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Comment: Re:Ok.... Here's the thing, though ..... (Score 1) 533

by mcswell (#49533669) Attached to: Utilities Battle Homeowners Over Solar Power

I used to be on one of those steam turbine ships, a guided missile destroyer built in the early 60s. And yes, we could burn most kinds of oil (fortunately we were burning s.t. a little cleaner than they used to, which meant less cleaning of the boilers). The Navy had a few more steam turbine ships built up through the early 70s, as I recall (mostly destroyer escorts), but afaik they gave up on fossil-fuel steam turbines after that. Nucs are of course still steam turbines.

Comment: Re:Ok.... Here's the thing, though ..... (Score 1) 533

by mcswell (#49525257) Attached to: Utilities Battle Homeowners Over Solar Power

The problem is the latency

I don't understand. Not saying you're wrong, I just don't understand.
Power usage already goes up and down, every time my heat pump comes on, say. I wouldn't think the power coming from solar panels would fluctuate that much. Sure, a cloud goes over the sun, or the sun comes out from the cloud. Does it make that much difference? Is the problem that the cloud/sun is more or less synchronized over a large number of houses that have solar, whereas the heat pumps are not?

Comment: Re:Just staggering... (Score 1) 192

Nucs have steam turbines, but most modern warships (destroyers and such-like) have gas turbines. I was on one of the oil-fired steam turbine destroyers, the USS Goldsborough, last of the Adams-class to be decommissioned, and afaik (tell me if I'm wrong!) the last steam powered US destroyer (DDG). It had 1200psi steam, 975 degrees of superheat, and the plant was a bear to maintain. We estimated 5000 valves in the engineering spaces (including air lines, oil lines, and so forth, not just steam). From what I hear, the new gas turbine destroyers are much easier to keep in running shape. (Of course my ship was the best one :-).)

Comment: Re:Think walls of steel... (Score 1) 192

Why would an aircraft carrier have such a thick hull? They were in general designed for speed, unlike battleships. The Independence was built on a light cruiser hull; later light cruisers had a 3.5 to 5 inch belt, to protect from torpedoes. I don't know what thickness of a belt the Independence might have had, but I doubt it was more than that. And the belt would only have been there around the side, not (I think) on the bottom of the hull. So I doubt these radioactive barrels are all that well protected (and of course the hull has been flooded since the day it sunk).

Comment: Re:The new version is terrible! (Score 1) 209

by mcswell (#49491099) Attached to: Google Sunsetting Old Version of Google Maps

This sounds like a repeat of the Google News fiasco some years ago. They replaced a good interface with a bad one. The response of a preliminary test group was reportedly negative (I wasn't in that group), and when they made the change for real, there were literally thousands of comments on their forum saying how bad people thought it was, and not a single comment in favor of the change. (Ok, there was one, but it was explicitly tongue-in-cheek.) Did Google listen? No. A couple months after the change they made a few more tweaks, supposedly in response to the negative comments, but didn't really address the issues. I left Google News, and I believe many others did too.

Google is like Microsoft: they know better. (Except Microsoft apparently has repented of Windows 8, and they repented a long time ago over Clippie and Microsoft Bob. I've never seen Google repent of their evil.)

Comment: Re:It's succumbing to atmospheric drag, not gravit (Score 1) 40

by mcswell (#49491067) Attached to: NASA's MESSENGER Mission To Crash Into Mercury In 2 Weeks

Interesting. So does the Kozai effect explains why Mercury (and maybe Venus) doesn't have any moons, unlike (say) Mars, which is presumably too far away from the perturber Sun? (Or maybe Phobos and Deimos entered Martian orbit too recently for the Kozai effect to have, well, taken effect.)

Ok, reading further about the Kozai mechanism (, apparently it's only relevant to satellites that have (roughly) non-equatorial orbits. So I suppose if Messenger (or a natural moon of Mercury) were in an equatorial orbit, it would be (more) stable, right? (The formula they give implies zero eccentricity at an inclination of about 39 degrees. The formula gives an imaginary number if the inclination is less than that; I'm not sure what an imaginary number means in that context.)

Comment: Re:wildfires? (Score 1) 304

by mcswell (#49457847) Attached to: Obama Says Climate Change Is Harming Americans' Health

Tree rings from the coast mean nothing for Bakersfield... Tree rings are a poor substitute for calibrated thermometers.

I thought this was about drought, not temperature? And for the state of California, not the city of Bakersfield.

Ok, the borders of California are not necessarily where the drought begins/ ends, but still. We're supposedly talking climate, not microclimate.

Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm. -- Publius Syrus