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NASA Splits $1.1B For Three Commercial Spacecraft

Truth is life Re:Bittersweet (184 comments)

DARPA is by no means the only defense-related scientific funding agency. Off the top of my head, there's the Naval Research Laboratory and the Air Force Research Laboratory, and I'm pretty sure there's an Army lab too. That's leaving aside funding agencies which aren't in defense but are funding defense-related research, like the Department of Energy, the National Security Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office, and so on and so forth. DARPA is a small piece of a much larger puzzle.

more than 2 years ago

Space Fish: ISS Aquatic Habitat Delivered By HTV-3

Truth is life Re:Looking forward to this one. (68 comments)

Not that new...this experiment is derived from one flown on the Shuttle a few times already. This is mostly an extension of the previous research. What I am really interested in is the egg-to-egg possibility--the system is designed to support up to three generations of fish, so they will be able to observe whether zero-gravity causes intergenerational changes (eg., whether the children of those born in zero-g are as fit as those born of one-g fish, or as one-g fish themselves). This is a significant challenge for any possibility of space colonization, so experimentation in it is quite welcome.

more than 2 years ago

Record-Setting 100+ T Magnetic Field Achieved At Los Alamos

Truth is life Re:Not just field strength (166 comments) 1 T is a very powerful field (100 T is just incredibly powerful). The Earth's magnetic field is measured in gauss, which are 1/10,000th of a Tesla. Many magnets in common use have much more intense fields nearby (although of course their fields aren't as extended as Earth's). The question of deflecting particles is considerably more complicated than just "how strong" the magnet is.

more than 2 years ago

SpaceX Reveals Plans For Full Launch System Re-usability

Truth is life Re:Thanks, Space Shuttle (227 comments)

The truth is much more complicated. There were literally dozens of variations of shuttle design, and most (even from the very very beginning of the design program, way back in '67 or so) involved the final orbiter hanging off the side of something. Initially, it was because it is hard to design an airplane which doesn't have an aerodynamic nose (the original booster designs were generally airplane-like). Later, it was because the needed tankage for the hydrogen and oxygen to be used by the orbiter was very bulky and would be too difficult to house in the orbiter itself, so they decided to make it external. Obviously, it's hard to fire your engines sitting on top of something, so that meant it had to be on the side.

This, by the way, means that tmosley is wrong. There were always good engineering reasons to put the Orbiter on the side of the ET, which is why that design was adopted. And if he thinks that private industry would have less reason to cost-cut (especially if there probably wouldn't be much risk until you had already made it golden)...

more than 2 years ago

Gamers Piece Together Retrovirus Enzyme Structure

Truth is life Re:There was a US economy/world simulator (149 comments)

There are actually quite a few games of that sort. Superpower 1 and 2, Supreme Ruler (2010, 2020, and Cold War), Victoria (1 and 2, although not surprisingly this of the Victorian Age than the modern world), and probably many others I've never heard of. It's a niche, but not exactly an empty one.

more than 2 years ago

NRO Declassifies KH-9 Satellite

Truth is life Re:The obvious question: why is there one to see? (74 comments)

That was very catastrophic. This is what it looked like, so no, I don't think they got it back. The one they're putting on display is "probably" a model that was never supposed to fly in the first place, just a test article.

about 3 years ago

Russia Close To Findings On Soyuz and Proton

Truth is life Re:Leaving ISS Uninhabited (62 comments)

Actually, gigantic chunks of debris could survive reentry--it's actually surprisingly bad at destroying things completely. Look up how much survived on Skylab's reentry, for instance, or how much survived of Columbia.

However, there's no real risk of some dictator flying up and occupying the place, since (given that the Russian fleet is currently grounded) there is exactly one other country currently capable of flying to the ISS: China. And there's obviously no reason for them to use the ISS as a colony drop weapon, since they possess a number of cheaper and more effective nuclear weapons, and in any event would mostly just lose from a major war (imagine both the Russian and American stockpiles being targeted at them...ouch).

about 3 years ago

Developing Nuclear Power Plant Tech For the Moon and Mars

Truth is life Re:Solar Power (273 comments)

No, solar sails use light pressure for thrust. The solar wind actually produces much less thrust per square meter of sail area than light does, at least at reasonable distances from the Sun. It is true that solar sails are just a propulsion method and won't produce electricity, though.

about 3 years ago

'Instant Cosmic Classic' Supernova Discovered

Truth is life Re:Astounding! (141 comments)

Yes, that's what causes Cherenkov radiation (the "blue glow" of nuclear reactors in cooling water pools).

about 3 years ago

Hillary Clinton Takes Overseas

Truth is life Re:in a counter move, the global IT union said (250 comments)

You do know about the American Medical Association, American Dental Association, bar associations, and other "professional" organizations which (as it happens) are often partially empowered with determining who gets to practice their profession where, right? These significantly resemble unions for professionals, which by definition are skilled (very skilled) labor. Bar associations in particular, especially in states where you have to be a member of the bar to practice law, very much resemble unions running a union shop.

more than 3 years ago

Developer Panel Asks Whether AAA Games Are Too Long

Truth is life Re:AAA games? (342 comments)

The term comes from the credit rating. The idea is that a AAA game will, like the AAA credit rating, be "safe," both in financial terms (it will most likely make a lot of money) and in player terms (it will most likely be fun), as it has a big budget and one of the big studios behind it. In practice, of course, plenty of AAA games would be better rated F.

more than 3 years ago

Can the US Still Lead In Space Despite Shuttle's End?

Truth is life Re:One Era Ends To Make Way For Another (365 comments)

There are a few reasons for that. First, the entire Shuttle paradigm--a big vehicle that carries humans and a pretty good amount of cargo, and is reusable--has been pretty well discredited by Shuttle's poor performance. Carrying cargo and humans together has been shown to be inefficient, since the safety standards for each are so different, and cargo just doesn't need people around to manage it, high-profile failures like Skylab, Hubble, or Palapa 2/Westar 6 notwithstanding. People would be (rightly) very skeptical that a follow-on vehicle with the same design could perform much better, even with better technology. That means that any follow-on would probably be much smaller, just a crew transport, IOW similar to the vehicles proposed during the Orbital Space Plane project back before Columbia, or Orion and the other proposed crew transport vehicles.

Second, many of the details of the Shuttle design have proven unsafe. Any follow-on vehicle, for example, would have to be a series-staged vehicle, like most rockets, as opposed to the Shuttle's parallel-staged design in order to avoid damage from foam shedding, as with the Columbia accident, or booster failure, as with the Challenger disaster. Along with the above point, this means that any new vehicle would basically be a completely new design, rather than just a copy of the Shuttle aeroframe.

Third, we've had advances in materials science and aerospace engineering that mean we could do better now in terms of the details of the Shuttle's design that they could back then, many of them gained due to Shuttle experience. We've flown a winged vehicle through high-Mach regimes at very high altitudes in the Shuttle program, something that hadn't been done before. So, by using a new design, we could produce a vehicle that did better than Shuttle. Again, a reason to simply not copy Shuttle with better internals.

Fourth, doing so would be very expensive. Since, as noted above, the Shuttles have not been particularly successful, there's no reason to spend a lot of money copying them. Instead, people are spending money on copying Shuttle's big unique capability--ie., crew transport--while cutting out all the irrelevancies that cost a lot of money. Even then it's expensive, but you skip the need to design a lot of stuff and it works out to be cheaper than trying to also build the carrier rocket, a big payload bay, etc.

more than 3 years ago

Ugly Truth of Space Junk

Truth is life Re:Denial-of-Space Weapons? (185 comments)

Easily. The Chinese ASM test a few years back created a huge amount of debris (and I'm sure earlier US and Russian tests did too). You don't actually have to build something specifically for that purpose, just launch enough ASMs without much caring about where the debris ends up and Kessler's Syndrome will kick in.

more than 3 years ago

Reform the PhD System or Close It Down

Truth is life Re:Eliminate the BS Ph.S. programs (487 comments)

While Descartes can be fairly accused of inventing many mathematical concepts, he did not invent algebra; either Diophantus (a Greek) or Al-Khwarizmi (a Persian) did, centuries earlier.

more than 3 years ago

Why Science Is a Lousy Career Choice

Truth is life Re:what's really going on? (694 comments)

While I generally agree with you, as a (very) interested semi-layman myself I would disagree with your assertion that high energy/particle physics is in the top three most economically important areas of science--solid state physics, perhaps (it is an amazingly broad field, after all).

more than 3 years ago

DARPA's New Hi-Tech Telescope

Truth is life Re:Joking? (89 comments)

It's for looking at things IN space, which is much easier to do from the ground.

more than 3 years ago

StunRay Incapacitates With a Flash of Light

Truth is life Re:Be it microwaves, stun lights, tasers or bullet (431 comments)

This depends on whether or not the army is part of the insurrection. Which was true historically as well; most successful rebellions in history gained support from some or all of the local armed forces, rather than just being angry mobs.

more than 3 years ago

StunRay Incapacitates With a Flash of Light

Truth is life Re:...liabilities (431 comments)

Then they ought to treat you like a responsible nonviolent citizen until they figure it out. I'd have a hell of a lot more respect for police if they did this.

However, there is a very strong reason why they won't do this, which is that they're police, and so have to deal with irresponsible violent citizens a lot, including those who appeared to be responsible nonviolent ones. So doing that gets police officers killed, or at least injured, and their fellows stop doing that--at the very least, they start treating everyone like a potential threat--and then they inculcate that attitude in new officers. The only way to get around it would be to either have angels for police, which is obviously not very likely, or angels for the policed, which isn't really very likely either.

more than 3 years ago

Why Russian Space Images Look Different From NASA's

Truth is life Re:Whatever (203 comments)

NOAA (who is the one responsible for most American earth observation satellites, not NASA, although I'd hardly expect the Slashdot editors to know that subtlety) has been releasing image data from the GOES satellites to the public for a while. "GOES" stands for "Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite," so yes, they are in geostationary orbit.

more than 3 years ago


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