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Comment Re:Hydro = from the sun (Score 1) 127

Direct solar may sound nice and work fine in small scale, but collectors would have to cover great areas to be effective

The total world energy consumption is somewhere around 100PWh/year. That's around 274TWh/day. The sunlight hitting the Earth is around 1kW/m^2, so 8kWh/m^2 assuming 8 hours of sunlight. If you assume 100% efficiency in conversion (totally impossible, but we'll start there and refine later), then that means that you need about 3.45E10 m^2 of land devoted to solar power. That's a square about 185km on each side. If you assume 10% efficiency (mass produced photovoltaics are 12-25% these days), then you need an area about 342000km^2, or about the area of Germany, to power the entire world. Now, given the efficiency of power distribution, you probably wouldn't want to put it all in one place, but you could easily fit solar panels enough that, even with transmission losses, you could power all of North America in Utah or Texas without anyone noticing. The difficulty is not the generation, it's the storage.

Comment Re:Private companies don't do exploration of front (Score 1) 329

And their colony failed. The Spanish, Portuguese, English and French colonies in the New World succeeded because the governments that ran those colonies backed them financially and militarily. At least in the case of the English, owners/shareholders of colonials often received economic monopolies, giving them substantial impetus to make colonies economically viable in fairly short order.

And even though colonies could obviously become self-sustaining in pretty short order, they still required a significant amount of protection from the colonial power, and the colonial powers served as the route to accessing markets.

The Vikings experiments in colonization as private endeavors were mixed successes at best, and ultimately only Iceland survived as a successful colonial enterprise by the early Modern era, with the North American and Greenland colonies failing (though the Greenland colony did manage to hang on for several centuries).

There are probably any number of reasons; less than hospitable sites for colonization that were vulnerable to climactic changes at the top, but also the more limited means of making such colonies economically viable. At least in the North American attempts, the native peoples may have played a roll as well. The Norse simply didn't have the resources at their disposal that the Colonial Powers could bring to bear when they started seizing the New World. The Norse were hardly better equipped than the Inuit and Native Americans they encountered, whereas the Spaniards, French and English had firearms and much larger numbers.

Comment Re:The dark matter between their ears (Score 1) 161

But no one says it doesn't exist locally. Quite the opposite, everyone thinks it does. It's just fucking hard to see.

It's not that cosmologists aren't willing to look at GR, and certainly are, but no potential quantum theory of gravity suggests an alternative to dark matter. And considering we all know there is physics beyond the Standard Model, and the potential for currently only hypothetical or even unpredicted particles, the idea that we should just toss out one of the most successful scientific theories in history because we're confronted with what looks like a lot of extra mass seems absurd.

But I get it. There is a certain type of person, underachievers mainly, whose only contribution to any discussion is to find the gaps in our knowledge and then proclaim researchers in those fields retards. It's pathetic, and contributes absolutely nothing.

Comment Space-based Economy (Score 2) 329

In the very long run, probably. But I think there's probably a route to increasing space exploration and utilization by explicitly avoiding the cost of Earth-to-orbit transport costs. The plan I've seen that has some promise goes as follows:

1. Find some metal-rich and volatiles-rich asteroids and comets (not exactly rare in the Asteroid Belt). Tow these asteroids into a near-Earth orbit and begin extraction and smelting.
2. Set up manufacturing facilities in Earth orbit to build spacecraft and satellites.
2a. We could even "grow" plastics with bacteria or genetically-engineered plants.
3 ....
4. Profit!

In all seriousness, if you created a parallel space-based economy whose sole purpose is to make transporting anything but humans into space, then the whole question of how to make Earth-to-orbit transport cheaper ceases to be an issue. Obviously the startup costs and R&D for such a project are monumental, but in the long run, the rewards would be huge. The whole point of commercial spaceflight is to find a way to make it economically feasible, and this is about actually creating a space-based economy.

Comment Re:The dark matter between their ears (Score 2) 161

They're not manipulating anything. They are observing that there are numerous objects which appear to have a lot more mass than is visible. Unless you think there is something wrong with our Classical view of gravity, then the obvious answer is that there is a lot more matter out there than we can directly observe.

Fucking hell, there's nothing worse than some self-appointed anonymous poster on the Internet who is some fucking arrogant and stupid that he thinks he understands something better than the scientists. And why is it that such arrogant fucktards always end up on /, trying to make themselves look oh so smart.

Comment Not the first full recovery from space (Score 1) 121

SpaceShip One touched space and all elements were recovered and flew to space again.

BO's demonstration is more publicity than practical rocketry. It doesn't look like the aerodynamic elements of BO's current rocket are suitable for recovery after orbital injection, just after a straight up-down space tourism flight with no potential for orbit, just like SpaceShip One (and Two). They can't put an object in space and have it stay in orbit. They can just take dudes up for a short and expensive view and a little time in zero gee.

It's going to be real history when SpaceX recovers the first stage after an orbital injection, in that it will completely change the economics of getting to space and staying there.

Comment Re:This is why ISIS wins (Score 4, Insightful) 583

Which is why ISIS is so darned convenient for Turkey. It takes the piss out of the Kurds outside Turkey's borders and thus weakens the overall Kurdish cause. I'm sure the Turkish government is happy enough to take a few suicide bombings on the chin for the strategic advantage gained from allowing ISIS to run rampant and kill lots of Iraqi and Syrian Kurds.

Comment Re:This is why ISIS wins (Score 2) 583

At some point Turkey will overplay its hand. The US and Europe have been forced to tolerate Turkey's double-dealing for some time, but as there is growing accord between the US, Europe and Russia on dealing with ISIS, Turkey's actions are going to see it increasingly isolated. If one of the end results of defeating ISIS is that Russia gains the right of a perpetual warm water port in Syria recognized by the US, then Turkey's place in NATO and as a US ally will be called into question. This downing of a Russian jet for what was the very briefest of incursions was a damned fool move that is likely to have Turkey's allies in the US and Europe scrabbling for cover.

We all agree on the necessity of compromise. We just can't agree on when it's necessary to compromise. -- Larry Wall