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Comment Re:Survival Of The Fittest (Score 1) 72

Heh, the reef is worth about US$4.5 Billion a year in tourist income to Australia, not to mention it's value as a restocking nursery for surrounding commercial fisheries.

Tough for the Aussies then. 'Cause you can be sure the parties ultimately responsible for the damage, will NOT be the ones picking up the bill (see: externalities).

Comment Re: If he gets busted... (Score 1, Insightful) 87

The problem is that manufacturers don't secure the IoT devices they produce, and that's who your ire should be directed at. However, this punishes the users who purchased those devices, usually out of ignorance.

As those users should be.

The reason that insecure (or otherwise unreliable) devices are the norm these days, is that a) hardware & software vendors get away with it. And b) most users don't care. Or at least not seem to care enough to change things.

If a device can be bricked simply by hooking it up to a network, but buyer is too lazy or ignorant to check before buying, then buyer deserves what he gets. If buyer does his/her homework (and finds device is vulnerable), but buys the product anyway, then buyer deserves what he gets.

That leaves the case where buyer did his homework, product "looks good", but gets bricked anyway. That should be a warranty issue, shifting the burden onto vendors. As it should be.

So if things like this BrickerBot help to invalidate the "vendor gets away with insecure crap" equation, then please: carry on with the good work!

Comment Cities in the desert (Score 2) 198

Makes perfect sense to me. It may just be a matter of economics:

In the past, cities tended to grow at strategic locations, or where it is relatively easy (read: cheap) to support a city. Like near a choke point between land masses. Or a river delta (easy transport up river). Or in the middle of an area with fertile agricultural land.

In a technological advanced society, it should be possible to recycle most raw materials (including water). Most food could be grown in 10-story greenhouses where crops don't even need soil. This only takes space, and energy. So 'cheap' may then gravitate to non-agricultural land where energy is abundant. A desert could be one of such places. Floating cities on the open ocean another option.

Of course this may depend on how much more the world's population grows. Maybe that will stabilize at a number where there isn't much need to build new cities from scratch.

Comment Re:Who cares (Score 5, Insightful) 296

Delivering a massive first strike would only give the NK regime an excuse to say to its people "see, we told you this would happen", and then retaliate in equal measure. Which would only leave losers on both sides.

NK should not be given that excuse. Shoot down their missiles if any of them come too close to population centres outside NK. Sink a sub if it comes too close to US (or other friendly nation) shoreline. Covert sabotage operations, fine. A good dose of cyberwar, why not. Stationing extra troops near border areas as a show of preparedness. But DO NOT be the one to push the start button for a full-on war. Especially if nukes might be involved.

Ultimately it's up to NK people to deal with their own regime. And that regime will come to an end - like everything else. It's only a matter of time.

Comment Re:Dumb (Score 1) 230

There's a point at which someone wins that race, and is rewarded with spectacular effects... /sarcasm

Beside the unlucky vapers who don't have a clue what they're doing but -indeed- chose the cheapest gear they could find (especially batteries).

Comment Infrared? (Score 1) 53

Without even reading the article, a quick back-of-the-envelop calculation says that ~300 GHz corresponds to ~1 mm. wavelength (for EM radiation in vacuum or near that in air).

That's in the far infrared range of the spectrum. Read: optical, line-of-sight surely. Well duh... optical signals can be modulated at high speed, we know that, used every day to pump data through glass fibers or change channels on your TV. Why is this news?

Comment Re:And? (Score 1) 122

What's inside the plastic wrapping is going to kill you quicker than whatever the wrapping is made of.

Fair point. But when I first read about this topic, and looked up what these chemicals are & what they're used for, 1st thought was: "What the F#$K are these chemicals doing near our food in the first place? And even more, in food packaging?". I simply don't understand.

It seems compounds like this could be an ingredient in cleaning agents. Okay, as a producer you may have issues with washing the reminder of cleaning agents such that traces remain & get in the food processed. But if that's a known problem, why not use more 'food-friendly' cleaning agents where it isn't a big issue if traces remain?

Okay, it could be used in kitchen utensils. Or non-stick surfaces. But even then, in daily use these things don't break down fast enough to leave more than minute traces in what they come in contact with. That, or the cooking / baking process is screwed up so bad you'd tell from the end product in other ways.

But as a component in food packaging? For fast food? The kind of cups & trays that are typically discarded within hours from purchase anyway? That makes no sense. It should be soooo easy to find packaging materials where the element F doesn't even occur in any shape, form, or significant quantities. For this application, why risk using organofluorine compounds at all?

Comment Re:We need progressive nuclear programs. (Score 2, Insightful) 139

Give me free electricity and compensation for every screw up and I'd gladly live next to a reactor.

Second that. I've been a long time green party voter, and as much as I like seeing solar panels on an ever increasing # of homes, reality is that solar + wind can't cover 100% of our energy needs right now. Period. Not unless / until the storage problem is solved. The sun doesn't shine at night, the wind doesn't always blow (and sometimes too hard!), and no amount of solar panels will fix that. Hydro could be used as backup, but has its own drawbacks & only possible in a few places. Geothermal etc is interesting, but again: far from practical everywhere.

So for filling in the gaps we NEED something else, no way around it. Between 'cheap' coal, oil, natural gas, or covering land masses with biofuel crops, a modern design nuclear plant isn't a bad option. Yes environmentalists may have speeded up investment in solar projects etc (and I applaud anyone for that no matter the reasons), but in resisting (modern) nuclear they've kinda lost sight that thus we're currently on an energy mix where fossil is still king. That could have been very different if modern nuclear plants were common today.

And no, nuclear waste isn't the be-all-end-all-problem it's made out to be. Right now it's choosing between evils, and btw nuclear waste: it's all about what exact substances, how much, stored how & where. The waste from eg. a fast breeder reactor is very different stuff than what comes out of another type of nuclear plant. Stuffing it in rockets & shooting it at the sun, has different risks & costs than burying inside a mountain. Material with 300 year half-life needs a different approach than material with a 30,000 year half-life. And so on.

Comment Re:Slowing isn't enough - with a graph. (Score 2, Insightful) 201

CO2 in the atmosphere, and the world's CO2 output over a year, isn't the same thing. They're correlated, but with a long delay (in the order of decades or longer IIRC). The atmosphere itself, oceans, forests etc all act like buffers. So if the world (read: mankind's) CO2 output would drop to 0 instantly, CO2 in the atmosphere will stay high for a long time no matter what. Adding more CO2 just makes the problem worse. So a more accurate way is saying that the rate at which we're making the problem worse, has slowed down / flattened. We're still running, and still in the opposite direction of where we should be going, just our [running in the wrong direction] has slowed down.

Once atmospheric CO2 (and with that, average global temperatures) passes certain levels, all kinds of secondary effects may kick in: melting of permafrost areas, melting of oceanic methane ice (yeah I know not CO2 but still caused & contributing to same problem), forest fires due to extended droughts, etc, etc.

Comment Re:Moving off-planet doesn't guarantee survival (Score 1) 151

In the novel, people on a generation starship discover that salt and other toxins start building up quickly in the smaller scale of their ship.

That's a general rule seen in many contexts: the larger a system is, and the more varied its contents (preferably including many subsystems / groups that work independently from each other), the more stable the whole will be. And/or the bigger the chance at least some of its citizens will survive a catastrophe. Size & numbers matter. Especially if "numbers" can be read as "varieties" rather than a larger count of the same thing(s).

So in terms of passing on genes, a city sized spaceship would be a safer bet than an ISS sized capsule.

But perhaps we'd better take a clue from nature: rather than put all our eggs in a few baskets, it may be a better idea to send out relatively small ships to many destinations. Many won't survive if the journey is long enough or a destination's environment is hostile enough. But overall, there's a bigger chance at least some of those ships will hit fertile ground.

That's not saying as mankind we couldn't do both in a few centuries from now: send some city sized ships to promising destinations, and many small ships elsewhere just in case there's something there.

Submission + - 10 Percent of the World's Wilderness Has Been Lost Since 1990s (

An anonymous reader writes: Wilderness areas around the world have experienced catastrophic declines over the last two decades, with one-tenth of global wilderness lost since the 1990s, according to a new study. Since 1993, researchers found that a cumulative wilderness area twice the size of Alaska and half the size of the Amazon has been stripped and destroyed. The shrinking wilderness is due, in part, to human activity such as mining, logging, agriculture, and oil and gas exploration. The researchers said theirfindings underscore the need for international policies to recognize the value of wilderness and to protect wilderness areas from the threats they face. Central Africa and the Amazon saw the most wilderness decline, the researchers found. Of the roughly 1.27 million square miles (3.3 million square kilometers) of global wilderness lost, the Amazon accounted for nearly one-third, and 14 percent of the world's wilderness was lost from Central Africa, according to the study. The researchers determined that only 11.6 million square miles (30.1 million square km) of wilderness is left, which equates to just 20 percent of the Earth's total land mass.

Submission + - General Motors Recalls 4.3 Million Vehicles Over A Software Bug (

An anonymous reader writes: If you own a GM vehicle from 2014-2017, listen up: General Motors is recalling nearly 4.3 million vehicles worldwide after discovering a software defect that prevents air bags from deploying during a crash. The software bug may also prevent the seat belts from locking properly. The flaw has already been linked to one death and three injuries. Vehicles affected by the recall include 2014-2016 car models of the Buick LaCross, Chevy SS, and Chevy Spark EVs. It also includes 2014-2017 models of the Buick Encore, GMC Sierra, Chevy Corvette, Chevy Trax, Chevy Caprice, Chevy Silverado. Additionally, the recall affects 2015-2017 models of the Chevy Tahoe, Chevy Silverado HD, Chevy Suburban, GMC Yukon, GMC Yukon XL, GMC Sierra HD, Cadillac Escalade, and Cadillac Escalade ESV. GM will notify owners of affected vehicles and update the software for free, according to the NHTSA.

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