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Comment Re: Capitalism! (Score 1) 208

What do you do, if the company replaces you and gives you the bum's rush escort by either security or the police? No notice, just 15 minutes to clear the desk and you are out on the street. Because its standard procedure these days.You must have a good resume to be hired in that 15 minutes.

Even this is more than you may get. Your boss (or HR) might intercept you coming back from lunch and point to your stuff (or most/some of it...) in a box on a cart and tell you to hit the bricks. I've seen that done.

Some places just cancel your badge, and you have to ask security why you can't get in. And then you find out. (This sounds even tougher but it actually fallible since your fellow co-workers will usually badge you in when you tell them you left yours on your desk.) I've seen this too.

Comment Re:Why on Earth? And why in Chile? (Score 3, Funny) 105

Don't forget the bane of all new telescopes - it will definitely be cloudy the first time you try to use it. Heck, even buying a new eyepiece can clause clouds in my neighborhood!

Yep. My astro club calls it the "new equipment curse" and if a star party clouds out, they look for the culprit (in good fun of course).

Comment Seems Like a Golden Business Opportunity (Score 1) 566

Make network devices designed specifically to shut off all Windows 10 spying. Looks there should be a good market for this. Anyone know of product announcements? I'd be interested in a consumer-priced one. As it is I am stocking up on Windows 7 systems - the last usable MicroN$Aoft OS product.

Comment Re:Why on Earth? And why in Chile? (Score 5, Informative) 105

It's a cool idea, no doubt. But no matter how good your telescope is, I doubt it can easily surpass observing systems in space like the Hubble. At its altitude, roughly 25% of the atmosphere is beneath it, which reduces the problem of scintillation. Furthermore, the position in the Atacama Desert means it's a dry place, so there isn't a big problem with moisture causing differences in air density, leading to scintillation or even just refraction by the atmosphere. That said, why in Chile? Why not in Tibet, where it could be positioned at an even higher altitude but with many of the same favorable characteristics of being dry and away from light and air pollution? I recognize that it just isn't possible to build an observatory at the summit of one of the higher Andean peaks, but Tibet is probably a better place. That said, why don't we have plans (that I know of) for a replacement for the aging Hubble?

This is a raft of AC questions. In order the answers are:

  • They can easily surpass Hubble in many ways, since in astronomy it is aperture, aperture, aperture, baby. Hubble is only 2.4 meters. It cannot compete in light-gathering power.
  • Scintilllation is removed by adaptive optics, which have been in use for 30 years and are quite sophisticated now. This drives the resolution of these big ground-based scopes down below Hubble's resolution.
  • No, the dry climate does not create a "a big problem with moisture causing differences in air density", just the opposite.
  • The reason these telescopes are on islands (Hawaii, Canary) or on a high west coast mountain range is because of the laminar flow on air moving eastward (the jet stream and so forth) over thousands of miles of flat ocean (same is true of Hale, Mt. Wilson, Lick, etc.)
  • Tibet is surrounded by thousands of miles of other high mountains creating lots of turbulence. Adaptive optics can do a lot but the technology isn't magic. The more stable the air the better.
  • We do have plans for a replacement for the aging Hubble. It is the James Webb telescope, a 6.5 meter telescope due to launch in 2018, if the schedule does not slip (they will accept slippage to make sure it works properly).
  • The one area where Hubble will remain unsurpassed is in high resolution ultraviolet astronomy. The ground-based telescopes can handle all optical band work quite nicely, the James Webb is designed to look at extremely distant objects with high red-shift which puts everything in the infrared (it does overlap the visual range slightly, it can see up to orange-red light), observations that cannot be done from the ground at all. High resolution ultraviolet observations are great, but not enough to justify (yet) a follow on replacement for that niche. There are other projects to do an ultraviolet all-sky (i.e. wide angle) survey which Hubble cannot do because of its narrow field of view.

Comment Re:That's exactly right (Score 1) 645

mdsolar's point isn't that we should build no new nuclear, at least not in this thread. His point is that nuclear can't, in and of itself, decarbonize the electric sector. We simply don't have the capacity to build that many nuclear power plants simultaneously, nor do we have the fuel, nor do we have the money.

The first one might be overcome. After all, if world leaders were able to simultaneously lay out this plan and get political support for it, part of the plan would include training more engineers, trades, and other jobs necessary. We might not be able to build 100 per year in 2016 (or even 2020), but we could ramp up.

The world went from building roughly zero a year in 1960 to building 26 a year by 1967, and even then was not an all-out worldwide construction effort. Ramping up large scale construction over a 35 year period should be no real trick, if the funds and will are available.

The second one might be overcome. After all, with pressure for more fuel, we might go out and find more fuel, develop new techniques to find, recover, and process more fuel, etc. I doubt we could overcome it, but generally speaking if we went "long" on nuclear, at least some more fuel would turn up.

Lots of fuel has already turned up. Enough for 5,000 years of once-through burning, no breeding or reprocessing. It is in the sea. Technologies have been demonstrated that can extract uranium at about the same price point as uranium spot prices that have already been encountered. The cost of uranium fuel is a very small part of the cost of nuclear electricity, and even if the uranium-from-seawater costs never come down (though surely they will), it does not have an important impact on the cost of nuclear electricity.

The third one is the toughest. Nuclear power, today, is more expensive than wind and in some places, more expensive than solar. Given that wind and solar don't have the political opposition, don't have 10-15 year lags from "let's build it" to "let's turn it on", and can be built in more places at far smaller increments, it's really tough to argue that we should spend the money on nuclear when there are cheaper options.

Right, this is the true Achilles heel of nuclear power. The high capital costs, and the long pay-back time. Only intervention by national governments can get large scale power plant construction to happen. The market will never do it. It is important to focus on the true fundamental issue if nuclear power is going to contribute more to zero carbon electricity.

Comment Re:Not Notable (Score 1) 325

I have commented on the exponentially egregious fundraising scam, err campaign, in another post above, and yes, you cite my other major peeve about Wikipedia: the scourge of 'notability'.

Why would any new editor want to start an article today knowing that the (free) labor they contribute to the site is likely to be wiped away, unrecoverably, without recourse or consultation, by an editor who decides on a whim that it is not 'notable'? And if they did not know this might happen, they sure would be turned off when they found out the hard way. This is a sure fire way to drive away any editor permanently.

There is absolutely nothing objective about this "standard", it is completely arbitrary, impossible to define, and even more troubling, totally unnecessary. Is there a shortage of disk space for these articles? Of course not. Wikipedia could host a vast store of obscure, niche, specialized information - not just for present users, but for future generations, a detailed record of modern world society, including the obscure. It seems to be a combination of a sense of self-flattery, Wikipedia needing to prove it is a "real" encyclopedia, and power-tripping by their pathological senior editor culture.

Comment Re:What? (Score 5, Informative) 325

Mod this guy up. The perpetual fundraising machine has become very troubling. They have cumulatively raised well more than $200 million dollars, most of that in just the last few years. We are constantly greeted by banners about how far they are away from their current fundraising 'goals' but those goals seem to be exploding every year, with no explanation about what that money is actually 'needed' for.

Jimmy used to boast about how little it cost to keep Wikipedia on-line, just a few million at most, and with the money raised in just the last two years they could easily have set up an endowment that would keep those servers running forever, without requiring another dollar in fundraising, ever.

It appears that the 'goals' are being set by simple formula: whatever we raised last year, plus 20%, and with an additional 20% "stretch goal". Seriously - that appears to be the only rationale I can glean from their reports.

Oh, and they are finally starting an endowment now next year of $5 million, after having burned through $200+ million, and representing only 7% of their new $71.4 million base goal.

With the cost of operating Wikipedia low and nearly fixed, and without paying any staff to actually produce their product (which is what this has become), why the 'need' for double digit annual revenue growth every single year?

I am now telling everyone I know not to contribute to Wikipedia. They really, really, really do not need the money. Their days of paupery are long past. Jimmy is now in $profit$ mode.

Comment Re: SIgh (Score 4, Insightful) 490

-Britain didn't even have a constitutional republic, it had a monarchy with a parliament bolted on to deal with some of the more mundane stuff the King didn't want to waste time on. These days, it's no different except the Queen doesn't really do anything as far as governing and Parliament does it all along with the Prime Minister et al.

Says someone without a clue about British political history.

The Crown has not had any significant role in governance since the Glorious Revolution of 1688 when Parliament inf effect fired the King and hired a new monarch. Since that time the Crown has been acutely aware that it serves at the pleasure of Parliament, who holds all of the reigns of power.

You second sentence seems to be aware of the real situation (but which has not changed since the American Revolution), though you preface it with the strange statement " These days, it's no different except..." and then go on the describe a situation which is completely different.

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