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WHO: Air Pollution 'Killed 7 Million People' In 2012

XNormal Nucular power (97 comments)

Take a look at this graph: Nuclear Electricity Production. It's quite easy to spot 1986 on this graph (Chernobyl). That's where the trend of acceleration in nuclear power growth has reversed into deceleration. No such reversal has occured in demand for electric power, of course. The shortfall has been largely picked up by coal.

The number of people that have been killed by air pollution from coal as an indirect result of the nuclear stagnation after the Chernobyl accident is well into the millions.

about a month ago

Sulfur Polymers Could Enable Long-Lasting, High-Capacity Batteries

XNormal Sulfur-based polymer? (131 comments)

In the 1960s there was research into sulfur-based polymers but apparently ran into some problems:

"Recently we found ourselves with an odour problem beyond our worst expectations. During early experiments, a stopper jumped from a bottle of residues, and, although replaced at once, resulted in an immediate complaint of nausea and sickness from colleagues working in a building two hundred yards away. Two of our chemists who had done no more than investigate the cracking of minute amounts of trithioacetone found themselves the object of hostile stares in a restaurant and suffered the humiliation of having a waitress spray the area around them with a deodorant."


about 1 month ago

Ask Slashdot: Legal Advice Or Loopholes Needed For Manned Space Program

XNormal Re:IANL (201 comments)

... and the easiest way for your government to comply with the treaty article about non-government entities is to simply to put in place a law disallowing it. Without a powerful lobby there will be no incentive for your government to set up the regulatory apparatus for legally enabling such activity. Any such regulation is likely to be tailored to the needs of the members of such a lobby, not to a small organization like yours. And if you are thinking of jurisdiction shopping (i.e. finding some government more friendly to such activities) remember that your government may decide that you are under their jurisdiction by being a citizen, regardless of where in the world you happen to be. Also, other countries (most notably the US) are likely to decide that if you are building anything with a range capable of reaching their territory in ballistic flight that makes it their business, too. They will find many creative ways to put pressure on other governments to stop you (see this for example).

Good luck.

about 6 months ago

Royal Navy Deployed Laser Weapons During the Falklands War

XNormal Hardly news (139 comments)

"The pity was that Plymouth had not had time to turn right around, because she was fitted with the new laser equipment known locally to us as "Flasher" - which could well have stopped the attack in its tracks, because it literally forces any incoming pilot to pull up sharply during the forty-second period in which he cannot see."

from One Hundred Days by Admiral Sandy Woodward (1992)

about 8 months ago

OmniCam360 Camera Cluster Lets You Choose the Viewing Angle

XNormal I've seen this demonstrated 15 years ago. (66 comments)

The application was a video conferencing system. The omnidirectional camera had the exact same arrangement of mirrors and black baffles between them. It was placed in the middle of a conference table and the display was steered automatically by a microphone array that determined the direction of the speaker. This way you always got a nice framing of the speaker's head. It was essential for getting any kind of usable picture in a conference with multiple people back when bandwidth was limited and video compression was crappy. It would still be very useful today but I haven't seen this anywhere.


about 8 months ago

Eben Upton Muses on the Raspberry Pi, Scratch and, His Love For Parallela

XNormal What's next? (71 comments)

In the back of your mind, you havenâ(TM)t got Raspberry Pi 2?

No, not Pi 2. It must obviously be named 2 Pi.

about 9 months ago

Oracle Discontinues Free Java Time Zone Updates

XNormal How about distributing timezone info through DNS? (405 comments)

DNS is a great protocol for distributing a relatively small piece of infrequently changing information to a very large number of clients. It has a global infrastructure of caches, supports delegation of authority. Sounds like a good match.

about a year ago

Electric Car Startup 'Better Place' Liquidating After $850 Million Investment

XNormal Re:Will Tesla buy them? (193 comments)

Why would he bother? He has a successful company, why would he want to buy a company that burned through that much money with no noticeable product

As a slashdotter, we are prone to having a bias of looking at everything as a technology development issue. But Better Place was an infrastructure project. They tried to minimize the development of any new technology. And infrastructure requires Big Money. Unfortunately, it was Big Money with the risk profile of a technology development startup. Ouch.

about a year ago

Physicists Create Quantum Link Between Photons That Don't Exist At the Same Time

XNormal Slower than the speed of light (364 comments)

Superposition, wave function collapse and other quantum effects are supposed to govern everything. But I don't seem to recall any such weird experiments that do not involve any particle traveling slower than the speed of light.

Are there any such demonstrations that involve only interactions between particles having nonzero rest mass?

about a year ago

Ask Slashdot: Moving From Contract Developers To Hiring One In-House?

XNormal Informed consent (524 comments)

Make sure to explain the scenario to the contractor up front. In detail. More than once. Give them a chance to raise their offer to include this. Ask them again how certain they are about their ability to estimate their bug rate. Let them sign a separate page describing this in simple language.

Have a process to clearly separate bugs that are covered by this from modifications for which they are paid separately. For some small things that are arguably not bugs but modifications let them have the benefit of the doubt and pay them for it, anyway. Make sure they know it.

I think it can be done.

about a year ago

Global Warming Shifts the Earth's Poles

XNormal GPS reference system (482 comments)

I wonder how this affects high-accuracy geodetic GPS measurements. The GPS coordinate system is defined by the Earth's axis.

about a year ago

Astronaut Chris Hadfield Performs Space Oddity On the ISS

XNormal Lyrics (212 comments)

Ground control to Major Tom! Your ammonia leaks, there's something wrong. Can you hear me Major Tom?

about a year ago

NASA Lets Us Watch the Sun Spin For 3 Years In 4 Minute Video

XNormal Motion interpolation (34 comments)

It would be nice if someone could smooth the motion in this video with a plugin like Twixtor.

1 year,2 hours

A Tale of Two Tests: Why Energy Star LED Light Bulbs Are a Rare Breed

XNormal Why light bulb form factor? (314 comments)

If you are investing in a light source that will not need replacement for a decade then why, exactly, do you care so much about it being shaped like a light bulb?

LEDs don't like heat. Packing the equivalent of a 100W incandescent in a shape that pretty much minimized surface are to volume ratio is a very bad idea for heat dissipation.

LED light panels make much more sense.

1 year,12 days

Nuclear Power Prevents More Deaths Than It Causes

XNormal Re:It takes 20+ years to build a nuclear plant (599 comments)

Construction of the first Westinghouse AP1000 reactor unit at Sanmen Nuclear Power Station started at April 19, 2009. It is planned to go online at October 2013.

The AP1000 is a pressurized water reactor using passive cooling and safety systems i.e. it does not rely on engineered systems like pumps or electricity for safety - only passive effects like gravity and convection.

Yes, it's a big upfront investment. But ongoing fuel costs are negligible so the overall cost of produced electricity is not much more expensive than coal. If you add the health and environmental costs of coal that are forcibly paid by your neighbors then nuclear is cheaper. Of course, if construction is delayed for 12+ years because of incompetent regulation the interest costs of that delay will balloon out of proportion.

BTW, my signature line below has not changed in the last couple of years.

1 year,22 days

Cambridge University Scientists Find Quadruple Helix DNA In Human Cells

XNormal Obligatory DNA quote (67 comments)

(DNA = Douglas Noel Adams)

Haggunenons have the most impatient chromosomes in the Galaxy. Whereas most species are content to evolve slowly and carefully over thousands of generations, discarding a prehensile toe here, [...] hazarding another nostril there, the Haggunenons would have done for Charles Darwin what a squadron of Arcturan Stunt Apples would have done for Sir Isaac Newton. Their genetic structure is based on the quadruple sterated octohelix....

about a year ago

Congress Asks Patent Office To Consider Secret Patents

XNormal You can already do this - but... (285 comments)

There is a little known form you can find on the USPTO that lets you ask for your patent not to be published until granted, just like in the old system. If not granted you can still try to keep it a trade secret.

The catch is that you can't use the filing date as the priority date for international patents. The reason patents are normally published after 18 months is because of international patent treaties.

IIUC, this proposed change is meaningless - you can already get it now if you are willing to give up international priority and keeping patents secret and still getting priority is impossible without renegotiating those treaties.


about 2 years ago


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