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Comment: Re: More government! (Score 1) 211

Further to this, Japan is known for its tight regulatory systems. If this can happen there, then how long until it is repeated in other nuclear plants in countries with weaker regulation? To me, this that nuclear is economically infeasable -- I don't know much Fukushima has cost, but if it's $100B like you say, how many years' investment in renewables does this represent? Perhaps it suggests that we're not putting our money and effort in an optimal place?

Comment: Re:The first programmer was Hero of Alexandria (Score 4, Interesting) 60

by wall0159 (#42255287) Attached to: Happy Birthday To Ada Lovelace, the First Computer Programmer

I'm not so sure about this.
From "The Information", by Gleik:
Her exposition took the form of notes lettered A through G, extending to nearly three times the length of Menabrea’s essay. They offered a vision of the future more general and more prescient than any expressed by Babbage himself. How general? The engine did not just calculate; it performed operations, she said, defining an operation as “any process which alters the mutual relation of two or more things,” and declaring: “This is the most general definition, and would include all subjects in the universe.” The science of operations, as she conceived it,
"is a science of itself, and has its own abstract truth and value; just as logic has its own peculiar truth and value, independently of the subjects to which we may apply its reasonings and processes. One main reason why the separate nature of the science of operations has been little felt, and in general little dwelt on, is the shifting meaning of many of the symbols used."

Symbols and meaning: she was emphatically not speaking of mathematics alone. The engine “might act upon other things besides number.” Babbage had inscribed numerals on those thousands of dials, but their working could represent symbols more abstractly. The engine might process any meaningful relationships. It might manipulate language. It might create music. “Supposing, for instance, that the fundamental relations of pitched sounds in the science of harmony and of musical composition were susceptible of such expression and adaptations, the engine might compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent.”

It had been an engine of numbers; now it became an engine of information. A.A.L. perceived that more distinctly and more imaginatively than Babbage himself. She explained his prospective, notional, virtual creation as though it already existed:
"The Analytical Engine does not occupy common ground with mere 'calculating machines'. It holds a position wholly its own. A new, a vast, and a powerful language is developed in which to wield its truths so that these may become of more speedy and accurate practical application for the purposes of mankind than the means hitherto in our possession have rendered possible. Thus not only the mental and the material, but the theoretical and the practical in the mathematical world, are brought into more intimate and effective connexion with each other."

Comment: Re:what does waiting have to do with anything? (Score 4, Insightful) 517

I find it fascinating that this hacking has prompted a discussion about truth, objectivity and facts.

Perhaps we (the public) should apply these new-found reasoning skills to the science of climate change, and ignore some of the ad hominems (and other absurdities) that have been directed against climate scientists by organisations such as Heartland.

Comment: Re:I hate to defend Monsanto somewhat, but (Score 4, Insightful) 617

by wall0159 (#39052437) Attached to: 300k Organic Farmers To Sue Monsanto For Seed Patent Claims

I'm sure that Monsanto must have identified Organic food as a strategic threat to their business and are doing all they can to stymie its expansion. Between their attempts to weaken organic standards to include GM foods, and farmers losing their organic certification because of GM contamination (http://permaculture.org.au/2011/02/01/australias-first-legal-attack-on-monsanto-for-gm-contamination-of-organically-certified-crops/), and now suing organic farmers that can have no interest in encouraging patented GM crops on their land, it appears that Monsanto are being quite effective.

Personally, I view this as the 21st century version of the Scottish enclosures, where what was once common property (or at least accessible) was forever fenced off and the traditional occupants evicted.

Comment: Re:MGSE: why all this energy around new DE's? (Score 1) 396

by wall0159 (#38178692) Attached to: Linux Mint 12 Released Today

Or maybe because humans are inventive animals. Things that do not work to our satisfaction we want to improve. That is why we have the phenomenon of progress.

This does not apply to everyone though, and if you are content to use what exists then you are perfectly within your rights to do so. I suspect/hope that would be a minority position on a site like slashdot which espouses tools, inventiveness and technology (although its promotion of simple consumption has increased greatly over the last few years, probably reflecting societal trends).

Comment: Re:nuclear can be safe; short term profit preferre (Score 1) 664

by wall0159 (#36115014) Attached to: Engineers Find Nuclear Meltdown At Fukushima Plant

I'm not going to descend into anti-nuclear hysteria, but

"Even chernobyl only killed around 50 people."
That is very naive/simplistic. What were the long-term effects of exposing 100M (or whatever it was) people to increased radiation dose?
According to Wikipedia:
"A 2006 report predicted 30,000 to 60,000 cancer deaths as a result of Chernobyl fallout."
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chernobyl_disaster)

With regards to your final question: "given that the given arguments against nuclear power are bogus. The dang...."
There are so many "givens" there, that your question basically says:
"given that nuclear is the safest and best power source, why would anyone oppose it?"

Why can we not have a balanced discussion about nuclear power and concede that it has its disadvantages?

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