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Comment Re:Balancing potential deaths with real-today ones (Score 1) 130

It would be amazing if they could change this technology so that it was activated by the presence of some environmental activation molecule (maybe a not so common antibotic would be a good choice.) This technique has great promise, if we could only turn it off and on at will. Perhaps the cytokine storm could be alleviated if you could somehow ramp the response up by concentration of the drug, instead of the current 'nuclear' level immune response.

Very f'ing awesome stuff, as a kid I toyed with the idea of engineering a neutered HIV virus with a payload of a gene with some sort of protein that could block reverse transcriptase. (I was into Genetic engineering then, ended up being a software developer.) Its awesome to see this sort of technology coming to fruition. I have an auto immune disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis, I can totally seeing this sort of technique working for that eventually as well.

Comment Would you bury gold? (Score 1) 340

(I'm reposting this as myself, I didn't realize I wasn't logged in)

Um, spent nuclear fuel is not waste. It is actually more fissionable material. Only an idiot would bury it. The french reprocess their nuclear fuel because they are sane, since Jimmy Carter we have been on the other side of the spectrum. When you separate the actinides from the rest you actually will have something that will decay below natural uranium in radioactivity in a relatively short period of time, say 400 years or so. We should use the money to build liquid chlorine fast reactors and burn up the spent fuel to make energy, not bury something worth more then gold per ounce into the ground. Fissionable fuel has this wonderful property that it makes more fuel, it truly has the Midas touch. A light water reactor only burns around a few percent, leaving around 98% of the energy in the fuel. Of course the neutron damage to a solid fuel element means we have to completely remake the thing before we can use it, and all the short half life isotopes mean you have to do it robotically. With a liquid fueled solution like a molten salt reactor you can continuously reprocess the fuel and use extremely high percentages of the fuel.

I never understood what people have against reprocessing. The plutonium from a reactor is pretty much worthless for making bombs. It is not P-239, but usually has multiple more neutrons and is not desirable if you want to make a bomb. I suppose they are afraid that the infrastructure could be re-purposed, but reactor grade plutonium is super crappy for making bombs. I suppose people aren't rational about nukes, so I shouldn't be surprised.

Comment Um, in a simple word no (Score 5, Informative) 239

U233 created in a thorium reactor will be poisoned with U232 at about 0.4 percent (very dependent on design, but this is an good example of the kind of mix you will see). Even if you segment the protactinium, you are still going to have some U232 in the mix. This can not be chemically separated, and separating the isotopes of something that is hot borders on the insane. U232 has a decay chain that emits a 2.9 MeV gamma ray, and its pretty hot as far as how fast it will decay (Half life of 69 years if I remember right). It decays to Th-228 and in like 2 years into Ti-208 + nasty gamma. Very nasty stuff that will really ruin your day, and any electronics in your nuclear weapon in a hurry. You would be stupid to pick this as a nuclear fuel for a weapon, when you could just make plutonium like anyone with any sense would do. You just put some natural uranium in neutron flux of a light water reactor, wait a month or so, and separate the plutonium. Simple well known technology that works, not some crazy possibility that some PhD dreamed up because he wants to prove a point. Sure you could do it, if your an idiot who wants to make your life really hard and you have a death wish.

Also if you are running a thorium breeder reactor you are running so close to break even on neutrons so if you remove Uranium from the cycle your ability to maintain reactor criticality will disappear. Also you have the same problem if you try and use the neutron flux to make plutonium it wouldn't work. Thorium reactors are shitty for making bombs, that is why we don't have them even though they are awesome technology that would solve so many energy problems. Thorium has little risk of being used to make bombs, and if someone is idiotic enough to do it they will die of gamma poisoning way before they have enough fuel for bombs.

Comment Re:Kickstarter with dividends? (Score 1) 95

The problem with this is the SEC rules in the United States. There was a law recently (Startup Act 2.0) that when implemented has a chance to allow Crowdfunding with equity, but such a thing is illegal at this moment in time.

Also, FYI, Kickstarter itself does not allow this kind of business to be funded. You can't explicitly start a business or a service with ongoing maintenance like a web startup on Kickstarter. You have to use something like Rockethub or Indie-go-go instead. That is actually why app.net used a self hosting approach for their funding drive. They didn't use Kickstarter.

Comment Re:Science is about how, Religion is about why (Score 1) 1774

"Religion is about the mystery and that which can not be known." Science rejects the notion that there is anything which can't be known, there is only that which we do not understand yet.

Actually this is very far from the truth as science understands it. You must not have studied much about quantum mechanics. The world is uncertain and this concept is at the core of modern physics. It can only be known to a certain precision, we can't know the momentum and position of a particle at a given moment for example. Don't worry though I see where you could believe this, your in quite good company. Einstein had a bunch of trouble with this concept, and spent a great deal of his life working to disprove it.

The fact that reality is what it is, this is the true majick in the world. The fact that the columb force is exactly the strength it is (a few percent difference and you have no chemical bonds possible), or the strength of gravity was strong enough to fire up the natural fires we all huddle around. This is the true mystery and beauty, or the majick if you will. I choose to believe in an organizing force to the universe, but my choice to do so or not to do so does not take away from this beauty.

I do believe that the supernatural has unfortunately been used both past and presently to enslave or subjugate people. In the name of gods and God we have done many horrible things. I think the institutions are the problems here though. I think organized religion causes big problems generally, but I don't think this in and of itself means the quest to understand the why is a bad thing.

All that being said, science doesn't care about the why. It skips it. If the why turns out to be some sort of men in black style cosmic joke, it doesn't matter. The quantum behavior of subatomic particles when viewed in aggregate will still approximately behave according to Newton's laws, and it won't repeal the laws of thermodynamics either. This is what I think it is extremely important to teach our kids. God and Religion are at their core two different quests. Don't mix them, religion will never tell you how in a reasonable way, and science couldn't give two cents about why.

Comment Science is about how, Religion is about why (Score 4, Insightful) 1774

I wish I had mod points for this one, someone vote the parent up.

Science and religion are not incompatible in the least. Science is not an attack against God, it is goal is to understand how the world and those beings that populate it were created and the rules that govern their existence. It does not have anything to do with the question if there was or was not a creator. It has no opinion on that as a matter of fact. Science and Religion address completely different classes of problems. I am a firm advocate of teaching evolution and countless other theories supported by evidence. I believe to teach anything else in our science classes is deep folly. It goes contrary to the scientific method, and will not make good scientists. Don't bring your why to my science class, its going to confuse the students horribly.

Religion is about the mystery and that which can not be known. I am a practicing Catholic, and I have a deep faith that there is a creative force behind the universe. That does not mean that I am naive and believe that stories told to and by an ancient people can be the whole truth. Try to explain things like the principle of least time, quantum mechanics, or the geometry of spacetime to someone five or tens thousand years ago. You can't, so you tell things in allegory and stories. If you believe that the bible is the exact word of God (which I do not), do you think he would try to tell it how it is? Or would he make broad brush strokes and make sure the principles are communicated without worrying about too much about the mechanism? Religion has little to do with how things were done, religion tries to answer something that can't be supported by evidence, but must be taken on faith.

Take science for what it is, the beautiful pursuit of how the world works and the rules that govern its creation and continued existence. Religion is about something else, it is about believing and having faith in something greater then oneself. For those that do believe, science shows us the brush strokes of our creator. It doesn't tell us that he does not exist. So quit worrying about the scientists and engineers of the world teaching your children that organisms have DNA that changes over time, and those mutations and adaptions bring about new organisms. It doesn't hurt their belief in a higher power, in fact it should only reinforce it.

Comment Re:US should reprocess more (Score 2) 139

One of the things that people don't realize is that plutonium from long running reactors is of an isotopic mix that is very poor for nuclear weapons. Mostly the bad thing that reprocessing has going for it is that the same equipment and process can be used to separate uranium that has been irradiated for a much shorter period of time (and that has a much more favorable isotopic composition.) Reprocessing spent fuel is just good policy. We are quite literally throwing away the baby with the bathwater right now. Another thing people tend for forget is that long half life radioactive elements are mostly harmless. Its the short half life stuff that is nasty. The long half life stuff is just more fuel. Fissionable material has this wonderful property that it makes more fissionable material. We are throwing away the gold that midas has made for us.

Submission + - Redis - Open Source from Microsoft! (i-programmer.info)

mikejuk writes: When Microsoft recently announced it was starting an open source subsidiary called Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc., the news was greeted with a mix of suspicion and derision. The suspicion takes the form of ‘NOW what are they up to?’
The team has now announced its first release in the new company by way of a new version of Redis on Windows, the open-source, networked, in-memory, key-value data store.
Redis (REmote DIctionary Server) has been rising in popularity over recent years, and is probably more highly regarded than rival key-value data stores such as Cassandra.The code is on GitHub and if you want to find out more, check out the interactive tutorial Try Redis..


Submission + - Will.I.Am and Dean Kamen Want Kids to be excited about STEM

EuNao writes: "There is an interesting piece just posted by Will.I.Am and Dean Kamen, they want to get children excited about Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics. They have teamed up with several sponsors and have launched a contest that aims at doing just that, Wouldn't It Be Cool If. The aim of this contest to get children to dream up the coolest idea to make their lives more awesome. It is open to kids ten to fifteen years old, here are the contest rules. The submission deadline is next Wednesday, March 28th."

Submission + - Ted Education - Video Lessons for Students

EuNao writes: "TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design), the organization based on ideas worth sharing launched a new initiative this past week. It is called TED-Ed, it aims to engage students with unforgettable lessons. There are many places in the world where a wonderful teacher or mentor is teaching something mind-blowing, but as it stands now not many people have access to that powerful experience. Ted-Ed aims to bring that engaging experience to everyone who has an internet connection. Here are summaries and links to the nine videos that were initially released. There are also two good articles on this new project available at the Washington Post and The Next Web."

Comment You gotta geek out on Pi Day (Score 1) 196

This post missed some of the the most important things to do on Pi Day in my opinion. You should learn something about math on Pi Day, like something about Euler's Identity. You should teach your kids the wonder of math, there are simple things like teaching them about the area of a circle or you could show them Donald Duck in Mathmagic Land. You should not just bake a Pie but decorate it or some sugar cookies with circles, ellipses and cylinders. Make the day into an event. Celebrate being different, we are Geeks after all. Lastly of course you can't forget the Mathematical Pi song. Play it LOUD!!

Submission + - NASA and GM to Bring Robo-Glove to Assembly Lines (vice.com) 1

derekmead writes: "Humanoid from the middle up, NASA's Robonaut 2, or R2, can share tools and workspaces with astronauts thanks to its impressive dexterity. This technology, taken on a smaller scale, could revolutionize the way factory workers complete repetitive manual tasks. The new NASA/GM technology, called Robo-Glove, applies R2’s strength and dexterity — achieved from a mix of leading-edge sensors, actuators, and tendons — to humans.

R2’s ability to use human tools was one of the principle design requirements when engineers, researchers, and scientists from GM and NASA began collaborating on the program in 2007. Robo-Glove uses pressure sensors in its fingertips, similar to those that give R2 its sense of touch, to detect when the wearer is holding a tool. The presence of a tool triggers the synthetic tendons, causing them to retract and pull the fingers into a gripping position. The glove will hold this pose until the sensor is released — until the human wearer lets go of the tool."


Submission + - Happy Pi Day (piday.org)

EuNao writes: "Happy Pi Day Slashdot, today share a little mathematics with your child. Try and show the mathematics around you, bake a round cake or pie, decorate it with some geometric shapes. Teach your children the area formula for a circle by helping them write it on some sugar cookies. There are countless other things you can do with your child, use today to instill wonder in mathematics. You and your child won't regret it. Get your geek on and learn a little bit about Euler's identity and Pi Day, listen to the Mathematical Pi Song on Youtube or visit the Pi Day Official Site."

Comment Really Teach Math, and Early (Score 1) 479

Math is beautiful and we have been teaching kids to hate it for a very long time. I have been working with my son for a very long time to make sure this is not the case for him. We don't focus enough on the concepts and push a learning by rote curriculum very early. By teaching foundations and explaining why things act that way, kids become much more interested in mathematics. My child understands negative numbers, how to build the multiplication tables, the concepts of additive and multiplicative identities and inverses, loves the number googolplex, and is slowly learning about geometry. He is in Kindergarten and will turn six this year. I firmly believe that memorization can have its place (I've recently been blogging about memory and study techniques), but we don't focus enough on the wonder of mathematics with our children. If instead of showing him how to multiply, I just forced him to memorize his multiplication tables I suspect he would have hated arithmetic for a long time just like I did. I didn't start loving math until I was a 3D device driver programmer and had a calculus class or two under my belt. We must focus on wonder with a good dose of application with our children. I also firmly believe that some classical memory techniques can greatly improve the experience of a child in school. Committing something to memory is a hard endeavor, but the ancients had many ways of making this easier. Our spatial memories are so much better then our memory for words or numbers. We grew up as a species on the savannas of Africa. Knowing where we were was so important to our survival. We also tended to walk long distances, some 15 miles a day, so it is no surprise that neuroscience has found that exercise greatly improves our cognitive performance. The method of Loci is fun to teach to a child, and they remember it because it is so different. Focusing on why we learn, that learning is fun, how to learn, and scientifically proven methods based on what we know about neuroscience could transform education. Imagine if all kids craved going to school. How much better the world could be...

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