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Comment: DVD DVD 5 dollar! (Score 4, Interesting) 319

by kidtexas (#33992710) Attached to: China's Official Newspaper Pans iPad — Too Locked Down

Sounds like China to me. When I went there, I was curious to see if one could find NON-pirated DVDs for purchase. Never saw one. All DVDs and CDs in the city I was were pirated.

They were all really cheap too. I think it was 10 CDs for $5 and 3 DVDs for $8 if I recall correctly.

Comment: Re:Great! (Score 3, Interesting) 131

by kidtexas (#32691710) Attached to: Finance, Scientific Users Get ActivePython Updates

I know bonafide scientists who use Excel for analysis. Scary.

I also know quite a few who use numpy, scipy, matplotlib, and python for real science. In fact, I think the astro community specifically was an early supporter of some of these packages. I myself have been using them in science for 5 or 6 years.

Comment: Re:commercially viable ? (Score 1) 251

by kidtexas (#29911815) Attached to: Thermonuclear Reactor To Use Coconut Shells

A - ITER won't be commercially viable. Good science, probably, but not commercially viable.

B - Even if it were commercially viable, it's still years away. I think the first deuterium-tritium experiments are scheduled 10-15 years from now.

C - Yes it's not completely safe. The vessel will become activated, and tritium itself is radioactive. Never mind the health hazards of beryllium. Regardless, the waste should be a lot easier to deal with than fission products. I don't know the numbers for half lives, but from what I understand, it's 1-100s of years instead of 100,000s of years.

Comment: Re:Nuclear Waste? (Score 1) 251

by kidtexas (#29911673) Attached to: Thermonuclear Reactor To Use Coconut Shells

A lot of people have responded to you and they have it mostly right. Deuterium isn't harmful, tritium is. The neutron flux is a serious problem, especially from a structural standpoint. The reactor will become slowly neutron activated, or radioactive, and will need to be treated as low grade waste. Also, once tritium is introduced into the system, people won't be able to go in the reactor for maintenance because of the tritium absorbed into everything, so remote handling will be required. This is a separate issue from the neutron activation of the reactor though.

And no, no meltdown.

Comment: Re:As someone in science... (Score 1) 551

by kidtexas (#29905679) Attached to: Study Says US Needs Fewer Science Students

I don't know what it used to be like, but the fact of the matter is to 'make it' in science, getting a professorship at a tier one research university, you work like a dog. So you say, 'Teach at a college, you'll get summers off.' No, not true either. There is still pressure to publish (to get tenure), so you need to pull in grant money and research all summer. And possibly get paid shit.

One could always go into industry. The pay is better. The hours are long and the pressure is high. The fact of the matter is, many jobs in our society that are important have crap compensation. Teaching, science, etc. The payoff is in business.

And in my experience, it's not that hard to compete with (many of) the foreign born scientists. Some of them are quite good, and some end up staying in the US, but a lot are just so-so.

Comment: As someone in science... (Score 2, Interesting) 551

by kidtexas (#29904763) Attached to: Study Says US Needs Fewer Science Students

The summary got at least one sentence right. Incentives to stay in science are very small. I finished my graduate work not to long ago, and I'd make more money in almost any field compared to staying in physics. I know a number of people who left the field to do finance or something else. The thinking is: "If I have to work 80 hour weeks, I might as well be making several hundred thousand." Go to any of the top colleges/universities, and a large amount of the students want to go into finance or some other money making field.

Comment: Python + scipy + matplotlib (Score 1) 250

by kidtexas (#26669957) Attached to: Open Source Software For Experimental Physics?

A lot of labs in my field use IDL and Labview. Labview works pretty well for data acquisition and is nice because it interfaces with a ton of older equipment. And I can just buy a GPIB interface from NI and be done with it. For some of the bigger projects, EPICS is used as well.

As far as data analysis, like I said a lot of IDL and Matlab is used. Some of the more simulation oriented folk tend to write their own code and most if not all of this is open source. But of limited use to the outside world.

I made a break from my group and have been using Python + Scipy + matplotlib for almost all of my research. It's free and great. It does most of what IDL/Matlab would do. I think it's started to get up some steam too...

A very cool 3d visualization tool called Visit is open source. I think it's build around VTK but I could be wrong.

Comment: Re:Life Cycle Analysis (Score 1) 432

by kidtexas (#26667845) Attached to: Fusion-Fission System Burns Hot Radioactive Waste

He3 fusion is all good and fine, but one big problem is the cross section doesn't get very usable until much higher energies, > 100 keV as opposed to around 30 keV for D-T. Also, since it's (mostly) aneutronic, you need some way to get the energetic *charged* particles out of your confinement device, which could be pretty difficult in devices that aren't simply connected like tokamaks or stellarators. While there is research being done on simply connected devices (FRCs, etc.), their performance is nowhere near what tokamak performance is even for D-T fusion, so the higher bar set by D-He3 fusion is even more unobtainable.

Long story short - we need to get D-T fusion working first, most likely in tokamaks. Then we can work on advanced fuels and alternative ideas with our full focus. Until then, this kind of research, while it does go on, is much less of a priority.

You can tell how far we have to go, when FORTRAN is the language of supercomputers. -- Steven Feiner