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How to Maintain Lab Safety While Making Viruses Deadlier

timnbron Re: So ... (218 comments)

A gene has thousands, sometimes millions of base pairs.

about 4 months ago
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2 US Senators Propose 12-Cent Gas Tax Increase

timnbron Re:Good! (619 comments)

I'm actually surprised to find there are vehicles running on petrol there at all. New Zealand is tiny by American standards. You can't go 1000 miles in one direction without falling into the ocean from the furthest points, and in some places it's only 14 miles from coast-to-coast.

They have an extra tax per km for diesel which means it's roughly the same price for cars as petrol. Trucks are all diesel though.
Outside the city, there are very few decent motorways. The geography is quite complex. There are very few flat bits. And just outside the city there are plenty of gravel roads. They keep promising to tarmac them, but only a few km per year. Every year we have slumps and slips as the earth makes its way downhill. Most of the money gets spent on repairing them, and the big roading projects tend to favour the highways near the city.
It might be just over 1000 miles from end to end, but there's hills most of the way and a three hour ferry ride.

about 6 months ago
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2 US Senators Propose 12-Cent Gas Tax Increase

timnbron Re:Good! (619 comments)

$7.26 USD/gallon according to Google's latest exchange-rate thingy, but what is neglected is that New Zealand has at least four advantages that the US does not:

1) geographic size - infrastructure costs have to be orders of magnitude smaller.
2) smaller population, ergo less automobiles to pound on the aforementioned roads

Those two tend to cancel out. Yes, we've got less land area, but we've also got less people to pay for it. According to Wolfram Alpha, the population density in the US is double that of New Zealand.

3) the population is mostly concentrated in a couple of cities, and not of a huge relative geographical area. More folks can do mass transit there, and drive less often.

I wish. There is actually a substantial number scattered all over the country. The land was divided recently, so everyone got their block, which got divided several times for their children. One of the big hazards when driving is the numerous driveways everywhere. So cars became the norm. Public transport is good in the city, but it's certainly not mass transit. Outside the city there are a few bus routes, once an hour. Trains (outside the city) are for tourists. The only passenger trains we get here are for the annual steam run.
I wish we'd get serious about railways. We seem to treat them as buses on rails, going 40mph tops and winding all round the suburbs. It's very difficult to get around here without a car. I'd love to use my bicycle, but there are big hills in every direction, and that seems to be the norm here!

4) an immigration policy that would get us called Nazis if we implemented them here (see also the current immigration woes and their contribution to economic issues here in the US)

We have more Chinese than Maori. Didn't seem to stop them!

about 6 months ago
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Windows Blue: Microsoft's Plan To Release a New Version of Windows Every Year

timnbron Re:This is a good thing (712 comments)

Vista was an anomaly. I remember the chaos. I would guess that it was so resource hungry that Windows 7 didn't have much problem being slimmer...

about 2 years ago
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Can a Regular Person Repair a Damaged Hard Drive?

timnbron Re:One word (504 comments)

At school, I told my German teacher that the computer had crashed. She looked at me strangely, and then said she hoped I'd picked up all the pieces.

more than 2 years ago
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Kenya Seeks Nuclear Power Infrastructure

timnbron Re:viable alternatives? (180 comments)

... if they can steal tarmac off the road to make a floor for the house, I'm sure they'll grab a solar panel and rig a car headlamp to it...

more than 2 years ago
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Kenya Seeks Nuclear Power Infrastructure

timnbron Re:viable alternatives? (180 comments)

Could burn a few Australopithecines...

I'm guessing there's pressure on land and infrastructure - most of the electricity use is in the cities and there's not much of a power grid so big solar arrays may not be feasible. And too easy to pinch a panel or two...

more than 2 years ago
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Kenya Seeks Nuclear Power Infrastructure

timnbron Re:Expensive? (180 comments)

My friend gets by with one light bulb in the lounge. He's usually using 1-2kWh per month. I think he's about average for Nairobi suburbia. Some households might have a TV and fridge. And a few more light bulbs on at once.

more than 2 years ago
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LHC Homes In On Possible Higgs Boson Around 126GeV

timnbron Re:Yes we can! (210 comments)

I somehow never got this point. In the standard model, you're starting from a Lagrangian formulation of a quantum field theory, so the existence of a scalar product in the Hilbert space spanned by the theory automatically guarantees normalization of probabilities, no matter which physical values you attach to the parameters of your model. So if you're getting something larger than one, you must have made an error somewhere on the way, but that doesn't imply your entire model is wrong.

... I somehow never got this point...

about 3 years ago
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NASA Creates Super-Black Carbon Nanotube Coating

timnbron Re:heat (132 comments)

The infra red space telescopes are positioned out of the sun ('behind' the earth) in order to keep cool. However, there's still the heat from the electronics, and there's no way to get rid of that apart from by radiating the heat away. Black radiates well, hence colouring it black will keep the spacecraft cool.

In sunlight, more heat is coming in than going out, hence black cars get hot, and normal spacecraft are coloured silver (or similar) to make them highly reflective and bounce the heat off. (Even those spacecraft will often have dark surfaces on the other side in order to keep cool.)

I'm guessing that the Blackbird SR-71 got so hot with the engines, that painting it black would result in far more heat radiated than the sun would put back in. It's all a matter of balancing heat in and heat out.

The summary is a little wrong: "Because the light absorption level is so high, the super-black material will also keep temperatures down for the instruments it is used on." I think that should be "Because the heat radiation level is so high, the super-black material will also keep temperatures down for the instruments it is used on."

more than 3 years ago
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Ohio Supreme Court Drawn Into Magnetic Homes Case

timnbron Re:Highly Suspect (462 comments)

I did an experiment years ago on a 5 inch floppy disk and a fridge magnet. I had to put the magnet in direct contact with the disk surface itself before I got any corruption. If it took that much on a 1980s floppy, it must surely take much more on a shielded and enclosed hard drive.

Cathode ray tubes certainly. Used to have lots of fun making the screen change colour, until my parents got upset. But it would still take a very strong field even for that.

more than 3 years ago
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Synaptic Dropped From Ubuntu 11.10

timnbron Re:Goodbye Ubuntu (360 comments)

Luxury! When I were a lad, we had to hand code the packages in byte by byte, and t'Gaffer would delete the lot if we got a byte wrong!

more than 3 years ago
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France Planning Non-Windows Tablet Tax?

timnbron Re:"Planing?" (227 comments)

Need whooshed...

more than 3 years ago
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Tracking Down a Single-Bit RAM Error

timnbron Re:Radioactive packaging (277 comments)

Very interesting. We had a problem in telephone exchanges about 25 years ago. All data was held in memory - no disk drives (except for billing records I recall). Some little old granny would mysteriously acquire a premium service. It only affected the lines that were hardly ever used. It was tracked down to "alpha particle corruption", which gradually eroded the charge, which effectively flipped the bit to a 1 and gave the subscriber a random service.

Don't know any more than that, but the old hand that described it to me, did so with unusual glee...

more than 4 years ago
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Digitally Filtering Out the Drone of the World Cup

timnbron Re:Marketing tip for next time (602 comments)

Easy! Just infiltrate the crowd with thousands of trained trumpeters who play them 2.128ms after the person standing next to them!

Pity, that only cuts out one harmonic. However, I've occasionally had problems playing trombone next to a bass guitar. The amplified tone somehow cancels out my note and all I get is a muffled rasp.

Maybe we could have speakers concealed under the seats carefully tuned to play the exact opposite of whatever they pick up around them?

I know - how about installing colonies of African wasps trained to attack anything that sounds like them?

more than 4 years ago
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HTML5 vs. Flash — the Case For Flash

timnbron Re:Counterpoint (510 comments)

Good grief.

I'm just saying that with ad blockers becoming more common, and a technology that is potentially harder to block, advertisers would potentially pay extra for inline content.

Whether they will is another matter. I'm not bothered.

more than 4 years ago
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HTML5 vs. Flash — the Case For Flash

timnbron Re:Counterpoint (510 comments)

It may be now, but if I was an advertiser I'd see a strong case to require sites to embed it within the page. They couldn't do that with flash, but they can with HTML5

more than 4 years ago
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HTML5 vs. Flash — the Case For Flash

timnbron Re:Counterpoint (510 comments)

Not if it's done as embedded javascript and canvas within the page. You can block a flash download easily, but I'm guessing it would be harder to block canvas functionality, and it's messy trying to block a specific DIV or other element within the HTML

more than 4 years ago

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