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Comment Re:Euro 6 (Score 3, Informative) 154

You remember dieselgate right, where VW cars were cheating the lab based regulatory tests, by going into a state where the NOx emission are within standards, but when driven on real roads the cars exceeded the standards by 20 fold and higher. The point of the article is because the car standards are lab based, they bear a very poor relationship to the actual NOx emissions in real world conditions. The real world testing of heavy vehicles has ensured that they are actually lower in output than many dies cars under similar conditions.

Comment inevitable (Score 2) 517

The science was always going to be the first one to be hit from brexit. Basically the system is based on funding collaborations across the EU, and rightly or wrongly, collaboration groups are dropping UK based research institutes as a high risk to the projects funding prospects. There has been no real impact yet as very few grants have been awarded since the vote, but as we see the next few rounds of various Horizon 2020 EU grant scheme go through we will see a drop in funding going to the UK.

Next that will be obvious is the decrease in funding for regional development, and that will be when it starts to impact the people that actually voted to leave. That is going to take a year or so to become obvious.

My frustration with the referendum is that the leave side of the vote wasn't actually had no specific actions assigned to it in the law that set it up, in the end it was a very expensive nation wide opinion poll on EU membership. In a way, people who voted leave didn't actually vote for anything concrete.

The vote should have had article 50 legislatively tied to the vote when the referendum was first setup, with an automatic and immediate invocation of it outside the control of the UK parliament and prime minister. It would have dramatically curtailed the leave campaigns ability to basically come up with contradictory and fanciful scenarios of what voting leave would mean, it would have been a much starker and obvious choice.

Comment Re:reduce revenue? are you kidding me?! (Score 1) 639

Yep, broad acre farming is capital intensive.
There is the land for a start. Then the required structures to run the farm.
Housing for management and workers, grain storage silos, workshop, machinery sheds, fertilizer storage sheds etc.
And then lots of capital equipment:
Main tractor, seeder and tillage equipment.
Sprayer and fertilizer spreader.
Then harvester, and chaser bins etc.
Then the ancillary equipment, pickups trucks, full sized trucks, workshop equipment, etc etc.
Then at that point you get the opportunity to invest in the seed grain, fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, and man power required to put in and grow a potentially good crop (no guarantees). Then wait a growing season to see if you made enough money to put in next seasons crops, cover interest and pay off a small sliver of the debt mountain you have. Rinse and repeat. Why anyone would want to be a farmer.

Comment Re:Nothing to see here (Score 2) 56

Or the result of photochemistry done with circularly polarized light... something stars emit a fair amount of. So no, not an exclusive signature of life.

That would be a cosmic process for enriching enantiomers. Which would have implications for the origin of life, as life has chosen specific enantiomers. Read my last sentence:)

In truth the CPL light theory for enantiomeric enrichment is far fetched. It is the effect of the opposite signed circular dichroism (differential absorbance of circular polarised light) of the 2 enantiomeric forms, and that is ~1x10^-5 for the vast majority of chiral molecules compared to the overall absorbance. All the material would be destroyed before any meaningful enrichment occurred.

I think the real answer is that life just started, and a choice had to be made. All biochemistry would work perfectly in the complete mirror image if the universe had chosen that way round, but to replicate and reach enough complexity one enantiomeric form for all the complex carbon molecules had to be chosen.

Comment Nothing to see here (Score 3, Insightful) 56

They've found that one of the simplest pair of chiral molecules can be created in space. Not surprising, and both the left and right enantiomers (the left and right handed molecules) are almost certainly present in a 50/50 ratio, so not enantiomerically pure. They have not shown anything at all interesting here.

One of the defining things about chiral chemistry is that to have a pure enantiomeric compound you either have to start with an enantiomerically pure compound as a starting materials (biologically derived materials are the only known natural source) or have it interact with another enantiomericially pure catalyst (biological enzymes being the only known natural source of these) or purification medium. It is pretty much a signature of biology.

  What would be interesting is if there was found a chiral molecule in space that was significantly biased to one enantiomer. Depending on the context of what was found this would be proof of either extraterrestrial life, or a cosmic enantiomeric enrichment process that would have huge implications for understanding the origin of life.

Comment Re:Ahhhh.. fucking synergy again (Score 1) 208

Synergy used to have a specific meaning in business; it pertained to mergers and acquisitions. The point of a merger was to achieve 'synergy' because the two companies owned or produced something that would improve the overall product in some way.

Now, of course, it means fuck all.

In mergers and acquisitions synergy actually means "the 2 companies have replicated staff roles that become redundant when we merge and we can fire half of them but maintain the combined marketshare.". To be fair, it's often actually true.

Comment Re:What the hell are you mouthing off about? (Score 1) 178

"Then why don't the people living in these neighborhoods open competing shops, and drive the bad retailers out of business while making a nice profit?"

That is the point of cooperatives, though for some reasons they are not popular in the US for setting up retail and grocery stores as elsewhere in the world. I grew up in a small remote town with one town cooperative grocery store. This was to ensure there was an accessible grocery store that did not price gouge.

One of the dynamics that allow price gouging in poor neighbourhoods is lack of transport options. If you don't have a car or can't afford to run it and have to take public transport then your options are limited. It's what you can walk to, what you can easily get to on the bus, or what gets delivered to your door. It's not like the middle-class suburban lifestyle of being able to easily drive to a number of difference retail and grocery options without thinking about it.

Comment Well of course fords going to care about the X (Score 4, Insightful) 185

There are a number of reasons why ford would be very interested in the model X.

The model X is Tesla's 3rd time around in developing a pure EV car platform. There will be a lot of lessons learnt the hard way embedded in the design of the model X.

The model X is a SUV, playing right in Fords bread and butter market. The previous models where in the small sports car and then the luxury saloon car market. First one is almost absent from the ford lineup, and the second a fairly small part of what they do. The model X is a benchmark for any EV SUV's fords have in development. Ride quality, handling, real range, real performance etc. are all important things to compare against and difficult to get purely from specs. Also simply understanding how it compares to fords conventional and hybrid offerings is important to drive marketing and sales information in the short term.

So they buy 1 or 2 of these. Look at all aspects of it, and use this to drive marketing in the short term and product development long term.

Comment Europe had a launcher (Score 3, Informative) 27

"ESRO enjoyed its first big success in 1968 with the launch of ESRO 2B, an astronomy survey orbiter that was delivered to orbit utilizing a Scout rocket from the Western Test Range in California. But the establishment of a European launch vehicle, which was eventually named Europa, didn't progress as hoped. Several nations collaborated on the vehicle, with the United Kingdom developing the first stage (based on the “Blue Streak” ballistic missile), France the second stage, and Germany the third. Europa experienced many growing pains, cost overruns, and a lack of focus. Successive rocket stage failures eventually doomed the program."

What isn't mentioned is that there were 2 countries that had developed space programs with a launch capability by 1971 in the same time period as they were trying to develop Europa. The French had the Diamant launch system, and in the same period the UK developed the same Blue Streak missile technology, used on the Europa first stage, into the Black Arrow rocket. Both countries had successfully launched satellites by 1971. The Europa launch system was your obvious european politically driven mixture of technology from UK, France and West Germany with the divisions causing confusion and poor communication between the engineering teams. Result was it failed, got scrapped and the Ariane launch system was developed and put together by the French, which makes sense as they had the most experience and success with their own launch vehicle. The UK dropped their space launch capability and decided to focus on what would become ESA, making them the only country to have developed a national satellite launch capability and then to have dropped it.

Comment Re:Great Moments in Private Enterprise Space Histo (Score 2) 108

The song... Hmm... I forget all the lyrics (or most of them) but rain on your wedding day is not ironic. However, if she had had some history of weddings and they all went off without a hitch and then said that this next one wouldn't be canceled because... Wait, what? I'm wasting too much time here. ;-)

Ahh, yes the Alanis Morrisette ironic paradox. If the song is supposed to be about ironic things and actually called "ironic", yet none of the examples given in the song are actually ironic, that is ironic itself. The paradox is that if the whole title and song is ironic, then the title of the song is appropriate again and the song is not ironic anymore, and then you start back at the beginning :D

Comment PMT (Score 3, Informative) 109

The other place vacuum tube technology in a big way still exists is Photomultiplier tubes. Photodiode technology has come on significantly, but for very low light level applications PMTs win. They lose out in quantum efficiency to silicon and ingaas photodiodes at almost all wavelengths of light PMT are actually useful at. But the internal amplification of the tubes means dark noise is very low at low light levels. To the point that PMTs can detect single photon events (photon counting) with a collection area of an inch or larger. Avalanche photodiodes (photodiodes with internal amplification) can do photon counting but only on devices less than a mm, which limits their applications.

Of course PMTs have their weirdnesses. The gain you apply is not able to be known accurately. The devices have weird non-linearities at low gain. They have a polarisation bias. And many more.

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