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Comment Re:MOAR. SQAR. METRES! (Score 1) 126

I totally agree this advances knowledge and technology in a general sense, and that's a Good Thing. Just because this isn't feasible as-is, it might still become an important building block for something that is. I certainly still support continuing to spend money on this line of research! So despite the un-Slashdot-ish nature of saying this... point well made. On the point of the viability of one-offs, I'll point out there is one other very important aspect of plant life that we should be trying harder to harness / emulate: energy conservation.

Comment Re:MOAR. SQAR. METRES! (Score 1) 126

Conventional solar panels are averaging about 15% efficiency; 150 times more efficient than this new source. That's an awfully big gap to make up, and I don't believe the efficiency of conventional panels is going to stop so this other technique can catch up. With conventional solar panels, we'd need to cover nearly 5% of our landmass with them to completely replace all other sources of energy. With this new technique, 100%+. There's a difference in feasibility. I'm not totally knocking the idea; if you could get the grass clippings panels up to even 1.5% efficiency, and the cost down to 10% or less compared to conventional panels, and you've got the space to put it... why not? It will still do the job just fine. But I doubt this new technique can comonly meet all 3 of these criteria simultaneously. It will have very limited applications.

Comment MOAR. SQAR. METRES! (Score 3, Informative) 126

The continental US receives about 192,000 Exojoules of solar irradiance per year. We currently use about 91 Exojoules of energy from all sources. At .1% efficiency, and calculating extra for peak needs, intermittency, and transmission losses, we would have to cover nearly 100% of our continental land mass with this stuff to replace our current energy sources. Seems to me like smoking the other kind of grass really is a better deal.

Comment Orthopedics are pissed (Score 1) 478

No, iPads won't do a darned thing to help education unless someone really understands how to exploit the platform. For those in the education industry, this number is close to zero. But I'm all for them anyway, because they aren't shown to damage education much, either, and... if it can reduce the weight of a backpack otherwise full of dead tree books and reduce the orthopedic strain on small bodies, that's a good thing.

Comment Re: You're absolutely right (Score 1) 293

A lot of people are employed driving vehicles. They are very expensive per hour. Goodbye! The upside? Automation would reduce cargo speeds to optimum fuel efficiency because doing so wouldn't actually burn up anyone's expensive time. Computer controlled throttle on regular engines already beat the snot out of hybrids for fuel savings. I think there's a 25% energy savings in there, ripe for the taking. But yeah, it'll be a major social and economic game changer.

Comment A 25%+ reduction in fuel use (Score 1) 293

which would easily be attained by an automated transportation system, is nothing to sneeze at. Or 30,000 fewer US highway deaths per year. Or a reduction of 3-5 Million ER Trauma admittances per year (if you want to see medical costs go down). There's no technical reason we couldn't have a completely automated transportation system in the next 15 years, except for the fact that the US couldn't even switch to Metric. But yeah, because there would probably still be a few thousand (instead of 36,000) deaths per year, it simply wouldn't be good enough. Go figure.

Comment E-Magazine Reader (Score 1) 553

The iPad is an e-magazine reader. Same size as a physical glossy magazine, nice screen. They will get tossed on the coffee table just like magazines, too. That's really all it's designed to be, but leaving iPod functionality in there doesn't hurt anything. Magazine publishers could give these things away with a 2-year subscription, and probably come out nearly even compared to print production and distribution. I'm not saying the iPad will be a hit. I see shades of the Apple Cube here. But there is a business model behind it, and it's not the smartphone or the netbook business model.

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