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Comment: Re:Fukushima too (Score 1) 444

by amaurea (#47897381) Attached to: If Tesla Can Run Its Gigafactory On 100% Renewables, Why Can't Others?

Well, if you only want to consider what is temporarily in the air

It's not that I only want to consider that. I'm just pointing it out because you were ignoring that part.

Coal ash has raw chemical edges and is less healthy than dust from the ground for that reason. But the radiation aspect is unimportant.

I know, and I said so in both my previous post and the one before it. The extra contribution of radioactivity from coal ash is tiny, and nothing to worry about. It just isn't zero, like you were saying.

Comment: Re:Not just Reno (Score 1) 444

by amaurea (#47896285) Attached to: If Tesla Can Run Its Gigafactory On 100% Renewables, Why Can't Others?

Why did the maximum they can fleece people for in Germany go up

You pointed out that German electricity costs generally tracked European energy costs, and that they were all roughly 3x US electricity costs. Now you're saying it went up? Which point are you trying to make?

I showed you a graph in my original post that showed German electricity prices, American electricity prices and average European electricity prices as a function of time It shows both German and European electricity prices increasing, with American ones being stable. I don't see why you are surprised that I'm saying German prices went up after showing that figure.

The point I'm trying to make, and which you seem to be implicitly agreeing with, is that the German reneable energy expenditures do not work as an explanation for why its prices increased, because it would predict that Germany's electricity prices would see a large increase relative to the rest of Europe, which hasn't paid nearly as much for renewables.

You then came with a second hypothesis, which instead explains the European and German price increases as being due to insufficient competition. I haven't investigated this possibility, but I note that if this is the dominant driving force behind the price increases, then you would expect to see the same price curve for Germany whether they installed lots of renewable energy or not. If your second hypothesis is true, then the first one must at most be a very weak effect, responsible for almost none of the price increase. So in that case one cannot say that renewable energy expenditure is the cause of that 3x price difference between the USA and Germany.

Comment: Re:Fukushima too (Score 1) 444

by amaurea (#47896255) Attached to: If Tesla Can Run Its Gigafactory On 100% Renewables, Why Can't Others?

Consider laying the ash as a layer on the ground.

This isn't the situation I was talking about. I agree that once the fly ash has mixed with the soil, it doesn't add any radiation. But I was describing what happens before it ends up as a layer on the ground. It has to travel there from the exhaust pipes of the coal plant trough the air. During this phase, the ash isn't screening anything. It is simply adding on to whatever dust would be in the air otherwise.

Just because the ash adds no radiation during one phase of its life (the settled down on the ground phase) doesn't mean that it doesn't add radiation at all.

Comment: Re:Not just Reno (Score 1) 444

by amaurea (#47894711) Attached to: If Tesla Can Run Its Gigafactory On 100% Renewables, Why Can't Others?

None of it, I presume, since the term "investment in renewable energy" is b.s.; investment implies an expected return, and people are never going to see a return.

I did not have that meaning in mind. I should have said "spending money on renewable energy". Sorry for being misleading.

"Investment in renewable energy" is just Germany's preferred fig leaf for crony capitalism involving energy companies and lobbyists. Denmark and other EU nations have other fig leafs. That explains the otherwise remarkable coincidence that energy prices are so similar: it's determined not by how much countries spend to produce energy, but by the maximum amount they can fleece consumers for.

So if I understand correctly, you are arguing that Germany's spending on renewable energy has made electricity there much more expensive. Meanwhile, most other countries in Europe have undertaken a series of other unrelated huge projects, resulting in each country's electricity price increasing at the same rate. These price increases are all of similar magnitude because power companies througout Europe don't compete properly, and just charge whatever the market can bear.

If I caught your meaning correctly, then doesn't that mean that the price increase in Germany actually had nothing to do with the renewable energy expenditure? Why did the maximum they can fleece people for in Germany go up, and what does that have to do with renewable energy? I would think that an increase in the "maximum fleecable amount" would be due to a general increase in average household income, not due to potentially tax-increasing expenditures. I think something is missing to make this argument work.

Comment: Re:Fukushima too (Score 1) 444

by amaurea (#47894619) Attached to: If Tesla Can Run Its Gigafactory On 100% Renewables, Why Can't Others?

Actually, no. Fly ash has the same concentration of uranium as soil so it has no effect.

I don't follow your argument.

If you didn't have coal power, you would be exposed to a certain amount of radioactivity from soil, part of which would be through breathing in dust containing traces of uranium. If you have coal power, there would now be fly ash in the air in addition to the dust. It woud not replace the dust. So you would now be inhaling more uranium than before. Not that it would be much, in any case, though.

Radioactivity is not really what you should be worried about with fly ash. It causes lung damage just fine without radioactivity, in the form of silicosis, and is a significant cause of death in industrial countries, especially China.

Comment: Re:Not just Reno (Score 4, Informative) 444

by amaurea (#47887821) Attached to: If Tesla Can Run Its Gigafactory On 100% Renewables, Why Can't Others?

How much of that comes from their invesment in renewable energy, though? Other neighboring European countries that have not invested in renewables have comparable prices, as shown on this map. Denmark is 13% more expensive and Italy is 15% less expensive and the UK is 36% less expensive. Germany is towards the top there, but it is not an outlier. There are a few countries with prices comparable to the USA in the EU, such as Estonia which is 2.4 times chepear than Germany. But it seems strange to claim that the main difference between Germany and Estonia is the amount of renewables. And as this image shows, the price of electricity in Germany has been following the average in the European Union for some time now, which again doesn't match with the hypothesis that power in Germany is more expensive than in the USA because of all the solar power.

Comment: What about heat-assisted magnetic recording? (Score 2) 296

by amaurea (#47866927) Attached to: WD Announces 8TB, 10TB Helium Hard Drives

When these drives were first announced it was speculated that they would use heat-assisted magnetic recording, which could store a bit into a single magnetic grain rather than a domain consisting of hundreds of them. But it turned out that they used shingled magnetic recording instead, which seems to have less long-term promise. What's the news on HAMR? Is it still being pursued?

Comment: Re:Equivalent to the energy of 20 atomic bombs? (Score 1) 68

by amaurea (#47844987) Attached to: Newly Discovered 60-foot Asteroid About To Buzz By Earth

An "atomic bomb unit" is a very loose concept, based on the yield of the obsolete Hiroshima bomb. this graph shows the yield of various atomic bombs of the USA. This meteor, with a yield of about 440 kt of TNT, would be smack in the middle of the distribution, with bombs ranging from 100 times less powerful to 100 times more powerful. So it was a very powerful explosion. It's good it happened so far up.

Comment: Re:In defense of Patent Trolls (Score 1) 75

by amaurea (#47832995) Attached to: Intellectual Ventures Sheds At Least Part of Its "Patent Troll" Reputation

Thansk for the well-researched reply. The sources all back up your numbers (though the cnet one was very long). But one thing that isn't clear to me is what fraction of that licensing income that come as a result of a lawsuit or settlement, and what fraction was voluntary. As I said, I thought htat most people who paid licensing fees to Intellectual Ventures did so because they were sued.

I agree that much of the investment in their patent pool could count as licensing fees, since people join it for fear of being sued otherwise. But the original large investments that originally formed the company were different.

Comment: Re:In defense of Patent Trolls (Score 1) 75

by amaurea (#47831091) Attached to: Intellectual Ventures Sheds At Least Part of Its "Patent Troll" Reputation

Do yuo have a source for that? I thought inellectual ventures got most of its income by suing (either directly or indirectly through another company) and scaring the other side into an expensive settlement followed by license payments from then on. It's not like a warehouse where people come looking for neat ideas.

Comment: Re:In defense of Patent Trolls (Score 2) 75

by amaurea (#47831069) Attached to: Intellectual Ventures Sheds At Least Part of Its "Patent Troll" Reputation

How many of those who are paying license fees or settlements to intellectual ventures for your patent (and indirectly paying you) had read your patent before infringing on it? If they hadn't, how does you and intellectual ventures being paid help society or speed up innvoation in any way? If it were me receiving money from intellectual ventures, I would feel pretty bad about it.

Comment: Re:In defense of Patent Trolls (Score 1) 75

by amaurea (#47831021) Attached to: Intellectual Ventures Sheds At Least Part of Its "Patent Troll" Reputation

At the same time as you're selling your patent to a patent troll, I'm in the process of starting up a company based on my own invention, "continuous transparent wipers". Soon the wipers are selling like hot butter, and we think we might just pull this off. But then, out of the blue, my small company is hit by a lawsuit from the same patent extortionist you dealt with. In fact, they are using the very patent you sold them to sue us. They threaten to take us to court, and though we never even heard of your invention before, it is not clear that there isn't some overlap between our inventions. Our lawyer tells us that we cannot be sure to win, and that the cost of fighting this in court would bankrupt us. So we settle with the patent troll. They only want slightly less than what would kill us.

At the same time, the patent extortionist is using the patent to sue several others who came up with similar-sounding ideas. It's not that the patent extortionist is trying to discourage innovation as such - that's just an unfortunate but acceptable side-effect of its business model. Only people who pay it can be allowed to implement, and thankfully many are willing to give it more ammunition for a quick buck.

So to summarize: People who have a good idea but can't be bothered to turn it into a physical product patent it and sell the patent to a patent troll. It then waits for somebody who actually does invest in their own invention, and then uses the patent to extort them. This is how patent trolls usually work. It is very uncommon for somebody to go looking for a patent that solves some problem, find it in a patent database, and then pay for the privilege of using it. Instead, they come up with a solution on their own, use it to start a successful business, and then are ambushed by a patent they never even heard about.

This de-incentivizes people from going further than the idea step with an invention. When most patent infringements are accidental, it says something about how trivial the patent was in the first place. They are too broad, are granted too easily, and it is too expensive to determine the merit of a patent, and what infringes. It is bad enough that normal companies have them, but at least they have scruples in using them. Patent extortionists have no such inhibitions.

As a closing note: There is, as far as I know, no evidence that patents increase innovation. When patent power is increasd, the rate of innovation does not go up. Similarly, when patents are introduced to a new field where patents were previously not allowed (such as software quite recently), the rate of innovation does not go up. Empirical evidence is not on the side of the patent system. It was well meant, but negative second-order effects turned out to be more important than the positive immediate effects.

Comment: Re:Actual full quote (Score 1) 789

by amaurea (#47814963) Attached to: Invasion of Ukraine Continues As Russia Begins Nuclear Weapons Sabre Rattling

Thank you for posting this. That quote really sounded like it was taken out of context, and indeed it was. The person asking the question is putting forth the thesis that it is destiny that Russia be involved in a large war every 100 years or so (a cyclic history hypothesis), and Putn's reply is basically that Russia doesn't want a large war, and that due to nuclear weapons, other nations won't want a large war either. That is "don't worry, you're safe". It seems to be a calming satement meant at his own population rather than an agressive nuclear threat. So far off from the situation during the cold war, when threats of nuclear annihilation were thrown around over official diplomatic channels.

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