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Comment Fad Ahead? (Score 5, Informative) 131

A lot of beekeepers have expressed their opinions about this, though some are more simple speculations than suitable arguments.

The patent for this device can be found here http://www.freepatentsonline.c...

The biggest issue I have is the issues for pest mitigation. Small Hive Beetles could conceivably thrive in this device with some of the crevices created. However, it may be possible to incorporate an oil trap or some other measure.
What people seem to identify as being the biggest issue is the marketing towards ease of honey retrieval, don't need to really deal with the bees at all. That's certainly the biggest misnomer when talking to people about starting a beehive: It's all about the honey! It certainly isn't, and takes a lot more effort than a newcomer might expect. As one person identified: I'll take a look at this when people start selling their used Flow hives 6 months from now (due to too much work, no quick turnaround of honey profit, etc.)

Comment Interesting process (Score 1) 172

At first I was thinking about the design, and while I'm no expert I was immediately concerned about the "bee space" along some of the angled portions inside the hive, though it being a top bar design I'm not certain that's so much an issue. I do wonder about the sensor apparatus, as a key issue would be the ability to monitor sections of the hive much like the work done by Meitalovs et. al ("Automatic microclimate controlled beehive observation system.") It's been a bugger for me just to put any kind of sensor in a hive without it being covered in propolis, so I'd be interested to see what they plan on doing with the Arduino-based Smart Citizen Kit. But it seems like good intentions on these guys' parts, so kudos to them!

Comment Near-future revolutions aside.. (Score 1) 162

I hope that the automation systems they'll also consider is waste management and disposal. Sure everything can go into an incinerator if you'd like, but disassembling old electronics en-masse would be more suitable than mechanical/chemical separations if we'll still need the eight 9's of purity we want in the next generation of electronics. The ethics of robots harvesting old robots may need to be considered though when robots' rights start coming into play....

Comment Re:wonder if this can be used for sorting recyclin (Score 2) 22

Zen Robotics is doing this now with C&D (Construction and Demolition) Debris. http://www.zenrobotics.com/ , http://singularityhub.com/2011/05/16/robots-take-over-recycling-video/

There is work being done by a bunch of people in the EU, mainly due to the great legislation regarding waste reduction. There's a great little book I picked up a bit ago outlining some of the processes in automated waste recovery (Comprehensive Information Chain for Automated Disassembly of Obsolete Technical Appliances ) . I had gone into grad school to work on this area, and it turns out it's been going on for the past 30 years or more.

The biggest issue is cost, where it's still cheaper for manual labor than to automate the system. If you're interested in some papers I have a whole boatload regarding automation in electronic waste.

Comment Re:Specializations (Score 3, Informative) 47

Not always the case. A study had shown that foragers can switch back to nurses due to switching gene sets (http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn22273-worker-bees-reboot-brain-genes-to-suit-the-task.html) . So while the nursing bees often keep the role for 2-3 weeks, there is a possibility of seeing older nursing bees due to this switch-back in roles.

Comment Hot oil won't last long (Score 2) 144

While the engine may ideally just vaporize the water with hot oil, the reactions involved would eventually degrade the oil. Additionally, the separations processes are often 50% of the whole system's energy requirements, I just wouldn't see the viability of such a system. Now a heat exchanger for hot oil/water vaporization would wake a lot more sense, but it seems they want to generate a funding buzz with an internal engine spin.

Comment Re:NBC / weather channel / comcast has deep pocket (Score 2) 193

As AC pointed out below, this cost likely includes the design, build, launch and maintenance for the satellite. Before Space-x The launch alone could have been a tenth or more of that total $13B, as most weather satellites are around 3000 kg (http://noaasis.noaa.gov/NOAASIS/ml/genlsatl.html), but with Space-X's projected costs per payload ($850/lb from Delta Heavy's $8600/lb) (http://www.nss.org/articles/falconheavy.html) this cost likely can now be in the single $M range.

While economies of scale would likely get those drones into the range of cost you suggested, it certainly wouldn't take into account the cost to maintain and monitor such a system. The congressional research service (CRS) (http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/homesec/RS21698.pdf) identified that for operation (facilities, maintenance) it can be at least 100% or more of the cost of the drone, So that would have to drop the number of drones available to 140,000. Secondly, all drones, by FAA mandate, are required to be a operated by a licensed pilot. I would imagine the training and licensing involved for this would not be cheap, as last estimated the number of pilots was ~598K in 2009, with only ~320K certified with instrument ratings http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pilot_certification_in_the_United_States), and It's likely commercial air pilots would have to have a pretty big incentive to go (http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Commercial_Pilot/Salary) but keeping it on the low scale, that would have to be $50K per pilot per drone, making even a yearly cost of operation at $7B (140,000 drones * $50K/pilot). That doesn't go into operation times either, as drones are listed to operate from 10-48 hrs (CRS reference). So turn-around times for getting those drones back up would end up having even less drones available at any time for weather surveillance.

However, looking at a combination of mini-satellites might be the best option, as redundancy and low cost could take this project down by a large amount (~300K per satellite) (http://www.hawaii.edu/offices/op/innovation/taylor.pdf) . While it might end up with similar issues as stated above, there would be significantly less satellites needed based on the larger surface area covered from their height (50 km for possible best drone (http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2012/02/24/high-altitude-surveillance-drones-coming-to-a-sky-near-you/)) and 870 km for satellite (http://noaasis.noaa.gov/NOAASIS/ml/genlsatl.html). But this might not be available just yet for our weather measurement needs.

In Summary, it may seem like a huge amount of money, but you need to consider all aspects of the project, not just the non-recurring costs.

Comment Would Lockheed's Orion be any use? (Score 1) 87

Does anyone know if Lockheed's Orion Multi Purpose Crew Vehicle will actually replace or be a backup for Soyuz? It's wikipedia page states

"Features the development of a new crew exploration vehicle (CEV), the completion of the International Space Station (ISS), and an early retirement of the shuttle orbiter. Orbiter retirement would be made as soon as the ISS U.S. Core is completed (perhaps only 6 or 7 flights) and the smallest number of additional flights necessary to satisfy our international partners’ ISS requirements. Money saved by early orbiter retirement would be used to accelerate the CEV development schedule to minimize or eliminate any hiatus in U.S. capability to reach and return from LEO."

Does anyone know if this "U.S. Core" is something different all-together?

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