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Comment Re:Bad news for recovery of the black boxes (Score 1) 89

Uh, no autopilot has the ability to land a plane (intact) on water.

Only if the engines are running, driving the generators and hydraulic pumps. An autopilot set for cruise will maintain altitude as long as possible (read: Until all fuel is exhausted), and then run for some time on battery power. If the Ram Air Turbine is not deployed quickly (and the autopilot by itself is incapable of doing this), the hydraulics will soon fail to work and whatever commands the autopilot sends will be ignored by the control system. Bottom line: The plane will descend uncontrollably. Not land, but crash.

Comment Re:Bad news for recovery of the black boxes (Score 1) 89

The inside of the flaperon is vented so that air pressure changes will not cause additional stress. There is no sealed inside volume, and full of water the flaperon should sink quickly. Somehow the venting holes must have been above the waterline most of the time. It is pure luck that it drifted so long, and most of the other stuff from the plane should since long rest at the bottom of the ocean.

Comment This is just hot air (Score 1) 238

Spike Aerospace is just a tiny outfit working out of an office in Boston with no track record in aircraft design or manufacturing. And the article has so obvious inaccuracies - Mach 1.8 at altitude is just 1900 km/h. No sensible design would try to fly supersonic at sea level, the only altitude where Mach 1.8 equals 2200 km/h.

We have seen many proposals for supersonic business jets, and none of them was viable. Why should it be different this time?

Comment Re:Abject Terror? (Score 1) 45

So...not very much terror?

"abject" means "sunk to or existing in a low state or condition." It does not mean "an extreme amount."

... which is appropriate, given the pelvis design of crocodiles. Humans can run much faster than this bipedal croc ever could. If it had been running on all four legs, it might have been faster, but upright - no way!

Comment Oxo-degradable plastics should be banned, (Score 1) 98

because they break down to tiny particles in sunlight, and if those end up in water, they will keep many toxins like insecticides and fungicides in the food chain for much longer. Normally that stuff sediments, but in the presence of tiny plastic flakes from ox-degradable foils those toxic molecules will attach themselves to the plastic and stay suspended in water, to be digested by all aquatic lifeforms. This is long known, and burying these plastics is actually the second-best you can do to them after incineration. Once they end up in the water, however, they become an ecological nightmare.

And there is nothing "bio" about this process. Those hoped-for microorganisms which are supposed to digest the plastic do not exist in nature.

There are real biodegradable plastics, but they are not made of polyethylene, but from polylactic acid, starch or cellulose. There are even synthetic, biodegradable plastics which decompose just as well as the biopolymer-based sort. But they cost more, so this oxo-degradable variation of polyethylene was invented.

Comment Re:Teenage Years (Score 1) 698

I came to say the same. Glad to see you did it, and you did it well.

What I might add: If she has a sharp mind, she will have moments in her life where this will bring her in trouble with other, less bright people. Tell her that only the dimmest minds are sure of their opinion, and explain Dunning-Kruger to her. Tell her that people's opinions are made subconsciously, and that the mind will only put a veneer of reason on top. She should be aware of that, accept her doubts, and watch her own decision process. This took myself a while to learn, and I wished I had understood this earlier.

And tell her stories from your past. Funny or sad, they will give her a fuller picture of you.

Comment If it is not commercial, it is not infringing (Score 2) 207

This is part of patent law. If you read a patent and use the idea for your private amusement, you are free to do so. Only when you sell widgets based on a patent you will get in trouble. This is part of patent laws worldwide, so I wonder what this fuzz is all about.

Sure, there will always be some leeches who will try to get rich with MAFIAA methods, but if you fall for their cons, don't blame patent law for it.

Comment Re:Perhaps a change in law is needed ... (Score 1) 207

one that protects non-commercial printing of spare parts or widgets for home use as "fair use".

Funny that you say this. This is part of existing IP law. If it's not commercial, it is not infringing. Plain and simple.

This won't keep some crooks from using MAFIAA techniques, but they have no legal base to stand on.

Comment Re:Still sounds like early flight... (Score 1) 90

I'm still reminded of what I've read about the Wright Brother's attempts at powered flight, up against dozens of other teams, some with national support.

What is that bullshit about "dozens of other teams"? You obviously spout misinformed nonsense - the only opponent with some national support was Langley. All others (Whitehead, Santos-Dumont, Ellehammer, whoever) paid their work out of their own pocket. But at least they laid all their results open and did not try to sue everyone else on the planet like these trolls from Dayton, OH.

Comment Re:Why the 1st model starts at -800? (Score 3, Insightful) 65

It's the same reason why the A-380 did not become the A-350. 350 would have been the next number in the sequence.

The reason is Chinese superstition. 8 is a lucky number in Chinese, because the sign for 8 shows two triangles pointing up. By the way, 4 is considered an unlucky number in China because it sounds similar to the word for death. Since most customers for both Airbus and Boeing are assumed to be in East Asia, their marketing departments put eights into their newest products wherever they can. The newest version of the 747 is called 747-8.

Do you spot a pattern?

Comment and how did ice get to the Far East? (Score 5, Interesting) 83

on their way to China at the end of winter, the Tea Clippers would bring ice, insulated in straw, to India where it was stored in ice pits for the British to cool their food in summer. There were even recognized brands of ice from Scottish or Norwegian lakes with exceptionally clean water.

This would have been News for Nerds 180 years ago.

Comment They can't pass through everything ... (Score 1) 35

... or they couldn't be detectable. In order to measure muons, they need to interact with the instruments, which are clearly part of earth. This alone shows that most of the summary is bunk. Muons can very well damage the materials they pass through.

As usual, please do not use Slashdot summaries for your physics education.

Comment Re:What a bunch of Wuss (Score 1) 579

If Germany had just grabbed their "lebensraum" and stopped they probably could have kept it.

Nonsense. From the start, Britain would accept nothing but unconditional surrender by Germany. They kept the flames burning by expanding the war to Norway and Greece, helped by the Italians who opened new fronts in Albania and North Africa. Germany and most likely Hitler, too, never wanted the big war which followed. In fact, Germany tried to negotiate for peace as early as late 1939. The flight of Rudolf Hess to Britain was one of many attempts at negotiations. They would have stopped if only the Allied had allowed them to stop.

Comment Re:Gives an interesting look.... (Score 1) 234

When their greed trumps even the most basic tact and professionalism, how can anyone in their right mind expect us to believe that the best thing for everyone is to let them run amok unchallenged and unregulated with a virtual monopoly? It boggles the mind.

It's the army of lobbyists in DC, these are the ones who want to make our elected representatives believe that. And they are quite good at it. What you and me believe is completely irrelevant.

"The number of Unix installations has grown to 10, with more expected." -- The Unix Programmer's Manual, 2nd Edition, June, 1972

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