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Comment: Re:Power Source (Score 1) 351

Good point. I wonder what the trade is like between acres of cooling vanes vs. acres of solar panels. I guess it would depend on the efficiency of both. Mars's atmosphere is thin, but the temperature is very cold... seems like there ought to be a way to take advantage of that.

Comment: Re:Power Source (Score 1) 351

So it'll be a fair while before we need nukes, better to focus available funding on something else.

Something I've always wondered about nukes in space: where does the heat go? In order to extract work from a nuclear reactor you need a heat gradient. But vacuum is an excellent insulator.

I can understand if you're using the nuke to heat a propellant, because then the propellant carries away the heat. But as a constant, reliable power source, you wouldn't want it to be limited by an expendable resource, you'd want it to be a more solid-state or closed-loop design. TOPAZ seems to fit the bill, but I've never seen a discussion of how it deals with the heat dissipation issue. Is thermionic conversion so efficient that there's not much waste heat to get rid of?

Comment: Re: For those who said "No need to panic" (Score 1) 421

by taiwanjohn (#48124097) Attached to: Texas Health Worker Tests Positive For Ebola

Highly trained workers are getting infected.

Exactly as happened with SARS. Most of the infections were among health workers.

the rate of transmission is phenomenal. The death rate upon infection is phenomenal.

Yes, the death rate is high, but the transmission rate is low. The common flu is far more transmissible. And even though its death rate is much lower, the flu kills many times more people each year than Ebola will ever affect in the USA.

Comment: Re:For those who said "No need to panic" (Score 4, Interesting) 421

by taiwanjohn (#48123783) Attached to: Texas Health Worker Tests Positive For Ebola

As someone who lived through the SARS panic in Asia, I would say no, we're not "there" yet. Apparently it has taken a bit longer than it should have for the rank-and-file health workers in the USA to get clued in on this, but I would venture to say that the number of them who remain unaware of this threat today is approximately zero. If anything, I'd expect to see a lot more "false alarms" than actual infections in the next few weeks.

Once the public is aware, the infection rate will plummet. Because of SARS, I still avoid doorknobs and elevator buttons whenever possible (use your keys, lighter, sleeve, etc. to buffer such contact), it just makes sense to do so. Once the protocols for avoiding Ebola become widely known, this so-called "epidemic" will quickly dissipate.

Comment: Re: s/Fresh/Flesh/ (Score 5, Informative) 109

by taiwanjohn (#48123003) Attached to: China Bans "Human Flesh Searching"

In my experience, it varies from region to region. Some have trouble with V, some don't; some mix up L and R, some don't; most have trouble with terminal consonants. Even when speaking their so-called "common" language, Mandarin, the regional accents can be almost incomprehensible (the way a Texan might have trouble in Ireland, or a Welshman in Wyoming). A perfect example of this was Deng Xiaoping, who was notoriously hard to understand.

This is why Chinese language TV stations (incl. Taiwan, HK, etc) tend to have Chinese subtitles for their Chinese content. A lot of folks, especially in the older generation, just don't speak Mandarin all that well.

Comment: Re: uhh (Score 1) 549

by taiwanjohn (#48037483) Attached to: Elon Musk: We Must Put a Million People On Mars To Safeguard Humanity

Your logic is sound, but it doesn't address the question of whether Musk is a "con man" as the GP suggests. The parent poster rebuts the "con man" argument with an appeal to Musk's sincerity, but as you point out, good intentions are not sufficient. (A con man could have very "sincere" motives for taking your money -- to feed his kids, for example.)

For me the deciding factor is the quality of Musk's work. He delivers excellent products at a reasonable price. Even if he did so for "greedy" motives, the fairness of the deal would disqualify him as a "con" man.

Comment: Re:Probably a bad idea, but... (Score 1) 192

by taiwanjohn (#47937557) Attached to: On Independence for Scotland:

many voting Yes today in Scotland are doing so with the understanding that they can still use the same currency

And with good reason... After all, it would take a while to come up with their own currency, so people would just continue using whatever they have. This vote is just a simple yes/no on independence; all those pesky details like currency and Trident submarines will have to be dealt with in the aftermath.

As for the currency, I think the real test will be the degree of "buy-in" among the Scots population. If a majority of Scots "invest" the majority of their savings in the new currency, it will succeed in the long run.

Comment: Re:Probably a bad idea, but... (Score 1) 192

by taiwanjohn (#47937189) Attached to: On Independence for Scotland:

Of course I've heard of it, but I thought it would be clear enough that I was talking about the British Pound (since the Scots Pund and the Irish Punt are no longer in use).

Anyway, it doesn't matter what name you call it, as long as the currency is controlled by Scotland, and not by some other entity.

Comment: Re:Does HFCS count? (Score 1) 294

by taiwanjohn (#47936789) Attached to: Study Finds Link Between Artificial Sweeteners and Glucose Intolerance

Sorry, no citations,

Dr. Robert Lustig has a pretty detailed discussion of the differences between glucose and fructose metabolism about halfway through this lecture. You've got the big picture about right. I would just add that fructose translates (via the liver) into VLDL cholesterol, which is a "prime suspect" in the increase in atherosclerosis.

Recursion is the root of computation since it trades description for time.