practising these things.

Which is why, on the vessel I'm working on today, we spend about an hour a week on safety drills involving the whole crew (on-shift and those nominally asleep ; nobody sleeps through those alarms). An hour a week ; 52 hours a year, or 6 and a half working days a year. That's the sort of commitment you need to make to be significantly useful. For a less focussed "how to be effective in a major emergency" level of preparation, you'd probably still need to devote a full weekend a year. Which is do-able ; but it's a lot more than having some particular piece of equipment and then not really knowing how to effectively use it when the shit hits the fan.

Comment: Re: Dobsonian (Score 1) 185

by RockDoctor (#47763131) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: Cheap But Reasonable Telescopes for Kids?
If you're going to be strict about getting the absolute best out of the budget, then spending more than a trivial sum on optics is a complete waste for most potential astronomers, regardless of age. Most of the budget will need to go on getting away from light pollution.

you could argue that is only some 50% of the target audience, but it's still 50% who you're going to need to ship dozens or hundreds of km to decent skies.

Alternatively, allocate 20 or 30% of the budget to dark sky advocacy work. You could even use a "reduce waste" slogan like "why pay to light up the bottom of the clouds?" Which raises another point, always a bugbear of astronomy, the weather.

Comment: Re:Dobsonian (Score 1) 185

by RockDoctor (#47753295) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: Cheap But Reasonable Telescopes for Kids?

not bore them to death trying all night to set up their mounts.

It took me about 15 minutes to polar align my first ever telescope, on it's first night after delivery. It's not rocket science, and it's not as difficult as you seem to think.

I will admit that the manual was pretty decent on this point, and I'm the sort of person who Rs T F-ing M before unpacking anything else. which isn't a normal 11-year-old's natural trait. But so what? On the first night, you set up the scope and get them hooked. First night is for seeing sights. If that works, then there will be other nights for them to learn the hobby. If the first night doesn't show enough goodies, then there won't be a second night.

Comment: Re:Cheap grid storage (Score 1) 442

by RockDoctor (#47749189) Attached to: Is Storage Necessary For Renewable Energy?
Reported reserve growth is common. Changes in prices (and extraction technologies) alter the economic cut-off at which a deposit becomes an economically-exploitable reserve.

Actual growth of a reserve is much much rarer and much slower. It takes millions of years to cook a source rock and generate hydrocarbons ; it takes more millions of years for the hydrocarbons to migrate from source into a reservoir. Most ore deposits also take extended periods of time to form, with consequent slow absolute production rates.

When oil prices were rising (a joyful period - it's around 10 times the price now compared to when I entered the industry), there was a bunch of economists who'd make a lot of ill-informed comments about how the rising prices meant there was literally (not figuratively) an infinite supply of oil available. Which goes to show how delusional some economics professors can be. Some of these people really do need to go out and take a hammer to a lump of granite for an afternoon - it's both educational and therapeutic.

Comment: Re:Cheap grid storage (Score 1) 442

by RockDoctor (#47747137) Attached to: Is Storage Necessary For Renewable Energy?
I read that too. As a geologist, I take such predictions with a considerable pinch of halite. I know how unsure such predictions are - it's my job to make such estimates.

You may remember some kerfuffle a few years back with several oil companies admitting to 30 to 50% decreases in their predictions of production and reserves? Within the industry, that was viewed as a perfectly reasonable admission of the inherent uncertainties of the original predictions.

I honestly doubt that other extractive industries will have better resource estimates. Particularly when you get into Rumsfeldian known-knowns, unknown-knowns and unknown-unknowns. Which is where a lot of reserve and resource predictions lay.

Comment: Re:Check your local fracking mixture (Score 1) 303

by RockDoctor (#47738659) Attached to: Scientists Baffled By Unknown Source of Ozone-Depleting Chemical

In addition to being illegal, [in-]effective[,] not soluble is water, and would not make hydrocarbons more mobile or more soluble. It would however, readily dissolve in hydrocarbon fluids, where it would be difficult and expensive to separate.

These are valid general objections. I'll add a genuine question from someone with 30 years experience in drilling oil wells - what the fuck would you expect it to do?

The only time I've seen carbon tetrachloride used on an oil rig (with the possible exception of in HVAC systems, which I just use but don't have to maintain or care about their details, and which might contain CCL4) is as a laboratory reagent for separating different densities of liquid hydrocarbons. Which is something you don't really need to do at the rig site (why would you want 10 different tankers or pipelines when you can just run one to the storage farm and on to the refinery after blending). Separating gaseous and liquid hydrocarbons is routinely done (strangely, in the so-called "separator" ; doh!), but just using simple physical properties ; separating out solids ("waxes") is also needed in some low-temperature fields to prevent "waxes" accumulating in pipes, tanks, etc. But again, you don't need CCl4 for that either.

I can't think of a reason to use anything more than traces of CCl4 on a drilling rig. Even for the lab uses we've replaced it with propan-2-ol or acetone.

Comment: Re:Cheap grid storage (Score 1) 442

by RockDoctor (#47738231) Attached to: Is Storage Necessary For Renewable Energy?

about half a day of average power consumption in used battery storage. So, while we probably don't need that much storage it may be considered so inexpensive that we'll use it all.

Is there enough lithium in the world for that?

No, seriously? Is there enough lithium at a high enough concentration in ore minerals (e.g. spodumene, or other primary lithium sources), to make that quantity of batteries? Or would you need to depend on more esoteric accumulator cell chemistries such as the magnesium-based ones promised for the last decade or so?

Comment: Re:Too many damn immigrants (Score 1) 112

by RockDoctor (#47736161) Attached to: Financial Services Group WCS Sues Online Forum Over Negative Post
That would be ... the French invading the British province of Canada with assistance from some bunch of ex-convicts in 13 colonies on the east coast of the southern part of the continent?

How did that turn out? Did you get that house painted white again?

White man's immigration to America - and their genocides of the inhabitants - started well over 3 centuries ago, in large part as a colony for transportation of criminals and other undesirables. By two centuries ago the hecatomb of the native inhabitants was well under way using germs, steel and guns in approximately that order of importance. Though that's not the origin myth that your educational machines in Hollywood put out.

"Only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core." -- Hannah Arendt.