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Comment: Re:Ducted fans? (Score 1) 68

by Rei (#49763377) Attached to: The Hoverboard Flies Closer To Reality

You don't need "antigravity" (which in all likelihood is impossible). Diamagnetic hoverboards would be possible... if we could make ridiculously powerful, compact halbach arrays in the board. Also you'd need a clever mechanism to detect and deal with flying over ferromagnetic material, or otherwise it's going to smack into your board really hard.

Comment: Re: Meh... (Score 4, Insightful) 234

by Rei (#49757847) Attached to: California Votes To Ban Microbeads

The problem is, sewage treatment systems have a lot of trouble (at present, let's just simply say "can't") filtering them out. They go into the sewage, they will go into the sea.

Setting up filters for particles as small as 1 micron for all sewage going out into the ocean is obviously going to be a massive expensive. Who wants to pay for that so that people can keep sticking bits of plastic in cosmetics?

Seriously, whose bright idea was it to make bits of plastic, bite-size for plankton, looking like fish eggs, whose very design intent is to wash out into the ocean? And no, while they're not harmful to us, they absolutely will be to plankton - if not immediately (how healthy do you think you'd be if you wolfed down an entire meal-sized chunk of plastic?), then with time. Plastics act as chelators for heavy metals and a number of organic poisons, to such a degree that they might even be economical to mine. There's simply no way that this isn't going to have an impact.

And it's so stupid when one can just use soluble crystals (salts, sugars, etc) instead of plastic.

Comment: Re:When will their price be on par with ICE cars? (Score 1) 107

I drive a lot of small, economy cars through travel, probably in the range of a dozen or so per year. Not one of them had anything near the fun of driving the Volt, except for the one time I landed in a Mini Cooper.

Keep in mind that most of those small, economy cars don't cost anywhere near $35,000. With some upgrades that move them closer to that price point, they become more fun to drive, but I don't think even those launch like the Volt did.

Comment: Re:When will their price be on par with ICE cars? (Score 1) 107

Land prices are lower, delivery costs are lower, and taxes are lower. The first is the reason prices are lower in Barstow than LA and the second why prices are lower in LA than in Baker. It's always been a bad idea to fuel up along I-15 at anyplace other than major endpoints, and maybe Barstow/Victorville.

Comment: Re:Do people really take this risk seriously? (Score 5, Insightful) 226

by Rei (#49752865) Attached to: Asteroid Risk Greatly Overestimated By Almost Everyone

The article is also based on some terrible reasoning, like:

That means there will be no asteroids left in the Solar System, because they all will have struck Earth, in another few hundred million years. Think someone’s overestimated something there? Yeah, me too. Let’s take a look with the flaws in our fear-based reasoning.

Yeah, in a universe where our solar system is some sort of perfect steady state. Which, of course, it is not. Asteroids collide or - more commonly, come close to other bodies and gravitationally interact - and throw each other into different orbits. When that happens, non-Earth-crossing asteroids can become Earth-crossing ones. For example, one of the candidates for the K-Pg extinction event is a Batisma-family asteroid. This family came from an asteroid breakup 80 million years ago.

A person well versed in the field would be aware of the fact that asteroids are not in some sort of unchanging steady state. Which is why they're the ones paid to do the research on the subject.

And more to the point, we really don't have a good handle on what's out there. We have trouble making out dwarf planets in the outer solar system. We really have no bloody clue what could be on its way into the inner solar system, apart from studying how often major events happen.

And on that note, another flaw in his logic, given that until recently, the vast majority of Tunguska-style events would never even have been detected, having occurred over the oceans, remote deserts, the poles, etc. So by all means it's perfectly fair to say that the fact that an asteroid hitting earth is more likely to hit a remote uninhabited area is perfectly fair. But saying that while mentioning the rarity of inhabited areas having been hit in the past is double-counting. The historical record is evidence of how often they hit populated areas, not how often they hit Earth.

Lastly, his claim that only one person has ever been "hit by an asteroid" is ridiculous. 1500 people were injured by the Chelyabinsk one in 2013 badly enough to seek medical attention. Yes, they weren't "hit by rocks", but that's not what large asteroid impacts do; they mostly or completely vaporize by exploding in the atmosphere and/or on impact. And there's lots of reports throughout history of people getting struck by asteroids; just because they weren't documented by modern medical science doesn't mean it never happened. Seriously, what's the bloody odds that the only person to ever in historical times be hit by an asteroid would be in the 1950s in the middle of a first-world nation? Now what's the odds that someone being hit in the 1950s in the middle of a first-world nation would be well documented, publicized, and believed?

Just a lot of really bad arguments.

Comment: Re:When will their price be on par with ICE cars? (Score 1) 107

The Volt and that small, economy, ICE vehicle aren't quite the same markets. Having test-driven a Volt, it was a hell of a lot more fun than those smaller cars, with significantly better acceleration and handling. We would have bought it, had my wife (who would have been the primary driver) not had a problem with driver-side visibility, as a cross-bar in the rear driver-side window was right at her eye level when looking over her shoulder.

Comment: Re: Apple ][ was a great product (Score 1) 74

by cpt kangarooski (#49745473) Attached to: In 1984, Jobs and Wozniak Talk About Apple's Earliest Days

Though there was a good reason for the original compact Macs to discourage users from opening them up -- there were exposed high voltage monitor electronics in there which could give you a hell of a zap of not properly discharged.

The later all in one Macs of the 90s were better in that regard. Their user suitable parts (motherboard, drives) all were easy to get at, but the monitors and power supplies were fully enclosed.

Comment: Re:Seems obvious now (Score 4, Interesting) 214

by Rei (#49742243) Attached to: Secret Files Reveal UK Police Feared That Trekkies Could Turn On Society

Can you imagine the dystopian dictatorship where trekkies come to power? All of the halls of power full of people walking around in spandex and fake ears and brow ridges, the fed directed to work toward the absolution of currency, the military directed to accelerate development of phasers and for all recruits to undergo "Kobayashi Maru" training.... NASA would finally get their proposed $18,5 billion dollar annual budget passed - except that the bill would have the word "annual" crossed out and the word "monthly" written in its place. National anti-bullying legislation would be passed, probably with a name like Spock's Law. And of course they'd insist on referring to the UN as the United Federation of Planets.

Comment: Re:Tolls? (Score 1) 825

by Martin Blank (#49739307) Attached to: Oregon Testing Pay-Per-Mile Driving Fee To Replace Gas Tax

I'd like to see flat fuel taxes indexed to inflation. A ten-cent per gallon tax that might have been sufficient in 1990 is falling woefully short of that mark in 2015 (it should be about 18 cents per gallon now) and while it wouldn't necessarily obviate the need for per-mile taxes, they might not be seen as so important to consider, at least not yet.

Coincidentally, I read an article this morning about a lab at a Texas university where they can simulate years of road wear in a few weeks. They have an axle capable of replicating the weight of a tractor-trailer (and up to double it) that can do 100,000 passes a week, including variance of up to 18 inches each way to simulate vehicles traveling in different parts of the lane. They use it to test different road structures, and experiments are due to wrap up this summer with papers to follow. Clever contraption, but what caught my eye was the claim that a mere 5% increase in average duration for a road material translates to about $50 million in annual savings for the roadways maintained by the state of Texas. Given the massive shortfall in roadway funding in the state, it would be nice to see something that gets a 25% or greater increase. There are plenty of highways (let alone streets) that are nightmares to drive on in the winter after the ice.

Comment: Re:Tolls? (Score 1) 825

by Martin Blank (#49739159) Attached to: Oregon Testing Pay-Per-Mile Driving Fee To Replace Gas Tax

Depends on the location. Measure M is a half-cent sales tax which raises hundreds of millions of dollars per year in Orange County, CA. It has been extremely popular and has paid for roads and freeways (the 22 freeway widening a few years ago was either largely or completely paid for from Measure M revenues).

Comment: Re:not far enough. (Score -1) 201

by rjh (#49715127) Attached to: Baton Bob Receives $20,000 Settlement For Coerced Facebook Post

Please see my original post:

They're not going to work as cops ever again.

And they're not going to get hired as security guards in the U.S., either. Would you hire someone that you already knew, 100%, had violated someone's civil liberties so egregiously? Of course not: your shareholders would can you for hiring them. If you hire people you know are a discipline problem, you're just begging for a lawsuit when they fuck up again while working for you.

Comment: Re:New Jersey and Other Fictions... (Score 1) 615

by cpt kangarooski (#49707607) Attached to: The Economic Consequences of Self-Driving Trucks

These people are increasingly rare, given that more gas stations lack "full-service" pumps.

Well, chalk one up for electrics, I guess.

Tesla's working on automated full-service battery swapping stations. And apparently also on charging cords that can plug themselves in:

http://www.theverge.com/2014/1...

Robots of that sort already exist, so you can see the sort of thing he's probably referring to:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?...

Comment: Re:Won't save most of the 4000 lives (Score 1) 615

by cpt kangarooski (#49707571) Attached to: The Economic Consequences of Self-Driving Trucks

Local delivery (Fed Ex, UPS etc) will still have an operator (or perhaps two or more) that can jump out with the package while the delivery truck drives around the block

That's what the Amazon drones are for. The truck just has to cruise through the neighborhood. Meanwhile, small drone aircraft that it carries will work to carry packages out of the truck and to front doors. A human will still be needed for heavy or bulky packages, or for deliveries that have to be brought inside or where there's no convenient place for the drone to land to deposit them, but those packages and destinations can be separated from the others at the local depot, and all put on a smaller number of trucks, therefore needing a smaller number of humans. You won't need a human for every truck if you work out the routes each day based on the nature of the packages you've got and where you're taking them.

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