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Comment Let me correct that headline (Score 4, Insightful) 117

No They Didn't, You Bloody Idiots

Reporters at the BBC discovered today that reporting on scientific experiments without basic background knowledge can result in wildly inaccurate headlines. The reporters' usual technique of absentmindedly skimming someone else's account of an event, copying a few juicy-sounding words, and filling in the rest with fluff turned out to completely misrepresent the actual science.

When asked for comment, a BBC spokesman said, "Piss off, egghead. You clicked on it, didn't you? Mission fucking accomplished on our end."

Comment Re:And now for some math (duh!) (Score 2) 277

Yeeeaaahh, you don't have optimal conditions 24/7/365. Solar panels produce, on average, something like 20% of their rated capacity. So turn that 17 years into 85 years, and that's before you account for the fact that the supplier's wholesale price for electricity is less than half of the $0.12/kWh that the end customer pays.

Comment How's the software support? (Score 1) 55

Back when Edison hit the market, I got seriously excited and started developing things that weren't possible without the CPU muscle and low power consumption that it offers. Then I ran into the sucking quagmire that is Intel's software support.

Broken drivers. Broken build environments. Undocumented pin muxing. Undocumented power management. Undocumented everything. Proprietary, unavailable tools needed to reconfigure things. They took a half-finished, 30% functional board support package, excreted it upon the world, and hoped that Open Source Magic meant that everyone else would fix their shit. Nearly three years later, almost nothing has been fixed and the product (whose hardware is still unmatched for power efficiency among hacker SBCs) is effectively dead.

I won't put any confidence at all in Joule until I see the kind of hardware documentation and software support that an embedded system needs to actually be, y'know, embedded into things.

Comment Re:Actually, the question **I** would like to know (Score 1) 80

A -453F reading, unless you went to great cryogenic pains, means your temperature gauge is either broken or being used under conditions where it doesn't work. The atmosphere never gets below about -130F, and by the time it gets that cold, it's so thin that it has very little impact on the temperature of big solid objects. At that point, objects interact thermally with the outside world entirely by radiation, which is a very slow way to reach low temperatures. Not to mention the flight was in sunlight and had a warm Earth occupying almost a hemisphere of the view, which would keep things nice and warm.

Comment Re:How much computation you ask? (Score 4, Interesting) 43

So what are the implications for reactor design, physicists?

Probably not much. There's so much empirical data about the behavior of fission in reactor-like conditions that, even without a deep understanding of why things happen that way, we pretty much know what happens. That's almost certainly why they simulated the reaction they did -- we have tons of data about it already, so you can tell if the model's good.

Some slight refinements might show up eventually, but the impact of a model like this on reactors will be small.

Most nuclear physicists aren't researching fission reactors, though. The ones pushing the boundaries of the field, coaxing colliders into producing heavier nuclei, investigating weird excited states, and such, are the ones who will really notice this.

Comment Re:"Industrial design student" (Score 1) 167

Option 1 would be consistent with much of my previous experience, if you change out "morons who also don't know" for "enthusiastically naive people who don't pause to consider." "Design" projects emphasize concepts and pretty pictures over execution, cost effectiveness, and practicality, and many of the most severely hyped ideas from that community run the gamut of unworkability from "merely completely impractical" to "would need to reverse basic physics."

Comment "Industrial design student" (Score 5, Informative) 167

Apparently the industrial design curriculum doesn't cover thermodynamics. Condensing water at room temperature requires shedding about 680 watt-hours of energy per liter, and thermoelectric coolers tend to burn off more than twice the energy they pump (depends on a few variables, but practical devices in practical situations usually fall in that ballpark). You'd need somewhere near a constant half-kilowatt to provide for one person's normal water consumption. Much more if they're exercising or in a hot environment.

Comment A thousand dollars? What the hell. (Score 1) 48

If you blow a grand on flying just a camera and tracker, you're doing something amazingly wrong. I worked on a university project that didn't cost that much, and we flew two expensive radios, a SPOT tracker, APRS tracker, Arduino Due flight computer, HD video camera, two GPS receivers, an active thermal control system, and a Kerbal, and we went into it not really knowing what the hell we were doing.

With one flight's worth of experience under my belt, I could put together a decent tracked payload with sensors and a camera for under $200, using off-the-shelf components. Less if I want to spend time making a circuit board. I'm not sure what helium costs these days, but that and a small envelope sure as hell aren't going to add $800 to the bill.

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