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Comment Aside from gravity and the windstorm.... (Score 1) 242

Another post noted that the gravity on Mars was not depicted properly in the movie.

The author admitted that the windstorm was not plausible.

One other big thing - the sun. The sun was too big in the film. There is a scene shortly after Watney is stranded, and he is watching the sun set over the ridges and mountains in the distance. The sun was its size as seen from Earth, not as it would be seen from Mars.

Loved the movie anyhow, of course. Go see it if you haven't!

Comment Preparation, Preparation, Preparation (Score 3, Informative) 76


Your home or the high-rise in which you work are unlikely to be consumed by fire. Are fire drills important?

Is it important to know where, for example, the nearest exit is on an airplane or in a theater, even though it is extremely unlikely that you will be confronted with a disabled airplane or a theater massacre-in-the-making?

Preparation for disasters - whether in terms of visualizing the scenario or actual drills to practice response - can be extremely effective in boosting survival.

If you are interested in some of the academic study on this and related topics, see this book, The Unthinkable - Who Survives When Disaster Strikes, and Why. The author did a tremendous amount of research, distilling academic papers and studies of recent and not-so-recent disasters to explore human behavior both culturally w/r/t preparedness and engineering, and in the context of the disaster events.

Comment Dreadnoughtus schrani now the largest known dino (Score 1, Interesting) 91

The author of the summary is not up to date on the recent release of info on Dreadnoughtus schrani, now believed to be the largest creature to ever have walked on land.

See the following:

Submission + - Paley's metalwork not just gates, but art (

Doofus writes: A nice piece on NPR this morning about Albert Paley and an exhibit of his work in DC at the Corcoran. Paley began metalworking in the 1960s and his work and his thinking about his work exemplifies the best of the maker movement.

"The discipline of the goldsmith I found was very intriguing," he says. "The sense of quality, the sense of refinement, as far as developing the object. But also conceptually, what does the jewelry do to the individual? How does it manifest their ego or their presence? This is the type of work that I was doing at that time."

Submission + - Elon Musk expects the Spanish Inquisition (

Doofus writes: Business Insider is running an article this morning about Elon Musk's fears of an AI-powered apocalypse. For a technology expert and inventor with Musk's credentials, explaining fears of technology may seem a bit incongruous. In a transcript of a CNBC interview with Elon Musk, the question of Musk's investment in an AI development firm came up, and he explains his reasoning for investing in the firm.

I was also an investor in DeepMind before Google acquired it and Vicarious. Mostly I sort of – it's not from the standpoint of actually trying to make any investment return. It's really, I like to just keep an eye on what's going on with artificial intelligence. I think there is potentially a dangerous outcome there and we need to –

Musk goes on to explain a bit more about his concerns and references Monty Python as he does it.

Comment Drat! Still only 8GB RAM max. (Score 4, Interesting) 316

Specs and prices are available in this file:

Unfortunately at no price point will they go above 8GB RAM.

I'll pay more for 16GB RAM! I guarantee other people are out there waiting for the 16GB model. Please MSFT, manufacture a 16GB RAM model.

Comment All that and water resistant, too (Score 5, Informative) 96

I handled procurement of a few of these for a client two years ago. They are impressive for their sturdiness and resistance to the environment, and I was able to view the screen very well even in the mid-day sunlight. The model I played with was everything the summary described and a bit more. It was submersible for up to two hours in salt or fresh water as long as the ports were sealed with the silicone port glands.

It is an impressive device for what it provides to people on the move in challenging environments.

Submission + - Skilled manual labor critical to US STEM dominance

Doofus writes: The Wall Street Journal has an eye catching headling,

According to the 2011 Skills Gap Survey by the Manufacturing Institute, about 600,000 manufacturing jobs are unfilled nationally because employers can't find qualified workers. To help produce a new generation of welders, pipe-fitters, electricians, carpenters, machinists and other skilled tradesmen, high schools should introduce students to the pleasure and pride they can take in making and building things in shop class.

American employers are so yearning to motivate young people to work in manufacturing and the skilled trades that many are willing to pay to train and recruit future laborers. CEO Karen Wright of Ariel Corp. in Mount Vernon, Ohio, recently announced that the manufacturer of gas compressors is donating $1 million to the Knox County Career Center to update the center's computer-integrated manufacturing equipment, so students can train on the same machines used in Ariel's operations.

How many of us liked shop? How many young people should be training for skilled manufacturing and service jobs rather than getting history or political science degrees?

Comment 80%? A lofty goal indeed. (Score 3, Insightful) 391

Not clear to me that his is a viable objective. 80% of the masses do not think like programmers. Some might be trainable. Some, not so much. Many will not want to think the way problem-solving in code requires. I'm not sure how to quantify it, but the amount of effort expended on a project like this may not see an appropriate payback.

Even if we change the environment and act of "coding", the problem-solving itself still requires clear thinking and it *probably* always will.

Submission + - Teach Calculus to 5-year olds? (

Doofus writes: The Atlantic has an interesting story about opening up what we routinely consider "advanced" areas of mathematics to younger learners.

The goals here are to use complex but easy tasks as introductions to more advanced topics in math, rather than the standard, sequential process of counting, arithmetic, sets, geometry, then eventually algebra and finally calculus.

Examples of activities that fall into the “simple but hard” quadrant: Building a trench with a spoon (a military punishment that involves many small, repetitive tasks, akin to doing 100 two-digit addition problems on a typical worksheet, as Droujkova points out), or memorizing multiplication tables as individual facts rather than patterns.

Far better, she says, to start by creating rich and social mathematical experiences that are complex (allowing them to be taken in many different directions) yet easy (making them conducive to immediate play). Activities that fall into this quadrant: building a house with LEGO blocks, doing origami or snowflake cut-outs, or using a pretend “function box” that transforms objects (and can also be used in combination with a second machine to compose functions, or backwards to invert a function, and so on).

I plan to get my children learning the "advanced" topics as soon as possible. How about you?

Submission + - Masao Yoshida, director of Daichii Fukushima nuclear plant, has died. ( 1

Doofus writes: Masao Yoshida, director of the Daichii Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan, has passed away. Colleagues and politicos in Japan praised his disobedience during the post-tsunami meltdown and credited him with preventing much more widespread and intense damage.

On March 12, a day after the tsunami, Mr. Yoshida ignored an order from Tepco headquarters to stop pumping seawater into a reactor to try and cool it because of concerns that ocean water would corrode the equipment.

Tepco initially said it would penalize Mr. Yoshida even though Sakae Muto, then a vice president at the utility, said it was a technically appropriate decision. Mr. Yoshida received no more than a verbal reprimand after then-Prime Minister Naoto Kan defended the plant chief, the Yomiuri newspaper reported.

“I bow in respect for his leadership and decision-making,” Kan said Tuesday in a message posted on his Twitter account.

Comment Creep, Shmeep (Score 1) 365

inevitable mission creep, ending with the proof of self being required at polling places, to rent a house, buy a gun, open a bank account, acquire credit, board a plane or even attend a sporting event or log on the internet.

Except for some sporting events and accessing the internet, the other events all require ID, some require photo ID and others do not. Please, stop the hysterics. The issue is not whether you need to show an ID to vote, or to rent a house (credit report, anyone?), or buy a gun (background check, hello?), or board a plane (where have you been for the last 12 years?).

The bigger issue is does the DHS - or a client of their data - have authority to prevent you from carrying out these activities based on the data - identity and other - stored its databases. That would be a sensible concern.

Stop whining about policies of private institutions and state and local governments that are sensible and non-invasive. The arm-waving and yelling is immature, and cheapens other more valid concerns about the use of personally identifying (and classifying) data.

Bell Labs Unix -- Reach out and grep someone.