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NASA Offering Contracts To Encourage Asteroid Mining

FatLittleMonkey Re:Legal Issue (153 comments)

In addition:

Article VI

States Parties to the Treaty shall bear international responsibility for national activities in outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, whether such activities are carried on by governmental agencies or by non-governmental entities, and for assuring that national activities are carried out in conformity with the provisions set forth in the present Treaty. The activities of non-governmental entities in outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, shall require authorization and continuing supervision by the appropriate State Party to the Treaty.

Nations are required to regulate commercial activities. Doing so doesn't imply sovereignty. So legislation to register American commercial asteroid miners is perfectly within the limits of the Treaty, provided the US doesn't use such legislation to try to enforce sovereignty over other nations' activities.

2 days ago
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NASA Offering Contracts To Encourage Asteroid Mining

FatLittleMonkey Re: Rocket Science (153 comments)

The Moon has a blended surface due to repeated impacts throwing stuff around. It doesn't have the same kind of concentrated metals that a Type M asteroid does.

However, those same impacts (and the lack of oxidation) means that the lunar regolith contains several percent metal powder/filings from M-type asteroids, which can be separated from the regolith using just a magnet, and sintered into basic shapes using just a microwave emitter.

Combined with the high likelihood of a thick layer of water-ice at the poles (for fuel) and its nearness to Earth (allowing teleoperated robots, and much easier human presence), makes the moon a reasonable place for us to get started than an asteroid.

2 days ago
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NASA Offering Contracts To Encourage Asteroid Mining

FatLittleMonkey Re: Economics (153 comments)

In general the idea is that your primary market is in space, and competes with Earth-launch costs. (Such as fuel.) Then incrementally grows as what is essentially a waste product from the first production becomes a product in the second, then the third... say bulk shielding, then simple bulk metal components, then dishes/antennas/etc, then manufactured products like solar arrays. Each competes only with the cost of sending up that product from Earth into space, but eventually you have enough industry going on up there that dumping a shipment of PGMs or even nickel all the way back to Earth is a small side trip that is worth the extra income, even though it can't possibly justify all that infrastructure in the first place. At that point, you are just starting to become competitive with Earth-side mining, and the development should increase exponentially after that.

The initial process of getting from here to that first product is also, by coincidence, the same requirements as doing interesting science.

It might not ever be economical. But the process of finding out that it's not economical is just relatively low-cost science. Unless we're stupid, we don't have to commit any more than that to find out that it is or isn't worth committing more.

2 days ago
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Multiple Manufacturers Push Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars, But Can They Catch Tesla?

FatLittleMonkey Re:Here is the real answer (280 comments)

Your maps don't include the 50-100 million garages with power-points that are suitable for overnight charging battery electric vehicles, and the zero garages with hydrogen production/storage/transfer equipment suitable for hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. Which, IMO, is the real difference. Commercial charging stations make battery electric vehicles more convenient, but for a decent chunk of the potential market they are not absolutely necessary. Hydrogen infrastructure is a requirement of buying a hydrogen vehicle, even if every other aspect of the vehicle suits you perfectly. You can't work around it, you can't add a charging station at work. You are completely dependent on industrial-scale hydrogen infrastructure existing before you can buy a hydrogen car.

2 days ago
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Multiple Manufacturers Push Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars, But Can They Catch Tesla?

FatLittleMonkey Re:I don't think hydrogen makes sense (280 comments)

30-40 minutes does not fully recharge the batteries. It will only add 100-150 miles to your range. You're looking at over an hour to fully charge at a "Supercharge" station, several hours at a regular high-amperage power-point, overnight at a 15-20A/220VAC power-point.

2 days ago
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Multiple Manufacturers Push Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars, But Can They Catch Tesla?

FatLittleMonkey Re:It has nothing to do with the part counts (280 comments)

Battery electric vehicles are less convenient than conventionally fuelled vehicles, because we're piggybacking on a century of existing fuel infrastructure. However, the contrast here is with the technology in the article, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. People are saying that faffing around with hydrogen is a waste; battery-electric is already more usable in practice, even if its more limited in theory.

For most people, a regular 20-40A/240VAC plug in your garage is enough for a BEV as a second (local run-around) vehicle. A handy power-point in the car park at your workplace lets you use the BEV as your daily commuter vehicle. A higher powered 3-phase system in your garage adds even more flexibility. A "supercharge" station in the area merely adds another layer of backup, but isn't required to get started.

For hydrogen: You can't even consider buying a HFC vehicle until there's a hydrogen supply infrastructure in place, even if every other aspect of the vehicle is ideal for your lifestyle and driving habits. That eliminates most of your potential early adopters, which is why hydrogen has been limited to a very narrow range of fleet users.

2 days ago
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Multiple Manufacturers Push Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars, But Can They Catch Tesla?

FatLittleMonkey Re:Maybe.....but maybe not (280 comments)

The energy density of diesel is much higher than hydrogen and the lifespan of a large diesel engine is vastly more than the lifespan of a hydrogen ICE engine. HFC is probably worse. Hydrogen-ICE make sense for city buses from an emissions stand point, and HFC electric buses due to emissions plus improved noise. But long haul isn't suited to anything except diesel (**). Hydrogen is just a bad technology.

(** With modern electric motors, compact battery packs, and high efficiency diesel generators. I'm wondering if diesel-electric can now scale down to trucks or buses. Mechanically simpler, cleaner, more fuel efficient, less braking load, etc. Separating the power plant from the drive system opens up design efficiencies, potentially lowering manufacturing costs.)

2 days ago
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Multiple Manufacturers Push Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars, But Can They Catch Tesla?

FatLittleMonkey Re:That's the point! (280 comments)

Purely battery electrical vehicles give customers control of charging their cars. You only need a charging station if you are on a long range journey.

Agreed. Because you can charge your battery electric car in your garage using a regular power point, albeit slowly, you don't actually need a single dedicated fast-charging station in your whole city in to use a BEV. That lets early adopters buy BEVs without waiting for infrastructure to develop. OTOH, hydrogen vehicles aren't possible without the supply infrastructure, so even if they are suitable for more early adopters than BEVs, the early adopters themselves are prevented from owning them.

It's the same with commerical fuelling/charging stations: Hydrogen filling stations must be dedicated facilities like conventional fuel stations, with EIS and council planning (and protesting neighbours), and require special dedicated equipment. And then the station itself needs a yet larger scale hydrogen production/supply infrastructure to fill its own tanks before the station itself is practical, meaning that the filling stations themselves may be impossible in many regions that lack the industrial supply infrastructure.

But mains electricity is everywhere.

Any location with a commercial power supply can install a fast-charge station, and any location with any electricity can install trickle-charge plugs. It doesn't require special facilities (gas storage tanks, safety clearances). In most areas it probably doesn't even require special building approval. So a shopping mall can install charging stations in their car park since they already run power lines out to the car-park light-poles. Any commercial car park building can install charging stations. Your office or apartment building can install them in their private car park. Etc. It makes it much more likely that the infrastructure will develop rapidly and organically as the number of electrics on the road increases.

So even if there are more early adopters willing to drive medium-range hydrogen vehicles than short-range battery electrics, hydrogen is so restrictive that the overwhelming majority of those potential hydrogen early adopters are excluded. OTOH, almost all potential BEV buyers already have standard power-points they can immediately plug into; and every potential fleet buyer can install faster-charging stations at their depot/garage without special facilities or planning permission. That solves the chicken and egg problem.

The battery electric vehicles have a larger potential market in practice, in spite of being more limited in theory.

2 days ago
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Alleged Satellite Photo Says Ukraine Shootdown of MH17

FatLittleMonkey Re:uh, no? (340 comments)

Right, the missile's trajectory would be pointing ahead of where the airliner is at the moment the image was taken (at least 2-3 plane lengths, at typical missile speeds). It's clearly not "cutting the course", it's pointing straight towards the airliner.

about two weeks ago
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Alleged Satellite Photo Says Ukraine Shootdown of MH17

FatLittleMonkey Re:uh, no? (340 comments)

However, there's no sign of the "missile" manoeuvring. Ruler-straight line between the fighter and the airliner, even though the airliner would be moving 250m each second, or about four plane-lengths per second.

about two weeks ago
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Entrepreneur Injects Bitcoin Wallets Into Hands

FatLittleMonkey "The chips are available on the Internet... (77 comments)

"The chips are available on the Internet, sold with a syringe for $99"

I'm going to inject something I bought over the internet into my hand.

about two weeks ago
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Philae's Batteries Have Drained; Comet Lander Sleeps

FatLittleMonkey Re:ESA's spectacular rash of achieving failures (337 comments)

Remember the Mar's Beagle?? The probe made it to Mar's, just to have a spectacular crash.

Beagle 2 was a lander, not a probe. The ESA's Mars probe it was carried on was Mars Express, which is still operating successfully after ten years orbiting Mars.

Remember the Cassini–Huygens mission??

The flaw was on Cassini (run by NASA), not Huygens (run by ESA) which performed perfectly even though it was landing on a completely unmapped world with an unknown surface. (Could be rock-hard ice, could be liquid ethane, could be some kind of organic sludge. Turned out to be sludgy liquid with a thin hard crust.)

about two weeks ago
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Philae's Batteries Have Drained; Comet Lander Sleeps

FatLittleMonkey Gerald Bull was an amateur. (337 comments)

What you really want is a Nuclear Verne Gun.

Launch 3500 tonnes at escape velocity in a single shot. Enough to kickstart a lunar colony. All for roughly the same cost as a single 20 tonne-to-LEO conventional rocket launch.

Drill a 2-3km shaft into a salt dome, excavate a cavity at the bottom, suspend a 150kT nuclear warhead at the centre surrounded by a reaction mass, such as water laced with a neutron absorber. Above the cavity, at the bottom of the shaft, put a large shock absorber (such as a few hundred metres of oil backed by an ablative-coated pusher plate), with your 3500 tonnes of payload on top.

Most of the radiation would be contained underground, and a dome over the launch site would capture most of the rest.

If you want to launch into LEO, you can have a much larger payload, over 10,000 tonnes, but you'll need a conventionally rocket as a "chase ship" to grab it and circularise the orbit. Likewise you'll need an insertion and landing burns for a lunar payload, however you can use Orion-type nuclear propulsion once you're past the Van Allen belts. Launch your delicate payloads (like people) via more conventional means.

This would be an ideal way for China to leap decades ahead of every other space power in just one or two (somewhat controversial) Verne launches. 3500 tonnes would be enough payload for not only a lunar base, but enough fuel stockpiled in lunar orbit to power a LEO-LLO ferry for the conventionally launched humans (and delicate payloads.) Pretty much as soon as they have their proposed space station built, they have enough technology and capacity to take advantage of the Verne payload.

Note: 150kT keeps you under the cut-off for the nuclear test ban treaty. However, in an emergency (say, asteroid threat) a 20MT warhead would be able to launch over 200,000 tonnes (almost two Nimitz-class aircraft carriers.)

about two weeks ago
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Physicists Resurrect an Old, Strange Dark Matter Theory

FatLittleMonkey Re:In laymen's terms... (138 comments)

(the Earth, for example, would be considered "dark matter" under this definition)

No, the Earth absorbs and re-emits light in a spectrum related to its temperature. Enough conventional matter would alter the observable properties of galaxies, as indeed free gas and dust does. That's how they know that there isn't enough ordinary matter to do the job: "not dark enough".

about three weeks ago
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Why the Time Is Always Set To 9:41 In Apple Ads

FatLittleMonkey Re:Always except when it isn't (109 comments)

GP was quibbling over the "always" in the headline when TFS/TFA talks about it changing.

about three weeks ago
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Ferguson No-Fly Zone Revealed As Anti-Media Tactic

FatLittleMonkey Re:Political science (265 comments)

How about the method of selection of the Doge of Venice? A mix of super-majority voting (to force compromise), combined with selection by lot (to break voting blocks). Works a bit like evolution by natural selection. Each round effectively selects better candidates for the next. Almost guarantees a wise and benevolent dictator.

about three weeks ago
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Ferguson No-Fly Zone Revealed As Anti-Media Tactic

FatLittleMonkey Re:Political science (265 comments)

Lets institute laws

You mean "let's", as in "let us". But who actually institutes the laws? That's the "power" that pushing-robot is referring to.

Give it to the people ("us") and it's mob rule. Give it to anyone else and they'll entrench their own power or the power of their supporters/backers/financiers.

Personally I think a systematic version of mob rule is the least dangerous, but there's something of a memetic-hatred of giving power to the masses, "Tytler Calumny" and all that.

about three weeks ago

Submissions

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Fight you own muscles to create force-feedback on smartphones

FatLittleMonkey FatLittleMonkey writes  |  about 2 years ago

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) writes "Researchers in Germany have developed a device that allows users of portable devices, such as smartphones, experience force-feedback from games using just their own muscles... and a small EMS device. When stimulated by a painless electric pulse, the player's arm moves the device in whichever direction the game commands. The player then fights the movement with their other muscles, creating a strong sensation that the device itself is bucking in their hands. According to the developers, users found the sensation much more realistic than traditional vibrotactile feedback. (Should make PvP more interesting too.)"
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Multiple minds smooths your ship's path

FatLittleMonkey FatLittleMonkey writes  |  about 2 years ago

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) writes "My mind to your mind... my thoughts to your thoughts... Researchers at the University of Essex have shown that combining the output from two non-invasive "brain-computer interfaces", computer-interpreted EEG signals, led to a much clearer signal of the subjects' intention than the output from a single subject. To test this idea, they had two subjects try to steer a simulated space-ship at a target planet, by thinking of one of eight possible directions. While a single user could achieve 67% accuracy, this jumped to 90% when two minds were combined. Researchers believe the technique also compensates for individual lapses in attention, and thus may have applications in real-world space missions."
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How do you give a ticket to a driverless car?

FatLittleMonkey FatLittleMonkey writes  |  about 2 years ago

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) writes "New Scientist asks a Bryant Walker Smith, from the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School, whether the law is able to keep up with recent advances in automated vehicles. Even states which have allowed self-driving cars require the vehicles to have a "driver", who is nominally in control and who must comply with the same restrictions as any driver such as not being drunk. What's the point of having a robot car if it can't drive you home from the pub while you go to sleep in the back?"
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Whitehouse Petition to sell Texas to pay off US Debt.

FatLittleMonkey FatLittleMonkey writes  |  about 2 years ago

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) writes "Amidst the flood of petitions on behalf of States demanding to be allowed to secede from the US, inevitably came the trolls suggesting that the US at least make some money out of the deal. Sell Texas to Mexico and use the money to pay down the US debt. Still in single digits at time of writing, but well worth supporting for the lulz."
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You can't print a gun if you have no 3d printer

FatLittleMonkey FatLittleMonkey writes  |  more than 2 years ago

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) writes "You may recall Cody Wilson's project to create a 3d printed gun, mentioned previously on Slashdot. Well, the Defense Distributed project has suffered a decidedly non-technical setback, with printer manufacturer Stratasys revoking the lease and repossessing the printer (presumably prying it from plastic models of Cory's cold dead hands.) According to New Scientist the manufacturer cited...

his lack of a federal firearms manufacturer's licence as their reason for the repossession, adding that it does not knowingly allow its printers to be used for illegal purposes.

"

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If U R readng ths, I M already dead.

FatLittleMonkey FatLittleMonkey writes  |  more than 2 years ago

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) writes "A particularly nasty text scam is doing the rounds in Australia. Police say that hundreds of people have reported receiving text messages reading: "Sum1 paid me to kill you. Get spared, 48hrs to pay $5000. If you inform the police or anybody, death is promised... Email me now killerking999@yahoo.com", or variations on the theme. The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission's Scamwatch site, also details the threat messages.

(No reports yet of anyone managing to troll the scammers.)"

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MS damage washed away by stream of young blood

FatLittleMonkey FatLittleMonkey writes  |  more than 2 years ago

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) writes "A new study on mice suggests that damage caused by diseases like Multiple sclerosis, as well as natural ageing, can be reversed by an infusion of stem cell rich blood from younger mice. Multiple sclerosis is a chronic inflammatory disease that erodes the fatty myelin sheaths around the axons of the brain and spinal cord, and can result is serious disability. Similar effects occur naturally with ageing. Via New Scientist:

White blood cells called macrophages from the young mice gathered at the sites of myelin damage. Macrophages engulf and destroy pathogens and debris, including destroyed myelin. "We know this debris inhibits regeneration, so clearing it up is important," says team member Amy Wagers of Harvard University.

Here's a direct Link to the paper, if you have academic access through the paywall.."
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Harnessing the energy of Galloping Gertie

FatLittleMonkey FatLittleMonkey writes  |  more than 3 years ago

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) writes "You've all seen the footage of Galloping Gertie, the infamous Tacoma Narrows bridge. This is due to a type of turbulence called Wake Galloping, caused by airflow creating lift on the lee-side of cylinders (or cables on suspension bridges.) Now researchers in South Korea have developed a way of harnessing the turbulence to generate electricity. Their device works most efficiently at wind speeds too low for conventional wind turbines."
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Multicellular life found at 3.6km under the crust

FatLittleMonkey FatLittleMonkey writes  |  more than 3 years ago

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) writes "Researchers from Princeton University have discovered nematodes at depth of up to 3.6km in three gold mines in South Africa, likely feeding on the radiation-consuming bacteria also discovered by the same team. Carbon dating their environment confirms that the 500 micrometres long critters have been there for at least 3000 years and are not a recent contaminant. The finding means that unexpectedly complex ecosystems occur deep underground, increasing the chance that complex life may have survived on Mars according to Carl Pilcher, director of NASA's Astrobiology Institute, "The significance was that you could imagine an ecosystem existing in the subsurface of a planet that didn't have a photosynthetic biosphere, like Mars," he says.

Until now, it was thought such an ecosystem could be made of bacteria only. But Onstott's new findings have completely changed that. "These nematodes are grazing on microbes. So now you could imagine that if animal life had ever developed on a planet, and the surface of that planet became lifeless," Pilcher explains, "you could imagine that animals could coexist with microbial ecosystems all powered by radioactivity."

"

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Can computers be used to optimise the US tax code?

FatLittleMonkey FatLittleMonkey writes  |  more than 3 years ago

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) writes "Science Fiction author, David Brin, wonders whether the US tax code, described by President Obama as a "10,000-page monstrosity", could be dramatically simplified. No, he's not trying to get support a libertarian wet-dream "Flat Tax", this is about using computers to... shuffle the existing system.

"I know a simple way the sheer bulk of the tax code could be trimmed by perhaps 70% or more, without much political pain or obstructionism! ... it should be easy to create a program that will take the tax code and experiment with zeroing-out dozens, hundreds of provisions while sliding others upward and then showing how these simplifications would affect, say, one-hundred representative types of taxpayers ... Let the program find the simplest version of a refined tax code that leaves all 100 taxpayer clades unhurt. If one group loses a favorite tax dodge, the system would seek a rebalancing of others to compensate. No mere human being could accomplish this, but I have been assured that a computer could do this in a snap."

With all the talk about Open Government, perhaps the computer code currently used in tax modelling could be released to the wider community, leading eventually to a Folding@Home type project."

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Can't get enough Will & Kate? Now meet their k

FatLittleMonkey FatLittleMonkey writes  |  more than 3 years ago

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) writes "Prince William and Kate Middleton met while attending the University of St Andrews, so it seems... appropriate... that the Perception Lab at St Andrews would have a go at predicting the appearance of the royal couple's future "heir and a spare".

New Scientist also tries its hand at some evolution-centric royal fan-fic.

Oh, and feel free to participate in Perception Labs' experiment."

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South Australia to drop MA15+ video game rating

FatLittleMonkey FatLittleMonkey writes  |  more than 3 years ago

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) writes "While its former Attorney-General Michael Atkinson actively campaigned against an R18+ rating for video games in Australia, the new South Australian Attorney-General John Rau says he will abolish the MA15+ rating in SA after the introduction of an R18+ rating. To better differentiate "between what adults can get and what children can get", games will be rated G, PG, M, and R18+.

"I will push for the South Australian position on MA15+ games to be adopted nationally, but if it isn't, I'm prepared to go it alone," he promised, calling the MA15+ classification "dangerous".

"Besides," Rau says in an interview to Gamespot, "if the latest surveys about the average gamer being a 32-year-old single male who sits at home and plays games all day are correct, then what I am proposing is not going to have much impact at all." Ouch.

All of this follows a review of the classification system in general, so Rau may be reflecting a more general move away from MA15+ in all media."

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