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Ask Slashdot: How To Pick Up Astronomy and Physics As an Adult?

cyn1c77 Get a subscription to Sky and Telescope magazine. (220 comments)

Start reading it. They go through the basics and have articles on how amateurs can contribute to research.

But you really need to limit your expectations. Observational astronomy (even amateur-style) requires several hours of daytime prep work, followed by 1-2 hours of equipment setup and familiarization, before you even embark in a 3-4 hour observation run. After an observing run, you might have another 2-10 hours of data processing to do.

If you have a wife, two kids, and a day job, you will get pretty tired pretty quick.

Good equipment (solid mount, high quality telescope, imaging system, star stracker) is not cheap either and, sadly, most people need to invest in or borrow good equipment before they can really evaluate if they like it or if they want to stick with it.


Canon Printer Hacked To Run Doom Video Game

cyn1c77 Don't fix it! (89 comments)

From TFA:

Canon said it planned to fix the loopholes on future printers to make them harder to subvert.

Why would you want to subvert someone from installing Doom on your printer?

4 days ago

DARPA Funds Harvard's Soft Exoskeletal Suit

cyn1c77 Re:Not the same as "hard" exo-skeletons. (29 comments)

If you improve the endurance of a soldier you *have* improved their weight carrying capacity. But I get what you're saying. They won't be able to lift 300lbs instead of 100lbs and put it on a shelf. However, they might be able to realistically haul say 80lbs of gear 15 miles instead of 50 lbs of gear. Of course that might be how much the batteries weigh to keep the thing running for a day. :)

You clearly don't get what he was saying!

We want HALO-like suits that will let us jump 50 feet high, jump out of an airplane and land safely with no parachute, and lift 500 lbs with one hand while accurately shooting at something a mile away with a fully automatic weapon in the other.

This soft-suit is like increasing the fuel economy on a Civic when you really want a Ferrari.

about a week ago

Early iPhone 6 Benchmark Results Show Only Modest Gains For A8

cyn1c77 Re:power consumption? (207 comments)

Who cares about performance anymore. Fast enough is fast enough. Which one lasts longer on battery?

Probably people who own an iPhone 5 and are debating upgrading to the new one.

Especially so if they like the smaller form factor of the iPhone 5, but would be willing to trade it for increased performance.

about a week ago

The Documents From Google's First DMV Test In Nevada

cyn1c77 Re:Who would have thought (194 comments)

And let's just remember that planes don't actually fly themselves:


Your link is misleading. Autopilot can control aircraft at all times (climb, cruise , descent, approach, and landing phases) except during the taxi and landing phases.

Thus, with modern avionics, autopilot can control can be engaged immediately after takeoff (once flaps are off and gear is up) and kept on through landing.

A separate feature, called autothrottle, can be used to automatically control the plane's engines through the entire flight.

Of course, pilots are essential for programming these systems, monitoring them during flight, and stepping in during anomalous situations, but the planes really can fly themselves.

about a week ago

The Documents From Google's First DMV Test In Nevada

cyn1c77 Re:Who would have thought (194 comments)

Yeah, and it went into manual controlled mode when it recognized obstacles it couldn't handle:

A. A railroad crossing without signals
B. A roundabout
C. Construction work
D. "Some specific turns"

Obviously not ready for the real world yet.

Ummm, have you driven lately? Most people with licenses also can't handle those obstacles!

about a week ago

German Court: Google Must Stop Ignoring Customer E-mails

cyn1c77 Re:We need more like this (290 comments)

You should ask for your money back.

You should ask for all your data back.

However, Google has quite a strong monopoly. That will make their case a lot weaker.

You should actually ask for a share of the money that Google made off of your data.

about a week ago

How Astrophysicists Hope To Turn the Entire Moon Into a Cosmic Ray Detector

cyn1c77 Re:less than one particle per square kilometer/100 (74 comments)

This seems not very much. How do we know of them at all?

Because there are a lot of square kilometers out there... especially when the blurb doesn't actually define what the surface area of observation is!

about two weeks ago

Protesters Blockade Microsoft's Seattle Headquarters Over Tax Breaks

cyn1c77 Re:well... (246 comments)

Microsoft employs >40K employees in the Seattle Metro area, while the other 3.6M residents (literally the 99%) get screwed.

So tell me, if Microsoft left and took the 40k jobs with them, they would then NOT get tax breaks in Seattle.

How would the other 99% of the Seattle residents be better off?

Would they somehow be less screwed?

Yes, Seattle would be less screwed if the former Microsoft employees either left the city or got jobs with (smaller) companies that pay more taxes.

Take it to the limit, where a company gets a zero tax liability deal while still incurring indirect costs to the city (Their trucks damage the roads, their employees necessitate more city infrastructure such as lights, police, parking, power, waste, etc.): It is actually possibly for the city to lose money on such a deal since they have brought in additional people and incurred additional costs. The costs will be recouped from the taxpayers in that case and not from the corporation causing the costs.

Also, by continuing to give huge companies lower tax liability, we are essentially driving all companies towards monopolies by making it harder for the smaller competitors.

about two weeks ago

Protesters Blockade Microsoft's Seattle Headquarters Over Tax Breaks

cyn1c77 Re:well... (246 comments)

So it's rational to give large companies tax breaks to keep them in your city as a way to keep your economy strong. It may seem unfair, but all these cities and states have done enough research to conclude that doing tax favors for these big companies is worth more than taxing them at regular rates and losing the employment. So it's neither illegal or irrational on the part of the government or the corporations.

It doesn't seem unfair, it is unfair.

The big companies get tax breaks. The politicians get kickbacks, lobbying, and stay in office. The regular citizens pay higher taxes to make up for the company and the politician screwing them.

Microsoft employs >40K employees in the Seattle Metro area, while the other 3.6M residents (literally the 99%) get screwed.

about two weeks ago

Hackers Break Into

cyn1c77 Re:Yep. (150 comments)

> Please tell me your comment is snark.

No sir. I am dead serious! Obama is incompetent. Take for example this business with Putin and ISIS and Taliban. It is getting out of control. Not because these are hard problems, but because Obama is a pussy. He wants to keep thinking about it. As GWB would say, time for thinking is over. Its time to kick some ass. If you have seen the Rambo series of movies, you'd know what I am talking about.

Man, I hope to God Chuck Norris runs for president and wins. I'd like see the expression on Putin's face when that happens.

Why is the parent modded as funny?

I mean, the post is funny, but I think he was also serious! It should be "insightful!!!"

Even if you voted for Obama twice, you have got to admit (by now) that he does do a lot more thinking and talking than taking action.

Of course, with politicians, less action is often preferable!

about two weeks ago

Hackers Break Into

cyn1c77 Re:Yep. (150 comments)

The difference is people voluntarily give data to these companies where as you are forced to give information to It would be the same as if the IRS was hacked.

Well, you aren't forced to! You could just not have healthcare, be financially penalized for not having healthcare, and then die prematurely.

Plus, like all of the academic, financial, security, and IT institutions, the government is really sorry that your personal identity was compromised, but it was an accident OK? So let's not get too upset... they are doing the best that they can! (The hackers are just doing better!)

Plus, I am sure that they will give you one whole free year of credit monitoring to make up for it, but you'll have to give your social security number to yet another online entity to take advantage of that deal!

(Yes, I am being sardonic.)

about two weeks ago

Deputy Who Fatally Struck Cyclist While Answering Email Will Face No Charges

cyn1c77 Wow! (463 comments)

From the article:

“As an officer, we are trained to multi-task and are exempt from certain laws in certain situations such as using a cellphone,” he said.

Not only are they trained to "multitask," they are also apparently above the law.

If a regular citizen were to accidentally kill someone in the course of they regular work duties, would that be OK? Because that seems to be what the Los Angeles DA's office is arguing.

about three weeks ago

Eye Problems From Space Affect At Least 21 NASA Astronauts

cyn1c77 Re:What can be done about this? (109 comments)

aside from artificial gravity, nothing. No amount of exercise bike pedaling will save your optic nerves from being in zero G too long.

There isn't really any good reason to put people in orbit for 6 months+. Rotate them out every couple of months. Yes we needed data on long-term microgravity effects on the human body. We have them now, zero G does bad things to your body. So don't do it for extended periods.

Fly in the ointment is the expected trip to Mars, which will take 9 months to a year. Fortunately people like Zubrin have developed advanced technologies to deal with this. It's called a rope. Attach the Mars spacecraft to a ballast via a rope (they call it tether) and spin it until you get 1/3rd G. Problem solved.

How do you know that 1/3G will solve the problem without testing it on human subjects?

about three weeks ago

Among Gamers, Adult Women Vastly Outnumber Teenage Boys

cyn1c77 PMS... Ha ha ha! (276 comments)

For me, it was worth clicking on the article just to find out that there was a clan called the "PMS Clan" that used to stand for "Psycho Man Slayers."

That said, I think male and female gamers everywhere are cringing being lumped in with people who play games on mobile devices.

about a month ago

German Intelligence Spying On Allies, Recorded Kerry, Clinton, and Kofi Annan

cyn1c77 America not responsible for NSA. (170 comments)

The Speigel article states that the person responsible for making the call recordings of Clinton/Kerry and Kofi Annan was the same person the BND now believes to be a double-agent working for the US. The headline here makes it seem like the German government ordered the BND to do it, but it doesn't seem to be the case here.

Oh come on! That's like saying: "The Germans made it seem like the Americans are excited about the NSA's actions. In reality, the NSA is really a triple agent for Germany through Russia, so it really isn't America's fault that the NSA was spying on other countries, right?"

Germany, despite all their protestations about spying, had the infrastructure in place to record calls by other political officials. If they did it accidentally (which sounds like BS), they they are automatically collecting ALL calls and they are hypocrites. If they did it intentionally, they are also hypocrites for targeting allies.

It isn't surprising that they are doing it despite their prior protestations. What is satisfying, however, is that the US will now get to rub their noses in it.

about 1 month ago

Tesla Removes Mileage Limits On Drive Unit Warranty Program

cyn1c77 Re:So there is a problem... (174 comments)

Assuming you have an insulated garage door, and an attached garage, it's likely your home will add 20-30 degrees to a -22F (outside) temperature environment in your garage. Homes leak a lot of heat, and all the walls/doors to your garage leak it into your garage. There is also no wind chill in your garage.

I invite you to put a thermometer in your garage and track it. I don't think you will exceed the Tesla specifications unless you leave the garage door open 24x7x365.

You are making the assumption that his garage is connected to his house and that he has an insulated garage door.

I have lived in houses that had neither of these features.

Also, I think his point was that he doesn't want to pay $80K for a car and more problems to worry about than if he spent $30K.

about a month ago

Giant Greek Tomb Discovered

cyn1c77 Re:Yes and no (164 comments)

It is a requirement leaving primary school to be able to do a division. it is not a requirement to know what feet or yard or stones or furlong are. When you have an international audience, it is polite to use the international measurement methods that about 95% of the world use maybe put it in parenthesis near the medieval unit. like say 500 yards (about 450 meters).

This has an ecological impact by the way, because if thousand of people google "500 yards to meter" the electricity and time lost, would have been better spent on something else. If one person the submitter does it it is maybe 5 second lost to him and no big deal. If say 10000 persons do it, guessestimate international audience slashdot, that's 50000 seconds lost, electricity, bandwidth usage and so forth. Not a lot but cumulated over the years ? And jsut because the submitter does not want to make 1 step, he forces those loss on everybody else

A true historian would use both SI units and units that were contemporary of when the tomb was created.

about a month ago

If You're Always Working, You're Never Working Well

cyn1c77 Re:partly as a result, work culture is also haphaz (135 comments)

That's because here in Sweden at least, we learned from childhood to work in groups, including presentations etc, though that has changed a lot now that we've adopted more international methods. Aka, downgraded our education...

For example, when I was a kid, we had student councils in school, from age 10, where each class has 1 or 2 representatives, who then report to the rest of the class at the weekly class meetings etc. It was also a good way to teach students about democracy.

As for the difference between US and nordic culture in regards to meetings, time keeping etc, I do notice that a lot in my freelancing. US clients are more likely to call at completely idiotic times(like calling at 19:00 their local time, meaning it's middle of the night/really early morning for me), and as you say, less coordinated with materials at meetings etc.

The US has 30 times the population of Sweden, so please don't assume that all Americans are the same in terms of education or courtesy.

about a month and a half ago


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