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Comment: Re: Fair-weather power sources are lame... (Score 1) 337

by JoeRobe (#48391587) Attached to: Philae's Batteries Have Drained; Comet Lander Sleeps

Something I'm wondering about is why the batteries that the panels are recharging can't be intermittently charged for 1.5 hours every 12 hours until they're full again. At that point could they just fire Philae back up and run it until it's out of juice again? Solar chargers on earth are capable of this as long as there's not an external drain on the batteries.

So basically why can't Philae run with a X% duty cycle, where X is some number less than the 100 they were hoping for?

I'm sure there's a good reason why that won't work (is there an external drain?) but does anyone here know why?

Comment: [citation needed] (Score 2) 145

by JoeRobe (#48259969) Attached to: Verizon Launches Tech News Site That Bans Stories On US Spying

Not that I don't believe it, but the only link in the story that directly refers to the explicit ban is a picture of an email that one guy sent to another. It says that he likes working at sugarstring, but spying and net neutrality are verboten topics.

Anyone have a contract or other bit of more concrete evidence? Or is this story solely based upon the image of an email?

Comment: Re:My God... (Score 1) 458

by JoeRobe (#45934181) Attached to: Why We Think There's a Multiverse, Not Just Our Universe

I agree with all your points here. It seems like the "standard picture of inflation" curve is the crux of everything, and is referred to repeatedly. But he doesn't even define the axes well. (I agree with your complaint about the axes - he says the y-axis is energy, but the x-axis is specifically in units of energy).

I'm unclear on one apparently critical point that maybe someone can clarify. I see what he's saying that the universe dominated by vacuum energy expands much more quickly than one dominated by radiation or matter. But does this mean that it's expanding faster the the speed of light? It seems to me that he's saying the multiverse happens because there are these pockets within the multiverse of slow expansion (an individual universe within the "well") and fast expansion in between, right? But then the only way those pockets could not be observable between each other is if the "fast expansion" region is faster than light. Why does the fact the the expansion doesn't slow down in a vacuum dominated universe mean that certain parts of the universe are out of reach of other parts. Is gravity the culprit here?

Part of this comes down to his equation(s):

size ~ t^n, where n = 2/3, 1/2, or 1

First of all, what is "size"? Volume? Length? Area?

Second, and most importantly, why isn't that expansion rate linear in time for everything. What is it about the physics that makes a matter dominated universe expand differently than a radiation-dominated universe? Is that easy to explain? And if so, that's crucial for my understanding here.

Something that's never been clear to me in the expanding universe model is why the expansion of the universe results in red-shifting of light and shifting of the CMB to the microwave region. Can someone explain this? If the expansion is of space itself, which I interpret as the "grid" upon which matter/radiation exists, how does light or anything else know that the grid is expanding? In the silly picture in my head, I'm thinking that I won't know that my ruler is changing length since I'm changing length with it, just like how person A moving at near the speed of light relative to person B doesn't know that the space that they're in has "shrunk" according to person B. In the model of the expanding balloon with ants on the surface, how do the ants know that the expansion is occurring? If I were one of the ants, I'd draw a grid around me out to the next nearest ant. As the balloon (universe) expands, the grid would expand with it, so I would have no idea that the next ant is getting further away. Why is it different in the universe expanding? Is it just radiation that knows of the expansion? I'm clearly missing an important concept, but I don't know what it is.

Comment: Re:Is it a "Vaccine" or a "Cure" (Score 1) 72

by JoeRobe (#45838797) Attached to: Finnish HIV Vaccine Testing To Begin

Not sure why this is a troll, but I wish I had mod points to bump it up. I'm not the OP, but I was wondering the same thing regarding how this was a vaccine. This explanation makes complete sense and thanks for the clarification.

Just so I'm understanding correctly: the amount of HIV virus in the blood is very small after initial infection, so the idea is to use the vaccine to keep the level low (i.e. prevent the virus from ever ramping up again and destroying your immune system)?

So this would prevent infection for those without HIV, and keep HIV dormant for those that already are infected?

Comment: Re: not surprised at racism and naive WASPs (Score 2) 1737

by JoeRobe (#44277147) Attached to: George Zimmerman Acquitted In Death of Trayvon Martin

To follow up on that: jurors are not selected randomly. The defense and prosecution pick from a larger set of jurors. What are the chances all jurors would be female? That is 1.6% but not a coincidence. The prosecution surely would have gotten a couple of black people on the jury if they thought they had a solid race argument. Rather they opted for the female/mother angle ("what if Trayvon was your child?").

A lot of folks are asking what would have happened if Martin was white and Zimmerman was black. I think it's a good question to ask, and unfortunately the verdict could have been very different. Another question that I'd like those people to ask is "what if Zimmerman's last name was Sanchez, or Juarez, or Mesa (his mom's maiden name)?". Would there still be these claims of racism?

Comment: Re: Um, they used what? (Score 1) 165

by JoeRobe (#42419401) Attached to: NASA's Ion Thruster Sets Continuous Operation Record

I'm a mass spec guy, so I certainly agree that different masses will focus differently. But in the ion drive schematics I see online, I don't see where there is a focussing step. The plasma is made, then just accelerated across a planar electrostatic voltage drop. No focussing needed. I'm also not seeing a x2 increase just from a slightly better ability to focus even if that did matter.

Comment: Re:Question (Score 1) 780

by JoeRobe (#42281025) Attached to: Schmidt On Why Tax Avoidance is Good, Robot Workers, and Google Fiber

I agree that they should be paying taxes on money earned in the UK. But I would argue that the responsibility falls upon the government to create laws that fill in the loopholes and reduce deductions, rather than the company to apply its arbitrary set of ethical standards, in determining how much money the company owes to the government.

To rely on the company to decide how much to pay is equivalent to asking it to donate money to the government, which the company (or anybody for that matter) are not obliged to do.

Comment: Re:Question (Score 2) 780

by JoeRobe (#42272643) Attached to: Schmidt On Why Tax Avoidance is Good, Robot Workers, and Google Fiber

Isn't the point of having a tax code so that we don't have to decide how much to pay in taxes based upon our ethics? The government tells us how much to pay based upon its tax code, so we pay it. At no point do they ask us to pay based upon our ethical standards.

I guess I wonder what should Google do. Should they pay the maximum amount the UK government wants, and avoid all possible deductions and loopholes? Or should they pick the "normal" deductions that other UK businesses use? Something in between? Which deductions/loopholes should they choose? Which ones are ethical? And by whose standards are they ethical?

I use my ethical standards when I donate to something like the Red Cross or UNICEF. I don't donate my money to the government. Taxes are a bill I pay to receive the benefits that the government provides to me. I'll find any way I can, within the letter of the law, to reduce that bill.

Comment: Re: So, maybe like Venus? (Score 1) 143

by JoeRobe (#42190165) Attached to: Other Solar Systems Could Be More Habitable Than Ours

Do you happen to have a reference for your theory? The theories I've heard (which are proclaimed pessimistic) say nothing about water splitting due to solar radiation, but rather just evaporating and making its way up to the stratosphere, where it has a higher probability of being lost to space. It also sounds like the time frame for this process is not pinned down.

Comment: Re:Pacman Returns (Score 1) 49

by JoeRobe (#42116685) Attached to: Spectacular New Views of Saturn's Polar Vortex

Welcome to the world of scientific research. It's a scientific article, which are almost always behind a paywall. ScienceDirect (operated by publisher Elsevier) is one of the largest scientific journal conglomerates. Universities pay 10's of thousands of dollars every year, if not more, to give their researchers access to these journals. So the authors make no money on it, but Elsevier makes loads on these articles.

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