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Comment: Experimental evidence says that is unlikely (Score 1) 120

by Wdi (#48001275) Attached to: Physicists Find Clue as To Why the DNA Double Helix Twists To the Right

There are now over half a dozen carbon-containing meteorites where a (small) excess of L-amino acids was found, and none where the opposite enantiomer was found to be in excess. Since these meteorites where never in contact with the earth's biosphere (the samples were of course not scraped from the surface), the chance of an evolution of isolated systems into a random chiral direction is already pretty slim.

Comment: What a terrible article.... (Score 4, Insightful) 143

by Wdi (#47718899) Attached to: How Argonne National Lab Will Make Electric Cars Cheaper

The weight of lithium is pretty irrelevant. There are no currently existing battery technologies where Li is more than 10% of the total weight of the battery, and standard battery types are significantly below that. If the active ion weight were the prime factor, there would be more interest in beryllium batteries (just 30% more weight vs. twice the charge per ion).

Comment: Hardly viable... (Score 4, Insightful) 151

by Wdi (#47447235) Attached to: Scotland Could Become Home To Britain's First Spaceport

Most of the commercial launches want equatorial orbits, and for that you want to launch as near to the equator as possible. As far as polar orbits for research satellites are concerned there is already the Kiruna site, which is fully equipped and at a better location for monitoring polar orbits. Polar orbits for secret missions? Countries involved in this will want to launch from their own turf. And space tourism? Does not exist yet.

Comment: Bullshit - don't believe marketing materials (Score 4, Informative) 195

by Wdi (#46821521) Attached to: How Apple's Billion Dollar Sapphire Bet Will Pay Off

Sapphire is *not* the second hardest material known. Yes, it's written in the linked article, but it is also definitely wrong. It is hard, and it is harder than glass. That is all there is. Besides diamond. many other materials, such as some forms of boronnitride, rhenium and osmium borides, and a collection of carbon/boron/nitrogen mixed compounds are all far harder than sapphire.

Comment: Not surprising, and acknowledged by chemists (Score 2) 153

To those posters claiming that these are sensationalistic numbers, or fake statistics:

This problem is well known among professional chemists, and there have been a string of high-profile accidents in recent years (and very expensive settlements for involved universities as a result).

The ACS (American Chemical Society) has instituted a task force to guide academia in establishing a better safety culture..

See for example

Comment: Expedition permits? Easier, actually... (Score 3, Informative) 189

by Wdi (#45817337) Attached to: Citizen Science: Who Makes the Rules?

Very misleading original article full of misguided complaints. Controls on the export of native plants or other biological specimen have been in place for hundreds of years, and with much harsher penalties.

The members of the expedition have a, admittedly tedious, path to get permits. Just play by the rules.

When John Rolfe smuggled tobacco from Trinidad to Virginia in 1611, establishing its tobacco farming industry, there was a mandatory death sentence for seed smugglers imposed by the Spanish colonialists.

FORTRAN is for pipe stress freaks and crystallography weenies.