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Comment You don't understand "ground loop". (Score 1) 351 351

You should consider the possibility that electrical engineers who regularly use the term "ground loop" just might understand the concept better than you do.

Run two identical wires down to your "green wire buried in the dirt".

Run some current along one of the wires.

Observe the voltages at the near end of each line. You'll find that the line carrying current is no longer at "zero volts" relative to the line not carrying current. That's because those ground lines are not perfect conductors.

Comment Would be a great solution, but not for me... (Score 1) 70 70

I'm sort of holding out for the inevitable cataract surgery as an upgrade.

I don't have significant cataracts yet, but I have no reason to expect that I won't. And when I do, and get replacement lenses, I expect better visual acuity than I have now, and hopefully better focal accommodation. There are already various replacement-lens products that offer accommodation; ten or twenty years down the road, I hope much better products will be available.

I briefly considered laser surgery to correct my vision when I was in my late 30s, but I was satisfied with contact lenses. Eventually, as I lost accommodation, I gave them up in favor of bifocal glasses (which serve as trifocals for me -- top for distance, bottom for reading, peer under the lenses or take them off for close-up examination). If I had laser surgery, I'd need to carry reading glasses all the time, probably in more than one strength. What would be the point?

Ah, but if I can regain accommodation -- that changes everything. And, yes, I'd consider invasive surgery to gain that benefit.

Comment Re: "Mimic the act of driving"? (Score 1) 157 157

I don't think we'll ever see driving forbidden. It might be restricted to certain roads, maybe even private/closed courses. Or it might be subject to mandatory automated overrides in case the driver tries to do something stupid -- yes, the reverse of the current situation, where laws may require a human operator remain ready to take over in case the machine does something stupid.

I understand that driving can be fun. But do you really want to keep trying to eke out your enjoyment on roads mostly full of people who don't care much about driving, who may be exhausted, drunk or distracted, or who just plain aren't very good at driving on their best days?

Comment "Mimic the act of driving"? (Score 3, Insightful) 157 157

This actually reminds me of the Red Flag Laws that were passed when automobiles first began appearing. Because, obviously, the most important thing for an automobile is to avoid spooking the livestock, er, human drivers for whom the roads are really intended.

I hope I live to see the day when driving manually on a public road is viewed the same way as herding livestock or riding a horse on a public road -- quaint and interesting, but mostly disruptive, and almost never actually done.

Comment Re:YES. Attention is a resource. (Score 1) 351 351

Hm. I'm not sure how to respond to this. I didn't think I really was disagreeing with the premise in the summary. I was making more of a cynical observation -- perhaps to say that, just as fish might enjoy the bait that lures them into snares without a thought for their future, most "media consumers" enjoy the tripe that's fixing them in front of the tube or YouTube, without a thought for what it's costing them.

My own personal nemesis in the advertising world is the animated margin ad. It sits there, tugging on your attentional processes at a very low level -- it's almost physically impossible not to be distracted by motion in your peripheral vision -- and as HTML5 takes over from Flash, which took over from animated GIFs, it becomes harder and harder to override them. If I could figure out how to propose safety legislation to deal with them, I'd even be willing to dabble in politics for the sake of the fight.

Comment YES. Attention is a resource. (Score 5, Interesting) 351 351

I can't remember ever encountering a Slashdot summary that had me literally shouting in agreement.

The thing is, though, we are being compensated for our attention, with exactly the thing most people are looking for, whether they'd admit to it or not -- novelty and stimulation. It's unfortunate, I think, that this "extraction process" is diverting our attention from more productive outlets. But when has it ever been different? When have the masses, the majority, ever voluntarily directed their attention to productive outlets, instead of directing it to escapism or religious ritual on the rare occasions when it's not consumed by the fight for basic survival?

Comment A stand for 24-bit sound... (Score 1) 574 574

...from a guy with an 8-bit voice.

I'm a bit of a fan of his, but I think this is an awfully silly issue over which to make his music less accessible to everyone. What's he going to do about people who have the temerity to listen to his music while they're driving a car, or getting stoned, or otherwise not dedicating 100% of their attention to its nuances?

Comment Re:Opening themselves up to liability? (Score 3, Informative) 87 87

Yes, garbage all the way down. If an alarm goes off, they don't just send firefighters to cruise around the outside of the building; they have to go inside and verify that there's no fire. I can't imagine what a drone could report that would prevent a truck from rolling.

This doesn't even begin to pass the sniff test.

Comment Heat superconductors? (Score 2) 35 35

I'm very sorry, but Larry Niven lied to us in Ringworld.

Electrical superconductors are not heat superconductors; in fact, as far as I know, nobody has demonstrated true heat superconductivity (all points of the material remain at the same temperature, supporting infinite heat-transfer rates). I found a speculative paper about it from 2012, but it's only speculation.

Comment Re:Melting Point Could be an Issue (Score 2) 35 35 isn't telling you everything you need to know. The melting point it lists is for the white (yellow) allotrope, the one that spontaneously combusts in air. The red and black allotropes are a lot more refractory, and a lot less chemically reactive.

Comment Re:Melting Point Could be an Issue (Score 1) 35 35

What does the melting point of an element have to do with structures formed from atoms of that element?

Since a phase change is also a structural change, I'd say "everything".

However, as you say, the black allotrope has a very high melting point. It's only the white/yellow allotrope that's low-melting.

If you can't understand it, it is intuitively obvious.