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30 comments

What would you do? (1)

Phleg (523632) | more than 11 years ago | (#3495782)

"What would you do with a few million liters of this stuff?"

Make myself one hell of a martini.

Re:What would you do? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3495792)

Finally I can make the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster I've always dreamed of!

in the beginning... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3495784)

was the frist post

Is our beloved editor Cowboy Neal a hypocrite? (-1)

hettb (569863) | more than 11 years ago | (#3495795)

Pater [mailto] and the other editors of slashdot.com, a website owned by OSDN (the largest corporate provider of open source news which is in turn owned by VA Software/Linux/Research; a company built around a flawed business model), expect their users, as we all know, to support their for-profit site (which is unable to make a profit) by taking subscriptions, which allows one to view the (often sensationalist and factually incorrect) articles without the advertisements (there you may also take part in the hysterical, often anti-corporate discussions with other users (mainly naive teenagers)).

Users who do not want to take a subscription, or demand that certain changes be made to the website or the editorial policy before they would consider doing so, are often called "whiners"; practices like using software such as the Internet Junkbuster [junkbuster.org] to view ad-free pages without paying are scorned upon by the editors.

Now, let's look at Pater's (aka "Cowboi Kneel" [cowboyneal.org]) record when it comes to compensating websites for services rendered.
Over at livejournal.com [livejournal.com], said slashdot editor keeps a diary. [livejournal.com]But before I come to the heart of the matter: What is livejournal.com exactly? Let me quote from their website:

LiveJournal.com is a volunteer-run website where you can keep your journal online. We're constantly adding new features and trying to improve the user experience. We cater to all levels of users, from the most technically incompetent to programmers and system administrators. Nearly all development and "business" decisions are discussed in public.

You do not have to pay any money to use this service. You can buy a paid account to show your support and to help us afford better hardware and bring you new features, but you don't have to.

(Emphasis mine.)

You also get some additional features by paying for an account, similar to Slashdot ("feature" there: no ads)

Now, on livejournal.com there are 4 categories of membership:

"Free account" -- this is the default account type, with which you can do almost everything. The most notable exception is that users with free accounts cannot create new styles (editing the HTML for their journal).

"Early Adopter" -- All users before mid-September 2000 are considered early adopters, and have access to a subset of the paid account functionality. They have access to create styles, and view their journal at username.livejournal.com.

"Paid account" -- The user has access to all paid account functionality.

"Permanent Account" -- the user has all paid functionality with no expiration date. The user is either a LiveJournal developer or has contributed a significant amount of time or money to the project.

We would of course expect Neal to support this volunteer-run, non-profit. ad-free website by getting a paid account? Isn't this the Linux, the open source spirit of the new millenium?
After all, he's been keeping his journal there since at least the beginning of April 2002, so he should have had ample time to see if livejournal.com's service is worth the money.

If we now look at Cowboi Kneel's user info [livejournal.com], what do we see?

Account type: Free User

Oh no! My assumption was wrong; what, for Christ's sake, happened? Why would Pater not want to support such an excellent site as livejournal.com?

Could it be that Cowboy Neal is a freeloader, that he doesn't what to help a site which does offer some value to him (obviously, as he's been posting there for more than a month)? That he doesn't have any problem whatsoever using up their bandwidth, disk space and volunteer time without giving something in return, all the while (together with the other editors) expecting us, the users of slashdot.com, to donate ( "we regard this as a tip jar" [slashnet.org]) to their corporate, profit-driven site?

Could it be that Cowboy Neal is a hypocrite?

Re:Is our beloved editor Cowboy Neal a hypocrite? (0, Offtopic)

satanami69 (209636) | more than 11 years ago | (#3495819)

Cowboy Neal tried to by a hypocrite, but he misspelled it in his journal. The important thing is that we both wasted our time discussing the issue.

Uhh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3496047)


What would you do with a few million liters of this stuff?"

Uhh... Illuminate the night skies with a Beowulf Cluster?

Economics (4, Interesting)

aburnsio.com (213397) | more than 11 years ago | (#3496310)

The key is not so much whether you can sythesize N60, since this will probably be possible in the future. The key is the economics of such an operation.

Economics, not pure technology, is what's driving the next generation of space travel. A primary goal of NASA's next generation launch vehicle to replace the shuttle is to bring down costs for moving payload to low-earth orbit. In particular, NASA wants to reduce the current cost of $10,000/kg by an order of magnitude to $1000/kg.

Making this possible will require technological innovations within economic constraints, such as using kerosene fuel or nuclear engines. If you've been following Mars human exploration plans recently, you'll know that methane engines are one of the most promising plans for synthesizing fuel on Mars. In fact, any long-term Mars mission is likely to require some sort of production of fuel from the Martian surface, and methane can be produced quite readily given an external power source such as a nuclear reactor.

Sure, N60 may provide a higher thrust/weight ratio, but then again, so does antimatter. Antimatter/matter combustion, in fact, has the highest thrust/weight ratio theoretically possible given current physics. We can even sythesize and store it, unlike N60, so we're ahead of the game there. And yet, you don't see antimatter engines because the costs are even more astronomical than the thrust/weight ratio. To get enough antimatter to launch just one LEO mission could very well bankrupt the world.

In conclusion, although N60 has promising potential, the future of rocket propulsion is likely to lie with more conventional and cheaper fuels. Hydrocarbons such as methane and kerosene are still the king of fuels.

Re:Economics (2, Interesting)

Mt._Honkey (514673) | more than 11 years ago | (#3496573)

"Antimatter/matter combustion, in fact, has the highest thrust/weight ratio theoretically possible given current physics."

Given current physics, yes. Just wait a while though, and we'll get Zero Point Energy working. Evidently there may be enough energy in a 1 cm^3 vacuum to boil all the worlds oceans. Much more energy than antimatter, and you don't have to take it with you, as vacuum is rather abundant. I believe that this energy source was featured in 3001: The Final Odyssey.

Here's something related, the Casimir Effect [rl.ac.uk].

Don't hold your breath for zero-point energy. (3, Informative)

Christopher Thomas (11717) | more than 11 years ago | (#3497088)

Given current physics, yes. Just wait a while though, and we'll get Zero Point Energy working. Evidently there may be enough energy in a 1 cm^3 vacuum to boil all the worlds oceans. Much more energy than antimatter, and you don't have to take it with you, as vacuum is rather abundant.

The problem with zero-point energy is that it's at the zero point.

It's not the amount of energy bound within a system that tells you how much you can extract - it's how far above the lowest possible energy state your system is in. You can make a pretty solid argument for vacuum - even boiling with zero-point energy - being at the lowest achievable energy state ("otherwise it would have decayed to a lower state already"). If you can't make vacuum decay to a lower energy state, you can't extract any of the zero-point energy. If you _can_ make it decay, then why hasn't any of the *vast* expanse of vacuum in the universe decayed already? This would be very, very noticeable.

An analogy would be to look at chemical energy. By classical mechanics, you should be able to draw a near-infinite amount of energy out of a single hydrogen atom, just by moving the electron closer to the nucleus; the Coulomb potential well is infinitely deep (or at least far deeper than electrons normally sit, even if you assume a nucleus with measurable size). But we know that in practice the best you'll get from changing states in a hydrogen atom is about 13.6 eV (arbitrarily-close-to-free outside the potential well to the ground state, at about -13.6 eV).

The ground state (-13.6 eV) is as far as you can send an electron down into the potential well, even though the well is a lot deeper than -13.6 eV.

Similarly, by the fact that the vacuum near us hasn't decayed, you can make a pretty strong argument for the observed state of vacuum being the lowest reachable state.

Re:Don't hold your breath for zero-point energy. (1)

Myco (473173) | more than 11 years ago | (#3497303)

That's a reasonable argument, though of course inconclusive -- it could be possible, just really really unlikely without some sort of artificial interference, some set of circumstances that simply doesn't occur throughout all of nature. Or it isn't as noticeable as you'd think.

All of this talk really reminds me of ice-9 from Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle. We just need to find the right way to stack those cannon balls.

Re:Don't hold your breath for zero-point energy. (2, Interesting)

notfancy (113542) | more than 11 years ago | (#3497516)

Similarly, by the fact that the vacuum near us hasn't decayed, you can make a pretty strong argument for the observed state of vacuum being the lowest reachable state.

Stephen Baxter's novel Manifold: Space toys with the idea that the vacuum is at a metastable level. The book ends with the release of the vacuum to its actual ground state.

I finished it feeling profoundly depressed.

Re:Don't hold your breath for zero-point energy. (1)

Rubyflame (159891) | more than 11 years ago | (#3501330)

I think that was Manifold: Time

Re:Don't hold your breath for zero-point energy. (1)

notfancy (113542) | more than 11 years ago | (#3510184)

I think that was Manifold: Time

Could be. I thought Time was about the undying japanese woman and the crystal flowers...or is it the same book and the other one is about something else entirely?

Bah, my memory is like a sludgy swamp: everything in there decays to the same undifferenciated matter. The point is, I didn't like either book much, compared to Vacuum Diagrams. Don't get me wrong: both Manifolds are very good, very dark and depressing; but Vacuum Diagrams is more poetic, I guess is the word.

I gave up my hopes for science fiction a long time ago, anyway. It's all oh-so-marketable now. Seeing that Rowlands woman winning the Hugo last year was a sad sign-o'-the-times.

Re:Don't hold your breath for zero-point energy. (1)

Phleg (523632) | more than 11 years ago | (#3498695)

As I understood it, the potential of zero-point energy does not lie within the extraction of the energy itself. The most promising aspect, actually, would be if we were to somehow "shield" a nucleus from this energy. Theory states that it would cause the nucleus to implode upon itself, and produce a blast that would make the H-bomb look like a firecracker.

Re:Don't hold your breath for zero-point energy. (3, Insightful)

Christopher Thomas (11717) | more than 11 years ago | (#3500806)

As I understood it, the potential of zero-point energy does not lie within the extraction of the energy itself. The most promising aspect, actually, would be if we were to somehow "shield" a nucleus from this energy. Theory states that it would cause the nucleus to implode upon itself, and produce a blast that would make the H-bomb look like a firecracker.

Any scheme that extracts energy from zero-point effects, either directly or indirectly, is vulnerable to the argument I made; the possibility is what matters, as opposed to the precise mechanism.

If I understand correctly, by "shield" you mean "remove the effects of within a volume". A nucleus isn't much affected by what happens outside it. _Within_ the nucleus, the seething sea of virtual particles play a large part in keeping the nucleons bound together, but a) removing the virtual particles would cause the nucleus to fly apart, not implode, b) removing virtual particles is just a way of saying "magically cause no forces to apply", as at least the first three fundamental forces are transmitted by virtual particles, and c) good luck magically causing the fundamental forces not to apply. If we can do this, then getting free energy will be the least of the effects we could produce :).

I remain skeptical.

Re:Economics (2, Funny)

Bohnanza (523456) | more than 11 years ago | (#3498470)

"Similarly, by the fact that the vacuum near us hasn't decayed"

My old Hoover is just about falling apart.

Also Pollution as a Concern (3, Interesting)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 11 years ago | (#3502804)

Another factor which may halt the adoption of this chemical as a fuel propellant is the pollution involved. Oxidizing pure nitrogen is bound to get you a lot of nitrogen dioxide (NOx) and other related pollutants. While this might be useful for small explosives, the output from launching a space shuttle off of this fuel might be too much for NASA to consider using even if it does become cheaper than current fuels one day.

On the other hand, the infrequency of launches may be such that the overall emission these pollutants compared to that of traffic in a large city may be negligible. Someone with a better grasp on the exact orders of magnitude here would have to tell you.

The article (0, Redundant)

jfengel (409917) | more than 11 years ago | (#3496712)

The stable existence of N60 was confirmed jointly by the National Institute of health care materials) and Chemical Research ( NIMCR ),(russian news agency) of Industrial Science and technology, and Nissan Motor Co., ltd.

Increasingly promising lately is the potential for N60, the molecule consisting of 60 nitrogen atoms bonded in a soccer-ball shape, to be
used as rocket fuel capable of generating the world's highest thrust.

Supercomputer simulation confirmed the existence of N60 as the ``nitrogen version'' of the newly emerging promising material, C60, made of 60 carbon atoms.

Although a ``considerable amount of time is required for synthesizing N60,'' its development has already begun.

NIMCR's Chief Researcher Takehiro Matsunaga, who proposed the N60 concept, says this: ``When I saw the crystalline structure of C60, I immediately sensed that the world ''s most powerful explosive could be made if the same structure could be applied to nitrogen atoms.''

NIMCR and Nissan Motor are jointly developing the next-generation rocket fuel.

The joint team has been in search of a compound capable of generating a sufficiently powerful thrust to propel heavy rockets faster and
farther.

Although nitrogen exists as a stable gas, its compounds can become powerful explosives.

TNT, today's most widely used explosive, is also a
nitrogen-containing compound.

Compared with oxygen and hydrogen, the atomic bonding force in nitrogen is greater, and therefore, when the bond is destroyed, larger energy is released.

In other words, if a compound can be synthesized from nitrogen atoms only, the compound can be a powerful explosive.

From that standpoint, the crystalline structure of the soccer-ball-like C60 was the ideal shape for explosive researchers.

The joint group of NIMCR and Nissan Motor computed the atomic radius and the molecular bonding energy and confirmed the existence of N60,
consisting of 60 nitrogen atoms, and N70, consisting of 70 nitrogen atoms.

Furthermore, the group computed the magnitude of thrust when these molecules are used as rocket fuel.

The currently most advanced propulsion technology involving the reaction between liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen is to be used for space shuttles and the next Japanese-made large rocket H2, which is scheduled to be launched in february 1994 by the National Space Development Agency.

The technology makes use of the heat that is released when oxygen and hydrogen react.

Specific impulse, an index of a rocket ''s efficiency, for H2 is approximately 445 seconds.

By computation, the group obtained a specific impulse of approximately 550 seconds, approximately 20 percent better than the above value, for the predicted N60, despite the common knowledge that it is almost impossible to improve specific impulse by even one second with today's fuel technology.

Another advantage of N60 as rocket fuel is that it is a solid.

By applying high heat or impact, the energy accumulated in the material is released instantaneously.

The liquid fuel to be used for H2 is difficult to handle and has a potential for leaking.

It has been reported that the U.S. National Aerospace Agency has experienced more than 5000 accidents in the area of engine
development.

NIMCR's Chief Researcher Takehiro Matsunaga) says, ``there is no doubt in my mind that the new nitrogen compound, if synthesized, will be the new rocket fuel.''

There seems to be no clue to the synthesis method for the compound.

It took five years for the synthesis method for C60 to be found after the computer prediction had been made for the existence of the molecule.

Actually, the carbon molecule was isolated from soot produced by the electric discharge between carbon electrodes.

In contrast with the C60 molecule, which is in the shape of a nearly perfect soccer ball, the N60 molecule predicted by the joint group has an indentation involving more than 10 nitrogen atoms.

Because of this distorted shape, N60 molecule is said to be easily destroyed and difficult to synthesize.

C60 molecule was synthesized with a systematic approach by gradually increasing the number of carbon atoms on a molecule consisting of 12
carbon atoms that was already in existence.

On the other hand, nitrogen molecules containing four, six and 20 atoms showed excessive strain in simulation tests, and their stable existence was negated.

ection Chief Katsumi Tanigaki of the Exploratory Research Department, NEC Basic Research Institute, points out that ``unless an epoch-making synthetic method is found, it will be a long road before we see the actual N60 molecule.''

He suggests that the group should ``first scheck the possibility of synthesizing a molecule consisting of carbon and nitrogen. ''

According to the super-computer simulation, N60 molecule is supposed to generate the world 's greatest explosive force.

Although a long road of synthesis is ahead, we must hope for the best for future research.

As Section Chief Katsumi Tanigaki says, we must ``go for it, as long as its existence has been predicted.''

Let's just say.. (2)

Snafoo (38566) | more than 11 years ago | (#3496948)

... that Microsoft would have a whole new kind of 'product activation' to worry about.

Damn, and I was really getting my hopes up... (2)

Lendrick (314723) | more than 11 years ago | (#3496984)

According to Google, I'm not the first person to come up with the word Buckybomb.

Why the weird quotes? (1)

PhilHibbs (4537) | more than 11 years ago | (#3497692)

Can someone explain to me why someone would use use two backwards apostraphes at the beginning, and two sets of double-quotes at the end of a quotation ``like this'' ''? I've seen similar things to this all over usenet.

Re:Why the weird quotes? (1)

Phleg (523632) | more than 11 years ago | (#3498720)

Internet Explorer changes " signs before a word to look like that. Don't ask me why.

Re:Why the weird quotes? (1)

norton_I (64015) | more than 11 years ago | (#3500500)

It is either a lame attempt at smart quotes, or someone cut-and-pasting an incorrect TeX source file (which turns `` and '' into real directed quotes).

Bad fortune (1)

Gamasta (557555) | more than 11 years ago | (#3497876)

I already made two buckyballs of paper, C60. Now I have to make a new one for N60. I can't believe this... ;-)
Doing this C60 gave me the second best work in a science fair which was worth R$ 50 (around US$ 25 at that time)... I received the money and was robbed on the same day... hmm, bad fortune.

Science Fiction Connection (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3498850)

Anybody read the pulp science fiction novel Saturn Rukh? Very weird book, but the fuel source they used was called 'meta' and was "a strange molecule, with a structure somewhere between that of a buckyball and a bunch of grapes." The chem composition was a bit different, 1 excited nitrogen core surrounded by 64 helium ions.

The funny thing was that I'd read this book a week ago and seeing this article really creeped me out!

-RC-
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