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Paul Boldra
Australian sceptic living in Germany.
Australian sceptic living in Germany.

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Another reason to solidly reject the anthropic principle: there's no way we can say that any given universe doesn't produce anything interesting ever because we keep discovering interesting physical properties of our own universe. 

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Lebe seit jahren in Deutschland ohne Führerschein. Habe mich vor ein paar Wochen entschlossen endlich einer zu holen. Dann kommt so was

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In Dänemark ist ein 42-jähriger Mann wegen Blasphemie angeklagt worden, weil er auf Facebook ein Video gepostet hat, in dem ein Koran verbrannt wird. Es ist der erste angeklagte Fall von Blasphemie in Dänemark seit 1971.

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The NASA announcement of seven earth-sized planets orbiting a nearby red star, five of them within that star's Continuously Habitable Zone (CHZ) or Goldilocks (just right) zone is wondrously thought provoking in several ways:

1) Just the awe and wonder of it. And how amazing it is that the transit method has found so many systems, when it can only catch 5% of what's out there.

2) Note the scale of this system. The star puts out 0.05% as much light and heat as our sun. All of the planets orbit within the same distance range as Jupiter's outer moons.

3) Ponder what science fiction foretold. This is essentially the mini solar system that Arthur C. Clarke envisioned surrounding an ignited Jupiter, in his novel 2010. (This is Arthur's Centennial year.)

4) With that in mind, ponder Goldfinger's Rule. One planet in a Goldilocks Zone is happenstance. Two might be coincidence. Three....? Five...? I'm not "sayin'"... just hinting.

5) Before you get excited, remember these planets are likely to be tidal locked, with one face permanently starward. And tiny red stars tend to be Flare Stars, intermittently burping radiation. So any life would face challenges.

6) This system would seem an excellent target for some kinds of exoplanet direct viewing missions. Advantages: Well-understood orbits and a very dim star, allowing better contrast. Disadvantages: planets are very close to their star and hard to separate... only the system is close to us, so that's partly offset.

7) Should we aim SETI scopes in that direction? Yep! Should we send "messages" before thoroughly talking it over? Nope. A sure sign of immaturity and unscientific cultism.

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For the first time an electric car has completed the Dakar rally

It came dead last but that's still a lot better than a quarter of entrants who fail to even finish the formidable 5,600 km long event.

The Spanish made Acciona puts out 340 horses and the massive 150kWh battery pack in its belly gives 200km of range under racing conditions. The battery can be fully charged in 60 minutes. An hour seems like a long time but 150kWh is roughly what an average American house uses in a week.

I am very excited to see how EVs progress over time in this competition. If other races are any indication we are set to see rapid and solid progress.

In 2011 at the Pike's Peak Hill Climb Nobuhiro Tajima's electric race car set itself on fire. Not a great start. In 2015 electric cars placed first and second winning setting record times in all classes.

In the five years between 2010 and 2015 average speeds for electric motorcycles at The Isle of Man TT Zero race went up 23%.
We are going to see significant improvements to battery energy density and charge times in the next 4-5 years. Along with greatly reduced complexity and inherently better reliability of these types of vehicles they have the potential to be very competitive in this style of endurance racing.

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I really like how this baby puffball pic turned out.

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I don't know what was so bad about my swingset. Does it look like "animal migration" to anybody else? 
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