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Comment: A story of Saint Brigid. (Score 5, Funny) 132

by XNormal (#49037743) Attached to: Paramedics Use Google Translate While Delivering Baby

"A certain woman who had taken the vow of chastity fell, through youthful desire of pleasure and her womb swelled with child. Brigid, exercising the most potent strength of her ineffable faith, blessed her, causing the child to disappear, without coming to birth, and without pain. She faithfully returned the woman to health and to penance."

Was the mother of that child trying to hint something with that choice of name?

Comment: Re:Monsanto (Score 1) 100

by XNormal (#48412963) Attached to: Group Tries To Open Source Seeds

I think people may be confusing hybrid seeds with terminator seeds.

Most modern seeds are a cross between two parent lines. They are not stable and the next generation of seeds will not have the same carefully selected properties. This is not done on purpose to prevent them from being reused - it's just a property of the most effective method of generating seeds with targeted properties.

High quality open source seeds will most likely be hybrids, too. You will not be able to reuse their seeds. But the parent lines will not be kept as a guarded secret and multiple seed producers will be able to make generic versions at reasonable prices.

Comment: Re:Burn to M-Disc (Score 1) 268

by XNormal (#47915745) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What To Do After Digitizing VHS Tapes?

A blu-ray M-Disc is now available. Put them in a fire safe (e.g. this one.

Even with just a single copy, I think this has a better chance of surviving the next 25 years than assuming that you will never fail to copy the data to the next hard disks before the old ones die over that entire period. Or that the cloud storage provider you choose will not go out of business.

And you should be able to find readers for this. For some applications there is good reason to have some kind of storage medium that is completely passive and has no electronics as part of it. And unless something changes in the laws of physics it will probably be optical. While they may shrink is size over time, for archival use a 12cm disc seems like a convenient form factor, doesn't it? So I think these holographic nanodispersion dense wavelength multiplexing diffraction-limit beating wonders will still be be backward compatible with the ancient "blue ray" format.

Comment: Re:"Dance" = rolling blackouts (Score 1) 442

by XNormal (#47692857) Attached to: Is Storage Necessary For Renewable Energy?

Shaving some of the *predictable* daily peaks is nice. It brings you closer to the base load demand and saves a bit at the margin.

Responding to a sudden and *unpredictable* loss of a good fraction of your power generation capacity is no longer about shaving. I think the right term would be "amputation". The cost at which a large fraction of consumers would plan and respond by reducing their power demand is about the same as their losses from a blackout. This is no longer about optimization of resource use - it's about spreading the inevitable damage to those for whom it is slightly less painful (or those who simply have no choice because they cannot pay).

This is way past the point of diminishing returns on overall benefit to society - unless you ascribe some value approaching infinity to your religious devotion to "renewable" energy and make everyone share this valuation by force.

Comment: Re:"Dance" = rolling blackouts (Score 1) 442

by XNormal (#47690237) Attached to: Is Storage Necessary For Renewable Energy?

Large business consumers make very effective use of these incentives right now.

The "incentives" required to produce such extreme changes in demand as required to meet the fluctuations in renewable energy production would have to be very harsh. Yes, you would probably turn off your air conditioner if it cost you $20 per hour. And some might consider it an effective use of incentives to manipulate demand. I'm not so sure how you would feel about such manipulations, though.

Comment: Re:Efficiency? (Score 4, Informative) 234

The conventional piston-and-crankshaft engine forces the variation of cylinder volume over time to follow a specific sinusoidal curve. This is not the most efficient way to convert the energy of a hot expanding gas to motion. Look at the third picture in the slideshow to see the power-over-time graph of the free piston engine to get an idea of how differently this engine runs.

This fundamental difference in thermodynamic cycle performance makes the biggest improvement to the efficiency of this engine. It more than makes up for the inherent inefficiencies in converting the mechanical motion to electricity and back. Using electricity lets you use capacitors and batteries to smooth that spiky but efficient power production to a a smooth supply for the electric motors.

Comment: Nucular power (Score 2) 97

by XNormal (#46582035) Attached to: WHO: Air Pollution 'Killed 7 Million People' In 2012

Take a look at this graph: Nuclear Electricity Production. It's quite easy to spot 1986 on this graph (Chernobyl). That's where the trend of acceleration in nuclear power growth has reversed into deceleration. No such reversal has occured in demand for electric power, of course. The shortfall has been largely picked up by coal.

The number of people that have been killed by air pollution from coal as an indirect result of the nuclear stagnation after the Chernobyl accident is well into the millions.

Measure with a micrometer. Mark with chalk. Cut with an axe.