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Comment Re:Why? (Score 2) 599

Personally, I'd like to see the end of the concept of framerate altogether - that changes to the display image are bundled into timestamped packets which can be of any infintessimal interval. It'd impose a slight bandwidth overhead but be pretty insigifnicant if more than a few pixels were contained in each bundle.

You'd be detaching the uptake mechanism from the playback mechanism. Each device does the best it can with the hardware it has on-hand. The simpler the task it's presented with, likewise, the smoother the framerate it can provide you.

One could even go a step further and have the display hardware have smart interpolation. Each pixel or block of pixels could keep a tiny buffer of what it played recently and what it's to play in the immediate future and do a spline interpolation (which it should be able to do exceedingly rapidly), filling in the already tiny gaps between frames.

It may sound crazy, but our current insistance on sticking to frames already has some serious hardware limitations due to the fact that all pixels are generally *not* captured at the same time. Take your high-end consumer camcorder, set it on full optical zoom, highest possible framerate, and film out your window at something as close to you as you can without acceptable blur. Then step through your frames on a big screen on playback and you'll notice something interesting. Everything is bent! You'll generally find something along the lines of the top pixels captured before the bottom pixels, and so the objects that they're part of have moved partially past. The pixels near the top may belong to frame #38121, but the pixels near the bottom should really be part of frame #38121.8 or something along those lines.

There are potential workarounds, but IMHO, it's just better to scrap the concept of a discrete framerate.

Comment Re:Chu! (Score 4, Insightful) 305

What's so ridiculous about this? There's dozens of potential battery chemistries which could do this - sodium ion, lithium air, nickel lithium, lithium sulfur, and on and on. The payoff for all fields could be incredible. Why not have an organized program to work on it? High cost, high risk, high reward - the kind of basic research that's perfect for government programs (leaving the incremental tweaking, production optimization, marketing, etc to private industry).

To give an example let's pick one field - transportation. What does "5x energy density and 1/5th the price" mean for transportation?

Current energy densities generally provide EV ranges between 100 and 250 miles. 5x - 500 to 1250 miles driving per charge. Which means a single charge provides a full day of charging. Which means that it doesn't matter how fast you can charge, so long as you can get a full charge when you sleep.

Let's go with 800 miles range. Which would be extended if you plugged in during meals and/or breaks. A car with prius-level streamlining will use about 250 watt hours per mile on the highway. That's a 125kWh pack. With 80% net wall-to-wheel efficiency, you need to provide about 156kWh. Over 8 hours, that's 20kW, or about 80A. Most new homes have in the ballpark of 200A boxes and worst case, you upgrade.

In short, these kind of batteries would entirely eliminate the main two complaint about EVs: range and charge time.

What about price? Li-ions are roughly $200 per kWh nowadays, which would make that pack. That's $25k just for your pack's cells - pretty darned pricey! Now, contrary to popular myth, these packs are generally rated for a decade or so to get down to 80% capacity, and the bigger your pack, the less you stress your cells, so they're not a high-replacement item (there's even a potential aftermarket for used packs). But that's a ton of money. However, $5k for the cells would be a *dramatic* improvement, and quite realistic when you consider how much it simplifies the rest of your vehicle.

All of this would come with a whole range of other benefits. You'd never have to go to a gas station again. Your fuel would cost a small fraction as much as gasoline. Your maintenance would be way lower. Even your brakes would wear down slower (regen). If smart grid features take off, you could make money by simply leaving your vehicle plugged in. Increasing vehicle power is comparatively very cheap versus gasoline and actually *increases* your vehicle's efficiency slightly (fatter conductors to handle the higher peaks = lower losses at under normal driving conditions). On and on and on.

Comment Re:I really hope... (Score 1) 544

Nope, gold isn't nearly valuable enough to justify the return costs.

Probably the most valuable things to be found on Mars, assuming there's no trace of past or present life, would be gemstone-quality minerals not for their metal content, but of structures that are rare on Earth (painite, blue garnet, red beryl, etc - 5-6 figures per gram) or nonexistant on Earth (6-7 figures per gram). Gold prices are only 2 figures per gram. Of course just the fact that something is from Mars would make it immensely valuable on its own, even just a chunk of iron oxide. The only metals that could justify their acquisition and return costs on their own are if there was a natural nuclear reactor on Mars producing and concentrating some of the "manmade", rarer nuclear isotopes. Which isn't as crazy as it sounds.

Comment Re:South Park did it first! (Score 1) 610

Get them an Android phone, subscribe them to Google Latitude and optionally install Backitude to increase the precision and update frequency.

Odds are they'll never know it's there if you don't tell them. If you do when they're young, they probably won't care. If you do when they're moderately young but you get the parents of their friends to do the same so that they can see where their friends are, they'll probably enjoy it. And then promptly forget that their parents can see it too (akin to the fact that kids always seem to forget when their parents are friended to them on Facebook).

Comment Re:Good one (Score 1) 1142

He's using God as a rhetorical device. Same as Einstein was when he said "God doesn't play dice with the universe". What, you think Einstein was saying "The beginning doesn't play dice with the universe"? He was talking about *present day* vacuum fluctuations.

Hey, want to talk Hawking? Tell me how these fit into your imaginary world where Hawking really means "The beginning" - try substituting "the beginning" for God in any of these (and remember that hawking *does* believe there was a beginning to the universe):

"What I have done is to show that it is possible for the way the universe began to be determined by the laws of science. In that case, it would not be necessary to appeal to God to decide how the universe began. This doesn't prove that there is no God, only that God is not necessary. "

"Consideration of black holes suggests, not only that God does play dice, but that he sometimes confuses us by throwing them where they can't be seen."

"We could call order by the name of God, but it would be an impersonal God. There's not much personal about the laws of physics. "

"If you like, you can call the laws of science 'God', but it wouldn't be a personal God that you could meet, and ask questions."

"There is no place for God in theories on the creation of the Universe"

"...the universe can and will create itself from nothing. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the Universe going."

Please come back to Earth, AC.

Comment Re:Crossing my fingers (Score 1) 179

Nanobots: the modern substitute for "magic".

Do you realize how hard it'd be to build self-replicating robot at any scale, that has to mine and refine and cast every component in itself, from structural components to pneumatic fluids to computer chips? And it gets orders of magnitude harder at the nanoscale.

Comment Re:Crossing my fingers (Score 5, Informative) 179

The advantage isn't taking metals back. It's using them on Mars. If there really is even just metallic iron, that'd be a HUGE benefit for colonization. Trivial to mine (scoop dust, blow over rotating magnetic collector), trivial to process (I once sketched out the resource chains to run a blast furnace on Mars and it's just staggering - if this is metallic iron and it's pure enough to be structurally sound if simply melted and cast, it'd be huge deal).

If it applies to metals other than iron, all the more the benefit. Anything you can do to reduce the massive resource chains needed by modern tech could be a godsend for actual colonization.

Comment Re:Widespread religion (Score 1) 1142

And there's no saying that it was even proteins to begin with. If there was a less efficient form of life, and proteins proved to be more efficient, as soon as that previous form of life started "learning" to utilize proteins, they'd gradually sieze more and more functionality from it. There are all sorts of chemical structures which can engage in complex catalytic chemistry. One of my favorites is silanols. :)

Also there's this concept that many people have the earliest forms of life had to be complete self replicators, using basic building blocks. But that's just not likely the case. The very simplest ancestor of "life" was probably just a set of naturally occurring chemicals which did not self-replicate, but instead simply tending to make more of their "family". Creating "similar", not "exact". Their building blocks were probably far from the sort of barebones water + co2 + sunlight -> oxygen that modern plants do, but instead they probably took some of the sort of complex chemicals that get produced naturally through inorganic processes.. Over time, the greater the precision that certain chemicals reproduce themselves or reproduce specific other chemicals which reproduce specific others, etc all the way back around in a cyclic pattern... the more efficiently this happens, the more these particular chemicals take over the mixture. There is, at this point, no concept of "cells", of discrete units; however, eventually that will occur when members of a hypercycle happen to protect themselves from destruction with any sort of membrane or other defense. From there, the ability to destroy other ur-cell membranes and to defend its own becomes an advantage, and the seeds of cellular competition are laid.

Of course, I wasn't there. I can't say that's how it happens. But it's certainly what one would expect. And while the ubiuqity of modern life in our world seems to rule out the re-evolution of (absurdly inefficient, undefended) protolife, we can see shades of this even in our world. For example, there are a number of diseases of incorrectly-folded proteins, the most famous being BSE. These are self-replicators which came into being from a random change to an existing organic chemical. Now, to replicate, they need a *very* specific input - namely, a correctly folded equivalent protein. But they are true self-replicators which occurred through random happenstance in historic times.

Comment Re:Widespread religion (Score 3, Insightful) 1142

So which is more logical - we live in a universe with a basic set of rules that "just happens to be", or we live in a universe created by an infinitely more complex deity who "just happens to be"?
Occam's Razor, anyone?

Honestly, my view is, the reason for the universe is: "Everything" Existence, yes or no? "Everything". By the anthropic principle, we can only exist in the scenario where the universe exists, so we don't percieve the scenario where it doesn't. What rules to the universe? "Everything". All happen. Any possible scenario where nothing comes into existence to perceive it, it's like it never even happened. We perceive this universe only because it made us.

But hey, if you think a sentient being just happening to exist is simpler than the rule "Everything"....

Comment Re:Good one (Score 3, Informative) 1142

Indeed. For just our known solar system, these are known, believed or considered to have current liquid water oceans:
* Earth (obviously)
* Europa
* Calysto
* Rhea
* Titania
* Oberon
* Triton
* Pluto
* Eris
* Sedna
* Orca
* Enceladus
* Titan
* Uranus
* Neptune

And liquid water droplet clouds:
* Venus
* Jupiter
* Saturn

And believed to have past liquid water for a non-insignificant length of time:
* Mars
* Venus
* Ceres
* Wild-2 (and thus probably many other comets)

Apart from Earth, how many have we done sufficient analysis on that water? If *any* analysis on? And that's even assuming that life inherently requires water.

We know so damned little even about our own solar system. Heck, we're already finding extrasolars which are believed to have liquid water (in some cases, multiples in a given system), but *good luck* getting a probe out there...

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