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Harvard Scientists Say It's Time To Start Thinking About Engineering the Climate

Beck_Neard Re:How about engineering the economy? (334 comments)

The free market has proven itself incapable of dealing with the climate change issue. The problem is that the costs of climate change are going to be incurred too far into the future, and so despite being huge, they have little effect on the free market right now. They _will_ have a huge effect later on, but by then things could be so bad that it would be too late to do anything.

2 days ago
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Harvard Scientists Say It's Time To Start Thinking About Engineering the Climate

Beck_Neard Re:We've been doing it for a long time (334 comments)

I think we can all agree that geoengineering is an extremely dangerous and terrible idea. That said, it may be our only choice. With CO2 at over 400 ppm, even if everyone went zero-emissions tomorrow, the planet would still continue to warm up for at least a century.

2 days ago
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Lessons Learned From Google's Green Energy Bust

Beck_Neard Re:What it means (219 comments)

Well, no. What really happened, which you'd know if you read the article, was that they investigated whether google's financial backing could help in speeding up the development of tech that could build renewable power plants for cheap. After a couple of years of building up hard evidence and looking at detailed engineering reports - something that armchair experts like you would never dirty their hands with - they realized the answer was no. This doesn't seem like being 'out of touch' to me. It seems like being quite in touch with reality, unlike a lot of politicians and 'decision-makers' who think that fracking is going to solve all of our problems indefinitely and that oil sands are a good idea.

What is confusing to me, though, is that they call for new breakthroughs in renewables, but seemingly don't want to consider nuclear power as a viable option. Maybe if google started backing new nuclear energy technologies instead of renewables, they could hit their goal of cheap carbon-free power. But we know that google won't do that because it would not be worth it to have nuclear associated with their name.

4 days ago
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US DOE Sets Sights On 300 Petaflop Supercomputer

Beck_Neard Re:Ehhh Meh (127 comments)

By 'nodes' I mean 'cores'. Typo.

about a week ago
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US DOE Sets Sights On 300 Petaflop Supercomputer

Beck_Neard Re:Nice and all, but where's the beef? (127 comments)

> Setting aside for a minute the minority of problems that are classified (e.g. nuclear stockpile stewardship, etc)

Nuclear simulations aren't a 'minority'. Both of the US' top supercomputers (Titan and Sequoia) are at DOE facilities (ORNL and LLNL). Most of the time on Sequoia is reserved for nuclear simulations. Titan does more varied stuff but nuclear still takes up a sizable share of its time.

about a week ago
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US DOE Sets Sights On 300 Petaflop Supercomputer

Beck_Neard Re:Ehhh Meh (127 comments)

Not sure what point you're trying to make here, but newer supercomputers are very different from those early supercomputers, in far more ways than one. The parallelism is much higher (supercomputers now have millions of nodes, with exascale computers expected to have tens of millions or more), for instance. It's extremely hard to program for them. Interconnects have not been improving very much and so data flow between cores has to be managed carefully.

about a week ago
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US DOE Sets Sights On 300 Petaflop Supercomputer

Beck_Neard Re:Nice and all, but where's the beef? (127 comments)

A large proportion of the science that has been done with supercomputers is about nuclear weapons and is thus classified. There's no real way for us to know if supercomputers have helped in that direction or not. Presumably they have, otherwise LLNL wouldn't be getting the latest shiniest toy every few years (they often get the very first make of a new supercomputer that is developed). Or they haven't and it's all a big waste of money.

about a week ago
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US DOE Sets Sights On 300 Petaflop Supercomputer

Beck_Neard Re:Ehhh Meh (127 comments)

As supercomputers grow larger, the pool of problems that benefit by using them gets smaller.

about a week ago
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Philae's Batteries Have Drained; Comet Lander Sleeps

Beck_Neard Re:Who cares about the lander? (337 comments)

I had to google "shirtstorm" to see what you're talking about... holy shit there is no hope left for society

about two weeks ago
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Mathematics Great Alexander Grothendieck Dies At 86

Beck_Neard Re:Genius /Insanity (49 comments)

It could have just been a case of extreme burnout. If you look at the stuff he did pre-withdrawal, it was phenomenal. He was doing the work of ten people. And he did a lot of important stuff. He's like the combined Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, and Eric Clapton of algebra.

It could have been some form of latent mental illness, but I think people are too quick to judge people smarter than them as being crazy, without solid evidence.

about two weeks ago
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HBO Developing Asimov's Foundation Series As TV Show

Beck_Neard Re:Yes! (242 comments)

It's not that they can't come up with any other formula. It's that there is a very specific structure that has been built up over the years to make money. And the formula *works*. People genuinely like it. People loved the Avengers and the Dark Knight, even though both were amazingly formulaic, far past the point of sanity (the plot of the Dark Knight made no sense whatsoever). It'd be fine if it were just the plot, but it's also the writing, the acting, the special effects, and the editing. The whole thing, really.

about two weeks ago
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Linux Foundation Comments On Microsoft's Increasing Love of Linux

Beck_Neard Re:Step one. (162 comments)

Well that's been pretty much the story of Microsoft and standards so far: good standards that it doesn't use and bad standards (heavily influenced by Microsoft) that it does. The only exception are really old standards, but they manage to fuck up even those.

about two weeks ago
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Linux Foundation Comments On Microsoft's Increasing Love of Linux

Beck_Neard Re:Step one. (162 comments)

Standard bodies live in reality. They have to. If a huge company like Microsoft says they won't adopt the standard if it doesn't do X, the standard body has no choice but to either comply or take its complaint to the court. Even if it goes with the latter option and 'wins', Microsoft still wins because it doesn't have to adopt the standard. They can just pull dirty tricks like renaming stuff to get past it.

about two weeks ago
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HBO Developing Asimov's Foundation Series As TV Show

Beck_Neard Re:Yes! (242 comments)

Let's not get too excited. The Foundation setting is a mash-up of ancient Rome anbd 50's sci-fi. The closest thing in contemporary movie culture that captures the same 'feel' would be the original Star Wars trilogy (Lucas cited Asimov and Flash Gordon as a few of his inspirations). I'm not sure it matches with the modern Hollywood sci-fi formula.

about two weeks ago
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The Strangeness of the Mars One Project

Beck_Neard Re:At the risk of sounding pretentious, (246 comments)

The Olympic Games are funded through public funds, not advertising. The London olympics barely pulled $1 billion on advertising and $4 billion on broadcast revenue.

about two weeks ago
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The Strangeness of the Mars One Project

Beck_Neard At the risk of sounding pretentious, (246 comments)

It really is an example of the effects of authority and herd behavior. They first approached a number of prominent science/tech figures and asked them to endorse it. Turns out, if you approach a large enough number of people with a crazy idea, a few will by chance support it, especially if you keep the details hidden. Then this was enough for the avalanche of followers and news reports to start.

Do we have the technology to get to Mars? Depends on who you ask. NASA already has the plans on the drawing board. They just don't have the money. And that's the sticking point. There is absolutely no way you are going to get the $100 billion required for a Mars mission by producing a freaking reality show.

about two weeks ago
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Buying Goods To Make Nuclear Weapons On eBay, Alibaba, and Other Platforms

Beck_Neard Re:If so damn many people are making nukes (260 comments)

Sigh. Not this argument again.

Non-proliferation agencies are important. No one's doubting that. But that's NOT the reason - at least not the main one - that people don't have nukes. The main reason is that you need to process shit-tons of uranium ore. You can't hide a uranium enrichment program. Nor can you hide a plutonium breeding program.

On the other hand, if you DO manage to get your hands on some sweet, sweet plutonium (of the weapons-grade type), perhaps by buying it off some rogue state, it's incredibly easy to hide bomb-building activities.

But this fear of 'terrorist nukes' is just something I don't understand. Nukes are hard to build, hard to conceal, and hard to deploy, at least when compared with other ways of killing a lot of people. I once read that nukes are a 'belt and suspenders weapon', and I think that describes them pretty nicely. They're useful for a large state that's looking to provide itself a deterrent against foreign attack. They're not useful for terrorists. You can make sarin gas for like $10, and produce far more mass hysteria and terror. Why go to all the trouble of building a nuke?

Personally, I'm far more worried that a terrorist group will purposefully release ebola into some major city. Not that it would actually kill a substantial amount of people, but it would create a lot of mass hysteria, and that's exactly what terrorists want.

about three weeks ago
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Space Tourism Isn't Worth Dying For

Beck_Neard Re:Let's put this into perspective (594 comments)

Exactly. These pilots know what they are getting themselves into. They're professionals. It took a lot of balls to do what they did.

about three weeks ago
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Space Tourism Isn't Worth Dying For

Beck_Neard Let's put this into perspective (594 comments)

It's true that space tourism is no expansion of frontiers, and that the pilot's death was a waste. It's also true that the corporate representatives who try to this spin as such are being incredibly dishonest and callous about human life. BUT let's not forget that the pilots took on this job at their own risk. Whether they were properly informed of the true risks remains a matter of debate, but still, any sane person should have known that this is highly experimental aircraft and there is a significant risk of failure. This does not absolve Virgin Galactic of responsibility, of course. But it's is spaceflight. Shit happens. If we want to make any progress at all, we have to put aside the attitude that no risks are acceptable. If I were a pilot and wanted to ride in an experimental aircraft, I wouldn't want someone telling me that I can't do that. People die doing far less important things. More people die playing football or skiing.

Look at it this way. The challenger crew died while attempting to heroically... deliver a communications satellite into orbit. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S... Was it really that important to get a data relay satellite into orbit? Of course it wasn't. Any criticism you level at Virgin Galactic must also be directed at NASA for the space shuttle. I think that's fair, but at least be consistent in your criticism.

about three weeks ago

Submissions

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U.S. Navy Deploys Its First Laser Weapon in the Persian Gulf

Beck_Neard Beck_Neard writes  |  about two weeks ago

Beck_Neard (3612467) writes "FTA: "The U.S. Navy has deployed on a command ship in the Persian Gulf its first laser weapon capable of destroying a target.

"The amphibious transport ship USS Ponce has been patrolling with a prototype 30-kilowatt-class Laser Weapon System since late August, according to officials. The laser is mounted facing the bow, and can be fired in several modes — from a dazzling warning flash to a destructive beam — and can set a drone or small boat on fire.""

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