* Posts by Jim84

227 posts • joined 20 Mar 2012


Jammy dodgers: Boffin warns of auto autos congesting cities to avoid parking fees


Re: Congestion is about work not transport

Cable cars - have the problem that the wheels are clamped around the cable, making track switching difficult or impossible.

If instead you create a micro monorail and drive the hanging gondolas along on wheels from what is basically an ultra thin road... then you have reached the concept of PRT - personal rapid transit.

Two things held back PRT in the past. 1. You’ve go to build a decent network to make it worthwhile to use. 2. Olden time 1970s designs relied on every pod/gondola in the city being controlled by a central computer that knew exactly where they all were at all times. If the central computer or communications network went down then an entire city would grind to a halt. Self driving car tech solves this problem. The first one requires political will, but might get a toehold in somewhere like Israel which is always looking to stick it to the oil exporting neighbours.

For more about PRT have a look at Dan Verhoeven’s excellent blog: www.openprtspecs.blogspot.com

Huge ice blades on Jupiter’s Europa will make it a right pain in the ASCII to land on


Duke Nukem

Not if you send in a small tactical nuke to the landing zone first.

Do Optane's prospects look DIMM? Chip chap has questions for Intel


Video Games

Layman question here, but will this have any medium term effect on video games say by allowing cars in GTA not to disappear once they are offscreen? Or by finally allowing the use of large numbers of voxels?

Tesla undecimates its workforce but Elon insists everything's absolutely fine



Build a pebble bed or molten salt small modular reactor with an output temperature of 600 celcius or greater, use that to make ammonia from seawater and air, burn that ammonia in internal combustion engines, job pretty much done.

Unfortunately billions per year are spent on renewable subsidies or grid priority, while governments won't fund much nuclear research (except for China's government).


Re: sustainable, clean energy

""It does until it goes wrong and you send a massive radioactive cloud over half the planet"

Won't happen with Small Nuclear Reactors which can be designed to fail safe with no backup power."

In addition, if the Small Modular Reactor is a molten salt reactor, the spent nuclear fuel could be cheaply reprocessed, resulting in no long term waste. Unlike with today's PUREX reprocessing, you can just keep cycling the transuranics (basically plutonium) through reactors until it is all fissioned.

Why governments will spend billions on renewable subsidies but won't fund this research is beyond me?

High-Optane thrills for 3D XPoint wanna-haves: Intel fattens gaming SSDs


Future latency

What latency will Optane be able to get down to in the medium term?

Apple turns hat around, sits backwards on chair, pitches iPad to schools


Apple ignoring feedback

Schools claimed students found the iPads too difficult to type on so... Apple does nothing to improve those crappy plastic keyboards for the iPads.

You could make a better iPad keyboard by having two hinges on it to hold the iPad and having the bottom of the keboard slide out backwards between them for mobility.

If Apple are worried about these improvements cannibalising sales of the MacBook Air and Pro, go dobe the path that Dell is taking with it’s XPS line and remove the bezels to get a bigger screen in a smaller device. The 13” models could become 15” models and the 15” models could become 17” models with the same form factor.

Europe plans special tax for Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon


Re: Not the whole problem

A Land Value Tax (NOT property value tax) could resolve all these problems:


Amazon and Google are just network effect monopolists much like landlords are location oligopolists. They are just adding insult to injury by massaging their profits away to zero tax countries.

A tax on inputs such as labour avoids this profit manipulation, a tax on land doesn't carry the dead weight loss of a tax on labor because landlords cannot respond by reducing the supply of land.

Google can try and avoid using land in the UK, but the suppliers of goods and services that google uses in the UK, as well as customers of their online service (advertisers and consumers) do have to use land.

"Most taxes do not just depress economic activity; they also displace it—for example to offshore financial centres. The faster that tax collectors crack down on loopholes, the more clever accountants find new ones.

Land-value taxes, on the other hand, lack these perverse effects. They cannot reduce the supply of land, or distort decisionmaking. Instead they may even stimulate economic activity, by penalising those who hoard land and keep it idle (a big plus in desolate post-industrial cities where much land is vacant). The tax drives the land price down by the capitalised value of the future levies—theoretically even to zero—until someone finds a use for the land. Collection is cheap. Unlike profit, you cannot massage land away or move it to Luxembourg. If you do not pay, it can be seized and sold. Though nobody likes extra taxes, new land-value levies could be matched by cuts in other taxes, especially those paid by poor people."

Squeezing more out of slippery big tech may even take tax reforms


Re: If you tax land

"If you tax land

Food costs will skyrocket, which is rather a bad thing for poor people who spend a relatively higher percentage of their income on food."

Where on earth did you get this notion from?

The idea promoted by The Economist and others is to tax land *value*. Farmland is inherently low value, as almost no one wants to live there.

I think you might have got the idea that a land value tax is a flat rate tax per square kilometer of land, regardless of value. This isn't actually the case with Henry George's proposal.

In fact, land value taxes have the unique advantage of being one of the only taxes that doesn't distort economic activity. As landlords cannot reduce the supply of land in response to a tax (there is no deadweight loss).


Re: Why tax income at all?

Yes but the people who work at e-commerce companies still have to cluster into cities to work together, and enjoy the other benefits of working and living in a city. Somehow I don't think Amazon are going to pick a remote town in Arizona for their second headquarters.

The company ends up needing to pay higher wages, so that its workers can afford to live in San Francisco, so it ends up paying the LVT indirectly.

The Economist reckons that the valuation of land is not impossible:

"A third problem is that valuation of the high-priced urban land (rarely sold as vacant plots) may be tricky—and controversial. Wealthy commercial landlords could tie the assessment process up in costly legal knots.

Some of these objections could be overcome. A land tax need not be implemented overnight. It could be phased in, which would mean market signals started working before the levies were actually paid. Hard-up owners of valuable land could be allowed to commute payment until they die. Valuation of urban land, with a bit of maths, is not insuperable."


Why tax income at all?

Why tax income at all? Implement a land value tax instead. It would work better than the continual cat and mouse game between governments and corporation's accountants.


"His best-known follower was Henry George, perhaps the only tax theorist in history whose beliefs have become the object of almost cult-like devotion. One of his fans invented the game now known as Monopoly, to exemplify the evils of untaxed rent. In a book called “Progress and Poverty”, published in 1879, George argued that land-value levies should replace all other taxation, leaving labour and capital to flourish freely, and thus ending unemployment, poverty, inflation and inequality."

There is one problem with implementing a LVT however:

"Rich people tend to own a lot of land, poor people very little."

What will drive our cars when the combustion engine dies?


Good summary on ammonia vs hydrogen here



"Forget cars, how does international travel work without fossil fuel? Sailing ships and Zeppelins ?"

Ammonia. You can burn it in an ICE to power cars, ships, planes. You can produce it inexpensively if you have a heat source greater than 500 C. Current fission rectors have a lower output temperature due to being water cooled, the upcoming molten salt reactors or other advanced 4th gen reactors will not have this problem.

It is a bit trickier to use in an ice than petrol. You want to crack 2% of it into hydrogen on the way to the motor, and run the motor at pretty much one speed to avoid needing to alter this percentage. But with a hybrid car with an ammonia ICE that problem is solved. Hybrid ships and planes may follow.

Hydrogen is too expensive to store and transport. Synthetic hydrocarbons for the transport industry would need a huge carbon source (using the minimal amount in the air is not cost competitive). Ammonia can be made from seawater and air with energy.

Rolls-Royce, Airbus, Siemens tease electric flight engine project


Re: Advantages

""From a UK perspective, our airline fuel use is equal to about one third of the fuel use of all UK road vehicles."

From a global perspective this is a much bigger problem:


That's just 15. A lot more where they come from.

To keep a global economy running it is one that needs fixing sooner rather than later."

Yes you are correct to point out that shipping is an even bigger problem than cars or planes.

There is a proposed solution - use the 500 degree plus heat from a (yet to be built) molten salt reactor to produce ammonia from air and seawater. Then use that in planes and ships.

nbn™'s problems were known – in 2008, a year before its birth


NZ vs Aus

Somehow New Zealand has managed to build a national fiber to the premises network without too much fuss while poor Australian consumers are still suffering.

Oh, that's right. NZ politicians forced the former state monopoly and owner of most the telecoms infrastructure to split into separate wholesale (Chorus) and retail (Spark) companies, whereas in Australia both governments of the left and right failed to stand up to Telstra.

You can yacht be serious: Larry might be planning his own version of America’s Cup


These will be foiling monohulls, not your father's monohulls.

We experienced Windows Mixed Reality. Results: Well, mixed


Re: Doomed to fail (again)

""3 separate platforms have tried to launch VR platforms in the last few years and they've all flopped."

Sony's PSVR has sold over 1 million headsets, and Occulous Rift a few hundred thousand - I wouldn't call that a flop for such early and niche products."

Yes but Kinect sold 10 million units... and motion control has all but disappeared.


Re: Doomed to fail (again)

Doomed to fail... for now.

If you could create Microsoft's Hololens with a second lcd screen on the front of the panel where each pixel the front of the panel can turn absolutely black to block out the real world behind AR objects, improving AR and allowing VR too (just black out the entire world) then you might be onto a winner.

Also maybe a clip in bit of felt like the bottom of a google daydream mask to block out the real world below the screen in VR mode. And a light field display that auto focuses on the backs of your retinas rather than having to get the headset in the perfect position on your nose all the time....

Of course the headset would have to cost $299 and connect wirelessly lag free to you living room PS5 or Apple TV box or Xbox. And these would have to be powerful enough to drive higher resolution screens than today's VR headsets. So when all this will be possible is anyones guess. 5-10 years from now assuming Moore's law doesn't sag too much?

Flying electric taxi upstart scores $90m from investors


Re: EV1

That is a bit of a misty eye'd view of the EV1. Here is a bit of a more hard nosed assessment of the past and future of electric cars at Ieee Spectrum by Matthew N. Eisler:


"Toyota developed a plug-in hybrid, too. But sales of all plug-ins pale in comparison to the conventional Prius. Consumers, it turned out, preferred a relatively affordable hybrid that ran on a gasoline engine most of the time and produced low emissions to a more expensive hybrid that ran on an electric motor most of the time and produced very low emissions. This technological-economic calculus also explains the record of Nissan’s Leaf. It is the best-selling all-electric, but, like all compliance cars, has struggled to make money. Chevy’s all-electric Bolt is unlikely to change this record."

"At any rate, the Bloomberg analysis is based largely on extrapolating trends in battery cell cost unfolding since 2010, omitting mention of battery pack lifetime and the nettlesome question of pack replacement costs over the average lifespan of an electric vehicle. Indeed, it is extremely difficult to prove a battery’s longevity, and although strides are being made in this neglected area of research, the focus on cell cost alone is highly misleading. Actual battery costs are a virtual trade secret and much disputed, and have been further obscured by federal and state subsidies, which will not be around forever."

A better zero emission solution than all electric cars might be to have a hybrid with an IC engine that runs on ammonia. Although that needs a source of ammonia that is cheaper than petrol, which will probably only come about if high temperature 4th generation nuclear molten salt or gas cooled reactors spread.

All electric cars are probably going to remain stuck in the luxury segment, although I'd be happy if this turned out not to be the case.

Ohm-em-gee: US nuke plant project goes dark after money meltdown


Re: "Moltex Energy..keep the fuel salt in fairly standard tubes which are replaced every 5 years,"

"That's not what cuts out the corrosion in their design.

The reactor parts are galvanized so the galvanizing is preferentially attacked, rather than the metallic structural components like the fuel rods or the core."

So I see the fuel tubes are to keep the radioactive salt separate from the coolant salt, simplifying things if the tank/pool of coolant salt leaks. I saw a comment on a youtube video purporting to be from Ian Scott (it could be a troll) saying that if the fuel salt on a standard MSR leaked it would be a nightmare:


"Your pre-edit question seemed to add "or small leaks" to the question. That is an important point. Dump tanks would have to be designed with large passive heat removal capacity - challenging but not impossible. Small leaks are a different challenge, and in many ways worse. The sustained ~kW/litre decay heat will raise the temperature of even a small leak to very high levels. I calculated that a 1mm layer on thick concrete would reach molten salt boiling point within hours. On a steel surface it will happen quicker since there is less heat capacity than a meter of concrete. In fact, I expect that some major heat producing fission products, especially cesium, would evaporate before that point and then deposit on every surface around. That would spread the heat load but create a monstrous decontamination problem.

Answering the nuclear regulators question of what happens when a pumped system springs a leak is going to be one of the hardest challenges to be faced. I am not sure that saying the unit would be shut down and replaced will be acceptable, the damaged unit would have to be demonstrated to be a safe waste disposal form and that is very difficult when major isotopes are in a water soluble form."

Do you have any thoughts on this John? I asked Kirk Sorenson on the energyfromthorium facebook page and got a very angry response (I think he has run out of patience due to all the Greenpeace trolls).


"Molten salt systems freeze at 300-400C so any leaks don't go far, the fuel is dissolved n the salt so you can chemically reprocess on the fly using flow reactions (not critical chemistry, you only need to clean it enough to keep the reactor running) and will happily sit there at 1400C without doing anything nasty."

The elephant in the room with molten salt reactors has always been corrosion. It may or may not happen, and some proponents will swear blind that this is the case. Of course molten sodium was supposed to be non corrosive of steal tanks, and look how that turned out.

There are a couple of proposed solutions thought. Thorcon Power proposes to replace the entire factory (shipyard) built reactor core every seven year. Plucky upstart Brit company Moltex Energy proposes to keep the fuel salt in fairly standard tubes which are replaced every 5 years, and to cool these tubes with a different molten salt without any fuel and hence fission products in it.

Uber drivers game Uber's system like Uber games the entire planet


Natural monopoly/duopoly

Ride sharing apps have a network effect (who is going to browse more than two) and so are a natural monopoly/duopoly. Except that unlike a railway the underlying infrastructure isn't that expensive.

Governments/Cities should legislate so that all apps have to feed job requests into a central database/marketplace, which service providers can then bid on. This will reduce Uber/Lyft/2Gethere to makers of slick app interfaces rather than ogliopolists, but so what?

In the past black cab drivers were ripping off fare paying customers, now Uber is ripping off drivers, lets just make the market work properly and end the economic rent seeking behavior. Unfortunately cities seem to be ignoring this basic economic tenant and are instead restoring cab drivers' rules limiting supply (e.g. New York, Paris).

UK waves £45m cheque, charges scientists with battery tech boffinry


MSR Nuclear Ammonia

If your nuclear reactor runs hotter than 500 degrees Celsius it can be used to produce ammonia cheaper than an energy equivalent amount of petrol. Power cars using that (also aeroplanes, ships, trucks).


Google unleashes 20m lab-created blood-thirsty freaks on a city. And this is a good thing, it says


Have you people learned nothing from the Jurassic Park movies? Nature finds a way...

I've got a verbal govt contract for Hyperloop, claims His Muskiness


Re: rapid repressurisation

When Musk was teasing the press about Hyperloop some guy guessed that it was a big loop with maglev and air or some other gas mix like heliox flowing around in a big loop at high speed with the pod moving not that quickly (relatively) through it.

Britain's on the brink of a small-scale nuclear reactor revolution


Re: Still not LFTR time

""it would be fuel salt that is leaking, which would not solidify due to the fission products in the salt, but would instead boil off"

FLIBE boils at about 1500-1600C.

Fission reactions are self-limiting at 1150-1200C (which is about the same temperature as the centre of a conventional fuel rod) thanks to doppler limiting

How exactly would this stuff "boil off"?"

You are correct that fission reactions are self-limiting at 1150-1200C due to the salt expanding (negative temperature coefficient). However about 7% of the heat produced comes from the decay of the already fissioned radioisotope products in fuel. This heat still needs to go somewhere, and Ian Scott's calculations show that air cooling and conduction into steel or concrete below a leak of fuel salt would not be enough to prevent the temperature of the fuel salt rising to the point where the cesium chloride would reach its boiling point and distill out of the molten salt.


Re: Still not LFTR time

Please see Ian Scotts comments on this YouTube video about a spilled fuel salt boiling off caesium chloride:



Re: Still not LFTR time

The only viable Molten Salt Reactor designs are the ones which contain the fuel salt and have a coolant salt (Molex's fuel in tubes design and China's fuel in pebbles design achieve this).

If Kirk Sorrenson's LFTR sprung a leak, it would be fuel salt that is leaking, which would not solidify due to the fission products in the salt, but would instead boil off, spreading cesium and creating a massive cleanup/decontamination bill. If Moltex's reactor springs a leak it is non or low radioactive coolant salt that is leaking, which will freeze and be cleaned up by a dustpan and brush. Yes if I said that in front of Kirk he'd probably slap me as the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment ran of 6 years without any leaks, but I don't find that too reassuring.

In the event of a catastrophic failure (e.g. a terrorist bomb inside the reactor somehow) the much larger volume coolant salt would dilute the fuel salt to the point where it could air cool without dangerous fission product salts boiling off. You'd wait several weeks for the fission products to 'burn themselves up' before performing a clean up.

Moltex's fuel in tubes design is superior to China's pebble design as Xenon gas can be allowed to bubble off, allowing the fuel to be left in the core indefinitely as the fission reaction is not blocked by the Xenon. Also the dangerous fission gases cesium and iodine are converted into stable salts.

Moltex's concept really is a very clever design and is just waiting on a political backer to fund it.

His Muskiness wheels out the Tesla Model 3


Re: It will retail for just $35,000

Is no one looking at hydrogen anymore?

Where the energy will come from for the production of loads of hydrogen is a problem, but isn't actually the main one. Hydrogen is very difficult to transport and store as it embrittles steel and leaks from just about any tank. Pipelines and tanks need special coatings, making the storage and transport of hydrogen expensive.

Also if that hydrogen is generated using heat from burning natural gas then overall you're not really doing the environment any favours.

A better store of hydrogen might be ammonia. You can burn this in an ICE, and you can burn it in an ICE without producing loads of Nitrous Oxides if it has 2% hydrogen blended in. Ammonia can be converted to hydrogen at the filling station. Meaning only a small tank of 98% NH3/2% H2 needs to be specially coated, rather than large H2 tanks and pipelines.

For the production of NH3, if any of the 4th generation nuclear reactors come to be (Molten Salt reactors or Helium cooled pebble bed reactors) these reactors have heat output temperatures of over 520 degrees Celsius allowing cheaper production of NH3.

You could also use ammonia to power long haul truck transport, ships, and aeroplanes. you could even pipe it into people's homes for heating like we do now with natural gas.

Electric driverless cars could make petrol and diesel motors 'socially unacceptable'


Re: "How the holy hell do you run on ammonia?"

You can burn ammonia in an internal combustion engine, Just convert 2% of it to hydrogen in the final tank at the gas station (this avoids the need for infrastructure capable of transporting hydrogen).

Using carbon rather than nitrogen as a transport for hydrogen requires massive amounts of biomatter.

Ammonia is dangerous, but no more dangerous than petrol.

For more detail see:



Batteries are expensive and take longer than 5 min to charge

Maybe science will overcome the above problems, but until it does battery cars will remain marginal.

The real future cars could run on ammonia produced by nuclear reactors. Current ammonia is produced from Methane natural gas and doesn't have any real advantages (cost or otherwise) over petrol. A 4th generation melt down proof cheaper molten salt nuclear reactor such as Moltex Energy's with an output salt temperature over 500 degrees Celsius could produce ammonia much more cheaply.

US army spin-off GPU database bags $50m Series A funding


MMO Economies

This could be very useful for balancing the online economies in multiplayer videogames, which at the moment suffer from rampant inflation.

To get some idea of the current difficulties and kludges around this have a look at Star Citizen's development:


Concorde without the cacophony: NASA thinks it's cracked quiet supersonic flight


Fly at mach 5 over the oceans

I have a feeling that these low boom planes will still be to noisy.

If Reaction Engines/BAE Systems successfully test their SABRE (Synergistic Air-Breathing Rocket) engine, then their proposed LAPCAT mach 5 plane will be possible. This would be able to fly from any Atlantic to any Pacific coast in around 4 hours via the north or south poles all over oceans or the uninhabited antarctic. For non port cities, it can slow down to sub sonic speeds for the final (or initial) portion of the journey over land:



Apple gives world ... umm ... not much new actually


Some ideas

8k screen (like Dells)

Cool tilting touchscreen (like Microsoft Surface)

Wireless power, wireless display (to finally get rid of cables)

Desktop tower mac pro

Liquid cooling solution in mac pro tower

ARM chips in macbook airs

Intel chips, but also arm chips in macbook pros to run iOS apps

Make the apple assistant speaker a bit bigger so that it is basically a B&W Zepplin competitor, not just a fairly silly microphone gimick like all the other assistant speakers

Wowee, it's Samsung's next me-too AI gizmo: The Apple HomePod



Lets just install them in every house where they can see every corner and get this over with.

Facebook pays, er, nope, gets £11m credit from UK taxman HMRC...


Re: Suggestions?

American Economist Henry George figured it all out a century ago - all taxation as Land Value Tax.

If people in the UK want to use the free ad supported social network service created by Facebook with their Californian workforce rather a (fictional) UK social network 'Teabook'... then so be it. If facebook and their advertisers can avoid using any UK land to supply their goods and services, then those services will be cheaper than local ones using UK land. But those cheaper savings will be passed on to UK consumers... assuming Facebook and their advertisers do not have monopoly powers.

Ewe, get a womb! Docs grow baby lambs in shrink-wrap plastic bags


Time for a Medical DARPA - Medical research is ridiculously conservative

The bit of the article that struck me was that the researchers had to start off funding this research out of their own pockets as they presumably couldn't get funding. Total annual cost of premature births to the US - around $48 billion dollars. Not funding this research is a classic example of the insanity that can result from the current extremely risk adverse grant process.

Think politics is tumultuous now? Wait till the transhumanists join in...


Re: Senescent Cells

I think brain simulation is very far off in the future. Like it could be hundreds of years in the future, and that is assuming that Moore's law continues in some reduced form. Returns on making transistors smaller may dwindle to zero at some point. Who knows? The point is that it is super speculative.

Still speculative, but a lot less so, is the approach taken by the SENS Research Foundation, which assumes that aging is the side effects of the damage that pile up over the years from normal metabolism, and that this damage falls into only seven classes. Current medicine either seeks to treat the side effects of that damage (e.g. giving Parkinson's patients injections of L dopa to compensate for neuronal death) or to slow the rate at which that damage occurs (e.g. giving people with high blood cholesterol statins to lower their blood cholesterol levels, and lower the rate at which heart attack and stroke causing plaques of foam cells build up in their artery walls). The SENS (Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence) Foundation is instead attempting to develop interventions to directly remove or repair the damage.

An example of this kind of work is that of Unity Biotechnology attempting to remove senescent cells (which I linked to in my above comment).

If they succeed in this you'll probably just be able to keep people in a youthful and healthy state indefinitely, until they get drunk and walk out in front of a bus and die that way.


Senescent Cells

When these were removed in mice the mice lived 25-35% longer than their peers, because they were healthier and generally more youthful longer.

Drug trials to remove senescent cells in humans will begin late this year or early next year. If the effect is anything like that in mice (no guarantees) then this will materially and quickly change the human condition. Imagine a world in which the average lifespan has jumped from 80 to 100 or 108. And this is only one 'damage repair' intervention.



Back to the future: Honda's new electric car can go an incredible 80 miles!


Re: Hydrogen fuel cells

Everyone is correct in that hydrogen is expensive (and dangerous) to transport and store, with tanks and pipelines that need special coatings, and liquification taking large amounts of energy.

Ammonia is a different story, as it is easily stored as a liquid at room temperature at mild pressures like propane. It has about half the energy per kg as petroleum.

It is difficult to burn, but at the gas station hydrogen can be produced from it and mixed with ammonia to create a 2% hydrogen 98% ammonia mix that can be burnt in modified diesel engines.

The real problem with it is where does the energy to make it come from? If it is from burning natural gas or coal then the whole exercise is pretty pointless. If it is from nuclear energy, then that works better, however for the process to be efficient you need a heat source greater than 540 degrees Celsius. Which is why the proposed molten salt reactors might fit the bill:


US military makes first drop of Mother-of-All-Bombs on Daesh-bags


Meanwhile the Taliban/ISIS recieve money every week from opium sales and donations from rich nutty individuals in the middle east who have to be bought off for political support by their autocratic rulers.

Imagine if that $314 million had been spent on researching and building a demo molten salt reactor to produce ammonia to replace the petrol used in cars, or if the US had decided to legalise drugs and spend the $314 on education to ensure that not too many more people fell victim to drugs...

US military's latest toy set: Record-breaking laser death star, er, truck


Effective against mortar rounds?

Would this system be effective against the mortar rounds often fired against military bases by insurgent groups such as the Taliban?

Autonomous cars are about to do to transport what the internet did to information


Re: Wrong Problem

Why not get the person with the wheelchair to use a separate pod then?? Or get two able bodied people to haul a mega load in two separate pods? Or if someone is moving house, or moving large objects that won't fit into a pod (or smaller car) just hire a delivery truck?

The grocery argument against PRT is certainly one I have not seen before, but I don't really think it stands up on examination.


Re: Wrong Problem

""Daily I see people using public transport, pedal power and even just plain old walking for their trips to the supermarket and so on. A bag of groceries doesn't need a bloody supertanker to move it."

I see the opposite: full parking lots at the big-box stores, and inside full shopping carts and bills in the $200+ range being the norm rather than the exception (thus why they don't use the self checkouts)."

If you can get a wheelchair in the pod you can surely get one of those trolleys grans use to wheel their groceries around in the pod too:



Re: Wrong Problem

Ok you seem to be assuming that road infrastructure and PRT micro monorails in the sky are mutually exclusive. In fact you need both. The PRT allows much much larger numbers of people to move around a larger city faster, which would also free up some road space for trucks.


Re: Wrong Problem

@Charles 9 - You'd use trucks on roads for heavy cargo. But as the job of transporting people is now performed largely by PRT, you'd need much less road infrastructure.


Wrong Problem

Unfortunately the problem isn't cars, it is roads. Autonomous and Electric cars won't solve the problem of congestion, which is caused by roads being too big and heavy to put in the air (putting them underground is even more expensive).

A PRT system (basically lightweight hanging self driving pods on micro monorails in the air) could potentially solve this problem. Although this could make it much easier to access other parts of a city from further out suburbs, lowering house prices, which politicians really don't want to do.

If any of this is interesting have a look at Dan Ver Hoeve's excellent PRT blog:


Autonomous vehicles will be useful for getting to and from pubs in the countryside though.

Anti-TV Licensing petition gets May date for Parliament debate


Public good

Looking at the situation over the pond in the US where every political tribe has its own sheltered News Channel, I'd say the BBC is a public good in that it enables some reasonable measured debate and examination of politicians.

In the wake of the Trump election result there has been a lot of hand wringing about fake news on social media. I think this is letting highly partisan news channels like FOX news off the hook to a large degree.

They should just rename the TV licencing fee the "Independent Impartial Public Television News Fee".

Everything in the US is driven by the need to retain the attention of viewers. Which leads to sensationalist news/candidates being able to dominate the news cycle. Having a news station that can safely ignore this bollacks and focus on issues that will actually affect people in the country (due to guaranteed funding) is a good thing.

The BBC or anyone is never going to be perfectly impartial all the time, but they are a world better than FOX, MSNBC, CNN etc.

NASA extends trial of steerable robo-stunt kite parachute


Re: Why not use a rope?

The US military already uses 10,000ft tethered balloons. I was just wondering what the practical limits are?



Why not use a rope?

Have a balloon attached to a rope and real it back in?

There is probably some reason why you can't do this, such as the weight of the line cannot support itself, but does anyone know exactly why this won't work?

If it is the weight of the line, why not a series of shorter lines between a series of balloons?


Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019