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Comment: Re:When the rocket is standing on the pad (Score 2) 67

Addendum: I don't know if this was mentioned in the article (yay laziness!), but most spacecraft are merely cleaned, not sterilized. Avoiding contamination is important for interplanetary missions, but not so much for something that's going to stay in Earth orbit or burn up in its atmosphere.

Comment: Re:The right answer (Score 1) 613

by AikonMGB (#48290755) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Where Do You Stand on Daylight Saving Time?

I know you are kidding, but I'll just add a couple points: 1) The Earth's orbit is quite stable; the seasons are caused by the fact that the Earth's axis of rotation is inclined its orbit normal. To make it an equinox year-round, fix that. 2) To slightly increase the period of the Earth's orbit around the Sun, we actually need to speed it up! Orbital mechanics are not always intuitive :)

Comment: Re:Video rental (Score 2) 125

by AikonMGB (#48252637) Attached to: It's Official: HTML5 Is a W3C Standard

Let me fix that for you: why is movie rental supposed to work? Just because a business model made sense at one point for a particular medium does that mean that it will continue to do so moving forward, nor that artificial restrictions should be placed on innovation to force existing business models to soldier on.

Comment: That's not how science works (Score 5, Interesting) 141

by AikonMGB (#47769905) Attached to: Underground Experiment Confirms Fusion Powers the Sun

Nothing has been proven. Scientists have long had a theory about how the Sun powers itself. That theory can be used to make predictions, such as the type of neutrinos that we should expect to see emanating from the Sun. An experiment was devised to test such a prediction, the hypothesis being that this type of neutrinos is being produced and thus will be detected. Having performed the experiment, we see that the results match what we expected, validating the hypothesis. This is important and significant, and it provides further evidence suggesting the widely accepted theory is accurate, but it does not -- nor can it -- constitute a proof.

The other interesting result would be if the expected neutrino type was not detected by this experiment, invalidating the hypothesis. This would raise further questions such as: is there some other mechanism powering the Sun? Is there something deficient in our understanding of neutrinos that prevented us from detecting them despite them being there? Was there an error in the test setup (i.e. is it repeatable by other parties)?

Comment: Re:Why the Australians? (Score 2) 92

by AikonMGB (#47605893) Attached to: Australia Rebooting Search For MH370

Using your number of 0.001% probability of this crash being something technical, and my estimated value of MH370 of $2.6B, then $26,000. The 777 has a lot of flight hours; if there's a technical problem with it, its a corner-case quirk, not a fundamental design issue. Maybe it doesn't sit well with you, but it is not reasonable to expect 100% safety from any system -- it would be prohibitively expensive.

Comment: Re:How much have they spent already? (Score 2) 92

by AikonMGB (#47605881) Attached to: Australia Rebooting Search For MH370

You are of course correct for the initial search, but at some point you hit diminishing returns. Even if the failure were a technical one, the value of locating the wreck and determining the cause is likely of limited value. There are only so many systems that can fail, and we already do thorough failure modes analyses when designing aircraft. That's why flying is so safe these days.

The 777 has a pretty good track record with 1,212 units built and five hull losses, only two of which were due to failure of flight systems. If the hull cost $261.5M and you estimate the value of a human life $10M, then the MH370 incident had a base cost of around $2.6B. If you only had one failure out of 1,212 hulls, that suggests you'd be willing to spend 0.08% or ~$2.1M to make sure it doesn't happen again.

This is just one formulation of the cost/benefit and of course excludes some important factors like the public relations cost to MA and airlines in general, but hopefully it illustrates that there's a bound on how much we should reasonably be expected to invest in understanding the events of the incident, and that it is not an absurdly high value.

"There is nothing new under the sun, but there are lots of old things we don't know yet." -Ambrose Bierce