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What Would Have Happened If Philae Were Nuclear Powered?

cirby Re:RTG (519 comments)

RTGs only lose about one percent per year (less than that, usually). With the power bonus you get from RTGs (more power per weight when compared to solar panels at that distance from the Sun), you still end up with a large bonus of generated power, even when using the smallest types of RTGs that have been deployed.

A SNAP-3B would have started with about 52 watts, and after twelve years would have about 45 watts of power - compared to the 32 watts worth of solar power available from panels - for a total weight of about five pounds, and a much, much less complex system (versus solar cell deployment/pointing and batteries).

about a week ago

What Would Have Happened If Philae Were Nuclear Powered?

cirby Re:With a RTG, it couldn't have got to the comet. (519 comments)

The SNAP-9A RTGs put out over 500 watts of power - about 16 times what the solar panels on Philae would produce at the time it intercepted the comet.

Those RTGs weighed only about 25 pounds each - much less than a set of solar panels + batteries. That power increase would have allowed a lot of extra options (such as a higher quality datalink) for about the same overall weight.

A SNAP-3B RTG could have put out about 50 watts - a bonus of about 50% power - and weighed less than FIVE pounds.

about a week ago

The Software Big Oil's PR Firm Uses To "Convert Average Citizens"

cirby ...and Greenpeace... (108 comments)

Does the same. They hire the same sort of people, pay the same sort of money, and use the same tactics (and many worse ones).

Except they're getting all whiny because it's not working for them on the Keystone XL thing, so they're trying the old "those evil, mind-controlling oil companies" story on a different class of public relations targets.

about a week ago

The Downside to Low Gas Prices

cirby The Highway Trust Fund (554 comments)

...is "broke" because we're funding a lot of things out of it that aren't highways.

If the money was used as originally intended - to fund building and maintenance of the Interstate highway system - it would be brimming with cash. Instead, it's also being used for lots of other projects, like mass transit, bicycle paths, and landscaping for roads. About a quarter of the income from the HTF goes to non-highway projects.

Oddly enough, if you moved the non-highway spending out of the Highway Trust Fund, it would be completely solvent, with a decent surplus for more highway spending on things like bridge repair.

about two weeks ago

How To Mathematically Predict Lightning Strikes

cirby Re:Is that like...? (41 comments)

Do you ignore the recent extreme temperature records on purpose, or what exactly do you consider "severe weather"?

I consider actual severe weather as predicted, not the supposed "extreme" temperature records (which aren't that far out of normal).

We were told that hurricanes, for example, would be increasing dramatically in the short term. The incidence of hurricanes - and hurricane severity - has gone down, for much the same reason as the article gives for increased lightning strikes.

We were told that snow would be a "thing of the past" in many parts of the world (such as the United Kingdom) by now. Nope.

Tornadoes increasing in frequency and power? For the same reason, AGAIN? Not so much.

The only straw you have to grasp at is "temperature extremes" - which aren't that extreme, and which are mostly showing up in urban centers, due to the Urban Heat Island effect. They're having some severe issues with measurement. For example, they set a new high temperature record for May (102 F) in Wichita, Kansas - but that "record" was at a thermometer surrounded by asphalt, in the middle of an airport, which has been surrounded by developments since the original record was set in 1933...

You should note, by the way, that the "scientific" global warming prediction wasn't for high temperature records, but for higher low temperatures at night and at higher latitudes.

about two weeks ago

How To Mathematically Predict Lightning Strikes

cirby Re:Is that like...? (41 comments)

An article about a study predicting increased lightning strikes due to global warming has nothing to do with all of the other (failed) studies predicting increased hazards due to global warming?

"All [models] in our ensemble predict that [the United State's] mean CAPE will increase over the 21st century, with a mean increase of 11.2 percent per degree Celsius of global warming,"

Do tell. How is this different?

Or is there some sort of rule about how things can be mentioned in stories, but not mentioned in the comments here?

about two weeks ago

How To Mathematically Predict Lightning Strikes

cirby Is that like...? (41 comments)

Predicting an increase in severe weather due to global warming (no, it hasn't happened)?

Predicting an increase in hurricanes and hurricane energy DtGW (again, no, it hasn't happened)?

Predicting a decrease in snowfall DtGW (once more, nope)?

Predicting the complete loss of the Arctic ice cap by 2014 DtGW (increasing, recently)?

Or any of the other myriad of weather-influenced increases or losses DtGW? That also, incidentally, haven't come to pass?

There is one almost-certain prediction that you can use: if someone predicts ANYTHING "due to Global Warming" with a target date of 2100, it's almost certainly wrong, wrong, wrong, and should be discarded immediately.

about two weeks ago

Pianist Asks Washington Post To Remove Review Under "Right To Be Forgotten"

cirby Re:As many have pointed out... (257 comments)

Actually, my reading skills are fine. It's his legal skills that are in a world of hurt.

For one thing, the actual complaint is that the bad review keeps turning up on the first page of his Google results. For another, the "right to be forgotten" was aimed at search engines, not content providers. Asking the Post to remove the review is, of course, way off base, legally.

He decided to use it to try and lose a bad review through using the RtbF as a censorship tool.

So everyone - yes, EVERYONE - should oblige him. You can't fire a shotgun and then pretend that only one pellet has an effect.

about three weeks ago

Pianist Asks Washington Post To Remove Review Under "Right To Be Forgotten"

cirby As many have pointed out... (257 comments)

Sure. Remove the Google link to the bad review.

And every other link to the guy. Forever.

No more searches on him, for the entire rest of his performing career.

It's the only way to keep that review from sneaking back into future search results.

about three weeks ago

France Investigating Mysterious Drone Activity Over 7 Nuclear Power Plant Sites

cirby Have they checked up on the Swiss Green Party? (128 comments)

They have a history of "direct action" against French nuclear plants.

They fired five RPG-7 rounds at the Superphenix when it was still under construction in 1982.

about a month ago

Pentagon Reportedly Hushed Up Chemical Weapons Finds In Iraq

cirby False (376 comments)

The people who sold chemical weapons tech to Iraq were European countries like Germany, assisted by France and others. The weapons casings were from Spain and China. The ones made in Spain were based on old US designs (which is mentioned in the article, but the part where they were knockoff designs without US input was glossed over).

The US sold Iraq some smaller helicopters and some agricultural insecticides (which were not, in any reasonable fashion, convertible to chemical weapons). We didn't sell them any sort of chemical weapons - or weapons of any kind, for that matter.

We did send them some biological agents - again, for agricultural purposes, like anthrax. Look up "American Type Culture Collection" for how this works. Iraq tried to repurpose the anthrax for weapons (and failed, apparently).

about a month and a half ago

Lockheed Claims Breakthrough On Fusion Energy Project

cirby Re:Not what they said (571 comments)

The test reactor (to prove that they can get fusion) is the short timeline.

The five year timeline is the first power-producing design.

about a month and a half ago

Flight Attendants Want Stricter Gadget Rules Reinstated

cirby We're ignoring them... (406 comments)

...because we've seen their act too many times, and pretty much everything except the location of the doors is common sense in the first place.

Anyone who can't figure that stuff out is probably traveling with an adult to handle the actual decisions.

about a month and a half ago

What Will It Take To Run a 2-Hour Marathon?

cirby 2075? Nope. (254 comments)

It's only "2075" if human performance follows a smooth curve.

What it will take in reality is two or three extreme performers in a group, each putting in a run equivalent to a Bob Beamon long jump. Actually, less. You're looking at about a five percent increase in performance versus the current world record.

There are certainly at least three people like that in the world right now - people with the right build, freakish VO2 max scores, and the sort of mental determination to stick with professional marathon running.

The problem is, they're probably not marathon runners - yet. Or possibly ever.

But sooner or later - and I'm betting sooner - it will happen. Probably closer to 2025 than 2075.

about a month and a half ago

Why Do Contextual Ads Fail?

cirby Except NewEgg (249 comments)

Lots and lots of NewEgg.

All of the time.


You can never get away...

about 1 month ago

AIDS Origin Traced To 1920s Kinshasa

cirby So remember: (162 comments)

HIV made a cross-species jump in the 1920s, and went on to kill millions.

But Ebola couldn't possibly mutate enough to survive slightly longer when exposed to air.

I feel much safer now.

about 2 months ago

Energy Utilities Trying To Stifle Growth of Solar Power

cirby Costs! (488 comments)

"These solar households are now buying less and less electricity, but the utilities still have to manage the costs of connecting them to the grid."

The pro-solar folks think the utilities should pay this cost, instead of the people who actually incur that cost? Do tell.

If the power companies didn't have to worry about connecting all of that moderately-erratic power to the grid, they could easily "build down" over the next decade or two - and chop lots of unprofitable customers from their systems. They could dump pretty much all of the rural customers, and wouldn't have to worry about capacity expansion in the near future. They could even shut down a lot of older power plants that are low performers, profit-wise, instead of having to fight the government to build new plants while trying to keep the old ones running.

about 2 months ago

South Australia Hits 33% Renewal Energy Target 6 Years Early

cirby "Has hit?" (169 comments)

You mean "they predict they will hit the target in six years." They hit 31.5%, and might have hit the 33% - if you believe a government spokesman.

This is only "locally-generated" power, by the way: they don't count the power imported from other states, and fail to mention that overall power generation in South Australia is expected to decline due to cheaper power imported from places like Victoria.

They also won't add "one additional dollar to energy prices" by adding the many additional dollars to taxes levied by the federal government.

about 2 months ago

High School Student Builds Gun That Unlocks With Your Fingerprint

cirby "its accuracy at detecting fingerprints is 99.99%" (600 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 2 months 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 3 months ago


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