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Comment Re:Conditions Apply (Score 2, Interesting) 635 635

How do all of these storage solutions scale? EG Pumped storage for all of Chicago would require putting an area comparable to Chicago's underwater (600 km^2). Pumped storage has an capacity of a few Watts per m^2 depending on the depth change available (typically a few meters). Chicago uses energy at an average rate of 20 GW so you need an area on the order of 10^10 m^2 or a square area that is 100km on a side. BTW In Illinois about half the power comes from nuclear, the other half from coal.

Comment Re:As always, make yourself known (Score 5, Insightful) 597 597

There is a very simple counter factual to this. CEO pay has grown 6 fold since 1990 (Forbes). The economy hasn't. Median salary hasn't. Have they somehow become six times rarer or six times more effective without the economy noticing? The market doesn't drive ceo salary. Productivity doesn't drive ceo salary.
Power

A Step Closer To Cheap Nuclear Fusion 404 404

ewsnow writes "The Focus Fusion Society reports that the scientists and engineers at Lawrenceville Plasma Physics have finally built an operational Dense Plasma Focus device. While still at less than half power, they were able to achieve a pinch on their device. The small company that Eric Lerner started recently gathered enough funding to start a two-year study on the validity of his theory regarding fusion-inducing plasmoids. If the theory holds, the device will produce more electricity than it consumes. In contrast to the billions of dollars spent on Tokamak fusion (think ITER), LPP is conducting their research on a budget around a million dollars. Yet, if it works, it will provide nuclear fusion with much simpler equipment and much less cost. Eric Lerner and Focus Fusion have been discussed on Slashdot before."

Comment Re:Why is this being compared to top500? (Score 3, Insightful) 114 114

Well, you're both wrong. You can't simply redefine the terms to win your argument and the term supercomputer doesn't necessarily refer to computer cores networked by a high speed interconnect. Come to think of it, the original post is absurd, because there is no way BOINC could run LINPACK which is the measure of the TOP500 rankings anyway. LINPACK stresses communication performance as well as scalar processor performance. BOINC would probably be slower than my desktop for that purpose. Like a lot of these silly comparisons on slashdot ("My hammer is better than your screwdriver!") it comes down to using the right tool for the right job. If you're not in a hurry and your job is "a bag of jobs" type problem, use BOINC or some other distributed/cloud computing approach. If you're trying to solve some type of PDE use a purpose built system like Roadrunner. Using something like Roadrunner for the type of jobs that BOINC is good at is just a waste of resources - those networks aren't cheap.

Comment Re:Wanted: cheap, not efficient (Score 1) 133 133

Maybe for new construction. Half the cost of retrofitting solar cells on existing homes is installation. Even if they were free, it wouldn't be economical to install them. To both efficiency and cost play a role. If I don't need to cover my whole roof, installation is cheaper.

Comment Re:Someone just give this man some money.... (Score 1) 272 272

From Bussard's google talk, he estimated the COE to be in the range of 0.02 USD to 0.05 USD/kwhr. That implies a cost of at least $1/W for the plant. 1GW=1Billion USD. You can decide if that is a tiny fraction of ITER construction or not. Of course we're assuming that the first full scale polywell reactor will be built on time and on budget with no difficulties. And of course, the fusion community has not invested everything in a single solution. Even researchers on ITER and other tokamaks have often been involved/invested in other designs in the past: mirrors, stellerators, pinches - an existence proof that they are able to recognize promising new concepts. Just because they don't recognize polywell as promising doesn't mean they are wrong.

Comment Re:Ethanol is just stupid (Score 2, Informative) 894 894

power = energy/time Tell the jet pilots their highly refined fuel is less powerful. Diesel engines get better mileage because the diesel has to be burned at a higher temperature than gasoline engines -> higher Carnot efficiency. That said, bio energy advocates should consider that photosynthesis is generally 1% efficient at making sugars from the sun, and that is BEFORE you dry it and convert it to your fuel stock of choice.

The gent who wakes up and finds himself a success hasn't been asleep.

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