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Comment: Re:One Era Ends To Make Way For Another (Score 2) 365

by Chairboy (#36649516) Attached to: Can the US Still Lead In Space Despite Shuttle's End?

Sorry, friend, but you're mistaken. The wings gave the shuttle the crossrange needed to launch, release a payload, then de-orbit back at the launch spot (which has at this point rotated a thousand plus miles away from where the orbit ended.

The wings were needed so they could re-enter, then glide back to Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Comment: Obviously, the test was flawed (Score 4, Insightful) 567

by Chairboy (#29796255) Attached to: 1/3 of People Can't Tell 48Kbps Audio From 160Kbps

If the higher compression audio had simply used this $500 Denon ethernet cable, the results would have been different:

http://www.usa.denon.com/ProductDetails/3429.asp

But seriously, can you make a sweeping statement like "People can't tell 48k audio from 160k" if you're also switching compression technologies? OGG vs. AAC is a whole article on it's own, you just muddy the waters by making this about the compression rate.

This is just a new version of the old megahertz myth of the CPU wars. Two different 2GHZ processors from different manufacturers are not equal, we all finally figured that out for the most part, right? Now we've moved onwards... to the Kbps myth?

Comment: Bad science (Score -1, Flamebait) 198

by Chairboy (#29268011) Attached to: British Company Takes Lead To Stop Asteroids

The concept behind a 'gravity tractor' is fatally flawed. Gravity is the weakest force in the universe, the only reason it matters to us is that there's enough mass making up Earth to make it worth paying attention to.

Instead of sitting next to asteroid, it'd be far more effective to dock the probe and push directly using the vaunted ion thrusters.

TANSTAAFL, folks.

Comment: The cost of freedom (Score 5, Insightful) 457

by Chairboy (#28076583) Attached to: Google Earth Raises Discrimination Issue In Japan

History is ugly. It's full of all the crappy things we did, and exists in part as a document to study so we can try and improve. "Those who don't study history are doomed to repeat it", but if the ugly parts are expunged, then we are erasing exactly what's needed to avoid recurrence.

Also, all oppression begins with "We must do this to protect the innocent". Whether the darkest part of the oppression comes a month later at the hands of the current controlling authority or a century later as a result of ignorance, it still exists and is the inevitable result of censorship.

Comment: Suggestion: Customer experience (Score 3, Insightful) 302

by Chairboy (#27592381) Attached to: NYC Wants Ideas For "Taxi Technology 2.0"

Technically, the cabs are already great at what they do. They quickly and reasonably cheaply (considering) get you from point A to B. But the biggest problems I've had with cabs have had less to do with tech than human factors.

For example: Advertisements. Someone thought it would be a good idea to fill cabs with loudspeakers and screens that subject the passenger to one-way advertisements. I'm annoyed by this because A: It's unpleasant to be so aggressively marketed to and B: I didn't think of it first. If there was a way to equip cabs w/ a basic data terminal that used GPS to bring up relevant data regarding where I was (or services near my destination), that would be brilliant.

Also, the credit-card issue is slowly being addressed. It's gotten much better, but everyone still runs into some cabbie who makes a big show about pulling a manual card-swipe out of the trunk. Give me a debit-style terminal in the back seat like a freakin' grocery store.

Instead of political issues like electric cabs, let's see an improvement on the end-user experience. The rest will happen on their own as business owners start seeing a financial advantage.

Comment: End justifies the means (Score 2, Interesting) 440

by Chairboy (#27285003) Attached to: Did the Netbook Improve Windows 7's Performance?

It doesn't matter if I have a netbook or not, if this is true, then everyone benefits. Even the guy with a multimedia powerhouse machine will see an improvement if performance is the bottom line.

Microsoft's fascination with taking advantage of new hardware and technologies has led to a consistent decrease in performance over the years, with Vista perhaps being the most obvious and poorly received example. The tide seems to be turning, though. Symantec pulled all the stops on making the newest releases dramatically lower in memory & faster, everyone's re-writing pages so they scale properly for mobile devices, now Microsoft is paying attention too?

This is a good trend. I hope it continues.

Comment: Great documentary (Score 4, Funny) 314

by Chairboy (#27247807) Attached to: How To Get High-Schoolers Involved In Real Science?

There's a great documentary on a teacher who faced the same challenges and found innovating ways to overcome them. He needed to give his students some projects that would have real-world results that could be measured. In the end, he helped a classroom of very talented kids construct some world-class devices that made breakthroughs in the areas of lasers, inertial guidance, optics, and more.

Very inspiration stuff, I highly recommend watching. Professor J. Hathaway should be commended for his innovative approach to this exact situation. More information on the documentary can be found here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0089886/

Comment: Soviet space battlestations (Score 5, Informative) 345

by Chairboy (#27135637) Attached to: China's New Military Space Stations Coming Soon

Of possible interest, the Soviet Union had a number of military space stations. The Almaz project culminated in a Salyut analogue that actually had a 20mm cannon that was test fired in orbit.

In the 1980s, they built the Polyus Space Battlestation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyus_(spacecraft)) which was to be equipped with nuclear mines, a boron field generator, frickin' laser beams, cannons, etc. As part of a last gasp effort to regain relevancy by showing command of the sky, a test battlestation was launched on one of the two Energia boosters that flew. A funny thing happened on the way to orbit, though...

Because of CG issues, the battlestation (about as big as a US space shuttle) was mounted upside down on the booster. Once it separated from the Energia, it was designed to fire a thruster that would turn it 180 degrees, stop rotation, then the final stage would boost this Cyrillic emblazoned death star into orbit.

The Energia booster completed it's cycle, the explosive bolts detonated, and the Polyus slowly pulled away. A thruster at the bottom fired, and the ponderous bulk began to rotate. With steady precision, it rotated 90 degrees, 135 degrees, then finally 180 degrees.... ....and kept rotating. As it completed a _complete_ rotation, the rocket fired again and smartly placed it back in the exact same angle it had been when it started.

The rocket fired as scheduled, but unfortunately for this military menace, the effect was the opposite intended. With typical maniacal mechanical thoroughness, the rocket ran, slowing the station and neatly dropping it into the Indian ocean.

I've heard rumors (for what that's worth) that one of the US Nuclear subs equipped for deep sea salvage just happened to be in the area at the time. If true, that's the goddamndest thing...

Nonetheless, it's interesting to speculate about what might have happened in the end-stages of the Cold War if the Soviets had gained control of the high ground in this fashion.

An aside, a great site for learning more about the military efforts in space during the 60s and 70s is Cold Orbits: http://www.deepcold.com/

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