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Comment OTEC is just a funding vessel for other technology (Score 4, Interesting) 112

OTEC isn't a serious contender for green energy. It sounds good because it seems to combine romantic elements of green energy: limitless sea water, temperature gradients with huge thermal sinking ability, minimal environmental impact, etc. The truth of the matter is that OTEC has serious fundamental limitations, the worst of which is the fact that economically viable energy output requires enormous amounts of water flow - beyond what is capable with modern technology. Pulling an ultra-high flow water column from deep enough in the ocean to create a good thermal differential from surface water requires enormous pipes, which current materials technology can't deliver - because the tensile strength of even the strongest materials would buckle under the weight of the pipes themselves. Heat exchanges have to be very efficient, and sea life/creatures easily clog up the internals of the heat exchangers, so conformal coatings have to be developed to allow good thermal transfer while preventing the accumulation of bio. Finally, it just can't compete with simple proven solutions like hydro-electric. Look at any company that bids on OTEC and you'll see that the real funding vessels are in conformal coatings, materials technology, and pump technology, among other things. I don't forsee anyone building a viable OTEC plant for the purpose of commercial energy production anytime soon.

Comment Dissent is healthy (Score 2) 1113

To understand his phrase about "straight from hell" one must understand his theological viewpoint.

Unless he was the sole member on the committee, I don't see any of what he said as problematic. Dissent is healthy. This is a democracy, and he as well as anyone else has the ability to speak their mind.

As a scientist myself, I don't take offense at his viewpoint, though his choice of phrasing is very politically incorrect.

Comment watch the movie. (Score 1) 376

The Pre-Crime system operated under a fundamental assertion that any crime predicted by the pre-cogs was 100% - without a doubt - going to happen.

The Pre-Crime system didn't use an inference engine with an incomplete dataset to determine if crime was going to happen. It used grown-up crack babies to actually predict the future - a priori.

Without that fundamental assertion, you can't have a Pre-Crime system. You might have a "Potential Crime" system, but try flying that one in the courts.

Comment what does a fusion program have to do with this? (Score 1) 307

The heavy press is essentially an enormous metalworking machine, the theoretical background of which is well understood. The basic machine is primitive. What makes it significant is that it provides unique utility simply because of its scale.

What would be comparable in modern terms are gigantic, high-speed rapid prototyping machines with work envelopes exceeding 50 x 50 x 50 feet. Preferably selective laser-sintering, with the ability to build the entire mechanical structure of a jet without a single weld or rivet.

Comment You are asking two totally different questions (Score 1) 332

First question: How do I work from home?
Answer: Easy. Ask your manager. You need a job first.

Second question: How do I get a tech job?
Answer: Difficult. Prove that you can do the work. Most people start with a traditional job search.

Lump the two questions together and you are asking for a long wait.

I've known competent tech guys who thought that they could levy their connections into early retirement and lucrative work-from-home contracts. Some of those guys keep jobs, but a lot of them end up losing them. Being a commercially employed person will sober you to the fact that contracts come and go rapidly (within years) and when a manager who can vouch for you goes away, and you're not around to defend yourself, you're typically the first on the chopping block.

The only people I've seen who succeeded in working from home for 10-20 years are wealthy people who made millions beforehand and have the financial temerity to take on potentially years of joblessness. Ironically, they all seem SO happy! But I guess having a few million dollars in the bank helps.

Comment Talk to your department head first. (Score 1) 870

I would place his whole discussion under the topic of Academic Dishonesty in general, regardless of the means by which this dishonesty occurs. I see very little difference between using notes written on the palm of your hand vice a wifi connection and some electronic device except by virtue of complication. The conclusion is that regardless of how elaborately one performs Academic Dishonesty, it doesn't lose its unacceptability - and consequently its prosecution under any accredited university's Academic Dishonesty policy. The fact that you have to ask this question means to me that your department either does not have, or has not communicated to you its Academic Dishonesty policy. For example, MIT's policy is fairly straightforward and designed to build relationships between the head of the department (i.e. your boss) and giving students the feeling that they are not being downtrodden (if they don't agree with you, they can talk to your boss.) Before you attempt to ask Slashdot, I would use this as an opportunity to have a meaningful discussion with your department head. One, to let him/her know that you exist and care about larger issues than simply "doing your job" and two, to make sure you don't end up with the short end of the stick when some student reads your school's Academic Dishonesty policy before you do, and you find out that a very wrong time that you and your department head do not agree on this subject.

Comment I call BS on this one. (Score 1) 560

The second photo of the screen was edited, but it appears it was modified only to reduce the brightness/contrast of the image on the screen, which exceeded the contrast ratio of the medium. Note how the hair on the individuals is darker than the rest of their bodies.

If the editing wasn't done, the screen would have been an unreadable white, which would have made for a really crappy photo.

The only "crime" here is the poor lassoing.

Comment Re:Go Costner! Boo on BP! (Score 5, Interesting) 289

The "real" problem with the centrifuges that Costner invested in is that they can't possibly flow enough water to put a dent in the Gulf Oil Spill. The IEEE article's calculation of the centrifuge's capacity assumes they're basically sticking a hose right on top of the oil spill, which is hardly realistic. Even assuming that the majority of the oil spilled is in the first 3 inches of water, a 1 mile by 1 mile area would need to have 50 million gallons filtered. 3 of the centrifuges could process 600,000 gallons per day, and so would take 83 days to complete a 1 mile x 1 mile x 3 inch deep volume of water. With an oil spill covering roughly 8,000 square miles, 700,000 days would be required. So under ideal conditions (all the oil was concentrated in one spot and easy to collect), it would take over 6000 centrifuges to process the "ideal spill" in one year. I think the centrifuges could be quite useful for filtering small, localized areas (protected wetlands, beaches, coves, etc), but the open ocean is just so massive that no device could effectively take care of it. In my opinion, a solution leveraging nature itself would be ideal.

Comment no cookie for you. (Score 1) 185

In actuality, the correct term is "exaflop." This is widely accepted vocabulary in academia - especially in Computer Science. I've never read a single paper with the kind of terminology you are ascribing to "haste". "Quintillion FLOPs" doesn't even make sense, as FLOPs are an abstract unit, not physical objects. The only flops that number in the Quintillions are those directed by Uwe Boll. Perhaps next you'd like to inform me that only the "really smart people" use the term Billihertz instead of Gigahertz? If that's the case, then us "dumb" people will let you continue on your genius-like way.

Comment And what is a lack of anonymity going to stop? (Score 1) 537

Let's think about this for a second. For the most part, it's trivial to find someone responsible for content on the internet - in any country.

The remailer was an early attempt at true email privacy, but even that experiment was terribly flawed because, among other things, it was beholden to the legal system of the Finnish government (and most famously attacked by the Church of Scientology. Weird, but true.) But why was required? It certainly wasn't because the internet was anonymous. In short - the very fact that anonymizers exist at all is basic - users are easy to identify on the internet without some fairly complex systems to allow anonymity.

Given that the internet isn't anonymous in the first place, it makes very little sense to force a lack of anonymity on the internet. It's inherently wasteful and doesn't solve any of the real problems (lack of internet access to the world's poor/rural people, running out of namespace, lack of bandwidth, last mile)

Here's an idea for you Kaspersky, go sell your worthless crap in China. They'd love it.

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