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Comments

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Should Nuclear and Renewable Energy Supporters Stop Fighting?

sam_vilain Nuclear: your granddad's power of the future (551 comments)

Nuclear power has a larger carbon footprint than you might think: from the concrete used to build the stations, to the energy used in the mining, extraction and refining processes to produce the fuel. It can take more than 6 years to mitigate the energy used in building of the facility, let alone the actual construction costs.

On account of the fact that every utility scale fission reactor design is really nuclear steam power, every watt of power it produces requires two watts of heat dissipation using water. Of course this means the plants have to shut down if it's too hot, and that source of fresh water you were drawing on is not as cool as it was when the plant was built (eg, due to climate change).

It's also super expensive, because risks must be mitigated; some have pointed out this has led to a negative learning curve of nuclear power.

Much as it is kind of cool that people are using nuclear physics to make power, it really is very dated technology. Phasing it out in favor of cheaper, safer alternatives is a much better idea: with the advent of flow batteries, liquid metal batteries, you don't need to have peaking power plants paired with the renewables. You just need more renewables.

about 10 months ago
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Tremors Mean Antarctic Volcanism May Be Heating Up

sam_vilain speaking of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet's groundi (132 comments)

It's a good point, and I'm sure in areas where the sheet is no longer grounded the force applied to the bedrock is more a function of the depth than how much ice remains above. Want to see some science of that, too? How about a sedimentary core project from the very sheet in question? They found that the sheet responds to immense warming by disintegrating, which it did not do during the last few interglacials. On the longer scale (eg, since India collided with Asia), it has done it several times.

1 year,5 days
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Tremors Mean Antarctic Volcanism May Be Heating Up

sam_vilain Prepare not to be surprised (132 comments)

There's a great book covering some of the science on this topic; reviewed here on NewScientist; very much worth the read. Actually what happens is that the crust "rebounds" in two phases. You can use the first phase to weigh the ice sheet as they are doing in Greenland. Then, the athenosphere (the molten layer, 15-150km deep which the crust/lithosphere sits atop) slowly slops in there and supplies extra heat and magma; generally quite a slow process, with some rebound from the last ice age still occurring.

Upshot: it's certainly possible that the events are related.

1 year,7 days
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US Lawmakers Want Sanctions On Any Country Taking In Snowden

sam_vilain Right of asylum cannot be assumed (650 comments)

From a quick check on the Wikipedia page on it:

Protected grounds include race, nationality, religion, political opinions and membership and/or participation in any particular social group or social activities.

While I can't claim to be intimately fimiliar with the relevant international law: the UN CRSR (1951) probably applies. It specifically doesn't apply to "War Criminals", but I'm not sure what else.

Business Insider have a somewhat cynical take on Snowden's asylum claim which I think is worth reading.

about a year ago
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Collision Between Water and Energy Is Underway, and Worsening

sam_vilain waste entropy is waste (189 comments)

The Union of Concerned Scientists has a good guide on this; also distinguishing between water withdrawal and water consumption.

about a year ago
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FTC Gets 744 New Ideas On How To Hang Up On Robocallers

sam_vilain Presumably one of the was Real Time Blacklisting (281 comments)

If there was a widely publicized shortcode you could text with a number to say has been spam calling you then people could do that, and set up an ENUM–style directory which has the RBL info for use by phone companies.

Also phone companies could text people with information about this shortcode the first time every month that a previously unknown number makes a call or sends a message (until they say STOP of course ;-))

Might work for mobile spam, at least.

about 2 years ago
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Texas State Rep. Files 2 Bills To Ban RFID In Schools

sam_vilain Re:Can someone remind me why this is sinister? (297 comments)

RFID offers a better way of tracking students while they're on campus, which in turn increases the number of seat hours while holding down the costs of keeping detailed attendance records.

If anything, this strikes me as a benefit. All the teacher then has to do is a head count, I guess. Assuming that children and teachers don't conspire to arrange for a perfect attendance, discrepancies should catch either side gaming the measurement.

But stick it on a kid and suddenly everyone goes full retard. As if.

Besides, it's nothing that can't be solved with a suitable application of Faraday cages ;-)

about 2 years ago
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Texas State Rep. Files 2 Bills To Ban RFID In Schools

sam_vilain Can someone remind me why this is sinister? (297 comments)

I mean, it's not like the kids have to be implanted with the badges. You can easily leave the badge somewhere if you want to go somewhere naughty. Is there something I've missed?

about 2 years ago
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Scary Toothbrush Prompts Shutdown of World's Busiest Airport

sam_vilain My suitcase was vibrating? (284 comments)

Nine time out of ten, it's an electric toothbrush. But, every once in a while ... it's a dildo.

(with apologies to Fight Club)

about 2 years ago
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Insurance Industry Looking Hard At Climate Change

sam_vilain Let me google that for you (156 comments)

Oh look, I found an interesting discussion about that very post from John Christy of UAH, posted on notorious denier Roger Pielke Jr's blog. The great thing about blogs as compared to scientific journals is that you get to choose your "pal review"! Who will notice if you mis–represent the original data, and use a flawed dataset?

One comment really nails it, and I can't link to it individually, so I'll just include it here:

The first thing I noticed when looking at Christy’s graph was that Hansen’s scenario B had been replotted to make it appear that it tracks scenario A very closely. It doesn’t, it never has. The graph on Real Climate uses the original data http://www.realclimate.org/images/Hansen

The next thing that was obvious was that the RSS and UAH temperature graph shows very little warming. I thought this issue was supposed to have been rectified after Spencer and Christy corrected the errors relating to orbital drift (meaning the temps were taken at progressively later times each day).

After making the corrections (version 5.2) the data now correlates with other global temperature records such as those of NASA and the CRU (remember when the skeptics always relied on the RSS / UAH temperature records, until it came to light that it was wrong).
Detail - http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/fu
Summary - http://www.ssmi.com/msu/msu_data_descrip
UAH Data - http://vortex.nsstc.uah.edu/data/msu/t2l
RSS Data - http://vortex.nsstc.uah.edu/data/msu/t2l
Comparison Data - http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temper
Hansen’s Data - http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/docs/1988/1988

It appears that Christy has chosen to use the old data in his comparison. In effect, what he’s done is to exaggerate the warming predicted in Hansen’s Scenario B (the one Hansen always said was most likely) and then downplay the true amount of warming that has occurred.

When the real data are used it becomes apparent how accurate Hansen’s scenario B projections have actually been – not exact but pretty close. Considering Jim’s 1988 projections were based on single inputs then this is quite impressive.

about 2 years ago
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Insurance Industry Looking Hard At Climate Change

sam_vilain They also need premiums to exceed payouts (156 comments)

You know, that whole solvency thing is pretty important. I think you're thinking of the gun industry.

Also, Sandy's storm surge, plus the Spring Tide, and the 1 foot of mean SLR since 1900, added up to that 2-3 metres. And also bear in mind: ice sheets are all melting far faster than expected; and also because of ocean currents and other effects, that "mean Sea Level Rise" can very dramatically depending on where you are. In a capitalist society, high flood insurance premiums are the appropriate signal to discourage people to either a) not build in low–lying areas or b) finally give a damn about Global Warming.

Heh, our /. userids differ by 11111 :-)

about 2 years ago
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Insurance Industry Looking Hard At Climate Change

sam_vilain as a non–scientist, I presume (156 comments)

This is how you do science: you repeat the method to test the hypothesis. The article hints at what these adjustments entail:

"These included the volcanic eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991, which spewed sunlight-blocking particles into the atmosphere, as well as the collapse of industry in the Soviet Union or the economic growth of China, ..."

This is similar to Hansen's 1987 (iirc) papers, which were based on a random prediction of a volcanic eruption in a particular year but it turned out to guess the year wrong. Predicting such events, which have a short term effect on the climate, is a guessing game. The numbers were pretty close, but if you repeat the method and replace the projections of CO2 emissions and aerosol emissions from volcanic and other sources, then they end up spot on.

These days, with more computing power available to run more detailed models more times, they do many model runs with a the random natural factors, and end up with a spectrum of results. This allows confidence intervals to be achieved. Hansen, in 1987, didn't have the resources for that; just like Sverre Arrhenius certainly couldn't do that when he estimated a 2C climate sensitivity from his manual model runs in ~1897.

about 2 years ago
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Electric Car Environmental Impact: Power Source Matters

sam_vilain Citation provided (341 comments)

Didn't mean to make that an AC post. Been so long since I posted here ;-) Here's the link to the DoE study on EV road wheel efficiency I took the figure from. Hint: it's 24lb's of COe

more than 2 years ago
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Civil Suit Filed, Involving the Time Zone Database

sam_vilain Source is on ftp.debian.org and others (433 comments)

The source is so widely replicated it would be difficult to truly retract, for example it's here for those who are interested in looking at it to look for potentially infringing pieces.

more than 3 years ago
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British Company Takes Lead To Stop Asteroids

sam_vilain Well, possibly. (198 comments)

But the thing is you still need a store of special matter for those ion thrusters to eject, even though they're ejecting it at high velocity. And it's probably harder to store that matter than a 10T chunk of whatever you can commandeer in space, even though you might be solar powering the drive itself. What you're suggesting would be a good "first stage", useful for moving a relatively small object (perhaps there are some at the La Grange spots) into an orbit slightly different to that of the impact asteroid, so you don't have to launch that mass into space. At which point, I'd suspect there are some tricks you can use to deflect the energy of the impact asteroid into a slightly different orbit, effectively using the large weight as a "ballast" and the interception weight as a "sail", with the gravity between the objects the "mast".

ie, you might get a lot more total delta-V of the combined objects compared to the delta-V you expend with thrusters to adjust the interception vessel occasionally, due to the profile of the combined shape through the space-time slope at that point.

more than 5 years ago

Submissions

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'Avatar/Website Blackout' over .nz Copyright Law

sam_vilain sam_vilain writes  |  more than 5 years ago

sam_vilain writes ""Copyright holders" in New Zealand have successfully managed to subvert the democratic process and enact a law that was almost universally rejected during commission stages as vague and turning ISPs into 'police' for the entertainment industry. As a result, New Zealanders are being faced with disconnections of their internet connections over mere accusations from these groups. They are calling on people to "black out" their Avatars and Web Site themes in protest. "Innocent until proven guilty" has been a long standing legal principle dating back to Greek times and codified in Roman Law, though the maxim/catchphrase is more recent than that."
Link to Original Source
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sam_vilain sam_vilain writes  |  more than 7 years ago

sam_vilain writes "Nominations are now open in the first ever New Zealand Open Source Awards. They cover achievements and contributions over the last 10 years, and categories exist for Open Source Ambassador, Contributor, Best OSS Project, as well as awards for Government, Business, Education and Community sectors. Go nominate a kiwi today! nb it says "OSS" but it really means "Free Software" ;)"
Link to Original Source

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