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Ask Slashdot: What Tech Products Were Built To Last?

thrich81 Re:Texas Instruments calculator (674 comments)

I've got my TI-36 Solar sitting on my desk here right now. I use it almost daily. The top cover of the vinyl case ripped off just last year.
I have my late 70's vintage TI SR-50 working at home. I had to replace the original Ni-Cad batteries but it still works fine with that 10 digit red LED display. It isn't as rugged as the TI-36, though, the slide switches for On-Off and Deg-Rad are feeling soft.

2 days ago
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Is Crimea In Russia? Internet Companies Have Different Answers

thrich81 Re:Ukraine's borders were changed by use of force (303 comments)

"No state will ever give up land willingly" Two counterexamples: The USA found itself in possession of several previously Japanese territories after WWII, most notably Okinawa; it was returned to Japan in 1972, 27 years after the war ended.
The USA found itself in possession of Cuba and the Philippines after the Spanish-American War; both were granted independence sometime afterward (Philippine independence took a long time and was interrupted by Japanese occupation of WWII).

5 days ago
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NASA Laying Foundation For Jupiter Moon Space Mission

thrich81 Re:What's been the hold up???? (100 comments)

I'm aware of JUICE and wish them well. I wish I had thought of Rosetta and would have given ESA credit for that one in my original post. I was also aware of Cassini-Huygens but finessed that by saying only NASA had "launched" outer planet missions. So let me apologize for not giving the Europeans full credit for what they have done/are planning, caveated with a big, "It's about time!". Europe has had an economy larger than that of the US for a while now, and always bigger than Russia's -- why have they been such slackers in space exploration? Obviously, the cold war competition between the USA and the Soviets gave space exploration its initial kick, but I'm still disappointed that Europe and Japan didn't come along stronger over the last 30 years. And since the late 90's there hasn't been any cold war space race, but the US planetary program has been as strong as ever. Any Europeans or Japanese want to weigh in? Is it that without the national pride/competition thing the US and Russians had, space just isn't considered worth the Euros and Yen?

about two weeks ago
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NASA Laying Foundation For Jupiter Moon Space Mission

thrich81 Re:What's been the hold up???? (100 comments)

"Why don't the US ask Russia which one they're going to, and beg for a lift"
One reason might be that the Russians have never (that is - not ever, not even once, not even attempted) launched a mission to the outer planets, neither have the Europeans; only the USA has shown the capability, several times over, starting in 1972 with Pioneer 10 and most recently Juno to Jupiter in 2011.
The US has plenty of unmanned launch capability and does it all the time with Atlas's and Delta's and Falcons. The US has a temporary lapse in human capable launch vehicles and spacecraft which is unfortunate, but that is being remedied on multiple fronts and to extrapolate that to, "the US should ask Russia for help to the outer planets" shows a complete ignorance of the history and state of outer planet exploration.

about two weeks ago
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Physicists Produce Antineutrino Map of the World

thrich81 Re:Scientists "know"? (75 comments)

You are right and I mentioned the neutrinos, but up until a few years ago when the neutrino physicists accepted neutrino oscillations, the neutrinos detected from the sun did not at all agree with theory, that situation lasted for at least a couple of decades. And nuclear fusion in the sun was well accepted before any of the neutrino results came in. Maybe not the greatest example on my part.

about three weeks ago
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Physicists Produce Antineutrino Map of the World

thrich81 Re:Scientists "know"? (75 comments)

We don't have any direct evidence of nuclear fusion in the sun's core either (maybe the neutrino detectors count for that lately), but we pretty much 'know' it is happening. Lack of 'direct evidence' != 'lack of evidence good enough to say with almost certainty'. 'Scientists know' can be shorthand for 'the established scientific consensus allows us have a very high degree of confidence'.

about three weeks ago
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Back To the Moon — In Four Years

thrich81 Re:Savvy (292 comments)

Well, Surveyor 1 in 1966 was the FIRST attempt by the USA to put a soft lander on the moon or any other extraterrestrial body. It landed successfully on June 2, 1966, sent back 11,237 photos, and sent back engineering data through Jan 7, 1967, for over seven months. Same result for the USA's first attempt to soft land on Mars, Viking 1, it worked as designed and functioned on the surface for over six years. Not disputing your issue about risks need to be taken, but if you do it right you can be successful the first time and the US's actual record of success in space missions is pretty good. And this is more to refute the OPs assertion about how the US is falling behind China in space.

about a month ago
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Russian State TV Anchor: Russia Could Turn US To "Radioactive Ash"

thrich81 Re:Mr Obama (878 comments)

I'll grant that Reagan happened to be the guy in charge when the Soviet Union finally cracked (I'm counting Bush I as a continuation of Reagan), and Reagan's forceful policies probably helped, but:
1) Reagan's policies (aggressive military build up, foreign policy, and rhetoric) were not hardly any different from Kennedy's and Johnson's in the 60s, so why did they work in 80s and not the 60s?
2) I have in-laws from the Soviet Union and they don't credit Reagan much, they say it was just time for the Soviet Union to collapse.
We don't want to go back to the 60s or the 80s, too many close calls. By the way I was in the military through the 80s and saw the Russians up close.
 

about a month ago
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Endeavor Launch Pad Being Rebuilt Piece By Piece

thrich81 Re:Saw it last week (48 comments)

NASA had a selection for a new astronaut class just last year. Selected eight new candidates/trainees.

about a month ago
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Russian State TV Anchor: Russia Could Turn US To "Radioactive Ash"

thrich81 Re:Mr Obama (878 comments)

As someone who lived through the '80s with a couple of close calls of mutual annihilation, I'd rather not have those foreign policies back.

about a month ago
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New Jersey Auto Dealers Don't Want to Face Tesla

thrich81 Re:Par for those folks... (342 comments)

I guess you didn't flee here to Texas which already had the laws on the books prohibiting Tesla's sales model. The northern states have nothing on the South as far as businesses buying off the legislature to their benefit. Except that in the South it is actively encouraged as "Pro-Business"!

about a month ago
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Up To 1000 NIH Investigators Dropped Out Last Year

thrich81 Entitlements (111 comments)

True on Social Security, but Medicare has been highly undercapitalized since its inception, due to medical cost inflation and recipients' expectations which outstripped all projections when Medicare tax rates were set. Thus your Medicare taxes (and everyone else's) are very unlikely to pay (even accounting for hypothetical investment gains) for your Medicare expenses in old age. The Medicare system is unsustainable as is; the oldsters who got it already got a great deal but sooner or later that will have to change.

about a month ago
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Israeli Group To Attempt Moon Landing

thrich81 You Are Cherry Picking (150 comments)

Let's look at the subject in more detail. First satellite, first human, first successful lunar mission -- clearly the Soviets.
After that:
First successful mission to another planet: Mariner 2 flyby of Venus, 1962, USA. Your listing of Venera 1 as the "first to reach another planet" neglects to mention that the spacecraft failed before it got there.
First successful mission to Mars: Mariner 4, 1964, USA.
First communications satellites: passive, Echo I, 1960, USA; active, Courier 1B, USA.
First spacecraft rendezvous in orbit: Geminis 6 and 7, 1965, USA.
First spacecraft docking in orbit: Gemini 8, 1966, USA.
First manned spacecraft beyond low earth orbit: Apollo 8, 1968, USA
First manned spacecraft in lunar orbit: Apollo 8, 1968, USA
First spacecraft to orbit another planet: Mariner 9, Nov 1971, USA
First mission beyond the inner solar system: Pioneer 10, 1973, USA
First flyby of Jupiter: Pioneer 10, 1973, USA
There are many others.
Now let's examine some of the Soviet space firsts:
First soft lander on the Moon: 3 Feb 1966, Luna 9, USSR, a success by any definition, sent back pictures, operated for 3 days on lunar surface
        compared to:, Surveyor 1, first USA soft lander, landed 14 July 1966, operated for nearly 6 months on the lunar surface
First soft lander on Mars: Mars 3, Dec 1971, USSR, operated for 14.5 seconds on the surface, compared to Viking 1, first USA Mars lander, July 1976, operated for 6 years on the surface.

So the story that the USSR was the clear leader in early space exploration is clearly false. Both nations had impressive 'firsts', anyone who doesn't acknowledge the accomplishments of both has poor knowledge of the subject.

about 3 months ago
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Is the West Building Its Own Iron Curtain?

thrich81 Re:slashdot: idle speculation for ignorant morons (337 comments)

julian67 -- I broke my vow not to post any more on Slashdot in order to congratulate you on the greatest ever title to a Slashdot comment. The comment itself was good, too.

about 3 months ago
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How Quickly Will the Latest Arms Race Accelerate?

thrich81 Re:Reality interferes... (197 comments)

True about NATO expanding after the fall of the Soviet Union. However it is also true that every nation which entered NATO practically begged for it. They had their taste of Warsaw Pact life and wanted their best chance of avoiding a repeat. So what do you do when newly freed people ask to join your alliance -- tell them they are shit out of luck and first targets in Putin's next attempt to rebuild the USSR? The answer is probably, 'yes' from a cold, self interested view of the original NATO members, but it doesn't seem quite right.

about 3 months ago
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How Quickly Will the Latest Arms Race Accelerate?

thrich81 answer -- not the USA (197 comments)

"Go ahead and ask your friendly neighborhood Chinese exchange student about whose nation should be humiliated in the next 20 years" -- if by that you mean, which nation do the Chinese still resent the most, which nation has killed the most Chinese people ever, and which nation the Chinese government is most using as a bogeyman to whip up nationalistic fervor? -- that would be Japan. By the way, if the US ever pulls out of the western Pacific or looks like it is going to, Japan will field nuclear weapons within in six months, followed almost simultaneously by S. Korea, and maybe Taiwan.

about 3 months ago
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China: The Next Space Superpower

thrich81 Compare National Space Budgets (250 comments)

From Wikipedia:
USA NASA annual budget: $17.7 billion, and that is just the NASA budget, the US Air Force Space budget is another $8 billion.
China CNSA annual budget: $1.3 billion.
Total pending by all national space agencies: $40.6 billion.
So the NASA budget is over 10 times that of CNSA and almost as much as all the other nations' programs put together. Considering that the US GDP is only about twice that of China's, then the NASA budget is a far larger percentage of the US GDP than the proportion that CNSA is of China's.

about 4 months ago
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How Astronauts Took the Most Important Photo In Space History

thrich81 AC Needs Some Space History (108 comments)

Reposting what I accidentally just put up as AC:
Von Braun's group could have almost certainly launched a satellite for the US in 1957 before Sputnik 1. In 1956 they had already launched their Jupiter-C rocket to over 70% of orbital velocity and over a thousand km high with a DUMMY 4th stage. Through 1957 they repeatedly asked for permission to launch one with a live 4th stage but the Eisenhower administration considered it "provocative". After Sputnik 1 orbited, the von Braun team was given their go-ahead orders and launched Explorer 1 into orbit aboard a Jupiter-C less than three months later. Can anyone doubt they could have done it in 1957?

about 4 months ago
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NASA Testing Lighter Space Suits For Asteroid Work

thrich81 Re:Return to a space suit design of the 1960s (54 comments)

"They never learned to build infrastructure. They never wanted to launch a mission that had any risk." It's hard to tell what NASA you are talking about here, NASA in the '60s or NASA in the 2000's? If it was NASA in the 60's then you are wrong. NASA in the 60's was all about risky missions. I personally heard Frank Borman at a conference a few years ago state that when he launched on Apollo 8 he figured that he had a 50% chance of coming back. For lasting infrastructure, the Vehicle Assembly Building and the crawler-transporter at Kennedy were built for the first Saturn V then used through the Space Shuttle program with plans for use by SLS. Same for the engine test stands at Stennis in Mississippi. On the pert charts -- one of the acknowledged major accomplishments of the Apollo Program was the development of a management process to successfully pull off such a gigantic and fast moving program.

about 4 months ago
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Chinese Lunar Probe Lands Successfully

thrich81 Re:They have the money to do this (250 comments)

Everyone gripes about how the "US has given up in space" or fallen behind or some other bull, but it is just wrong. The US currently has two functioning rovers on Mars (which is two more than anyone else) , a probe on the way to Jupiter, a probe on the way to PLUTO, a functioning orbiter around Mercury and a probe which recently left orbit around the asteroid Vesta on the way to orbit the dwarf planet Ceres, and a functioning orbiter around the moon. The US spends more money on space operations, both civil and military, than any other country. The US has a temporary gap in the ability to launch crewed missions but has at least three funded projects in place to build human-rated launchers (Space-X Falcon 9, ULA Atlas 5 , and NASA SLS) and at least three funded crewed capsules in work (Space-X Dragon, Boeing CST-100. Lockheed Orion). Other countries are doing things in space, -- great!!, but the USA remains the premier spacefaring nation in the world, due to the nation's technology and will to devote the resources to do it. China or anyone else putting crews on the moon is a great thing, but the US has been there, done that, and is moving on.

about 4 months ago

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