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Comment Re:What about at night? (Score 2) 504

No one is suggesting that we run superconducting lines everywhere. They work best in specific types of locations where the total amount of electric power going through a very tiny area is very small; that's why they choose to use superconducting lines for Tres Amigas. Holbrook itself was more experimental but it works fine. Note also that the refrigeration equipment actually scales pretty well, so the amount of helium you need scales at a much less than linear rate, so even if one did want to make continent wide superconducting lines (which we're not suggesting anyone should plan on doing with the current technology) it would be substantially easier than your numbers suggest.

Comment Re:What about at night? (Score 1, Informative) 504

In general, we use much less power during night-time., but some solar systems (in particular, solar-thermal systems) provide power a few hours into the night. We're also getting better with storage and transmission also which helps, because one can then not only store solar power for use when the sun is not out, but also move power from areas where it is still out to where it is. High-voltage DC is really great for this, and we're also starting to have superconducting transmission lines like the Holbrook line https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holbrook_Superconductor_Project and the planned Tres Amigas Superstation which will link the three major US grids (East, West and Texas) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tres_Amigas_SuperStation. Honestly, the fact that we have superconducting power lines falls into the how-is-this-not-a-bigger-deal-we-live-in-the-freaking-future. Any long-term energy plan will of course not use just solar, but likely solar, with some storage and some amount of wind, nuclear, geothermal, hydroelectric, with possibly some natural gas for quick spin-up during high load periods or when there's an unexpected drop-off in the power level. But it does look plausible at this point that a grid where the largest power source is solar is doable and may happen for primarily direct economic reasons even without the environmental considerations.

Comment Re:1 laptop, not connected to the grid (Score 1) 574

On the contrary, this is exactly why I trust serious journalistic sources like the Washington Post. They sometimes get things wrong, but when they do get it seriously wrong, they own up to it. This is what makes so-called mainstream media so great: they aren't perfect but they own up to their mistakes.

Comment Re:Please, disappoint me (Score 1) 42

How do you intend to use this to fight cancer? Yes, you might be able to use it as a delivery mechanism, but there's no easy way to differentiate cancer cells from regular cells. Nothing here jumps out as doing something different that's relevant. Most things we use on cancer (radiation, and chemo) work by differentiating between regular cells and cancer cells, generally using the fact that cancer cells are always reproducing. No aspect of this process has anything to do with cell reproduction. This isn't even in the petri dish category https://xkcd.com/1217/.

Comment Re:Survey brought to you by (Score 3, Interesting) 119

Even space travel they have focused on trying to do it cleanly. A big part of why their next generation of engines, the Raptor, uses methane as a fuel is that in the long-run one can synthesize methane directly and a straightforward way https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabatier_reaction. This has both an advantage in terms of Mars (can make more fuel on Mars) and also in terms of eventually making clean fuel on Earth.

Comment Re:Yes, but it doesn't matter (Score 2) 1430

This isn't really how the history went The Democratic-Republican party wasn't really connected to the Republican party at all. The Constitution was written before any political parties existed at all, and they didn't originally intend for their to be political parties. And in the pre Civil-War era, the Republicans were primarily in the North, which was the area which had less proportional strength from the electoral college.

Comment Re:Electoral college does reflect the popular vote (Score 5, Insightful) 1430

There are two historical elements for why the electoral college was invented. One, discussed by Hamilton in Federalist 68 was to provide a final stopgap against demagogues like Trump http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/fed68.asp. The second was to give the slave states more power http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2016/11/12/13598316/donald-trump-electoral-college-slavery-akhil-reed-amar and it should be clear why that shouldn't be ok. As for the argument involving counties: that's just silly. There's no reason that amount of total area won should mean anything at all. Moreover, there's no reason you can reasonably object to cities dominating simply because they happen to be dense areas. Disagreeing with a group doesn't mean you get to use essentially arbitrary criteria to decide you'd like to ignore their wishes.

There are good arguments against having the electoral college change in this case (especially given that we don't know if Hillary would have won the popular vote if both her campaign and Trump campaign had optimized voter turnout rather than focused on swing states) but trying to make an argument that relies on county number is just awful.

Comment Yes, but it doesn't matter (Score 4, Insightful) 1430

There are a lot of good arguments for the electoral college voting for Hillary. Lessig lays most of them out. There are also good arguments against (among other issues we don't know if Hillary would have won the popular vote if both she and Trump had been competing to optimize turnout). It is also utterly irrelevant: the electoral college members are primarily bog-standard Republicans, and we've seen in the last few months that most establishment Republicans hate Hillary more than they love their basic ideology and beliefs (whatever Trump stands for, it damn well isn't conservativism by any standard definition of the term). So pushing for this at this juncture is a waste of resources.

Comment Re:Two possible motivations (Score 5, Interesting) 736

Actually, having thought about this slightly more, another possible motivation occurred to me: there is a fair bit of evidence of Russian meddling in this election and that some of the anti-Hillary propaganda came from Russian sources to try to push the election to the candidate they favored. By the same token, Musk is potentially a real danger to Russian interests, since Russia is heavily oil dependent and also has an advantage when the US is dependent on Russia for manned space launches. If they have the now existing resources and hooks into the US public, then using it to harm Musk is a natural thing.

Comment Two possible motivations (Score 5, Insightful) 736

I'm not sure what the motivation is for these attacks. Musk hasn't been particularly political and mainly stayed out of this election. As far as I can tell, the primary motivations are one of two things. Either one, the people behind this are simply hateful and without a major target like Hillary must choose another, or two, they hate Musk because much of his work (electric cars, solar cells, even wanting to use methane for rockets because methane is a potentially renewable resource) has been to deal with issues related to global warming. If the second is the motivator, then it says something really fascinating: that there are elements of the right which not only are convinced that global warming is some sort of evil hoax, but that they actively hate people who disagree with them and are trying to take steps to destroy someone who is trying to help. If that's the case, it is truly a frightening example of the depth that people can sink to, and the levels they'll go to not just ignore facts they don't like but to actively try to harm people who try to deal with those factual issues.

Comment Re:fascinatingly crafted reply... (Score 1) 302

85% is still not at all a low chance. I agree that there were media sources which assigned him a low probability in general, but that's a distinct claim than anything about the polling numbers or the claim that the "who had Hillary winning by a land-slide up until the day of the election" since the NYT model predicted a 4-5% popular win for Hillary which is not generally considered at all a land-slide by most notions of the term.

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