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Comment Re:Not exactly 90%.... (Score 1) 101

I've been following Ebola for a while now. Richard Preston's "The Hot Zone" covers a number of attempts, expeditions by CDC and USAMRIID to track down the source of Ebola -- to no avail at the time of publication. However since it's publication the following has occurred:
  1. Scientists have found where Ebola lurks -- almost exclusively in fruit bats. As man has traveled and settled further and further up the Ebola river region he has come in contact with the life cycle of the Ebola virus in these bats. The bats have antibodies to the disease and are mostly resistant to it. They nest in trees and when they defecate in them the virus is transmitted onto to surface of the fruit which is eaten by monkeys. These monkeys contract the disease and die rapidly from it. If they bite another monkey they can transmit the disease to others in their troop, but they can also bite humans. The people of the area also eat monkey meat, so that's another vector for the disease.
  2. While Marburg, Lassa and Ebola are all very deadly diseases the strain that burned through Zaire in the book was particularly lethal for two reasons:
  3. The main story centers around a strain called "Ebola Zaire Mayinga" -- named after a nurse that contracted it trying to save someone else's life. For whatever reasons this is an insanely fast strain (90% lethal). It also almost killed the first doctor trying to treat it. He survived after going through many blood transfusions. USAMRIID has samples of Mayinga in cold storage.
  4. Mayinga's original method of infection was from Belgian nuns who had setup a center for malaria injections. They kept re-using the same needles and it's likely that one of the original people infected thought they had malaria and got an injection from the nuns. After that the ebola virus was being actively spread by the nuns to every single person getting an injection. More people who just came there to avoid malaria came down with Ebola. They spread the infection to their relatives who went to the mission for a malaria shot. The extreme amplification of the virus at the mission devastated the region. Within a week or so the entire mission (including the nuns) was totally destroyed.
  5. As you said, the Reston virus really had the potential to destroy the world. It broke out in experimental monkeys in a lab Reston VA imported from a region near the Phillipines IIRC. Unlike other Ebola strains it was transmitted not only by bodily fluids, but through the labs ventilation system (airborne). The only thing that saved humanity was blind luck that the variant probably had a single mutation that prevented it from infecting humans. Imagine a significant percentage of the DC area coming down with a 50-90% lethal flu and various diplomats catching it and flying it to their populations throughout the world. Given enough time Reston could have jumped over to humans, but quick action by USAMRIID, CDC and other military personnel stopped it there.
  6. More importantly regarding the posted article, there has been an experimental vaccine for Ebola for about the last 8-10 years. It saved the life of a lab worker in 2009 as has been shown to be effective in lab tests.


Comment Sorry, You're Wrong (Score 2) 279

Get your facts straight. Misc comments on styluses and handwriting aside, Apple fellow Alan Kay came up with the first known concept design for the tablet back in the 1960's with the Dynabook. At the time he was working for Xerox PARC, the facility's researchers came up with the first Windowed Graphical User Interface and the first Ethernet controllers. Granted Apple ripped them off mercilessly for the original Mac design, but Xerox signed a released that allowed them to have it. Go figure. Ironically the Xerox Star (prototype of the Apple Lisa, forerunner to the Mac) was the smallest version of a dynabook possible back in early 70's. In any case, Bill Gates was not a player in this game beyond creating a hackneyed attempt. Much earlier attempts were made in micro-sized PDAs from all fronts. Wake up and smell what you're shoveling.

Comment Re:We've Already Done Most of the Work: LFTR React (Score 1) 273

Hmm, where do we begin.
  1. 1. One of your primary false assumptions is that man will never live on other "planets". First the moon is not a planet (which I assume is what you meant) and man has already "lived" there, so that's obviously a false assumption.
  2. 2. Whether man will ever live anywhere other than Earth in the future is a question with many facets. Funding and other issues of course, but not the least of which is cheap, abundant energy. Without the latter, survival (even on Earth) is much more expensive and difficult. More on this later.
  3. 3. There's any number of ways that water could be contaminated with toxic materials. "Microbes" are only one of them. On Earth, LFTRs could cheaply provide power and *desalinate* water -- essentially allowing third-world nations to prosper without oil barons and dictators.
  4. 4. Moon bases will only be populated by machines? Now who is sniffing the science fiction glue?
  5. 5. For the record I have put my amazing intellectual abilities to use on Earth -- building the Internet that we are speaking over now. God forbid that you would make the same Luddite arguments regarding the Internet when I was designing parts of its infrastructure. (Probably long before you even knew about it.)
  6. 6. Why anyone would ever want to physically leave Earth, gosh, you have me stumped there. Are you sure you're over the age of 8? Don't get me wrong, some parts of the Earth are very lovely and edible but some Earthlings are a little insane. Seriously there are plenty of reasons to physically leave Earth and all of the counter-arguments you state can be relatively easily overcome.
  7. 7. Waste Earths remaining resources on space? I can think of at least one: what happens when those resources run out? What happens when some bat shit crazy idiot decides to use nuclear weapons to start WW III? What happens when an unmapped asteroid smacks into it at relativistic speeds?

(I'm actually a little surprised to find someone so under informed on Slashdot.

Comment We've Already Done Most of the Work: LFTR Reactors (Score 2) 273

This is a nearly perfect application for the Thorium-based molten-salt LFTR (Liquid Flouride Thorium Reactor) concept.

LFTRs advantages:

  1. - adapt to load and are self-regulating: the molten-salt blanket around the core expands as heat increases and contracts as heat reduces
  2. - require no high-pressure containment vessel or water cooling
  3. - will auto-shutdown if there is a critical power failure
  4. - use a Uranium/Thorium cycle which consumes 99.9% of the fuel, increasing energy output and reducing waste products
  5. - use a 50% efficient Brayton cycle gas turbine generator, waste heat can be used to purify water (important on moon)
  6. - could be mass produced and delivered on trucks. A LFTR the size of a semi-truck should produce at least 100KW.
  7. - waste products that do remain can be contained and become safe in 300 years instead of 300,000 years. (87% waste safe in 10 years, 13% in 300)
  8. - proliferation-resistant: removing the only useful actinides for weapons would shut the reactor down, are deadly (hard gamma emitters) which also make them traceable

There are also abundant levels of Thorium on the lunar near-side

The base concepts of the LFTR were desinged in the late 50's by Alvin Weinberg for a nuclear airplane design. Further refinements of the molten salt concept were tested very successfully for four years (1964-1969) at Oak Ridge National Lab.
The project was eventually discontinued because the molten-salt reactors can't be used to produce weapons-grade plutonium and they are very safe relative to almost any other reactor and made fast breeder reactors look bad. LFTR reactors could be mass produced and delivered on trucks, from 100kw to multi-gigawatts.

A LFTR the size of an 18 wheeler should deliver at least 100kw.
The quantity of Thorium on Earth is thought to be enough to power the planet at the current rate for approximately 100,000 years.

Why not fund LFTR research at NASA while they are at it? The Chinese have already restarted all of our original research. If they create a good reactor and patent it we will feel like total idiots.

Energy From Thorium: here

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