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Comment Re: Intel (Score 2) 134

True. It seems that AMD learned their lesson when they held the performance crown - while they might be able to outcompete Intel on raw performance and affordability, they'll never be able to afford to compete against Intel's dirty tricks and anticompetive behavior. So instead they target the mainstream and console market, and let those who are actually interested in the price:performance ratio to come to them.

Comment Re:Anything the US does is suspicious (Score 1) 277

> maybe it's time for the US to be rash and unstable for a change, see how everybody feels about that

I have a feeling that would go *really* badly for us. NK is fairly irrelevant to most of the world - they make a lot of noise, and could *maybe* drop a nuke somewhere if they were willing to be wiped from the face of the Earth, but otherwise aren't a credible threat to anyone other than their immediate neighbors.

The US however is the largest single military threat in the world, and thanks to our aggressiveness in the last decades we're beginning to see substantial military and economic alliances form against us. If we went irrational as well as rogue we'd probably find those alliances against us becoming much stronger, as well as losing a lot of our current allies. And while we may have a strong military, we're not in any position to take on a substantial portion of the world.

Comment Re: Anything NK does is suspicious (Score 1) 277

Agreed. I think a lot of the comparative military philosophy is actually expressed in the traditional war games of our respective civilizations. The US has chess - straightforward, highly tactical, with just enough room to manage the occasional sneak-attack if your opponent isn't paying attention. By contrast the orient has Go - highly strategic, incredibly subtle, and the whole tide of battle can shift in an instant without you even noticing if you don't see deep enough into your opponent's long-term strategy.

Comment Re:Unearned Platforms Given to Moral Guardians (Score 1) 234

Hell, as a red-blooded, woman loving man, *I'm* annoyed by a lot of the sexism in games. If I want to watch porn, I'll go watch porn. If I'm playing a game I want an immersive and plausible world, one where half the characters aren't puerile appeals to adolescent hormones dressed in skimpy armor that would likely get them killed the first time they entered combat.

Comment Re:Mars is impossible (Score 1) 310

Yes. Mars has the resources necessary to pull off a relatively low tech steady state and growth. There will, for a while, be a need for high-tech components and material from Earth. Maybe for as long as a century or two, almost certainly for at least a couple decades. Water and CO2 being the big ones, though sources for other trace minerals will be needed. Once you have a thriving ecosystem you have raw materials for almost everything else you need (for example google nanocellulose, very impressive stuff). Beyond that you'd mostly need power sources. I'll admit that could be a challenge. You're probably not going to make solar cells too easily without relatively sophistcated tech, but fission? Maybe. That's really relatively low tech when you strip it down to it's most basic requirements.

The moon... there's no such guarantee. From what we've seen so far it seems like some of the really important things like water are effectively missing. We could eventually make it from oxides and hydrogen deposits, but that requires much more sophisticated technology than just sucking or slicing it up, as well as more far-ranging transportation. Might be doable, but you'd be riding a lot closer to the edge.

You make a good point about telepresence for initial development, I hadn't really considered that, but I think you'd find even the 2.6+ second feedback delay to be far more difficult to compensate for than you might initially expect. There would be no direct control of robots for tricky tasks unless you could manage it very slowly. They'd have to handle all the dexterity and reflex components autonomously, and you'd have to learn to work within the constraints of their imperfect anticipation of your intentions.

Comment Re:Venus (Score 1) 310

Actually, high-efficiency solar panels are approaching 40% conversion efficiency, so you'd only need about 6x the area of solar panels to provide earth-equivalent lighting on Mars. And presumably shade-loving plants would be quite popular. Also, fission reactors don't have to be particularly heavy - the Russians have made a fairly efficient model designed to work equally well on in space or planetside, though I can't remember the name. Something about lots of nested metal shells if I recall correctly.

Okay, I had a feeling that it was Earth's atmosphere blocking most of the radiation, and the magnetosphere mostly protects the atmosphere from being stripped away by the solar wind. Which is dangerous in its own right, but isn't going to make it very far through an atmosphere. 8CT scans a year is nothing to sneeze at though. It may not kill you directly, but just two abdominal CT scans, with and without contrast, are considered to pose a moderate cancer risk. Whatever that means in real terms like expected reduction in life expectancy.

If light levels are comparable to Earth that is indeed very promising. The lightning storms though, from what I had found the little data we have suggests that ambient levels are comparable to a violent Earth thunderstorm. Perhaps we'd get lucky and they could be avoided, but it seems unlikely to be 100%. And considering the fact that we're roughly in the middle of the cloud layer, it seems naively optimistic to think the slight variations in altitude we could achieve without either freezing or cooking would somehow avoid a conveniently narrow electrically active layer.

And I'm not sure it's possible to make a faraday-caged balloon that can handle lightning-bolt amperage and still be light enough to float. At least not unless you scaled the thing up to huge levels. Though perhaps running the numbers would look more promising, especially if using something like a highly conductive graphene skin. Perhaps if coupled with an ion shield so that most of the current would flow through the ionized air rather than the conductive skin... but the skin is probably going to be a far more attractive path, at least until it vaporizes.

Still, well worth gathering more data to assess viability.

Comment Re:Venus (Score 1) 310

An intruiging idea. I think a lot of it would apply well to Mars as well - no reason you couldn't have aeroponics everywhere there too, given nuclear power or vast solar arrays for the lighting. Create a large football-stadium style dome and you've got a great park if you want "open air", and of course there would likely eventually be large inflated (or glasslike) domes for farming radiation-resistant plants,

As for opressiveness, once a wall is opaque, you can't really perceive how thick it is. And I'm not sure how attractive Venus would be in comparison - sure, you may get a lot more windows, but if you're hovering at an altitude for Earthlike conditions, you're roughly in the middle of the cloud layer, so visibility will be limited to gaps between clouds. It would be great if you could float just above them, but at that altitude you're down to about -70C ambient temperature and less than 1/10atm. Not exactly conductive to a balloon city.

There's also those ever-present lightning storms all around you - that's going to be noisy, and a serious maintenance issue. I like a good thunderstorm probably more than most, but I don't want to live in the middle of one 24-7. And how do you plan to prevent lightning strikes through your habitat? An ion shield such as trees commonly deploy might help, but that's going to be a lot to create and maintain, and isn't 100% effective, so you'll still have to regularly patch large scorch holes and any equipment that gets hit. There's a reason aircraft strive to avoid thunderstorms.

That also brings up an issue with solar panels - not only will their conductive components tend to act as lightning rods (intercloud lightning travels horizontally as easily as vertically), but since you're in the middle of the cloud layer they won't actually be getting anywhere near as much sunlight as they would in orbit, maybe not even as much as they would on Earth or Mars, after all there's no such thing as a clear day on Venus. I don't suppose you know how opaque the Venusian cloud layers are? I imagine the probes would have offered a fairly accurate assessment. And while you could float solar panels above the clouds easily enough, the steep wind shear with altitude means you couldn't keep them tethered to your city (even if stringing miles of electrical cable through a thunderstorm wasn't a really bad idea to begin with)

Also, one other point to consider, is what would the actual radiation exposure be? If the ambient pressure is ~1atm, then you have roughly as much air above you as you would on Earth, but without a magnetosphere you're going to be counting on that air to block a lot more radiation. Especially since the solar bombardment portion will be 80% higher than on Earth, and 4.4x times higher than Mars. Of course that's mostly solar wind, whose relatively low-energy charged particles should mostly be rapidly stopped by atmospheric collisions. It's the cosmic rays that are the real issue.

Comment Re:Mars is impossible (Score 1) 310

Really, do I have to make *every* detail explicit?

Option 1: you apply something like "normal" concrete to the *inside* of the inflated dome form, where you're not in vacuum. Just like is currently done for much commercial dome casting.

Option 2, use a non-water based binding agent that will set in vacuum, such as epoxy. Just like is commonly done when constructing laminates in a vacuum press.

Please do at least minimal research before calling other people idiots. There's little sadder than an incompetent troll.

Comment Re:Venus (Score 1) 310

I'm not sure how relevant a Hohman transfer orbit is for people, though it would doubtless be used for supplies. Either direction that's a roughly half-year journey - far too long for passengers without serious radiation shielding. So that means either you have a large mass of shielding that you have to accelerate at both ends of a Hohmann transfer, or you can make the trip much more quickly so that you don't need the shielding nor many supplies. Which is actually the more energetically attractive option would be worth investigating, but the fast route seems far better for morale.

You make some excellent points that I'm going to enjoy thinking about.

I still think Mars is more achievable with current and near-term technology, but Venus may well prove far more hospitable in the medium term (long term, I wouldn't even venture a guess). The mass constraints inherent in a buoyant city would make for some interesting social pressures.

Comment Re:nanopore tech still has accuracy problems (Score 1) 33

All right, I think I understand your objection. The details are always far more significant from "in the trenches". On the other hand this is my first exposure to the technology outside of I think hearing of it as proof of concept years ago, and it seems like it has great potential. Watching from a distance the speed of evolution of gene-sequencing technology in general is quite breathtaking. The mere existence of these tools today leads me to expect much more sophisticated implementations to be commonplace within a few decades, though not necessarily based on the same technology.

Comment Re:nanopore tech still has accuracy problems (Score 1) 33

Seems to me the big practical advantage is actually having a sequencer available in relative backwaters. Satellite internet is available everywhere, while physically shipping non-degraded samples to labs that may be many days away seems like it could be a challenge.

Comment Re:Mars is impossible (Score 1) 310

Notice what all those problems had in common - not walking or getting much exercise. There's gravity on Mars, people will walk around. What research we've been able to do suggests that at least the worst of the problems are specific to microgravity, not just lower gravity. Will there be some problems on Mars? Quite possibly. But we'll never know what they are, or whether their serious enough to be a major issue until we make the attempt.

Now, if you're talking about issues that might prevent colonists from returning to Earth, well then I'm inclined to agree, especially for native-born Martians. A skeletal system that's only ever known 0.4g will probably be severely stressed by being suddenly subjected to 2.5x as much. Not to mention it's extremely unlikely their muscles would be strong enough for them to maneuver effectively. Though in counterpoint centrifuge tests seem to suggest that people can adapt to functioning at 2g's, and a Martian would have the added advantage of a genetic heritage developed to handle a full 1g.

That's only a problem for Martians who want to return to Earth. Sucks if you decide you don't like Mars, but isn't really relevant to Martians living on Mars. All that's important there is whether low gravity causes serious health problems. And so far I'm not aware of a single study that identifies any microgravity problem that wouldn't be drastically reduced if not completely eliminated in the presence of Mars gravity. Not saying they won't exist, but they probably won't be immediately life-threatening, and there's only one way to find out.

As for buildings, perhaps I spoke too florally, your city wouldn't be one huge dome, but many smaller ones. At least at first. It's unlikely be terribly inconvenient to build concrete domes of a few hundred to several thousand square feet - we can build one in a couple days on Earth, including site preparation, using a single semi-trailer worth of equipment. Cast the foundation, inflate the form, blow the concrete. Probably want some sort of reinforcements in there too, that adds a little time. Then remove the form and repeat, With care they're typically good for at least several dozen domes on Earth. Seems like a no-brainer to ship an adapted version to Mars. You'd obviously need to develop a concrete formula using local materials, but people are already working on that, and early results are promising.

So, build clusters of domes, as many as you like, and cover the inner walls with airtight "paint". Lots of local options for that, nanocellulose being one that has lots of other applications as well (it's roughly as strong as aluminum). Then you've got a city that can grow organically - just build a new dome against existing ones and cut holes in the intersecting walls. Put in pressure doors at least occasionally so you can limit the damage from inevitable failures.

Make that the plan and you could probably have the first domes up within a year, maybe much sooner. And once you've established sources for materials, making more domes will be much faster. Of course the first wave of pioneers settlers will likely initially live in pre-fabricated buried shelters since you don't want their survival dependent on not having bad luck procuring local materials, but finding the necessary local resources to support rapid growth is likely to be an extremely high priority, both for the long-term plan and their own comfort.

Now living inside all the time - yeah, that's probably going to wear on people. I would be a hard sell. Though I doubt hiking would be a huge problem - if you can handle the radiation from a month in space, a few hours outside probably isn't going to be a big problem, though you might want to avoid it in the months leading up to conceiving a child. Especially since the planet will be blocking half of the extra-solar radiation. And cabin fever tends to be much less of an issue as size increases. Build something mall size with lots of public spaces, and I'd venture it's not a horrible problem. And hey, talk about your prime market for virtual reality entertainment! Meanwhile you've got great sound insulation between domes, and people don't really need all that much personal space, current standards are a statistical fluke, both globally and historically. A hundred square feet of personal apartment is probably suitably luxurious, and the beauty of domes is that the bigger you make them, the cheaper they get.

Yeah, lots of speculation in that last paragraph, but there hasn't been a lot of research

Comment Re:Mars is impossible (Score 1) 310

We're talking about Venus, not Mars. Do try to keep up, there's not much sadder than an incompetent troll.

And there's nothing magical about either planet that will change the laws of physics or the degree to which biology can modify the environment. The only questions are how different life would have to be to survive there, and whether we're competent enough to find or create something suitable.

Comment Re:Mars is impossible (Score 1) 310

Oh really? Care to give an example or are you just being contrary? Because I'm really not seeing anything that's going to stop my axe from chopping a block of ice off a glacier just because I'm on Mars. We know the glaciers are there, ice isn't going to be magically stronger, and water melts the same everywhere. You may need to distill it to remove toxins before use, but distillation should work the same on Mars as well. The only question is whether there's anything dangerous in the water that would prove more difficult to remove.

Comment Re:nanopore tech still has accuracy problems (Score 1) 33

Good to know, thank you. I can see how a 4% error rate would leave much to be desired when building a reference sequence, though if necessary you could presumably do many additional passes to bring the error rate down further. I assume that 96% is just the point where they decided that diminishing returns weren't worth the incremental cost, and that will presumably improve with time.

I agree that 96% is not great, but it's more than sufficient to recognize a virus. And once you have a database of related DNA, it shouldn't be difficult to look for differences and similarities. You may not know for certain whether any given deviation from the "norm" is noise or genuine mutation, but so long as you're taking many samples from a community you can probably make a pretty high-confidence conclusion about even SNPs - if it's present more than a few percent of samples it's probably a real mutation characteristic of the local virus strain. Similarities between viruses infecting different communities then gives you a pretty good indication of a common origin. Not perfect, but a huge improvement over simply guessing at the path of infection.

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