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Author: Robert Hadow

Hyperloop: Like a Bullet? ?>

Hyperloop: Like a Bullet?

Thunderf00t, a great chemist you may be, but you need to review your mechanical engineering. Hyperloop for all its challenges – and particularly the danger of a vacuum failure – will not “shoot like a bullet” in the case of tube and vacuum failure. In a gun, the projectile fits tightly in the barrel.  It is propelled by massive pressure behind it.  In the case of a 9mm pistol, the pressure is 2,400 atmospheres, 35,000 psi (2400 Bar).  When the…

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Hyper Chariot — Technology’s version of #FakeNews ?>

Hyper Chariot — Technology’s version of #FakeNews

Elon Musk rekindled the dream of travel in a tube.  It’s not a new idea.  Engineers in New York experimented with a pneumatic subway in 1867.  A hundred years later, the Federal Railway Administration experimented with a train that traveled on an air cushion.  In 2013, Musk, reputation strong with engineering successes at SpaceX and Tesla Motors, proposed a 700 mph train-in-a-tube that could be built at a tenth of the cost of the California High Speed Rail system.  He…

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Fair Voting and Gerrymandering ?>

Fair Voting and Gerrymandering

“My vote doesn’t count.”  “The system is rigged.”  The complaints are manifold.  Suggestions are scarce. Winner take all, or first-across the line voting schemes are often blamed.  A plurality voting protocol leads inevitably to a two-party system, the process being described by Duverger’s Law. More fundamental though, is the geographic basis of almost every existing political structure.  In the United States, we vote in wards, consolidate the totals in precincts, and consolidate them again in districts.  For President, the districts…

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Quantum Computing – the four challenges ?>

Quantum Computing – the four challenges

For all the spilled ink and breathless prose about quantum computing (QC), there remain four major challenges to overcome before it takes the place of classical silicon computing. • Coherence (the quantum state of data) • Entanglement (quantum teleportation) • Error Correction • Languages and compilers The PC on your desk, the smartphone in your pocket, and the biggest computers at the NSA manipulate bits that can be either on or off, one or zero, true or false. In 1981,…

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Quantum Computing – Evolutionary, Not Revolutionary ?>

Quantum Computing – Evolutionary, Not Revolutionary

Quantum computing promises to be a key development in the next decade.  It’s not magic and nor is it earth-shattering, despite the amount of spilled ink and breathless documentaries on the subject. The Trend Fifty years ago, Gordon Moore observed that the density of integrated circuits double every two years.  Since then, chip speeds and densities have improved to allow the cost of computing to drop by half every eighteen months.  We’re approaching the limit of the current chip making…

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Brick and mortar stores use internet to shoot themselves in the foot ?>

Brick and mortar stores use internet to shoot themselves in the foot

Brick and mortar retail in the United States is in big trouble. Bankruptcy attorneys wait in anticipation. Retailers aren’t doing themselves any favors when they implement a hasty internet strategy. Here is a story of just such a blunder. It’s hard to tell whether the blunder is the result of deliberate strategy, feuding between divisions of the company, or plain stupidity. The results in any case will be failure of the store network. This specialty retailer deals in product one normally…

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There is an alternative to gerrymandering ?>

There is an alternative to gerrymandering

After every decennial census, there is an opportunity for the state party in power to redraw the boundaries of its voting districts to strengthen its position for the next ten years.  There are myriad strategies: contain your opponents so they always win one seat, never more.  Dilute your opposition so they never win a seat.  The result is tortuous boundaries that defy any other explanation. These strategies include strange combinations of urban, suburban, and rural districts whose commonality is invisible…

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Penn Station Debacle ?>

Penn Station Debacle

Penn Station is the busiest passenger transportation facility in the Western Hemisphere. It’s a disaster. It is a low-ceilinged underground facility with inferior facilities for both passengers and the trains from three lines that use the terminal. Perverse incentive Amtrak, the owner of the station, has a perverse incentive: make life worse for the commuter and be rewarded with more money and more power. Our politicians are unwittingly supporting a continuation of this unhappy situation. Amtrak says it is capable…

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Murphy on Guns ?>

Murphy on Guns

Phil Murphy, Democratic contender for NJ governor, has taken a strong position against guns. There’s nothing surprising in that; it’s consistent with the rest of his poll-driven campaign.  His folks polled likely NJ voters, who said they want tight gun control.   Those answers went straight into his platform. New Jersey has a long history of gun control, typically adopting measures before the feds.   It’s part of the NJ Democratic mantra.  Whether gun control is a good campaign issue…

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Pensions for NJ Teachers ?>

Pensions for NJ Teachers

Pensions are a great. I wish I had one. They used to be standard in the U.S. Most every good job had one. Many defined-benefit pension plans offered healthcare benefits, too. What industry saw and government refused to see was that retirement ages haven’t changed much, but life expectancy has. A teacher in New Jersey who works 35 years can expect another 24 years of pension and healthcare. It’s a great deal, one that the NJEA fights hard to maintain….

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