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Comment Tracking is better (Score 1) 410

It looks like he set the flat array at an angle of 45 degrees and that it was never moved. Every major solar farm uses active tracking of the sun to point each solar panel directly at the sun in a way that maximizes surface area. I'm pretty sure every collection technique that doesn't involve the electricity generating medium has already been thought and is either being used or has been ruled out.

One major problem I see with this design is that is very susceptible to wind damage. This is one of the biggest problems in sunny, dry areas. The wind picks up sand and dirt and eats away at the solar panels. Big flat panels tend to deflect the wind to a large degree. A tree-like design would have wind blow right through it and get chewed up quick fast. Cleaning the panels would also be a very hard and probably manual job. Large solar farms has this process fully automated.

Comment A new respect for players (Score 4, Interesting) 142

I recently wrote an application to find the best location to play a word for scrabble thinking it would be an easy task, boy was I wrong. Sure, finding the highest scoring word for the letters on your rack was straightforward, tricky, but straightforward (the key is to think of the board and your letters as an organization of tiles rather than words). But then I wanted it to compete with an existing application like Quackle and I started to realize how difficult it would be.

Pro's are constantly analyzing the board and thinking about their opponent's next turn as well as their own next turn. On every possible turn they think about stuff like not leaving words that can be hooked with an 's', not leaving a rack with duplicate letters or a rack with too many vowels or consonants, not leaving words open to be played next to premium locations, when to play or keep Q's and blanks, how to be the first one out, and a bunch of even more complicated stuff. Oh, and don't forget that they still have to find all the words that can be made from their letters and the open locations on the board. Memorizing the better part of 180,000 words seems like the easy part.

The fact that pro's can do all of that in their head is pretty amazing. I have no problem saying that the top scrabble players are equal in their ability to chess grandmasters.

Comment Solar to Hydrocarbons (Score 2) 410

For a long time I thought a balanced approach to renewable energy was the best strategy but I've recently changed my opinion to favoring solar heavily. Specifically, solar to various hydrocarbons. Even though it's not as efficient as other solar storage techniques, such as pumping water uphill, it directly generates a portable, energy dense medium. The lecture that really changed my mind came from Cal Tech professor Dr. Nathan Lewis. He talked about limits of every energy source and broke down the numbers in terms of potential energy from each. Nothing even came close to solar. And even though solar to hydrogen is cleaner, realistically, solar to hydrocarbons are much easier to use in our current economy.

Comment Shouldn't be too hard (Score 1) 932

I don’t see why everyone thinks this would be so hard to implement. Instead of monitoring cars remotely or tracking them from road sensors, just develop a distance sensitive material that degrades at a somewhat linear rate to the efficiency of your car. The driver would be required to buy this object in order to use the car and the object should have a lifespan of less than 500 miles. The added benefit of this system is that you can then enforce all kinds of environmental rules. If you drive a ‘gas guzzler’, you’d be required to buy the version that degrades more quickly. If you drive a turbo-diesel or small hybrid, you could buy the version that degrades at a slower rate.

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