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Comment: Re:WTF (Score 3, Interesting) 99

No. Fuck this. It's not a milestone of flight, and it doesn't belong there in the least.

I disagree. The original Star Trek, which I watched as a child, was one of the inspirations for me getting into aerospace and later working on the actual Space Station. The milestone isn't a particular flight it performed, but how many people it inspired, who later achieved great things in aerospace. In a prior generation, Wernher von Braun read Astounding magazine *while working on the V2 rockets*. There has always been a strong connection between science fiction stories and bringing those stories to life later.

Comment: Re:Renewable (Score 1) 81

by DanielRavenNest (#47904409) Attached to: Solar Powered Technology Enhances Oil Recovery

> As of 2014, how do you power trucks, tractors, cargo ships, and planes on solar?

Using bioengineered microbes to efficiently produce ethanol or diesel directly:

The microbes don't have to produce leaf or stem structures, and are genetically engineered to emit the fuel molecules directly, like yeast emits alcohol. Except yeast poison themselves when the alcohol content in fermentation gets too high. The Joule Unlimited process draws off the fuel continuously, so the microbes can keep working. The efficiency limit is around 6% by this process, where standard photosynthesis is about 1%. Since the microbes are a contained system, you can use crappy dry land, rather than food-growing cropland, like we do for vehicle ethanol today.

Comment: Re:Barriers will fall once the money comes rolling (Score 1) 213

by DanielRavenNest (#47897965) Attached to: Congress Can't Make Asteroid Mining Legal (But It's Trying, Anyway)

It's not Planetary Resources itself that has the influence, it is their list of advisers and investors. They include:

James Cameron (movie maker), Eric Schmidt & Larry Page (Google), Charles Simonyi (Microsoft Office, billionaire), Ross Perot Jr. (billionaire), and Richard Branson (Virgin Group).

Comment: Re:Possession is nine-tenths of the law... (Score 1) 213

by DanielRavenNest (#47897891) Attached to: Congress Can't Make Asteroid Mining Legal (But It's Trying, Anyway)

Elon Musk is working on the cheap access to space part of the problem, and I'm working on the other part.

That other part is a "Seed Factory", an industrial starter kit that makes parts for more machines in an expanding collection, using local raw materials and energy. So instead of having to send a whole asteroid processing plant, which would be pretty massive, you send a much smaller starter kit. We're about to buy a property near Atlanta to build and test prototypes for this concept. The first generation factories will be for Earth use, by the 3rd or 4th generation we should be ready for space use. In between we plan to do difficult and remote locations on Earth, like the oceans, deserts, and ice caps. That should give us experience in remote control.

Comment: Re:LOL (Score 1) 213

by DanielRavenNest (#47897843) Attached to: Congress Can't Make Asteroid Mining Legal (But It's Trying, Anyway)

*Let me try and clarify: I can plant a quartz mine on the Moon, but I can't stick a forty foot perimeter fence around it and I can't prevent my competitor building a quartz mine five feet away.

Actually, spacefaring nations have already laid out operational safety rules. For example, the ISS has a 1 km "keep out zone" around it. For the Moon, you can't place your landing pad so close to my mine that it kicks up rocks and damages my equipment, and conversely outgassing from my mine processing can't contaminate your solar arrays. Once people actually set up operations on the Moon or some asteroid, there will be reasonable *and agreed to* safety boundaries and access roads, which will, over time, become property lines and public roads. For the latter to happen, you will need to reach a point where people are buying, selling, and subdividing land, and sharing costs for transport improvements.

Assuming the 1 km keep-out zone is adopted for asteroid mining, then any asteroid smaller than 1 km will be the province of one mining operation, unless they set up as a multinational or joint corporate project (which is actually pretty likely).

Comment: Re:Can someone clarify the state of BitCoin? (Score 1) 134

by DanielRavenNest (#47864451) Attached to: Paypal Jumps Into Bitcoin With Both Feet

That deflation is dangerous is a myth perpetrated by the banking cartel. People have short term needs, like food, housing, and utilities. They will continue to buy those things regardless of whether inflation is +2% or -2% (i.e. deflation). Investors with a clue adjust nominal returns to "real" returns after inflation. Deflation just means they make that adjustment the other way. They still demand a certain real return for a given risk level, so the nominal return will adjust to get it.

Bitcoin represents around 0.025% of world currencies on an M1 basis, and an even smaller fraction of all tradable assets. Nobody bases their economy on it, so the deflation argument is moot. It's just another commodity with a variable value, but one well suited to be electronically traded.

If bitcoin ever became a significant fraction of world trade, you can be sure that competing financial interests would set up their own versions, and then the total units in circulation would not be limited any more. There are already at least 478 such "altcoins" (, but most have trivial value because they were set up by one or two people as a hobby. A serious one would be set up by existing financial exchanges or a government, and backed by a pool of assets to give it stability.

Comment: Re:1 week's warning (Score 1) 68

by DanielRavenNest (#47845371) Attached to: Newly Discovered 60-foot Asteroid About To Buzz By Earth

The implied point is that perhaps we should be putting some effort into getting more warning and finding all the dino killers (and frankly, stuff a lot small than that rock was).

That is in fact what NASA has been doing for the past two decades: They have found about 90% of the 1-km or larger class. Chixulub the dino killer is estimated at 6 km, and impact energy scales as the cube of diameter. Unfortunately, asteroid tracking doesn't help with long-period comets. Those come in from the dark reaches of the outer Solar System, and therefore cannot be found until they are within a couple of years of hitting us.

Comment: Anthropometrics (Score 4, Interesting) 818

Since they have apparently reached the limit of human tolerance, one answer is to offer wider seat spacing for a little extra price on some flights. The remaining "dense pack" passengers then have no reason to complain: "If you needed more space, why didn't you choose our XL flight?"

Comment: Re:Why wouldn't they? (Score 1) 67

by DanielRavenNest (#47800741) Attached to: The Apache Software Foundation Now Accepting BitCoin For Donations

Besides, how would one go about spending without Internet access, such as while inside a brick-and-mortar store with no guest Wi-Fi?

Merchant displays QR code on their Point of Sale device, or prints out a sales slip with the same code. User snaps a photo of it with their smartphone. Bitcoin app on phone decodes it, and sends payment to the address specified. Merchant sees the transaction show up on his device, and hands over the item. If the store has no cell reception, they need to move to a better location.

Comment: Re:Rockets suck (Score 1) 211

by DanielRavenNest (#47796727) Attached to: Battle of the Heavy Lift Rockets

Space elevators would be pretty nice, but we still haven't found a material strong enough

That is only true for Konstantin Tsiolkovsky's 1895 space elevator design, which is seriously out of date. A segmented elevator is perfectly feasible with current carbon fiber. This uses a small one in low orbit, and another small one in GEO. You use orbit mechanics to transfer from one to the other. The combined cable length is 50 times less than the original version. That makes it more economical, less exposed to impact damage, and able to be built incrementally.

Unfortunately, the only pictures you see in media articles are of the 1895 concept, so that's the one people always think of. We need to get public perception out of the 19th century.

Comment: Re:Competition is good. (Score 1) 211

by DanielRavenNest (#47796653) Attached to: Battle of the Heavy Lift Rockets

We need to be looking to build something that can scale to sustainable colony establishment class stuff.

A bigger rocket won't do that for you. A starter factory that can self-expand to a diverse production capacity will. Put one in Earth orbit that mines returned asteroid rock, and spits out fuel, habitats, and *another* starter factory. Send the second one to Phobos, and spit out fuel, habitats, and a *third* starter factory. Land that one on Mars, and remote control it from Phobos, and start building your colony. When enough stuff is ready, send the people down.

Being able to produce fuel and habitats at multiple locations on the way to Mars has a huge impact on the cost per ton and per person. A bigger rocket get you more tons to orbit, but what you really want is *smart tons* of payload, that reproduce many times their weight in orbital outputs.

Comment: Re:Haply so, but exec orders and agencies (Score 1) 180

The owners of corporations are protected against unreasonable searches of their private business information, just like sole proprietors, or citizens in their data at home. As agents of the owners, corporate officers are the ones who should demand to see a warrant before granting a search.

"In matters of principle, stand like a rock; in matters of taste, swim with the current." -- Thomas Jefferson