mspohr writes: A few years ago, a Kickstarter (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/yuansong84/ifind-the-worlds-first-battery-free-item-locating/description) was set up to develop a locator tag powered by free RF energy harvested from the environment. This was called a scam here on Slashdot (https://mobile.slashdot.org/story/14/06/23/2357200/500k-energy-harvesting-kickstarter-scam-unfolding-right-now) and was shut down before it was funded on Kickstarter. However, it now appears that the concept is not as far-fetched as some predicted. A UK company CleanSpace (https://store.clean.space/) has developed a CO sensor which is powered by free RF. Here's a review (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4C1zjblLIyI). It uses Freevolt (http://www.getfreevolt.com/) technology to keep a battery charged and the CO sensor running. Since they have several thousand of these devices collecting data (https://our.clean.space/maplondon/), they do appear to work and it seems to be in the "not a scam" department.
mspohr writes: A new study published in the Journal Nature Climate Change (Nature Climate Change, Nature Climate Change, DOI: 10.1038/nclimate3036) (and reported in phys.org) shows our precarious climate condition: "Using up all known fossil fuel reserves would render Earth even more unliveable than scientists had previously projected, researchers said on Monday. Average temperatures would climb by up to 9.5 degrees Celsius (17 degrees Fahrenheit)—five times the cap on global warming set at climate talks in Paris in December, they reported. In the Arctic region—already heating at more than double the global average—the thermometer would rise an unimaginable 15 C to 20 C."
This would make most of Earth uninhabitable to humans (although the dinosaurs seemed to do fine with it 65 million years ago).
mspohr writes: The Guardian has an interesting article about a trial in Minnesota where the coal industry trotted out its best shot at climate denial and was defeated. The article includes some interesting graphics on climate change denial (5 characteristics of climate change denial http://www.theguardian.com/env...) -Fake experts, for example inviting William Happer, who has never published a peer-reviewed climate study, to testify that carbon pollution is lovely; -Logical fallacies, for example claiming that past natural climate changes imply that the current change is natural; -Impossible expectations, requiring that climate models must be perfect; -Cherry picking, ignoring the vast body of data and research contradicting their every argument; and -Conspiracy theories, suggesting that scientists are fudging the contradictory data. In the end, the judge was unimpressed. Also, in related news, World's carbon dioxide concentration teetering on the point of no return Future in which global concentration of CO2 is permanently above 400 parts per million looms http://www.theguardian.com/env...
mspohr writes: Interesting article in ThinkProgress about reuse of EV batteries. They point out that EV batteries removed from service have up to 80% of their capacity and that these have many years of life left for stationary storage. They say that LG Chem is selling batteries for the Volt and Bolt for $145/kwh. Companies are buying used batteries for $100/kwh. BMW and GM have pilot projects for used batteries combined with solar and wind and also used in cooperation with electric utilities for demand smoothing. "Ultimately Tesla and GM and the other major EV companies are going to sell hundreds of thousands of vehicles over the next few years with battery packs that cost as little as $145/kWh. That means a staggering amount of low-cost used batteries will be available by the middle of the next decade. When the trickle of second-life batteries turns into a flood, the business of electricity storage and demand response — both of which enable far deeper penetration of renewable power — will never be the same."
mspohr writes: ... At the most recent Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate. His logic is indisputable: "This is the crux of Tyson’s point: if we take it as read that it is, in principle, possible to simulate a universe in some way, at some point in the future, then we have to assume that on an infinite timeline some species, somewhere, will simulate the universe. And if the universe will be perfectly, or near-perfectly, simulated at some point, then we have to examine the possibility that we live inside such a universe. And, on a truly infinite timeline, we might expect an almost infinite number of simulations to arise from an almost infinite number or civilizations — and indeed, a sophisticated-enough simulation might be able to let its simulated denizens themselves run universal simulations, and at that point all bets are officially off."
mspohr writes: There is an overwhelming expert scientific consensus on human-caused global warming.
Authors of seven previous climate consensus studies — including Naomi Oreskes, Peter Doran, William Anderegg, Bart Verheggen, Ed Maibach, J. Stuart Carlton, John Cook, myself, and six of our colleagues — have co-authored a new paper that should settle this question once and for all. The two key conclusions from the paper are:
1) Depending on exactly how you measure the expert consensus, it’s somewhere between 90% and 100% that agree humans are responsible for climate change, with most of our studies finding 97% consensus among publishing climate scientists.
2) The greater the climate expertise among those surveyed, the higher the consensus on human-caused global warming.
http://iopscience.iop.org/arti... Consensus on consensus: a synthesis of consensus estimates on human-caused global warming The consensus that humans are causing recent global warming is shared by 90%-100% of publishing climate scientists according to six independent studies by co-authors of this paper. Those results are consistent with the 97% consensus reported by Cook et al (Environ. Res. Lett. 8 024024) based on 11 944 abstracts of research papers, of which 4014 took a position on the cause of recent global warming. A survey of authors of those papers (N?=?2412 papers) also supported a 97% consensus. Tol (2016 Environ. Res. Lett. 11 048001) comes to a different conclusion using results from surveys of non-experts such as economic geologists and a self-selected group of those who reject the consensus. We demonstrate that this outcome is not unexpected because the level of consensus correlates with expertise in climate science. At one point, Tol also reduces the apparent consensus by assuming that abstracts that do not explicitly state the cause of global warming ('no position') represent non-endorsement, an approach that if applied elsewhere would reject consensus on well-established theories such as plate tectonics. We examine the available studies and conclude that the finding of 97% consensus in published climate research is robust and consistent with other surveys of climate scientists and peer-reviewed studies.
mspohr writes: An interesting insight into the financial cost of climate change was published in the journal Nature (http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nclimate2972.html) "Climate change could cut the value of the world’s financial assets by $2.5 trillion, according to the first estimate from economic modeling. In the worst case scenarios, often used by regulators to check the financial health of companies and economies, the losses could soar to $24 trillion, or 17 percent of the world’s assets, and wreck the global economy. The research also showed the financial sense in taking action to keep climate change under the 2C (3.6F) danger limit agreed by the world’s nations. In this scenario, the value of financial assets would fall by $315 billion less, even when the costs of cutting emissions are included." “There is no scenario in which the risk to financial assets are unaffected by climate change. That is just a fiction,” said Dietz. “There will be winners and losers.” Major investors such as Norway’s sovereign wealth fund — the world’s biggest — have already begun selling off high-carbon stocks such as coal companies. "Scientists have shown that most of the coal, oil, and gas reserves will have to stay in the ground if the global rise in temperature is to be kept under 2C (3.6F). The total stock market capitalization of fossil fuel companies today is about $5 trillion."
mspohr writes: A new study just published in Nature (http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v531/n7596/full/nature17145.html) and reported in the Washington Post states: "Sea levels could rise nearly twice as much as previously predicted by the end of this century if carbon dioxide emissions continue unabated, an outcome that could devastate coastal communities around the globe, according to new research published Wednesday. " "If high levels of greenhouse gas emissions continue, they concluded, oceans could rise by close to two meters in total (more than six feet) by the end of the century. The melting of ice on Antarctica alone could cause seas to rise more than 13 meters (42 feet) by 2500." From Nature: "Polar temperatures over the last several million years have, at times, been slightly warmer than today, yet global mean sea level has been 6–9metres higher as recently as the Last Interglacial (130,000 to 115,000 years ago) and possibly higher during the Pliocene epoch (about three million years ago). In both cases the Antarctic ice sheet has been implicated as the primary contributor, hinting at its future vulnerability. "
mspohr writes: We haven't seen this much CO2 added to the atmosphere in 66 million years: “If you look over the entire Cenozoic, the last 66 million years, the only event that we know of at the moment, that has a massive carbon release, and happens over a relatively short period of time, is the PETM,” says Zeebe. “We actually have to go back to relatively old periods, because in the more recent past, we don’t see anything comparable to what humans are currently doing.”
“The anthropogenic release outpaces carbon release during the most extreme global warming event of the past 66 million years, by at least an order of magnitude,” writes Peter Stassen, an Earth and environmental scientist at KU Leuven, in Belgium, in an accompanying commentary on the new study.
“Given that the current rate of carbon release is unprecedented throughout the Cenozoic, we have effectively entered an era of a no-analogue state, which represents a fundamental challenge to constraining future climate projections,” the study concludes.
mspohr writes: There is an ongoing debate about attributing any given weather event to climate change. Some people say you cannot attribute any specific weather to climate change; others say that climate affects all weather. This thorny subject has been taken up by no less that the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine. They have issued a report: "Attribution of Extreme Weather Events in the Context of Climate Change (2016)" It turns out that you can attribute some weather directly to climate change! From the report: "A report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine concludes it is now possible to estimate the influence of climate change on some types of extreme events. The science of extreme event attribution has advanced rapidly in recent years, giving new insight to the ways that human-caused climate change can influence the magnitude or frequency of some extreme weather events. This report examines the current state of science of extreme weather attribution, and identifies ways to move the science forward to improve attribution capabilities." Different types of weather events have different probabilities of attribution: "Confidence is strongest in attributing types of extreme events that are influenced by climate change through a well-understood physical mechanism, such as, the more frequent heat waves that are closely connected to human-caused global temperature increases, the report finds. Confidence is lower for other types of events, such as hurricanes, whose relationship to climate change is more complex and less understood at present." You can read the entire report online at the linked site.
mspohr writes: The Guardian has an interesting analysis of Apple today. It states: "Despite its huge value, Silicon Valley developers are turned off by ‘secretive, controlling’ culture and its engineering is no longer seen as cutting edge" Developers and programmers are turned off by the controlling culture, it seems and want to work elsewhere. "Tellingly, Apple is no longer seen as the best place for engineers to work, according to several Silicon Valley talent recruiters. It’s a trend that has been happening slowly for years – and now, in this latest tech boom, has become more acute." "Or as Elon Musk recently put the hiring situation a little more harshly: Apple is the “Tesla graveyard”. “If you don’t make it at Tesla, you go work at Apple,” Musk recently told a German newspaper." "The biggest issue for programmers seems to be a high-stress culture and cult of secrecy, which contrasts sharply with office trends toward gentler management and more playful workdays" “Apple’s not an engineering culture,” “Tim Cook’s done an amazing job running the company, but [Steve Jobs] was the guy everyone wanted to follow into battle.” Apples P/E is only 10... is it in decline?
mspohr writes: The article makes a fairly persuasive argument for the utility of the blockchain. It discusses a wide variety of companies and government exploring blockchain to maintain secure records which cannot be altered. One interesting application is to use blockchain to maintain property records in many countries where these records are often incomplete and are easily corrupted (intentionally or unintentionally). A linked article in The Economist expands the thought and discusses changes to the blockchain to improve performance, reduce overhead and accommodate different uses. http://www.economist.com/news/...
mspohr writes: The Guardian asks the question: "Mozilla has killed off its Firefox OS, leaving the mobile OS market dominated by Android, iOS and Windows Phone. Will technology always follow the same pattern?" There are now three main platforms – Google’s Android, Apple’s iOS and Microsoft’s Windows Phone – for which worldwide shipments are currently running in a ratio of about 85:14:1 respectively." In the OS sphere: "Now look at desktop OS sales: the ratio stands in the most recent quarter at about 91:8:1 between Microsoft’s Windows, Apple’s Mac OSX, and “self-build” machines which probably get Linux." Similar numbers for browsers and search engines... but not game consoles which don't seem to follow the rule. "There is one notable technology hardware space where 90:9:1 clearly doesn’t apply: games consoles. In the previous generation of consoles (Nintendo Wii v PlayStation 3 v Xbox 360) total sales were 101.2m to 85.9m to 84.9m – nearly an equal split. The current generation continues to deviate from the rule."
mspohr writes: "The Kremlin was willing to pay 3.9 million rubles ($59,000) to anyone able to crack Tor, a popular tool for communicating anonymously over the Internet. Now the company that won the government contract expects to spend more than twice that amount to abandon the project." Looks like this effort to crack TOR was harder than they anticipated. The company that "won" the contract is now trying to get out of it. They probably figured out that it would be harder than they anticipated. (BTW, $59,000 to crack TOR?... cheapskates)
mspohr writes: Amazon Launchpad is featuring a new Bitcoin appliance built on top of a Raspberry Pi. It appears to have an ASIC daughterboard to do the Bitcoin math and uses the Pi for control. Of course it can mine Bitcoins but if that is the only thing of interest, there are probably better solutions. It is designed to be an appliance which you can connect to your website to buy and sell using Bitcoin. It allows you to: Buy digital goods with the constant stream of bitcoin mined by a 21 Bitcoin Chip; Sell anything to anyone for bitcoin with the built-in 21 Micropayments Server; Easily build Bitcoin-payable apps, services, and devices; Operate it as a standalone computer, or connect it to any Mac, Windows, or Linux machine It includes: A powerful command line interface; A 128 GB SD card loaded with a full copy of the Blockchain; A suite of pre-configured Bitcoin-dependent software; All the items you need to get started — including a WiFi adapter, laptop-to-device cable, Raspberry Pi 2, and power supply.
The 21 Bitcoin Computer was produced with funding from Qualcomm, Cisco, and Andreessen Horowitz.