Are you better off than you were four years ago?
My family and I are better off than we were, mostly because my wife and I are both software engineers... one of the few professions to do really well through the recession. But we're significantly worse off than we expected to be. That's the real question: Have your plans and hopes and dreams come true, and not just for you personally, but for the world at large? Almost everyone in the West would probably answer "No".
We were used to having our expectations exceeded. Now they are disappointed.
One of the reasons software eng. has done so well is that it can deliver improvements through depreciation. A smartphone takes less energy to produce than a PC. A die shrink uses less energy per FLOP. Distributing "apps" over the internet uses less energy per sale than shrink wrap, etc. In the physical world, where it takes energy to make improvements, almost everything seems in decay. Tech bloggers call it "dematerialization".
Dematerialization is fine and good, but when it's the only kind of improvement civilization can muster for four years... it leaves something to be desired. As Peter Thiel says, "let them eat iPhones" is not a hopeful direction for the future.
Fossil Fuel Subsidies Dwarf Support For Renewables
Subsidy dollars per GWh are the relevant units. According to the EIA, and browsing through dsireusa.org, we find that "renewables" currently get the greatest subsidies by far.
Report Blames NRC For VT Yankee Leak
Canadian nuclear plants emit 40 times more tritium every day when functioning normally than the Vermont Yankee leak emitted in a year:
A 1 GW(e) natural gas turbine will emit about 9 curies/year,* which is 20 times the rate of radiation from the VT Yankee leak at its highest.
Oh, and natural gas "fracking" produces toxic and radioactive wastewater. This article from last summer discusses EPA tests that found nasties from the fracturing fluid in domestic well water:
New York State is doing fracking in something called Marcellus shale. This article from last fall says that surface wastewater from these sites was found to contain Ra-226 in concentrations "thousands of times" the limit for drinking water:
says, "more than 18 billion barrels of waste fluids from oil and gas production are generated annually in the United States".
* Radioactivity of fossil gas. This abstract
gives 200 Bq/m^3. It doesn't say where they measured, but given context of the paper I'll assume it was at the consumer end of the line, at STP. I don't know if gas used at electrical plants is any fresher, but I'll assume it's no more stale. Pure methane has an energy content of 55.5 kJ/g and a density of 667 g/m^3, or about 5 Wh(e)/L from a 50%-efficient combined-cycle plant. So about 40Bq/Wh, or 1 nanoCurie per Wh, or 9 Curies/GW-yr.
5 Reasons Tablets Suck, and You Won't Buy One
I said pretty much the same things, but much better:
100 Years of Copyright Hysteria
Any tie-in with copyright aside, Sousa was correct. Technology has negative sides, and music playback technology deeply damaged the participatory nature of music in our culture, and the associated music skills in the population.
Huge ISS Science Report Released
Ants *can* sort tiny screws in space!
Poor Design Choices In the Star Wars Universe
A Hugo-award winning science fiction buff who doesn't realize that midi-chlorians are based on mitochondria? For shame.
While I would have preferred to leave the Force mysterious, I think midi-chlorians are one of the *best* revisions in the Star Wars universe. Understanding that mitochondria probably started out as bacteria which began living symbiotically with algae -- a symbiosis so successful, they do indeed provide the 'life force' to every eukaryotic organism on the planet.
GM Cornered Into Defending the Volt
The Prius doesn't make economic sense in terms of gas savings either.
How To Encourage Workers To Suggest Innovation?
How To Encourage Workers To Suggest Innovation?
One bug tracker, for bugs and new features, for all users internal and external. That includes developers.
If you have too many ideas, you'll need to filter them. The only thing that matters is how efficiently you can filter them by merit. I don't believe that preventing end users, and certainly not internal people!, from accessing the bug tracker is an efficient way to filter by merit.
Fusion-Fission System Burns Hot Radioactive Waste
How are they going to run the fusion part? The article doesn't say. In fact it's not clear what the innovation is here. The LIFE proposal from LLNL would use ICF fusions.
Umbilical Cord Blood Banking?
My advice is to not prematurely clamp the cord, as almost all OBs will do. Instead, have a homebirth, let the blood go into the baby for a few minutes after the birth, then tie the cord off. Works like a charm, and my 3-year-old has enjoyed an extremely healthy life so far. Another is due in April, and we'll be doing the same thing for him.
Smart Spam Filtering For Forums and Blogs?
If a spammer really wants to, he can test his attacks against the site until he beats your filter. Filtering works impossibly well, but only if the output of the filter is private. Spammers may not be doing these attacks now, but if everyone started using Akismet, no doubt they would start.
EEStor Issued a Patent For Its Supercapacitor
That's about 400Wh/kg; compare to 160 for lithium ion:
People Prefer Angry-Faced Cars
...may revolutionize the way we drive!
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