Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?

Comment: Re:Popular support (Score 1) 126

by Rei (#49604743) Attached to: NASA Gets Its Marching Orders: Look Up! Look Out!

I don't think NASA needs to make the fictional heroes; I think every piece of sci-fi that comes out helps inspire the next generation. I guarantee you that there's tons kids and young teens who saw, say, Gravity and think that's what it is to work at NASA and have set that as their aspiration. "Astronaut" is usually in the top 10 of what kids want to be when they grow up.

More than anything else, I see the main point of having astronauts is just to inspire kids. Just knowing that there's people going up there is enough - they don't need ot be doing big stunts that cost hundreds of billions of dollars to put a footprint on a distant body; they simply need to be twirling around in zero G in LEO.

Comment: Re:Popular support (Score 1) 126

by Rei (#49604707) Attached to: NASA Gets Its Marching Orders: Look Up! Look Out!

How many current astronauts can you name?
How many current astronauts can anyone here name off the top of their head?

The time of astronauts as heroes has passed. Far, far more people today do care about MESSENGER and New Horizons than they do about what astronauts are doing in space. They get more coverage in the popular press too. MESSENGER hasn't been a big public eye-catcher (except briefly when it crashed) but there was lots of attention about Rosetta, MERs, MSL, Cassini periodically (for example, the geysers of Enceladus, the Huygens landing, etc), and you better believe New Horizons is going to get a lot of coverage when it does its Pluto flyby (the public has a lot of interest in Pluto, more than in a long time due to the "demotion" controversy)

Yes, the percentage of Americans who read about these sort of things when they come up in the news (let alone follow them in depth) is probably in the 10-20% range. But so? How many specific sub-programs in the Social Security Administration or Internal Revenue Service can you name? NASA still captures the public imagination in a way that no other part of the federal government does. It doesn't take a moon landing to do that.

Comment: Re:Did a paid shill write this summary? (Score 1) 126

by Rei (#49604651) Attached to: NASA Gets Its Marching Orders: Look Up! Look Out!

It's about time someone defunded this utterly ridiculous and transparent scam.

Indeed, it's about time they defund SLS/Orion!

Don't get me wrong, NASA should be in the launch systems business. In the revolutionary launch systems business. Government programs are supposed to exist to do the important thing that private industry is unwilling or unable to do - in the science field this means things like such as science without immediate commercial applications, very expensive basic research, etc. There is no shortage of private companies now competing over the launch market, and indeed even for the heavy launch market. It's no longer some sort of monopolistic scenario.

NASA needs to be working on rocketry techs that are seen as too much cost / too much of a long shot for private industry to try - that is, until someone else (such as NASA) can prove them. Metstable fuels, nuclear-steam rockets, liquid airbreathing rockets, scramjets, solar sails, magnetic sails, fission sails, advanced ion propulsion technologies, fission fragment rockets, ballistic launch, launch loops, antimatter-initiated microfission / microfusion rockets, nuclear saltwater rockets, nuclear pulse propulsion, and on and on, plus advanced non-propulsion techs for landing, transit, sustaining a base/colony, new communications technologies, advanced robotic systems, etc - with all exact schematics, production instructions, consultations with the developers to serious parties, etc made available at no charge. I'm also of the opinion that NASA should produce and make available at low cost to private space companies and researchers the sort of large-scale analysis and test facilities whose capital costs would break a startup.

Basically, they need to be filling in the gaps in advancing space technology, not trying to do everything, even those things that other parties are more than happy to do on their own with their own money.

Comment: Re:usually the complaints are for too much politic (Score 1) 126

by Rei (#49604579) Attached to: NASA Gets Its Marching Orders: Look Up! Look Out!

That might be true if this was some sort of dispassionate commentary on the bill. But it's not, it's a ringing endorsement of a highly partisan bill. Surely you see the difference.

For those who are serious, here's the Planetary Society's commentary, with a link to an indepth but nonpartisan analysis at SpacePolicyOnline. The Planetary Society is very happy with the planetary science numbers, not happy with the earth science numbers, and couldn't seem to care less about the funding for SLS/Orion.

Comment: Re:"Tax the rich" canard (Score 3, Interesting) 249

by Shavano (#49603809) Attached to: Bernie Sanders, Presidential Candidate and H-1B Skeptic

If the IRS grabbed 100 percent of income over $1 million, the take would be just $616 billion. That’s only a third of this year’s deficit.

This year's deficit is about $750 billion. I think you're emboldened quote is a little out of date.

Well, I don't really think rich people should pay for it ALL. Just a lot of it.

But let's look at that math. According to
the top 1% average in 2012 was $717,000 per household and there are roughly 1.2 million such households. Their income was therefore about $880 billion. Figures aren't in for last year but it's safe to say they're considerably higher.

The deficit last year was $564 billion. So yes, they could pay the deficit and have money to spare.
If you recognize that nobody's proposing that they do it without help from the moderately well-off, it starts looking not at all out of reach.

But paying the deficit wasn't even my point. If you want to nationalize health care, you do it with taxes. INSTEAD of the health-insurance premiums and all the nickel and your-whole-bank-account charges we pay now. Not in addition, INSTEAD.

Comment: Re:More religious whackjobs (Score 1) 221

by Rei (#49602743) Attached to: Native Hawaiian Panel Withdraws Support For World's Largest Telescope

It's the same reason why many of the oppose geothermal power, keeping Hawaii reliant on burning oil for most of its electricity. Also why there's opposition to even trying to redirect lava flows as most countries do when their people are threatened (with a number of successful redirects having been achieved).

Apparently Pele wants people to be ignorant of the cosmos, to destroy the climate, and to lose their dearest possessions without putting up a fight.

Comment: Re:Sanders amazes me (Score 5, Insightful) 249

by Shavano (#49602711) Attached to: Bernie Sanders, Presidential Candidate and H-1B Skeptic

Paying for them is a simple matter of raising taxes on wealthy people.

You think we can't afford to pay for health care? We're paying for it now through a combination of taxes and premiums, just in a less efficient system than what Sanders wants.

What other thing is it you think we can't afford that Sanders wants?

Comment: Re:yep. Calling is wrong 70% of the time. Better i (Score 1) 85

by Shavano (#49600227) Attached to: Humans Dominating Poker Super Computer

A naive strategy that would beat most non pros would be as follows:
At each round of betting, evaluate how many stronger hands there are than your cards and how many weaker hands there are. If there are N other players at the table, you should bet if the number of stronger hands divided by the number of possible hands is less than 1/N because you should assume that whoever has the strongest cards is still in the game, so the strongest opponent is the strongest hand of N random hands.

Comment: Re:This again? (Score 1) 418

by Rei (#49599695) Attached to: New Test Supports NASA's Controversial EM Drive

I've seen plenty of work on accelerator-drive heavy isotope reactors but nothing for light isotope reactors like lithium. Accelerator driven heavy isotope reactors still deal with many of the problems of conventional fission reactors - they're greatly improved in many regards, but still problematic (you still have some plutonium, you still have some fuel availability/cost limitations, you still have some long-lived waste, you still have some harder to shield radiation, you still have a wide range of daughter products making corrosion control more challenging, etc - just not to the degree of a regular fission reactor). A light isotope reactor using lithium would virtually eliminate all of these problems. And it has a higher burnup ratio, which is of course critical for space uses.

And while everything I've seen about past improvements in accelerator efficiencies and spallation process improvements, and what's being worked on now, suggests no limit any time soon on neutron production efficiencies - at least that's how it looks from the papers I've read. Plus, even if efficiencies couldn't be improved any further (there's not that much further one needs to go), one could hybridize a heavy isotope and light isotope reactor, using a heavy isotope target as a neutron multiplier to bombard the lithium. You'd require significantly reduced quantities of heavy isotopes relative to a pure heavy isotope reactor, and most of the energy from the lithium side could be as mentioned captured without Carnot losses, which is a big bonus. Any non-thermalized neutrons of sufficient energy would produce tritium as a byproduct, which of course would be a value-added product - in fact, given that the tritium-breeding reaction with 7Li and a high energy neutron yields a lower-energy neutron, the thermalization could potentially be done via tritium breeding in the first place. And tritium is a valuable product whether one has interest in D-T fusion or not.

I just think it's weird that I've not come across any work on a lithium-based accelerator-driven spallation reactor, and was just wondering if there's a reason for that. It certainly looks appealing to my non-expert eyes. I mean, it looks even cleaner and more fuel-available than D-T fusion, and looks closer to being viable on a full-system perspective. Versus accelerator-driven heavy isotope fission you get less power per neutron (about a quarter as much), of course, even accounting for Carnot losses in the former - but that's not what matters. Cost is what matters, and if you're eliminating the use of super-expensive fuel, not producing any costly-to-manage waste, have no incident radiation, no proliferation concerns, etc, you're completely changing the cost picture - without even considering the possible joint production of saleable tritium.

Comment: Re:Almost... (Score 2) 204

by swillden (#49598143) Attached to: Want 30 Job Offers a Month? It's Not As Great As You Think

Every... Day.... :-/

I have a polite canned reply, which basically says that unless the recruiter's client is looking for developers to work 100% remotely, AND that their pay scales are likely to exceed Google's by a significant margin, AND that they do really cool stuff, then I'm not interested. Oh, and I don't do referrals of friends (they get plenty of spam themselves).

I don't actually mind the recruiter spam. It only takes a couple of keystrokes to fire the canned response, and there's always the possibility that someone will have an opportunity that meets my criteria. Not likely, but possible. I'm not looking for a new job, but if an opportunity satisfies my interest requirements, I'm always open to a discussion.

However, when they keep pushing even when they know their job doesn't fit my requirements, then I get pissed and blackhole their agency. That also takes only a couple of keystrokes :-)

As the trials of life continue to take their toll, remember that there is always a future in Computer Maintenance. -- National Lampoon, "Deteriorata"