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Comment Re:No Alternatives??? (Score 1) 178

It's an engineering problem. You surely could get some combination of solar and battery to work on the Martian surface, but it would impose design and operational constraints -- constraints which could be mitigated with money.

Presumably they crunched the numbers and developing an entirely novel compact reactor looks like it could be a win. However lets imagine this "Kilopower" project is a total failure; that doesn't mean that a Mars habitation mission couldn't proceed, it'd just cost more to get a certain amount done.

Comment Re:Then Nintendo has a shitty business model (Score 1) 91

It hasn't been a planned cycle; in each case they came out with a new system because they were pressured by their competitors releasing systems. When they don't have that pressure, see e.g. in the handheld market, they keep their systems going as long as possible, see e.g. game boy.

Comment Not magic technology (Score 2) 94

3D printing is awesome tech and will have tremendous utility but too many people are treating it like its some sort of magical-do-anything technology. Could it someday "print" something as sophisticated as a drug on a commercial basis? Sure, maybe. Many many years from now. As it stands we are a long way from that. It probably won't actually be what we think of as a 3D printer unless you use such a generic definition of the term as to render it almost meaningless. Think about it - how is a molecule really 3D from a macroscopic point of view? Yes it isn't technically flat but it's about as close as you can get to being literally 2D. It's kind of like how people lately are throwing around the term AI for any clever computer system even when the term doesn't really fit.

My day job is running a manufacturing company and I've got direct experience working with 3D printing in a prototyping lab from a previous day job. I've worked with some of the large Stratasys machines making plastic parts and a machine that did sintered metals too. There are a few important limitations on 3D printing the most important of which are economic rather than technical:

1) It is slow to make most items. In most circumstances 3D printing takes a LOT longer than most other manufacturing processes.
2) It is hard to make something with mixed materials. Not impossible and there is progress but don't mistake one for a Star Trek replicator.
3) 3D printing is typically VERY expensive on a unit cost basis for most items compared with other manufacturing techniques even including distribution costs once you get above very small volumes. This is the most important limitation.
4) 3D printed parts typically require some amount of manufacturing even after leaving the printer to become useful.

Now 3D printing will get faster and the technology will improve - probably quite a lot. But for economic reasons it's probably never going to see much use for mass production within the lifetime of anyone who reads this. It's primary utility will be for items that cannot be economically made and distributed in small quantities - which is still a very substantial market. Prototypes, rare/obsolete parts, very small production runs, custom parts, etc. It also will have utility in places where distribution is problematic. Think Antarctica in winter or in space where resupply is tough to impossible.

Comment Re:the neurotic minecraft obsession (Score 1) 50

Let's face it, there are plenty of Minecraft-y games out by now. Most of them some flavor of zombie survival game, but some actually just Minecraft with better graphics or enhanced bells and whistles. Why they don't get as successful? Mods. Or the lack thereof.

Nonsense. There are piles of mods for some of the workalikes, like minetest. Minetest also abuses your GPU much less, although it does use slightly more CPU. Still, not so much that it's not playable on an atom netbook, which you can't do with minecraft at all these days. The GPU won't handle it. The reason none of them have taken off is that all the players are playing minecraft. People want to play with other people, and minecraft has already got the players. They're not going to switch.

Comment Re:Free? Not really (Score 1) 349

If you already have the trees, taps, and buckets, then collection is free.

That's like saying owning a house is free once you've made all the payments.

40 to 1? Are you trying to make maple bouillon cubes?

Yes 40 to 1. I'm just the messenger here and you don't have to take my word for it.

A simple double boiler will do for any small batch.

Small batch? You need 10 gallons of sap to make a single quart of syrup so that isn't exactly a tiny double boiler.

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