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Comment Can't change physics (Score 1) 897

Honestly, there is no way from "here to there" when it comes to fuel efficiency from an ICE. We are hovering around ~30% efficiency for modern mid-sized automobiles. Some estimates put that at a lower figure. The maximum efficiency theoretically possible is limited by the Carnot cycle, and I think it's ~60% if IIRC. There are two other factors you can play with: weight and energy recovery. As far as weight goes, heavier cars are actually MORE efficient (weight to fuel wise). It's why buses are more efficient than cars. Believe it or not, a tractor trailer getting ~4-6mpg is way more efficient than a Honda Accord. It's carrying 80,000 lbs and the Honda is only moving about 3000 lbs. This argument doesn't hold much water though when you simply talking about people moving. The tendency in the US is for everyone to drive their own car. Therefore, the person-miles/gallon is fairly low but this is really about weight efficiency. If I move a 200 lbs object with a 3000 lbs one, my weight efficiency ratio is less than 1:10. Adding people just raises that ratio. The other option is to lower the weight of the transportation. This is tough to do, and keep cars safe. Most increases in automobile safety has come from: collapsible steering wheels, seat belts, and crumple zones. Don't expect that other "industrial" vehicles will go down in weight though. They may make the vehicle lighter, but the load will just go up. It will still be 80,000 lbs tractor trailers vs 3000 lbs vehicles. There is a point at which no amount of crumple zones will save you when these two things collide. A fix for this side effect might be self driving cars that nearly never crash. Though, in this scenario you make crashes less likely, but increase their rate of fatality. As for energy recovery it seems that the mechanical/electrical cycle provided by batteries is one of the best, but don't expect it to improve highway figures by much. Around town there still could be some improvement, as wind resistance is low as so is friction. The highway is a different matter, and that is evidenced by the current figures from existing hybrids. The only way to improve those numbers is to reduce friction and wind resistance. One is materials science (friction) and I'm sure it's possible but pricey. Options there must be carefully weighed to ensure that what ever new near friction-less material is sustainable and doesn't cause more CO2 just to make it compared to the fuel savings. A second option (wind resistance) is largely based on aesthetics. Will people buy cars that look funny? Hard to answer that one as tastes change.

Comment Re:Yeah but... NO DUH (Score 1) 324

Less efficient how? In general? When produced through a Carnot Cycle? When produced from coal? If the electricity were generated from a nuclear power station or solar, it is most certianly *very* efficeint. Yes it *can* cost more... but that's only if your house has some other cheaper form of heat. Mine doesn't, and to replace it with something that does, would take 15-20 years to recoup the savings, provided the maintenance and/or cost of fuel doesn't rise appreciably WRT to electricity prices. I agree it doesn't help in the summer, which is why I stated that in my original reply.

Comment Efficiency only matters some of the time... (Score 1) 324

I do think it's somewhat silly that these cable boxes need to use that much power and haven't incorporated modern energy saving techniques. However, much like incandescent bulbs this only matters when the heat isn't running in your house. During the Winter in the southern US and Fall/Winter/Spring in the northern US, wasteful electric appliances just help to heat your house and reduce whatever bill you have for other sources of heat. This is the reason I think living somewhere "slightly chilly" is a greener. We are going to have to use electricity anyway, and electric devices will never be 100% efficient, therefore, the waste heat produced can be used to help heat a space. In climates where A/C is required, not only are you wasting energy to cool your living space, you are also wasting 2x as much as is wasted by any electronic device in your home.

Comment Re:Sensational! (Score 1) 537

The thing is, the risk is appropriate when compared to other power sources. Accidents happen, and sure there are safer designs and if the economics are there to support it, then do it. However, I think the benefits that electricity (and therefore nuclear power generation) have provided save millions of lives every year and do it in a safer manner than coal.

Submission + - Encrypt Your Smartphone -- Or Else (

pin0chet writes: Modern smartphones contain ever-increasing volumes of our private personal data — from text messages to images to emails — yet many smartphone security features can easily be circumvented by thieves or police officers equipped with off-the-shelf forensics equipment. Worse, thanks to a recent California Supreme Court ruling, police officers may be able to search your smartphone for hours without a warrant if you're arrested for any reason. Ars Technica has an article exploring the legal issues surrounding cell phone searches and explaining how you can safeguard your smartphone from the prying eyes of law enforcement officers.

Submission + - Bill Gates is more admired than the Pope (

walterbyrd writes: Americans admire Bill Gates more than the Pope, the Dalai Lama and even Glenn Beck. The Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist was named the fifth most admired man of 2010, according to the latest USA Today/Gallup poll.

Feed Engadget: Microsoft and Adobe CEOs meet, purportely plan world domination ( 1

Like any two technology behemoths, Adobe and Microsoft have certainly had their ups and downs. But now that Google and Apple are looming over them in a number of ways, it seems as if the two may be courting one another in order to help re-level the playing field. According to a New York Times report -- which was crafted after collecting reports from "employees and consultants to the companies who were involved in the discussions that took place" -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen recently met at the latter's headquarters for a closed-door meeting. Purportedly, the meeting drug on for over an hour and covered a variety of topics, with one of 'em being Apple and its newfound dominance in the mobile market. Shockingly enough, a "possible acquisition of Adobe by Microsoft were among the options" of stopping the skyrocketing growth. The report accurately notes that such a deal makes entirely more sense now that Redmond isn't exactly the 800 pound gorilla that it was before Android and iOS hit the mainstream, though details beyond these assumptions were few and far betwixt. Whatever happens, no one can blame Steve Jobs for not giving Adobe every possible reason to hit Apple with everything it's got -- even if that involves buddying up with Ballmer and co.

Microsoft and Adobe CEOs meet, purportely plan world domination originally appeared on Engadget on Thu, 07 Oct 2010 16:31:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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I'd rather just believe that it's done by little elves running around.