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Comment I hope they succeed (Score 3, Insightful) 137

This is a great idea, and illustrates the benefits of science to help improve the world. Ecosystems around human habitations aren't natural to start with, and we have every right to mess them up for our benefit.

Also from the article:

For his part, Moscamed’s Aldo Malavasi gets impatient with critics from rich countries.

“Dengue is a problem in poor countries, in Latin America, Africa and Asia,” Malavasi says. “I don’t care about Europeans. I don’t care about you gringos. I care to help the people in Africa, Latin America and Asia.”

That is the sort of practical attitude we need to solve the problems of poor countries. Less hand wringing, more action, with adaptive management of any issues that arise.

For what it's worth, I have a bachelor's degree in science with a double major in ecology, and a bachelor's degree in civil engineering. I work as a civil engineer providing water supplies rather than as an ecologist because there's no/hardly any money in science, so I might have a different point of view than more pure scientists. As far as I'm concerned, the reason to care about the environment is because we live in it. We should protect or change the environment as we see fit to benefit the most number of people. That's why we dam rivers, clear land, make farms, build cities, and protect endangered animals; it's all to improve quality of life for humans. Until mosquitoes become endangered, we should kill as many as we can.

Comment Re:Unplug (Score 1) 327

I tested my HTC phone chargers. When plugged in but not charging a phone, they drew less than the minimum 0.1 W that the test apparatus could record.

I also tested my plasma TV. 3 W when not being used.

My router, 12 W.

I use about 7 kW.hrs/day, mostly gaming laptops and TV at night. That router is 0.3 kW.hrs of that, 4% of my overall usage, costing me 8.6 c/day.

If you are happy to leave your router/modem turned on, then power draw from idle chargers fades into insignificance.

Comment Re:Nearest neighbour (Score 1) 213

Christmas Island is 1600 km from the Australian mainland, and 351 km from Indonesia (Java).

It is because of its proximity to Indonesia that people smugglers take their boats there, plus Jakarta is on Java so there are a lot of people there.

Papua New Guinea: 170 km
Tasmania: 220 km
Indonesia (Java to Christmas Island): 351 km
Indonesia (Timor to mainland Australia): 440 km
East Timor: 513 km

Comment Re:Nearest neighbour (Score 1) 213

Yes, it is worth remembering East Timor, they get forgotten fairly often, like Papua New Guinea.

But they are a bit further away. From closest point on mainland Australia to nearest point of other places, distances are:

Papua New Guinea: 170 km
Tasmania: 220 km
Indonesia (Timor): 440 km
East Timor: 513 km

Comment Re:What? (Score 1) 259

"Whatever is happening is probably a relatively common, though difficult to detect, phenomenon. Extrapolating from the research, astronomers estimate there are as many as about 10,000 similar high-energy millisecond radio bursts happening across the sky every day."

Seems like a lot.

Comment Re:How about sea floor mining also (Score 1) 99

No, that plant was proven to be very reliable. It survived a severe earthquake and began automatically shutting down before the tsunami hit.

It was designed to withstand tsunamis, just not one as big as actually occurred. When hit by the over design limit tsunami, it suffered damage but did not fail dangerously. No one was killed, and radiation tests show that the only people to be exposed to significant radiation levels were site workers, none of which received a fatal dose.

So, if a nuclear power plant can safely shut down after such natural disasters, it shows that nuclear power is very safe. The engineers who designed that plant should be commended.

Wikipedia (

Preliminary dose-estimation reports by the World Health Organization and United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation indicate that 167 plant workers received radiation doses that slightly elevate their risk of developing cancer, but that it may not be statistically detectable. Estimated effective doses from the accident outside of Japan are considered to be below (or far below) the dose levels regarded as very small by the international radiological protection community.

World Nuclear News (

The most extensive international report to date has concluded that the only observable health effects from the Fukushima accident stem from the stresses of evacuation and unwarranted fear of radiation.

Comment Re:Does MHz matter anymore? (Score 1) 339

Agreed. I run groundwater simulation models that take 48 hours to complete. My Xeon CPU is the bottleneck.

At my charge out rate of $200/hour, a modest increase in CPU speed could lead to saving over $1000 per model run.

But Xeons aren't overclockable, and our IT department wouldn't allow them to be overclocked even if they could be.

So, yes MHz/GHz still matters. But, no I'm not too fussed about the overclocking issue in the article.

Comment mother of all languages (Score 4, Interesting) 323

From the article, if you can't be bothered clicking the link:

The words not, that, we, who, and give are cognates in five language families, and nouns and verbs including mother, hand, fire, ashes, worm, hear, and pull are shared by four. Going by the rate of change of these cognates, the model suggests that these words have remained in a similar form since about 14,500 years ago, thus supporting the existence of an ancient Eurasiatic language and its now far-flung descendants.

From Google:
Mother in England
Matr in Russia
Motina in Lithuanian
Mater in Latin
Manman in Haitian Creole
Ma in Chinese
Mwtr in Yiddish
Mteay in Khmer

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