41 posts • joined 20 Jan 2010
Why do it?
Even if we never get beyond the solar system:
(1) Kepler has provided a lot of info as to not just the existence of planets, but how they form. When you've one solar system to study, you can come up with all sorts of theories. When you've got to explain a thousand planetary systems, you winnow out a lot of the wrong ideas.
This in turn helps explain a lot about our solar system: e.g. Whats inside Neptune and Uranus? the makeup of a lot of planetary moons and Kuiper belt objects, etc. which may harbour life.
(1) Is there life? if not, why not? Is something killing off life before it spreads?
Not exactly a purely philosophical question. Are Gamma-Ray bursts sterilizing the galaxy?
10yr old computer? Not true
You don't need a 10yr old computer. You can use a VM for that you know.
We do this for a website we need to access that requires Netscape 4.7.
Where's the image?
Umm. This is news because this is nearly the first planet we have an image of.
How about showing the actual image rather than an artists impression?
Re: Science doesn't do equal weight
Because it is the very opposite of the "balance" it claims to aspire to.
Each article of evidence is "counterbalanced" by a repeat of the same denialist statement. If you read all the articles, you get 49 new pieces of information on one side, 49 repeats of the same "counterbalance" on the other.
For anyone who is not paying attention and reading every article over the course of a decade, the issue looks "balanced" rather than seeing the sum of the evidence on both sides.
Then, when someone does a summary of all the evidence, and comes out on one side, instead of reporting their summary, you get this summary which includes the minority evidence, "counterbalanced" with another 50% of the article on the minority side.
When reporting opinion, balance and quote all opinions. When quoting facts, " just the facts, ma'm", and let the reader decide.
Science doesn't do equal weight
It was good to see the BBC move from "equal weighting" in reporting scientific stories.
It was annoying that over that time period, for each story presenting new evidence in favour of climate change, an equal proportion of the story was given summarising "the opposing view". At the end of fifty articles presenting evidence you'd be forgiven for thinking the situation hadn't changed, rather than realising you'd read 49 pieces of evidence on one side, one on the other. It was especially infuriating when the report was for example describing the IPCC results: when the story was in itself a summary of all the evidence, you then dedicated the next 50% of the article to the denialist opinion!
"Equal weight" should apply to opinion pieces, not summaries of the evidence.
Suprisingly enough, no.
> 1. They will find that the impact is adverse and we must stop making noise in the oceans
We know this already, and we should be quieter. OTOH, with ships slowing down because of oil costs, its likely to be quieter. Also, better propeller designs to save fuel will cause less cavitation and noise.
I have a nit, though: the whales _could_ have been this noisy, but they only "talk" loud enough to be heard. If they didn't need to shout over the engines, then they needn't have been so noisy?
Unfortunately, the senior review is purely within NASA. A good review here is necessary for the project to not be nixed by Congress, but doesn't in itself guarantee funding.
This review just says "we like them all equally - you decide" in the face of congressional cuts.
Re: You forgot a life-form in the feeding frenzy food chain...
Can you support either statement?
Yes, the algae consume CO2, and benefit from CO2. But we've nowhere near enough satellite observations (or Southern Ocean obs. period) to say how much effect Anthropogenic climate change has had on algal blooms.
As for, "will balance out over the next century or so", all our observations (paleoclimate, fossils) and theory show the time to "balance out" and recover are multiple millenia.
Re: Re: Bummer.
Think of how DRM works, and what it requires. Identification of reader, authentication, access control built into the fundamental layers. With end-to-end security to make sure nothing gets copied.
Every HTML server will be identifying its readers, just to enable some pages that have commercial content on them.
If the infrastructure is put in place, it could make any form of whistleblowing, etc. impossible.
Hence its quite reasonable to say, "fine, if you want to do b&m, but go do it somewhere else with consenting adults only, rather than making it compulsory".
Re: Re: Not Dead - merely sleeping
Why has oil well count become a useful metric all of a sudden?
Its because oil prices have gone up, making smaller reserves economical. Sorry but this was obvious, and irrelevant, for years.
Strange how there isn't a graph showing oil production.
Instead the problem is "redefined" away to include synthetic oil. Well, duh! the whole point was that fossil fuel is a finite resource, and energy needs to come from somewhere else. It was "Peak OIL" not "Peak ENERGY".
And someone who points out oil production (from fossil sources) can't rise forever is just saying a trite point of physics. of course it can't. Why are they "Eco-tards"?
Re: Sometimes the answer is "we just don't know"
What does a disastrous flood we know about and have forecast look like? a wet day.
The councils know major rain is coming, have all the trucks ready (not in the garage being serviced), prioritize cleaning leaves from the gutters, lower the river water level, and life goes on, miserable and damp, but not flooded.
What happens when we predict major rainfall, and empty a dam ahead of time so that it doesn't burst? another boring wet day.
What happens when we predict icy roads properly? we don't need thousands of workers out every night over winter, gritting the road just in _case_ it might be icy later. We only do it on nights when its actually going to be icy.
When we predict weather better, the weather doesn't get magically better, we just don't have as many disasters. We harvest more crops, knowing tomorrow and the next day will be dry and the day after will be pouring, so we can schedule collecting hay better, etc.
Its easy not to notice the day to day improvements due to better forecasting.
I've listened to too many rants from people complaining they were working in the garden at 11:30 and it started drizzling, when the forecast predicted rain in the afternoon. Look what it was like before folks: we're no longer losing dozens of ships in a single night because of storms we didn't predict!
Re: New Computamabobs...
At this price range, power consumed is significant.
After about 2 years, its typically cheaper to buy a new HPC machine than run the old one, in terms of electricity.
Example: when we upgraded our cluster back in 2008, we went from a 3 TF machine that consumed 120 kW of electricity to a 30 TF machine consuming 110 kW.
Now you _can_ upgrade the machine (we did in 2010) by adding better processors, but by 3-4 years, everything else in the system is getting old, too: the internal infiniband networks in particular.
And then there's the miracle of warranty engineering, and the way everything starts to break magically at 2years + 1 day old.
Evidence to back that up?
The UK Met Office is independently audited on its record and reliability (as are most Met offices).
Have a look e.g. in its annual reports for references. Typically it returns a 10-15 fold benefit to the country : crops, cost saved by knowing of incoming events, etc.
On seasonal and long-term forecasting, the problem is lack of input data, mostly, particularly ocean data (yes, models will be wrong, too, but unless you know what the ocean currents were, you can't compare observations and model to diagnose the model ...). This has been changing dramatically in the last 5-10 years with Argo floats, new satellites for salinity, sea surface height, ...
We can now do seasonal forecasting for certain areas of the globe 3-7 years out. Not Europe, yet, but we have good reason to believe it can be done. Seasonal and decadal forecasts have been visibly getting better year-on-year. I've more experience with the ECMWF and other European climate models that the recent HadGEM ones from UKMO, but they've all been improving, with increases in computing power enabling us to get certain features right.
When sources like the Daily Mail and Telegraph diss the UKMO because they don't like climate science, and then go on to predict -20 Novembers and blizzard headlines (which, didn't happen, not that they noticed), I tend to call BS.
The public need to see the debate.
The point of the FOIA is to make the debate public.
You aim to make "one thing in private, another in public" impossible, by minimising the stuff that is kept private. Small scale discussions still happen in private (we don't record everything advisers says in the corridor to ministers, etc), and there are exceptions in the legislation on military,
diplomatic matters (but strictly limited).
But co-ordinating big lies becomes too difficult. e.g. telling voters "We're abolishing trident" vs in private "Don't worry, we're keeping it, really" becomes tricky when describing to thousands of civil servants whats going on: if we're abolishing trident, whats this budget item? do we really need all that accomodation for sailors from 2014 onwards, etc. ...
Less than free
FB and other social networks. email services, etc. cost less than free because google, etc. are willing to spend money to make a consumer of you.
So people move from open-source solutions (free, but for your time) to gmail, etc. because its even cheaper than 'free'.
But once FB, Google+ start charging, there's a market for open-source alternatives. (eg. Diaspora, which is just about ready for prime time.) The only way that web2.0 companies can stop this is if they've built in controls: you can't get your data (or get to your friends, etc).
Strange, I would have thought TheReg would be in favour of net neutrality. Do you really think the Reg is big enough to say No when BigContent has control of the pipes, and demands a cut in returning for you reaching your readers?
They're used to it
They've been using lasers from the observatories in the canaries for some time now,
such as from the Isaac Newton telescope there:
The lasers are used to create an "artificial star" in the field of view of the telescope by fluorescing sodium atoms in the upper atmosphere (you need a bright star in the image to align the optics with).
Newer telescope plans have lots of laser stars (10-20) and beams, e.g. for the EELT (42m) telescope that ESO is building.
Windows? to look out of, of course
The film wasn't all about realism (err .. the black monoliths) but they got some bits right.
They were going to Jupiter to _look_ at what was there. They'd have to anticipate maneuvering when they get there too : the Apollo astronauts did look out the window for maneuvering, but very little (mostly _not_ on the way to the moon, but on the way back).
As for the coriolis / osmotic issues, the importance of these was underestimated before skylab ...
i.e. after the movie.
You don't. You take the lift, which gets rid of these strange disconcerting bits for you ...
Whoosh, the point flies by.
In Britain and Ireland, we lack the concept of "A Facebook" or "School Yearbook", in most schools, not just the name for it.
(Or at least we did. I wouldn't be suprised to see more of them come in, but its an American (from your name, the Larger sense of American) idea.
It is federated
Speaking as someone running their own server ("pod" in Diaspora speak), it is federated.
There are bits that can be improved on, but yes, you run a diaspora server, anyone with an account on one can exchange information with accounts on others, so there is no central point of failure.
As for Ruby, I'm not very familiar with RubyOnRails, but you may be more on the money there. As a Debian developer, there's lots of bits to do before its as simple as "apt-get install diaspora". They have a very network-centric (github-centric) workflow. You check out the source from git, it downloads lots of Ruby packages. On the one hand, new features and bugfixes come fast , as in fcebook land, the code is in continuous development rather than "1.0 2.0 " releases. Very different from the stable-upgrades-every-year-or-two Debian model. But the other hand, tracking the security of that code is .. challenging.
Nope, just copied.
Nope, Google+ just copied the "Aspects" idea for its "Circles" in G+.
You know, copying the better ideas of others, dropping the bad stuff, and adding your own ideas?
The kind of stuff people used to do before they called it "IP" and pretended they invented everything themselves?
How much of the data is Skype
Or other voice?
One of the main uses of my 3G modem is skype and other voice calls, when at relatives beyond broadband or in hotels with non-free broadband.
You seem to have forgotten Samsung's Galaxy Tab and the iPad front.
Thats another battalion of Androids that needing reinforcing, from Googles POV.
Danger Will Robinson!
<b>Because the carbon price raises revenue, it provides an opportunity to cut other taxes.</b>
Yikes. Beware. It doesn't work like that.
There are two types of taxes: (1) to collect revenue. (2) To change behaviour. Don't confuse them.
Otherwise, If you actually succeed in changing behaviour then all your revenue disappears ...
We've had this in Ireland with motor vehicle taxes. They moved from being engine-capacity based to CO2-based. Everyone moved to buying low-tax rate cars and the tax base melted.
Secondly, if the aim is to change behaviour, then you keep raising the tax until it hurts, and people don't do that anymore. If you do behaviour-changing taxes like carbon taxes you need to be honest about it. It will hurt; its meant to, and we're not going to make it small so that "you won't notice", 'cos that would be to miss the point. Instead spend the money from the tax on helping the poor who don't have a choice : spend carbon tax money on retrofitting the houses of the poor, etc.
Batteries, not hydrogen
Because its three times less efficient than just using car batteries.
Dump the "excess" electricity from wind into car batteries (electric cars). They've sitting there idle most of the time(*). Voila. Storage and non-wasted electricity. I wonder why no ones thought of that? oh, thats because Its the Whole Plan.
Generator to drive train, losses in power lines, batteries mean 69% of the power from a generator ends up in usable power in electric vehicles. If you use Hydrogen storage instead, that drops to 25%.
El Reg keeps going on and ignoring the rest of the re-invention of the grid: storage, "smart grid", electric vehicles .. how come?
Check the paper again - its not 16 -25 g, but g=16-25 m/s. That is, its about 2-3 times our gravity.
Not a problem for life.
Wind prediction ...
I'm always surprised that El Reg never mentions the IT angle in this : yes, backup power will be needed, but its not as if wind is unpredictable. We don't need to run the gas / etc. stations full time in case the wind power isn't there, we can predict it!
Secondly, there's this whole "smart grid" thing, adjusting load to suit generation conditions. No mention of that here ... how about talking about the 'data centre use follows the moon' models, so popular elsewhere, never mentioned here ... why?
As for shale gas, look at http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2011/04/fracking-methane/ for a contrarian view. Not as green as _its_ made out to be.
Wind highly variable
Wind in _wind_farms_ is less variable: fast changes are on the order of 10's of percent over 10 minutes, not max to zero in seconds. Secondly they can be spotted working their way across the country as weather fronts pass over -- on a national scale they are quite predictable, much more than predictable than we currently do.
We don't currently do specialised wind forecasting, but various groups are setting up to do it, precisely because of wind generation. So the backup generation problem is far less severe than usually railed against in El Reg, not much more than needed now. In fact, given that you need to have backup power in case _any_ piece of equipment fails - e.g. the transformers for a 1 GW coal station, in practice the spin reserves, properly done, can be no larger and possibly smaller than today.
(You need spin reserves, 'backup', in case any given piece of equipment fails. A large 1 GW coal or nuclear plant is a single point of failure. For it you need 1 GW spin reserves. The same spin reserves also backup wind. Move to having multiple 10 -- 500 MW wind farms, with no SPOF being more than 50 MW, spin reserves need to be ~ 50-100 MW).
Every trick? hardly
Seriously, HBGary have only got themselves to blame. Re-using the same passwords for Facebook, twitter and corporate emails?? The CEO of a "security" company?
They deserve to be a smoking hole in the ground (in corporate terms) after this. They have proved themselves incompetent at doing exactly what they declared themselves to be the experts at.
Why do you think they do QA ?
Strangely enough, there is a QA step where observations are blacklisted before being fed into the forecast. Many / most observations don't make it into the operational forecast, and a lot of the work at NOAA and national weather services goes into QA.
Why do you think NOAA checks the standards of the weather stations if not to do this ?
And as for accuweather.com, where do you think they get the data from, and the computer model ? They run a statistical analysis on top of the GFS output and data from NOAA / NCAR ...
Thats one way to read the report ...
... Carbon fueled vehicles are cleaner if they consume less than 3.9 L / 100 km ...
Then for most vehicle classes, electric vehicles are cleaner even if the power is produced by gas / oil at the power station.
Venus isn't hot because its closer to the Sun : its clouds reflect most of the heat. It absorbs 60% of the solar energy that Earth aborbs.
Its hotter because the greenhouse effect traps the heat it does have.
Now this wasn't always true - it used to have a more Earth-like climate, and then it _was_ warmer due to solar heating.
... to see where it goes
Its done that way because such an ensemble (adding a tracer to the water) is quick and easy to do. Modelling the transport and breakdown of oil is tough, and the output of this model gives you a hint at to whether its worth it, and gives the coastguard an idea what to plan for: if the oil got stuck in the loop current and didn't hit Florida in the sims then you would be less concerned about getting more barriers to Florida, etc.
Poor information (or with caveats) now is often far more valuable than perfect information in the future.
Heating in LA ?
Thats three times the power needed for (our) house in Galway, Ireland. Purely heated electrically !
(with wind power contract). The house is well insulated, though.
They need to heat the place in LA in winter ? The outside temps average13 C in January ... you could keep the house toasty with just proper glazing to absorb the heat (we do!). The house is nowhere near the German Passive standards that are becoming the housing regulations across Europe. Far from being particularly impressive, it would be unsaleably wasteful in Europe in the next decade.
Predict vs Measure ...
Ok, so who's volunteering to fly over the Atlantic , safe in the knowledge that ash hasn't fallen on Biggin Hill yet ?
The MO need to predict _in_advance_. As the joke goes, prediction is hard, especially of the future. And its easy to criticize if its not your prediction that causes hundreds of deaths.
Yes, measuring the density of the ash is a good thing. That requires specialised aircraft (adapted radar, particle protection on the engines, etc.) of which there aren't many. Aircraft that have flown through the ash (the Finnish air force) demonstrate how much damage it does.
Sure, some aircraft have flown at safe levels. They took a guess, and flying with the predictions of the Met services (and no passengers) landed safely. But tens of thousands of flights take place over Europe every day. How confident are you that, with a poorly tested model (not many volcanoes around here, you see), you can predict paths for aircraft so that not one in 50,000 flights gets hit ?
Its easy to claim over-zealous when its not you who has to make the decision. Meanwhile, airlines that decided it wasn't economically worth investing in dust-proofing their planes are looking at someone to sue to recoup their losses, and pick on the Met Office.
models : the details
The details of the ECMWF (and other) model _methods_ are public, published in the scientific literature. The code is a different matter: only a handful of the _models_ are publically available, the best being those such as GFDL, etc. from the states; you can review those.
In science the best checks against error are independent _implementations_ of the experiments (in this case, weather codes), not just reviews of one piece of apparatus (eg one program). Rather than rely on code reviews (those those happen) we re-implement the methods from the papers, using different test cases. (The fixation on Phil Jone's code, etc. for example is a canard: other people have got the same results independently with their own data analyses)
There are different attitudes in met services about releasing code: in the US its mostly considered that "public tax paid for this, it should be free to the public". In the Uk, the attitude is Thatcherite : "the Met Office should operate as a business and sell what it can to keep its tax draw low", and so treats its code as prioprietary. This is why sites like metcheck.com use US models like the GFDL.
Personally I think it would be best if the codes were freely available to the public, but this has problems. Its one thing for NCAR or NOAA in the US to release their code : they have one funding source and no competition ; ECMWF is funded by 35 or so countries, who pay in to get access to the best weather forecasts and the code. If the code was freely available, why would Russia pay its fees ?
Also, be careful not to get _weather_ and _climate_ models confused. Give me a fair coin and I cannot predict heads vs tails (weather), but I can predict the _average_ over 1000 tosses ( climate). Seasonal forecasts are an intermediate case: while I cannot predict the state of the _atmosphere_ more than 2 weeks in advance, I can predict the _ocean_, which is predictable over years, because it changes much more slowly. So it "biases" the weather. I may not be able to predict that April 10 is sunny/wet, but could predict the percentage of wet days in April, by running an ensemble of weather models based on the expected _ocean_ conditions. This is the cutting edge of research, and depends a lot on increasing measurements of ocean conditions that we are now getting.
Modern models, by the way, use resolutions of 1-2 km for weather prediction regionally (eg the UK), 10 km globally, so we do resolve cities. Climate models have coaser resolutions, but we do test them with very high resolutions (extremely expensive computationally) to check for exactly the issues you describe (not resolving cities), and its not a problem; minimal gains appear above ~25km resolution for climate models.
What study ?
All weather models are compared to the "climatological average", which is what I think you mean by last years weather.
The better forecast than this is "tomorrow will be the same as today (slightly adjusted to climatological average)". This has a 50% chance of being right in Britain and Ireland.
You don't bother giving a forecast unless it has a 60% chance of being 60%, as a rule of thumb.
(Most weather services these days are using Ensembles, a collection of forecasts with slight variations in conditions as well as a main forecast. This gives a spread of probabilities, and helps spot cases where the main forecast might not be right. and avoids a Micheal Fish moment. You'll notice there haven't been many of those in the last 20 years ..)
These days we measure the quality of the forecast based on how many days out the forecast will be right > 60% of the time. Its about 5 days for the ECMWF model, the best in the world at the moment. The Met Office Unified Model is in "competition" with ECMWF, but the MO is a member of ECMWF and when good ideas are implemented in one model, they get copied and implemented in the other fairly quickly.
Strange how people are willing to rip into climate and weather models, with a proven, measured skill, and yet give the economists an easy ride ...
"Revert back to hunter gatherers". Prove it.
No, I mean it. Show a measure of your day to day accuracy in predicting economic results, and put them up against the skills of any weather forecast. For that matter, show me papers where economists measure there own skills as forecasters and reporters do it. Meteorologists do it all the time: go to a met. conference and its all about the events they got _wrong_, not the one forecast they got right.
What do you do with a 60% forecast ?
Really ? Thats not a hypothetical question: the Met Office (and other met services) are loath
to make public there long-term forecasts, because they know they are only 60% likely.
But they will be ripped to shreds if you have a forecast for a wet / dry summer and don't release it, even if you're only 60% sure.
Lots of fields (farming, seasonal foods, etc) have to make decisions with no information, and plant / make ice cream based on guesses. Your guess is better than theirs, and they want to know even if you've only a 60% chance.
A lot of work is going on with long-range forecasts : we know (sort of) what we need to do to improve them, but its a matter of time and work (better ocean data assimilation, for example). They will always be probabiistic and less useful than short-term forecasts, but being able to say "Next month has a 70% chance of being dry; postpone planting" is worth a fortune to forresters, for example.
You don't have to wait until batteries come for dodgy fuel. Buying diesel along the N. Irish border can be a risky business, as the $ex-terrorists have a sideline in "washing" agricultural diesel of the red/green dyes used to mark it as tax-free. This leaves an acidic residue in the diesel that seriously wears the cars lifespan.
(As well as some seriously toxic waste, which gets dumped illegally as well).
At least the batteries can be branded with holograms, digital signatures in firmware, etc.
Steerable supplies ?
(1) Can simple solar collectors (ie focussed mirrors) be used instead of PV ? These might be far cheaper to scale to large areas).
(2) How big are the power converters ? Depending on how good the infrared beam is at punching through clouds it might be a plus in terms of not needing to build large grids. Being able to redeploy somewhere else in the event of a power failure for example, or moving electrical power via a wire from Australia to Europe for when the wind doesn't blow isn't feasible, but moving a downlink from a satellite might be.
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