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Comment: Re:Science creates understanding of a real world. (Score 1) 762

by Uecker (#47874443) Attached to: How Scientific Consensus Has Gotten a Bad Reputation

Sorry for the sarcastic reply.

I sympathize with the idea that scientist should try to explain their ideas to the general public, but I do not
agree with the idea that scientific findings should only be taken serious if it is explained so well that I can be
understood by the general public. Some things are just too difficult to be easily explained - and even if this is possible
in some cases, it might take too much time and effort to explain it well. So yes, I think political decisions must
sometimes be based on the authoritative advice from certain scientific insitutions.

Comment: Re:Science creates understanding of a real world. (Score 1) 762

by Uecker (#47874239) Attached to: How Scientific Consensus Has Gotten a Bad Reputation

True. Feynman is great.

But it is a long time since I read that book, and I think that while it explains the key ideas very well I would be surprized if it enables an average person to do actual computations in quantum field theory to verify some of its predictions on their own. For this, you have to dive into the math on a much deeper level. So the point still stands.

Comment: Re:Easy solution (Score 4, Informative) 347

by Uecker (#47874015) Attached to: When Scientists Give Up

In fact, the conspiracy theory that the government is funding climate scientists who say that global warming is real and caused by human activity with the purpose to strengthen the government's authoritarian grip on society is a myth. But also the more plausible idea that scientists exaggerate their findings to get more funding does not seem to be true:

Comment: Re:Every week there's a new explanation of the hia (Score 1) 465

by Uecker (#47733375) Attached to: Cause of Global Warming 'Hiatus' Found Deep In the Atlantic

I wish we would actually debate how to best deal with global warming instead of whether it exists or what causes it.

That is exactly what we are debating.

Obviously we are also debating whether global warming exists or is caused by humans. To me - as a scientist - this is a deeply worrying sign of ignorance.

And the best way of dealing with it is to ignore it, because the costs of dealing with global warming down the road are tiny compared to the costs of limiting emissions right now, for any realistic IPCC scenario.

This is an interesting opinion. You present it as obvious, but it is the opposite of what most people who studied this seems to think.

The problem is that climate scientists and their activist friends are unwilling to accept basic economics and keep making proposals outside their domain of expertise.

This is clearly not basic economics. Is is more about estimating future risks and estimating economic cost which seems difficult to me. The term "climate scientists and their activist friends" also indicates a bit of paranoid thinking.

Comment: Re:Every week there's a new explanation of the hia (Score 1) 465

by Uecker (#47730177) Attached to: Cause of Global Warming 'Hiatus' Found Deep In the Atlantic

I think a lot of people, even some actual scientists, do not understand the role of skepticism in Science. There's a difference between scientific skepticism and peanut gallery skepticism. Scientific skepticism is healthy.

Scientists can speculate and debate as much as they want whether it's getting warmer or colder. The issue with the global warming debate is the political demands to translate the science into specific actions, often by scientists who have no qualifications in economics or politics.

Nonsense. The issue is that people who do fear certain political actions are badmouthing the underlying science and the scientists involved instead of debating political questions. I wish we would actually debate how to best deal with global warming instead of whether it exists or what causes it.

Comment: Re:Ugh (Score 1) 727

by Uecker (#47717675) Attached to: Linus Torvalds: 'I Still Want the Desktop'

I don't see your point. Xrender works just fine and just traced some applications using xtrace and they happily make use of it. And yes, this works perfectly over the network.

Changing this would mean breaking a binary protocol with decades of backwards compatibility. I do not think the Linux community could do something more stupid than breaking compatibility with X11. As if those many applications magically rewrite themselves. And applications which use direct rendering work exactly the same way on X as anywhere else, so there is not even something to gain.

What is missing for the desktop is a consistent and polished GUI on top of that. Unfortunately, gnome, Ubuntu, all made the same mistake as Microsoft: Abandoning their old stuff to get something hip which also works on tablets. Now we have an inconsistent mess that is worse than what we had a few years ago.

Comment: Re:Much less should be written in C (Score 1) 637

by Uecker (#47642173) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: "Real" Computer Scientists vs. Modern Curriculum?

If you change a private implementation detail in a class, you have to recompile everything which uses the class. This is the opposite of encapsulation.

Yes, that's what the PIMPL idiom is for. Here's a nice introduction to it .

Yes I know this.

As with most everything, there's a way to solve that problem in C++, it just takes some work and knowledge to know what, when, and how to use it.

Sure, but why waste so much time working around short-comings in the language? This idiom is a very good example. A lot of code and complexity which does nothing useful but is required to work around the stupidity of the language designer.

I do agree that the language is too big though; conceptually, C++ could be broken into 4 distinct components (C, STL, templates, OOP), as each have their own quirks and idioms that don't necessarily carry over well to the other, and some are even Turing complete on their own (ie template metaprogramming)

I use the C component. It is not perfect, but not as mis-designed as what has been added in C++.

Comment: Re:Much less should be written in C (Score 1) 637

by Uecker (#47628329) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: "Real" Computer Scientists vs. Modern Curriculum?

If you change a private implementation detail in a class, you have to recompile everything which uses the class. This is the opposite of encapsulation. And no, it is not my only gripe with C++...

The problem with C++ is not that it is large or that it backwards compatible with C. The problem with C++ is that almost every language feature has been added in without much thought because it seemed cool at some point in time. So the whole thing is a mess of incoherent, incomplete, and sometimes broken features, which do not work together.

Comment: Re:Baby with bathwater (Score 1) 343

My point is that France's electricity is cheap because the government pays so it cannot be used as argument why nuclear is cheap did.

Care to demonstrate this?

Basically it has been claimed that the French nuclear scale-up was super cheap because of standardized design and the regulatory framework, while everybody else did it wrong and had exploding cost. But this seems only partially true. French nuclear was not magically much cheaper than elsewhere. Ofcourse, this is very hard to estimate because there is a lot of government money involved. But there are studies which looked at this:

The costs of the French nuclear scale-up: A case of negative learning by doing
A Grubler - Energy Policy, 2010

Based on recent number from an audit by the Court of Audit there are better estimates:

The cost of nuclear electricity: France after Fukushima, N Boccard - Energy Policy, 2014

That nuclear is generally not economically viable is very well known. Building of nuclear power plants basically stopped because cost exploded ans was increasing with newer designs. Then there is the trend in recent decades to create de-regulated energy markets so government involvment was reduced and new projects have to be financed by private companties. But this is not usually considered to be economical. See for example a recent analysis of the levelized cost of energy by Lazard. Also just take a look at actual projects. Where advanced nuclear reactors are build there massive cost overruns. The project at could only be financed by garantueeing prices well over the market price. For a mature industry which took an insane amount of money for R&D and exists for a long term, the fact that it is currently not possible to build plants which are economically competitive is not very convincing.

Also, Germany's renewable sector is also heavily subsidized, so even if I accepted that France's electrical production (not R&D - that's a whole different story) is subsidized, you could at best say that both countries do production subsidies. Even then the French are getting the better end of the deal with lower rates.

The problem is that the German subsidies are not for a mature industry but to build up the economy of scale and drive innovation. They play a similar role to initial R&D cost in nuclear. They are not meant to stay and are already much less for newer plants. They also have been very sucessful in driving down the cost. Also putting the additional fee (which is only a small part of the total price) on top of the rate was intentional done do promote conservation while the cost of nuclear in France is hidden in the general taxes.

An LFTR is an *engineering* nightmare.

I presume you've worked on LFTR engineering then? Can you name some of the engineering nightmarish points?

Corrosion. Operating it will also be a nightmare. Can you put a diver into molton salt to fix things? But I am happy to be proven wrong. I am not against nuclear for some ideological reasos. I looked at this and think it is not worth it. With LFTR, I would not mind if we spend some money to explore this option further, but - honestly - I do not see this becoming an economical option.

while renewables are already competitive and getting cheaper every year.

Oh really? Without a guaranteed feed-in tariff and market distortion by forcing the grid operator to take renewables first and make the rest of the traditional generators pay for their intermittency?

Yes, wind is already clearly economical. And solar is on a good way. Also you forgot that nuclear has an even bigger problem than renewables: It is only good for baseload (otherwise economics get even worse). Germany has pumped-storage which is currently under-utilized because solar production tracks the demand curve better than nuclear.

I had a look at a fairly large project in Germany, Solarpark Meuro and it is quoted at 140 million Euros for the first 70 MW installed. Naively you'd recalculate that to be 2000 Euros per kW, compare to nuclear (which costs more per kWh) and declare victory. Except that's not an honest comparison. Nameplate capacity on a solar plant is not the same as on a nuclear plant due to capacity factor. Solar in Germany has CF ~0.15, whereas nuclear is >0.9, often even 0.95. So to replace one nuke plant kW of capacity you'd need to install ~6x that amount in solar, so it's no longer 2000 Euros per kW, it's more like 12000 Euros per kW. But the story doesn't end there. Solar isn't dispatchable, so you need to add the cost of backup storage into that. And when it's winter and your solar insolation drops by a factor of 5-6x, your solar system is again effectively completely useless and you need yet another plant to produce (so potentially yet another X-amounts of kW to backup your solar array).

You are picking a specific example and I have no time now to look at this specifcally. But is irrevant anyway because it is a single data point. Wind power is already cheaper than nuclear. And yes, this is taking all costs into account. Solar is getting cheaper rapidly. Nuclear exists for decades
and is getting more expensive.

Economically, investing in nuclear is a poor decision.

So just for kicks I've taken data from IEA's CO2 Highlights 2013 catalog (+one real-time data point for 2013 from RTE) for France and plotted them against data from Germany's Umweltsbundesamt and this is what you get. Notice how the renewable share (and that includes hydro) gets larger faster than CO2 per kWh decreases? In recent years, in fact, it has jumped up, because the German grid is experiencing an expected effect: increased fossil fuel emissions due to sporadic running. Even if we extrapolate out to 2056 you'll see that German CO2/kWh is still ~2.5x higher than present-day French emissions (and the French are working on lowering those even further - this year they've announced they managed to halve it by running fossil plants less & running nuclear and hydro plants more).

"expected effect: increased fossil fuel emissions due to sporadic running". Not sure what this is supposed to mean. I looked at the data and analysis for Germany for 2013 before and while the CO2 emissions increased in total, the CO2 emissions for electricity production did not and it is also generally not expected to decrease. I posted links to data and analysis before. That it is higher than France is due to the traditional high dependency on coal in Germany (which has many reasons: jobs, energy independence, ...). But don't get me wrong, I would personally clearly prefer nuclear to coal and there is no doubt that nuclear produces much less CO2 than coal. That Germany did not improve its CO2 emission despite a massive investment in renewables is primarly because they decided shut down nuclear power first rather than coal. A reduction is expected for the future when renewables start to replace fossil instead of nuclear.

But if I have now to choose between nuclear and a mix of renewables if I think the mix of renewables is clearly the more economical thing to do.

The second graph is taking data from for all European countries for the year 2008 and plotting their CO2/kWh emissions versus various energy sources and their compositions. If you have a look at the R^2 factor you'll notice that the strongest correlation for CO2 reduction is nuclear + hydro (exactly what France is doing). Comparing the contribution of REs (without hydro) & nuclear energy alone gives you a much clearer picture - nuclear is much more strongly correlated. If you take the one outlier for REs out of the picture (Finland) the situation gets much worse, with RE correlation dropping to essentially zero.

To me this is ultimately all that matters: can you deliver on drastically reducing (by a factor of 10x or more) CO2 emissions.

You can not easily scale up nuclear. In a single country, economics get worse if you try to do produce more than some baseload and if you scale up nuclear globally, the price of fuel will go up - also making bad economics even worse. Creating a thorium cycle or a closed fuel cycle is also not exactly cheap.

Slowly and surely the unix crept up on the Nintendo user ...