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Comment Re:details, details (Score 1) 91

I agree, Using the terms "exploded on landing" is PressSpeak, "If it Bleeds, It Leads".

Having said that, the landing legs sort of have to work.

What do you suppose the time frame is for "successful landing" ? If they stick then landing, and a typhoon dumps the booster in the drink, do you suppose the reporters will say "Booster Sank in Ocean while Trying to Land" ?

Comment Storage Well (Score 2, Interesting) 292

So this is a storage well for natural gas, right.

Is that anything like the proposed storage wells for captured carbon dioxide? Sequestering billions of tons of carbon dioxide in undrerground in deep wells so it doesn't get into the atmosphere and cause trouble?

Methane is lighter than air and disperses quickly -- in fact it goes to the upper atmosphere where it causes the problems that it causes. So this light gas which isn't particularly toxic hangs around long enough for it's impurities to force the evacuation of 1700 homes. Now what would happen if a CO2 storage facility would have a similar blowout, of a gas that is very heavy and creeps along the ground and kills people in houses (and livestock) instead of just stinking them out?

And unlike nuclear waste that is dangerous for thousands of years, carbon dioxide is deadly forever.

Is it really such a great idea to consider storage and capture?

Comment Ministry of Sabotage (Score 2) 118

Frank Herbert wrote a series of novels and short stories about a future in which the Government had become efficient, and because of that, sorely oppressive. In order to restore basic freedoms, a Ministry of Sabotage was instituted, whose job it was to throw wrenches into Government projects, especially ones that intruded into the basic freedoms of the populace.

Edward Snowden comes to mind...

Comment That's how Science Works (Score 5, Insightful) 294

It is unfortunate that in this day and age, it is necessary to explain how science works, and why it is different from other belief systems.

First science is a belief system. The fundamental axiom of science is that an objective reality exists, is independent of the observer, and that by investigation, truths about that reality can be discovered.

What makes it work is that progress in science depends critically on getting it wrong. A couple hundred years ago, people were looking at fire (Fire's Cool), and wondering how it works. Deep thinkers thought deeply about it, and came up with a hypothesis: There was this stuff, phlogiston, that escaped into the air and that was why fire burned, and why stuff that burned mostly disappeared. Good theory.

Then some pesky scientists - who were trying to put numbers to how much phlogiston was in different things - discovered that if you sealed up stuff, so air couldn't get in or out, and burned something, the weight was exactly the same. Hmm. The scientists first concluded that they had captured phlogiston. Great, let's figure ot what it is. Except that burning different things, led to different kinds of phlogiston. The science was a little wrong.

New experiments brought new results. Burning magnesium led to a weight gain, not a loss, so maybe it captured phlogiston. If that were true, then the ash (calx) should burn, right? More phlogiston! Except that it would not. More problems.

To shorten what could be a very long story, in 1774 or thereabouts, two scientists separately and independently came up with a more correct explanation, something to do with oxygen. In 200 years, their explanation has not yet been found to be fundamentally wrong.

Science moves forward by being wrong. A theory is presented, scientists test it's limits, and if there are things that are wrong, they are made better. The process repeats. Every time a mistake is found, every time science is wrong, it gets better. It's like a fine wine, it improves with age. Also, like a fine wine, it is not democratic. The fact that a whole lot of people seem to prefer that Thunder-stuff wine, does not make it a fine wine. The fact that a lot of people disagree with a scientific principle does not make it wrong, just unpopular.

Why is so much science wrong? Well, Homer, that's how it works.

Comment A Foolish Nostalgia (Score 4, Insightful) 69

The current in-vogue trend towards last (and older) generation technology represents a foolish nostalgia for "simpler, better" times that never existed.

Digital media came about because of limitations (and lifetime) of analog methods. A typewriter is great if you only want one (or two) copies, but if you need to publish something, then it is wholely inadequate. Of course, if you selectively ignore bias towards older methods, you can Xerox a manuscript. How is it that copy machines are OK, and word processors are not?

The same flavor of thing has been happening ever since technology became good enough to be a consumer item. Horses are popular today, not because they're convenient, good transportation, easy to take care of, don't drop dead at the most inconvenient times, but because they're a memory of an older, more romantic time. The important thing to understand is that that time _never existed_. Cities full of horses were knee-deep in horse excrement and smelled that way.

Renaissance Festival enthusiasts happly don chain mail and helmets and swords, and play at being Proud Knights. Somehow, they leave out things like fleas and lice, impetago, death by infected cut, plagues, and castles that smelled like latrines. Oh, What a Marvelous Age, Forsoothe.

What a load of crap.

Things have changed because they are -better- and conspiracy theories aside, it is tough to force something less good onto people for any length of time.

I live in South Texas, and I miss snow. Mostly, I miss it because I do not have to actually live in it. I remember those bad old days of trying to figure out which lump in a parking lot was -my- vehicle. I still miss snow, and I enjoy going places that have it, but only because I don't have to actually live there. People find it easy to eschew "modern" technology, but I'll bet that back home they have refrigeration.

I have no problem with someone wanting to use a typewriter -- I did, after all, for decades. I think that a lot of the resurgence in popularity comes a widely watched television show where the good guy uses an old underwood to write novels.

Personally, I think it's delusional behavior.

Comment Re:Moot Point Now (Score 1) 347

Back a few decades ago, the MP3 file format was created, documented, and some apps became available.

Enter the Music industry, on full tilt attack mode They're still at it. The salient point that they have missed is that it is not the pirates, the sellers, the site operators that made the difference. The fundamental change was the mere existance of a portable, easily exchanged format. What has transpired since then, and what is still transpiring is due to the simple fact that file copying and exchange was made possible.

The same thing has happened with encryption technology. Two factor encryption was created (Thank you Rivest-Shamir-Adleman cryptosystem) and published, and code to accomplish same made public (Thank you Phil Zimmermann). This is the basis - though not the end all - of encryption technology. And that genie is definitively out of the bottle.

The governments can prohibit encryption, penalize encryption, backdoor encryption, whatever they choose to do. Any encryption methods that are secure will be used, any methods that are not secure will fall away. It's become an evolutionary change, and like it or not, there is no going back. These days, any half-competent programmer can design and implement an encryption package that is for all intents and purposes uncrackable in time spans measured in weeks.

The horse is no longer in the barn, people. Live with it.

Comment Re:Scientists and Conservation (Score 3, Insightful) 203

At first glance this sounds for all the world like another perpetual motion machine. It deserves a second glance.

We (Physicists) know for absolute fact that a phenomenon called "dragging the metric" exists. The results are small, but every attempt at verification shows that the effect exists, and that general relativity predicts the magnitude of the effects. It is conceivable (though absolutely unverified) that a device might create it's own drag on the metric, and thus provide "impossible" thrust.

History is replete with experiments that show impossible results (two slit electron experiments, superconductivity) that have turned out to be true. Any experiment that provides verifiable evidence that contradicts theory shows that the theory is wrong, period. (Feynman Lectures)

The ostensible effect is small, and right up against the boundaries of bad science, but it needs to be verified, again and again, until the numbers either show that it doesn't exist, or show that it does. And if it doesn't exist, it's important to know -why- the results seemed to show it. This one is a long shot, but hey, -somebody- wins the lottery. Stick with it.

Comment Carbon Sequestration (Score 1, Offtopic) 103

We have seen that the relatively minor amount of water injected into the ground during fracking operations tends to induce earthquakes.

Carbon dioxide under pressure (supercritical CO2) is a solvent that is at least as good as water, and sequestration proposals call for pumping gigatons of liquid carbon dioxide underground, into the same kind of strata that once held oil. Does anyone think that this will not tend to induce earthquakes?

Releasing oil from a storage area would cause an environmental mess - some would use the word catastrophe, I would not. Oil on the loose mucks up agricultural areas, sometimes makes for fires that kill a few dozen people and wildlife. These are minor effects.

A release of multiple millions of tons of carbon dioxide would be an actual catastrophe. Look up "Lake Nyos" and observe that a natural release of CO2 managed to kill 100 people and thousands of livestock, not to mention hundreds of hectares of crops and wildlife, all in a very sparsely settled area. And that was from a very minor release.

What I fail to understand is that the very same people who eschew nuclear power because the waste products "Will be dangerous for centuries" don't have a concern about storing vast quantities of carbon dioxide underground. If the radiation release at Chernobyl had been carbon dioxide instead, it could have left all those people who were evacuated dead in their homes before anyone could worry about sending them elsewhere. RadWaste is dangerous for hundreds of years, stored carbon dioxide is dangerous forever,

Let's think twice about how to "fix" carbon emissions.

Comment MHZ Envy (Score 1) 94

Now what red blooded engineer doesn't want a bigger tool?

There are a constant barrage of cable channels explaining how you can take the proper suppliments, all for a bigger tool. And mechanical devices!

So why should your average pundit who reviews microprocessor tools and toolkits, and then goes home to take his EnZip and Vacupro and SusTane products, and then sits in front of a TV alone and dreams of JustOver19 dates, know anything at all about "Fitting a tool to a Job" ?

Come on, you're expecting rationality. Ain't gonna happen.

Comment Growing together is much better than competing (Score 1) 40

I couldn't agree more, however...

Competition is also necessary. Just because one person (corporation, club, etc) does something well, does not mean that someone else cannot do it better. And the human tendency and corporate -mandate- for NIH means that good ideas tend to be enshrined.

The beauty of open source development is that someone with a better idea can take an approach that has been elevated to axiom and improve it. If the original developers aren't interested in the improvements, well no problem. Just take the new approach to the universe of possible users, and let it compete with the golden child. If it is -actually- better in some respect, people will end up migrating.

And being open source means, fundamentally, that "Gee, I can do better than that" can (and often does) end up as "Everyone gets to benefit".

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