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Comment Re:"Super-Efficient"? (Score 1) 113

It's not like the biosphere has spent millions of years achieving a balance or that the balance is important.

Tell me, where is your evidence for there being a balance? I'm a geologist and I get paid (you know - cash, from businesses, for delivering useful product) for identifying the swings and surges in those reactions as the Earth's systems either fail to keep up with external changes to the conditions that determine that alleged "balance", or overshoot their adjustments.

You know how to balance a broom by resting it's handle in the palm of your hand, then jiggling your hand around to try to keep the broom head in the air. Yes? Done that? That's the sort of balance that nature has.

Or maybe that's a poor analogy. Try a double-pendulum : suspend one weight from an anchor, then a second weight from the first weight with either a rod (stiff, light, you remember the mechanics problems) or a cord (light, flexible) ; now agitate the anchor. Try to predict the motion of either mass in the pendulum.

Tectonic forces within the Earth (decreased heat flow as radioactive and construction heat decay) is one agitation to the system ; astronomical forces (the ~5%/ Gyr increase in heat flow from the Sun ; Milankovich orbital cycles) are other agitations to the system. There is no "balance, there never was, and until the heat death of the Solar System, there never will be. There are restoring forces, but there is no reason to think that they will be either large enough to stabilise the system, or small enough to not de-stabilise the system.

The best we can do is to try to reduce the forcings we are putting on Earth systems, or to apply the forcings we do control in directions that shift the current state in a direction that we want. We started to understand this (chemistry and thermodynamic systems) in the 19th century ; we started to understand the maths of deterministic chaotic systems in the late 19th and early 20th centuries (Poincare on orbits ; Mandlebrot in more general mathematics) ; we're still trying to get to grips with the wider implications.

Comment Re:What is the carbon footprint? (Score 1) 113

The energy yield of a reaction is determined by the initial and final components. Both sets of components have an internal energy (mostly stored in the bonds that hold the atoms together in each molecule) and when you total that up for the reactants and the products, you find that energy is released to the products. (I'll gloss over the fact that all reactions are equilibria, and will go in both directions. Also the fact that the expansion of gasses and dissolution of solids in liquids also entail energy costs which you have to include in the calculation). However in the process of a reaction there is an activated energy state - for example where both molecules have deformed but not yet broken any bonds - and the energetic cost of getting into that state is the limit on the reaction rate. Catalysts (of which enzymes are a sub-group) reduce the energy of that intermediate state, which typically increases the rate of the reaction, sometimes by many orders of magnitude.

Were you off school that month? Or do you live in a country which doesn't value STEM training? It is a pretty basic part of chemistry.

Comment Re:What is the carbon footprint? (Score 1) 113

All enzymes are catalysts. Some catalysts are organic. Enzymes are just one class of catalyst which are also organic materials and mostly work best at life-compatible temperatures.

One of the defining characteristics of catalysts (including enzymes) is that they increase the rate of a reaction but are not consumed by it. The killer for most natural and synthetic catalysts is side-reactions which do consume the catalyst.

Comment Re:Fires first, due to high O2 levels (Score 1) 113

We'd have problems with fires - which would get massive - before we had problems with crops dying off due to lack of CO2.

No, I don't see that connection. Fires die out because of lack of oxygen not increase in carbon dioxide (which is why underground coal seam fires can smoulder for decades, and in general firefighting the phenomenon of a fire re-igniting from smouldering debris is well known - which is why you spend a lot of effort on damping down a fire after the flames have died out.

Also, the ocean's pH would change and that'd be quite bad news indeed.

Hmmm, reduced CO2 ; would reduce the pH-lowering effect of the CO2 already in the seawater. So the pH would rise, becoming more alkaline. You wouldn't want that to go too far, but it wouldn't. As the pH rose, the oceans would become more effective at scavenging the remaining CO2 from the atmosphere, which would buffer the change considerably. (Which is what is happening at the moment in the other direction.)

Comment Re:Smart but foolish (Score 1) 126

A smart man would have copied the software as he wrote it.

Or done some of the development of the scripts on his home machines, on his own time, thus considerably muddying the issue of who actually owns the software.

E.g. - if you see a need for software at work, then do some developing of ideas at home. Maybe ask around here (under an account you don't use at work) to generate some footprint. Get some preliminary work done. Only then take the idea to work.

Me, I'm still trying to work out how to get contouring to work for my former employer's data display package. I can generate the contours in an external package but to do it natively ... well since I've worked out how to do it externally, and they've sacked their entire field staff including me ... fuck them.

Comment Re:Personally I hope they donate most to nonprofit (Score 1) 159

For the UK, try these (which cover general lost property, including at airports) : (London somewhere) (Bristol) http://www.mulberrybankauction... (Glasgow) (Near the shithole of the universe (Heathrow))

Comment Re:TSA grabbing guns (Score 1) 159

What the constitution says does not matter. Flight is governed by IATA rules, not the constitution of any one country. IATA rules have banned the carriage of loaded weapons all over the world for since decades before America's recent little difficulties.

If you want to enforce your "constitutional right" (disputed) to bear arms, and you want to travel, you're free to do it by any of the methods of travel that the constitution's writers understood - foot, horse, carriage (*). Have a nice day getting a refund from the airline, who will point you to the Ts+Cs where it's your responsibility to check that you're able to fly.

(*) Hot air balloon? Possible, but they may be under IATA rules too.

Comment Re:Amusing; four "security theatre" articles today (Score 1) 159

What of armed crew? That might be helpful but since the powers that be don't like the idea the program that allowed flight crew to be armed after 9/11 has been lacking funds.

What makes you think that any significant proportion of flight crew have or desire weapons training?

I don't know the proportion of flight crew in America who are ex-military, and of them the proportion who have weapons training and have kept it up, and who want to keep it up. But in Britain the number of pilots leaving the military and going into passenger piloting is pretty low. The large majority of flight crew have never seen a weapon outside the hands of the police at international airports and few would want the difficulty of maintaining weapons certification for themselves. So you're putting the cost of the training and the weapons and the management of the weapons (lockers in the crew's briefing room ; what to do if a crew member leaves their issued weapon at the airport they've just left ; what responsibility does the airline have for the inevitable crew member who uses a works-issue weapon to kill or threaten another crew member on the ground ; what if a crew member gets arrested for carrying their works weapon to their hotel becaue they forgot to take it from their bags?

I don't hear any demand from the airlines to implement this, because they probably don't want it. Despite what some gun associations in some countries want.

Comment Re:All the passengers fault.. (Score 1) 159

To be honest, when my flights have got delayed, I'm already in the departure lounge after security. And that's where I stay until the flight has been cancelled and the air-side airline staff have given me my hotel details.

Precisely because of the hassle of getting back in through security.

Comment Re:laptops on the conveyor belt (Score 1) 159

But you should absolutely put the little tray with your shoes in front (along with any belt)

Any belt? ANY belt?

Yeah, I've had the occasional officious fuckwit who insists on me removing the plastic buckled nylon webbing straps which I've used as belts for nearly 30 years now. Then I remove the laces from my boots (blocking the line for several minutes), because they're as dangerous as any belt.

You probably mean "any metal belt buckle, or other large piece of metal" before going though the metal detector. That's perfectly reasonable, and is why I'm loading wallet, coin pouch, pens, watch, and all other asorted pocket contents into the zip-up pockets of my jacket before I even get to the loading belt for the X-ray machine.

TBH, by the time you get to larger airports, the staff know that they're talking about weapons and things that will trigger the metal detector, not belt buckles as belt buckles. But the ones that get 5 intra-country flights a day can have some real mouth-breathers at security. Sullom Voe/ Scatsta, I'm looking at you.

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Fools ignore complexity. Pragmatists suffer it. Some can avoid it. Geniuses remove it. -- Perlis's Programming Proverb #58, SIGPLAN Notices, Sept. 1982