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Comment Defamation law still applies (Score 4, Informative) 154

Reading between the lines, defamation law still applies. It is only extra clauses in the sales contract banning/punishing bad reviews which are now not allowed.

If I write that I bought a new Rolls Royce, but when it arrived it was made of cardboard, and when I sat in it it collapsed and then caught fire, I can still be sued for libel, and if RR can show I was lying, I'll lose. Conversely if RR habitually sues people who post honest opinions which criticize them, then they're open to a SLAPP countersuit. This looks like a good balance to me.

Note, I am not a lawyer, and have no information beyond reading TFA. Corrections and elaborations from actual lawyers are welcome.

Comment Re:Can't wait to get one in my watch. (Score 1) 154

Almost certainly not.

Glow-in-the-dark watch dials are almost always phosphorescent paint, not radioluminescent paint. If after a long time in darkness your watch dial no longer glows, but it glows brightly after exposure to light, it is phosphorescent. If it glows with the same brightness regardless of light exposure history, it is radioluminescent. Personally I have never to my knowledge been in the presence of a radioluminescent anything.

Even if it is radioluminescent, if made in the last 50 years it probably isn't radium, but rather promethium-147 or tritium.

Comment Re:Second to announce being first. (Score 1) 248

It could be that the headline is correct, but the first sentence of the summary is wrong. Finland might pass a law forbidding coal power while Canada simply stops using it.

I expect there are island nations which have never used coal power stations - they aren't a good size fit for an atoll. New Zealand might well be coal-electricity free by 2022, judging by the plans for its only significant coal powered plant. (I'm not sure if insignificant power plants exist.) There are probably more examples I am unaware of.

Comment Business plan? (Score 4, Interesting) 25

I've just read the Wikipedia page on Faraday Future. I can't make sense of this from a business point of view. It is a Californian company funded by Chinese capital.

From Wikipedia:
"In July 2015, Motor Trend ran an article that provided a few specifications for Faraday Future’s proposed electric vehicle: it will have 15 percent higher specific energy than a Tesla Model S, it utilizes a multi cell solution where both individual cells and groups of cells can be replaced, and it will have a modular design for improved mass-production methods."

OK, this is good - they have a point of difference, some things they think they can do better than Tesla or Nissan. But successfully starting a new car company requires either a niche you can exploit and then expand from, or huge amounts of money. Tesla used the niche method, but I can't see that this will work again, at least in markets where Tesla, Nissan etc have a presence. Both this story and other evidence (Wikipedia article) suggest they are short of capital, so the other method doesn't work either.

In any case, whatever their business plan, why would they think the USA is the place to do it? They have better connections, cheaper labour, a bigger and probably less competitive market in China. A thought that occurred to me is that this is a feint, they're really just getting a bunch of American engineers to do some designing, then they'll fold up and take the designs back to China. However, this also doesn't really hold up - I don't see that Chinese engineers wouldn't be up to the task, and even if they weren't, it would be much cheaper to offer $500,000 salaries to American engineers.

Can anyone make sense of this?

Comment Re:What Hollande says (Score 1) 328

We know how to design and operate nuclear power plants safely, the problem is that we won't. ... They needed only to build the walls higher.

Build walls higher, put generators above flood level, and make allowance for safely venting hydrogen, so that things don't progress from bad to total disaster.

According to one source I read, the USA realized the risk of hydrogen explosion and retrofitted all their stations to allow for safe venting. The Japanese chose not to retrofit. (Warning - the source was a USA nuclear engineer, but I read it years ago, and my memory is fallible.)

Comment Re:Preferential voting (Score 1) 1081

This is slight progress. In strongly Democrat districts, Republicans can still exert influence to try to elect the less objectionable of two Democrats. (Although less common, I'd also expect some districts to give a choice of two Republicans.)

Its not just the first past the post system which is holding back third parties in America

Perhaps not - but dismantling the legal/procedural barriers is a vital first step.

Comment Does the college favour one party? (Score 1) 1081

If one party believes that the electoral college works in their favour, it will be much harder to abolish it.

Of the two recent elections where the electoral college and the popular vote did not agree, a Democrat won the popular vote and lost the college. However, if I toss a coin twice and both times it comes up heads, this isn't strong evidence that my coin is biased.

Is the electoral college system biased? If it is, is it a bias that is likely to persist in the long term?

Comment Preferential voting (Score 1) 1081

They should eradicate the electoral college, but there is another fix I'd sooner see.

Plurality voting (whichever candidate gets the most votes wins) gives a very strong push towards two party elections. In any contest, if your favourite candidate is not one of the top two, you're better off voting for whichever of the top two is best (or least evil), because a vote for your favourite will be wasted. Even if a candidate is the favourite of 60% of the electorate, if they are perceived by the electorate as not being one of the top two, they'll receive few votes.

With preferential voting, you rank the candidates. You can rank your favourite first, and if it still comes down to the two major party candidates, your ranking between those two will carry just as much weight as party faithful who put one of the major candidates at #1.

This allows compromise/centrist candidates to win, and allows for new coalitions of interests. For example, in the USA currently the evangelical Christians and those favouring small government have found a home in the Republican party, but these two interests have no essential alignment. (That many believe both or oppose both is partly an artefact of the current two party system - if you turn up to Republican rallies because you're evangelical, you'll get bombarded with small government arguments, and you'll want to feel part of the group.) Currently an evangelical who wants to increase social services spending has no chance of election (neither major party will take them as a candidate), but with preferential voting they do.

The partisan divide in the USA has become toxic. Preferential voting can erode that divide.

For electing a single candidate, I suggest using a Condorcet method. For multi member constituencies, the single transferable vote works well. In either case, it may be useful to have a prior round of primary voting to keep the number of candidates in the preferential voting round manageable.

Major parties could chose to put up multiple candidates. Imagine a Trump/Cruz/Rubio/Clinton/Sanders election. I believe such an election would have had a different outcome, and that the electorate would be happier with the outcome.

Comment Re:How else instead? (Score 1) 190

So yes, fueling the rocket with people aboard is dangerous but boarding an already fueled rocket would be even more dangerous.

The people who are actually rocket engineers, quoted in TFA, say you are wrong. Boarding an already fuelled rocket is how (nearly?) every manned flight up until now has been done.

Comment Re:Fueling is risky? (Score 1) 190

Alternatively for manned launches you don't use the supercooled fuel, and accept somewhat lower delta-v or payload. We know the rockets are capable of operating on non-supercooled fuel because SpaceX only started using supercooled fuel about a year ago. This seems a reasonable trade-off in a safety critical application.

I'm not a rocket engineer, so I can't judge these trade-offs for myself, but we have quite a few real rocket engineers advocating this strategy.

Comment First sentence of summary is very wrong (Score 3, Informative) 380

"... the global epidemic of HIV and AIDS started in New York around 1970"
This sentence is copied from the article, but on further reading you see that it is the USA epidemic, not the global epidemic, which is being talked about.

Compare the opening sentence of this article, "Scientists have managed to reconstruct the route by which HIV/Aids arrived in the US – exonerating once and for all the man long blamed for the ensuing pandemic in the west."

Comment Economics? (Score 4, Informative) 344

$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.

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