In 1955, Philip K. Dick wrote a short story, "Autofac", about self-replicating machinery. Still a good read, IMO.
Been there, done that, wondered "What were we thinking?"
In selecting an instrumentation framework for a test system, we went through a careful process of defining what was important, listing the pros and cons of each competing option, ran some tests to see if both would run the instruments we needed,
Sometimes you just can't outwit Murphy.
Just look at this bitmap on my smartphone. (Ha! I just KNEW that QR codes were evil!)
Two important things are missed here:
1) Google mainly bought the patent portfolio for defensive purposes, not as revenue engines in themselves. The point of the suit is that MS wants to use the patents without paying for them. It's basically a move in the MS-vs-Android war.
2) The judgement doesn't pass the smell test. Read the articles over at Groklaw for the details, but the judge here is ruling that Motorola must accept patent pool rates for a pool they don't belong to, rather than negotiate rates using the methods of the group they are a member of. The whole proceeding has been slanted toward the home team (MS) the judgment seems to be very much an overreach, and probably won't survive appeal.
Phaser on overload. (Depending on the short-circuit current capacity of the Kindle's battery and the resistance of the shorting bar,that is.)
I once was a sysop for a small company's Data General system, where large datasets were stored as TAR archives on nine-track tapes; some poor soul had copied TO the tape instead of FROM the tape, and desperately needed to recover a file that was still there on the part of the tape beyond the end of the inadvertent write. You could read up to the added end-of-tape marker, but the tape just wouldn't read any further. Screwed, yes? Well, not quite. I set the system to rereading the damaged tape, waited 'till just before it reached the offending end-of-tape marker, and briefly put my thumb on the roller that measured tape travel, causing the drive to jump the tape ahead ('cause the sensor said "the tape is not moving!") and right past the EOT marker. Voila! The system read out the rest of the files on the tape, fortunately including the one they really needed, and I was briefly a hero. Hero never lasts, of course, but it was fun.
For me, as a space enthusiast and aerospace professional, the sad part is that *anyone* would get a shuttle orbiter project so close to operational that they could launch, orbit, and land a fully-automated prototype -- and then just lose that entire program. The physical remnant is, as you say, just "stuff," and not really important in itself. What I (and, I believe, others) mourn is the loss of a manned space-launch program that came THAT close to being operational, regardless of just whose program it was. I, for one, still believe that the more different parties we have with active space programs, the better it is for humanity as a whole; there's a big solar system out there, with both resources and hazards aplenty, and the long-term benefit of the species definitely includes being active in space.
I've read a few postings elsewhere complaining of poor thermal design, iffy build quality, and not-so-great software support (something about having to JTAG the beast to get it to run a software load), so this seems quite plausible. If you do away with the wall-wart form factor by extracting the power supply, you're in the same functional class as lots of other single-board systems (such as my current favorite, the BeagleBoard), many of which have quite mature software support and very decent I/O and expansion capabilities, for comparable cost. While I admit that the wall-wart idea is very appealing, I don't think it's quite there yet (which is rather a pity).
Trying to imply that this is some nonsense that should be dismissed just because you like Linux is like playing down and ridiculing the evidence of the murder of Hans Reiser's wife because you like ReiserFS. It's even sillier in some ways because Linux isn't at stake in the case like ReiserFS was. (An extreme analogy I know, but valid).
That's the kind of analogy that Hitler would have made.
Tin whiskers only form in the presence of pure tin, as in a tinned PC board trace or component lead. Combine the tin with lead or silver or anything else, and the pure tin crystal structure won't happen, hence no whisker formation. Tin whiskers (dendrites) form when a layer of pure tin is mechanically stressed; the tin recrystallizes as dendrites in response to the strain on the crystal lattice. The recent increase in tin whiskering is due in part to hazmat-reduction regulations that discourage the use of lead solder, causing manufacturers to plate component leads in tin rather than lead-bearing solder.
Is that WE can design and build THEM. When they can do the same for self-aware protoplasmic humanoids, it might be time to become upset about silly "supremacy" issues, and not a moment before then. Till then, sit back and enjoy the music...
Indeed, I wasn't considering that possibility. Ah, logic...
While you are correct in noting that a beta emitter isn't necessarily harmless (and emphatically correct that the perjury is by far the bigger issue), I'd like to note that tritium, being an isotope of hydrogen, tends to escape straight up, very fast. Molecules of "normal" hydrogen are VERY light, and rise so fast when released that they can reach escape velocity, plus hydrogen is good at diffusing through containers. Thus, it's safe to conclude that the tritium in question bolted for the stratosphere at its first opportunity, and didn't hang around to endanger anyone. Alas, the same cannot be said of the plant management...
Consider the article's quoted claim of a 1A, 1V sample 1 inch long and the diameter of a human hair. This is plainly ridiculous.
Solar radiation intensity in near-Earth space is 1353 W/m^2 (on Earth, under all that atmosphere, it's more like 120 W/m^2). This represents the maximum possible energy input to a solar cell, of whatever design.
A human hair is about 0.001 inch in diameter, so a 1-inch piece held lengthwise covers an area of 0.001 in^2, or 6.45E-7 m^2. At the stated solar irradiance, that area will receive 873 uW of solar irradiance at MOST, in orbit, and rather less on Earth. Unless their solar cell has a 120,000% efficiency, they'll come up rather short on the 1-watt claim (1 V * 1 A = 1 W) in TFA.
I call Fuzzy Math, at least on that particular claim. The rest of their idea may well be good; let's hope the fellow who said this was misquoted, though...