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Comment Re:Epinephrine cost per dose in about 50 cents (Score 2) 141

Well, it's the very fact that the alternative is, possibly, death that makes it possible for a company to do this. This thing occupies a peculiar corner case where the demand is modest, but inelastic.

This means a monopolist can milk the market by raising the price to insane levels, but because the market is small no competitor wants to enter it. Were the market to become competitive it is so small that the newly entered competitors wouldn't make much off their efforts. This is contrasted with statins, which are blockbuster drugs. You don't need a very large slice of that pie for the slice to be very large indeed.

The same thing happened last year with Duraprim. If you have toxoplasmosis, you absolutely have to have it. But how many people get toxoplasmosis?

Comment Re:Useful for desalination plants? (Score 1) 74

Well, to answer your question, of course if we covered the entire ocean, or significant fractions of it, sure there'd be undesirable ecological effects. Just like anything else that is scaled up endlessly without allowance for what economists call "externalities".

If you could internalize all externalities then the market would provide a perfect solution without any kind of regulation whatsoever. But since nobody knows how to do that, then I imagine that you'll get two regimes: (1) do whatever you want as long as you grease the the correct palms (in authoritarian states like China) or (2) go through the rigmarole of doing environmental impact studies before getting permits to beuild (in democratic societies).

Comment Re:Useful for desalination plants? (Score 4, Insightful) 74

I should think not -- at least not in the way you're probably thinking.

The device consists of a wicking layer topped by a light-absorbing layer. This boils water, which produces more or less pure steam. It also leaves the minerals from the water in the wicking layer. If you take distilled water directly away from the device and replace it with fresh seawater, those minerals will build up until the layer is no longer absorbent. On the other hand if all you want is the heat, you run the steam-distilled water through a heat exchanger and return it to the wicking layer, reconstituting the original water.

So it'd probably wouldn't work to use this directly as a steam distiller. However you could use the heat you collect to run a separate steam distiller. That would be very inefficient, but the thing about "renewables" is that conversion efficiency is less important than low installation and operation cost, because you're not paying for your feedstock of energy; any sunshine you don't use would have been wasted anyway. So while it seems physically possible to use this device to power a desalinization plant, whether it makes economic sense depends on whether this is actually the cheapest way to run a plant.

Comment Re:We need this (Score 3, Insightful) 211

we need people actively looking into making those new type of batteries instead of just researching them and never do anything with the research

You haven't been paying attention.

Like photovoltaic solar panels (which can now be had for under a dollar a watt WITHOUT subsidies, more than an order of magnitude improvement over the last decade or so), DEPLOYED battery technology has been improving, drastically.

Of course most of the breakthroughs don't get deployed. That's usually because better breakthroughs come along before they get that far.

Comment Re:Clean OS install (Score 1) 358

I use optical media for installs, too.

Mostly because they're a more convenient (and better supported than USB sticks) way to build a system onto a fresh(ly wiped) machine.

Also because they're an easy way to insure I didn't accidentally carry over any data from the pre-wipe configuration or the machine I used to download, or got hit with a "catch the machine before it updates" attack while net-loading or updating from the distribution version to the latest bugfixes. (I go to the net for the initial update through an external firewall machine with tight reach-out-only rules.)

Yes, it's not a defence against some of the NSA or "remote-administration feature" style of attacks, through the BIOS, drive firmware, CPU-vendor silicon "management engines", persistent threat malware on the download machine, etc. But it's a start. (Also: If those are any good they keep hiding, so at least they stay out of my way while I'm trying to get some work done. B-b )

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