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Comment better than using a PIN (Score 1) 141 141

My children have to enter a PIN when they buy there lunch. Extra charges are always showing up on our account because other kids can't remember their pin or mis-type it and there's no check. This way, with the biometrics, the charges (OK, the article is talking about free lunches...) would end up on the correct account.

Comment Re:uh, so? (Score 1) 127 127

No, no they're not. They had the option to build them and they decided it would be too expensive to tool up. Instead, they continue to purchase the engines from NPO Energomash. What you might be thinking of is the NK-33's being refurbished into AJ-26 engines for the Antares rocket used by Orbital; at least until one blew up a few seconds after launch in Virginia in 2013.

Comment Re:Indian Point == Ticking Timb Bomb (Score 1) 213 213

ALL power plants require external power for cooling once they're tripped. In big plants like that, if you don't shut the system down correctly and cool the boiler off in a controlled fashion, you're going to cause all kinds of damage. This can include catastrophic failure of the boiler. Only difference is a coal fired boiler doesn't contain nuclear fuel and radioisotopes.

Fukushima was a cluster fuck. American plants apparently have more redundancy on the emergency generators than Japan requires. In addition, there are emergency cooling systems, even in the older designs, that use (for example) the steam generated by the plant itself to turn pumps. In Japan, they'd never tested those systems; so, didn't know if they were working or not (they were not).

I would like to see the plants all upgraded to newer designs myself but that's going to take decades; and, in the current societal and political climate may not happen.

Comment Re:Indian Point == Ticking Timb Bomb (Score 3, Insightful) 213 213

What you're describing is true of any power plant, disconnect the load and you have to stop feeding the turbine and dump the steam or you'll destroy the generator and turbine. This is a standard capability built into any plant, coal, gas, or nuclear. The gotcha is in shutting down the reactor, which can take longer to bring up than a coal plant -- which takes 1/2 day instead of several days.

Comment Enough of this (Score 5, Informative) 250 250

This story is being way overblown. Yes, it's a bug. Yes, it should be fixed. However...

248 days of continuous operation is well past the scheduled major maintenance for the aircraft. By this point, a 787 would have to go through many minor maintenance cycles which would have required shutting down the electrical system. In addition, loss of all 4 generators would not result in a loss of vehicle because there are batteries, an APU (a backup generator) and Ram Air Turbines (RATs), generators that deploy from the wing if the APU won't start. To have to rely on any of these would not make for a good day for the pilots; but, they would certainly provide the necessary power to safely land the aircraft at the nearest airport. They might even be able to continue on and finish their flight if they successfully reset the generators.

This is not the OMG Planes Are Going to Fall From The Sky! event the media is making it out to be.

Comment Re:Very unlikely to be triggered in the field (Score 5, Interesting) 250 250

If it ever happened on a plane, then it means that the maintenance was intentionally skipped. If they reach 248 days of continuous operation then a number of significant maintenance cycles have been skipped (some 23-25 inspection / maintenance cycles that generally require shutting down the electrical system). The generators in question are attached to the engines. The engines have a overhaul schedule that is shorter than 248 days of continuous operation. If they managed to reach this point, then the major maintenance cycles have been skipped and the engines are long overdue for a tear down inspection and overhaul. Any plane which could reach this point, 248 days of continuous operation missing all of the required maintenance; this is not a plane (or an airline for that matter) which anyone should be flying on.

Comment Don't stand in the rain (Score 1) 73 73

So perhaps the astronauts shouldn't spend all their time standing naked out on the airless surface of Mars, letting the universe blast their noggins with relativistic oxygen and titanium ions (yes, I read the article). If you don't want to get wet, you have to come in out of the rain.

The tree of research must from time to time be refreshed with the blood of bean counters. -- Alan Kay