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Comment: Re:There is an open source solution (Score 1) 324

by hoeferbe (#48479831) Attached to: Mathematicians Study Effects of Gerrymandering On 2012 Election
readin wrote:

* The only data fed to the program is geographic markers the will provide convenient district borders (railroad lines, roads, rivers, county and city borders, etc.) and the number of people within each section.

The program will be fair because the kind of data that allows gerrymandering simply won't be permitted as input. Any sneaky attempts to use something like population density as a proxy will be something anyone can find and complain about in the open source code.

I really like your idea of making district boundary-drawing be more repeatable and open. However, I don't understand the difference between the number of people within each section and population density; would you please explain?

It would seem to me that drawing up districts should start out like drawing a topographical map. After dividing the landmass up into smallish-units (like a grid), the districting would start with the unit of highest population density and expand out from there (using a mathematical formula of the gradient of the population density) by adding more units to an area until the district it builds reaches the pre-determined minimum number of people in it without going over some pre-determined maximum. Each district would be required to be within, say, ~0.1% of the ideal number.

I'm sure this ideas has lots of holes in it; I've not spent any time studying it.

Comment: Barrage balloons. (Score 1) 110

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48477733) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Drone For $100-$150?

Try flying some small helium party-style balloons on kevlar fishing line tethers, creating a forest of near-invisible strings.

Copter drones don't fly well with the blades wrapped in string.

(Indeed, I hear full-sized helicopers don't work all that well with a few hundred turns of 75-pound test line wrapped around that pitch control mechanism at the hub, either.)

This might not work against those with the bumpers all around. But the ones with the blades unguarded would have quite a time getting through.

Comment: Land not suitable (Score 1) 43

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48477703) Attached to: Interviews: The Hampton Creek Team Answers Your Questions

Livestock require 8-20x more land per gram of protein produced than plant based protein sources. Switching entirely to plant based foods would allow returning >90% of that land to its natural state and growing crops only on the most suitable 10%.

Much of the land of the continental US is unsuitable for growing any crop suitable for human consumption, due to things like lack of water. The western range, for instance: Attempting to farm it would be an ecological disaster. Cattle, on the other hand, can make a fine living off it (at a rather low density - like four acres per cow) and ARE suitable for human consumption (and tasty!) when raised on what they chose to eat.

In fact, NOT raising range cattle on range land is ALSO an ecological disaster. US range land has a substantial infestation of invasive grass species that were accidentally introduced by European settlement. The native animals tend to avoid eating it, so it has an extra selective advantage over the native grasses and tends to squeeze them out. Cattle, on the other hand, prefer it - to the point of eating it almost exclusively when it's available. Thus they keep it under control. Meanwhile, any non-cattle attempt to eradicate it would amount to total defoliation, reseeding with native plants, crossing your fingers that the invasive species was wiped out, and repeating whenever it reappears.

Comment: Also, chickens can't be free range and organic (Score 1) 43

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48477667) Attached to: Interviews: The Hampton Creek Team Answers Your Questions

Wait, is organic and free range supposed to be a better, that is tastier, product or just better for the environment?

While we're at it: If a chicken is free range it isn't organic. A free-range chicken eats wild bugs, and you can't certify that all the wild bugs that flew in ate an organic diet themselves.

My wife raises chickens, studies the issues extensively, and has a lot to say about free range, organic feed, organic chicken regimes, etc. They amount to animal cruelty. Some of the high points:
  - Free range means the chickens are exposed to predators and avian diseases spread by smaller birds.
  - Organic regimes forbid antibiotics and often vaccinations. A bird that catches some disease will either be dispatched to save the rest of the flock, or left to suffer and recover on its own without assistance - perhaps crippled - and meanwhile expose the rest of the flock. A number of poultry diseases are endemic among wild birds or prevalent in the enviornment. Young chicks are subject to coccidiosis and many of the survivors then live with damaged digestive systems. (Non-organic chicks are usually fed a coccidiostat in their early-weeks feed until their immune systems develop, or given a dose of antibiotic if the disease appears in the flock.) Marek's Disease, caused by a herpes family virus, is common. It produces partial paralysis, blindness, lymphoma, immune suppression, tumors, atherosclerosis, and a range of other painful and debilitating symptoms. Non-organc chicks are vaccinated against it. And so on.
  - Free range means the chickens are in large groups rather than individual cages with a handful of birds in each. Chickens can keep track of the ranking of no more than about a hundred other individuals, so life in a larger group is a constant series of battles to reestablish dominance. In small group cages, on the other hand, the heirarchy is worked out quickly and peace generally prevails (or relative peace, depending on breed). This is partiularly a problem with commercial egg-laying breeds, which are noted for intra-species violence and cannabalism.
  - Free range chickens are allowed to leave the barn in the day. But only the few who set up their teritory near the door actually get to leave. The rest are still effectively confined to the buildng in a mass of interacting birds.
  - Commercial feeds from big-name animal feed suppliers are tightly quality controlled and well tuned to the birds nutritional neefd an their taste preferences (so they'll enjoy eating it and thus eat as much as they should). Organic feeds are noted for dangerously poor nutritional qualities, from bad formulation choices, variation between batches, and the use of ingredients that quickly lose their nutritional qualities during storage. With their high metabolism, an under- or mal-nourished chicken will becomes a damaged and debilitated chicken in just a few days.v

I could go on...

Comment: -457 farenheit is nothing to sneeze at. (Score 4, Insightful) 139

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48477215) Attached to: Scientists Develop "Paint" To Help Cool the Planet

What the material is doing (or is claimed to do, anyway) is to re-radiate incident radiation at a wavelength that can pass through through the atmosphere back out to space without being absorbed (i.e. it won't heat up the atmosphere).

More importantly: If the wavelength were one that was absorbed by the atmosphere, it is also one where the atmosphere radiates heat back toward the paint.

If your frequency slot is one with "absorption", you "see" the temperature of the atmosphere - a bit cooler than the surface of the (greenhouse-effect boosted) planet, but not by enough to be exciting.

If your slot is one that is essentially fully transparent, you "see" the cosmic background (except for the tiny part of the sky that shows the sun's or moon's disk). That's about 2.7 degrees K, call it -457 Fahrenheit. Liquid helium is substantially warmer at -452.2.

The slow radiation of heat at the sky is almost completely overwhelmed by conductive and other transfers of heat into the paint, of course. Of the 530ish degrees F difference from room temperature, only nine are left.

But that's nothing to sneeze at. The inside of my well-insulated desert house gets up to about 85 in the day without air conditioning. If I could drop that by nine degrees it would be a relatively comfortable 76. (It would likely actually drop more, because the lower temperature of the surface would slow the heating and tend to even the daily cycle of temperature out further.) 85 or more is debilitating. 76, with drastically low humidity (dew point typically about 35), is actually comfy.

Comment: Re:In this house we obey the laws of thermodynamic (Score 2) 139

by Rei (#48476923) Attached to: Scientists Develop "Paint" To Help Cool the Planet

It's not the ambient temperature of air that's key here, it's the ambient temperature of space, which is about 2,7K.

All objects are constantly radiating energy and receiving energy back from other things that are radiating. When two objects in radiative exchange are roughly the same temperature, this balances out. But when one is hotter than the other, the hotter one loses more energy than it takes in, and vice versa. And it's not just a little difference - radiative heat loss is proportional to the absolute temperature to the fourth power, that's a pretty big exponent. So when you're exchanging energy with space, which is so cold that it takes very sensitive instruments to be able to measure *anything*, well, that heat is simply lost.

You can see this effect for yourself by noting how cloudy nights are usually warmer than clear nights. Clouds are cold, but they're not as cold as space!

The effect of the combination of radiation, absorption, and reflection, with different band peaks for each phenomenon, manifests itself in atmospheres as a greenhouse effect (positive or negative) versus the radiative equilibrium temperature.

Comment: Re:In this house we obey the laws of thermodynamic (Score 1) 139

by Rei (#48476869) Attached to: Scientists Develop "Paint" To Help Cool the Planet

This "modulation" happens all the time, few things in this universe are true blackbodies, most prefer to radiate in specific bands. They're apparently using a material that tends to radiate only on one narrow band at regular earth temperatures.

Not sure how much benefit this provides to the building owner, to the point that they'd be willing to cover their building in hafnium-and-silver coated panels, rather than just white paint...

Comment: Re: haven't been following... (Score 1) 178

by Rei (#48476295) Attached to: Behind Apple's Sapphire Screen Debacle

Does anyone actually have problems with scratching of the latest generations of gorilla glass? I've had my Xperia Z2 for over half a year and because it has a glass back as well as front it makes it less risky to try scratch tests, so I've done it a number of times and let other people try to scratch it, and nobody has ever succeeded. I'm sure if you put a diamond to it you'd scratch it, but short of that, I can't see why more scratch resistance is needed.

Now, *crack* resistance, they could use good improvements in that. : But from reports the sapphire wasn't that crack resistant.

+ - Google should be broken up, say European MPs

Submitted by mrspoonsi
mrspoonsi (2955715) writes "The European Parliament has voted in favour of breaking Google up, as a solution to complaints that it favours is own services in search results. Politicians have no power to enforce a break-up, but the landmark vote sends a clear message to European regulators to get tough on the net giant. US politicians and trade bodies have voiced their dismay at the vote. The ultimate decision will rest with EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager. She has inherited the anti-competitive case lodged by Google's rivals in 2010. Google has around 90% market share for search in Europe. The Commission has never before ordered the break-up of any company, and many believe it is unlikely to do so now. But politicians are desperate to find a solution to the long-running anti-competitive dispute with Google."

Comment: Re:Alive and gobbling (Score 1) 110

by Rei (#48473053) Attached to: I prefer my turkey ...

Surprised you haven't gotten any "but animals eat meat!" comments.

Animals also commit petty murder and mass rape. I like to think that we have the intelligence to choose to not have to imitate the behavior of other animals and decide our own path. And fortunately, we have a digestive system which allows us to make that choice when it comes to our diet.

Comment: Re:What's with turkey anyway (Score 1) 110

by Rei (#48473045) Attached to: I prefer my turkey ...

Swans can literally kill people - a guy died just a couple years ago when swans attacked his boat and then kept attacking him while he tried to swim to shore, until he drowned. More common though are things like bruises (up to and including black eyes), scratches, and skin-puncturing bites. A google image search for swan attack shows how they don't mess around when they feel threatene (there's even pictures of one attacking a full-grown horse)

Comment: Re:What's with turkey anyway (Score 2) 110

by Rei (#48473019) Attached to: I prefer my turkey ...

It's not all that distant of a relative of chickens, actually - it's in the same family (but a different subfamily). It's kind of wierd that one family (Phasianidae) has almost all of the commonly consumed poultry - chicken, turkey, grouse, quail, pheasant, peafowl, guineafowl, etc. Go up to the order level and you find more (mostly regionally popular) game fowl, like ptarmigan. And once you hit the superorder level, you get the water fowl like ducks, geese, and swans. I can't even think of any other poultry species. There's lots of Aves clades, subclasses, and infraclasses, but apparently the species that people find make good eating are rather clustered together.

Comment: Re:Niche energy (Score 1) 89

by Rei (#48471461) Attached to: WaveNET – the Floating, Flexible Wave Energy Generator

A lot of companies are involved in a lot of renewables tech research. That doesn't mean that any particular one is going to be profitable. The vast majority are going to be big failures.

Wave power's track record so far has been subpar to say the least. And looking at their diagrams, I can't imagine that they're not headed straight for the same fate. Even if we assume that their numbers aren't overly optimistic, their design looks like it would involve several times more steel per nameplate capacity than a wind turbine tower. And they're operating in a much harsher environment. No rotors, but they're dealing with major hydraulic pumping instead. It just doesn't look like a winner to me.

If it was my job to have a go at wave power, I can't imagine going for anything involving large amounts of structural steel or hydraulic pumping; I'd keep it simple and just go for a grid of cables (potentially a high tensile strength UV-resistant plastic), anchored at the edges to keep tension up across the whole grid, with the only slack available involving the grid pulling on regularly spaced springloaded reels (the rotation thereof generating electricity), with any combination of floats, drag chutes and weighs/anchors to cause the needed tug from the movement of water. No pumps, no hydraulic fluid, no large compressive-loaded structures, just a tensile structure that would be (proportionally) lightweight and easy to deploy.

But hey, it's not my industry ;)

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