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Comment: Re:Ehhh What ? (Score 4, Interesting) 145

When stuff falls into a black hole, it gets measurably heavier. If a charged particle falls into one, the black hole retains a measurable electric field. If a black hole picks up angular momentum from gas circling in sideways, the hole spins faster, and the gas fired from the jets comes out at a higher speed.

Your argument that mass or energy exists that isn't measurable since it isn't observable sounds a little illogical... how would you even know there was such a thing if nobody had measured it for you in the first place?

Actually Stephen Hawking would have agreed with you in 1997, but by 2004 he decided he had lost the bet with John Preskill of Caltech.

Comment: Re: Larger landing area (Score 5, Interesting) 340

Certainly looked that way to me. On the last oscillation before touchdown, with the tail end moving towards the left, the thrusters keep pointing the same way as the rocket goes through vertical and only change direction a little bit afterwards. This increased the amplitude of the oscillation rather than decreasing it. The thrusters should have changed direction before passing through vertical, not afterwards. I can't imagine them getting this wrong in software, it's basic dynamic stability 101, so a sticky valve seems likely.

The rocket ended up landing almost perfectly vertical, but still rotating so the base was traveling sideways over the landing pad. No way they could stay upright like that.

Comment: Re:Not 'close' (Score 1) 340

Actually, I think #3 was there, but #4, zero rotation speed (the derivative of #3) was not. It touched down pretty much vertically, but still rotating. Just before touchdown, the rocket seemed to become dynamically unstable because the rocket exhausts moved with a bit of lag. They keep firing in the same direction while the rocket passes throug vertical and in the other direction, and only then start correcting in the other direction. They should actually have changed direction before the rocket was vertical so the rocket would not just return to vertical, but stop rotating as it reaches vertical.

Comment: Filming police in Texas may soon be illegal (Score 2, Informative) 489

by MillionthMonkey (#49441279) Attached to: The Courage of Bystanders Who Press "Record"
Speaking of Texas, a bill has just been introduced there (HB 2918) that prohibits filming the police within a radius of 25 feet, unless the person filming is a member of the "news media"- defined as an employee of 1) a newspaper that publishes at least once a week, 2) a magazine that publishes on a regular interval, or 3) a TV or radio station that is licensed by the FCC. Filming the incident yourself and forwarding the video to a newspaper, magazine, or TV station would make you guilty of a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by a 180 day jail term and a $2000 fine.

Comment: Re:Curiously (Score 4, Insightful) 49

The government isn't simply "too big" or "too little", as if it's either one or the other. Some parts of the government have atrophied while others have expanded and become tumorous. Dealing with health care and commerce is usually a government's job anyway, unless you want to live in Somalia.

Comment: Re:Perfect security (Score 1) 460

by michelcolman (#49425039) Attached to: Planes Without Pilots

It is easy to quantify. And the quantification is "4/5ths of commercial airplane accidents are caused by humans doing the wrong thing".

Yes, like he said, it's tragically easy to quantify the latter. But what about the former, how many accidents are prevented by having a pilot on board? That's not such an easily available statistic but trust me, it's a lot higher. I've prevented my fair share of accidents (just doing my job like any other pilot, it's what we're trained to do) but haven't caused a single one.

Comment: Re:Sensors wrong (Score 1) 460

by michelcolman (#49421851) Attached to: Planes Without Pilots

Air France 447 was one of those incidents.

But who's to say a remote pilot would have done any worse? Everyone died on that flight, so how much worse could the remote pilot have done? Air France 447 isn't the only crash to take place because of clogged pitot tubes. There was also Birgenair 301 and a couple others.

There's also a list of flights where the exact same failure occurred, but the pilots handled the situation correctly and landed safely. I don't know what a remote pilot would have done, but it's certainly easier when you are actually on board so you can look outside or at least just feel the motion of the airplane. And as for automation, well, it would have crashed every time.

Comment: Re:Sensors wrong (Score 5, Insightful) 460

by michelcolman (#49421799) Attached to: Planes Without Pilots

80% of accidents may be due to pilot error, but probably close to 99% of all would-be crashes due system failures do not turn into an accident because of pilot intervention, and therefore never make it into the accident statistics. Take the pilots out, and you'll see at least an order of magnitude more crashes unless technology improves drastically.

I'm a pilot, I've never had a crash (like the vast majority of pilots), but I've had several situations where automation failed (either completely shutting off or doing something unexpected and dangerous) and a crash would have resulted if we hadn't taken over.

In fact, there are lots of crashes that are attributed to pilot error not because the pilots were the only cause for the accident, but because some system failure occurred that should have been handled safely by a well-trained pilot and somehow wasn't. We are expected to handle these problems, so if we don't, it's our fault (and rightly so).

Take Air France 447 for example, airspeed sensors iced up, autopilot disconnected, other flight crews in the past had had the same problem but handled it well, these pilots got confused and crashed. Probably goes into the statistics as pilot error, but without pilots the plane would have crashed anyway. Every time, including on those flights where the crew did handle the situation correctly (even with inadequate procedures for this particular failure at the time) and landed safely.

Another example, the Turkish Airlines flight that crashed short of the runway in Amsterdam. The plane was flying on autopilot, yet it's "pilot error" because the pilots should have immediately reacted when the autothrottles pulled the throttles back to idle and the airspeed decayed rapidly. Caused by a malfunctioning radio altimeter which let the automation think the plane was low above the runway and it was therefore safe to pull the throttles back for touchdown. There's a reason why we have an initial training and a yearly recurrent training for automatic landings. Haven't had the training? Manual landings only.

So no, automation is not safer than human pilots. Not by a long shot, at least not yet. And given the slow pace of technological advancement in aviation, it will be a very long time before it will be.

Take military drones, for example. Their mission is not exactly complicated: in relatively nice weather, take off, fly a predetermined route, drop some bombs, fly back and land. There aren't nearly as many drones as airliners flying around, yet drones crashes happen all the time, it's not even news.

Comment: Re: Too many pixels = slooooooow (Score 1) 263

by michelcolman (#49420879) Attached to: LG Accidentally Leaks Apple iMac 8K Is Coming Later This Year

They really ought to switch to floating point: one float per color component per pixel. That's 24 bits plus 7 bits of exponent (not using the sign bit). Would also get rid of the problem where the average between two colors isn't really the perceptual average. Thanks to the separate exponent, floating point has such a wide range that it could correspond to our actual perception of color, and basic mixing operations would look a lot better.

Don't tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done. -- James J. Ling