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Comment: Re:Stop Now (Score 1) 172

by tragedy (#46762573) Attached to: Cost Skyrockets For United States' Share of ITER Fusion Project

And my point is that these are essentially status projects. Well, the NASA one is a reused status project. Spending a lot more money than you have to is part of the project.

Which NASA project? Are you talking about the Space Power Facility? That's not a prestige project, that's a giant bell jar with really good vacuum pumps. Even though it looks cool enough to be used as a movie prop/set, it's very utilitarian. As for those giant tents, they may be prestige projects, but that doesn't really mean anything. Large utilitarian projects intended as nuclear experiment stations also are built at a premium because they're meant to be built to very high standards.

For example, I believe an inflatable structure of the appropriate scale with a medium vacuum in the center and properly anchored to the ground (or perhaps rather the inside of an abandoned open copper mine) could be had for low tens of millions of dollars (the inflatable components of the outer shell would be moderately over-pressurized cone-shaped wedges which would need to resist one atmosphere of pressure and wind loading with appropriate factor of safety). That includes building of smaller structures to get the many design issues worked out. That's not quite good enough a vacuum, but it's getting there.

If you're going to build a truly massive vacuum chamber on the cheap, then you can probably build it somewhere like Fall River Pass in Colorado so that you only have to hold off .65 Atmospheres of pressure, although I don't know if there are any suitable pre-existing depressions around there that you can use. Honestly, your plan sounds pretty neat and is probably practical. The problem is that inflatable vacuum chambers are still a pretty novel technology. So, you would be basing one highly experimental project on another highly experimental project.

The space experiment is also an interesting idea. I personally wish we lived in an environment where this kind of research could be done, with the recognition that the potential returns are vast. That's not what we get however. We're lucky to get ITER and they're already grumbling about the cost and fudging the numbers to try to kill support. After all, this whole article is a sensationalist bit trying to claim that the actual cost of ITER has gone way up when, if you read it, it's evident that what's really happening is that the long-term cost is going up because they're not shelling out the money in the short term.

Comment: Re:Not even much money (Score 2) 363

by Shakrai (#46759595) Attached to: Intuit, Maker of Turbotax, Lobbies Against Simplified Tax Filings

If you are a die-hard, you can download [irs.gov] the forms and send them in for the price of a stamp or two (my state forms, seven pages of paper, cost $0.70 to mail.)

You don't even have to do that. There's Free Fillable Forms, which are exactly what the title suggests. Electronic copies of all the relevant paper forms that you fill out online and E-File. It doesn't have the logic of Turbotax but it performs basic math checks and saves you the hassle of printing and mailing the forms.

I can't understand why anyone would pay a third party to do their taxes. The logic flow isn't that complicated, even when you throw capital gains and itemized deductions into the mix. I've filed the long form 1040 by hand in years when I had to deal with capital gains and losses and was able to complete it in under two hours. Who are the people who pay Intuit or H&R Block to do their 1040ez filings?

Comment: Re:also (Score 1) 168

by Shakrai (#46756621) Attached to: First Phase of TrueCrypt Audit Turns Up No Backdoors

The metadata argument wears thin on me. If my phone number is two or three levels removed from a terrorist I really don't see why it's objectionable that the Government take a precursory look at my call logs. They'll quickly find that I'm a rather boring sort, whose connection with the terrorist was likely limited to ordering the same take out, and my privacy isn't significantly impacted by having someone review my call logs after obtaining a court order.

Traditional police investigative techniques would be at least as invasive, if not more so. Ever been interviewed by the police because you're one or two levels removed from a criminal suspect they're attempting to establish a case against?

Comment: how accurate will it be? (Score 1) 158

by kimvette (#46752329) Attached to: Reviving a Commodore 64 Computer Using a Raspberry Pi

Will it require you to SMACK the restore key to get it to register?
Will it take 1.5 seconds to boot up?
If you press reset will you be able to switch the last bitmap in video RAM onto the screen (easier to do on the C=128 with included reset button and GRAPHICS command)?
Will the power supply be prone to overheating?
Will I/O be painfully slow?

All that said I miss my Commodore, despite all its faults. :-(

Comment: Re:also (Score 5, Insightful) 168

by Shakrai (#46751971) Attached to: First Phase of TrueCrypt Audit Turns Up No Backdoors

Since Snowden's revelation about the NSA's clandestine $10 million contract with RSA,

If you're on NSA's radar you've got bigger problems than TrueCrypt's trustworthiness or lack thereof. The NSA doesn't have to have a back door into AES (or the other algorithms) when they have an arsenal of zero day exploits, side channel attacks, social engineering, and TEMPEST techniques at their disposal. The average user should be far more concerned about these attack vectors (from any source, not just NSA) than the security of the underlying encryption algorithm.

The Diceware FAQ sums up the problem rather succinctly: "Of course, if you are worried about an organization that can break a seven word passphrase in order to read your e-mail, there are a number of other issues you should be concerned with -- such as how well you pay the team of armed guards that are protecting your computer 24 hours a day."

Comment: Re:more pseudo science (Score 1) 833

See. This is the sort of thing I find really strange. I remember taking a geology course where the professor explained all about the various layers to be found in dirt that develop naturally over thousands of years... then pointed out that we would be very unlikely to ever actually experience those layers in the real world because there's so little dirt in the world that hasn't been turned over by human beings. There's only about 5 acres of land per person on the planet. That's just the people, consider how how much manufacturing waste and resource use and pollution there is for every one of those humans. Consider how long it persists compared to a human lifespan. It's truly baffling how anyone could think that our ability to change the world with our activities would be small.

Comment: Re:more pseudo science (Score 1) 833

That's really, really missing the point. It's not as if we've studied _every single_ mouse birth that has ever occurred to make sure that not a single one of them spontaneously popped from a donkey hide or something like that. The point is that of the two groups: denialists and actual climate scientists, the climate scientists actually practice real science, continuously researching and experimenting and challenging their own ideas and the denialists tend to just be sophists. As I said, I'm probably going to bet on the side of the legitimate researchers rather than a bunch of people who tend to scoff indignantly at the very idea that man can alter the environment despite the massive evidence that we really, really can.

Comment: Re:Stop Now (Score 1) 172

by tragedy (#46744975) Attached to: Cost Skyrockets For United States' Share of ITER Fusion Project

A prototype would only be a portion of the development costs. The private world would foot most of the bill, assuming that economically viable fusion reactors were demonstrated.

Which is what ITER is supposed to do. Demonstrate that it's possible to make a commercially viable fusion reactor and work out the problems involved in actually doing that.

These are prestige projects. They wouldn't build them, if the design were cheap. Another example, is the Khan Shatyr Entertainment Center [wikipedia.org] in Astana, Kazakhstan. It's a 150m high tent structure which supposedly cost $400 million to produce.

But the point is that these structures are essentially _tents_ and they're a small fraction of the size of the "very large Farnsworth fusor or polywell device, say hundreds of meters in diameter and a few modest free-electron lasers to illuminate portions of the fusing plasma" that you suggested and are still very, very expensive. The construction methods for a device such as you suggest would need to be a lot more robust and would be an order of magnitude more expensive. Since they would also be a _lot_ bigger, it's hard imagining such a project not being in the same budget neighborhood as ITER.

I agree with you on some of the other points. The miracle right now is that any money is being spent on fusion research. Frankly, looking back on the long history of ITER, it's amazing it's moving forward. It's clear that it couldn't have gotten anywhere with just one country supporting it. Not the United States, anyway, which keeps running hot and cold on the project.

Comment: Re:The President doesn't micro-manage this stuff (Score 1) 134

by tragedy (#46741915) Attached to: Obama Says He May Or May Not Let the NSA Exploit the Next Heartbleed

That depends heavily on what you mean by an advantage in cyber war. If you're after mutually assured destruction, then maybe patching holes in everyone's defenses doesn't help. If you don't want your own side to be completely destroyed, it's aterrible idea.

Comment: Re:Stop Now (Score 1) 172

by tragedy (#46738609) Attached to: Cost Skyrockets For United States' Share of ITER Fusion Project

Obviously I should have said: "working fusion reactor highly into the net positive side". I thought it was understood in context.

So we're going to make a hundred thousand fusion reactors?

No, but that doesn't magically make the development costs cheaper than a well-understood consumer machine of which literally billions have been mass-produced.

They could have done that with a very large Farnsworth fusor or polywell device, say hundreds of meters in diameter and a few modest free-electron lasers to illuminate portions of the fusing plasma.

The millenium dome is 52 meters high on the inside and cost a more than a billion dollars and it's basically a giant tent. NASA's Space Power Facility is more the sort of thing you would need for a giant Farnsworth fusor. It's still only about forty meters high. I can't find exact costs for it, but I can guaranty it wasn't cheap and it's only a small fraction of the scale you're talking about.

Maybe your approach would be better. Who am I to say. This is what they're already building. I personally think it would be great if they could find the budget for a few different approaches.

"If John Madden steps outside on February 2, looks down, and doesn't see his feet, we'll have 6 more weeks of Pro football." -- Chuck Newcombe

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