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Comment Re:Q: heat (Score 4, Informative) 223

Heating (and confinement) are now basically solved problems in magnetic confinement machines. The Wikipedia article says that they'll be using bog-standing microwave heating (they don't say exactly what), and neutral-beam heating in W-7X.

Both tokamaks and stellarators have to 'twist' the magnetic field around the torus (since paths around the inside of the torus are smaller than the outside, leading to instabilities). Tokamaks achieve this by inducing a current through the plasma to induce the twist in the magnetic field using a huge solenoid or other means; stellarators use external coils.

The former are prone to catastrophic disruptions (which in extreme cases, can unleash strong forces that could, in the absolute worst case, physically break the machine); the latter are more stable, but much harder to manufacture.

Comment Re:Shouldn't these things ... (Score 4, Insightful) 223

Nope. With these kind of magnetic confinement machines and the way they scale, the bigger the better (quite literally).

This is why we need to build a stupendously huge and expensive machine like ITER to demonstrate anything approaching economic power output for the energy required to confine and heat the plasma.

Comment Title is misleading (Score 1, Interesting) 223

There's nothing "new" about the stellarator at all.

I'm pretty sure that Lyman Spitzer came up with the idea at Princeton before the Russians did at the Kurchatov Institute. The only reason why the tokamak is more famous, is that the physics performance (particle, energy confinement) was for the longest time, way better in tokamaks (and may well still be). Also, tokamaks are way easier to build (but harder to operate).

That said, I've read suggestions that stellarators might be able to be optimised in ways that are impossible in tokamaks, pending further breakthroughs. The machines will still cost a fortune to build though -- and cost is going to be a BIG barrier to adoption of fusion as a power source at any rate.

Comment Re:OK (Score 2) 65

China deserves at least a little credit; after all, they've lifted 100+ million people out of poverty -- the greatest poverty-relief effort that anybody's ever done in the history of the world.

Say what you will about the famously glass-jawed Chinese government and CCP; they **ARE** effective, and in this world, people care about results. If they can repeat the same trick in Africa, they'll be doing the world a massive favour.

Comment Re:So... (Score 1) 61

You can't be serious about the crime rate: "not worse than Rome or Paris". You _do_ realize how bad the street crime rates in these cites are, don't you?

That besides: no, the Spanish might be as wet as fuck when it comes to non-violent crime, but I'm glad this doesn't hold for anything violent. The illegals know this -- they're not just refraining from violent crime because they are nice people...

Comment Barcelona == marxists (Score 2, Insightful) 61

You gotta remember that the Catalans keep electing left-wing lunatics into the Generalitat and into the city government, so they're always doing crazy stuff like that.

While the national government has a generally sensible policy of "not feeding the pigeons" with respect to illegals, the local government has always been full of ex-Communist and ex-Black Bloc lunatics.

The other stupid thing they do? They see robbers, pickpockets and scammers (the majority who are foreign criminals) as "victims", and never prosecute them. They just fine them and throw them back out onto the street. Result? Some of the highest rates of street crime of any major city on Earth, which threatens to destroy Barcelona's one big earner -- the tourist and conference trade.

The left-wingers don't care though: anybody who isn't white or local is a "victim", and therefore shouldn't be held accountable for their actions. The ironic racism of low expectations for brown people...

Comment Re:CVS or Subversion (Score 1) 325

He's specifically asking for a locally-hosted solution, unfortunately...

There are some great cloud-based offerings these days -- BitBucket will let you have free private repos for small teams (up to 10 people). The only problem I could see that (besides not being allowed by his IS department to consider a cloud-based solution), is that Git's user experience is not for amateurs, although that could be ameliorated somewhat, by using Attlassian's or Github's noob Git clients as "training wheels"...

Comment CVS or Subversion (Score 5, Insightful) 325

As far as I can tell, you're describing the classic CVS or Subversion small team setup. You can run a server on the network (via Apache, or via SSH), run ViewCVS, set up checkin hooks, and give your clients a nice client like TortoiseCVS/TortoiseSVN built into Windows Explorer.

If you want integration with bug tracking tools, then have a look at Bugzilla and Bonsai.

All your users need to know about, is check in, and checkout, so the cognitive overhead is low.

It would take one engineer half a day to set all this stuff up on a spare machine, and you could try it out fairly quickly.

And best of all, this setup is gratis as well as Free. This has worked really nicely for me in both an academic and a commercial environment.

Comment PDFs (Score 1) 508

I could see a 13" tablet being a really nice way to read and annotate PDFs. Tried this with a 7" Nexus, and the small size combined with the funny aspect ration never really cut it for printable material.

Not that I would fork over for an iPad -- the fact that Apple are doing one means that there will be a decent Android equivalent in fairly short order for a hundred quid less.

Comment As a paying user.. (Score 4, Insightful) 141

... I'd feel a bit better about it, if they actually fixed some of the long-standing rough edges, like the completely-broken built-in compiler behaviour (something that Eclipse, despite being free and generally Old and Busted), and severe lag even on powerful machines, seeing as they're now asking for more money for the same product.

They promised this years ago, and it still hasn't happened. If I'm paying (and now, paying continuously), I'd expect them to lift their game.

Want my money? Give me software that works better than the free alternative.

Comment Biological controls (Score 3, Informative) 106

Allegedly they considered building robots, because the crown-of-thorns' natural enemy, the giant triton were nearly harvested to death, only eat one starfish a week, and only reproduce slowly in their natural environment.

Technology aside, if a 20 kg carnivorous snail isn't cool, I'm not sure what is.

Wonder if anybody has considered coming up with ways to efficiently breed these guys? I think they'd make awesome pets.

All programmers are playwrights and all computers are lousy actors.