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Comment Not NIMBY: other factors (Score 3, Insightful) 316

The line losses are a NIMBY problem, people don't want power plants near their houses.

That's not really true. Coal-fired power plants need to be located near a large, reliable water source for cooling and the closer they are to their fuel source the less energy is used to transport the coal. They also have to be of a certain size in order to operate efficiently. Hence even if everyone was willing to tolerate a coal fired power station in their neighbourhood most locations would be unsuitable for their construction, rural communities would be too small to warrant a power station even if suitable and even then there would be an increase in the energy to ship the coal the larger distances required. This means that only small reductions in transmission losses would be possible and since this is already one of the most efficient steps in the power consumption process you'd lose a lot more than you would gain.

Comment Copyright Piracy (Score 3, Interesting) 210

It wouldn't last a week before we'd be seeing attacks against competitors.

It's not competitors I'd be worried about but the copyright trolls. Using their interpretation of copyright law practically everyone would be guilty of "stealing" their data in some form or other and so would be open to be hacked "just to check". The truly ironic thing of course is that by acting under a letter of marque they would actually be far more like a pirate than those they accuse.

Comment Political Hot Air (Score 2) 502

It's the people with the "can do" attitude that lead us to the future.

A can-do attitude is useful when you have an idea about how to do something new and nay-sayers then argue against that idea ever working. What we have here is a political goal with no clue about how to achieve it which is not the same thing. The problem with a 100 % 'renewable' energy solution is that the power is very variable. Show me a plan to deal with that and I'll be interested. Until then this appears nothing more than political hot air.

Comment Pulsars (Score 1) 148

that would be much harder with other larger and/or denser bodies like Jupiter, the Sun, and white dwarfs.

Actually the argument also used pulsars. These have densities at, or above, that of a nucleus. A blackhole produced at the surface of one would swallow the entire star due to the phenomenally large cross-section. Pulsars are easy to detect and since we have never yet observed a pulsar winking out of existence we can exclude dangerous black hole production.

Comment Intelligence is Dangerous (Score 2) 240

Just look at how dangerous "natural" intelligence is and all the problems and disasters it has caused when it goes wrong - either through making mistakes or through mental disorders. Why should the artificial version be different? The question is will the benefits outweigh the downsides? Clearly for "natural" intelligence the answer is a resounding yes and I expect this will also be the case for the artificial version too.

Comment Result of Technology (Score 1) 889

The whole system is designed for people having stuff "they only sometimes need".

That is the result of technology which has massively reduced the cost to produce items. Once the cost to purchase and store the item becomes less than the cost to rent the item (factoring in something extra for the convenience of ownership) people will buy it rather than rent it. However it is not clear to me that the rental model is more efficient: there is an energy cost to moving the device around as well as the cost of the people to manage everything.

Even if you think of massively advanced technology which might let you 3d-print tools, use them, and then break them down and reuse the raw material to build your next item it is still not a given that the energy cost of that would be less than just storing different objects for occasional use.

Comment Dishonest Legislation (Score 1) 446

You do realize, right, that every GMO is required to undergo years of testing?

True but the testing they undergo is less rigorous than drugs and yet every so often a new drug has to be recalled because of either rare side effects or long term effects that were not known at the time of release. That is not a reason to ban GMO since, as with drugs, the benefits can outweigh the risks. However we would never dream of giving someone a new drug without telling them what they were taking so why should it be ok to let people eat GMO without telling them?

If GMO labelling were mandatory then companies would be forced to pass the benefits onto consumers: if GMO strawberries are cheaper to grow then they should be cheaper in the shops. This combined with an education campaign would mean that people would see and understand the benefits of GMO and so be more supportive of it. By hiding it the corporations can pocket the savings instead of us and they don't have to bother educating anyone which perpetuates the resistance to the technology.

Comment Wait for Confirmation (Score 0) 95

This is not the first time that someone has claimed to observe pentaquarks. I'd suggest holding off the welcome until this result is confirmed by several other experiments. Last time there was a confusing mixture of confirmations and non-confirmations until the consensus emerged that there was no evidence to support the existence of pentaquarks.

Comment Re:Faster != more time (Score 1) 654

Why would you rather do the email, read journals, etc on a BUS rather than do those things in the comfort of your home, or even you desk at your office?

Sorry I thought I made that clear: because it wastes less time. Bus/LRT I waste ~5-10 minutes each way, driving I waste ~25-30 minutes each way. So I get more done and have more free time. It might be nicer to do email etc. in the office/home but then I have to spend an extra hour each day doing it so less free time. I suppose it helps that I have a job where there are no real fixed hours and I just have to get things done. If I just had to be in an office from 9-5 then it would be less of an advantage.

Comment Fuel Cost not Jealousy (Score 2) 238

one of they key reasons Concorde failed is American jealousy

Simply not true (and I say that as a Brit). Concorde was planned before the OPEC cartel massively raised the cost of oil. The huge increase in the cost of fuel made it uneconomic because it was very inefficient. In addition there was the issue of noise pollution due to the sonic boom. Modern technology has made supersonic flight far more fuel efficient. While I am not in a position to know whether it is efficient enough to be economically viable I would not just dismiss it out of hand.

Comment Faster != more time (Score 1) 654

We don't drive cars only because they are cheaper than public transit, but faster too.

Actually one of the reasons I like to take the bus is that I can then use the time to do something useful because I am not driving. If I drive it would take ~25 minutes but I can do nothing but drive for those 25 minutes. By bus it is ~45 minutes but for ~40 of those minutes I can sit down and answer email, read journal papers, write course material etc. So while the bus may take longer I waste only ~5-10 minutes vs. 25 minutes when driving because I can do nothing but drive. For me the thing that will kill public transport is the self-driving car.

Comment Six of one, half dozen of other (Score 4, Insightful) 1307

It's the person who believes the lie, or knows that's it's a lie and uses it for profit that creates the problem.

Greece lied to get into the Euro because it thought it was going to be richer with a stronger currency. The EU turned a blind eye to it because they wanted the Eurozone to be as large as possible. Both are now going to suffer because of it. The Eurozone countries are not going to get their money back and Greece is almost certain to exit the Euro and very possibly the EU since there is currently no legal means to drop the Euro while an EU member. At this point the best thing to do is make this happen as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Don't sweat it -- it's only ones and zeros. -- P. Skelly