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Comment Re:Looking forward to Juno mission (Score 1) 27

I thoiught current thinking was that Jupiter and Saturn formed pretty far out then were drawn in, swapping places with each other and collectively with Uranus and Nepture (and possibly ejecting a fifth large planet) going closer to the Sun than their present locations before finally settling down.

I think that was the idea before large numbers of Jupiter-sized exoplanets were found orbiting close to their parent stars. Then the new idea came up that Jupiter and Saturn may have formed close to the Sun. In a 3-body-problem manner, Saturn might have been pushed out and took Jupiter with it (similar in part to how our own moon is moving away from us). Then, with the space close to the Sun cleared of debris and pushed into clumps, Mars-sized protoplanets started to form and were pushed into orbits around the Sun. If the orbits were too close, because not entirely circular the differential pull of the Sun would have sped up or slowed down planets on the same orbits causing a collision. This may have occurred for Venus, knocking it so that it now has virtually no spin, for the Earth, giving us our current size and moon(s), and also to create the asteroid belt past Mars.

It all ties in with the bombardment phase when/where the inner planets received water, possibly from the motions of Jupiter away from the Sun pulling in the distant icy comets from the outer solar system towards the Sun. It's an interesting model where the actual reality might even be more intricate or different. However, this is a gap in our current understanding that we may begin to solve by analyzing Jupiter in detail.

Comment Looking forward to Juno mission (Score 4, Interesting) 27

The Juno mission to Jupiter this year looks pretty interesting. We should find out if Jupiter has a rocky core, some nice polar images, and detailed measurements that might shed light on the early solar system formation. As far as I understand it isn't known if Jupiter formed near the Sun and moved out or not, and this has huge implications for Earth's early history and more generally for systems around other stars.

Comment Re:Version number (Score 1) 116

Having a large number does not make it more comprehensible or give you much useful information other than what is newer than before (*see Firefox).

Open source versioning is "somewhat" standardised and I am glad that they are sticking to it (1.x for meeting all major milestones, .odd for development, .even for public release). It actually makes sense.

The other versioning scheme that makes sense is for ongoing software by year and date release, such as Ubuntu releases.

Comment Great game, confusing web hosting (Score 2) 116

I enjoyed playing Supertux with a younger family member some years back and have some good memories of the game. This includes some of the addons and the early developments into the forest levels with advanced features that were fun.

Two things I'd like to ask if anyone knows:

Firstly, why can't the development team put together a single website with up to date info about this game? There was a move to Berlios De and git from SVN if I remember from lethargik, and now it seems to somewhere else. However, no information is left on the other websites that explains where the current stuff is happening or which pages are now obsolete. It would make a lot of sense to clarify this even for people just downloading the game.

Secondly: What the hell happened to Nolok? Did he really get replaced by a yeti as the main evil guy (as also in the unrelated game SupertuxKart)?

Comment Re: RECORD MAKING !! (Score 1) 242

But they did not expect to live in their boat once they arrived, never venturing out. They'd have a normal life like the one they left behind. Chopping wood, growing their own crops, chasing butterflies, swimming in lakes, having lots of kids.

If you think about it that's not a good argument with respect to today's people (especially those on /.)... So they get to Mars, live a normal life sitting inside all day on a computer avoiding natural light like they would at home on Earth, shuffling from one internal room to another for work and rest, not having any kids, etc. There'd be a large Internet lag to Earth, but if you had enough people go they could set up an alternate Martian Internet, ala the early days of AOL and geocities (this would be the tough part to live with).

Comment Re:For some of us, it works (Score 1) 258

You may be missing the implied point of some of the comments. It sounds like you can make this work for you and you aren't barely scraping by renting a place where if you lose one of these jobs worry about taking a crippling pay-day loan and then what? Some people really do live like this today.

There is a fear that future generations will be by and large unable to have a choice. They have to compete for a first job out of college for possibly meagre hours with more experienced people that don't yet want to retire, against other people in the same situation, and also large scale automation. With it more common to stay living with your parents and sharing with other people rents where in the past one income was enough to purchase a (modest) place, more commitment possibly being tacitly asked for at work over contract type employment with no security it doesn't look so rosy.

I figure a solution could be to move from a 7.5/8 hour day to a shorter day with the same pay and continue down this path to match the employment opportunities and pay. Automation alone could render most jobs not necessary and some (possibly most) of the jobs we have today don't really do anything for society other than pay people and keep them from mischief.

Comment Re:Longevity (Score 1) 69

Although Skylab and Mir crashed to Earth, why don't we look to secure the orbit of the ISS with better technology?

Sure, to take the ISS from low Earth orbit to something significantly higher up requiring less orbit corrections might be extremely difficult due having to pass the inner Van Allen radiation belt and structural concerns with large numbers of fast moving particles. Instead though (and I haven't looked at the feasibility), couldn't we put hinged solar sails, an ion thrust drive, or something like this with computer control to stop the ISS from falling to Earth? Seems like it would be worth preserving for future generations.

Comment Re:What kind of fuel??? (Score 1) 151

Solar-thermal rockets have the exact same exhaust velocity as nuclear-thermal, because both heat hydrogen as hot as you can get it before the equipment melts.

I don't know what planet you are from, but wikipedia lists Solar-thermal rockets as currently theoretical and very slow. There is no way that a typical nuclear rocket (pushed forwards by essentially a controlled nuclear explosion) would have similar thrust to a solar-thermal rocket. Solar-thermal rockets would be much slower than chemical rockets (the exhaust would come out faster, but is pretty weak). Over long periods, once already in space, could be quite decent though. Getting off the ground against gravity would still likely require alternate propulsion for solar-thermal rockets carrying any cargo at all.

I would think that the shape of the exhaust would determine the easiest way for an explosive thrust to escape and, along with the impulse time, is just as crucial as the type of material that contains it in terms of how much heat it can handle.

Comment Auto generated news? (Score 2) 113

Will this apply to /. summaries (sometimes you wonder here) and news articles in general? If so, I for one welcome our robot overlords and do not believe for a second the claims of bias just because of that one article suggesting all humans are oxygen-breathing weaklings that should be mined for material serving the needs of robots.

Comment Re:We should not protect them (Score 1) 345

Seems like an excellent response and quite right for institutions to act in this manner. Only thing I would question is the practicalities of the time in-between the legal system sorts out cases of sexual harassment. These things can end up on the front page of a local newspaper very quickly and before the case is played out pressure can be applied to an institution to "sort it out". Also, the mud may stick on the staff member in the spotlight even if, like in this article, the surrounding published content is required to have an addendum that says some of the content may be of dubious accuracy. Perhaps over time this might cause issues with retaining male lecturers and lead to a shift to a bias in recruiting more female lecturers or segregating departments in a natural selection manner based on gender rather than academic ability.

Comment Re:We should not protect them (Score 1) 345

"How far should academic communities go to protect their intellectual capital, at the expense of further harm to their students, past and present?"

As a male university professor, my answer to this is very clear. We should not protect them.

What about a scenario such as one of your female students takes a dislike to you and writes a blog that you sexually harassed her, gets a friend to back her up, and take this to your university administration staff? It might be a fun thing to do for someone who's lagging academically for instance. Would it be fair to just sentence you and lock away the key because your work could be continued from prison? From a societal point of view this could also be beneficial because your productivity would go up if you had little else to do, but I doubt you would see it as fair.

Comment Re:Give me a raise (Score 1) 327

A good manager fixes problems before they happen.

Team A manager is sitting back relaxing, admiring a team of super-committed workers that are pumping out great work. Just earlier today he fended off implementing a series of bad ideas from other divisions and changed the focus to align with a strategic vision that makes sense to his team and the broader organisation.

Meanwhile the team B manager is injecting something into his arm, running around in circles, pleading with upper management to bring on more staff to achieve business outcomes that are incompatible with one another and planning to foist them near crunch time on an unsuspecting team C.

Finance: Hey boss, we need to make some savings or we're going to go under.

CEO (who spends most time interacting with team B thinks to himself): That team A doesn't really seem to be doing much. Let's sack half the workers, fire manager A and amalgamate with team B or C.

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