(please tune your sarcasm detectors to their optimal setting, in case you couldn't tell I was trying to make a joke)
so i think anything that's designed for long-term with those kinds of harsh remote and inaccessible conditions in mind, powered off of sustainable independent power, would be a good candidate for a device that would still be functioning even decades later.
It's design is probably robust for decades, but anything out on the ice that sits still for more than a few years is destined to get buried in snow, solar panels and all.
They are just a piece of wire, often embedded in some kind of ceramic. Without power and stored at a place well protected from the enviroment it would likely last for 100,000 years or more.
I think that the expected lifetime of Ohm's law is roughly the age of the universe.
A nuclear power plant (and its control room)?
I would recommend reading The World Without Us, which examines what would happen to the relics of our civilization if we, humans, suddenly disappeared (i.e., not extinct via war or disease, but just hypothetically got raptured away). Nuclear power plants don't fare so well. In fact, without human attendants to control them, cleanly power them down, and then decommission the plant several decades later, there is every likelihood that some nuclear plants would experience catastrophic accidents within weeks to years that would spew radionuclides all over the countryside.
Before launch you have connector to which you connect a computer and you can do a self diagnose on the satellite using that connection to the on board system. There is no reason to dedicate leds and leds wiring for that especially that you will need to check for many fail conditions.
Having spun a number of boards in my career, I can tell you that it is trivial to add an 0402 LED indicator, just as an indication that the 3.3 V logic rail is powered. And because it was easiest (via inertia) to keep it in than to cut it out (even as a do-not-populate instruction to the board house) that little LED stayed in the design, even though in production no one would ever see it.
Given the complexity of most satellites, I would be deeply surprised if there wasn't at least one LED on one of those boards.
The poorest drivers probably own the lion's share of them. Individuals are likely even aware of their vehicle's condition.
You may be correct, but when I think of automotive air pollution, I think of the ass-hats in jacked up pickups that go down the highway coal-rolling Priuses. Those kinds of trucks may be shit-kickers, but many of them actually have thousands of dollars in after-market parts and modifications. They may, ironically, also be driven by very poor people who ought to prioritize their spending better, but there you go.
Note TFA has a redshift(z) scale that is backwards. They have z=1 at 6 billion years, and z>20 at 200 million years.
I puzzled over that for a moment, too. What the time scale shows is age of the universe, or (as the scale is labeled) years since the Big Bang. So z>20 = universe at 200 million years old, not years ago. It's confounding and, to my eyes, counterintuitive, but perhaps that's how cosmologists work.
parts per trillion doesn't make for much of a problem in any case
There are plenty of contaminants in water that would be a serious problem at the parts per trillion level. Whether these chemicals are or not is, I think, not yet demonstrated.
Contrary to some peoples belief: The sun still exists during winter. Panel efficiency falls by half during cloudy weather, but you will still get some power. Just means you pull more from the grid during winter.
Actually, panel efficiency (Watts of electrical output divided by Watts of insolation) tends to increase in winter, because photovoltaics are more efficient when cold (conversely, the efficiency falls when the solar cells are hot). The output of the panel will fall in cloudy weather, because the total insolation will be less, but the efficiency may well increase.
We have to spend billions to upgrade the grid, to handle "Green" power sources that are more expensive than their competitors
Perhaps you haven't noticed, but the U.S. power grid has been having all manner of problems as it is: single-point failures that affect whole cities or entire regions, mismatches between supply and demand that allow Enron-style speculators to manipulate markets, deferred maintenance tallying tens or hundreds of billions of dollars, externalities associated with conventional generation sources that aren't properly taken into account (e.g., nuclear and fly ash disposal).
And those are the problems that we have today, with the grid as it presently exists. Even if no further renewables were added to the grid and Tesla closed up shop tomorrow (both of which are miniscule sources and sinks compared to the grid), we would still need to invest hundreds of billions just to keep things from getting worse. If we're going to gradually rebuild the grid, we should be rebuilding it sensibly: for increased robustness, efficiency, and flexibility. Yes, that means that it can also accommodate renewables and electric vehicles, but that's a secondary motivation.
How many Prius would you need to carry 7 people, plus 7 suitcases of stuff, plus tow an 8,000 lb trailer?
I own a Yukon XL, which is the GMC version of the Suburban.
I am not attempting to troll by asking this question, but I am curious: what percentage of the miles driven in that Yukon have just 1-3 people, and little luggage? What percentage of the miles are driven with 7 people, 7 suitcases, and an 8,000-lb trailer?