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Comment Re:anyone on fly the 747? (Score 1) 59

Well it's not like 747s have disappeared from commercial aviation. A number of airlines use the newest 747-8i (such as Lufthansa) and they will use them for years.

I had the luck of flying on a KLM 747 ICN-AMS; and a 747-400 (FRA-YVR) and 747-8i (JNB-FRA) of Lufthansa.

The KLM flight was in business on the upper deck, and it was a fluke because at the time only economy travel was company policy. However my VP took his sweet time to approve my travel, and by the time he did it only business was available. Somehow slipped through the cracks, and I got to fly in business. Poor experience all in all, with slanted seats, mediocre food, and a snoring neighbour. But the first time on the upper deck you can't forget!

Second time was on a 744, and I was booked in business. At the time Lufthansa was flying their 744s with an amazing upper deck configuration with 8 first class seats which also had a bed:


I went to the gate before my flight to get my passport sorted, and the friendly gate agent gave me a shiny first class boarding pass. I could not believe my luck, never got an upgrade before, and now this! Made my way to the first class lounge in Frankfurt, ordered eggs benedict and a glass of champagne, and waited to board. I slept about 8 hours straight on my own flying bed!

Finally I flew the 748 recently on the upper deck in business class, and it was a mostly uneventful flight, but the experience of going up the stairs is always amazing.

Fun fact, if you get to fly first class on the 748 of lufthansa, you actually sit more in front of the pilots, since the nose of the plane is way ahead of the upper deck!

Comment Re:Energy density? (Score 1) 53

The energy density per se depends mostly on the electrode materials used. This battery uses conventional electrode materials, so in principle it can achieve the usual energy density of Li-ion cells.

The cells use Li4TI5O12 at the negative electrode, which means that they most likely operate at a lower nominal voltage than traditional Li-ion cells (somewhere around 3V as opposed to >4V), however since the electrodes can be made much more dense (because the liquid electrolyte does not need to penetrate in the electrode and therefore the empty porous space in the electrode is not necessary), overall the energy density of the electrode (capacity times voltage) remains the same.

The main advantage of solid state cells comes from the fact that the electrolyte layer, in principle, can be made much thinner than the usual ~20 microns required by the traditional polymeric separators. However, manufacturing such thin layers of purely ceramic materials is not easy, and I don't think (cannot access the paper right now) that the cell shown in the paper has any advancement in that respect. I think the best example of thin, ceramic, Li conducting layers are those made by Ohara in Japan.

So overall an interesting technological step, but no breakthrough.

Comment Re:I agree (Score 1) 121

I have had a Blackberry for the last couple of years. Yes, Android applications work when they work. But if you want to use an app that depends on Google Services, you have to jump through a million hoops. Sometimes apps just crash. And since it's an emulated environment, the average blackberry hardware is just too weak to maintain acceptable performance.

So yes, it's "just Java", but there's more than that. As much as I hate Android, I had to switch, it just wasn't worth the effort.

Comment Germany should take note (Score 2) 48

Here in Germany credit cards are still seen as an exotic and luxurious item, and most transactions are conducted by giving direct access to your bank account. Sign up for a phone plan? Give them your bank account. Sign up for internet? Bank account. Buy on Amazon? You guessed it, bank account.

An extremely popular payment method is Sofortüberweisung, where you authorize a bank transfer at checkout. I am not sure what would happen if someone would intercept this payment and add a couple of zeroes to the amount, as technically you have authorized the transaction with your two-way authentication.

Comment Aerodynamic design? (Score 3, Interesting) 127

I'm not an engineer, but I always wondered why trains tend to be designed like a wall. Only high-speed trains are actually wedge shaped to be aerodynamic.

I would imagine that a subway train, acting like a "piston" would work better if it were more aerodynamic and not have to overcome a lot of pressure within the tunnel.

Can anyone explain the reasons behind this design?

Comment Hopefully data only (Score 4, Insightful) 96

As long as voice isn't enabled I don't have a problem with that. I recently tried wifi on a long haul flight and was quite impressed with the speed of the service. I can see how people might want to have data connection up up in the air (albeit one has to see the extortionate roaming prices airlines will come up with!).

But voice? No thank you. It would quickly become a safety issue because passengers would assault each other.

Comment Tenure-hunting discourages risk (Score 4, Informative) 203

I have been working in research (chemistry) for 10 years, half in academia and half in industry. In my time in academia, it was all about putting together enough results to scrape a paper together, nevermind whether the "promising results" were benchmarked against shitty "state-of-the-art".

In my current industry job, I have been asked to prepare a 5-year plan with high ambitions, and I am free to explore any path to the final goal without (reasonably at least) restrictions.

Unfortunately until non-tenured researchers will need to publish as much as possible without actually delivering important results, this will not change.

In my opinion the peer-review system is not perfect, but it's the best thing we have. I have found many reviewers whose comments have been genuinely beneficial to making my papers stronger. Others barely read the manuscript and rejected it because it encroached on their turf, or didn't cite them enough.

In my opinion the peer-review should be changed to a double-blind system: the reviewer should not see name and affiliation of the authors, and judge the work as it would grade an undergrad paper (i.e. harshly). Like this I believe the signal-to-noise ratio in journals would increase, and only good papers would get published. At that point, I'd be willing to accept impact factor as a measure of worthiness of a publication. Until then, it's just friends judging friends, with nobody wanting to piss off anybody else. Minor revisions, congratulations, you're published.

Comment Re:Graceful Failover ? What Graceful Failover? (Score 1) 164

That was also my question when I RTFA. It says that the Intel drive entered some sort of "read-only" mode, and that at that point the drive was still OK. Then a new write cycle was forced (how?), and the drive committed seppuku and became unreadable.

Which is it? Can I be confident that my SSD will fail to a gracious read-only mode? All my ~ is in RAID1 and backed up so I'm not worried, but it'd be nice to be able to just copy the / from a read-only SSD to a new one when the time comes.

Comment Re:FIFA blew it (Score 1) 90

Would anyone think selecting any African nation as a site for the world cup is a good idea? Brazil was a bad idea for similar reasons. "Bad Neighborhood."

Did you notice where the previous World Cup was held? That's right, South Africa. Which arguably is even "worse" than Brazil. Yet the World Cup happened, few if any tourists were mugged, raped, quartered and shot. People visited the country without particular hassle.

While I agree that World Cup and Olympics have now transcended their function and are a cesspool of waste and corruption, denying them to poorer countries is not right. These are global events, and they deserve to be hosted globally. If then the local governments make fool of themselves, let them, and let that be a lesson for the future.

Comment Publishing in flashy journals is killing quality (Score 1) 106

In my field (electrochemistry) the last 5/10 years caused a great deal of researchers to move away from the "traditional" journals (Journal of the Electrochemical Society, Solid State Letters, Electrochimica Acta) to the flashier, more general publications (ACS and RSC publications, mostly). These journals are more widely read, so their impact factor is much higher. But most of their content is also mostly irrelevant, and since the public reading them is not a real expert in my field, what is important is to show pretty pictures, more than actually advancing the research.
I am lucky enough to do real research in industry, so that IF are not superimportant, but I feel that most journals have a very low signal/noise ratio and it's increasingly difficult finding relevant papers, after scratching a little under the surface of the claims made in the abstracts.

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