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Comment: Re:Actually... (Score 1) 58

by Immerman (#48204401) Attached to: First Evidence of Extrasolar Planets Discovered In 1917

I would think living in a place for 10,000+ years and leaving plentiful archaeological evidence behind would qualify as evidence that you had in fact discovered it.

No, they didn't spread word back to Asia or Europe (or maybe they did - 10,000 years is a long time for legends to survive in a largely pre-literate society), but since when has publication become synonymous with discovery? Even in science publication was rare until quite recently - it used to be that scientists would "publish" their findings primarily in encrypted form, so that they could later prove that they were the original discoverer of some new phenomena or principle, without having to share their hard-earned knowledge in the meantime.

Comment: Re: I don't follow (Score 1) 369

by Immerman (#48195611) Attached to: Apple Doesn't Design For Yesterday

Certainly - just look at what evolution has accomplished. But to make progress by trial and error you need a notable cost to error and I really doubt making your product slightly more difficult to read is a strong enough force to accomplish anything, especially given the echo chamber media arts folks live in. Hell, just look at the proliferation of Comic Sans or horrible unusable "high end" web sites where you have to mouse over the whole damn thing to find the active bits - like they took lessons from old-school maximum annoyance point-and-click adventures. Face it - artists as a class are far more interested in expressing themselves than in facilitating usability. They're the last people you should talk to about the usability impact of subtle changes like fonts.

Comment: Re:Intellectual Property (Score 2) 64

by Immerman (#48186839) Attached to: 3-D Printed "Iron Man" Prosthetic Hands Now Available For Kids

Yes, but copyright only applies if you copied the scene/characters directly from a Disney still shot. If you instead drew a bunch of Disney characters doing something of your own, copying only the general style and appearance, then you're not violating copyright, you're violating the independently registered character trademarks. It's like if you decided to publish a novel about "Tom Sawyer and the Sword in the Sorcerer's Stone" - so long as the actual story was all your own you wouldn't be running afoul of copyright. At least not in the old days, before all the progress the copyright maximalists have made. These days I wouldn't be quite so certain.

Moreover if you're putting the characters on the outside of a building, where they can be seen by people driving by, then they're inherently being used as advertising as well as decoration, and should absolutely expect to be shut down for commercial abuse of trademark.

Comment: Re:Several problems (Score 1) 331

by Immerman (#48180745) Attached to: No More Lee-Enfield: Canada's Rangers To Get a Tech Upgrade

Why does any military or police unit have firearms? Primarily to shoot PEOPLE. The arctic meanwhile is becoming increasingly militarily significant as the vast undersea oil fields become accessible and set off a new land-grab among the major powers. I'd be surprised if there aren't a fair number of shots fired over establishing new territorial rights.

Comment: Re:freedoms f----d (Score 1) 132

Huh. It appears you are correct. And that's a very good question.

I still think it would be a good idea. At the least the director of the patent office should have to sign it. That might actually work even better if you're content to have more patents around, but not an insane number - make it so that the person calling the shots is putting paperwork on their own desk with every patent they allow to be approved. Not many people are going to want to hand-sign patents nonstop for several hours every day, even if there are some moderate perverse incentives on other fronts.

Comment: Re:This should have been a no brainer (Score 4, Insightful) 114

I agree. But that has nothing directly to do with this. Your phone is not being searched, it's regularly broadcasting its identity for the world to hear as part of it's normal function - it has to so that the cell company can determine which tower is closest and route your calls accordingly. That routing information then makes it trivial to determine at roughly where your phone is at all times. The cops are then requesting that information from the phone company and/or using stingrays to track your radio broadcast directly. *Your* papers and effects are never searched, the phone company is simply transferring *their* operational logs about you to the to the police.

The problem of course is that they are using that information as a substitute for invasive electronic tracking devices that generally would require a warrant. The courts then have to decide whether it's the technical details or the functional results that are more significant, and I think they made the right call.

Comment: Re:Baby steps (Score 1) 351

by Immerman (#48176121) Attached to: White House Wants Ideas For "Bootstrapping a Solar System Civilization"

Thanks, though the snarkiness is uncalled for - I thought I made it pretty clear that I had in fact searched for the information (several times in fact) and come up empty handed. The problem with Google is that sometimes you need to ask just the right question or the useful information gets buried in a torrent of the irrelevant, and it's sometimes far easier to compose the right question if you're already familiar with the topic and can invoke the proper terminology.

Oh, absolutely, I do not contest the ease of separating the fission fragments from the fuel, or of extracting energy from high-speed charged particles. My point is simply that, unless I'm badly misunderstanding the design, to avoid thermalization your fuel will have to be a low-density gas/plasma rather than a solid, so that the fragments are free to move without a substantial percentage of them colliding with fuel molecules and losing their kinetic energy. But that also means that when an atom fissions and spits off a bunch of neutrons, the odds of there being another atom of fuel sitting directly in the path of that neutron are extremely low. Much less the odds of there being many atoms in it's path so that it has a decent chance of interacting with one rather than passing right through it as usually happens. It would also seem to be virtually impossible to incorporate neutron moderators into such a design, without which the average neutron will have to pass through far, far more nuclei before reacting.

Comment: Re:How about... (Score 1) 351

by Immerman (#48176005) Attached to: White House Wants Ideas For "Bootstrapping a Solar System Civilization"

I'd go back even further - while it was the UK rather than the US that initiated the action we certainly backed them up when we carved out a chunk of choice territory in the middle of a bunch of recently defeated Arab countries and gave it to the Israelis, who already had a long history of bad blood with their new (and very old) neighbors. A pretty transparent strategy for establish a foothold in the region through a group who would be virtually guaranteed to need our ongoing military support indefinitely. Or how we continue to support them despite the fact that they have been aggressively expanding almost since day one, in direct violation of every treaty they've ever establish with their neighbors.

Or perhaps the many governments around the world that the CIA has had hand in toppling in order to install others more receptive to our interests. Hell, even Saddam Hussein was our man - we toppled the previous democratic government when it looked like they were going to ally with the Russians, and supplied him with much of the training and chemical weapons he used against his populace. We had no problem with his atrocities him until he decided to go independent and stopped jumping whenever we asked.

But at least where global opinion is concerned, it's been our most recent actions in response to (and since) the 9/11 attacks. Fifteen Saudi Arabians, along with one Egyption, one Lebanese, and two men from the United Arab Emirates flew some hijacked planes into some buildings, and we used the event as an excuse to invade Iraq, a nation completely uninvolved in the attacks. And our actions just spiraled downhill from their - you could scarcely have planned a better response to throw the Middle East into turmoil. And everywhere our military goes our corporations just happen to spring up right behind them, siphoning wealth out of the region as fast as possible while we make little more than symbolic attempts to stabilize the region or secure the infrastructure necessary to the health and security of the populace we claimed to be liberating.

Comment: Re:They cleaned up the story some (Score 1) 566

by Immerman (#48175875) Attached to: Lockheed Claims Breakthrough On Fusion Energy Project

That depends entirely on the shielding. Lead, steel, etc do indeed become brittle and radioactive under neutron activation. Lithium on the other hand doesn't just get converted to an unstable isotope that will eventually spit off some radiation as it decays, it becomes *so* unstable that it immediately fissions into helium and mildly radioactive tritium (hydrogen-3). That would indeed contaminate your shielding with radioactive waste, but hydrogen has the unique property that it can flow right through most solids - so it should flow out of the shielding in relatively short order and can be fed into the reactor as fuel.

Now sure, everything else in the reaction chamber will be getting embrittled and radioactive under neutron activation, but thanks to the reactor design there isn't actually all that much that has to be within the shielding, just a couple superconducting electromagnet rings - so the vast majority of the neutrons will be hitting the shielding where they'll be breeding fuel rather than creating disposal problems.

Nothing is more admirable than the fortitude with which millionaires tolerate the disadvantages of their wealth. -- Nero Wolfe