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Swiss Scientists Discover DNA Remains Active After Space Journey and Re-entry

AikonMGB Re:When the rocket is standing on the pad (58 comments)

Addendum: I don't know if this was mentioned in the article (yay laziness!), but most spacecraft are merely cleaned, not sterilized. Avoiding contamination is important for interplanetary missions, but not so much for something that's going to stay in Earth orbit or burn up in its atmosphere.

8 hours ago
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Multiple Manufacturers Push Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars, But Can They Catch Tesla?

AikonMGB Re:It's The Parts Count (281 comments)

You are right of course, but that's not really a central part of this particular story. Hydrogen fuel cells are not internal combustion engines.

4 days ago
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Ask Slashdot: Where Do You Stand on Daylight Saving Time?

AikonMGB Re:The right answer (613 comments)

I know you are kidding, but I'll just add a couple points: 1) The Earth's orbit is quite stable; the seasons are caused by the fact that the Earth's axis of rotation is inclined its orbit normal. To make it an equinox year-round, fix that. 2) To slightly increase the period of the Earth's orbit around the Sun, we actually need to speed it up! Orbital mechanics are not always intuitive :)

about a month ago
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It's Official: HTML5 Is a W3C Standard

AikonMGB Re:Video rental (125 comments)

Let me fix that for you: why is movie rental supposed to work? Just because a business model made sense at one point for a particular medium does that mean that it will continue to do so moving forward, nor that artificial restrictions should be placed on innovation to force existing business models to soldier on.

about 1 month ago
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The Era of Saturday Morning Cartoons Is Dead

AikonMGB SMBC (320 comments)

I think Zach Weinersmith (http://www.smbc-comics.com/) would disagree :)

about 2 months ago
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Universal Big Bang Lithium Deficit Confirmed

AikonMGB Re:Quite accurately? (171 comments)

I believe they meant "precisely", not "accurately". Their theories make a prediction which has error bars on it; the measurements taken have error bars on them; the error bars do not overlap.

about 3 months ago
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Underground Experiment Confirms Fusion Powers the Sun

AikonMGB That's not how science works (141 comments)

Nothing has been proven. Scientists have long had a theory about how the Sun powers itself. That theory can be used to make predictions, such as the type of neutrinos that we should expect to see emanating from the Sun. An experiment was devised to test such a prediction, the hypothesis being that this type of neutrinos is being produced and thus will be detected. Having performed the experiment, we see that the results match what we expected, validating the hypothesis. This is important and significant, and it provides further evidence suggesting the widely accepted theory is accurate, but it does not -- nor can it -- constitute a proof.

The other interesting result would be if the expected neutrino type was not detected by this experiment, invalidating the hypothesis. This would raise further questions such as: is there some other mechanism powering the Sun? Is there something deficient in our understanding of neutrinos that prevented us from detecting them despite them being there? Was there an error in the test setup (i.e. is it repeatable by other parties)?

about 3 months ago
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Anomaly Triggers Self-Destruct For SpaceX Falcon 9 Test Flight

AikonMGB Re:Exactly! (113 comments)

Just pointing out that SpaceX's manned Dragon capsule won't have an escape tower; the launch escape system is a set of eight SuperDraco thrusters, which will also be used for soft ground landing after normal flights.

about 3 months ago
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Parallax Completes Open Hardware Vision With Open Source CPU

AikonMGB Open FPGA? (136 comments)

Is there an open-source FPGA design/implementation that you can run this on? Otherwise it's not really open-hardware all the way down, is it..

about 4 months ago
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Australia Rebooting Search For MH370

AikonMGB Re:How much have they spent already? (92 comments)

You don't need a downed aircraft to do that kind of research though, you can just go out and look for something, maybe something that isn't even there.

about 4 months ago
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Australia Rebooting Search For MH370

AikonMGB Re:Why the Australians? (92 comments)

Using your number of 0.001% probability of this crash being something technical, and my estimated value of MH370 of $2.6B, then $26,000. The 777 has a lot of flight hours; if there's a technical problem with it, its a corner-case quirk, not a fundamental design issue. Maybe it doesn't sit well with you, but it is not reasonable to expect 100% safety from any system -- it would be prohibitively expensive.

about 4 months ago
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Australia Rebooting Search For MH370

AikonMGB Re:How much have they spent already? (92 comments)

You are of course correct for the initial search, but at some point you hit diminishing returns. Even if the failure were a technical one, the value of locating the wreck and determining the cause is likely of limited value. There are only so many systems that can fail, and we already do thorough failure modes analyses when designing aircraft. That's why flying is so safe these days.

The 777 has a pretty good track record with 1,212 units built and five hull losses, only two of which were due to failure of flight systems. If the hull cost $261.5M and you estimate the value of a human life $10M, then the MH370 incident had a base cost of around $2.6B. If you only had one failure out of 1,212 hulls, that suggests you'd be willing to spend 0.08% or ~$2.1M to make sure it doesn't happen again.

This is just one formulation of the cost/benefit and of course excludes some important factors like the public relations cost to MA and airlines in general, but hopefully it illustrates that there's a bound on how much we should reasonably be expected to invest in understanding the events of the incident, and that it is not an absurdly high value.

about 4 months ago
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Tesla and Panasonic Have Reached an Agreement On the Gigafactory

AikonMGB Re:What makes this a gigafactory? (95 comments)

Actually, a gibifactory would be ~1073.74 megafactories; you are mixing scales :) </pendantry>

about 3 months ago
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Apollo 11 Moon Landing Turns 45

AikonMGB It's not a miracle (211 comments)

As Jim Lovell put it:

From now on we'll live in a world where man has walked on the Moon. It's not a miracle, we just decided to go.

There seems to be this perception that space travel is this incredible thing. It is awesome for sure, but it is fully within our grasp to do with as we please. One of my favourite arguments against the conspiracy theorists goes: if NASA were willing to fake the Moon landing, they would have done something else by now.

Let's reach for the stars again!

about 4 months ago
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India Launches Five Foreign Satellites

AikonMGB Re:Great for India (85 comments)

I would have modded you "+1 Insightful" instead of funny. As I mentioned above, this is a high-technology field that brings national prestige, fosters education, and can bring in foreign money. You are spot on.

about 5 months ago
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India Launches Five Foreign Satellites

AikonMGB Re:Great for India (85 comments)

Further, this is a high-technology field in which India can excel and become a prominent provider. This brings national prestige, foreign investment and support, provides (some) high-value jobs, and fosters better education. No, it's not going to solve India's problems over night, but it can help.

about 5 months ago
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India Launches Five Foreign Satellites

AikonMGB Re:Makes a lot of sense (85 comments)

It really depends what your target inclination is. In general for a non-polar orbit, you want a launch complex with a latitude close to that inclination to minimize plane changes. This is why the ISS is at 51.65 degrees, to make it "easily" accessible from Baikonur. So yes, Sriharikota's proximity to the equator will be beneficial for low-inclination (near-equatorial) launches.

This particular launch, however, was to a sun-synchronous polar orbit. Your launch complex's latitude is much less important when launching to a polar orbit.

about 5 months ago
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Fusion Power By 2020? Researchers Say Yes and Turn To Crowdfunding.

AikonMGB Re:Bad move (280 comments)

Unfortunately, since fusion would be an incredibly revolutionary technology, there is a tremendous amount of money to be gained by being "first to the post". Any investor with money already in one technology will push hard for only that technology to be funded, at the expense of all other lines of research. Fusion research is sadly driven by economic politics.

about 6 months ago

Submissions

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RIAA Awarded $222,000 in Copyright-Infringement Ca

AikonMGB AikonMGB writes  |  more than 7 years ago

AikonMGB writes "From Wired:

DULUTH, Minnesota — Jammie Thomas, a single mother of two, was found liable Thursday for copyright infringement in the nation's first file-sharing case to go before a jury. Twelve jurors here said the Minnesota woman must pay $9,250 for each of 24 shared songs that were the subject of the lawsuit, amounting to $222,000 in penalties.
[...]
"This is what can happen if you don't settle," RIAA attorney Richard Gabriel told reporters outside the courthouse. "I think we have sent a message we are willing to go to trial."
[...]
The case, however, did set legal precedents favoring the industry. In proving liability, the industry did not have to demonstrate that the defendant's computer had a file-sharing program installed at the time that they inspected her hard drive. And the RIAA did not have to show that the defendant was at the keyboard when RIAA investigators accessed Thomas' share folder.
"

Link to Original Source
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GM Erases Retiree Obligations

AikonMGB AikonMGB writes  |  more than 7 years ago

AikonMGB writes "General Motors has agreed to a tentative deal with the United Auto Workers (UAW) aimed at decreasing costs and increasing competitiveness with foreign automakers, particularly Toyota Motor Corp. The core of the new deal revolves around the establishment of an independent retiree trust fund managed by the UAW. GM will hand over $35 billion to the trust fund, which will take over responsibilities for retiree obligations such as health care. This will allow GM to wipe these obligations off its registers, which will in turn raise GM's credit ratings and lower GM's borrowing costs."
Link to Original Source
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AikonMGB AikonMGB writes  |  more than 7 years ago

AikonMGB writes "A young computer science student from Pittsburgh (PA) has come up with an ingenious way to look for a summer job: auctioning himself off on eBay. Andrew Warshaver is appealing to the internet community to bid for his skills as a computer programmer for a 12-week summer job in any major U.S. metropolitan area. The current bid is listed at US $6,100.00, with the auction winner paying Warshaver the total bid amount prorated on a bi-weekly basis as pay. Warshaver posted a copy of his resume along with his ad, and is offering potential bidders a chance to interview him before placing their bid."
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AikonMGB AikonMGB writes  |  more than 8 years ago

AikonMGB (1013995) writes "It seems Silicon Graphics Incorporated (SGI) is trying to cut the wind from ATI's sails, looking to stop all sales of ATI Radeon chips. The suit quotes patent #6,650,327, awarded to SGI in November of 2003. This suit came in shortly before DAAMIT announced its hopes for their new "Fusion" CPU/GPU combination."

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