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Computer Scientist Parachutes From 135,908 Feet, Breaking Record

catchblue22 Re:That was quiet (145 comments)

Hadn't heard anything of this before today, I'll have to look for videos. I guess he didn't want to draw any attention.

There was a video on the NYTimes site, but it was really short. And I just realized that the New York Times has one of the most irritating video players I have ever used.

23 minutes ago
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White House Wants Ideas For "Bootstrapping a Solar System Civilization"

catchblue22 Re:Satellites were Once Considered Crazy (351 comments)

Elon Musk is in many ways like Werner Von Braun

You mean he's a mass murderer who used technology to rain down death onto the allies? Wow.

Von Braun risked his life to even think about using his rockets for space travel while working under the nazis. He almost single-handedly dragged the Americans into the space age. He is not perfect. But he did change our world in a positive way.

about a week ago
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White House Wants Ideas For "Bootstrapping a Solar System Civilization"

catchblue22 Satellites were Once Considered Crazy (351 comments)

This article argues that Elon Musk is in many ways like Werner Von Braun or the Soviet scientist Sergei Korolev (who pushed the Soviets into space). One thing I got from this article was that the original and primary motivation for building rockets was to make weapons. Von Braun and Kovolev almost singlehandedly pushed their own countries into building rockets to put people into space. Without them, we might not have had satellites as quickly or at all. Placing satellites into orbit and putting humans into orbit was once considered crazy. American government officials considered Von Braun to be eccentric, but they didn't care as long as he gave them better ICBM's. Now our entire civilization is built around satellite technology, and our moon shots have brought us technology advances such as the microchip.

When we talk about putting more humans it can sound a little crazy. However I don't think it is any more crazy than having people climb Mt. Everest, having bases in Antarctica, or sending three small ships westward into the unknown ocean to find a new world. We humans have an inbuilt desire to explore. To ignore that is to go against our fundamental nature.

about a week ago
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Lockheed Claims Breakthrough On Fusion Energy Project

catchblue22 Re:RF (566 comments)

I can speculate that it is a matter of size...too large and radiofrequency penetration will not work. But if the plasma body is small enough, they can get sufficient penetration.

about two weeks ago
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Lockheed Claims Breakthrough On Fusion Energy Project

catchblue22 Re:Other things they said couldn't be done... (566 comments)

At any rate, when I become annoyed enough, I respond with evidence oriented responses. I find references to uphold my position, and include quotes and links. Now someone may disagree with me, but at least I am not making assertions based solely on my individual position. I am generally disappointed because very few people respond with their own external references.

Agreed. Thus my signature. Sometimes I feel like slashdot is like this:

O: Yes it is!

M: No it isn't!

(pause)

M: It's just contradiction!

O: No it isn't!

M: It IS!

O: It is NOT!

M: You just contradicted me!

O: No I didn't!

M: You DID!

O: No no no!

M: You did just then!

O: Nonsense!

M: (exasperated) Oh, this is futile!!

(pause)

O: No it isn't!

M: Yes it is!

(pause)

M: I came here for a good argument!

O: AH, no you didn't, you came here for an argument!

M: An argument isn't just contradiction.

O: Well! it CAN be!

M: No it can't!

M: An argument is a connected series of statements intended to establish a proposition.

O: No it isn't!

M: Yes it is! 'tisn't just contradiction.

O: Look, if I *argue* with you, I must take up a contrary position!

M: Yes but it isn't just saying 'no it isn't'.

O: Yes it is!

M: No it isn't!

O: Yes it is!

M: No it isn't!

O: Yes it is!

M: No it ISN'T! Argument is an intellectual process. Contradiction is just the automatic gainsaying of anything the other person says.

O: It is NOT!

M: It is!

O: Not at all!

M: It is!

about two weeks ago
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Lockheed Claims Breakthrough On Fusion Energy Project

catchblue22 Re:Sounded real promising right up to.... (566 comments)

Sounds real promising right up to "operational within a decade" that's code for we have an idea that on paper sounds like it might possibly work. Please give us lots of money.

Oh puleeaze. This is Skunkworks. Thomas McGuire did his PhD thesis on fusors at MIT. This isn't just some investment scam. Do some research.

about two weeks ago
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Lockheed Claims Breakthrough On Fusion Energy Project

catchblue22 Re:Other things they said couldn't be done... (566 comments)

Yeah. I'm somewhat disappointed that shallow dismissive/mocking comments seem to outnumber more engaged comments by three to one. We are supposed to be geeks. How many of us have heard about this reactor? It was announced many months ago. How many of us have searched the term "high beta reactor"? This development is potentially world-changing. It would solve the world's energy problems. It would make human deep space travel feasible. And the announcement is coming from a credible scientist from a credible laboratory.

I am beginning to suspect that slashdot is getting spammed by agenda driven posters.

about two weeks ago
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Lockheed Claims Breakthrough On Fusion Energy Project

catchblue22 Re:Amazing if it works (566 comments)

But plenty of fusion reactor designs have worked in theory; making them work in practice, though...

Yes, but this is Lockheed Martin. And we live in the age of computer aided design, where we can simulate much of an object before building this. In addition, I'm fairly sure that they have built smaller versions of this as proofs of concept. And now they have Thomas McGuire making the announcements, who is the lead scientist on the project, instead of the project manager doing presentations. He wrote his PhD thesis at MIT on fusors.

I am inclined to believe that this is the real thing. My main question is this: They use radio frequency radiation to heat the plasma; how have they overcome the rf shielding effect caused by hot plasma?

about two weeks ago
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Microsoft's Quantum Mechanics

catchblue22 Limitations of D-Wave's Computer (39 comments)

I thought the article had a fairly succinct criticism of D-Wave's computer:

Since 2009, Google has been testing a machine marketed by the startup D-Wave Systems as the world’s first commercial quantum computer, and in 2013 it bought a version of the machine that has 512 qubits. But those qubits are hard-wired into a circuit for a particular algorithm, limiting the range of problems they can work on. If successful, this approach would create the quantum-computing equivalent of a pair of pliers—a useful tool suited to only some tasks. The conventional approach being pursued by Microsoft offers a fully programmable computer—the equivalent of a full toolbox. And besides, independent researchers have been unable to confirm that D-Wave’s machine truly functions as a quantum computer. Google recently started its own hardware lab to try to create a version of the technology that delivers.

about two weeks ago
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Former Department of Defense Chief Expects "30 Year War"

catchblue22 Obligatory Orwell Quote (1984) (425 comments)

For as long as Winston can recall, Oceania has been in a constant state of war – with whom it was at war is of neither importance nor consequence.

about three weeks ago
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Elon Musk: We Must Put a Million People On Mars To Safeguard Humanity

catchblue22 Re:Creating a Mars magnetosphere (549 comments)

Yeah, just inject lots of thorium and/or uranium into the core until it starts heating up...

I will assume you are being sarcastic here. Warming the core is pure science fiction IMHO.

By comparison, warming Mars would be relatively easy. Just manufacture large amounts of CFC's and emit them into the atmosphere. They are very strong greenhouse gasses and are relatively persistent, though they won't last forever. Emit enough of these and you may warm Mars up enough to release the frozen CO2 in the ground, which will lead to even more warming. Eventually you may be able to melt the frozen water, which will make life possible.

That isn't to say that this would be easy. You would have to mine fluorine and chlorine and then use a factory to make the gas. But it isn't that difficult. And even with Mars' lack of magnetic field, any atmospheric densification will likely last for millions of years. The MAVEN satellite will give us more reliable information on this.

about three weeks ago
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Is the Tesla Model 3 Actually Going To Cost $50,000?

catchblue22 Re:Maybe 40k (393 comments)

Except that these cars ARE CO2-emitting cars, unless you have arranged to get the power for your charger from renewable sources (difficult and expensive in most parts of the country). Here in Texas, these actually become a combination of coal, natural gas and nuclear burning cars.

I addessed this issue in this post. Short answer: even if the electricity is produced by coal, the large efficiency of electric motors, thermal power plants, and the electricity transmission system will ensure less emissions caused by an electric car than from a gasoline powered car. And my calculations didn't even take into account the emissions from processing oil into gasoline, which are especially high if the source is from tar sands. My calculations are referenced and I believe them to be reasonable.

about a month ago
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SpaceX and Boeing Battle For US Manned Spaceflight Contracts

catchblue22 Re:Decisions, Decisions... (123 comments)

As an astronaut, I wonder which would appeal to me more? The "Exciting Choice" or the "Safe Choice?" On one hand, I'll be strapped to it as it launches it (and me) into space. On the other hand...I'm an astronaut! My choice of car is probably NOT a fucking Volvo.

How about the tested choice. Space X has a built capsule, whose first version has returned from the space station several times. They are quite close to flying...they just need to test the launch abort system and the capsule will be almost ready to fly. From what I understand, Boeing hasn't built a capsule yet. They only have a paper/electronic design and a few "mock ups". Given the capsules are supposed to fly in 2016, I think the capsule that has actually been tested is the "safe choice". The article seems to me to be Boeing propaganda.

about a month and a half ago
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SpaceX and Boeing Battle For US Manned Spaceflight Contracts

catchblue22 Is contributor Loren Thompson trustworthy? (123 comments)

From the article:

“Boeing is the safe choice, SpaceX is the exciting choice and Sierra Nevada the interesting choice,” Loren Thompson, an analyst with Lexington Institute, an Arlington, Virginia-based research group, said in a phone interview.

Loren Thompson, as the COO of the Lexington group has a notorious history of "advocacy" for big air force contractors according to this article from Harpers Magazine. The title of the article is "Mad Men: Introducing the defense industry's pay-to-play ad agency". Here is a quote from the article:

Lexington claims to "shape the public debate" on a wide array of policies (including "the unnecessary intrusion of the federal government into the commerce and culture of the nation"), but its priority is clearly defense. "By promoting America's ability to project power around the globe", reads its mission statement, "we not only defend the homeland of democracy, but also sustain the international stability in which other free-market democracies can thrive", Lexington does not publicly disclose its donors, but much of its funding - about $2.5 million in 2008 - comes from defense giants, including at least three whose prospects are evaluated in this brief. Lexington's free-market pabulum, then, is underwritten by an industry that is beholden to government planning, direction, and money, and that operates entirely outside the constraints of supply and demand.

Loren Thompson, Lexington's chief operating officer and the author of this report, played a supporting role in a 2003 scandal involving Boeing's attempt to secure a lease-to-buy agreement with the Air Force for one hundred aerial-refueling tankers. The contract - which at $24 billion would have cost the Air Force significantly more than simply buying a new fleet outright - was canceled when Senator John McCain discovered that an Air Force procurement official had fixed the deal for Boeing while negotiating a job for herself with the company. McCain also unearthed emails showing that the Air Force had used Thompson to help sell the deal to the press. As a senior aide to Air Force Secretary James Roche put it in one of the messages: "We've got Loren doing the Lord's work again. '3rd Party' support at its best."

about a month and a half ago
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After Weeks of Delay, SpaceX Falcon Launches Communications Satellite Payload

catchblue22 Re:Hooray for Space-X (32 comments)

Some days, I honestly think the MBA must have been a Soviet plot to destroy the West.

Amen. I have been thinking something like that for years. MBA programs are like pernicious cults. So many failures and yet MBA's just keep on hiring clones of themselves.

The idea that a company can be run by someone who knows nothing about what the company does is a prime example of MBA delusion. I know of a food manufacturing plant who hired an MBA whose previous experience was in running a train assembly plant. All he could do was to sit upstairs and stair at graphs. Meanwhile the plant function decayed and profitability disappeared. The person he replaced had started his career from the plant floor, and had run the plant profitably for many years. Bring in an MBA and within two years, the damage was done. He was fired.

The other obvious examples: Apple - started by Steve Jobs (not an MBA). Makes Schully (an MBA) CEO. Almost goes bankrupt. Rehires Steve Jobs and becomes one of the world's most successful companies.

Space X, Solar City, Tesla, Paypal started by Elon Musk (not an MBA). All four are remarkably successful and disruptive businesses.

The lesson: People who actually understand the nuts and bolts of the businesses they run make far better leaders than those who don't have a clue what their businesses do. Surprise, surprise.

about a month and a half ago
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Power Grids: The Huge Battery Market You Never Knew Existed

catchblue22 Re:You could just use Salt... (245 comments)

Does anyone know if this ever got off the ground?

To quote the wikipedia page on molten salt batteries

Magnesium–antimony cells

In 2009, Donald Sadoway and his team proposed a very low cost molten salt battery originally[20] based on magnesium and antimony separated by a salt[21] that could be potentially used in Grid energy storage systems.[22] Research on this concept is being funded by ARPA-E,[23] Bill Gates, Khosla Ventures and Total S.A.[24] Experimental data showed 69% storage efficiency, it had good storage capacity (over 1000mAh/cm2) and relatively low leakage (

about 2 months ago
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Russian Military Forces Have Now Invaded Ukraine

catchblue22 Re:Send in the drones! (848 comments)

My original comment referred to war between the Soviet Union and the US. I didn't say Russia.

about 2 months ago
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Russian Military Forces Have Now Invaded Ukraine

catchblue22 Re:Send in the drones! (848 comments)

Both in Korea and in Vietnam, there were plenty of Soviet advisors in the communist forces, and in some cases they were troops actively engaged in fighting - in particular, fighter pilots were often Soviets. So yes, US and Soviet troops did actually shoot directly at each other as part of Cold War.

But it was not a formalized declared "shooting war" in which Americans explicitly targeted Soviets and Soviets explicitly targeted Americans. What we saw were undeclared skirmishes. There was no fanning of Soviet public opinion that Americans were killing thousands of Soviets and that Soviet citizens had to enlist to revenge those killings. If Americans were explicitly and publically killing Russians today (or the reverse), it would be the beginning of World War III. Any policy that puts us unnecessarily close to such an incident is reckless.

about 2 months ago
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Russian Military Forces Have Now Invaded Ukraine

catchblue22 Re:Send in the drones! (848 comments)

Im not 100% clear why we wouldnt want to get involved here, if ever there were a time to get involved.

Ukraine disarmed itself in 2006 at our urging, with the understanding that we would come to their aid if ever it were needed. At the same time, having a superpower like Russia going into full imperialism mode is good for noone but Russia. A tepid response like the one theyve been given will only encourage further aggression.

Assuming that you are implying American boots/bombs on the ground in the Ukraine, are you crazy? I mean seriously. Are you? There is in my opinion a dangerous detachment from reality in some circles of American political discussion about confronting Russia. Perhaps you may feel my language is inflamatory. But I get kind of disturbed when so many people, including those in power, put forward actions which would likely lead to thermonuclear war.

Looking back at history, there has never been a shooting war between the Soviet Union and the US. Never. The Cold War? It was always fought between proxies of the great powers. We would sell arms to pro-US or anti-Soviet interests (like in 1980's Afghanistan), or we would directly confront pro-Soviet interests (like in Vietnam). We came close to a shooting war with the Soviets more than once (the Bay of Pigs in Cuba). But such a war never happened, because those in power knew that such a war would inevitably decay into a thermonuclear war that would likely end western civilization with the press of a button.

The proper response to this is to strengthen military forces in new NATO member states surrounding Russia, including US boots on the ground. This will make a clear line that Russia knows it cannot cross without provoking all-out war. Unfortunately Ukraine is not part of NATO. We might be able to sell arms to Ukraine, but there are risks and limitations to this. What must be made clear to Russia is that if it enters Ukraine, it will face profound economic isolation. If it goes further it must be clear that it will result in WWIII. Thus we end in a stalemate. Not unlike the Cold War.

about 2 months ago
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Princeton Nuclear Fusion Reactor Will Run Again

catchblue22 Re: Public cynicism about fusion (147 comments)

Here is the PhD thesis of Thomas J. McGuire who is designing the compact fusion device mentioned in the parent comment. This 2007 thesis argues for the need to build compact fusion devices and surveys some options with their strengths and flaws. I don't think it describes in detail the high beta reactor he is currently designing at Lockheed Martin. Still, it shows the idea of him designing this reactor is plausible.

about a month ago

Submissions

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Microsoft's Quantum Mechanics

catchblue22 catchblue22 writes  |  about two weeks ago

catchblue22 (1004569) writes "MIT Technology Review has an excellent article summarizing the current state of quantum computing. It focuses on the efforts of Microsoft and Alcatel-Lucent's Bell Labs to build stable qubits over the past few years.

In 2012, physicists in the Netherlands announced a discovery in particle physics that started chatter about a Nobel Prize. Inside a tiny rod of semiconductor crystal chilled cooler than outer space, they had caught the first glimpse of a strange particle called the Majorana fermion, finally confirming a prediction made in 1937. It was an advance seemingly unrelated to the challenges of selling office productivity software or competing with Amazon in cloud computing, but Craig Mundie, then heading Microsoft’s technology and research strategy, was delighted. The abstruse discovery—partly underwritten by Microsoft—was crucial to a project at the company aimed at making it possible to build immensely powerful computers that crunch data using quantum physics. “It was a pivotal moment,” says Mundie. “This research was guiding us toward a way of realizing one of these systems.”

"
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The Gods Strike Back: Wall Street's Risky Hubris

catchblue22 catchblue22 writes  |  more than 4 years ago

catchblue22 (1004569) writes "The Economist has an interesting essay that gives some perspective on our economic situation. From the article,

THE revolutionary idea that defines the boundary between modern times and the past is the mastery of risk: the notion that the future is more than a whim of the gods and that men and women are not passive before nature. So wrote Peter Bernstein in his seminal history of risk,"Against the Gods".

Wall Street quants have claimed over the past decade that they had the ability to quantify financial risk down to several decimal places. The Great Recession has shown their claims to be absurd. Wall Street's supposed mastery of risk allowed financial institutions to package risky loans as derivatives that ostensibly had definite and identifiable risk profiles. Our recent financial collapse shows the limits of our beautiful and elegant mathematical models of the economy."
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