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Comment: Re:Svavar Knutur and Marketa Irglova - World burns (Score 1) 144

by Rei (#48876341) Attached to: Doomsday Clock Could Move

Svavar Knútur is great... the music's really pretty, but between songs he's a standup comedian. ;) That said, some of his songs are funny too... one of his songs (in Icelandic) is about a guy on his way to propose to his girlfriend when he gets bitten by a zombie, and he meets up with her and is trying to propose while slowly turning into a zombie and increasingly wanting to eat her instead... but it turns out that she was bitten by a zombie too, so they end up living happily ever after ;) Oh, and then there's this song.

Comment: Re:Who they do not attempt to stay relevant? (Score 4, Funny) 144

by Rei (#48873505) Attached to: Doomsday Clock Could Move

If Earth becomes Venus-like then those with innovation and drive will innovate a way to protect themselves, while those that don't will eventally adapt, growing a hard, rocky skin and blood based on liquid metals rather than water. The climate has changed in Earth's past and life survived; if our future is to be a tribe of hideous rock monsters ruled by clever, pitiless human overlords in protective bubbles, then bring it on. It's not a reason to hinder economic growth.

Vote freedom. Vote prosperity. Vote Reanimated Corpse Of Ayn Rand in 2016.

Comment: Re:This is further proof... (Score -1) 148

by Rei (#48863573) Attached to: Paris Terror Spurs Plan For Military Zones Around Nuclear Plants

You forgot cheapest! More proof that nuclear power is the cheapest low-carbon power source, not a tech more popular on K street than Wall Street that gets by via being absolved of all potential liability for major accidents, getting huge loan guarantees, and being allowed to pass off cost overruns to consumers at-will and even still has trouble finding investors. Nuclear power has always been more popular on K-Street than Wall Street.

How did that "nuclear renaissance" work out for you all? Yeah, that sure bombed out fast. Gotta love an industry with a negative learning curve, where costs continually rise with time and scale rather than dropping (aka, learning of new potential problems and risks faster than refining the technology to lower costs).

Nuclear scares the public a lot more than it actually poses a risk to their health or life. But you know who it scares even more? Investors. Given the race out the door today, can you imagine what it'd be like if the industry wasn't let off the hook for potential damages over a maximum in the event of a major accident? No insurance company would touch the industry with a 10 foot pole. Nuclear accidents may not be good at killing people, but there's one thing that they're damned good at and that's costing a bloody fortune to remedy.

Comment: Re:These Really are StarGates (Score 1) 100

by Rei (#48854591) Attached to: Google Pondering $1 Billion Investment In SpaceX's Satellite Internet

There's a little unspoken benefit about what a true, affordable, universal-coverage broadband system could provide for: drones. Envision drones that can provide high quality real-time streaming (commands to the drone, imagery back) without requiring line of sight or effective cellular service.

Individuals and companies could get the sort of drone communication that today only exists for militaries. Buoyant drones (hydrogen, helium) could stay aloft for long periods and go anywhere. Conceivably a hydrogen-powered drone could stay aloft until its electronics failed, via condensing atmospheric moisture via a hygroscopic material and electrolysing it to replace the slow rate of leakage (using solar power). So picture a world where, say, anyone could buy a mass-produced mini spy drone and send anywhere, even a war zone with no infrastructure, and have it fly at a height where it would be almost impossible to spot. It would in most cases cost significantly more to take down than it costs to build (barring "drone killer" drones, but then you get to needing to maintain a large distributed inventory of them and a sensitive nationwide detection system that works at all altitudes, and you're just inviting people to come up with countermeasures). It would make it increasingly difficult to lie about human rights abuses, war crimes, armed incursions, etc.

I once looked into what it would take to make such a drone previously but quickly realized that the bandwidth costs alone via today's satellite internet services would get pretty astronomical quite fast, turning a "cheap drone" into a prohibitively expensive one. But this could change the picture. If satellite internet is cheap and widespread, not only will your bandwidth be cheap, but it also means that your connectivity hardware will also be widespread and cheap.

On the home front, one of the big concerns by regulatory bodies for all of these drone-based services companies are eager to launch is of course loss of connectivity - which is one reason why, for example, the FAA has been resisting them in the US. But if satellite service to a drone is much less likely to suffer from the reception irregularty that plagues cell phone towers. And you always have cell phone connectivity as a backup. You're greatly improving the overall reliability of your drone communications, which should make it easier to start getting commercial drone services approved by regulators.

Comment: Re:Internet by satellite: non-news (Score 1) 104

Even in modern countries there are holes. I live in Iceland and we have one of the best rates of broadband connectivity and fiber deployment in the world. But my land is in a sparsely populated valley so it hasn't paid off to run a line out there, most people just use their cell phones for a net connection. If satellite could beat that (and wouldn't be too blocked by mountains), even in highly connected countries there's a real potential market here.

Heck, there's a lot of people who would get it if the price and stats were right even if they had ground-based broadband. Everyone here has bandwidth caps on international net traffic, only domestic is unlimited. So people who want to do a lot of downloads of foreign content might well choose that instead of or inaddition to regular broadband.

Comment: Re:Internet by satellite: non-news (Score 1) 104

Yeah, I had written a section about this but must have messed up my tags and Slashdot ate it.. Delta clipper highest achieved altitude: 1 kilometer. Falcon 9 first stage alone highest achieved altitude: 130km. Delta clipper furthest flown from the landing pad before landing: 300 meters. Falcon 9 first stage alone, furthest flown from the landing pad before landing: 300km. Delta clipper mass ratio, 2,5. Falcon 9 first stage alone, mass ratio 20 (and the boosters on the Falcon Heavy have a mass ratio of 30). And on and on and on. Not to mention that they're built utterly differently.

Comment: Re:Internet by satellite: non-news (Score 5, Insightful) 104

Internet satellite thingy - almost identical to Teledesic

Teledesic: Launched on Pegasus rockets which cost your firstborn child. SpaceX: Launched on Falcon rockets which are cheaper than the Russians and Chinese even without reuse. Teledescic: 90s computer and communications tech (this was the era where playing the original Doom game took a high end computer and nerds envied those with ISDN connections). SpaceX: 10 iterations of Moore's Law later. Teledescic: Communcation sats have to be large objects with heavy hydrazine thrusters for stationkeeping. SpaceX: Much smaller satellites available (all the way down to cubesats), with a wide variety of ion thrusters for stationkeeping available.

Yeah, totally the same situation.

Hyperloop - first theorised by Robert Goddard nearly a century ago and a staple of SF for decades

Goddard and sci-fi: vaccuum tube. Hyperloop: tube full of thin air. Goddard and sci-fi: maglev. Hyperloop: ground-effect aerofoils. Compressor on each craft. Goddard and sci-fi: massive trains holding huge numbers of passengers. Hyperloop: small computer-timed trains to spread out the load on the track and thus reduce construction costs. Goddard and sci-fi: Trains implausibly deep underground. Hyperloop: built like a monorail. Goddard and sci-fi: tubes take the shortest route to their destination. Hyperloop: Trains go primarily over already-built and permitted infrastructure to reduce right of way and environmental costs / challenges.

Yeah, totally the same situation.

Falcon 9 - It can land vertically, like errr, the lunar module or the Delta Clipper

Tesla - Okay, they're quite nice but electric cars aren't exactly a new idea

Aww, you didn't give me an example to compare it to! Let's just go with the EV-1, since that was probably the most modern commercially-produced EV before Tesla EV-1, range 60 miles (older version) to 100 miles (newer version). Tesla Roadster, range 230 miles, and Model S, up to 300. EV-1, 0-60=8 seconds. Tesla Roadster and Model S Performance, 4 seconds. EV-1 production: about 1100. Tesla: produces that many cars in *1 1/2 weeks*. EV-1: Loved by owners but panned by critics. Tesla Model S: not only loved by owners but has been getting some of the highest ratings for any kind of car period.

Your "analogies" are akin to saying "So what if he won the Indy 500 - I raced my go-cart down the street the other day and beat a soap-box racer!"

Comment: Re:Why use hydraulic fluid? (Score 1) 248

by Rei (#48839019) Attached to: SpaceX Landing Attempt Video Released

"Cruising speed" is otherwise known as "terminal velocity" and is hundreds of meters per second. And I'll reiterate: the *point* is to go slow. Drag is a *good thing* on the way back down.

Other corrections: It's false that there's no part of the rocket that reliably faces a given angle - it doesn't tumble, it maintains an orientation generally between 0 and 15 degrees relative to the direction of travel. And the concept that bloody air is going to kill a pneumatic piston in a matter of minutes is the height of absurdity. .

The reason that every major university maintains a department of mathematics is that it's cheaper than institutionalizing all those people.