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Comments

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Look What's Cooking At Microsoft Labs

OriginalArlen Re:Interesting stuff (125 comments)

Dave, Dave, come see the dancing fire elves!!

more than 5 years ago
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Look What's Cooking At Microsoft Labs

OriginalArlen Re:gentlemen (125 comments)

Meh. What's cooking at Microsoft labs is a big bubbling pot of hot, delicious, freshly cooked FAIL.

more than 5 years ago
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Acorns Disappear Across the Country

OriginalArlen Re:Let me guess... (474 comments)

That's the thing that kind of bugs me is that Global Climate change gets all of the attention at the expense, it seems, over other issues. For example, coal fired power plants.

Coal-fired power-stations DO contribute to global warming. The down-wind mercury levels, whilst elevated, aren't high enough cause the well-known chronic toxity effects (google 'minimata' for the gory details), but they could (collectively) lead to TEOCAWKI. Which would be bad.

more than 5 years ago
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"Reality Mining" Resets the Privacy Debate

OriginalArlen Re:"Privacy" in a crowd (209 comments)

This is the bit I don't get:

Every moment he has his Windows Mobile smartphone with him, they know where he is, and who's nearby.'

Really? How does that work? Have the people who happen to be nearby all have to have signed up for the trial, or is their presence somehow automagically detected and uploaded? Hey, if you want to sign away YOUR privacy, feel free (though I'd rather you didn't) It doesn't give you the right to sign away my privacy at the same time!!

Does this mean I should be avoiding people who use Windows Mobile smartphones? Oh wait, the universe already took care of that for me.

more than 5 years ago
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Should Taxpayers Back Cars Only the Rich Can Afford?

OriginalArlen Re:Taxpayers shouldn't be bailing out any of these (752 comments)

Yah, cos the market for cars is just wiiiiiide open to free competition. No incumbent advantage there, nosirree, and certainly no federal subsidies, trade unions or investor-funded lobbiest paid by THOSE companies, good heavens why the very idea gives me the vapours.

more than 5 years ago
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Obama Team Considers Cancellation of Ares, Orion

OriginalArlen Re:Thank goodness (870 comments)

it would be so much cheaper to build the probes needed to colonize it from lunar materials.

Take ten seconds to think about a steel plant. Have you ever seen a steel plant? Now, consider the mass of such a plant. Consider the cost of moving it up the gravity well from earth and then back down onto the moon. Realise that you're talking about several orders of magnitude more mass than /every launch ever made from earth, combined/. Think for a moment about all the other industrial processes required to turn steel into spaceships. (Another clue, spaceships have other ingredients apart from metal.) Oh yeah, and you'll need masses of cheap energy and a couple of thousand people to run the plant, plus concomitant life support, facilities, plumbing, training that takes. Finally, note that there's no iron ore on the moon. Congratulations! you have now achieved a small glimmer of understanding of why why your comment was utter drivel.

more than 5 years ago
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Obama Team Considers Cancellation of Ares, Orion

OriginalArlen Re:Thank goodness (870 comments)

Your ISS comment is just shortsighted and ignorant. The ISS is providing scientific data and increasing human experience in space exploration.

Apart from work on pysiological adaption to weightlessness, can you cite a few papers on worthwhile original research carried out on ISS? (hint - no, you can't.)

The ISS will be a platform for future missions,...

That's the sort of fatuous reasoning that convinced Dubya that returning to the moon would enable some sort of "way station" where a weary crew bound for Mars can pull over, take a comfort break, refuel, let the kids stretch their legs and so on. It's nonsense.

more than 5 years ago
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Obama Team Considers Cancellation of Ares, Orion

OriginalArlen Re:Cut taxes, then (870 comments)

Sure, but that's not what would happen.

Why not?

more than 5 years ago
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Obama Team Considers Cancellation of Ares, Orion

OriginalArlen Re:Priorities, Priorities, Priorities (870 comments)

You're right, except that there is no such market beyond the handful of people willing to drop a few tens of millions on a Soyuz to ISS, or a few hundred thousand on a Branson/Rutan "Suicide Special". Certainly nothing like enough to cover developing and flight-testing human-rated flight hardware on top of Delta and show a profit.

Glad to see the "asteroid mining" trolls have finally shut up & gone away though :>

more than 5 years ago
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Obama Team Considers Cancellation of Ares, Orion

OriginalArlen Re:I'm not suprised (870 comments)

It's not hard to predict that expectations for the poor sap who takes over after Dubya - which was always going to be a poisoned chalice - were always going to be impossibly high. Sadly, his almost Sheen-like naturalness at playing the part of the President means that many people's expectations are even higher (cos everyone knows that how well someone governs is directly proportional to their backstory, tone of voice, oratorical ability and so forth. That's worked really well for us in the past, hasn't it. Personally if we're all agricultural peasants in four years time, or radioactive mutants, or living a fascist theocracy, he'll have succeeded in my book.

more than 5 years ago
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Obama Team Considers Cancellation of Ares, Orion

OriginalArlen Re:Results (870 comments)

It's true to say that a major factor in the premature curtailment of the orginally planned series of Apollo missions was the entirely rational fear that the more missions launched, the greater the probability of a total loss of missions and crew, and that this would lead to a complete loss of public support for NASA.

more than 5 years ago
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Obama Team Considers Cancellation of Ares, Orion

OriginalArlen Re:Results (870 comments)

As a moment's reflection would indicate, this is such a blindingly obvious idea that the fact it's not happening must mean it was considered and discarded for a good reason (or, as is actually the case, a whole passel of very good reasons.) Unless you're one of those cosy groups of people who think NASA and JPL are staffed entirely by drooling halfwits, or in league with the CIA invasion force of UN black-helicopter-flying lizard creatures, of course, which is always a possibility on Slashdot... :)

more than 5 years ago
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Obama Team Considers Cancellation of Ares, Orion

OriginalArlen Re:Cut taxes, then (870 comments)

What most people who use the "technological spin-offs" argument in debates about resourcing of space activities fail to grasp that the same sort of (unpredictable) spin-offs would result from spending the money on any other massive technological or engineering project. Taking that as a given, wouldn't it be better to spend the funds in a direction where the *primary* result of the expenditure is of more utility? (Say, as an example, a massive expansion of renewal energy generation capacity and associated technologies and engineering.)

more than 5 years ago
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Obama Team Considers Cancellation of Ares, Orion

OriginalArlen Re:Thank goodness (870 comments)

I'm a huge fan and proponent of robotic exploration of the solar system. NASA, JPL, the aerospace contractors and their partners in universities across the world have done an amazing job with comparitively tiny sums of money. Alan Stern (the head of NASA's Space Science Directorate who resigned when his plan to make visible the pain caused by the massive cost over-runs on MSL by shutting down the Spirit MER rover was overruled by higher-ups) has recently pointed out that routine cost overruns are crippling NASA. Ares and Orion show every sign of following this trend, and for what? To keep alive the fallacious dream that seems rather too popular that Star Trek is a plan for future space exploration, rather than an entirely traditional drama turned to SF by the addition of magic impulse drive / dilithium crystal devices. When we've done a robotic Mars sample return, which although fiendishly hard to accomplish is infinitely more practical than doing a manned mission), let's talk about Moonbase Alpha or whatever. (And whilst we're at it, for god's sake abandon the ISS, the most expensive white elephant ever to wreck astronomical observations.)

more than 5 years ago
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Dropped Shuttle Toolbag Filmed From Earth

OriginalArlen Re:Send the shuttle to retrieve it (389 comments)

  1. there is no way the shuttle could retrieve an astronaut who "floated away". Hence, no drill.
  2. For the same reasons that they can't intercept you putative astronaut marshmallow, they also can't intercept the toolbag.

The nature of those reasons are left as an exercise for Dr _Banzai. (Hints: delta-v, ranging.)

more than 5 years ago
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NVIDIA's $10K Tesla GPU-Based Personal Supercomputer

OriginalArlen Re:It also runs Python (236 comments)

This is how God intended us to program.

Then why did he write Perl?

more than 5 years ago

Submissions

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Next-gen Mars rover in danger of cancellation

OriginalArlen OriginalArlen writes  |  more than 5 years ago

OriginalArlen (726444) writes "NASA's next-generation rover, the nuclear-powered, laser-equipped Mars Science Laboratory is reported to be at a serious risk of cancellation due to budget and schedule overruns, including non-delivery of vital parts by a subcontractor. Costs are running over $2B so far, and the already thin schedule of Mars missions planned for the next decade — with budget ring-fenced for an outer planets flagship mission — is in danger of further cuts if MSL's budget is expanded."
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Orion crew capsule chute test fails

OriginalArlen OriginalArlen writes  |  about 6 years ago

OriginalArlen (726444) writes "NASA's first attempt to test Orion parachutes didn't go so well. "The result was a landing that severely damaged the test mock-up." (A type of landing also known as 'lithobraking'.) The parachutes, which would be used to safely land the Orion crew capsule in the event of a launch abort after an escape rocket pulls the capsule clear of the booster, failed to open after a drogue earlier in the sequence failed to open properly. A NASA spokesperson pointed out that this was the most complex test of it's type since the '60s, with a total of 18 parachutes involved. (The footage is on YouTube as well.)"
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Arctic to be ice-free within FIVE years, not 40

OriginalArlen OriginalArlen writes  |  more than 6 years ago

OriginalArlen (726444) writes "The BBC is reporting new research into Arctic warming to be presented at the fall American Geophysical Union meeting which describes current models of arctic sea-ice response to warming as far too conservative. The work predicts that albedo feedback, together with a greater heat input from warmer ocean currents, will lead to ice-free summers as early as 2013. This would go a long way to explaining the dramatic and accelerating loss of sea-ice in the summer of 2007, which is merely the latest in a progressively widening gap between modeled and actual sea-ice loss (as well as presenting a nicely testable short-range prediction.)

Whilst sea-ice obviously doesn't raise the sea level when it melts, a similar runaway feedback that lead to significant reductions in the Greenland or Antarctica ice sheets would cause a 6-7m sea-level rise, indisputably catastrophic for human society as well as the polar bears."
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First details of manned Mars mission from NASA

OriginalArlen OriginalArlen writes  |  more than 5 years ago

OriginalArlen (726444) writes "The BBC has a first look at NASA's initial concepts for a manned Mars mission, currently pencilled in for 2031. The main vehicle would be assembled on orbit over three or four launches of the planned Ares V heavy lift rocket. New abilities to repair, replace, and even produce replacement parts will be needed to provide enough self-sufficiency a 30 months mission, including 16 months on the surface. The presentation was apparently delivered at a meeting of the Lunar Exploration Management Group, although there's nothing on their site yet."
Link to Original Source
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Antarctic ice sheet melt accelerating

OriginalArlen OriginalArlen writes  |  more than 6 years ago

OriginalArlen (726444) writes "The rapidly diminishing extent of Arctic sea-ice has been widely covered here and elsewhere. Now NASA scientists using satellite data have published a paper in 'Science' demonstrating increased melting around the margins (mostly) of the Antarctic ice sheet. This is potentially much more serious, as the margins act as barriers, preventing the much larger land-borne ice-sheets sliding off the continent into the sea — causing a catastrophic 4-6m rise in sea-levels."
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Spelunking the caves of Mars

OriginalArlen OriginalArlen writes  |  more than 6 years ago

OriginalArlen (726444) writes "After earlier images caught glimpses of mysterious cave openings on flanks of the Martian volcano Arsia Montes, the MRO's superb HiRISE camera has now captured amazing close-up images of this cave / "skylight" on Arsia Montest. How big is the cavern below? What does it look like inside? Somehow I doubt we'll get data from inside in my lifetime, so let the wild-eyed speculation begin!"
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Six minutes of terror: landing humans on Mars

OriginalArlen OriginalArlen writes  |  more than 7 years ago

OriginalArlen (726444) writes "Universe Today has a fascinating article discussing the difficulty of executing EDL (entry, descent, landing) on Mars for vehicles bigger than MER, Viking and Pathfinder, and for manned craft in particular. Airbags can't be used for obvious reasons, but the atmosphere is too thin to be used for parachutes or aerobraking by large heavy vehicles, and the stronger gravity (compared to the moon) makes an Apollo-style powered descent impossible. The best current idea is a huge inflatable torus called a hypercone."
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OriginalArlen OriginalArlen writes  |  more than 7 years ago

OriginalArlen (726444) writes "The science fiction writer Charlie Stross has written an excellent and comprehensive explanation of why, a million SF books, movies and games not withstanding, human colonisation of other star systems is impossible. This may seem a controversial idea, although it seems commonsensical to many — fortunately, Charlie makes a clear-headed and unarguable case, so far as I can see.

Nevertheless it would be interesting to see reasoned responses from the community who believe this is not merely possible, but inevitable — and even, as Hawking has said, vital for the survival of the species. So, who's right — Hawking or Stross?"

Link to Original Source
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OriginalArlen OriginalArlen writes  |  more than 7 years ago

OriginalArlen (726444) writes "UniverseToday reports new research which suggests dark matter could have condensed to form 'dark stars' (nothing to do with black holes) in the early universe. As they would have been very massive and "burned" very slowly, fueled by non-fusion reactions, they could still be with us. Astronomers hope to better constrain theories of early galaxy and star formation with observations of gravitational lensing events caused by these ghosts of the primordial universe. No word from John Carpenter on the prospect of solipsistic thermostellar bombs..."
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OriginalArlen OriginalArlen writes  |  more than 7 years ago

OriginalArlen (726444) writes "Kevin Finisterre, a well-known security researcher, reports rumours that XBox Live online accounts have been compromised through an attack against Bungie. When he called XBox Live tech support, he was told: "Hackers have control of Xbox live and there is nothing we can do about it" — a definite contender for "Microsoft Quote of the Year", although sadly that's the modern meaning of 'hacker'. The "Microsoft Points" mentioned in the post apparently have a real dollar value."
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OriginalArlen OriginalArlen writes  |  more than 7 years ago

OriginalArlen (726444) writes "ExxonMobile, one of the worlds largest oil companies, has been accused by the Royal Society and now by the Union of Concerned Scientists of paying millions of dollars in an attempt to misrepresent and discredit climate science that they presumably feel threatened by. Climate change is a high profile issue these days, but how many other large companies might be seeking to subtly distort public perception or understanding of other sciences for their own ends?"
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OriginalArlen OriginalArlen writes  |  more than 7 years ago

OriginalArlen (726444) writes "(From the "you couldn't make it up" dept?) In a story so surreal I had to check the primary source, the Register reports that the (London, UK) Metropolitan Police are trialing the use of eight tiny cams, mounted in the police helmet, to provide 360 degree evidence gathering in the event that an officer witnesses a crime. The press release also gives more evidence of the stealth spread of ubiquitous ANPR systems across the country as a spin-off "benefit" to the London car congestion-charging scheme, which is likely to be rolled out across the country in the next few years. Are we already living in a Panopticon Society?"

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