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High School Student Builds Gun That Unlocks With Your Fingerprint

cirby "its accuracy at detecting fingerprints is 99.99%" (598 comments)

Yeah, I just bet it is.

This kid managed to make a rugged, reliable piece of hardware that recognizes many fingerprints, will withstand regular impacts from firing, and managed to make the failure rate only one in ten thousand.

Oh, wait - he made a plastic prototype, and hasn't actually tested it in a firing weapon?

Do tell.

about a week ago

Massive Study Searching For Genes Behind Intelligence Finds Little

cirby Re:The problem with Smart Genes (269 comments)

No, I know where they are. They just bribed me.

about two weeks ago

Massive Study Searching For Genes Behind Intelligence Finds Little

cirby The problem with Smart Genes (269 comments)

The genes are obviously smart enough to hide from researchers.

about two weeks ago

Fukushima's Biological Legacy

cirby "Big" effects... (116 comments) long as they studied plants and insects on the Fukushima site itself, including right next to the reactor.

"Yeah, as long as we put the seeds right in this radioactive puddle, we got results."

"What about further away? Like outside of the plant property?"

"Are you nuts? I need funding for my next scary study here!"

about a month ago

Transatomic Power Receives Seed Funding From Founders Fund Science

cirby Materials Testing... (143 comments)

...from other articles.

The biggest issue with molten salt reactors is corrosion, so they need to find just the right materials to build the thing.

about a month and a half ago

Why Morgan Stanley Is Betting That Tesla Will Kill Your Power Company

cirby Economies of scale (502 comments)

Economies of scale have mostly kicked in already.

As of right now, the panels are no longer the biggest part of the cost of a full-scale installation - it's the "putting it on your roof correctly so it doesn't fall off or catch fire" part that costs.

Prices will drop - some - but for anything like the near future, they're going to stay in the $15,000-$20,000 range - without storage.

You can get lower quotes, but for some reason, those quotes always leave things out... the folks who brag about "I got it for half that" haven't dealt with contractors before, for the most part.

about a month and a half ago

Why Morgan Stanley Is Betting That Tesla Will Kill Your Power Company

cirby Re:Until we learn how to use less ... (502 comments)

Thirty billion dollars?

You're off by a couple of orders of magnitude, at least.

The cost to put solar panels on the roofs of just the houses in California - with "full capacity" standard-issue PV systems (at about $20,000 a pop), on 15,000,000 homes - is about $300 billion. And that doesn't include storage - it's for grid-tied systems.

about a month and a half ago

MIT's Ted Postol Presents More Evidence On Iron Dome Failures

cirby Russian Missile Defense (454 comments)

That minute was over 40 years ago, and they're still using them.

Most of the newer high-powered SAMs built in Russia are capable of missile intercept (of shorter-ranged ballistic missiles), and they've still got a huge ABM system around Moscow.

about 2 months ago

States That Raised Minimum Wage See No Slow-Down In Job Growth

cirby One problem... (778 comments)

Minimum wage increases don't immediately result in mass firings. What happens is that companies stall for a few months, then slow down hiring - and start laying people off. It usually takes about six months. Expect to see an increase in layoffs starting about the time the kids go back to school.

It would also be interesting to see the stats for "number of hours worked." The trend in most places has been towards switching to part time, and cutting back on hours worked. We already know that the national trend for the last few years has been "more jobs with less actual work." Lots and lots of former full-time workers who get 29 hours a week or less, more and more kids who get four or five half-days instead of three full days.

about 2 months ago

Hints of Life's Start Found In a Giant Virus

cirby "How big was it?" (158 comments)

"It was so big we had to sterilize our lab equipment with a hammer."

about 2 months ago

Researchers Develop New Way To Steal Passwords Using Google Glass

cirby WildStar does this (116 comments)

The MMO WildStar uses a randomized keypad for their two-factor authenticator input.

After a while, you get pretty good at it.

about 2 months ago

Oklahoma's Earthquakes Linked To Fracking

cirby Re:A small problem... (154 comments)

Rocks at depths like these don't allow water to flow very fast, so the earthquakes form a kind of spreading halo around the injection site that moves slowly away and eventually dissipates if you stop injecting.

...except that no such effect appears on their maps.

Not to mention the other thing - where the wells they extract the water from originally are on the side of the fault where the earthquakes happened, and the wells where they inject the water are on the other side of the fault, away from the earthquakes. Not only is it counterintuitive, it's the opposite of what they claim in the study.

about 3 months ago

Oklahoma's Earthquakes Linked To Fracking

cirby Re:A small problem... (154 comments)

The small fault that seems to be generating most of the seismic activity in the study is not only quite a few miles away, it's not connected to any of the major faults in the area - and there's a long, major fault (Nemaha Fault) in between the injection wells and the earthquake zone. (Figure S9 shows this dramatically)

It gets better. According to the notes for Figure S3, water is extracted on the west side of the Nemaha Fault and re-injected on the east side. Which means that the earthquakes are increasing on the side nearest the extraction, and not increasing on the side where the water is re-injected.

about 3 months ago

Oklahoma's Earthquakes Linked To Fracking

cirby A small problem... (154 comments)

They're nice enough to put their numbers and charts online. Which is great.

Unfortunately, their own charts show a bit of a problem. Specifically Figure S1.

The increase in earthquakes over time is definite. And it's NOT generally where the actual injection wells are. Sure, there's a few quakes recorded in the middle of the injection well area, but they're not consistent, and they don't map with time.

The earthquakes do map well with one thing, though: they seem to swarm around active seismic stations that aren't near fracking disposal wells. Which seems to either show that seismometers create earthquakes, or that they have some instrumentation issues.

about 3 months ago

Renewable Energy Saves Fortune 100 Companies $1.1B Annually

cirby Re:Actual savings? (116 comments)

A lot of companies are switching from old-school fluorescents (which aren't quite as efficient) to LEDs as the fixtures wear out. And yes, they do wear out, along with things like ballasts. There are a LOT of the old T12 fluorescents out there still, not to mention the newer (but still somewhat outdated) T8.

They also make LED tubes now - a line of LEDs in a package the same size as the old fluorescent tubes. They cost a lot, but over the long run, they're cheaper to run. Once you include lowering air conditioning costs and less manpower spent replacing tubes, they're often worth the money. All you need to do is bypass the ballast (which also saves money in the long run - those things wear out too).

A lot of factory floors used mercury vapor lights, and those are going away as they get old, replaced with clusters of LEDs.

about 3 months ago

Renewable Energy Saves Fortune 100 Companies $1.1B Annually

cirby Actual savings? (116 comments)

Not from "reducing carbon emissions and rolling out renewable energy projects."

They saved money by increasing energy efficiency.

And you can bet that a huge chunk of that is just replacing incandescent bulbs with LEDs. These are HUGE companies with many, many employees. A savings of $1.1 billion is relatively tiny overall...

about 3 months ago

Researchers Claim Wind Turbine Energy Payback In Less Than a Year

cirby Nice phrasing... (441 comments)

"the time to produce the amount of energy required of production and installation" ...but not the time to produce enough energy to pay back the actual cost of the machine, including labor and materials.

The actual study is very, very careful to NOT claim that it will pay back the total system cost. It's just the amount of energy used in production and installation, not the cost of raw materials and labor.

about 3 months ago

Germany's Glut of Electricity Causing Prices To Plummet

cirby "Capacity" (365 comments)

"From December capacity will be at 117% of peak demand."

Ignoring, of course, that when talking about solar/wind power and "capacity," the actual output is, to say the least, variable.

They had the big headline recently about how much they generated during one hour of one day - but for some reason, they didn't mention all of those cloudy and windless winter days where effective output was a tiny fraction of that - and they had to use lots and lots of coal to make up the difference.

about 3 months ago

An Army Medal For Coding In Perl

cirby Army Commendation Medal (192 comments)

One of the criteria is "meritorious service."

Writing - on his own - a set of scripts that save that much time for his unit? Should certainly qualify.

about 3 months ago

Climate Change Prompts Emperor Penguins To Find New Breeding Grounds

cirby Or, maybe... (215 comments)

...they got tired of all of the scientists following them around, year after year, tagging them and annoying the kids.

"Y'know, Marge, this place is just getting too touristy for me. Let's go somewhere quiet, farther down the beach."

about 2 months ago


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