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Most Americans Support Government Action On Climate Change

Beck_Neard Re:So what? (409 comments)

Trace amounts of DNA fragments exist in most plant and animal oils. Table salt is DNA-free though.

yesterday
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Virgin Galactic Dumps Scaled Composites For Spaceship Two

Beck_Neard Re: Scaled Composites renamed (38 comments)

> Solar sail can achieve 25% light speed, according to NASA, and Alpha Centauri is 4 light years away.

Citation needed. According to figures I've read, solar sails can reach a maximum of about 60 km/s. That's several orders of magnitude lower than 25% c.

Laser-propelled sails might be theoretically able to get up to 25% c but that's definitely not currently-available technology. We do not have anything close to the kind of lasers that would be required for this.

About manned/unmanned, it seems kind of pointless to spend all that time and money on a mission purposefully designed/expected to fail. My advice: never take on a management position.

No, you want a robotic mission that is as small and conservative as you can make it, to test out if short-duration (less than millenia) interstellar travel is possible at all, even in principle. For all we know, radiation and interstellar gas could prevent it from being possible. Once you know that you can send electronics to another star safely, then you send humans (if you need to).

> you learn the furthest a manned mission can reach.

This is a meaningless question. There's no 'distance limit', only a velocity limit. In the trivial case of a generation ship (or just assuming Earth is your starship), a manned 'mission' can 'reach' at least across thousands of light years, as Earth has traveled that much since humans evolved.

5 days ago
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Germany Plans Highway Test Track For Self-Driving Cars

Beck_Neard Re:what about liability? and maybe even criminal l (90 comments)

And what about when a human driver does this? I look forward to the day when humans are banned from driving. I've been driving for 10 years and have had people smash their cars into me from so many angles it's not even funny. Got a concussion from one encounter. All of the people behind the wheel were either high or drunk. To the brain-dead idiots who say that computers will never be as good at driving as humans are (which is just a selfish excuse so they can continue to 'enjoy' the 'thrill' of driving), I say this: You should have been aborted. But it's not too late, you can still kill yourself. Oh, and self-driving cars already drive orders of magnitude better than a person who has emptied a bottle of vodka or has smoked 3 joints. Get realistic and pull your head out of your ass.

5 days ago
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Virgin Galactic Dumps Scaled Composites For Spaceship Two

Beck_Neard Re: Scaled Composites renamed (38 comments)

> We have the technology today to get a manned mission to Alpha Centauri and back. It would take 15-20 years for the journey and the probability of survival is poor, but we could do it.

Why would you want to send a manned mission as the first mission? A robotic probe should be the first mission. 20 years for alpha centauri and back translates to about half the speed of light. I highly doubt that any current or foreseeable technology could get a probe to that speed. Not even fusion-powered rockets could, and we don't have them. A fission-powered rocket might realistically be able get up to 0.5% c (1500 km/s), in which case it would take a millenium and a half to complete the mission. Some more intelligent proposals like huge orbital linear accelerators might accelerate a tiny robotic probe to 10% the speed of light but even then you're looking at a 90 year journey.

Your scenario sounds insanely over-optimistic, to put it mildly.

5 days ago
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New Collaborative Project Wants to Systematize Complex Problem Solving Online

Beck_Neard Re:Wikipedia "proved"? (42 comments)

> Authoritative/reliable

Ha. Haha. Good one.

If anything, it's more "Averaged opinion of a whole lot of people" > "Opinion of a small number of people"

about two weeks ago
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AI Experts Sign Open Letter Pledging To Protect Mankind From Machines

Beck_Neard Re:The 3 Laws of Robotics (258 comments)

They aren't a good starting point. They are ridiculous and stem from lack of any sort of knowledge about AI.

Not even Asimov took them seriously, and this was a guy who (a) knew very little about computers/robots, by his own admission, and (b) came up with them in the 40's, before we even had modern computers at all.

Anyway, about the topic. Looking at the 'Future of Life Institute' webpage, they seem to be composed of all the usual suspects. Philosophers and public figures who have been talking about the 'dangers of AI' for a long time. There is nothing new to see here.

about three weeks ago
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Several European Countries Lay Groundwork For Heavier Internet Censorhip

Beck_Neard Re:At this point the game is so obvious; (319 comments)

You don't even need to go that far. Terrorists are always coming up with stupid plans to blow stuff up. All you have to do is just sit back and let them do their thing.

Was there anyone familiar with the situation who _didn't_ see this attack coming? And couldn't it have been prevented with just tighter security around Charlie Hebdo's offices?

about three weeks ago
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Several European Countries Lay Groundwork For Heavier Internet Censorhip

Beck_Neard At this point the game is so obvious; (319 comments)

Write up draconian legislation, wait for a terrorist attack to happen, and immediately unleash it on the public. The media will be all to eager to play into your hand by whipping the public up into a frenzy. Ever since 9/11 every single terrorist attack has been an excuse for tighter surveillance and censorship across the world.

Look, it was sad that a bunch of people died over cartoons. But it changes nothing - absolutely NOTHING - about the importance of our freedoms. In fact, if anything, it highlights the importance of our freedoms, as these cartoonists died over free speech.

Anyone who tells you that increased surveillance and censorship will be 'selective' and 'only target high-risk individuals' is either ignorant or lying, as a cursory glance at previous measures will readily reveal.

Don't let them bait you.

about three weeks ago
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NASA's Asteroid Redirect Mission May Not Actually Redirect an Asteroid

Beck_Neard Re:We can't even send a man into LEO anymore, peop (73 comments)

> The farther away the object you want to study, the more limited the kind of science you can make with a robot.

And that's even more true for manned exploration...

about three weeks ago
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NASA's Asteroid Redirect Mission May Not Actually Redirect an Asteroid

Beck_Neard Re:We can't even send a man into LEO anymore, peop (73 comments)

It's amazing how NASA has gone from a genuinely benign government agency advancing the sciences to a parasitic organization that acts a distributor of government pork. And they have a lot of good PR for what they do - hordes of nerds echoing insanely stupid sentiments like 'penny on the dollar!!!'

It was sad enough when NASA's so-called 'mission to prepare for Mars' was actually a pathetic plan involving moving a tiny asteroid to Earth/Lunar orbit and then sending some astronauts up there to take selfies. But now the mission has been downscaled even beyond that level, to where they're basically fine if they can just get a electric propulsion system to work. This would be akin to downscaling the Apollo program to a test-stand demonstration of a rocket engine firing.

End NASA's manned space program. Fire NASA management. Focus on the stuff NASA does best (robotic exploration). Fuck the congresspeople who piggyback on enthusiasm for space to send money to their own districts.

about three weeks ago
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The Search For Starivores, Intelligent Life That Could Eat the Sun

Beck_Neard Re:Even more useless than politicians (300 comments)

Our galaxy has enough stars (10^11) to be a pretty good representation.

about three weeks ago
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The Search For Starivores, Intelligent Life That Could Eat the Sun

Beck_Neard Re:Even more useless than politicians (300 comments)

I couldn't believe this argument could get any worse, but it suddenly has. Are you proposing that out there we have a population of star eaters that are breeding stars for their own consumption?

about three weeks ago
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The Search For Starivores, Intelligent Life That Could Eat the Sun

Beck_Neard Re:Even more useless than politicians (300 comments)

What comes out of the back end of such a being would probably be rich in Iron and Nickel, so yes, definitely.

about three weeks ago
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The Search For Starivores, Intelligent Life That Could Eat the Sun

Beck_Neard Re:Even more useless than politicians (300 comments)

This argument keeps getting worse.

1) If you read the article, many of the stars that would fit the profile for what they're proposing agree pretty well with the type of star that our sun is. G-class stars are incredibly common.

2) Ok... how did it come into being? Did God just magick it into existence? All forms of life need to either evolve or be created by some other form of life. If it evolved, then there by definition must be a large population of such star eaters, plus all their precursor life-forms, etc. If it was designed, then the designers must be pretty powerful beings themselves. Where are they? Where are their effects on the galaxy?

You can't just have a star eater popping up out of nowhere and leaving no trace behind. Wtf?

about three weeks ago
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The Search For Starivores, Intelligent Life That Could Eat the Sun

Beck_Neard Re:Even more useless than politicians (300 comments)

Nope, I haven't.

With current technology we have the means to push spacecraft to 60 km/s. This isn't hypothetical tech, it's stuff that's sitting in the shed. At such velocities, craft could traverse the milky way galaxy 20 times over during the (current) lifetime of the galaxy (estimated at around 13 billion years). The galaxy is big, but it's not that big, not compared to the time scales involved here.

about three weeks ago
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The Search For Starivores, Intelligent Life That Could Eat the Sun

Beck_Neard Re:Even more useless than politicians (300 comments)

Wrong, and wrong.

1. It wouldn't single out our star. That's the entire point. Such life would be devouring all stars in the galaxy.
2. This isn't about a single star-eating being/lifeform/civilization. If you read the article, the premise is that there are millions of these things. Which there must be, if they are to exist at all. The only thing stupider than a galaxy full of star eaters is a galaxy with only one star eater.

about three weeks ago
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Entanglement Makes Quantum Particles Measurably Heavier, Says Quantum Theorist

Beck_Neard Re:Uh No (109 comments)

Radio receivers work through several mechanisms. First, you have an antenna that is only sensitive to a certain frequency range (but highly sensitive in that range). Then you have some kind of tunable resonant circuit that narrows down the range of frequencies even further, ideally to just the single frequency band you're looking for. When radio reception is good, the signal/noise ratio in that band is quite large, even if the signal is weak. That is, the radio signal is overwhelmingly the most powerful thing in that band, far more powerful than the noise in that band. So it's not really a measurement of '8 digits of accuracy'. It's more like 3 or 4 digits of accuracy.

about three weeks ago
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The Search For Starivores, Intelligent Life That Could Eat the Sun

Beck_Neard Re:Even more useless than politicians (300 comments)

My first response to this article was, "Oh ffs, give it a rest." I read the article and that's still my response.

There's conclusive evidence that star-eating life in our galaxy does not exist: Our sun is still shining bright. Unless you're seriously stupid enough to think that somehow star-eating life would leave us alone for some reason. Or even more stupid and think that over billions of years it wouldn't have reached us.

about three weeks ago
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The Billionaires' Space Club

Beck_Neard Re:RAH had this in the 50's (235 comments)

All our money? If the goal of a Mars colony is just 'saving the species', then even a single dollar of public funds is too much. Really. You would object to other wastes of public funds, no matter how small. Why make an exception just because the word 'Mars' is involved?

If the goal is, on the other hand, something more important, like an experiment to learn how to build better human societies and how to deal with the inevitable rise of AIs, then that's a different question. But there's no reason to think that Mars is the best place to carry out such experiments. It's probably the worst place, actually (well, at least in the inner solar system).

about a month ago

Submissions

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U.S. Navy Deploys Its First Laser Weapon in the Persian Gulf

Beck_Neard Beck_Neard writes  |  about 3 months ago

Beck_Neard (3612467) writes "FTA: "The U.S. Navy has deployed on a command ship in the Persian Gulf its first laser weapon capable of destroying a target.

"The amphibious transport ship USS Ponce has been patrolling with a prototype 30-kilowatt-class Laser Weapon System since late August, according to officials. The laser is mounted facing the bow, and can be fired in several modes — from a dazzling warning flash to a destructive beam — and can set a drone or small boat on fire.""

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