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Comment: Not a "delay" in a decision (Score 1) 179

by blindseer (#46803385) Attached to: Obama Delays Decision On Keystone Pipeline Yet Again

The government didn't delay to choose, they have chosen to delay.

Not building the pipeline does not mean the oil won't be produced in Canada and shipped to refineries in the USA, it just means it will cost more to do so. More cost because it takes more energy. More energy means more waste. More waste is bad for the environment.

I thought this president was supposed to stop the oceans from rising or something.

I remember Obama debating McCain when the issue of nuclear power came up. Obama said some non-sense about investigating safe nuclear power. McCain said something about actually building nuclear power plants. We don't stop the rising of the oceans by taxing coal, banning oil drilling, and pouring money into unproductive solar panel factories. We reduce carbon output by building alternatives to coal and oil that actually produce power with less carbon output at a lower price. That means nuclear power.

President Obama, where is this nuclear power research you promised? Shouldn't research in nuclear power involve building nuclear reactors? The research reactors don't have to produce power I suppose but we should see them go critical. Computer simulations can tell us a lot but the theories they provide need to be tested in real life.

We'll verify nuclear weapons designs with real detonations but no government official or agency seems willing to verify nuclear reactor designs with reactors achieving criticality. Perhaps it's more accurate to say no Democrat would allow new nuclear reactors to go critical.

I also thought we were going to get an "all of the above" energy policy from the Democrats. No nuclear power so far but we've got windmills that kill endangered birds. Maybe I need a Republican in office to get energy choices that mean reduced carbon output. Maybe we'd get pipelines to transport natural gas to wells aren't forced to burn it off on site. Maybe we'd get oil wells in places that don't involve polluting large areas of the ocean floor. Maybe we'd get solar panel factories that produce product. Maybe we'd get electric cars that someone other than the 1% could afford.

Let's assume the Republicans take control of both the House and Senate. Does that end the delay? Or, would the Democrats not allow the Republicans to take credit? What if the Democrats win both houses? Would they still decide or keep holding on so they can use the issue again for the next election? Something tells me that only the Republicans will allow this pipeline. Then we can stop spilling oil into our oceans, killing endangered birds, and see real transition to nuclear power.

The Republicans are greedy, corrupt, assholes that don't deserve any government office. At least they have a plan to produce energy that doesn't involve killing rare birds, covering beaches with oil, or burning off natural gas at the well head when it could be burned for heat.

I hate having to choose the lesser evil.

Comment: Re:Not at all (Score 1) 179

by blindseer (#46803275) Attached to: Obama Delays Decision On Keystone Pipeline Yet Again

Tell me, how much does the government make on every gallon of gasoline sold? I honestly don't know what the number is but I'm quite sure it's more than 7 cents.

Who's more "greedy" and "evil"? The oil companies for making 7 cents or the government that makes far more? I speculate the federal government does not really have their heart in finding alternatives to oil because they have not figured out how to tax it yet. Since they don't know what "it" is just yet they can't tax it.

If we ever do figure out what will replace oil then I suspect it will not be because of government funded research. The government is a political entity, not conducive to the quick thinking required of real honest research. I feel that the federal government will have to release its grip on energy willingly or see the new economy race beyond its reach. Either way the size and scope of the federal government, and therefore its tax burden on us, must shrink.

Comment: Prohibition set us back 100 years on biofuels (Score 1) 79

by blindseer (#46803211) Attached to: Biofuels From Corn Can Create More Greenhouse Gases Than Gasoline

If farmers were not forced to destroy their alcohol stills in the early days of Prohibition we would have known long ago about the viability of biofuels. Almost a century ago farmers would make ethanol for use as a fuel to run tractors. No doubt they'd also drink some of it, or sell some of it for others to drink. Prohibition destroyed the hobbyist experimentation of ethanol as a fuel. It made any use of ethanol a legal nightmare.

When Prohibition was lifted it didn't improve things much. Ethanol production was tightly controlled for anything beyond what the government deemed as "private use" amounts. This held up ethanol fuel experimentation until the 1970s. Even to this day no one would even consider ethanol as a fuel without the blessing, and a big pile of cash, from the federal government. Anyone doing otherwise runs the risk of jail time for "bootlegging". Something I'm sure is enforced as much by the whiskey producers as it is from the people that get the big piles of cash from the government for biofuels.

There's all kinds of things we could have learned if it wasn't for crushing taxation and regulation by the federal government. It's not that I'm some sort of anarchist. I think we need a strong government. If the federal government was truly interested in finding energy solutions they'd have to look at what laws are in place which prevent experimentation.

If the government wants people to experiment with, for example, the effects of ethanol on modern internal combustion engines then they'd have to make it possible to manufacture the ethanol without two full time lawyers and a dozen clerical workers. But the government is not interested in finding energy solutions. The government is interested in buying votes.

If the government was interested in finding energy solutions they'd also let people build nuclear power plants. I believe ethanol to be a dead end technology. Prohibition prevented us from figuring that out nearly 100 years ago. So, we'll have to go through the motions, and piles of my tax money, to prove it. Then what? We'll have to go through nearly 100 years of no effective research in nuclear power to figure out that it is possible to make safe, cheap, and abundant, nuclear power.

To those that think nuclear waste is some sort of unsolvable problem I say you need to look up waste annihilating molten salt reactors.

Comment: Re:Unregulatable! (Score 1) 155

by blindseer (#46803041) Attached to: Cody Wilson Interview at Reason: Happiness Is a 3D Printed Gun

Tell me how many people are driving in the USA without a license? We all know the number is not zero. Nobody knows what the true number is, and estimates vary widely. Why is this? Because driver licensing requirements are effectively unenforceable.

There are millions of cars and millions of drivers. To enforce a requirement to have a license to drive would mean putting up checkpoints all over. To avoid falsified papers getting through all licenses would have to be checked against a database. Even then you'd have duplicated licenses, bribed officials, and all manner of corruption. You'd also have a police state.

That is what would happen if you try to license 3D printers. Homes and businesses would have to be searched at random. Police would have to be everywhere to keep 3D printers from being moved or manufactured. Even then people would find ways to avoid the police, bribe the police, or otherwise evade the law.

Another example, opiates. If you don't have a license to possess opiates (such as a prescription) then you go to jail, right? Wrong. The heroin trade is a booming business in the USA.

Comment: Re:Challenger and Fukushima (Score 1) 170

by blindseer (#46802877) Attached to: The Design Flaw That Almost Wiped Out an NYC Skyscraper

For things that are too big to fail and would cause major disaster, the corporate shield must be removed and executive management must be held directly responsible. Financially and criminally.

If that happens then nothing determined "too big to fail" will ever get built. Which is just another way of saying nothing will ever be ruled "too big to fail".

This "too big to fail" mentality is why the USA no longer has manned spacecraft and has not built a new nuclear power plant in four decades.

Comment: Re:IANA Physicist, So... (Score 3, Interesting) 630

by blindseer (#46711431) Attached to: Navy Debuts New Railgun That Launches Shells at Mach 7

traditional aircraft carriers and these will get a lot smaller as drones take place of manned strike craft,

I also believe aircraft carriers will get smaller but not for the reasons you state. I believe that they will get smaller because there will be a greater reliance on vertical lift aircraft, helicopters and tilt-wings. I also believe that aircraft will get faster and have longer range, allowing for lesser reliance on carriers. The politics of flying through nations that might not like to get involved would be solved with aircraft that fly high enough to be considered orbital, and therefore technically in outer space, and therefore flying above "airspace".

Much of that is more about the "how" of shrinking aircraft carriers, the "why" is more about economics. Current carriers are big, slow, and very expensive which makes them easy and tempting targets. For the price of one US Navy aircraft carrier the Navy could have four amphibious assault ships, either choice capable of carrying 80+ aircraft. The amphibious assault ships get cheaper by the dozen but the aircraft carriers cannot, there are only a dozen afloat at any given time which makes economies of scale difficult.

Part of what makes aircraft carriers so expensive is the power plant, nuclear power is expensive. It looks like newer, smaller, safer, reactors which will allow for putting nuclear power in smaller ships, removing the range advantage of the larger aircraft carrier. Addition of jet fuel production systems on board means that they will not need to have oilers come by as often for supplies.

Smaller, faster, cheaper, and still capable of long term missions would be a great alternative to the super carriers we have now. Easier to defend against cannon fire and missiles, due to smaller size. If one is lost or damaged in battle then the reduction in fighting capability is reduced.

I believe your description of sea battles are accurate. The cannon fire is not fast or accurate enough to compete with missiles. Rail guns increase the rate of fire, reduce the weight of the ammunition, and reduce the cost, making it a very good alternative to current missiles and cannons. The range and accuracy of the rail guns might not yet compare to that of the missiles but are still a leap in improvement over cannons.

Comment: Re:Panasonic (Score 1) 151

by blindseer (#46695915) Attached to: Tesla: A Carmaker Or Grid-Storage Company?

You certainly wouldn't need a battery "the size of Oklahoma", it's just insane. A typical home battery is about 1x1x0.3m.

To power the entire USA overnight you'd need a battery somewhere on the scale of Oklahoma. I my calculations I figured a battery the size of my desk, 1x1x2meters, but I also computed a size to last through common Midwestern winter storms that can leave you without sun for four days.

Eventually organic cells will be good enough and cheap enough for widespread deployment anyway.

Eventually we will have nuclear reactors that chew up seawater, sewage, and nuclear waste and spit out clean potable water, rare metals, and electricity. I have my own theory which we will see first.

I never suggested anyone go off-grid either, but any connection costs can be more than covered by feed-in tariffs on any excess you produce. One reason that some German cities are looking to buy their electricity grids is so that they can reconfigure them to better support small scale generation and feed-in.

If the grid is using natural gas for peaking power then all that solar power does is produce more CO2, natural gas turbines are not efficient but they are cheap. The solar power does not make up for the additional CO2 produced from the peak power.

If the utility is providing battery storage instead of or along with the natural gas power then you end up with a battery the size of Oklahoma. Obviously we aren't paving over Oklahoma and turning it into one big battery pack but the scale of the battery power required is impossible, there is not enough lead, lithium, nickel, or any metal really to build a battery big enough. Putting the batteries in the basement of people's homes does not change that, the demands on these metals to make the batteries will drive prices through the roof.

The only way to change this dynamic is an energy source that is reliable and cheap to produce those metals, in that case solar power gets priced out of the market.

Solar power does not work, it's too expensive. Barring some quantum leap in solar power technology it will never be cheap enough for grid power.

Gas in the US is really cheap, although it is worth pointing out that it is partly due to the cost of fracking being externalized.

You want to "internalize the external"? Here's one for you, people will cut down your house for firewood and kill you to eat your flesh if they get hungry enough. If we don't keep fracking for natural gas then people will get cold and hungry and do ghastly things to each other. I believe AGW is a myth but I'll tolerate it so far as we have the same goal, cheap and plentiful energy.

I did the math on solar power many times and it never works out in our favor. Part of the problem is that solar power is so diffuse, we'd need massive amounts of land for solar power. That land could be used to grow food, and I like food. Nuclear power, if done right, is the safest power source we have. Even when done wrong its safer than most every other alternative. It's cheap and we'll never run out.

The externals on oil and natural gas are nothing to me. If the oil goes away right now there will be war.

Comment: Re:Enough with the grid storage RIGHT! (Score 1) 151

by blindseer (#46691379) Attached to: Tesla: A Carmaker Or Grid-Storage Company?

Nuclear is NOT carbon free you have to build it...with plenty of fuel burning equipment.

I didn't claim it was carbon free, I stated it had the least output of CO2/watt than any other power source available to us now.

Salt reactor? Why are not there many?

Because the country that developed the technology, USA, has created a regulatory structure that favors solid fueled reactors. Why it is that way is a very long story. Other nations only have the papers published on the technology and therefore are a few years behind the USA on the technology but are catching up fast. Sounds like Canada will be building some very soon.

Just stop using so damn much power people!

Tell that to the people that live in mud huts. If this technology gets developed we can turn seawater into clean fresh water and electricity, and do so at a profit.

You seem to think that there is some inherent evil in consuming energy, I do not believe so. There is almost always room to improve energy efficiency but we need energy to feed, clothe, and shelter ourselves. Once we are warm, fed, and happy we need energy to communicate, learn, and explore. We are not going to land on the moon with solar panels. Windmills won't make airplanes fly.

Without nuclear power we revert to near caveman lifestyles. Without nuclear power we need to burn things, wood, coal, whatever. Civilizations have ended because they had to choose between getting apples from the tree in the spring or burning it to survive the winter. That generally works for all bio-fuels, we get to eat OR stay warm. We can't have both if we burn our food.

Comment: Enough with the grid storage (Score 1) 151

by blindseer (#46689007) Attached to: Tesla: A Carmaker Or Grid-Storage Company?

How big would a battery have to be to run the USA overnight so we can run everything off of solar power? How much material would this take? How much would it all cost?

I've seen these numbers before and it's not good. We are going to be a coal powered nation for a very long time. I see wind power as promising, the price isn't too far off from what natural gas and coal costs. Solar is just so extremely expensive that it is only considered in the most unusual cases. Wind and solar both rely on cheap electric storage which I don't see happening any time soon.

If people start building grid level electric storage because materials get cheap then the demand for those materials will drive the price back up. I say that instead of trying to store electricity when it's produced by unreliable wind and solar that we should develop technology so that cheap energy like coal, natural gas, and nuclear can load follow like the expensive natural gas and oil fired generators.

If the concern is CO2 output then nothing can beat nuclear, not even wind and solar. We have drawings of nuclear power plants that can load follow, we need to make them real and see how they compare to the theory. I think nuclear the the future, not big batteries.

For those that scream, "What about the nuclear waste?" I say look up waste annihilating molten salt reactor.

Comment: Re:Panasonic (Score 3, Interesting) 151

by blindseer (#46688825) Attached to: Tesla: A Carmaker Or Grid-Storage Company?

I had a discussion with a coworker about the viability for solar power and out of that discussion came a challenge to find out what it would cost for a solar power system for a home. Taking up the challenge I spent a weekend doing the math on what it would cost to take my house off-grid and live off a solar and battery system. What I found was that it would cost ten times what I pay now for electricity.

What I worked with was the going average cost of common lead-acid batteries for storage, the estimated cost of common solar panels, and the electronics to make it all work. It's been a while since I did this research and I'm not sure if I assumed three or four days of electric storage. If we assume just one day of storage, which means no backup for a stormy day, then I might be able to halve the cost of the system but that still only gets us to five times the cost of utility power.

I calculated that if I cover my entire roof with solar panels that even in the winter I'd have enough power to run my home, assuming average power usage, excepting big power items like stoves and clothes dryers, I assumed that such items would be run off of natural gas. In the summer I'd have a glut of power, enough to run an electric car.

For a moment let's assume you are correct and prices come down to where everyone would rather buy solar panels and a battery pack for their home than rely on utility power. What happens for extended periods of poor weather? People would have to have either utility power for that or, I assume more likely, a backup generator. A utility is going to want a monthly service fee for the wire to the home even if no power is consumed, at least that is how I pay for my natural gas service. A generator isn't free either but we are assuming the total cost is still in favor of solar panels on every rooftop.

What other question I have is how much material will this take? That's a lot of valuable metals in people's basements, or placed on a grid for utility provided storage. I recall seeing someone that did the computation and for grid storage for the entire USA it would take a battery the size of Oklahoma that was two stories tall. Perhaps I recall incorrectly, I'm probably off by an order of magnitude or two but the battery had to be huge.

If your prediction does come true I don't see that happening for a very long time. Solar panels and batteries have a long way to go until they are cheaper than coal and natural gas. I think we will have nuclear power cheaper than coal first.

Comment: Too many layers of abstraction (Score 1) 126

by blindseer (#46615501) Attached to: Famous Paintings Help Study the Earth's Past Atmosphere

We take a painting of a sunset from someone that died 500 years ago, maybe we have several paintings to remove some variation, but still this is where they start. Now they have to account for the shifting of the color due to aging of the paint. They they have to account for the paints that were even available to the artist.

Presumably they can determine date, time, and location from the scene begin depicted but I recall that some of these artists at that time would paint a single scene over the span of a month. It's not like they were taking a photograph, the time to paint the image could take a considerable amount of time. Then maybe I know nothing about painting, perhaps they did this in one sitting over the span of minutes, or even seconds.

What do the people studying these paintings know about the vision of the person that painted it? I recall hearing of several famous artists that were colorblind. A colorblind artist could paint a very detailed paining of a fruit bowl, for example, and it would look completely natural to someone with normal vision. The painting may show red apples but the real ones used for inspiration may have been green. The oranges, bananas, and grapes could all look equally natural in the painting but also have obvious deviations from the real fruit if placed side by side.

I want to know who is paying for this so called scientific analysis. This research does not seem to be driven by someone with a deep understanding or respect for science.

I recall some interesting studies of paintings in the past where people would look for scenes depicting times and places for clues of climate change. They'd look for things like plant life, when snow was on the ground, and so on, where the color accuracy would not be a significant matter. One particular example I recall was of people ice skating on the River Thames, this is significant because the river does not typically freeze in modern times. There were also images of grapevines growing in places where they do not today. These paintings can give some very interesting and quite conclusive evidence of the climate in historic times and not rely so much on the interpretations, visual acuity, and materials available to the artist at the time.

This study does not sound like science to me.

Comment: Re:less government, more nuclear power (Score 1) 703

by blindseer (#46572193) Attached to: IPCC's "Darkest Yet" Climate Report Warns of Food, Water Shortages

Do you have anything constructive to add or are just going to give out insults?

IPCC gives a dire warning that if we don't change our sinful ways then we are going to starve to death. Seems to me that nuclear power reduces our carbon output and does so at a price competitive with current energy sources.

A bonus to nuclear power is that, if we make wise choices on the design and location of the power plants, we can use the heat from the plant that might normally go to waste and desalinate water. That solves another problem that the IPCC warns us about.

Even if AGW is not a real threat it still sounds like nuclear power is a good idea. Just that if AGW is real then not only is nuclear power a good solution it may be the only solution.

Comment: Re:Oopsie! (Score 1) 154

by blindseer (#46571131) Attached to: What Fire and Leakage At WIPP Means For Nuclear Waste Disposal

Let's see the cost of developing a new technology to dispose of the waste, as you estimate, would be billions of dollars. How much is it costing to store this waste currently? Who is paying for that?

The cost of storing this waste now has to paid for by the government, and has to cost millions of dollars per year. How much it costs exactly I do not know. We are pretty certain this storage cost will only increase and the waste will continue to be waste until we find something else to do with it.

So, it seems to me that even if there is not a profitable business case to burn this waste in a reactor it does seem logical to me that the government would be able to make the case to at least try developing some of these technologies to dispose of this nuclear waste and potentially extract energy from it.

Even if this expending of billions of dollars does not ultimately prove successful in disposing of the waste we get a few things out of it. We get people trained in dealing with the waste, people get jobs for a few years, and we learn more about the properties of this waste. So, we might not learn how to make the waste go away forever but we should learn a few things on how to at least manage the waste more intelligently.

What has happened though is that this expense is a pretty low risk, a lot of people have already done plenty of research in waste burning reactors. It seems to me that many people are already willing to spend their own money to develop this technology because they see a potential profit if it works. So, the government doesn't need to spend this billions of dollars, they just need to allow private citizens to spend their own billions of dollars.

As one advocate for developing waste burning reactors put it we have thousands of tons of nuclear waste now. They want one ton of this to develop the technology. If it works they turn all that waste into money, if they fail they added a few more tons of waste to the problem. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

Never put off till run-time what you can do at compile-time. -- D. Gries