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Comment Economics? (Score 4, Informative) 186

$4.7B for a nuclear plant. Is it worth it? Will the company get $4.7B worth of use from this asset? If they put it on the market today, what price would they get?

Does this price reflect the cost of building a new nuclear plant today, or is it horribly inflated by the troubled construction history?

The new planed UK Hinkley Point station has (Wikipedia) "estimated construction cost of £18 billion, or £24.5 billion including financing costs." This is two units with combined 3200MW output. Watts Bar II is 1200MW - so the UK is planing on spending more per MW than this plant cost.

Comment Re:an unexpected benefit (Score 2) 611

Yeah, nobody ever complains about companies having a preponderance of males.

I was intending to do that thing where you hyperlink each word in a phrase to a different article supporting that phrase, but I couldn't be bothered, and frankly, it's unnecessary unless you're being deliberately ignorant.

Comment Economic malthusianism (Score 2, Insightful) 880

People have been spouting this prophecy for more than 300 years, and its never come true. Despite incredible technological advancement, more people are employed now than in any point in history. Some people mightl lose out in the short term, but in the long term, the number of jobs only grows.

A basic income may or may not be a good idea - I know in Australia, that the cost of the bureaucracy attached to our welfare system means that replacing it with a basic income (or better, negative income tax) is actually cheaper for the state. I don't know if the same is true in the US, bu t I wouldn't be surprised if it is.

Comment Re:Good and bad exposures (Score 1) 473

This is exactly right. Daniel Ellsberg broke the law by photocopying and smuggling out classified documents about Vietnam War progress (or lack thereof) from the RAND corporation, where he was an a Ph.D military analyst. He provided those documents to the reporters from New York Times and Washington Post. The Nixon Administration filed an emergency injunction with the Supreme Court to suppress immanent publication by the New York Times. But the Supreme Court refused on the grounds doing so would imperil the first amendment by imposing court mandated prior restraint. See: New York Times v United States.

Now that does not mean Ellsberg could not have been prosecuted under the Espionage Act of 1919. He absolutely broke the law and admitted as such. He was an employee with a high security clearance entrusted to prevent the release of those documents. Not steal and release them. The justice department ultimately refused to prosecute. But as we've seen with the Bush and Obama Administrations, Espionage Act investigations and prosecutions are popular these days.

Just how the US Government plans to prosecute Assange under the Espionage Act is unclear. He's a non-citizen who never signed a US security clearance nor took an oath to protect classified materials. Furthermore, Wikileaks is arguably a journalistic endeavor. The government makes no distinction between official journalists and citizen journalists for first amendment protections. If the New York Times can do it, so can Julian Assange. And if they argue he's not a citizen and therefore not protected under the first amendment, how then can they argue as a non citizen he's bound by the US Espionage Act?

Perhaps a real lawyer can chime up here. I just took a grad media law class. But it sure seems like tortured logic to me.

Comment Re:Where's my new MacPro Tower? (Score 1) 114

I know a guy who hacked his old 2009 Pro tower with two new xeons and a Titan X just to give the thing a bit more life. Made it a pretty good machine performance wise and he didn't have to throw away his old software investment. But he's already transitioning off mac, so this was to keep an old tool chain functional.

Comment Re:Well, duh. (Score 1) 75

"Maths" is a lot more than arithmetic (A rat in Tommy's house...).
The most important mathematical discipline in science is simple Boolean logic that (at least at one time) was taught as part of the freshman high school math curriculum. The tools of logical thought and formal deduction rather than "hand waving" explanations are the *first* requirements.

More to the point of the article...
Scientists generally organize themselves into a couple of different disciplines--simply because the skill sets (and technical requirements) tend to diverge:
Statistical analysis and mathematical modeling (the subject of the article) are extremely important to both.
The job of the theoretician is to produce a descriptive, predictive, and testable mathematical model and study that model. And to describe experiments and predict what the results might be *if* the model and the hypotheses it's built on are representative of reality.
The job of the experimentalist is to determine whether the model is actually consistent with reality.

Take as a timely example the theoretician's prediction of gravity waves, and around a hundred years later, the experimentalist's observation of same.
Makes a nice ringtone...and a nice conversation starter--when folks ask "what's that noise", you can explain how science takes a lot of persistence and work.

Of course, sometimes experimentalist invalidates the theoretician's model; this is when some of my old professors told me "I was writing Science Fiction...didn't mean to, but the results are in...". Of course you have the theoretician who refuses to submit to experiment, but that doesn't mean they're all charlatans.

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