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Comment Re:Censorship. (Score 1, Interesting) 405

In a similar vein, the science journalist Peter Hadfield (aka Potholer54) has a hilarious quote about this: "I know a lot of editors at the Mail, and the nugget of science they understand is so small it could be drowned in their lunchtime gins & tonics."

The quote is from Hadfield's excellent video debunking myths about climate change. (This video is just one of a series on the subject, which is very much worth the time.)

Comment Re:Our coal is pathetic. Everybody laughs at it. (Score 1) 364

Not to mention that coal contains trace amounts of Thorium and Uranium, which escape to the atmosphere in the exhaust. Ironically, a coal-fired power plant would not pass inspection as a nuclear plant because it emits far more radioactive pollution than would ever be allowed from a nuke plant. (But the way US law is written, coal plants don't have to be tested for radiation.)

Comment Re:And when people start hacking these devices? (Score 1) 59

I'm in the process of building my own tDCS device right now. I bought the components last Saturday and built the circuit on Sunday; on Monday I built the electrodes and on Tuesday I started using it (still on the breadboard). The circuit is pretty simple, just a voltage regulator and a few pots and resistors (there are many ways to do it, this approach just happens to use a voltage regulator). There is no way a 9V battery running through this circuit could generate the hundreds of milliamperes necessary to kill, or the dozens necessary to cause harm. When resistors fail, they tend to result in an open circuit -- zero current.

My circuit currently uses two potentiometers to ramp up the current to the desired level. Even with both of them wide open, the current is only 2.4mA, which is well within the safe range. (The recommended standard is to operate between 0.5mA and 2.0mA, but an order of magnitude above that is when you start to approach hazardous levels.) And of course, I run the it through a multimeter, so I always know the output of the circuit -- before, during, and after I put on the electrodes.

I first heard about tDCS in an episode of RadioLab last summer, which gives a pretty good intro to the topic. I finally got around to actually doing it last weekend.

Thus far, my experience has been entirely positive. The only glitch was yesterday when an "intermittency" developed in my electrode cable, which resulted in some phosphene flashes (due to an alligator clip + stranded wire). So I skipped my tDCS session today, and instead used the time to build the "finished" electrode cable, with soldered joints. That problem will not recur.

On the positive side, it seems to be having the desired effect. I became interested in tDCS because I have a "condition" which results in a lot of "unwanted thoughts" -- and I have noticed a remarkable decline in the frequency of these episodes.

You can naysay all you want from your armchair, but I'm actually doing this, and it works.

For more info on safety issues check out the /r/tDCS sub-reddit's FAQ.

Comment Re:Only half true article (Score 1) 278

Hm... my impression was that the Japanese had only invested a couple-hundred million in this area, primarily in IThEMS. AFAIK no entity on earth has ever put "tens of billions" on this. If you have info indicating otherwise, please cite.

As for the Chinese, it appears I got a few details wrong. They have spent $300M thus far, with plans to maintain this level of funding for the next few decades. You'll find a decent description of their program here. (But one thing I do know, which is not mentioned in the article: the project is led by a guy named Jiang Mianheng, who happens to be the son of Jiang Zemin, the former president. So I would guess their funding is pretty secure.)

Anyway, thanks for prompting me to look into it and get my facts straight.

Comment Re:What is... (Score 1) 117

Presumably they're talking about something like this: Using renewable energy to synthesize liquid fuels for storage and transport. They can either work in conjunction with carbon capture or simply harvest CO2 from the air. I've heard of several ways to do it, but thus far it's mostly still in the lab. I haven't seen any "grid-scale" deployment. Apparently the Chinese intend to be first.

Comment Re:And I was modded down... (Score 2) 182

I'd bet that from now on SpaceX will have a Hi-Def camera mounted on every lightning tower, recording 24/7, whenever there is a rocket on the pad. Also, if possible, they might add a few more sensors to the upper stage if they can spare enough telemetry channels for the data.

I suspect they'll also voluntarily eat the cost of running the static-fire tests before integrating the payload for the next year or so, just to avoid higher insurance fees for their customers. (How long before they start offering vertical integration as a 'menu option' service?)

Comment Re:Too much ambition, too fast? (Score 1) 289

(I of course am a lot more interested in hearing the results of their AMOS-6 investigation right now than about their ITS plans... as are I think most people)

I for one am more interested in hearing about the Mars architecture. AMOS-6 is just another anomaly that will eventually get resolved. Yes, of course I'm interested in finding out what happened, but the Falcon platform has already proven to be pretty reliable, especially considering it's undergone several major revisions in less than 30 flights. But the Mars architecture is going to be inspiring in a way that recalls the glory days of Apollo.

Comment Re:Sabotage? (Score 1) 64

It's certainly possible, but... cui bono? Blue Origin? Boeing?

I don't think 2.5km is far enough to get past the exclusion zone, but a good sniper could probably sneak within range. Of course, you'd need an incendiary round to be sure of a kill shot, but I would think a bullet would leave some sort of tell-tale signature in the wreckage that would survive the explosion. (OTOH, if you could find a way to do the job without leaving such a signature, that could really mind-fuck SpaceX engineers for years to come.)

Submission + - SpaceX needs to find a 'plateau' soon, or risk losing customers

taiwanjohn writes: For /.ers who are sick and tired of Elon Musk stories, the last couple of weeks have been a mixed blessing... too many Musk stories in the feed, but OTOH a lot of them have been bad news for Elon and his fanbois. This Op-Ed in ParabolicArc falls into that latter category. The author, borrowing from George Leonard's book Mastery, compares Musk's drive to accelerate development to a martial artist trying too hard to advance, and getting injured in the process. Though I count myself among the fanbois, I must admit this is a thoughtful and well argued point.

Comment Re:Elon Musk (Score 5, Insightful) 79

Let the games begin! I for one welcome a worthy competitor to Musk. The more billionaires we have focusing their attention and resources on real-world problems (rather than squeezing a few more basis points out of their high-frequency trading algorithms) the better off we'll all be. Even Bill Gates -- however buggy his software and however ill-gotten his gains -- appears to be using his economic power for "good" these days.

Meanwhile, what has Jamie Dimon done for you lately? (cough!)2008

Comment Re:Attica! Attica! (Score 1) 367

Constitutionality? ... Ok, let's assume we can do all this in the "cutting" room... bring in our "desirable" traits while also rendering the offspring infertile. We're not talking about a lab mouse here, it's a sentient human being...

Yes, there are circumstances wherein a fetus may be viable but not fertile, but to do this deliberately? That strikes me as unnecessarily cruel.

I don't deny that it may happen someday, but I would be comfortable with keeping this beyond the "prohibition" line, and thus relegate it to the black market. But now we're back to square one again. How do you simultaneously prevent the deliberate creation of circus freaks while also allowing reasonable prophylactic measures and enhancements for people who just want a healthy child?

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