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Comment: Magnificent isolation [Re:Antarctica] (Score 1) 137

by Geoffrey.landis (#49477701) Attached to: Road To Mars: Solving the Isolation Problem

Not any more isolation than expeditions to Antarctica in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Wrong. Hobart is 7 days sail away. Sthn NZ is even closer.

Now. That's why I said " in the late 19th and early 20th century."

Back then, they would get frozen in, winter-over stuck in ice, and in the following summer, do the exploration.

Comment: Remember his name [Re:Alternate headline] (Score 2) 44

by Geoffrey.landis (#49467083) Attached to: Turing Manuscript Sells For $1 Million

I hate that movie. I haven't seen it, but the advertising has put me off. The man is so important, but not once during any of the ads I saw for it, did they mention his name.

There are many possible reasons to not like the movie, but this isn't one of them. The movie itself doesn't in any way hide his name.

This, for example or this
might be reasonable excuses to not want to see the movie.

Comment: Seems to early to evaluate (Score 2) 238

Yes, it seems way to early to evaluate the program. This is the very first report; basically it's saying "the program just started". Clicking through the links leads to this one:
with more numbers in the summary:

The state agency responsible for economic development across New York says companies last year created 76 of the nearly 2,100 new jobs promised over five years in return for tax breaks under the Cuomo administration's Start-Up NY program.

The first annual report from the Department of Economic Development says 30 companies began operating in 2014 among 54 initially approved for the program.

According to the report, they made $1.7 million of some $91 million investments promised over five years as part of Start-Up NY. The program has established 356 tax-free zones at 62 colleges and universities that act as sponsors.

The agency says another 26 businesses have been approved so far this year, while 12 have withdrawn applications.

Comment: Headline is false (Score 1) 143

No holograms showed up. This is a pepper's ghost illusion apparently performed with a projector and semitransparent material.

Exactly. This is fake news. Holograms that can can be projected into and move through empty air do not exist except in science fiction. This "march" did not happen.

I read a lot of science fiction, but I do like to actually distinguish what is real and what is Star Trek.

How did this show up on slashdot, a site for self-proclaimed nerds, which is to say, people who actually care about real technology?

Comment: Watch out, puny human, robots are getting better (Score 1) 58

But, on the other hand, if we did send people to orbit Mars without landing... would be a stupid waste of billions of dollars. Humans can't do anything from Mars orbit a machine

[can't do much better.]

Actually, right at the moment, that's not true-- humans are vastly more capable than robots. I'm quite supportive of robots, but a human geologist could do in a day what it takes the Mars rovers a month to do.

(specially a 2030s machine)

Ah, now that's the question. Robots are evolving much more quickly than humans. What will the machines be able to do in 2030?

(will they need us at all? for anything?)

Comment: Taking the first step gets you one step closer (Score 1) 58

The money you spend on a Mars orbit mission sets you up for landing on Mars by developing and testing a critical portion of the technology, the part that gets humans to Mars orbit and back.

Taking the first step gets you one step closer to Mars.

If you waited to take you first step until you were ready to run a marathon, you'd never stand up at all.

Comment: The case for now, the case for later (Score 1) 58

There are a lot of different pieces required to go to Mars, land, and return. Some of these, like a habitat that humans can live in for the required transit to Mars and back, we have, or at least, we can make with only small modifications to what has been developed (the Space Station). Some of them, like landers and habitats and space suits for use on the Martian surface, we don't have. Every one of these pieces is a potential bottleneck for a human mission.

What you are basically saying is, we should delay Mars exploration with humans until we have all the pieces developed. The Planetary Society is saying, no, let's not delay, let's do a mission we can do now

The longest usage we have gotten out of a space suit on the moon is three eight-hour walks. The report from the Apollo missions was that the suits were trashed by that point (lunar dust is very abrasive)-- they would not have been usable for another use. Mars dust is not as abrasive as lunar dust, but it is much finer. A different problem. Do you want to send humans to Mars if you then have to tell them "oh, by the way, you'll be on the surface for 500 days, but you can only go outside three times. After that we're not sure your suits will still hold pressure, so stay inside."

Of course, we can develop and test suits for Mars. Developing and testing is something we're good at. But there are a hundred pieces that have to be developed and tested, and only so much budget.

So the question is, do we want to delay, until all the parts for landing and habitation and launching back from Mars have been developed and tested? Or do we go now, doing what we can with what we can do?

Comment: Re:Go all that way and don't get out of the car? (Score 4, Informative) 58

Really? You go all the damn way to Mars and then stay in the car when you get there?

Because going to the surface, living on the surface, and launching off the surface is really hard, and really expensive, and requires a lot of engineering and solving a lot of problems that we haven't yet solved. We don't know how to land something on Mars that's as large as a human habitat. This will take some work. Landing on Mars is going to be a very expensive mission.

But, on the other hand, if we did send people to orbit Mars without landing... that might be a very powerful incentive to try to get that technology made and actually land on the next mission.

Comment: Emperor! (Score 2) 191

by Geoffrey.landis (#49336063) Attached to: Your favorite Julian?

Emperor Julian the Apostate! (AD 332 - AD 363)
"He is clearly Rome's second ever philosopher-ruler, after the great Marcus Aurelius. But if Marcus Aurelius was weighed down by war and plague then, Julian's greatest burden was to be that he belonged to a different age. Trained classically, learned in Greek philosophy he would have made a fine successor to Marcus Aurelius. But those days had gone, now this distant intellect seemed out of place, at odds with many of his people, and certainly with the Christian elite of society. "

--nice bio by Gore Vidal, too.

Comment: Single crystal needed (Score 1) 56

by Geoffrey.landis (#49335263) Attached to: Stanford Breakthrough Could Make Better Chips Cheaper

...if they can deposit a layer of GaAs on top of the sacrificial layer and make circuits out of that, then why do they need the bottom wafer at all? Why not add the sacrificial layers on something less expensive and then deposit the GaAs circuit layer on top of that?

Because the chips need to be made on single-crystal material, which needs to be grown on a single crystal substrate.

This is, by the way, not particularly new in the solar cell research community. Photovoltaics researchers have been developing technologies like this for a long time-- it's called "epitaxial lift-off" or "monolithic metamorphic" in the most recent versions (with "metamorphic" indicating a change in lattice constant), but older variants were called "cleft" and "peeled film technology".

You scratch my tape, and I'll scratch yours.