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Comment: Silence is golden... (Score 1) 103

by DerekLyons (#49194639) Attached to: Musician Releases Album of Music To Code By

Learned to really concentrate while serving on a submarine in the USN - to the "music" of fans and humming power supplies... so, for heavy brainwork at the computer all I need is the noise of the computer. Music just pulls me out of what I'm doing.

Oddly enough, the opposite is true when I'm working out in my woodshop, there I like to have music.

Comment: Re:Nuclear ain't cheap any more. (Score 1) 355

by DerekLyons (#49194087) Attached to: French Nuclear Industry In Turmoil As Manufacturer Buckles

Are you talking about France? Or Russia? Or where then?

You sure as heck aren't talking about the US. The military (read Naval) reactor program parted ways with the civilian world decades ago - they're simply too dissimilar. Nor can civilian reactors effectively make plutonium, nor were they needed to. And the for companies involved in military reactors, government contracting is only one small corner of their business. Etc... etc...

Comment: Re:Yes. What do you lose? But talk to lawyer first (Score 2) 438

by Rei (#49193829) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Should I Let My Kids Become American Citizens?

My first year in Iceland, my US return was so complex that most tax attorneys refused to touch it. One offered to do it for over $1000. I ended up doing it myself. Three years later I'm still dealing with the IRS on it. It was as thick as a book.

My subsequent returns have been simpler but are still really annoying.

Seriously, don't do this to your kids. Just don't.

Comment: Re:Yes. What do you lose? But talk to lawyer first (Score 3, Interesting) 438

by Rei (#49193819) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Should I Let My Kids Become American Citizens?

It's not even just taxes. The US is so weird about all sorts of things that can bite you. When I got engaged in Iceland, Iceland wanted a certificate from the US proving that I'm not already married - it's a standard requirement here, and most countries have such a certificate. But not the US! In the US you can get a certificate proving that you are married from the state you got married in, but not a certificate proving that you're not married. The only way around it is to find the one sherrif's office in the country who considers a signed affadavit to be sufficient to wed (all of the others disagree).

I would never dream of cursing my kids with US citizenship. How mean could you be to them? I can't bloody wait to get my Icelandic citizenship so that I can formally renounce my US citizenship.

Comment: Re:Once again on the 3d printing bandwagon. (Score 2) 60

by Rei (#49188067) Attached to: Inside the Weird World of 3D Printed Body Parts

1. Alibaba.com. You can get anything there.
2. Semipermanent subplate attached to the table with pin slots, surgical grade titanium plate pinned into position, pancreas stock welded into place with TIG set to the settings for pancreas stock of appropriate thickness (what can't you weld with TIG?)
3. We find the mechanical properties of billet pancreas to be sufficient, and the higher precision and better finish reduce the odds of customer rejection.

Comment: Re:I have said it before (Score 3, Insightful) 355

by Rei (#49187531) Attached to: French Nuclear Industry In Turmoil As Manufacturer Buckles

All of Areva's renewables investments combined are less than 10% of their business. And they're performing far better than their core nuclear business. I find it amazing that you argue that they shouldn't have invested in the few projects they're involved in that are actually paying off.

Comment: Re:I have said it before (Score 4, Insightful) 355

by Rei (#49187333) Attached to: French Nuclear Industry In Turmoil As Manufacturer Buckles

It's not just neutron bombardment either. Your fuel is producing almost every element in the periodic table, anisotropically and varying across time. It's pretty much the worst situation one could come up with from a containment standpoint inside the fuel even before you factor in neutron bombardment.

Then there's the nature of nuclear disasters: they're disasters in slow motion. The upside is that few people usually die from them because there's usually plenty of time to get away. The downside is that they take bloody forever and a king's ransom to clean up, where it's even possible. Picture, for example, an accident at Indian Point that would increase NYC residents' rate of cancer over the next 10 years by two to three orders of magnitude. You could evacuate over days to weeks and it'd have little impact on public health. But you'd be having to pay for the loss and cleanup of New York City. That is, of course, an extreme case, but it's an illustration of the financial challenge faced by an industry that deals with large amounts of chemicals that are incredibly toxic even in the minutest quantities. Screwups can turn out to be REALLY BIG screwups.

Comment: Re:conditions found in space (Score 1) 131

by Rei (#49187299) Attached to: NASA Ames Reproduces the Building Blocks of Life In Laboratory

Judging from our sample size of one on what sort of conditions life can thrive in, and a couple datapoints on where it doesn't seem to, I think we haven't the foggiest of clues where we're actually likely to find life. There seems to be this presumption among many that "where we find liquid water we should find life, and where we don't find liquid water we shouldn't". I think that's totally logically indefensible. We have no bloody clue whether water-based life is a common or rare occurrence, nor whether non-water-based life is a common or rare occurrence. We have way, way to little data to be drawing these kind of conclusions.

Comment: Re:Sorry, but... (Score 1) 131

by Rei (#49187285) Attached to: NASA Ames Reproduces the Building Blocks of Life In Laboratory

Life can be defined empirically and that's a good enough of a description. The problem is people debating over what that definition should be. The problem with gravity is not describing it, but figuring out why it exists as it does. They're very different situations.

Most people agree on the basics of life - something that can self replicate and evolve - but it's the details that pose the thorny issues. For example, how particular is it about its environment? Viruses leave most of the work of their reproduction to outside sources, so there are many people who don't want to call them life. But there's a continuous slope between that and something that can survive on nothing more than sunlight, water, CO2 and trace minerals; you don't say that a cat isn't alive because it can't make taurine and has to rely on external entities to do so, for example. And at an even more basic level, how picky must one be about what constitutes "replication"? What if you have imperfect replicators that create entities "similar" to themselves, which may have varying degrees (perhaps frequently "zero") of ability to replicate themselves? Certainly such a thing has the potential to at least lead to life. But is it life? If not then what's the cutoff point in terms of replicative accuracy when you start to call it life and the inaccuracies in its reproduction "evolution"?

Comment: Re:Space (Score 4, Informative) 131

by Rei (#49187263) Attached to: NASA Ames Reproduces the Building Blocks of Life In Laboratory

I don't think this is at all special. There have been tons of space-matter-abiogenesis experiments that have been done, with similar results. For example, it's been shown that Titan's atmosphere can produce at least 16 amino acids and all five nucleotide bases, and we've already detected organic molecules over 10000 daltons there.

Nature likes to produce rather complex mixtures of organic chemicals without any help from life, nobody should doubt this any more, there's been way too much evidence that it happens. Nature is more than happy to continously rain down vast amounts of varied, complex organics given the right situation, providing both potential organic catalysts to develop into early life and "food" that they can scavenge. The question that needs to be answered next is, from a random diverse mix of organics, how does a hypercycle get started, wherein some chemicals / mixtures of chemicals / families of chemicals begin to encourage the creation of more chemicals "like" them, increasing the odds that there will be more produced of whatever is needed to keep the cycle going. Once you get to that point, you have the potential for evolution to take hold - first by a simple race to produce the most exact copies of the most efficiently-catalyzing chemicals and the poisoning of competing chemicals, up to the development of membranes to provide defense/hoarde resources/survive adverse situations/etc (the first "ur-cells").

Comment: Re:I have said it before (Score 5, Informative) 355

by Rei (#49187113) Attached to: French Nuclear Industry In Turmoil As Manufacturer Buckles

Right. Having the government cover all of your major liabilities, getting to write off massive debts, pass all of your cost overruns onto local consumers without them having a say in the manner, and so on, that's all "paying their own way", right? In nuclear power, the gains have always been privatized while the costs and risks socialized. And it's *still* been very difficult to find investors. Nuclear has always been more popular on K-Street than Wall Street.

Here's a paper going into the various massive ways nuclear has been subsidies. And they still can't bloody manage to stay afloat. It's one of the few industries with a negative growth curve - where technology gets more expensive with time, not cheaper.

Eureka! -- Archimedes