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Comment Re:Is science this speculative actually science? (Score 3, Insightful) 55

No. We looked at the sun. Helium is something we can see, though, not with our eyes.

You see, beyond the basic blackbody radiation (Which is purely due to matter radiating heat), each atom glows at specific wavelengths - this happens when an electron moves to a lower energy state (Think: smaller orbit), and emits a photon at the energy level that corresponds to the difference. Every atom has its own set of wavelengths that it emits - this is called the emission spectrum, and if you stretch out the spectrum of a point of light, you can see bright spots that correspond to this emission spectrum.

Additionally, each atom has a set of wavelengths that it highly efficient at absorbing. These appear as darker spots when you spread out the spectrum of a star. These are called absorption spectrum, and they are unique to each element.
Analyzing the emission and absorption spectrum of the Sun showed that it was largely made up of a gas that hadn't been discovered, because there were strong emission and absorption lines that corresponded to an element we hadn't yet discovered. This gas was named "Helium", after the Greek word "Helios", meaning the sun.

A number of years later, knowing that there was strong evidence of its existence, chemists managed to isolate Helium in the lab, and ran tests on it to measure the properties of Helium's spectrum, and it matched to what we saw in the Sun.

This is how we know the Sun is made of Helium.

Comment Re:I can see this running afoul of.... (Score 1) 545

Many of those exceptions to laws like workman's comp provide alternative methods of meeting the goals - for example, while Amish employers don't pay into Pennsylvania's workman's comp system (due to their beliefs on insurance and certain kinds of debt), an alternative is provided within the law that allows and requires an alternate system for employers and employees alike that might have religious objections to the standard system. The Amish are still required to meet the same obligations that the Workman's Comp system is designed to meet, only they are allowed to do it in a different manner.

Comment Re:Now if only the rest of the country would follo (Score 2) 545

Part of the reason for feeling sick during those shots during basic training is members of the armed forces get shots for things that most civilians don't get shots for at any age - smallpox, anthrax, and cholera, for example, with the cholera vaccine being known to cause people to feel sick for a short while afterwards. Your vaccine experience in basic training is absolutely not comparable to what children experience.

Comment Re:KDBus - another systemd brick on the wall (Score 2) 232

Windows tracks USB devices by serial number, so you can have settings for a specific device persist. However, device serial numbers are an optional part of the USB spec, and in the absence of serial numbers, it tracks devices by connection. This allows you to have multiple identical devices with different configuration settings. If it didn't track devices without serial numbers by connection, it would create issues when, say, the devices aren't plugged in in the same order, and the wrong settings get applied to the wrong device, or when the computer boots, the devices aren't necessarily enumerated in the same order each time, so the wrong settings would be applied to the wrong devices. So, when you plug in a device that has been plugged into other ports, and Windows treats it as a new device, it is because it lacks a serial number. It is less than ideal, but the alternatives are worse.

Comment Re:I'm a hypocrite (Score 2) 133

These wouldn't be a very useful replacement for JWT. The JWT's 6.5m mirror is much larger than the NRO satellite's 2.4m mirror - giving it vastly superior light gathering capabilities and resolution. Even if interferometry were used with the pair, it only increases resolution, not light gathering capability. The NRO satellites are also wider angle, able to view an area 100x larger, making it good for survey work, but not planet hunting, and certainly not observing distant galaxies. They only view in the near infrared, as they lack hardware for cooling. JWT, on the other hand, can capture from long-visible to mid-infrared - that's what the cool looking sun shield is for, to have a mission length not limited by the amount of helium it can carry on board for cooling. So, no, we won't be looking anywhere near as far back in time as JWT with these - however, they will be eventually used, but just not before 2020, and for a mission with zero overlap of JWT.

Comment Re:Are Brown Dwarfs Stars? (Score 1) 98

In a star like the Sun, Hydrogen burns into Helium, with Deuterium being a step along the proton-proton chain. When All the Hydrogen in the core is used up, the core contracts, and gets extremely hot. The layers outside of the core also contract, and a shell of hydrogen around the non-burning helium core begins to burn. The helium produced here sinks to the core, adding heat and mass. The added mass causes further contraction, and eventually the helium core starts burning, turning into carbon via the triple-alpha process. Eventually, the helium runs out, the core contracts again, a hydrogen shell starts burning, helium sinks to a shell around the carbon core, the hydrogen shell stops burning, contracts, another hydrogen shell starts burning, producing helium, which sinks to the helium layer, which eventually gets hot enough to start burning, producing carbon, which sinks to the carbon core, heating it up and causing it to contract from the added mass, which heats it up more, eventually getting hot enough for the Carbon-Nitrogen-Oxygen cycle to begin. This is what happens to a main-sequence star after it leaves the main sequence. Large stars do this in repeated steps and repeated layers, all the way up to iron, though when iron forms, disaster happens. During this repeated process of shell burning, the star will repeatedly shrink and contract over the scale of a few million years, losing mass in the process. For a star the mass of our Sun, the process will stop at Oxygen (I think). At this point, (and, once the various shells stop burning), the last of the outer layers float off into space, the core contracts, and fusion stops. This is a white dwarf. No fusion goes on - it's just a hot ball of degenerate gas (In the case of our Sun, a hot ball of mostly Oxygen). At this point, there isn't much in the way of gravitational contraction, glowing only from black body radiation. Just for fun, there are certain masses where this recurring balancing act of shell-core-shell-core burning doesn't work, and the star blows up - for example, when helium burning begins but there isn't enough mass external to the core to exert an inward pressure on the core, the helium core can blow itself apart.

Comment Re:Very genetically linked (Score 1) 267

R-G colorblindness is inherited from the maternal grandfather. My dad and all four of his brothers were various levels of r-g colorblind (usually horribly), as was their maternal grandfather. Only one of my uncles has any daughters (5 daughters), but I don't know if any of their sons are colorblind or not.

Comment Written Agreements not mandatory? (Score 1) 196

I thought contract law made written agreements mandatory for anything over a certain value. I seem to remember my high school teacher saying that (at least in California) that anything over $200 REQUIRED the contract be on paper. Am I mistaken? Of course, this particular suit was in Federal court, so that wouldn't apply.

"Lead us in a few words of silent prayer." -- Bill Peterson, former Houston Oiler football coach