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Comment: Hoping for large industrial participation (Score 2) 166

by captainpanic (#49369137) Attached to: At the Track With Formula E, the First e-Racing Series

I'm hoping large corporations get interested. Right now, I understand all cars are basically made by Renault. It would be nice if other companies jump onto this train too, with a serious interest to showcase their knowledge about batteries and electric cars. (Or just an interest to burn some marketing dollars).

It's a great idea to start off with the same car, but am happy that the teams can design their own cars in the next seasons. In all fairness, the cars still need a lot of improvement: the speed of the cars is too low.

Comment: Re:I wonder if there are any smaller planets (Score 1) 48

by captainpanic (#49187547) Attached to: Massive Exoplanet Evolved In Extreme 4-Star System

I think the center point between the stars is not a stable place for anything to hang out. A little move in either way will increase gravity's pull in that same direction, and therefore will pull whatever object there is towards the nearest star. Only active controls can maintain an object there.

Comment: Re:What could possibly go wrong? (Score 4, Informative) 265

That's because most physics and chemistry experiments don't breed and multiply.

Neither do infertile mosquitoes; your point?

My point was all about what happens when the mosquitos are not as infertile as planned. Or when another unforeseen event takes place. Obviously, if all the promises by these scientists are true, we have no problem. Unfortunately, promises made through the media (and advertising) are often not as simple as it seems.

They are talking about something that happens literally in their own backyard.

Really, you think there's no products of modern chemistry in your backyard?

If chemical companies are going to dump something into my backyard, I will scream and shout just as loud, if not much louder. The OP said that people only complain about biology, not physics and chemistry. Obviously, once "chemistry" becomes something huge, (e.g. "fracking in your own backyard"), this little claim stops being true. If chemistry comes to your backyard, people WILL complain (and rightly so, even when the experts say that all is well).

They are right to do a risk assessment.

And there have been risk assessments done, by regulators, taking into account the scientific data. Risk assessments are not something for Joe Bloe and his GED who reads NaturalNews and thinks that "GMO mosquitoes" means that they're going to bite his children and spread a zombie plague.

You seem to claim that people should just trust experts. I claim that experts should attempt to inform the public better, thereby earning their trust...

Changing the balance in an ecosystem can have huge consequences.

Contrary to popular belief, changing the bottom of a food chain rarely has major consequences; it's the changing of the top of a food chain that tends to have the biggest consequences. The higher up the food chain you go, not only do you have more of a profound impact on the landscape (look at how radically, say, deer overpopulation transforms a whole ecosystem), but also the more species tend to be generalists rather than specialists. Generalists means the ability to switch more readily between food sources, meaning changes further down have little impact on them. But if you eliminate a top predator from an area, the consequences further down can be profound.

So, rabbits that got released in Australia are the top predator? The Pampas grass in California is the top predator? I can make a long list of invasive species that are not the top predator and still influenced their ecosystem a lot. Grass, as far as I know, is pretty much the bottom of the food chain.

Comment: Re:What could possibly go wrong? (Score 3, Interesting) 265

That's because most physics and chemistry experiments don't breed and multiply.

This has the potential to affect people directly. They are not talking about an experiment somewhere in a lab. They are talking about something that happens literally in their own backyard. People are responsible for their own well-being, and they should understand the risks that affect their lives. They are right to do a risk assessment. They see a potentially large effect, and do not yet understand the chance of it going wrong, so they logically assume the worst and therefore scream and shout. It's up to those arrogant scientists to better explain the experiment that is about to take place in people's backyards.

Also, biology experiments have gone wrong before. Changing the balance in an ecosystem can have huge consequences.

Comment: Kdenlive, SlowMoVideo, Pencil (Score 4, Informative) 223

by captainpanic (#48863397) Attached to: The Current State of Linux Video Editing

Kdenlive is great if you just want to edit some holiday movie or pictures. In my experience, the resulting movies look good, and any ugly problems can be associated with the limitations on my camera, not Kdenlive. It's an easy user interface, and it only gets complicated when you want to do more advanced effects (the complexity comes from the number of options, meaning you have to go through some menus and try out a bunch of things). Btw, last time I used Kdenlive, I used Linunx Mint 16, and had no problems with audio (or any problem in general). Also, the crashes that I used to experience in 2012 seem to be gone completely.

I also used SlowMoVideo, to make slow motion videos and to speed up videos (which I then put into Kdenlive to become part of a larger project). It works, although its user interface has a rather steep learning curve (not the most intuitive interface). It lacks a simple method to just slow down or speed up a movie by a factor two. It appears that the makers expect people to want to use the full range of options all the time. (I realize that asking for less options will upset some people... sorry).

Finally, I also used Pencil to make some animations. In my case, quality was poor, but that says a lot about my drawing skills, and little about the program. What I missed a lot was an easy method to stitch a series of pictures together into a movie. I think that Pencil claims to provide one, but I never got it to work. In desperation, I used some awful command-line tool and it took me ages to figure out the exact code to type in to get the desired effect.

Comment: Re:Very admirable (Score 1) 206

by captainpanic (#48810501) Attached to: China's Engineering Mega-Projects Dwarf the Great Wall

High speed trains are awesome, and they're great for prestige and getting customers to buy that technology. Yet they're out of price range for the majority of customers.

Yet they are only a fraction of the price of European high speed rail tickets. I would guestimate that the costs per traveled kilometer on Chinese high speed rail is only 25% of that in Germany or France.

So, yes, it is relatively expensive to travel by high speed rail for the Chinese and many cannot afford it, but it is not ridiculously expensive either. Their economy is growing fast, and every year millions more people enter the income range where they can afford the high speed rail, so it makes a lot of sense to expand the network to accomodate for these new passengers.

Comment: Jealous (Score 5, Interesting) 206

by captainpanic (#48809465) Attached to: China's Engineering Mega-Projects Dwarf the Great Wall

Yeah, the article reads as if written out of jealousy.

Infrastructure is a good thing to build, as long as it is necessary. When it will be used, infrastructure is an economic multiplier. The article suggests that China is building far too much infrastructure, and then gives examples of unused infrastructure. But looking at their map (picture in article), they are building mostly subways in megacities (good idea), container terminals (good idea, the Dutch do the same), high speed rail (good idea), canals for irrigation (debatable, but hopefully low maintenance and long lifetime once completed), and a few crazy projects which may eventually flop.

The funny thing is that China does not care if a handful of multi-billion dollar projects fail to deliver, and fail to have an economic payback. As long as the majority of the projects perform, they win.

The Western economies are stuck somewhere between economic conservatism and economic fear. Corporations do not dare to invest this big, because for a corporation this can be a make or break, and that risk is too big. Also, corporations require a 3-5 year economic payback, whereas infrastructure typically has a much longer lifetime, and is only an enabler, causing economic growth, not immediate profit. Western governments do not dare to invest this big, because every dollar spent is analysed and they must win the next elections.

Basically, we cannot do these kinds of projects, because we all fear for our pension and fear that we lose what we have. And we are jealous of the Chinese who can do this, and we talk ourselves to sleep with articles like this that predict that the Chinese got it wrong after all.

Comment: Re:WTF (Score 4, Insightful) 319

No, freedom of speech is the freedom to offend (or rather, "criticize") your government. And that is why it is so frightening that governments are now tightening their grip on information that is spread on the internet. Sure, they might catch some (rather naive and dumb) terrorists as a side effect. But they are also more likely to be informed who is disagreeing with the government.

Other than planning actual terrorist attacks, nothing else may (yet) lead to actions by police... but all the juridical groundwork has been done for a good police state.

You cannot give up liberties to give you more protection. There will be a time when the lack of liberties will pose a greater threat than any terrorist can ever do. Maybe not today, but certainly some time tomorrow.

Comment: Calling BS (Score 2) 300

by captainpanic (#48752703) Attached to: The Search For Starivores, Intelligent Life That Could Eat the Sun

Organisms using energy stored in star: PLANTS
Organisms devouring stars (as in taking away actual mass of the star): how? It's a high energy plasma out there, how will you get any structure in that?

Are we done yet? This is just some toy of some people who definitely need more hobbies, making 500 euro available for a good joke.

Comment: Re:Interesting, but ... (Score 2) 150

by captainpanic (#48607415) Attached to: Want To Influence the World? Map Reveals the Best Languages To Speak

But humor is language dependent. And so is in fact every communication. And therefore so is culture. So, language partially defines a culture. And therefore is we were to drop all other languages and adopt English as a language, cultures (or at least parts of them) would soon diminish and disappear. And the world would become that much more boring.
Cultural differences are not impossible without language, but different languages make it easier to diversify.

It's a good idea to have one or two main languages in the world that everyone speaks (English, Spanish and Chinese are all good choices)... but let people speak whatever they want.

Comment: Re:At the risk of sounding pretentious, (Score 1) 246

by captainpanic (#48357651) Attached to: The Strangeness of the Mars One Project

There is absolutely no way you are going to get the $100 billion required for a Mars mission by producing a freaking reality show.

No? The 2014 winter Olympics cost over 50 billion. The London Olympics cost over 14 billion. I am confident that the first Mars mission is at least 10 times as interesting to an advertiser as the Olympics. Imagine a Mars explorer opening a cold Coca Cola bottle a few minutes after landing. That's worth Coca cola's entire annual advertising budget (which is 3 billion), because they can use that in so many other advertisements. The first walk outside on Martian soil, wearing a sponsored space suit will generate billions in advertising money. There are plenty of advertising possibilities, because a show like that would basically cover some people's lives. They wear clothes, they live somewhere, they eat and drink, clean themselves, etc...

There are enormous technical problems to be solved... but large corporations will be very interested to have their names mentioned... Five times as much is spent every year on advertisements (global market is 489 billion).


"If truth is beauty, how come no one has their hair done in the library?" -- Lily Tomlin