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Comment Already Achieved (Score 3, Informative) 48

To my knowledge this has already been achieved. Specifically, a Japanese company called Spiber spin synthetic spider silk manufactured by this kind of process. They've made enough to weave a dress out of it as a demonstration and have some kind of project to build a factory, which should produce some hundred kilograms per year of it sometime during 2015. However, their website isn't full of updates and much of the material is in Japanese.

There's also a Swedish biomedicine company called Spiber Technologies that makes this kind of stuff to grow cells on. Reading wikipedia also gives a couple of examples

Still, if they achieve really large scale production that may be nice even if they aren't first. The focus on textile applications might also be indicative of being able to make large amounts of fiber.

Comment Re:I'm a bit conflicted (Score 1) 616

I've argued before in a related discussion elsewhere that people, if they have a right to refuse vaccines shouldn't be deprived of an education, or something else that they are recognized as having a right to, for exercising that right and that the acceptable policy space consists of making vaccination either mandatory or not mandatory.

While measles vaccines are undoubtedly safe, I am not so opposed to the anti-vaccine people as you are, in part because some novel vaccines have caused injuries; for example, when it was used here in Sweden it was found that the Pandemrix vaccine caused narcolepsy in children and youths (according to wikipedia the increase in incidence was 6.6 times, although it of course still very rare, but it is no longer recommended for children (adults are unaffected)). Considering things like this I think that it reasonable that a paranoid parent who perhaps doesn't weigh risks optimally may be afraid of other vaccines as well, or that someone a bit more sensible than that may be uncertain whether a particular vaccine is acceptable.

I think that a reasonable policy is to take care that vaccines that are recommended are as safe as they can be, to make them demonstrably so (i.e. no mercury compounds that are scary enough that one might want to see whether or not they are safe), to ensure careful testing, to ensure that the testing can be trusted and to ensure that there is as little profit motive to get around and, if one genuinely believes that it is necessary, to consider mandatory vaccinations.However I suspect that an initiative like this is being considered because it is felt to be less imposing than that.

Comment Insulation + modern ventillation systems (Score 1) 250

I've given some thought to this and believe that insulation, modern well-designed heat and ventilation systems, perhaps incorporating heat exchangers for heat-recovery from the air leaving the house, systems to heat the water with sunlight hitting the roof or heat storage using a borehole heat exchanger are the right solution.

Comment Re:Would it really be worse without patents? (Score 1) 75

I've heard this kind of argument on Slashdot, where it is claimed that patents aren't for small inventors or as in your case, that they small inventors do not use them, and attempted to counter it then, that time with examples of small inventors. I believe that it is quite false. I will now engage in some self-plagiarism and list those same inventors again, since their inventions are still among those which capture the mechanically oriented parts of my imagination the most and because I've already committed this self-plagiarism this morning in Swedish.

The first one is a English professor, Kais Atallah, whose invention was a type of magnetic gear, to which he got he obtained a patent, enabling the production to be funded. The second Torbjörn Lembke, whose invention was a magnetic bearing. He had worked in industry, both, I believe, on different kinds of magnetic bearings and on other advanced electrical machines, had an idea for an improvement of today's magnetic bearings, wrote a PhD dissertation on it, patented it before publishing and presently manufactures it, after having gotten funding.

You might not call these real garage inventors, but I have a last example. Glenn Thompson, an Australian programmer, who, after what must have been quite careful thought, found a way to make a new kind of constant velocity joint (now called a Thompson Coupling). He patented this, having gotten the patent, got investors and has now," "having gotten funded, been manufacturing and selling these joints for some years.

If it weren't for patents these people would likely have obtained minimal reward for their work. If you have an invention, patents do protect it. You might say that they if they were "real small inventors" wouldn't have money to sue, but I imagine that such even a small inventor, with no money and only a good patent, would even in America, be able to take his case to court and win with enough probability to deter patent infringement. At worst such an inventor might be forced to find a lawyer to take his case on contingency.

As stated in the introduction I've essentially varied a previous post, but since what you wrote is so similar to what I responded to I felt that this was acceptable.

Comment Re:Delayed action (Score 1) 708

One can't make that kind of choice unilaterally when competing against others. The companies can't either.

Even if their founders have initially good intentions those good intentions will, when there are externalities, ultimately harm their business. This applies to everything from worker welfare or unsafe factories to harm to the environment.

Comment Re:Global warming is causing bad grades now (Score 1) 187

Yes. Performance was also degraded as classroom temperatures reached 30 degrees Celsius. I didn't listen to the full presentation, although there probably wasn't enough in it to ascertain whether they had succeded in separating the effect of CO2 and temperature, but it probably wasn't treated, as the presentation was intended for people who designed ventillation systems.

Comment Re:Global warming is causing bad grades now (Score 3, Informative) 187

No, it's actually quite right.

Just yesterday I happened upon a presentation by a company called Swegon, which designs and manufactures ventillation system equipment, in which they showed a material from a British researcher who (I believe on their proposal) had arranged measurements of student performance as a function of class CO2 levels and classroom temperature and the effect on the speed with which students performed diverse simple tasks, like adding numbers, multiplication, etc. and overall it turned out to drop by 30% as CO2 reached the worst levels.

In some schools the CO2 levels reached about 2000 ppm. The idea that this doesn't affect people is ridiculous and properly designed ventillation systems are important.

Comment Re:Not the way we have carbs now (Score 1) 329

But calories in and calories burned aren't independent variables.

You can cause health problems that make eating less impossible by eating less sooner than you would cause healthy weight loss. There's an old story that I found in an old fechtbuch. An english fencing master complained of a spanish argument that you if you always held your point as far towards your opponent as possible would strike him first, and he compared this argument an old story of how a man goes to woman for a cure against seasickness who is to have told him to "Take this rock. As long as you have it in your mouth you will not throw up" and as he went to sea and eventually threw up he realized the precise way in which the woman's statement was true. I feel that your argument involving this accounting inequality has the same character.

Comment Re: Sponsor? (Score 3, Interesting) 131

Computer holography, Path-tracing, the fast-multiple methods for radiosity-- and if it has to be automotive related: alternative thermodynamic cycles for engines, field modulated magnetic couplings (like the ones magnomatics are making as gearboxes/electric drive systems for cars) or mass-production of parts from fibre reinforced plastic.

All of these are nerdier, but perhaps not as easily digested.

Comment Re:Screw other people (Score 1) 800

Then pretty much every human would have no business driving. The way to ensure this is to greatly honor whoever acts correctly and to ensure that there will be more of them. That is of course society's prerogative however and in a bad society where this is not rewarded the cost is paid in lives instead.

"Survey says..." -- Richard Dawson, weenie, on "Family Feud"