top Imagining the Future History of Climate Change
Yeah, I agree coal is the major problem. But in general they are going to burn most of it in addition to using nuclear power.
about a month and a half ago
top Imagining the Future History of Climate Change
When talking about global warming, I tend to try to get people to not think about the results of global warming. It's the often sensationalized predictions that "deniers" have the most problem with... so I try to get the discussion away from the results of what global warming will do to just focus on what is causing CO2 to raise what if anything we can do about it...
And this where I feel that most "activists" really fall down. I don't know how many times I have had people tell me that we can just use solar power and wind power with electric cars we would beat global warming. Often they make it sound that the only reason we aren't already doing this is because of some evil corporation(bringing in another political aspect to the debate).
So for me the two camps both have big issues with not looking at facts... Deniers feel that we will have no consequences. The activists feel like we can do a few simple things to beat global warming and the "evil" deniers are the only people preventing us from doing those simple things.
Big facts tend to be glossed over by both sides. Personally I think the "activists" side is the worst offender in this case(I can hear people screaming at the screen now, hear me out!). It's rather easy for the "deniers" to say nothing will happen since climate is actually VERY difficult to predict. They can point correctly to the unexpected "Pause" in warming and to people "normalizing" past temperature data.
But "activists" so massively underestimate the scope of the problem that even though they point out over and over again that they have science on their side.
The big list of what I feel is often ignored is...
1. Population increases that will drive overall energy demands to 3-5 times current consumption.
2. Industrialization of India(2030's) and later Africa. 3. The continuing carbon-rich energy revolution involving fracking. 4. The massive amount of Methane Hydrates that may be(likely are) a viable energy source.
These issues together will likely fuel a large increase in CO2 emissions as time goes on... Even if the developed world implemented every possible efficiency gain and manages to fix the issues with renewable power generation(a big if). It's just not going to be enough to make the developed world carbon neutral. The developing world will more than offset any gains we make. Even if they do implement many of the same developments in their economies.
We will likely dig up and burn nearly every source of fossil fuel we can get our hands on. And there is alot of it still out there...
Sadly, we likely lost the war on Global Warming back in the 70-80's when China industrialized. Oil was too cheap to force innovation in renewable power. So all of China patterned itself like the developed world. While I do expect we will make great gain in renewable power in the developed world. I doubt that reaching carbon neutral is possible.
I won't be surprised if in 20-30 years this debate flips from "deniers" to "geoengineers" as the issues with global warming will be evident. And "activists" to "anti-geoengineers".
about a month and a half ago
top Automation Coming To Restaurants, But Not Because of Minimum Wage Hikes
You are correct. The WSJ is neutral to slightly left leaning on non-opinion stories and rather right leaning on opinion pieces. Making it a rather balanced source of news. At least thats my opinion(See what I did there?).
top Fusion Reactor Concept Could Be Cheaper Than Coal
Long story short, since tritium has only a half-life of 11 years and there is no natural source. These fusion reactors will need equal amounts of Tritium and Deuterium as fuel.
The good thing is that a fusion reactor can be jacketed in Lithium to create the needed Tritium. The bad news is that you can't really generate a whole lot of extra Tritium. Being really optimistic you might be able to generate about 50% more Tritium than you burn. In practice this could be as low at just a few single digit % more than you burn since we don't have any working fusion reactors.
So even if we had a perfect, ready to use fusion reactor design today that was cheap, we wouldn't have the fuel to burn in more than a very limited number of plants. One projection I saw that given the lack of Tritium and the way that it would have to be generated, that if you used Fusion plants to self generate the Tritium, we can't expect more than about 30-50GW operating power plants before 2200. This is such a big problem that people worry about having enough Tritium for research with Nuclear fusion experiments.
To make matters worse... Tritium is very difficult to contain If you have a sealed steel tube filled with it, it will leak right out of the walls of the tube. In short, it's likely to present real problems with radioactive leaks. I remember reading a paper where they suggested that if we had deployed several hundred GW of fusion reactors we might be leaking radioactivity at a rate similar to having a Fukushima happening annually. And if we don't change the laws in allowed radioactivity being released from a Nuclear plant we would never be able to build a Fusion plant. As each Fusion plant would likely leak many times more radiation(via Tritium leaks) than is currently allowed.
It sucks, Fusion is really cool but for these reasons alone likely not to be a big producer of power anytime soon.
top OpenZFS Project Launches, Uniting ZFS Developers
Doesn't look like he had a ZIL from the description of the hardware. So it's totally understandable that he might have corruption.
top Should the U.S. bomb Syria?
"Gridlock" isn't the issue here, the public isn't behind this action. It's looking increasingly likely that this resolution will be defeated in the Senate(which is controlled the Presidents party).
The House leadership has already said they will not bring a vote until after the Senate has voted. If the Senate votes "no" the House won't even bring this resolution up for a vote(as it will already be dead at that point).
Far from being "Gridlock" this is looking like this will be VERY direct action from the Congress. It just won't be what the President says that he wants. I do agree with you, his actions really suggests that he doesn't want to do this at all... and it's baffling to me why he would spend the political capital to try to push this issue when he really doesn't want to bomb them.
top Nuclear Arms Cuts, Supported By 56% of Americans, Would Make the World Safer
My understanding is that you are basically correct.
In-fact, one of the big points about the current anti-missile systems is that they do not have enough capacity to prevent strategic nuclear strikes from Russia or China. The goal is to make sure that they could always nuke us if they needed too. Which is a rather screwed up design feature; but it's understandable that we don't want to undermine their nuclear deterrence.
top Ask Slashdot: What Distros Have You Used, In What Order?
This is going to date me but...
sls --> Slackware --> Gentoo --> Centos
I started with sls in mid 92(I think it was the only distro at the time). After that I used Slackware until about three years ago. I started using Gentoo just because I liked the idea of having a system truly compiled for my current hardware. I recently switched to Centos on my server(not the desktop) because of stuff breaking when I did an update.
top China Begins Stockpiling Rare Earths, Draws WTO Attention
Yeah, but we also have environmental regulations that make it VERY difficult(costly) extract the Rare Earth Elements. It's these environmental regulations that is the only reason that China is the leading producer of these elements. Getting this stuff out of the ore is a rather nasty processes which is expensive to do in the US.
Also until recently it was not clear it was worth extracting these elements. I know that there was a large mine that used to produce much of the worlds supply in the 80's-90's located in California. They shutdown because of the regulations and the fact that they couldn't compete with the low cost of stuff coming out of China. At that time it wasn't clear that these elements were that vital. Long term this action will cause other countries to re-open old mines or start extraction of new deposits. Rare-Earth deposits aren't really that rare it's the concentration of these elements in the "ore" that are low which is why they are called "rare".
This action by the Chinese has only caused people to start looking for new deposits and different methods of extraction. Last I heard, the Californian mine is in the process of being re-opened and should start producing in 2013.
top China Slowing Nuclear Buildout In Response To Fukushima
Basically everything you said is true.
The biggest advantage(and disadvantage) that I think they have from a political stand-point is the ability to make and then execute long term plans. It is something that is really missing with most of the democratic west. Granted, I don't think they always make good long term plans, heck often they do rather foolish things... but they can at least tackle problems that require long term solutions.
But I do think you are missing a one important point about China. You and I both agree that we wouldn't want to live with in dictatorship. But many Chinese feel that what they government has done has been for the best. Mainly due the the strength of the Chinese economy. While they do often fib on the exact numbers, it's impossible to discount that China has been growing the GDP at a rate of 10-15% per year for the last 20 years.
It's this fact more than any other that has won the hearts of the people in China. So much of the communist governments legitimacy is riding on ever increasing economic prosperity. If the economy faltered badly... who knows what would happen.
That is why the news from China isn't all that good. Most of the talk for the last few years has been about the "soft landing" that the Chinese Economy will soon make. It's just not possible for them to keep growing the way they have. It's much easier to grow a small economy than it is grow a large one. Most people expect that the "soft landing" will be a general slowing of the GDP growth rate to between 7-8%.
But over the last few months it's starting to become clear that China isn't getting a soft landing. As you point-out official numbers have been downright faked in the past. But metrics do exist that outsiders can look at and that have been reliable; for instance growth of electricity usage. In the past electricity use has closely followed the GDP. But it has basically been flat over the last 3 months. Other items point to a "hard landing" in China.
It's possible that this will all come to nothing and they won't slow that much... but I feel that long-term they can't have the massive corruption and mis-management if they don't also have the hugh GDP growth. I don't think the people would be nearly as happy with the government if they were frequently dipping into recession and had boughs of high unemployment like most other established economies. While also seeing the massive government corruption and mismanagement. Such periods of slow growth and recession are inevitable in the future even if they don't happen over the short-term.
top Apple News From WWDC and iPhone 5 Rumors
The Thunderbolt to GigE adapter is $29 on the store right now.
top Where Are All the High-Resolution Desktop Displays?
You may not actually be seeing all of those pixels on your old Crt. Before I switched to LCD's in the early 2000's I had a 21inch Hitachi CRT. One of the big features of the CRT was that it actually had enough pixel elements(low enough pixel pitch) to actually truly display 1600x1200.
It was possible to drive it to 2048x1536 resolutions but the grill just didn't have the elements to show all of those pixels. Most of the other competing 21inch monitors at the time did not have a low enough pixel pitch.
Now the interesting thing... your irreplaceable 23 inch monitor if it has a pixel pitch of at least
.25mm is likely displaying at 100Dpi. Matching the dpi that this page was complaining about. Given that a 23 inch monitor was really high end, you likely have enough pixel elements to see 100 Dpi. But it's something to keep in mind
top Ask Slashdot: Enterprise-Grade Linux Networking Hardware?
Ok first thing first, I work for ImageStream as the Technical Support manager. So I might have a slightly biased viewpoint when it comes to the place I have been working for the last 16 years... But we have been doing Linux Based networking for the last 14 years.
What the OP wants to do is rather difficult for a few reasons. First, after shipping thousands of Linux based routers I can tell you that redundant power supplies that fit into standard PC hardware have a much higher failure rate than a standard Power Supply. Granted, if you have a failure you still have a functional power supply(which is now working twice as hard and is even more likely to fail).
Second, standard PC hardware just doesn't support multiple redundant components. Sure you can get redundant power supplies, but redundant buses or Cpu's your talking different about a totally different class of hardware(see below).
Third, If you truly have an Enterprise application, and your asking about hardware to support your application you are already in over your head. Sorry it's just the truth. The OP is talking about building a custom solution for a mission critical application and they have to ask on slashdot about hardware solutions. What happens when(not if) the OP has a problem. The real reason that many people buy our(ImageStream's) hardware is for the support. If something doesn't work they don't have try and troubleshoot a strange Pci bus condition or an obscure Linux Kernel issue that you only see when you have +5,000 networking interfaces in a system. It's one thing if your a Google and you want to build something that just doesn't exist like the OpenFlow switches they are using in their Gscale network. But for a normal organization you are going to spend money and time to develop your custom solution and in the end if anything doesn't work, you will spend more time fixing it.
Now if the OP still wants to do this... I would look at an ATCA (AdvancedTCA ) chassis. You can get support for a redundant dual loop back plane, multiple CPU cards, redundant power supplies and in most cases a out of band management module for the chassis. But this is VERY costly hardware. If your not budgeting at least $20k in hardware your likely not going to end-up with anything that had real redundancy.
top Ask Slashdot: How Do You Manage Your Personal Data?
S3 storage for 5TB isn't what I would call cheap. We are talking about $580/Month(or almost $7k per year). For that amount of money, you could buy a new set of 5TB worth of hard drives each month and then ship them to a remote location and pocket about $200 a month in savings.
Not a perfect solution(no online access) but I think it underscores just how costly S3 still is for large amounts of data. If you are talking about a few hundred GB of data, S3 storage is cheaper(and better) than anything you could reasonably do yourself. But once you scale up the usage... Heck, you could buy and colo a remote server and ship drives back and forth for less than what S3 would cost...
top What percentage of your tax money should go to a government space agency?
I remember a big stink about a black minister putting up a billboard in New York. As I remember it went something like this... "The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb." It was referencing the fact that African American's have about 3 times the number of abortions vs the general population. So that kind of stuff is out there. If it's out there in a proportion to the population, I don't know.
top Pentagon: 30,000 Pound Bomb Too Small
Totally agree, but I doubt it's done much if any real damage to the long term success of the nuclear program. And it's done nothing but inflame the Iranians; rightly so. Stuxnet delayed the Iranian bomb but that is all it did. It was much more effective than the car bombings and didn't create martyrs for PR reasons.
Ultimately I don't think the US or Israel can stop Iran from getting the Bomb. Short of regime change I worry that a nuclear armed Iran is just timebomb to a regional Nuclear war.
The US isn't going to put troops on the ground to topple the current Iranian government. And strikes against only the Nuclear program won't cause the government to fall(likely it would only give it strength). The best hope from the military action standpoint would be a general bombing and hope that caused enough suffering to topple the gov.
But that is a real long shot at best and would likely just result in REALLY pissing off the Iranians. It's also something I don't really see as having much support with the general public or administration in the US.
If I was in Israel right now, I would be building a bomb shelter. I think there is almost no way it won't be used given the way things are going.
top Pentagon: 30,000 Pound Bomb Too Small
We won't have to be talked into anything. Israel will attack Iran sometime this year(almost for sure). And Iran will respond by counter attacking them and most likely US targets in the Middle East. If they attempt to close the straits of Hormuz due to the attack the US will not allow that to happen.
We don't have the do anything, I doubt that Obama will strike first(but I never would have expected the Libya action). I just don't think he will have too... Israel has less of an ability attack Iran in an attempt to shut down the Nuclear program. So an Israeli attack is likely to come before any US actions.
The sad thing is, I doubt that any Military action short of ground invasion will prevent Iran from getting Nuclear weapons over the long term(next 5 years). The program is just too well protected and to distributed throughout Iran to fully disrupt. Slow it down, yeah... stop it totally, no way.
A limited war now will only make a regional Nuclear war more likely in the future. The Iranians feel like they need Nuclear weapons to counter balance Israel and US conventional forces. If we give them a demonstration just how far behind their conventional forces are compared to the US it's only going to make them want Nukes even more.
I don't blame them for wanting Nukes, it's really the only counter to US forces. A Nuclear armed Iran is going to massively destabilize the Middle East. The Saudis would develop Nukes if Iran goes nuclear. Other states might follow. And between Iran and Israel both armed with Nuclear weapons and delivery systems with travel times of around 15 min... I feel it would only be a matter of time before someone pushed the button. We are talking about two states that don't have any communications directly. Iran refuses to believe that Israel has the right to exist. Israel feels that it must strike first to defend itself... Even if a Nuclear first strike isn't intended the likely-hood of mistake or miscommunication is just too high. Imagine what would have happened during the Cuban missile crisis if nether side talked to each other(back channel communications resolved the crisis)... we likely wouldn't be talking about it now. This is the situation that is going to happen once they are both Nuclear armed.
top What If the Apollo Program Never Happened?
Actually, the samples returned from the moon showed a large amount of Silicon, Aluminum, Iron, Magnesium and Calcium. And if your talking about samples returned from the Maria you can add Titanium to that list. While the Lunar crust is lacking stuff like Carbon and Nitrogen it's not clear that there aren't area's where geological processes have concentrated otherwise rare elements. We haven't even scratched the surface of what might be there.
Depending on what your building you I am sure that producing everything on the Moon is impractical. But I believe that we have many products where shipping 1 kg of the raw materials(cu is a good example) to the moon and then using those plus lunar materials would be a big win. It's even better if we have a system to loft the finished goods into Lunar orbit via electromagnetic means. That combined with Solar powered VASIMR tugs could allow for large expansion in earth orbit.
I doubt that even in the most optimistic plans we won't have need for a large amount of items produced on the Earth(for space applications). But I could see simple things like solar panels being manufactured on the moon and being integrated with electronics shipped up from earth.
top GE To Turn World's Biggest Civilian Plutonium Stockpile Into Electricity
Your numbers are way off. The older technology used in Spain would need about 575 hectares to generate 1GW, far less than you are claiming. That is old technology too, the newer stuff is more efficient.
Look at the Valle solar power plant that is currently under construction. It has two 50MW towers and each tower has a reflecting field of 460 hectares. If we could really do 1GW in 575 hectares I don't think we would be talking about it... but we can't.
The area that these plants are installed is great for solar power, they receive about 2.2kwH/m^2 of total solar power per day. So even if it was possible to convert 100% of the solar power falling in that space with 100% efficiency you wouldn't be able to generate 1GW(base load for 24 hours). The 50MW per 460 hectares sounds about right given what I know about this technology.
But just looking at the pictures of the existing plants, they do seem to be more compact than pictures of Invanpah. That being said, it's likely due to the very high solar Insolation of the site where these plants are located. This part of Spain(heck most of Spain) is better for Solar power solutions than the locations in California. This would result in a smaller plant.
I'll grant you that it isn't going to be as compact as a nuclear plant though, but so what? We have plenty of space where no-one wants to live. The EU is looking to north Africa (and now we are best friends with Libya) because 0.3% of the Sahara could power the whole of western Europe. The US has plenty of unused space too. Maybe you could even recycle the Nevada test sites.
There is one little problem with that... How do you get the power to where you need it? If you generating electricity in North Africa you are going to lose %20-30 just getting it into Western Europe. And you would have to build a new massive power grid just to be able to deliver this power. I am not say it can't be done, you would have to expect to build more capacity to cover the loses. And that is going to increase prices dramatically(see below).
The most efficient plan I have see to use North Africa as a Solar power system involved using the S-I cycle(about 40-50% of the heat energy would be converted) to generate Hydrogen and then pipe the Hydrogen to Europe. But even that has major issues. Hydrogen has storage issues and transportation issues.
You got ass-raped. Spain is paying about Ã1000/kw. Current worst case cost is about $2.50/kwh, but when comparing that you have to also consider that there is no waste, no fuel, low clean-up cost and low maintenance costs. As mass production ramps up that is expected to fall to about $0.06/kwh in 2015, and unlike a nuclear plant there is no real limit on how long you can run a solar plant for.
Actually... looks like you got "ass-raped" also! The official price for the Andasol 1 plant(50MW) was $380 Million $US to build. If you scaled that up to the size of Invanpah you would be looking at 2.8 Billion $US which is $600Million more than the projected cost.
50MW at $380Million = $7,600 per Kw. So looking at the "Cost" it seems to be slightly higher than the actual cost of the Invanpah plant. Note, I don't have good numbers for the true baseline any of the these plants. My gut feeling that Invanpah is going to be in the 100-130MW baseline range which would make it about 2X more costly than what i think most of the Spanish plants can do. But I was unable to find good numbers for the Spanish plants also... so, I could be wrong.
When you look at the actual cost of a nuclear plant over its entire lifetime, including fuelling it, waste storage and site clean-up it is vastly more expensive that solar. Look at it this way: private companies are willing to build solar plants at similar rates of subsidy to coal and gas, but when the UK tried to sell of its existing nuclear stations with a promise to pay for all clean-up costs and insure against accidents they still had no takers.
IV Generation Nuclear power plants will dramatically reduce the waste issue. We can make much of the current waste much less dangerous if we run it through these reactors. Which in my mind is enough of a reason to build them now. I am not going to say Nuclear power is perfect. It's not, but we know that we could build power plants today that would scale as we need them to... And with an IFR reactor(which is what GE is pushing) much of the fueling issues go away. We have more than enough fuel already mined to fuel reactors for the next 500 years.
If your going to talk about private companies willing to build new plants... you better look at what has happened since Spain started pulling back on planned subsidies. In 2008 Spain provided a $589 per mwH subsidy on solar power. Since then they have placed caps on how many mwH they will actually subsidize. That alone has almost stopped plans for new plants that weren't already going ahead before the subsidies were scaled back...
There is really only one reason why Spain is at the forefront of solar thermal power systems; the massive Gov subsidy! It didn't hurt that Spain also has great weather/location for it... but now that those subsidies are drying up, I expect you will only see limited large scale growth.
top GE To Turn World's Biggest Civilian Plutonium Stockpile Into Electricity
I would hate to see a scaled up Solar Thermal power plant. The largest one that I know of is the SEGS plant in California. As I remember it has a peak power output of ~350MW. But if your talking about 24/7 operation that drops to a small 75MW of output.
To get that 75MW of base load capacity, they have to use 6.5KM^2(I had to look that up ^^) of land. If this technology was scaled up to the size of a nuclear plant that has a base load capacity of 1GW you would be talking about using(some people would say destroying) 90KM^2 land.
Actually, looking at the Invanpah plant which is currently under construction, it's a 392MW(Peak Power) plant that is going to be using ~16KM^2 of land. So the newer plant is even worse on land usage... While it's technically possible to build large solar thermal plants, I don't think your going to find the land to do it. Invanpah was scaled down from initial plans because of land use issues...
I am not so sure about the cost difference either. Invanpah is a 2.2 billion dollar project. When you compute $ per KW of capacity, your looking at about $5,600 per KW. It's hard to find accurate Nuclear plant numbers since so none have been built in the US in 30 years. Looking online I found two numbers on $per/KW a pro nuclear site quoted ~$2000-2500/KW and a anti-nuclear site said ~5000-6000/KW. I am not sure which to believe but even if it's the high number, it lines up with Invanpah cost almost exactly. But the problem is that this is comparing the Peak Power $/KW price of Invanpah vs Nuclear. I looked all over the place and I couldn't the planned capacity factor... but if Invanpah can only generate a base load of ~100-130MW then the cost of Invanpah would be 3-4 times that of the "High" figure vs Nuclear.
Honestly after looking at these numbers I am shocked at just how bad Solar Thermal power really is for baseload generation costs. I didn't think it was good but I never would have thought it was this bad.