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UEA Research Shows Oceans Vital For Possibility of Alien Life

Immerman Re:Correction (90 comments)

I'll admit I was assuming colonizing the whole galaxy wasn't a specific goal but just a side effect of us doing what we've always done. In which case it might take many thousands of years for a small colony of misfits who've integrated generations of interstellar near-zero population growth into their culture to grow to fill a star system to the point that their own misfits start to feel the need to spend generations in interstellar space to get away. After all without FTL there's not many other reasons to cross the gulf between stars.

Of course, I suppose after generations on a world-ship it's quite possible that not everyone would want to settle down, so it could well be a matter of offloading the colonists and hanging around just long enough to get them well established and resupply the world-ship before setting out for the next interesting star. But that scenario doesn't benefit from an exponential growth curve, and we've got hundreds of billions of stars to fill . Still, I suppose a group of those could well establish seed colonies sparsely scattered throughout the galaxy in only a few hundred million years, each of which could then become the hub of a new exponentially growing sphere of colonies.

So then we run into Fermi's paradox - can we really be the first species to arise in this galaxy that has such inclinations?

8 hours ago
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MIT' Combines Carbon Foam and Graphite Flakes For Efficient Solar Steam Generati

Immerman Re:costly concentration (105 comments)

I had more in mind a simple solar-trough design -admittedly less efficient than a tracking mechanism per unit area, but much less to go wrong. And if you have people go out a few times a year to adjust the orientation for seasonal variances you can still capture much of the energy you would from a tracking system. For desert situations where the environment is harsh and the land is essentially useless for anything else it can make a lot of sense.

yesterday
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Experiment Shows People Exposed To East German Socialism Cheat More

Immerman Re:let me correct that for you. (560 comments)

Umm, since when do you imagine we began large scale elemental transmutation? Our molybdenum and cadmium production comes from ore, just like all our other mineral resources - refining it is energy intensive, but nothing remotely like the energy requirements for transmutation, even if we had the technology to do such a thing efficiently.

And why would we want to create gold? It's a largely useless material - rare, but so worthless that most of it is used for jewelery and similar silliness. Produce it in quantity and you'd have a wonderful anti-corrosion plating for sewer pipes, but not much else.

Certainly we could find a use for any amount of energy we had available, the question is if we finally have more than enough to create a paradise for everyone on Earth, why should we instead squander it pursuing egocentric goals shaped by a few millenia off scarcity-shaped culture?

yesterday
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MIT' Combines Carbon Foam and Graphite Flakes For Efficient Solar Steam Generati

Immerman Re:costly concentration (105 comments)

And what makes you think it would be any more water-efficient to wash the glass/plastic covering an equal area of foam-solar reactors?

yesterday
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Experiment Shows People Exposed To East German Socialism Cheat More

Immerman Re:let me correct that for you. (560 comments)

Indeed. Yet I strongly suspect that more than 1% of the population can acquire the requisite skills for robot maintenance. So instead of one person working 40 hours a week, 10 people work 5 hours (to compensate for efficiency losses) and 90 are free to become artists, scientists, philosophers, or, admittedly, couch potatoes.And as robots become more sophisticated they'll be able to take over much of the maintenance themselves (why have a human tech repair a malfunctioning module-X when an robot tech can replace it for a fraction of the human labor?)

yesterday
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Experiment Shows People Exposed To East German Socialism Cheat More

Immerman Re:let me correct that for you. (560 comments)

Not hardly - amortized personal grid-backed solar already comes out to about half the price of buying your electricity from the grid in many locales. Granted the grid has a lot of extra overhead, but that's a hell of a start, and the technology is getting better and cheaper at an astounding pace.

Of course it still has trouble competing against established infrastructure where the sunk costs have been paid off, and cutting carbon emissions is an extremely urgent problem, so at the very least we should be removing the various subsidies funneled into the fossil fuel industry. For starters how about we remove the near-total immunity to liability of coal plants, frackers, oil poumpers, etc for environmental catastrophes they cause? And stop sending our servicemen to die overseas to protect their profits. Just making the fossil fuel industry foot those bills itself would likely triple or more the cost of such energy.

yesterday
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MIT' Combines Carbon Foam and Graphite Flakes For Efficient Solar Steam Generati

Immerman Re:De-salination? (105 comments)

Brilliant.

Of course then you're no longer using the foam for desalination, as I interpreted the question, but only indirectly as a replacement for some other heat source. If this foam (plus the sealed, transparent, insulated tanks containing it and the water) can truly be produced more cheaply than an energy-equivalent solar concentrator then that could indeed be a viable option. It seems like it would be a *lot* less fault tolerant than a sheet of polished metal bent into a parabolic trough on a stationary mount though. Maybe it's not quite as efficient, but I would want to see the 40-year amortized cost comparison before I believed that this foam technique is substantially cheaper.

yesterday
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MIT' Combines Carbon Foam and Graphite Flakes For Efficient Solar Steam Generati

Immerman Re:costly concentration (105 comments)

Umm, I don't think Luddite is the term you're looking for. Maybe it has an antonym that would be more fitting?

yesterday
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Experiment Shows People Exposed To East German Socialism Cheat More

Immerman Re:Communism and Scotsmen (560 comments)

It may not count as a formal logical fallacy, I wouldn't care to argue that point, but while modifying the definitions of things after the fact (a Scotsman is someone from Scotland who *also* doesn't do X, Y or Z) may not create a logically flawed argument, but it moves it into the realm of logically true zero-information statements such as "if red is blue then elephants are unicorns". (I forget the technical term)

yesterday
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MIT' Combines Carbon Foam and Graphite Flakes For Efficient Solar Steam Generati

Immerman Re:costly concentration (105 comments)

It would have to be a sealed system, obviously - steam doesn't do you much good unless it's under pressure (though I suppose you could use it as a heat source for an external combustion engine). And for decent efficiency you'd need either insanely well-insulated steam pipes, and/or to have the turbines quite near the generation. Considering how simple/cheap a steam turbine can be I wouldn't be all that surprised if every "covered swimming pool" had it's own turbine on one side

I suspect combining it with serious solar concentration would be a problem though - graphite flakes are basically powdered coal after all, get it hot enough and "fwoosh".

yesterday
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Experiment Shows People Exposed To East German Socialism Cheat More

Immerman Re:let me correct that for you. (560 comments)

What scarcity? Energy is dirt cheap, and getting cheaper as advances in renewables drive the cost down to the point where it's becoming competitive with coal. To say nothing of the several promising fusion technologies currently being developed (and who knows, maybe something will come of ITER as well)

yesterday
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UEA Research Shows Oceans Vital For Possibility of Alien Life

Immerman Re:Correction (90 comments)

Well, at least you didn't say as an uploaded mind, so it will still be at least partially you (how much of "you" is a product of biofeedback, hormonal, the extended brain (aka spinal cord), and secondary brain in your intestines? Kinda hard to tell until somebody makes the leap)

Achieving even single-organ immortality will still be a challenge though - are you sure you wouldn't rather survive as a liver in a jar? At least then you'd have impressive natural regeneration abilities to work with...

yesterday
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MIT' Combines Carbon Foam and Graphite Flakes For Efficient Solar Steam Generati

Immerman Re:De-salination? (105 comments)

Oh, now *there's* an idea. I suspect you'd have issues using saltwater though - when the water is boiled the salt would be left behind within the foam. In a closed-loop system that might not be an issue as the distilled water would be reintroduced to the reservoir preventing excessive concentration of salts, but otherwise you'd almost certainly end up with salt crystals completely coating the foam, Which would either render it immediately ineffective or eventually build up to such a level that it dies as a solid block of salt with an embedded carbon lattice.

Of course desalination isn't cheap, so it might be cost-effective to replace the foam regularly. You might even be able to rinse the crystals away with filtered seawater in order to reuse the foam.

yesterday
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MIT' Combines Carbon Foam and Graphite Flakes For Efficient Solar Steam Generati

Immerman Re:Algae (105 comments)

Also - bleach. Doesn't take much to render water unfit for life, and if you're capturing the steam (presumably under pressure) then you're likely dealing with a closed-loop system, with the carbon absorbing virtually all of the sunlight vital to algae growth.

yesterday
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MIT' Combines Carbon Foam and Graphite Flakes For Efficient Solar Steam Generati

Immerman costly concentration (105 comments)

> if scaled up, this setup will not require complex, costly systems to highly concentrate sunlight.

So, mirrors are costly now - does that imply that this carbon foam stuff is cheaper to produce than a sheet of polished stainless steel? If so that *is* promising.

yesterday
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MIT' Combines Carbon Foam and Graphite Flakes For Efficient Solar Steam Generati

Immerman Re:Algae (105 comments)

If its boiling water I suspect it won't get too gunked up, except possibly for the bottom-most layers I suppose.

yesterday
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Experiment Shows People Exposed To East German Socialism Cheat More

Immerman Communism and Scotsmen (560 comments)

No true Scotsman is most definitely a fallacy, it's a matter of moving the goalposts: the classic example being A:"No Scotsman would do such a thing" B:"But this man is a Scotsman, and has clearly just done so!" A:"No *true* Scotsman would do such a thing", a post-hoc revision of the definition to exclude the counter-examples.

Of course that has nothing to do with the current conversation: Communism has, since it's inception, had a solid definition: the ownership by the workers of the means of production. On a large scale that's typically implemented as government ownership (fascism), but for that to remain communism the workers must own the government. If that is not the case (and has it *ever* been so, anywhere in the world?) then what you're dealing with doesn't meet the basic requirement for being communist in the first place.

It may be that large-scale communism is a fool's dream, or it may be that our social technologies are simply not yet up to the task of implementing it in a stable fashion, but to claim that the results to date represent communism is sort of an inverse-Scotsman fallacy - a post-hoc revision of the definition to include examples to which it clearly does not apply. At best they represent failed attempts to create such an economy.

yesterday
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Experiment Shows People Exposed To East German Socialism Cheat More

Immerman Re:let me correct that for you. (560 comments)

Not at all - most family groups operate on at least moderately communist principles. As do many volunteer- and faith-based organizations. It works wonderfully so long as there is a measure of altruism among all the key participants - it's just that large-scale attempts break down badly in the face of the sort of people who would strive to be business tycoons in a capitalist society. Then again the details of large scale attempts have generally been formulated by exactly such "aspirational" individuals, so it' should come as no surprise that the resulting society is easily exploited by them.

yesterday
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Experiment Shows People Exposed To East German Socialism Cheat More

Immerman Re:let me correct that for you. (560 comments)

How about automating virtually all production, as is rapidly beginning to happen? If one man maintaining a ten robots can produce as much as a hundred men by hand then you're well on your way to achieving post-scarcity. And if you don't come up with some way for the other 99 men to earn a living you're going to have some serious social problems. Sure, freeing up all that labor force makes it possible to re-harness it in other ways - but if a robot can outperform a human in most production, service, and management rolls you're going to have a real challenge finding ways for the displaced workers to make a meaningful economic contribution to society. And perhaps more to the point, would you necessarily want to? At that point you've made it possible, even practical, to achieve the mythical land of milk and honey. Spread the remaining jobs across 4-10 times as many people and everyone on the planet has the option of living a life of leisure where no-one has to work more than a few hours a week to provide for everyone, freeing everyone to focus their energy on art, philosophy, family, or even just recreation.

yesterday
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UEA Research Shows Oceans Vital For Possibility of Alien Life

Immerman Re:Not on Arrakis (90 comments)

Fair point. In fact while confirming it I came across the fact that Earth is actually losing atmosphere to space faster than Venus - something that appears to rather harshly conflict with our theories on the subject.

2 days ago

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