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Comment: Why not just put it in space? (Score 1) 252 252

Sure, you could float your colony in the atmosphere of Venus. But since you're basically creating a fully sealed, self contained system, why not just put it in space? Why bother with Venus at all?

Ok, it does have a few advantages over that. You get gravity for free (91% of Earth gravity). You get radiation shielding. You have access to some raw materials - but only what you can get from the upper atmosphere. You're not heading down to the surface to mine anything there! But all of those things are easily achieved in space. Rotate the colony to get gravity. Mine raw materials from asteroids or the moon. Use a physical barrier or a magnetic field to block radiation. And you have two huge advantages:

1. You don't have to worry about the outside of your colony frequently being exposed to clouds of sulfuric acid.

2. Venus is a really long way away! Having your colony much closer to Earth will make building it much cheaper and easier, and also make transportation a lot easier once it's built.

Comment: Time for the GPL! (Score 2) 134 134

Really, the GPL is perfect for solving problems like this. Stick a GPL notice in the source of one of your webpages. Download it from their network. They've just created a derived product by modifying your source, and all their additions are now GPL licensed themselves.

Comment: Harvard is NOT evil! (Score 1) 348 348

When Harvard scientists do something cool, everyone thinks that's great. When someone gives them money so they can keep doing cool things, that's evil? Come on people! Harvard is mainly a research university. That's doubly true for the engineering school. This money will be used to hire world class researchers and give them world class facilities so they can do great work. I'd think Slashdotters would appreciate that.

If you think Paulson is evil, fine. I won't argue it. But giving money to Harvard is not one of his evil acts.

Comment: Re:But dude, there was a snowball (Score 1) 639 639

If that's how you read it, then you read it incorrectly.

The goal here is to take data from a variety of measurement types and make them comparable to each other, so trends can accurately be determined. Different measurement types produce different results. Water in engine intake pipes is slightly warmer than water surrounding buoys. To compare the two types of measurements, you need to account for that. You can do that by increasing the temperature of the buoy data, or decreasing the temperature of the engine room data. But for their purpose—accurately determining trends—it makes absolutely no difference which one you do. They chose to adjust the buoy data, but if they had adjusted the ship data instead, absolutely nothing in their conclusions would have changed. The temperature trend is identical either way. You're quibbling about something that has absolutely no effect on their conclusions, then claiming that makes the conclusions "a statistical shell game and not science".

Comment: Re:20-40% overblown (Score 1) 597 597

I think you're misunderstanding the author. From the article:

Sun generates 12VDC via the solar panel

Solar panels push power to a battery

The battery or the solar panel push 12VDC to a DC to AC converter (20% loss of power).

AC is distributed throughout the house

Many devices then convert the power BACK to DC (20% loss of power)

He doesn't claim there's an energy loss between the solar panel and the battery. The conversion happens when the power comes out of the battery and gets distributed to all your appliances, many of which promptly convert it back to DC.

However, if the loss from each conversion is only 5% instead of 20%, the whole issue becomes a lot less important.

Comment: Re:Why is this dribble on the front page? (Score 1) 445 445


I'm honestly not certain whether you're being serious or sarcastic. I hope the latter, because as a parody of religious thinking that was hilarious. "I saw a sexy underage girl, therefore God must exist," is not what I would call a good example of logical reasoning.

But in case you really were being serious, what other explanations have you considered? You've made an observation: there are things in the world that appear beautiful to you. You have suggested one explanation for that observation: they were all created by a supreme being who is an artist and "could not help but show a glimpse of His artistic skills." That is, I suppose, one possible explanation. But it certainly isn't the only one. So what other explanations have you considered? And then, how can you determine which of the possible explanations is correct?

To give just one example: perhaps beauty is not an intrinsic quality of an object. Perhaps, as the saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and whether you find something beautiful is strictly a property of you, not of the thing itself. That's easy to test. If true, there should be lots of disagreement about what is beautiful. There should be things that you find beautiful but many other people don't; and likewise, things that some people find beautiful but you don't.

Care to conduct that experiment?

Comment: Re:Why is this dribble on the front page? (Score 5, Insightful) 445 445

If you have an infinite barrel of marbles, you can't make a statement such as "10% of them are green".

You absolutely can. Let me give a simple example: the positive integers. That is, unquestionably, an infinite set. And it also is quite clear that precisely 10% of them are divisible by 10.

Mathematically, here's how we would describe it. Consider the set of integers from 1 to N. Let x(N) be the fraction of members in that set that are divisible by 10. It's quite easy to show that as N->infinity, x(N)->1/10.


Rate These 53 Sub-$200 Hacker SBCs, Win 1 of 20 45 45

DeviceGuru writes: LinuxGizmos and have just launched their annual 2-minute survey asking folks to rate their favorite hacker SBCs from a list of 53 single board computers that are priced below $200, supported by open documentation and Linux or Android OSes, and will ship before July. As usual, the survey's data will be made available publicly, but one big change this year is that participants can register for a random drawing that will give away 20 hacker SBCs, split equally among the BeagleBone Black, Imagination Creator CI20, Intel Edison Kit for Arduino, and Qualcomm DragonBoard 410c. (Emails submitted will only be used for selecting and notifying SBC drawing winners, say the sites.)

Comment: Completely the wrong approach (Score 1) 837 837

This is exactly what happens when you conflate two unrelated things: revenue and incentives. There's no reason a particular type of spending should be linked to a particular tax. That just leads to making bad decisions.

You need money to pay for services. Fine. Pay for them out of the state's general budget. So now you have to decide how to fund that budget. A good default is an income or wealth based tax. Something where everyone pays what they can afford to pay. But in any case, you don't need a separate revenue source for every item in the budget.

Independent of that, you may want to create incentives to encourage or discourage certain behaviors. You want people to buy more efficient vehicles. You want them to consume less energy. You want them to put less wear on the roads. There are lots of ways to create those incentives. A gas tax. A tax on the purchase price of a car, based on the total distance it will be driven over its lifetime. Tolls. And so on. Decide what behaviors you want to encourage, then identify the best incentives to encourage them.

But these two decisions should be completely separate. The gas tax is there to encourage efficiency, not to produce revenue. Any money it does bring in should go directly toward decreasing income taxes. There's the question of how much money you need, and the question of what incentives you want to create, and they should never be linked together.

Comment: Re:Tolls? (Score 4, Insightful) 837 837

What's all this about "the left" and "the right"? You seem to have two images in your head of two groups that supposedly believe certain things. Unfortunately, they seem to have little in common with the actual beliefs of anyone I know.

Rather than assigning labels and talking about what imaginary groups like "the left" supposedly believe, how about sticking to the specific beliefs that specific people have actually expressed, and let everyone say for themselves what they do or don't believe.

Comment: Not so steep (Score 5, Insightful) 227 227

Those hardware requirements aren't really that steep. Those GPUs currently cost under $350, so high end but not top-of-the-line. But it isn't supposed to be released until early next year. By then, new high end graphics cards will have been released, and these ones will be solidly mid-range. Also, the initial customers for this will be enthusiasts, the people who already have high end GPUs or don't mind spending a bit extra to get one. By the time this is really mainstream, even low end GPUs will likely be able to handle it.

Comment: Re:Pressuring the majority? (Score 3, Interesting) 866 866

Fortunately, these restrictions are all unenforcible. They're overruled by Article 6 of the US Constitution which states, "[N]o religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States." But the fact that so many states tried, and that they've continued to leave these restrictions in their constitutions despite being completely unenforcible, is pretty shocking and disgusting.

Comment: How the @#$%! could this possibly be patentable? (Score 1) 99 99

Here is Claim 1 from the patent application:

1. A system for aerial delivery of items to a destination location, comprising: a plurality of unmanned aerial vehicles, each of the plurality of unmanned aerial vehicles configured to aerially transport items; an unmanned aerial vehicle management system, including: a processor; and a memory coupled to the processor and storing program instructions that when executed by the processor cause the processors to at least: receive a request to deliver an item to a destination location; and send to an unmanned aerial vehicle of the plurality of unmanned aerial vehicles, delivery parameters identifying a source location that includes the item and a destination location; wherein the unmanned aerial vehicle, in response to receiving the delivery parameters, is further configured to at least: navigate to the source location; engage the item located at the source location; navigate a navigation route to the destination location; and disengage the item.

There is absolutely nothing there that hasn't been discussed thousands of times before and been a staple of science fiction for decades. But if this gets approved, no one but Amazon will be allowed to do this, just as it's becoming technologically feasible.

Remember, every claim in a patent is like a little patent in itself. Whatever else is contained in the patent, anything that matches all the features of any single claim is infringing. And there's nothing in that claim that's original or innovative in any way. Actually building a drone delivery network will require solving a lot of hard technological problems, and some of those solutions might legitimately be patentable. But this has nothing to do with that.

Actually, it's even worse than that. Here's the last paragraph of the application:

From the foregoing, it will be appreciated that, although specific implementations have been described herein for purposes of illustration, various modifications may be made without deviating from the spirit and scope of the appended claims and the elements recited therein. In addition, while certain aspects are presented below in certain claim forms, the inventors contemplate the various aspects in any available claim form. For example, while only some aspects may currently be recited as being embodied in a computer readable storage medium, other aspects may likewise be so embodied. Various modifications and changes may be made as would be obvious to a person skilled in the art having the benefit of this disclosure. It is intended to embrace all such modifications and changes and, accordingly, the above description to be regarded in an illustrative rather than a restrictive sense.

So the incredibly general claims should be interpreted even more generally. They're basically claiming complete ownership of the concept of delivering things with drones, including "all such modifications and changes" that anyone might reasonably think of.

"Any excuse will serve a tyrant." -- Aesop