×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Comments

top

Exploding Oil Tank Cars: Why Trains Go Boom

Captain Nitpick Re:why carry crude to in tanks on moving vehicles? (144 comments)

It wouldn't surprise me if some existing refineries have been upgraded to higher capacity though.

This happens.

The recent big example was when Motiva completed the expansion of their Port Arthur refinery. They added 325,000 barrels/day of capacity. If that were built as its own refinery, it would have been the tenth largest in the US. Since it added to an existing refinery, it bumped the refinery up to the largest in the country.

about a month ago
top

North Korea Announces 3rd Nuclear Test, Anti-US Aims

Captain Nitpick Re:A strange game.... (597 comments)

The nearest NK ICBM bunker would be slightly more than 35 miles from Seoul. Please explain how these nukes work that could destroy such a bunker, but not kill most of the 2.4 million people in Seoul.

They work by not having a 35 mile blast radius. The yields of nuclear weapons have fallen significantly from their 1960s peak. A B61 bunker buster couldn't blow up Seoul from the far side of the border under ideal conditions, much less after ground penetration.

about a year ago
top

Amateur Planet Hunters Find First Planet In a Four-Star System

Captain Nitpick Re:How about a picture? (52 comments)

is it two binary systems circling a common centre?

Yes.

Then where do you put a planet in... orbiting in a wide circle around the outside of the stars, figure-8ing between two pairs of stars, some elaborate knot weaving in and out around all 4?

There's a diagram of the inner binary system in the paper. It's near the end.

Two stars orbit each other at a distance of about 0.17 AU. The planet is in a circular orbit around both of them at a distance of 0.64 AU.

The other binary pair is about 1000 AU distant from the first pair. It's irrelevant to the planet's orbit.

about a year and a half ago
top

SpaceX's Falcon 9 Successfully Reaches Orbit

Captain Nitpick Re:More info and video (282 comments)

Why does the SLS need to exist? It won't be able to do anything that projected private sector products won't be able to do for a fraction of the cost.

The SLS has one thing the currently-projected private sector boosters don't have: maximum payload capacity. The Falcon Heavy is only supposed to hit 53,000 kg to LEO ("only"). SLS is supposed to be around 100,000 kg. It's basically the Space Shuttle, and those were damn powerful engines. They just had the drawback of hauling 68000 kg of orbiter on every trip.

Falcon X might beat SLS, but that's almost purely concept art at this point. But then, my confidence in the SLS project isn't really any higher.

about 2 years ago
top

Renewable Energy Production Surpasses Nuclear In the US

Captain Nitpick Re:Tons of lumber? (452 comments)

Aren't most houses made from concrete nowadays?

They certainly aren't in the US.

more than 2 years ago
top

EFF Stops Accepting Bitcoin, Regifts All Donations

Captain Nitpick Re:No surprises here (391 comments)

What is the declared value of a dollar?

The value of a dollar is the ability to pay one dollar's worth of US Federal taxes.

more than 2 years ago
top

Wikipedia Could Block 67 Million Verizon Customers

Captain Nitpick Re:Could someone explain... (481 comments)

What percentage of Internet users in the United States have even visited Wikipedia, much less would feel the loss?

Visited? Um, basically all of them?

I think you meant "edited".

more than 3 years ago
top

Mystery 'Missile' Identified As US Airways Flight 808

Captain Nitpick Re:I don't care. (335 comments)

The trail ought to expand and get larger, the farther the source moves away from the thrust. Although there's some uniformity to the seeming circumference of the contrail, it would be larger to the west, and therefore doesn't look like an airliner coming east.

I've seen the inverse argument made. That because things get smaller with distance, it can't be an airliner coming east. The enlarging of the contrail as it disperses is competing with the shrinking with distance. Intuition about which should be winning fails.

And why would there be thrust when the airplane is supposed to be descending (W to E, Honolulu to PHX)?

Because Phoenix is 375 miles from Los Angeles? Flight records for a later run of flight 808 show it beginning its descent about 25 miles west of the California/Arizona border. The flight took a good 50 minutes to get from 37k feet over Los Angeles to arrival on the ground at Phoenix.

They also don't turn the engines off to make the plane go down.

more than 3 years ago
top

Countries Considering Circumlunar Flight From ISS

Captain Nitpick Re:Wow! (170 comments)

Apollo 11 was run from this perspective. Multiple launches (Apollo + Agena) docked in orbit to become the composite lunar spacecraft.

This is incorrect. Each manned Apollo mission used a single Saturn V. (Except for the Apollo 7 test flight, which used a Saturn IB.) Orbital docking occurred between the command/service module and lunar module launched on the same rocket.

Agena boosters were modified to practice docking during the Gemini program, but had no direct involvement in Apollo.

more than 3 years ago
top

SpaceX's Falcon 9 Appears As UFO In Australia

Captain Nitpick Re:Congress is happy (143 comments)

They would have except for Obama de-funding the program. I guess you forgot about that.

You're kidding, right?

Obama has proposed removing funding for the Constellation Program in the 2011 budget. The budget cuts haven't taken effect and are still being argued over. The reason NASA hasn't built them is that NASA is years behind schedule.

Let's see:

SpaceX has delivered a 1960s era liquid fuel rocket designed for LEO. NASA has delivered a 1970s era test vehicle as part of a program to develop a 2010s era launch system.

SpaceX has an almost working satellite launch vehicle. NASA was developing a system for sending people to Luna and Mars.

In five-ish years, SpaceX designed, built, and flew a prototype two-stage rocket. In five-ish years, NASA put a guidance system on an existing STS SRB, and launched a fake second stage.

And you are still confusing two separate launchers. The Ares I is a LEO launch vehicle, an orbital taxi. It can no more get one to the Moon than the Falcon 9. It can ferry people to a lunar transfer vehicle, but so could the Falcon 9.

Yeah, SpaceX has gotten very far using NASA's old technology.

NASA can't get anywhere using NASA's old technology, so SpaceX is still ahead on that score.

more than 3 years ago
top

SpaceX's Falcon 9 Appears As UFO In Australia

Captain Nitpick Re:Congress is happy (143 comments)

SpaceX started years before the Aries program, used 30 year old technology

I guess you forgot that the Constellation system was supposed to take us back to Luna and then on to Mars and not just the ISS which is the primary target of the Falcon 9 system.

You are misinformed. The Ares I rocket is just a LEO launcher. It is an extended space shuttle solid rocket booster with an upper stage powered by a single Saturn V motor. The technology in it dates to the mid-1970s or even earlier.

The Ares V is a heavy-lift booster that outclasses anything built. Or it would if they'd actually try building one. It is a STS External Tank with five motors off the Delta IV under it and two STS SRBs attached to it. The upper stage is powered by the same Saturn V derivative motor used on the Ares I.

Both programs started development circa 2005 (SpaceX was only founded in 2002). SpaceX has delivered a working launch vehicle. NASA has launched what was literally a slightly modified SRB out of the Space Shuttle inventory as the Ares I-X, and is unlikely to launch the real thing until 2017. The Ares V hasn't even begun to leave the drawing board.

SpaceX has a working satellite launcher that can be made man-rated. The Constellation program has nothing.

more than 3 years ago
top

Japan To Launch Solar Sail Spacecraft "Ikaros"

Captain Nitpick Re:Icarus? (138 comments)

Not sure about that. I've seen claims that a lot of the thrust of a solar sail would be due to the solar wind...which would tend to stick, and thus couldn't be tacked against.

Those claims are wrong. The force on a solar sail due to solar radiation pressure is about a thousand times that of the solar wind.

Also, solar cells tend to absorb photons, capturing their momentum, and when they re-radiate it (at a lower frequency) the direction is random.

The solar cells are going to be absorbing a small fraction of the incoming photons. If the sail is designed properly, the rest will be reflected in a controllable direction.

If this is correct, then the simple model of solar sails tacking using reflected light is at least an oversimplification, and possibly so much of an oversimplification that it doesn't properly predict the effects.

Your assumptions are wrong, and the model is correct.

MESSENGER has used its mostly reflective solar panels to make deliberate course changes. The basic physical principle is already proven, not just in the lab, but in space. JAXA is examining the practicality of building large solar sails, not whether they will work at all.

more than 3 years ago
top

Battlefield Earth Screenwriter Accepts Razzie

Captain Nitpick Re:why has he decided to accept it now? (295 comments)

2000 was the end of the last decade.

2000 was not the last year of the 1990s, 1999 was.

2000 as the end of the 20th century works because it's counting time since the switch to positive integers, and there was no year zero. Decades such as the 80s, 90s, and whatever we end up calling the period from 2000 to 2009 (inclusive) are not set from the origin, but are based on the tens digit of the year. 2000 may have been part of the 20th century, but it wasn't part of the 90s.

Also note that kimvette made an exception to include a movie released in 2000, which establishes that the conventional 1990-1999 definition of the 90s was intended.

about 4 years ago
top

Battlefield Earth Screenwriter Accepts Razzie

Captain Nitpick Re:why has he decided to accept it now? (295 comments)

It was made in the same decade as Starship Troopers, The Phantom Menace, the Look Who's Talking sequels, Highlander II, and let's include Supernova since it was actually reproduced in the '90s, although not released until 2000. Let's not forget Lucas' destroying the original Star Wars trilogy, changing A New Hope so that Greedo shot first.

There were far worse movies made in the 90s.

Then it's a good thing Battlefield: Earth was released May 10, 2000, and not in the 1990s.

The official nominees were Battlefield Earth, Freddy Got Fingered, Gigli, I know Who Killed Me, and Swept Away.

I guess Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2 was too awful to acknowledge.

about 4 years ago
top

US and Russia Conclude Arms-Control Treaty

Captain Nitpick Re:"Conclude?" (165 comments)

"Conclude" means "bring to an end." They might have concluded treaty negotiations, but they didn't conclude a treaty (except to the extent that this new treaty may replace an old one, which is clearly not what was meant). And concluding negotiations doesn't imply either agreement or disagreement, so the headline should probably read "US and Russia agree to arms control treaty."

This is incorrect. The headline uses the word "conclude" correctly.

"Bring to an end" is one of the many meanings of conclude. The one being used here is "to bring to a decision or settlement; settle or arrange finally: to conclude a treaty."

This use is not only correct, it is the dictionary example of this particular meaning.

about 4 years ago
top

Senate Votes To Replace Aviation Radar With GPS

Captain Nitpick Re:93-0 margin (457 comments)

Or even as simple as: You get 200k/year based on the % of votes you were there for. Show up for 5 votes out of 100, you get 10k.

But the point is, we shouldn't have to pay senators anything. The money should be a symbol of gratitude for their service.

Then you intentionally limit Senate candidates to those who can do without a source of income for six years. They'll either be filthy rich, or really open to taking bribes (real bribes, not just "campaign donations").

A legislature skewed even more towards the wealthy and corrupt, just what we need.

about 4 years ago
top

Scientists Use Sex-Crazed Bugs As Pesticide

Captain Nitpick Old technique, but it works (107 comments)

The sterile insect technique dates to the 1950s, and has been used with great success in suppressing the screw-worm (eradicated in the US in 1982). An animal infested with screw worm maggots can die simply from the tissue damage as the maggots "screw" into their flesh. It's one of the few species against which there is an intentional attempt at extermination, and I can't disagree with it.

The technique inspired the Nebula Award-winning science fiction story The Screwfly Solution. In the story, the technique does not so much go wrong as horribly right.

more than 4 years ago
top

UAVs Go Green With Fuel-Cell Powered "Ion Tiger"

Captain Nitpick Re:For domestic use only (83 comments)

Ask yourself: why care of the targets know they're being watched?

Firstly, when the enemy knows that you're watching, he can attempt to deceive you.

Secondly, if the enemy can reliably know when he is being watched, then he can also reliably know when he is not being watched and is thus free to do whatever he wants.

more than 4 years ago
top

Whistleblower Claims IEA Is Downplaying Peak Oil

Captain Nitpick Re:On the plus side! (720 comments)

Buying billions' worth of oil and putting it away for a rainy day just isn't possible unless you're, say, the US government with (allegedly) underground caves you can fill up with the stuff.

Why do you say "allegedly"? The Strategic Petroleum Reserve is not a secret.

more than 4 years ago

Submissions

Captain Nitpick hasn't submitted any stories.

Journals

Captain Nitpick has no journal entries.

Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...