Commented on Mitochondrial Singularity
Leap before, during and after you look! "Demand expands to overmatch capacity.". WG Which is to say demand aided by imagination, as capacity has none....
Commented on The Anthropic Stupidity Hypothesis
Is stupidity fatal? Only the smart know for sure. Only as weak/dumbest as your strongest/smartest link. The weak (don't get) break(s) and fall behind, the strong don't and break away....
Zorro commented on
I think that current wind and solar PV technology is basically "good enough" on a technical basis though financial viability varies widely with region. The conversion efficiency is high enough, the EROEI is adequate-to-good, and there aren't any critical mineral bottlenecks, despite what junior mining company promoters might say. The big remaining problem is storage. Current storage technology is probably good enough for tropical locations like Hawaii, where you mostly need diurnal buffering. It is still far from good enough for extreme latitudes that don't get much winter sun and could have weeks of inadequate wind. On the bright side,...
heteromeles commented on
I'm happy to agree to disagree. On a related issue, I saw a nice graph (via TreeHugger) of efficiency advances in solar cells over time. It's good to see all the data in one space: http://www.nrel.gov/ncpv/images/efficiency_chart.jpg Treehugger article at http://www.treehugger.com/slideshows/energy-efficiency/all-solar-efficiency-breakthroughs-single-chart/ I don't know whether anyone can derive the equivalent of Moore's Law for solar cells from these data, but the one I find most interesting are the organic cells at the bottom right corner. They're inefficient, but they also appear to be increasing in efficiency faster than most of the other forms ever did. I wonder where they will top...
Jay commented on
Each solar cell type has its ups and downs. Gallium arsenide is most efficient, but gallium is not so abundant and the process gases are worrisome. Silicon is abundant but energy-intensive to make and the indirect bandgap reduces efficiency (it's a solid state physics thing). Organics are potentially cheap, but degrade relatively rapidly because oxygen diffuses into plastics (this is also, incidentally, the reason beer is not usually sold in plastic bottles). All of them have substantial costs and energy losses at the systems integration level (connecting the photocells to the grid). As for whether any of them winds up...
Trottelreiner commented on
Well, actually, life and telos or cause have had a complex relationship, even today there are some studies that use a "causal role" instead of a "selected for role", http://pipeline.corante.com/archives/2013/02/25/encode_the_nastiest_dissent_ive_seen_in_quite_some_time.php which might relate to the philosophical discussions about funtional explanations, especially in biology and social sciences: http://www.iep.utm.edu/func-exp/ On a more fundamental level, one of the first biologists was one Aristotle, http://www.iep.utm.edu/aris-bio/ whose eternal fate seems to be to remembered for what he got wrong and not what he got right. ;) Now Aristotle is big on something he calls "telos", which might mean "purpose" or "end". Though in the case...
Trottelreiner commented on
On Aristotle in General, there is a classical, though maybe somewhat triumphalist quip by one Richard Dawkins: http://ncse.com/book/export/html/3401 As already mentioned, Aristotle was wrong, but he was progress compared to some of his predecessors. Who, incidentally, might have gotten some things more right than Aristotle, but for the wrong reasons.  Democritus is credited the concept of atoms, and he had some primitive notions on natural selection. Though Aristotle argued against Democritus' ideas about the latter: Democritus, however, neglecting the final cause, reduces to necessity all the operations of nature. Now they are necessary, it is true, but yet they...
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- Common Misconceptions About Publishing—a series of essays about the industry I work in.
- How I Got Here In The End —my non-writing autobiography, or what I did before becoming a full-time writer.
- Unwirer—an experiment in weblog mediated collaborative fiction.
- Shaping the Future—a talk I gave on the social implications of Moore's Law.
- Japan: first impressions — or, what I did on my holidays
- Inside the MIT Media Lab—what it’s like to spend a day wandering around the Media Lab.
- The High Frontier, Redux — space colonization: feasible or futile?
- “Nothing like this will be built again”—inside a nuclear reactor complex.
- Old blog—2003-2006 (RIP)