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Ask Slashdot: Best Alternative To the Canonical Computer Science Degree?

rplst8 News Flash... (347 comments)

News flash... The purpose of college is not necessarily to train you for a job.

about a year and a half ago

The End of the Gas Guzzler

rplst8 Can't change physics (897 comments)

Honestly, there is no way from "here to there" when it comes to fuel efficiency from an ICE. We are hovering around ~30% efficiency for modern mid-sized automobiles. Some estimates put that at a lower figure. The maximum efficiency theoretically possible is limited by the Carnot cycle, and I think it's ~60% if IIRC. There are two other factors you can play with: weight and energy recovery. As far as weight goes, heavier cars are actually MORE efficient (weight to fuel wise). It's why buses are more efficient than cars. Believe it or not, a tractor trailer getting ~4-6mpg is way more efficient than a Honda Accord. It's carrying 80,000 lbs and the Honda is only moving about 3000 lbs. This argument doesn't hold much water though when you simply talking about people moving. The tendency in the US is for everyone to drive their own car. Therefore, the person-miles/gallon is fairly low but this is really about weight efficiency. If I move a 200 lbs object with a 3000 lbs one, my weight efficiency ratio is less than 1:10. Adding people just raises that ratio. The other option is to lower the weight of the transportation. This is tough to do, and keep cars safe. Most increases in automobile safety has come from: collapsible steering wheels, seat belts, and crumple zones. Don't expect that other "industrial" vehicles will go down in weight though. They may make the vehicle lighter, but the load will just go up. It will still be 80,000 lbs tractor trailers vs 3000 lbs vehicles. There is a point at which no amount of crumple zones will save you when these two things collide. A fix for this side effect might be self driving cars that nearly never crash. Though, in this scenario you make crashes less likely, but increase their rate of fatality. As for energy recovery it seems that the mechanical/electrical cycle provided by batteries is one of the best, but don't expect it to improve highway figures by much. Around town there still could be some improvement, as wind resistance is low as so is friction. The highway is a different matter, and that is evidenced by the current figures from existing hybrids. The only way to improve those numbers is to reduce friction and wind resistance. One is materials science (friction) and I'm sure it's possible but pricey. Options there must be carefully weighed to ensure that what ever new near friction-less material is sustainable and doesn't cause more CO2 just to make it compared to the fuel savings. A second option (wind resistance) is largely based on aesthetics. Will people buy cars that look funny? Hard to answer that one as tastes change.

more than 3 years ago

German Parliament Backs Nuclear Exit By 2022

rplst8 Oh you guys... (364 comments)

Quit posting news from the Onion. Oh, wait. Germany did what?!!

more than 3 years ago

DVRs, Cable Boxes Top List of Home Energy Hogs

rplst8 Re:Yeah but... NO DUH (324 comments)

Less efficient how? In general? When produced through a Carnot Cycle? When produced from coal? If the electricity were generated from a nuclear power station or solar, it is most certianly *very* efficeint. Yes it *can* cost more... but that's only if your house has some other cheaper form of heat. Mine doesn't, and to replace it with something that does, would take 15-20 years to recoup the savings, provided the maintenance and/or cost of fuel doesn't rise appreciably WRT to electricity prices. I agree it doesn't help in the summer, which is why I stated that in my original reply.

more than 3 years ago

DVRs, Cable Boxes Top List of Home Energy Hogs

rplst8 Efficiency only matters some of the time... (324 comments)

I do think it's somewhat silly that these cable boxes need to use that much power and haven't incorporated modern energy saving techniques. However, much like incandescent bulbs this only matters when the heat isn't running in your house. During the Winter in the southern US and Fall/Winter/Spring in the northern US, wasteful electric appliances just help to heat your house and reduce whatever bill you have for other sources of heat. This is the reason I think living somewhere "slightly chilly" is a greener. We are going to have to use electricity anyway, and electric devices will never be 100% efficient, therefore, the waste heat produced can be used to help heat a space. In climates where A/C is required, not only are you wasting energy to cool your living space, you are also wasting 2x as much as is wasted by any electronic device in your home.

more than 3 years ago

Silverlight Developers Rally Against Windows 8

rplst8 Re:I am a Silverlight Developer (580 comments)

The "best" tool for the job is often the most conveniently available tool for the job...

The "best" tool for the job is the one you have. FTFY

more than 3 years ago

Fukushima Radioactive Fallout Nears Chernobyl Levels

rplst8 Re:Sensational! (537 comments)

The thing is, the risk is appropriate when compared to other power sources. Accidents happen, and sure there are safer designs and if the economics are there to support it, then do it. However, I think the benefits that electricity (and therefore nuclear power generation) have provided save millions of lives every year and do it in a safer manner than coal.

more than 3 years ago

Scientists Suggest Protocol For Contacting Aliens

rplst8 RFC 2549 (1 comments)

I suggest IP over Avian Carriers. The birds are generally pretty friendly to strangers as long as you have food.

more than 3 years ago

The Very 1st American Newsreel of Sputnik Launch

rplst8 HAL (1 comments)

Check out the gratuitous ad placement at 0:37

more than 3 years ago

Microsoft and Adobe CEOs meet, purportely plan world domination

rplst8 I hear an evil laugh (1 comments)

Muuuuwhaaaaaaa. Haaaaaa. Haaaaa. Haa haa haa haaaaaaaaaaaa.

more than 3 years ago

Real price of each pack of cigarettes is $149

rplst8 Not quite... (1 comments)

The premature death costs are bogus. Unless we don't have a right to not contribute to society. Hmmm... that might be a double negative.

more than 3 years ago

Selling Incandescent Light Bulbs As Heating Devices

rplst8 banning incandescent bulbs is silly (557 comments)

Banning incandescent light bulbs in any household requiring heat for more than half of the year is really really silly. People will just end up burning more oil/coal/NG to compensate in the winter months.

more than 3 years ago

Why Engineers Don't Like Twitter

rplst8 Fuddy Duddies. (460 comments)

EE's don't tweet cause they are all old.

more than 4 years ago

Comcast In Deal Talks With NBC Universal

rplst8 Good news (160 comments)

Well that's just Comcastic!

more than 4 years ago

Federal Summit Eyes Crackdown On Texting While Driving

rplst8 Moronic criminalization of society (408 comments)

This sort of thing is nothing but sensationalism and panic mongering. Over all numbers of traffic fatalities have decreased in number year after year since the mid 1970s. The rate of them per million miles driven has decreased linearly since the late 1960s. The numbers and rate have also decreased in the last 10 years as well. The number of injuries in car accidents has also declined in car accidents since the mid 1990's as well as the rate at which they occur. Lastly, the overall number of non-fatal accidents has also decreased from 2007 to 2008 as it has in previous years too. See this link for more info: Cell phone usage has exploded exponentially however with cell phone use growing from some 34 million handsets in the U.S. in the 1990s to over 208 million in 2008. That's a 600% increase. Text message use has also exploded in the last 5 years jumping from something like 10 billion to 100 billion messages sent. So tell me exactly how cell phone usage has anything to do with making our highways less safe? Correlation does not imply causation.

more than 4 years ago



The Big Fuel Cell Secret of Silicon Valley

rplst8 rplst8 writes  |  more than 4 years ago

rplst8 (828331) writes "Last night the CBS news program 60 Minutes aired an exclusive interview they had with entrepreneur K.R. Sridhar about his "Bloom Box" fuel cell technology. Skeptics remain, but according to the story many tech companies in Silicon Valley have already been doing trials with his alternative electricity generating machines."
Link to Original Source


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