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Power

All French Nuclear Reactors Deemed Unsafe 493

Posted by samzenpus
from the what's-the-worst-that-could-happen dept.
hweimer writes "A new study by a French government agency, commissioned in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, found that all French nuclear power plants do not offer adequate safety when it comes to flooding, earthquakes, power outages, failure of the cooling systems and operational management of accidents. While there is no need for immediate shutdown, the agency presses for the problems to be fixed quickly. France gets about 80% of its power from nuclear energy and is a major exporter of nuclear technology."

Comment: Re:I hate our system and I use metric on my own. (Score 3, Insightful) 711

by farmerj (#29255815) Attached to: Apple Kicks HDD Marketing Debate Into High Gear

Call me biased. Even call me bigoted, but I will stand by this assertion: American, UK, Oz, and Kiwi scientists and engineers, who have grown up around TWO systems of measurement, Imperial and Metric, are far more adept at scale conversion and at thinking in arbitrary units than European scientists who have been coddled into laziness and complacency because they only have one.

I'm not too sure where you are getting your information there. All of the countries, apart from the USA, that you mention are metric countries for just about everything, especially Australia and New Zealand. I've lived with people from Oz and NZ and most of them have no concept of any imperial measurement.

The UK and Ireland (I'm Irish) are slightly different. Most people would have grown up with metric and imperial measurements. The older the person the more imperial units they would have grown up with.
In Ireland just about all measurements in daily use are in the metric system now. Diesel and petrol are sold by the litre, speed limits and distances are in km (changed over from miles in 2005). The only things that are commonly referred to in imperial units are a pint of beer or a pound of butter (454 g on the label) and people's height and weight. Height and weight is usually refereed to in feet and stone (strangely enough very few people know their weight in pounds). The only notable difference between Ireland and the UK in this regard would be that the UK still uses miles on road signs.

With regards to scientists and engineers, no scientist or engineer in any of those countries (apart from the US maybe), would use imperial units (unless for a very specific or unusual purpose). The very idea of using any imperial units would be laughed out of the room so there is no conversion going on. Where there are two units of measurement being used side by side (example of height and weight in the UK and Ireland) they tend to be used independently. For example most people I know in Ireland would tell you their weight and height in stone and feet respectively, but not that many would be able to tell you their weight and height in kg and metres (though more people would know their weight in kg) even though they now use kg and metres for everything else.

As to your comments on European scientists and engineers it would seem to reinforce the first two sentences of your post.

The advantage of the SI system is not in a single measurement like metres or kg but the fact that they all integrate together with grace and simplicity and most importantly consistently. You say we would be better off with more people having an ability to reason fluently in both systems but you give no good reason why this would be so.

Personally I can see no advantage to an engineer working in two units consecutively, in fact I can only see problems. The potential for miscommunication, errors in assumptions and just plain awkwardness would be very high indeed.

Comment: Re:from TFA (Score 1) 921

by farmerj (#28885989) Attached to: UK's FSA Finds No Health Benefits To Organic Food
Those are nice quotes, well chosen to make your point but as with all things in life things are not that straight forward or black and white.

One acre of land could produce 25 tons of tomatoes, 20 tons of potatoes, 15 tons of carrots... or 250 pounds of beef. (Dworkin, Norine, "22 Reasons to Go Vegetarian Right Now," Vegetarian Times, April 1999, p. 91.)

This makes the classic mistake that people make about agricultural land. 'It's all the same'

The two big deciders on what you can grow on land are the land itself (soil type, drainage, slope, natural fertility) and climate. Land and climate is not all the same everywhere. For climate and land that will produce 25 tonnes of tomatoes you will need irrigation and a lot of it.

I'm from Ireland, a country famous for our rainfall and potatoes, if there is any kind of dry summer at all potatoes will need irrigation in Ireland and an acre of potatoes will take a lot if irrigation. Carrots are not as bad but you still need the right land to grow them. Most of the agricultural land in Ireland would not be considered suitable for potato or carrot production.

It takes 100 times the amount of water to produce one pound of beef as to produce one pound of wheat. (Jeffrey Hollender. How to Make the World a Better Place, NY: William Morrow & Co., 1990: p. 122.)

I'm not arguing the figure but I'd question why it matters. If both grass and wheat are being rain fed it doesn't matter how much water they require to grow. In fact in low rainfall areas it may be more efficient to produce grass than wheat.

In fact beef can be better in low rainfall conditions as you lower the stocking rate per acre so that the land supports the stock. In similar conditions it might be economical to produce wheat at all.

A good example of rainfall being a key factor in what can be grown is the west of Ireland. For the most part soil type does not suit any tillage crop, the land tends to be wet and the high rainfall makes getting the correct conditions to work on the land difficult.

In these conditions however grass does exceptionally well. So much so that 90% of the beef produced in Ireland is exported.

To produce a year's supply of beef for a family requires over 260 gallons of fossil fuel, or approximately one gallon of gasoline per pound of grain-fed beef. (Ibid)

I won't argue with the figures (though to be honest it sounds very high) but I would like to emphasise the grain fed part.

There is a significant amount of beef around the world that comes from predominantly grazing.

Comment: Re:God hates censorship. (Score 2, Informative) 1376

by farmerj (#28770577) Attached to: Ireland Criminalizes Blasphemy
Most of that information is totally incorrect.

Ireland is a Catholic country. They are to some degree, still very strict. It's the only European country that has a law against abortion (on religious ground), I believe.

Here is a Wikipedia article on abortion law around the world. There are many countries in Europe that have restricted access to abortion.
The wikipeida article on Abortion in Ireland has a good summary of the history and the current status of abortion in Ireland.

The nurses and doctors are not allowed to give information about abortion, even, and England has an influx of Irish girls going over to get an abortion, despite the risk of going to jail.

Abortion is illegal in Ireland (and also for the most part in Northern Ireland as well.)
It has never been illegal to provide medical care to a women which would cause an indirect abortion.

There was also a constitutional referendum in 1993 which guaranteed the right to travel and the right to information.
It is not illegal to provide information about abortion in Ireland.
It is not illegal to travel to another jurisdiction for the purposes of getting an abortion.
It is not illegal to have an abortion in another jurisdiction.

Comment: Re:I disagree with the Feds on this one, 100% (Score 1) 335

by farmerj (#28723429) Attached to: Three Arrested For Conspiring To Violate the DMCA

A lot of European satellite providers use conditional access modules (CAM) along with smart cards to decode encrypted satellite television.

All the European satellite providers use DVB as the transmission system. DVB specifies a Common Interface. The CAM module sits in the CI and contains a card reader. With the correct smart card the CAM decodes the encrypted signal and sends it back to the receiver to be displayed.

Usually a particular type of CAM is needed for each encryption system. So if a CAM module is available, you place it in the CI slot of any receiver with supports the CI standard (EN 50221-1997), insert your smart card and watch TV. In this way you can pick the receiver that you wish (as long as it supports the CI slot), get your CAM and smart card and bob's your uncle.

There are some satellite providers that do not sell separate CAM modules. In this case the CAM is built directly into the receiver and you have to use the providers hardware. Sky in Ireland and the UK are an example of this, though it is possible to legally view their services using the third party Dragon CAM.

Comment: Only for data enabled phones (Score 1) 257

by farmerj (#28516325) Attached to: Standard Cellphone Chargers For Europeans
From the article:

The chargers will be usable only for data-enabled phones, which have more capability than just standard calls and SMS texts. Data-enabled phones are expected to account for almost half of all new mobile handset purchases in 2010.

So while definitely a move in the right direction it looks like it's only going to effect around half of the mobile phones sold in Europe initially.
I would expect this proportion to increase as smart phones move down into the lower cost markets though.

It's also not as big a jump for the manufactures this way as most of the smart phones already use some type of usb connection (mini or micro) so it shouldn't require a complete change of designs and tooling.

Comment: Re:Golf TDI Gas Tank (Score 1) 294

by farmerj (#27541589) Attached to: Tesla Roadster Runs For 241 Miles In E-Rally

The 1.9L 2006 VW Golf TDI has a 12.5 gal tank. Here are the numbers. Please notice the EPA ratings barely break 40MPG for the 2006 (newest) and about the same with older models.

The TDI Golf has a 12.5 UK gallon fuel tank, this equates to a ~15 US gallons (the fuel economy site you linked to gives 14.5 US gallons capacity.

While I'm sure the mileage is great, I'm skeptical of the claim that fnj can 'go over 600 miles without coming close to empty' though. With a 'best fillup' of 781 miles, one would be breaking 60MPG. That's barely achievable even with VW's diesel hybrid. fnj must do a lot of modestly paced highway hypermiling down a 700 mile slope or something... heh. Just a quick search around shows anecdotal evidence that people typically get about 45 highway with their Gold TDIs... that's probably more like it. But yeah, diesel engines are just more efficient than their gasoline counterparts.

With a full tank at 12.5 UK gallons and a best fill up of 781 that would give a fuel efficiency of 62.48 miles per UK gallon (53.86 miles per US gallon), which is achievable. I have a 2000 1.9 90bhp TDI Golf and I often get between 55 and 60 miles per UK gallon (46 - 50 miles per US gallon) so I wouldn't find the idea of 62.5 miles per UK gallon (52 miles per US gallon) that far out. Driving style and reading road conditions can have dramatic effects on fuel efficiency especially when driving long distances

Medicine

+ - Gates Joins Effort to Defuse TB Timebomb

Submitted by
Peace Corps Online
Peace Corps Online writes "TB is a bacterial infection that predominantly attacks the lungs spreading through coughing, sneezing, speaking or kissing. During the 20th century, health authorities made progress in controlling the disease but, in recent years, virulent new strains have emerged in poor countries that are almost impossible to treat. Less than 5% of estimated cases of Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) are being detected and fewer than 3% of sufferers receive treatment that meets WHO standards. "Call it what you may, a timebomb or a powder keg," says WHO director-general, Margaret Chan "Any way you look at it, this is a potentially explosive situation." The main diagnostic test for TB is 127 years old and can't detect resistance; the only vaccine is 85 years old and doesn't prevent the most common form of TB; and the last antibiotic, anti-TB medicine was discovered more than 40 years ago and is useless in the treatment of MDR-TB. Now computer industry billionaire Bill Gates is funding a TB project in China to initially cover 20 million people. "Because of its skill, its scale, its TB burden, its love of innovation and its political commitment to public health, China is a perfect laboratory for large-scale testing of new tools and delivery techniques to fight TB. The Ministry of Health and our foundation will introduce new diagnostics, new forms of treatment, new approaches to help patients complete treatment, " says Gates. The project will be expanded to 100 million over five years."

Comment: Re:$400 a month? (Score 1) 591

by farmerj (#26460221) Attached to: Switching To Solar Power — Six Months Later

Here in Ireland, double glazing is used as standard now. However, in Dublin at least, there are no rules on insulation, so despite fitting double glaze windows, the crazy builders/developers are allowed to build single-wall buildings with a simple damp-seal and plasterboard on the interior. No attic insulation either.

I'm not too sure where you're getting your information from but it's very wrong. Under the Irish building regulations insulation standards along with other building standards are laid out. (See Part L which was last amended in 2008.

Depending on the construction type single leaf walls may be allowed but a large amount of insulation would be required on the inside of the wall before the plasterboard and hardwall.

And yet rather than tackle such pathetic building standards (other regions of the country do have double-walled insulated buildings) our fanatical Green Party are insistant on focussing instead on having us all dwell in a netherworldish CFL-lit glow as they scrap ordinary light bulbs (you know, the non mercury-containing kind that don't make as much money for light bulb manufacturers).

Again you seem to be very uninformed, building standards are set for the country as a whole, the various councils in the Dublin region do not have any say over building standards, they do however have say over what structures can gain planning permission etc., this has nothing to do with the energy standards that the building is constructed to though.

That said, much anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that building insulation standards were not met in many building built in the last 10 years, but even then this normally cases of substandard insulation, not the total lack of it.

Also the Building Energy Rating (BER system came into force for all new buildings that have gained planning permission since January 2007, and all domestic building for sale or let after the 1st of January 2009. This is an energy rating certification giving an energy rating from A (Best) to G (Worst) in a similar format the energy ratings seen on electrical appliances in the EU. This gives buyers and renters an idea of the energy efficiency of a building and should help, in time, improve insulation values in buildings.

As for the Green Party, while I'd consider myself fairly environmentally conscious, I've never been a fan of the Irish Green Party. A large amount of their support seems to come from NIMBY issues. Becoming part of the coalition government has, in my opinion, been good for them. It has forced them to become more pragmatic. They have plans as far as I'm aware to increase the Part L building requirments over the next few years.

Also our builders/plumbers haven't a clue about properly designing a heating system, and work on an ad-hoc basis of randomly sticking in a few radiators around the place in an ineffectual manner and plumbing them in such a way that they barely work, with overpowered gas boilers that consume gas like anything to very little effect.

It really sounds like you've an axe to grind here, while it's true that heating systems can be badly designed and installed, labelling all the plumber and builders in Ireland as incompetent seems a little extreme. There are many very competent builders and plumbers in this country

Note I'm not involved in the building industry in any way or means, so I don't have professional pride at stake.

Security

SPAM: 5-Year-Old Boy Detained as US National Security Threat 1

Journal by Jeremiah Cornelius

It's a case of a mistaken identity for a 5-year-old boy from Normandy Park. He had trouble boarding a plane because someone with the same name is wanted by the federal government. "When his mother went to pick him up and hug him and comfort him during the proceedings, she was told not to touch him because he was a national security risk. They also had to frisk her again to make sure the little Dilling

Quickies

+ - NonSilicon, 6% efficient Printable solar cell

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "According to nikkei.net, A dye-sensitised polymer printed solar cell from a collaboration between Toin University of Yokohama and wrapping firm Fujimori Kogyo will sample in February of next year, has three layers, and is 0.4 millimetres thin. Although energy efficiency is modest, at only six per cent, a fab will churn out 10 megawatts of dye sensitised cells a month, using more or less conventional printing techniques."
Government

+ - Icelandian calls White House, labelled a terrorist-> 3

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "A 16-year-old boy in Iceland called a secret government phone number, which he thought was Bush's private number, and posed as the president of Iceland. After passing some impromptu security questions, such as President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson's birth date (which he answered with Wikipedia), Bush's secretary told him to expect a call back. Instead, police surrounded his house and interrogated him on where he got the number, threatening to put him on a no-fly list if he didn't tell. He claims he can't remember where he got the number, but says "I must have gotten it from a friend when I was about 11 or 12.""
Link to Original Source
Communications

+ - Mobile Linux Group Releases First Specification->

Submitted by
narramissic
narramissic writes "Android may be getting all the headlines, but the venerable LiPS (Linux Phone Standards Forum), which launched to much fanfare in 2005, is rolling out the specs. The group, comprised of companies including Orange, France Telecom, MontaVista and Access, announced Monday that it has completed the first release of its mobile Linux specification, adding components including APIs for telephony, messaging, calendar, instant messaging and presence functions, as well as new user interface components."
Link to Original Source

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