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Comment: Can stuff this small work in the real world? (Score 1) 49

by Nkwe (#47767399) Attached to: Scientists Craft Seamless 2D Semiconductor Junctions
I am curious as to if a conductor that is only a couple of atoms "thick" can be practical in the real world. Normal conductors can withstand all sorts of abuse as they have a large number of atoms and can afford to have a significant percentage of those atoms moved, removed, converted (reacted with), etc. If you have a conductor that is only three atoms thick, each atom is going to count. How do you prevent just one of those atoms from being dialoged due to mechanical stresses, chemical interaction, cosmic rays, or whatever? Does this require that these conductors be sealed at an atomic level in a vacuum or other inert container and is this feasible?

Comment: Re:Never gonna work ... (Score 1) 505

by Nkwe (#47760771) Attached to: California DMV Told Google Cars Still Need Steering Wheels

How do you plan to handle 300 cars all trying to pull over and stop at the same time, because they have no idea what to do?

The same way you would handle a traffic jam when everyone ends up parked on the freeway. Presumably as the car becomes less sure of what to do, it would begin to slow down (never violating the primary rule of not running into what is in front of you). As it becomes less and less sure, it would eventually stop. Pulling over is a bonus, but not always required. It is really the same way as a human driver I deal with unsure or unclear driving situations. For example if there is a wall of stopped cars in front of me, I slow down and don't run into them; if it starts raining or snowing hard and I can't see very far ahead, I slow down to ensure that I can stop the car within the distance I can actually see; if I think driving conditions are overly unsafe, I pull over at the first opportunity - potentially creeping along until I find somewhere to pull over. As a human driver, if I need stop in the road or drive significantly slower than the speed other drivers would expect, I do things like tap the breaks multiple times (to flash the break lights) and turn on the hazard flashers. I would assume that an automated driver would take similar actions to alert other cars (both automated and human driven) that unusual operation is about to or is taking place.

In your scenario, with lots of cars all becoming "unsure" of what to do, everyone just stops. Once everyone stops, each car can either start back up (assuming that the car understands "traffic jam") or the human drivers (who have now had time to become aware of what is happening) can take over.

Comment: Re:Never gonna work ... (Score 1) 505

by Nkwe (#47758669) Attached to: California DMV Told Google Cars Still Need Steering Wheels

As long as there is a pretense of handing back to the driver in even of an emergency, this is a glorified cruise control, and I'll bloody well drive myself.

If I'm ultimately responsible for the vehicle, I'll stay in control of the vehicle. Because if there's a 10 second lag between when the computer throws up its hands and says "I have no idea" and when the user is actually aware enough and in control, that is the window where Really Bad Things will happen.

I would agree if the human is expected to be able to take over at any time. But what about if automation was to the point that if the computer found conditions too complicated, it would pull over and stop the vehicle. Once stopped by the computer, manual controls would be used to drive in those "complicated" situations. You could have the option to interrupt the "safe stop" process and assume control if the human driver felt comfortable doing so, but If the logic included an unattended safe stop, would it be good enough? (I am not saying that we have the ability to build a system that could always achieve an unattended safe stop, but if we if we could - or at least build a system that could achieve an unattended safe stop at a provably better chance than humans can achieve an attended stop - would it be good enough?)

Comment: Re:Only 6 pairs? (Score 1) 135

For each fiber, you need an amplifier every 50 (?) km. You may run into a weight limit where the amplifier pack becomes too heavy to be suspended by the cable during cable laying.

And those amplifiers require power, which is hard to transmit over a cable at those distances. (Well maybe not "hard", but the length imposes practical limits.)

Comment: Re:Uncertainty/fear? (Score 4, Informative) 550

by Nkwe (#47524805) Attached to: Laser Eye Surgery, Revisited 10 Years Later

I'm not sure that this is still true, but don't you go blind for a few minutes while the procedure is going on? That's what frightens me - the thought that I might go blind and not have my sight come back.

Yes you do (but it is seconds, not minutes). The part of the procedure they don't really tell you about in advance is that they basically use a vacuum cleaner to suck your eyeball out of your head while they do the procedure. Actually they use suction to slightly pull on your eyeball and hold it still while the laser is doing it's work; while this is happening, you can't see out of the eye -- it all goes dark. This part of the procedure (which really only lasts for a few seconds on each eye) is fairly unpleasant and is probably the reason they give you Valium.

Comment: Re:Just another reason not to fly..... (Score 1) 217

I am curious by what logic is it determined that frequent flying reduces risk

I don't think that it is frequent flying itself that reduces risk. Rather if you fly frequently, the airlines consider you a better customer. Since the airlines want to keep their better customers, they try and make life easier for customers by reducing the airline related "hassles". The airline related hassles don't have anything to do with risk. What some airlines also do is sponsor their better customers for the TSA Pre program, which does reduce risk. Risk in TSA Pre is reduced by background checks.The cost of these checks theoretically covered by the application fee that the airlines pay on their customers' behalf.

Comment: Re:Just another reason not to fly..... (Score 1) 217

But that stuff you rambled on about certainly sounds like a hassle. Is that how you live your life? Really?

Nope, I don't do any of it. I was just saying that if you are trying to avoid being tracked when traveling by avoiding flying, it won't do you any good. I travel a lot and I assume that I am tracked a lot.

Actually if you travel a lot, the hassle factor gets greatly reduced; when you travel by air frequently, you gain status with the airlines and they treat you much nicer. You also become eligible for TSA Pre / known traveler, which lets you go back to the simple "old school" security which is basically just walking through the metal detector and running your bags through the x-ray. No more taking coat and shoes off, extracting laptop and liquids, etc. It typically takes me 5-10 minutes from the time I arrive at the airport front door to the time I clear security.

Comment: Re:Just another reason not to fly..... (Score 3, Informative) 217

My wife and I last flew commercial on 9-10-2001 out of LGA, the day before 9-11. My wife and I decided, the next day that, short of an emergency situation, we were done flying commercial. If we couldn't drive to get there, we didn't need to go. It's not because we were afraid of terrorists, but we saw what a hassle and invasion of privacy it would became.

I hope that when you are driving, you don't use any toll roads and that when you buy gas or anything else, you use cash that you obtained from an ATM when you were at home. Best also not to drive through any intersections with red light cameras. You also might need to put optical filters on your license plates if you don't want to be tracked. There are lots of cameras out there.

Comment: Re:What if we hadn't? (Score 1) 211

by Nkwe (#47495783) Attached to: Apollo 11 Moon Landing Turns 45

Scaling from 0.8 grams to 0.8 tonnes is just a matter of using a bigger rocket.

For small scales that is true, for large, not so much. When you make a bigger rocket, you need more fuel to lift that rocket. When you add that extra fuel, you need to add even more fuel to lift the weight of the added fuel and so on. As you scale up, a higher and higher percentage of the fuel is used just to lift the fuel. There is a point of diminishing returns. I am not a rocket scientist, so I don't know at what point you hit the wall with current technology (probably not at 0.8 tons), but there is a limit to scaling with current technology. It would be more accurate to say scaling up is a matter of building a better rocket or finding a lighter fuel source. Solving these problems would have broad applications.

Comment: Re:lost the human touch? (Score 1) 102

by Nkwe (#47495083) Attached to: "Intelligent" Avatars Poised To Manage Airline Check-In

The self check in terminals are fine, but fat lot of good it does when i still have to stand in a huge line just to have the human behind the desk put a sticker on my checked baggage. WTF is that about? ... Why can't the terminal simply spit out my baggage sticker for myself to put on?

It may be about putting the sticker on correctly. If the sticker isn't put on correctly (positioned so automated scanners can read the bar codes and securely attached so it won't fall off), the bag may not make it to the destination in a timely fashion. Granted that putting on the sticker isn't hard, but some people have difficulty with seeming simple things. In addition, having an airline employee attach the sticker before the luggage is accepted allows for a human check to ensure things like: the bag is within dimensional limits, the bag isn't already damaged, the bag is in fact "approved" luggage that is sturdy enough to withstand air travel, etc.

Comment: Re:Jobs aren't future proof, skills are (Score 3, Insightful) 509

by Nkwe (#47459847) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Future-Proof Jobs?

Skills become obsolete or can be automated. If you rely on skills you have to dedicate yourself to a lifetime of learning.

While I could have been more clear in my subject line, I did hint at the kinds of skills I meant in my comment text. I wasn't referring to specific technical skills, but rather more generic, high level skills -- sometimes referred to by recruiters as "soft skills". While specific technical skills (such as a programming in a specific language, brick laying, or buggy whip manufacturing) may come and go, high level or abstract skills (such as communication and problem solving), will never fall out of need.

It is clear that the individual who persecutes a man, his brother, because he is not of the same opinion, is a monster. - Voltaire