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NASA Tests Microwave Space Drive

syukton Re:They used a vacuum, and a serious one at that. (201 comments)

I think this is an error in grammar.

I believe what they're saying there is that with a higher-power RF amplifier that is purpose-built to operate in a vacuum, they could test in even higher vacuum than they were able to during this test. The section is Summary and Forward Work and I don't think they're saying that they did not test in a vacuum, but that their ability to test in a vacuum was limited and could be improved in future work. 5x10^-6 torr is not quite "vacuum of outer space"; it's a high vacuum, but not quite interstellar-space vacuum.

about 6 months ago

NASA Tests Microwave Space Drive

syukton They used a vacuum, and a serious one at that. (201 comments)

It's probably #2. The paper, as presented at the 50th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference, is available for purchase. I happened to have a spare $25 and a burning curiosity. The full paper isn't available on the NASA site, only the abstract can be gotten there for free. If you wanna read the details, you have to pay for 'em.

Anyhow, here's the relevant bit from the paper: "Two roughing pumps provide the vacuum required to lower the environment to approximately 10 Torr in less than 30 minutes. Then, two high-speed turbo pumps are used to complete the evacuation to 5x10E-6 Torr, which requires a few additional days. During this final evacuation, a large strip heater (mounted around most of the circumference of the cylindrical chamber) is used to heat the chamber interior sufficiently to emancipate volatile substances that typically coat the chamber interior walls whenever the chamber is at ambient pressure with the chamber door open. During test run data takes at vacuum, the turbo pumps continue to run to maintain the hard vacuum environment."

I'm not a physicist, but the paper is still an absolutely fascinating read, and contains a number of color photos of the test apparatus, the device itself, etc. The amount of detail they went into for the experiment is really impressive; seismically isolating the test chamber, using liquid metal (galinstan) electrical contacts to eliminate any forces due to a mechanical coupling to a wire, compensating for the magnetic field that is created by passing electricity through the device, and so on. This is NASA we're talking about here, the guys that do ROCKET SCIENCE. The idea that they wouldn't test this device in a vacuum is laughable.

Something spooky is going on inside this device, and I hope it doesn't take us too long to figure out what is really happening.

about 6 months ago

Two-Laser Boron Fusion Lights the Way To Radiation-Free Energy

syukton Proton-Boron Fusion is what Bussard was working on (140 comments)

Robert Bussard's fusion project at Energy Matter Conversion Corporation was aimed at investigating Proton-Boron fusion, because it is clean and produces no high-energy neutrons. I was really hoping this was a follow-on to that work. The device Bussard called a Polywell actually shows some serious potential to revolutionize nuclear power globally. It even shows enough promise that the US Navy has been funding some small-scale experiments. It's unfortunate that Bussard died before he could see the potential of the Polywell realized, but it would be nice to see it succeed none the less.

about a year ago

Ask Slashdot: Is It Time For SyFy To Go Premium?

syukton Re:The audience you want don't want cable (607 comments)

You don't need a RED. The season 6 finale of House was shot entirely with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II DSLR, a camera body which these days can be had for under $3K. Admittedly lenses will set you back a bit, but you could probably still set up a high-def capable recording studio for less than $50,000 including a couple camera bodies, lenses and motion stabilizing rigs.

more than 3 years ago

Google Invests In World's Largest Solar Power Tower Plant

syukton Why not Bussard's fusion reactor? (387 comments)

Why they threw $168 million at this and not Robert Bussard's Polywell fusion reactor is beyond me. They even had Dr. Bussard come and talk about his project at one of their Google TechTalks back in 2006... but no, Google isn't interested in clean and virtually limitless power. Participating in a gigantic construction project in the middle of nowhere is more their speed.

Bussard believed that $200 million was what would take to get a full-scale test reactor built that would prove out the net-gain fusion capabilities of his design. He'd been working on the project with limited funding by the US Navy to stay off the radar of the DOE. All fusion research in this country is dominated by the DOE and their as-yet unproven approaches and they tend to restrict federal funding from going to a new approach. Once the information embargo was lifted, Bussard was invited to speak at a Google TechTalk and show everyone what he'd been working on for the prior 11 years during which he'd not published a damn thing.

It's been five years. Five years since that talk and to the best of my knowledge there has been no significant financial contribution into this radical piece of technology that would completely revolutionize domestic energy production; nothing outside of a few million here and there from the US Navy.

I have to say that I'm disappointed.

more than 3 years ago

DIY Multi-Touch Tabletop "Surface PC"

syukton Re:I think yes (78 comments)

Surface doesn't use FTIR, it uses a vision-based system. It was detailed by Popular Mechanics.

more than 5 years ago

Microsoft Patents "Pg Up" and "Pg Dn"

syukton Re:Ok by me. (350 comments)

You're missing something very subtle.

The default behavior of the Page Up and Page Down keys is to move the viewport displaying the document one full screen-page up or down. The patent more specifically relates to absolute pages, regardless of zoom level or display size.

For example, suppose that your display can fit 2 full 8.5x11 inch sheets of paper one after another, vertically. Just suppose. When you press the Page Down key now, you'll move down 2 pages. That is, if you were looking at pages 10 and 11, you'll be looking at pages 12 and 13 after pressing Page Down. If the Page Down key behaved according to the patent, pressing it once while viewing pages 10 and 11 would make it so you're viewing pages 11 and 12, because it only moved you down one absolute-page, instead of moving you down one screen-page (which is a virtual page containing two absolute pages).

Another example would be if you can only see the top 1/3 of a page on your display, and you press Page Down. With today's behavior of Page Down, you would be taken to the next 1/3 of the page. According to the patent's method, however, you'd be taken to the top 1/3 of the next page.

more than 6 years ago


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