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Comment: Re:What is the point? (Score 2) 112 112

We can send whatever instruments we want to do whatever science we want.

Nope, false. Absolutely and completely false to the point of dishonesty. The most advanced rover ever put down an another celestial body has traveled a grand total of 11.5 km over the last four years. Meanwhile a manned rover designed in the 60s had a range of 92km on a single charge and could cover that distance in a matter of hours. The manned moon landings covered more ground, gathered more material, and performed more science (relative to instruments available at the time anyway) than all the unmanned missions to all the other celestial planets combined.

Putting humans on Mars for a month, with the equipment to allow them to travel and investigate, would teach us more about Mars than decades of rovers and landers. And that's ignoring the sample return aspects which are defacto built into a manned mission.

Comment: Re:How do we know we've only discovered 1% of NEAs (Score 2) 53 53

It's not that hard, you know how much of the sky you've looked at. You know the sizes, positions, and velocities of all the asteroids you've cataloged. From there it's a non-trivial but certainly doable calculation to come up with an estimate of the total number.

Comment: Re:Morons ... (Score 1) 187 187

So instead of one case in the court system you want 5 or 6 separate cases clogging up the court system? Not to mention these are civil cases where the burden of proof is lower, there will be times when the argument to any one point is unconvincing but the sum of the arguments is.

Comment: Re:Not surprising and probably not a problem (Score 1) 132 132

Ignore bias for a moment. Google knows how google does stuff. It's easier to pull summaries for content you have detailed information on the formatting. And if you have the clout to tell other parts of your company how they should be doing things it's even easier, bordering on trivially easy compared to really quite hard.

Comment: Re:Wow ... (Score 1) 289 289

Currently running an ASUS ROG laptop with a clean copy of Windows 10, no manually installed drivers or SW, just to see if there are issues or not. The last build broke the keyboard backlight, two builds back broke the hard buttons on the trackpad. Other than that no issues so far. I don't know whether to consider that good or bad to be honest.

Comment: Re:Now Taking Bets (Score 2) 54 54

I have a theory that after the initial outlay of satellites, they will launch the replacements into "good enough" orbits by filling up leftover space on other SpaceX launches. Payload is 10% less than the Falcon 9's max? Put a handful of cubesats in there to put it near max, use slowly becoming-standard ion propulsion to slowly move them into the orbits you need. Five replacement sats for near zero launch cost.

Comment: Re:and yet (Score 1) 292 292

Nate Silver takes their biased, unadjusted, untrustworthy polls and does a bunch of math wizardry to them to make them actually mean something. There's not a single pollster in the country that got even 50% the accuracy that Silver and his team were able to by combining results and making trustworthiness adjustments. Individual polls have been near worthless for 10 years already, it's only in looking at the aggregate that they are of any value at all.

Comment: Re:Pu-238 was available when it launced (Score 4, Informative) 419 419

I think you are nitpicking the definition of "available". Yes, the fuel existed at the time, that doesn't mean the fuel was available for this mission. A high risk, relatively low reward, limited life lander almost certainly doesn't merit using 1/10th of the available reserves.

Don't think it was high risk? The lander failed in multiple different ways on deployment and was able to do science by little more than dumb luck (not discounting their success, dumb luck plays in important part in everything and it was their engineering and planning that allowed the landing to succeed despite those issues). Don't think it was low reward? Most of the science the lander was designed for was completed on batteries during the 60 hour window after landing. Don't think it's limited life? In a few months, the comet is going to start out gassing and the lander will almost certainly be disabled.

If Pu-238 were still in production the math works out differently. If the lander had been a more central part of the mission it might be different. If the comet were on it's way out of the system instead of in that could change things too (though then Rosetta would also need an RTG). The point is: it's not binary. It's not "the fuel is right there lets use it". There's a cost, and a benefit to using it in this probe rather than the next one.

Comment: Re:what if the rocket blew up in our atmosphere? (Score 1) 419 419

If the rocket blew up in atmosphere you would have had to recover the still solid, single piece RTG core. Not only is the total amount of nuclear fuel relatively small, the cores are also designed to survive catastrophic rocket failure intact. RTGs flew on Apollo 12 through 17, the Curiosity rover, nearly a dozen Earth orbiting satellites, the Viking landers, Cassini, New Horizons, both Voyagers, and more. At least one failed to reach orbit, another burned up when it's satellite reentered, another survived a rocket explosion intact.

The problem is not one of risk. It's one of availability. The amount of suitable fuel available is small (think perhaps a dozen RTGs total could still be made) and no one is currently manufacturing more due to it being expensive and nuclear proliferation concerns. Finally, you can't just slap an RTG on in place of your solar cells and call it a day. There are only a handful of standardized designs, most of which mass significantly more than the equivalent power generating capacity in solar cells. Then you need to worry about heat, since all current RTGs produce several times more heat than they do power.

Comment: Re:This is an Opinion/Editorial piece (Score 5, Insightful) 419 419

Worse, it's not even informed opinion. You can't just "slap an RTG" on a probe and hope for the best. There are engineering, cost, and benefits considerations to make.

I really feel like people forget that the lander was an afterthought. The primary science of the mission was and is being performed by the Rosetta spacecraft. It was a "nice to have" that everyone was thrilled to see work as well as it did but wasn't critical for the success of the mission. Furthermore, it performed the vast majority if it's planned science activities during the 60 hour battery period after initial landing.

Yes, obviously, probes and landers can and do outperform their initial program goals. But treating the lander like a failure when it was anything but is dishonest. Using it as a soapbox to push your agenda (whether it's one I agree with or not) is insulting to the 2000+ people who worked to make the mission the fabulous success that it is and was.

Comment: Re:Computer science and the lowest common denomina (Score 1) 179 179

I see lots of comments like yours, but after clicking 3 of the linked stories I don't see anything about the proposed curriculum. It's possible that it is, like you seem to assume, merely computer work and training.

It's also possible that it is in fact age appropriate computer science education. No, your kindergartner can't write C, but they can learn how to follow a flowchart to do a task that would be otherwise too complicated for them. They can play games and activities with sorting and filtering. They can learn about '0'. You can even introduce the concepts behind the basic data structures to a kindergartner if you do it right. The kids need not touch a computer at all in a young "computer science" course.

Comment: Re:Prenda? (Score 5, Informative) 75 75


A group of lawyers who set up a system of shell companies to send out settlement records to people downloading illegal pornography. The lawyers were utterly eviscerated when one judge and defending attorney finally said "what's this then?" and starting looking into their actions.

Highlights include:
Shell companies set up using other people's identities without their knowledge.
Sending out settlement letters for works they don't own the rights to.
Setting the settlement price at just below the cost of an adequate defense.
Failure to show up when summoned to court.
Lying to the court... so... so many times.
Not paying the settlements levied against them.

And this wasn't a single court hearing. This was over dozens of court appearances over a timespan of well over a year. They continue to dig the hole they find themselves in deeper and deeper. The saddest part of the whole mess (other than all the people that they bilked out of thousands of dollars) is that they still haven't been disbarred.

The early bird who catches the worm works for someone who comes in late and owns the worm farm. -- Travis McGee