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Comment: Vote secrecy!? (Score 1) 18

by ggrocca (#47451573) Attached to: Interviews: Juan Gilbert Answers Your Questions

I've watched the video. It seems to me that there could be easy ways to circumvent secrecy, since the printed ballot comes out of the printer unfolded, goes in full view of the room to be shown through the webcam, and is put in the ballot box again unfolded. A simple conspiracy between two different ballot workers/volunteers using a mini camera could be enough. Am I missing something?

Comment: Re:What is life? What is a virus? (Score 1) 158

by ggrocca (#47433449) Attached to: Hints of Life's Start Found In a Giant Virus

Macro: adjective
1. large-scale; overall.

Not a creationist here. I was using the word macro at a conversational level. When two groups of animals originally belonging to the same species becomes different enough to make interbreeding impossible it sounds as a big modification to me, hence the word macro. The fact that those two different groups of animals could be connected by a chain of animal groups they can interbreed with, even if they can't, and that this sometimes actually happens in nature right now seems pretty amazing to me. That said creationist probably could not recognize a proof of evolution even if it punched them in the face...

Comment: Re:What is life? What is a virus? (Score 1) 158

by ggrocca (#47431003) Attached to: Hints of Life's Start Found In a Giant Virus

Didn't know about ring species. My mind was definitely blown. It is practically genetic drift and evolution happening on a spatial scale instead of a temporal one, complete with final proof of the fact where the "ring" closes. If this does not prove evolution at the macro scale I don't know what could.

Wish I had mod points. Anonymous comments sometimes rocks.

Comment: Re:Not surprising. (Score 1) 725

by ggrocca (#47399535) Attached to: When Beliefs and Facts Collide

I was a long time skeptic, because I initially found that the statistical grounds on which such statements were made to be shaky. But models, technique and science in general has gone a long way (despite the fact that some scientists have damaged it by abandoning their role and becoming political activistists - a serious error IMHO).

A milestone in my opinion has been the fact that Richard A. Muller changed idea:
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B...

He was, AFAIK, the last serious scientists to be a skeptic in this regard. His research was partially funded by partisan groups such as the Koch brothers and he changed idea nonetheless. Kudos to the man for respecting the work he did and taking the results he got at face value regardless of where his money came from and his previous beliefs about it.

I've talked a lot of times with friends of mine, many of which are physicists and some of them with PhDs in fluids and atmospheric physics, about these issues and all of them (everyone of them more qualified than me on such matters, and none of them with vested interests) have gone from cautious skepticism to acceptance of the basic fact that global warming is happening and we are the most probable cause. What that might entails for us and the planet in the future nobody knows, but everybody again agrees that IT COULD BE BAD.

You maybe should think again and consider changing position another time. My take is that being able to change opinions and beliefs is always a badge of merit; too many people just want to believe what suits them regardless of facts, and facts are sometimes really difficult to get/assess/analyze. We should respect reality and honest attempts at understanding it. We have to be skeptic, but without falling in love with the outcomes of our own skepticism, which is one of the most difficult things to do for us humans.

Comment: Re:Wait until those lamers find out... (Score 1) 385

Yes, yes, Italian population didn't want nuclear too. It was a stupid decision then, looks even stupider now. I welcome Germany to the Italian energy prices. And a lot of coal plants too - the true face of their solar/wind revolution and one of the worst sources of pollution ever devised by humanity.

By the way, from the link you posted:

""During this four decade long campaign, start-up think tanks, academic scholars, and professionals with nuclear industry experience, among others, were instrumental in convincing most Germans of three main points: 1) nuclear energy is a high-risk technology; 2) renewable energies are viable; 3) and there is no fail-safe way to dispose of radioactive waste.""

Good work in convicing gullible people of false things and actually shoving a way worst solution down their throats as a consequence!
1) Untrue. It is one of the energy production method that has created the least damages historically. Compare deaths-by-coal to deaths-by-nuclear.
2) Untrue. We should pursue solar/wind to their maximum potential, true, but they cannot provide base power to the grid without country-sized batteries and we are a long way from that. That is way Germany is building coal plants at a massive rate - they've added to the grid too much intermittent sources.
3) Untrue. The real dangerous stuff is only a tiny fraction of nuclear waste, an nuclear waste as a whole is only a fraction of, for example, toxic byproducts of coal burning at comparable energy production rates.

tl;dr if you don't want nuclear you want coal and coal is worse in every respect.

Comment: Re:Wait until those lamers find out... (Score 1) 385

What are your sources on nuclear being hopelessly uneconomical? The EROEI is good which means that is a good technical solution. It is true that nuclear requires a very high upfront cost but this does not mean at all that is economically unfeasible no matter what, a lot of good tech investments which are deployed every day require them. Investors are pulling out because of public fears and bureaucratic burdens more than anything else.

If anything, a push on research (thorium reactors could realistically mean improved and easier safety, more abundant fuel and less problematic waste management) followed by a push on investments could make even the upfront costs go down with time.

Keep in mind that there is no silver bullet for producing energy at world usage scale. If we have to phase out hydrocarbons (and I think that we have several good reasons to consider that we should) than our options are greatly reduced. Recent nuclear technology holds a lot of promise and could power up a good chunk of current world level energy consumption for several centuries at least, probably more. Right now it is our only option for providing base power to our grids that is carbon free and scalable enough to provide enough energy for our needs, used in parallel with almost every other feasible energy source we can think of (mainly dams, solar, wind, geothermal).

I for one I am always surprised about people being so irrational about nuclear. It's like people being scared shitless of taking an airplane once a year while commuting by car everyday without even thinking about it. In this analogy car = coal, which causes an unbelievable amount of pollution, toxic waste and countless unnecessary deaths. Thing is this damages accumulate in a steady continuous flow instead that with random high profile incidents, exactly like it happens with airplanes and cars.

Comment: Re:Wait until those lamers find out... (Score 1) 385

Tidal is marginal at best.

http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the...

"But my overall goal is to assess which forms of power can take on a substantial fraction (possibly up to a quarter) of our power needs. Only those sources capable of expansion at this scale stand any chance of achieving even half of that. Tidal is not one of those players."

Nuclear should be the way to go until we achieve fusion (improbable) or achieve a way to use solar/wind along with a scalable grid battery (slightly more probable but still difficult). That and natural gas which is abundant and the cleanest hydrocarbon.

We should ditch coal as soon as possible. And diesel too.

Oh, by the way, this is obligatory reading for everyone interested in this topic:
http://www.withouthotair.com/

Comment: Come on, don't be anti-science! (Score 1) 697

by ggrocca (#42640995) Attached to: Scientist Seeks 'Adventurous Human Woman' For Neanderthal Baby
Trust in nature? Excuse me? Nature is the craziest chemical lab ever existed, period. The sheer amount and variety of things and substances it manages to produce is simply astounding (we probably know about only a fraction of them), and a lot of them are incredibly bad for your health. Viruses transport genetic material between species since the dawn of time. That doesn't mean that cloning a neanderthal would be a good idea, or that we can't produce unhealthy things (we can, we can). It simply means that your reasoning is fallacious, or that you're not reasoning at all. Chances are, 99% of food you eat in your daily diet has been artificially selected by humans by trial and error: it's composed by plants and animals that never existed in nature (and would never had existed in nature). Today, bioengeneering permits us to do the same things, faster, better and safer. If there's a problem here, it lies in intellectual property laws and excessive regulation, not in science. We should grow out of this useless natural-vs-artificial dicotomy, and embrace new possibilities in a way that is both open and responsible, based on rational facts and not on witch hunts. Turns out that a rational analysis of GM foods shows that they could be good for both our health *and* the environment. On the GM food topics, hear mark lynas, he is way more convincing than me: http://www.marklynas.org/2013/01/lecture-to-oxford-farming-conference-3-january-2013/

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