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Comment Re:Might want to read the fine print... (Score 4, Interesting) 163

This is fine - they're not pretending those impacts don't happen, they are just not what they're studying. They are asking "What does the fallout do to people some distance from the accident?"

The exposure people get early in the accident and very close to the reactors depends hugely on the nature of the accident. At Chernobyl, there were many firefighters within meters of an exposed critical core, resulting in a large toll from acute radiation sickness. At Fukushima, the cores ceased to be critical seconds after the quake and tens of minutes before the tsunami, and radiation was only released days later, so there was no acute radiation sickness.

By contrast, the effect of the fallout is much less dependent on the nature of the accident, just on how much radioactive material was released*. It can sensibly be studied without specifying details of how the accident happened.

* There is some dependence: the relative quantity of short lived isotopes such as Iodine-131 in the fallout depends somewhat on how long the radioactive material was contained prior to release.

Comment Re:Am I the only person... (Score 1) 193

... who still thinks being able to get a wireless internet link in an aircraft doing 600mph at 35K feet is pretty fucking amazing. I can't believe people complain about the bandwidth - they should be grateful this tech exists at all.

Yeah, but the problem is that the service offered today is exactly the same as the service that was offered in 2008. There has been basically zero progress over the course of over seven years, and the price has been steadily going up for that service.

Imagine if computers had the same capabilities, the same CPU speed, the same RAM, the same form factor, the same monitor resolutions, as they did in 2008 but cost a lot more. Who would still be buying them? (Basically the same people who buy airplane wi-fi service--business customers who have to.)

Yay, monopolies!

Comment Causation? (Score 5, Insightful) 87

The more niche your research topic, the longer the title has to be to describe it, and correspondingly the fewer people will be interested. Compare, for example, "A New Hierarchy of Phylogenetic Models Consistent with Heterogeneous Substitution Rates" with "The Origin of Chemical Elements". While one will be much more cited that the other, the reason isn't the title length.

Comment Re:We had one, it was called the Shuttle. (Score 4, Informative) 71

For the cost of one shuttle launch you could more than pay for SpaceX's entire development program so far. For two launches you could pay for their development so far plus the extra they'll need to finish the Dragon capsule and "man-rate" the system, and still have some money left over for a couple of launches (each of which can carry as many crew as the shuttle.)

(I'm taking the cost of a shuttle launch as about $1.5B. Lower values can be argued for, adjust the above as needed for your preferred cost.)

For a few more shuttle launches and a several year wait, Blue Origins would likely be able to field a man-rated rocket, if you want multiple space taxi companies to chose from. ULA could do it too, but that would probably cost you ten shuttle launches.

The shuttle was hideously expensive and needed to go.

Comment Re:Bullshit (Score 1) 102

It isn't clear to me whether they collect heat and use some heat engine, or whether they use a small area of high cost high efficiency high temperature photovoltaic cells. As I've complained elsewhere, the articles provide almost no detail. There is mention of cooling water, but either possibility could use that.

Comment Re:No details (Score 2) 102

You'd use differential GPS. Wikipedia says this has accuracy of 10cm in the best case. Whether that is good enough for this application I'm not sure. Given that affordability is a big part of their goal, if they were taking this approach they'd not attach a GPS to each mirror, but rather have two receivers that they used for a callibration stage and then wouldn't be needed again unless something shifted. You'd need to know orientation as well as location for the mirrors.

I doubt this is what they're doing, but who knows.

Comment No details (Score 4, Informative) 102

TFA is lacking in details about how this works, but if you follow the link you get to a Guardian article which is lacking in details, but links to the projects website which excessively uses gratuitous Javascript and is lacking in details.

They talk about "plonkability" - that the mirror structures can just be plonked on the ground and will 'just work'. This suggests to me that somewhere in their system is some intelligence or calibration which is able to notice where each mirror is relative to the target and adapt its pointing accordingly. Their photos show the target tower having two rectangular surfaces pointed towards the mirrors. I suspect the plane white surface is there to aid mirror pointing calibration in some way, but I don't know.

Comment A few more links (Score 2) 80

TFA was very short on detail, so I went looking for more. Unfortunately, there seems not to be much more out there - everyone is reporting on the same short-on-detail presentation. Here's a few which seemed to me to have something to add:
kitguru has more pictures
pcworld has pictures of actual silicon (not that it has any visible detail)
digitaltrends has some interesting commentary (last two paragraphs).

Comment Re:Half the story (Score 1) 212

For example, if you were to open a fast food shop and call it Walt Disney's Fries Company, the Walt Disney cartoon and theme park company may try to fight this, but they wouldn't stand much of a chance.

Ha, no. They would destroy you so utterly that even brave men would only whisper about you when safe behind locked doors, and as for the store itself, it would be smitten so hard that nothing but twisted weeds would ever grow on that spot again. You might want to read up on trademark dilution.

Comment Re:Half the story (Score 2) 212

It depends.

There's really no such thing as a copyright on a character; there's just copyrights on works, which characters may be part of. Also, where more than one work is at issue, note that the copyright for derivative works only applies to new material added in the derivative work; it doesn't protect the pre-existing material at all.

Not all characters are defined well-enough to be protectable by the copyright to begin with. The degree of characterization matters. A character that's nothing more than a chessman could get reused pretty freely. An extremely well-defined character probably couldn't be. This is like the difference between a butler that did it, but about whom nothing else is told in the book, and a well-defined butler (well, valet, technically) like Jeeves, where we know a lot about him (preferred foods, what he reads, his club, things he knows about, etc.)

So assuming a protectable character, the issue basically boils down to whether the first work in which that character appeared is in the public domain. If it is, then the character -- as he was defined in the public domain material -- is fair game. Otherwise, you'd just be making a derivative of a copyrighted work, which is infringing. Remember, character attributes that first appear in works that are still copyrighted are not available.

As for a trademark, it would unavoidably be lost in this scenario. A trademark can only exist where it serves to indicate that goods bearing the mark originate from a particular source. Since copyright law would allow anyone to make copies or new works which included the mark, and since in the event of conflicts, copyright law trumps trademark law (many people in this discussion have noted the Supreme Court's opinion in Dastar on this point), the mark could no longer indicate that copies shared a common source, and so it would become an unprotected generic mark. If that were not so, the trademark would act like a copyright, which would be unconstitutional.

What the gods would destroy they first submit to an IEEE standards committee.