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Comment: Re: Wrong (Score 1) 30 30

A letter that opens with:

The New Horizons spacecraft experienced an anomaly this afternoon that led to a loss of communication with Earth. Communication has since been reestablished and the spacecraft is healthy.

Also, it's a poorly worded letter - they wrote "the team is now working to return New Horizons to its original flight plan", which of course is going to make people think it's going to drift off course or something. Obviously, physics does not work that way. Even if New Horizons exploded today, it's remains would drift right past where it was targeted to be - there's no more burns to make this late in the game. Better wording would have been original science plan. And the science plan doesn't call for any particularly critical science in the next few days.

These sorts of faults happen in spacecraft (often due to cosmic rays), and they're designed to handle them. New Horizons seems to have handled it perfectly, taking every action that it was supposed to.

Comment: Re:From (Score 1) 30 30

Oh and for the record: Stern calls Pluto a planet, and makes some very good arguments.

And I'll add more that he doesn't make (though his are best!): it's ridiculous to call something a "dwarf X" and then say that that doesn't count as an "X". In any other field of science, if you had an "adjective-noun", it would also be classified as a "noun". If you have a dwarf shrew, it's also a shrew. If you have a dwarf fern, it's also a fern. Heck, even in the same field, astronomy, the same rule applies - a dwarf star is also a star.

Under the IAU definition, extrasolar planets aren't planets either. They don't even have a name - they're not anything at all. Not like we'd be able to classify them under the definition without dispatching a spacecraft all the way to each different star system even if they weren't excluded. The IAU definition also claims that they will create a system to establish more dwarf planets - something that clearly has not been done. There hasn't been a new dwarf planet accepted in nearly a decade, despite the fact that we know the sizes of many of them better than already-accepted candidates were known at the time. Quaoar is much bigger than Ceres, and we know it's size down to a mere 5 kilometers margin of error, yet it's not a dwarf planet. The IAU not only made up their ridiculous definition, but they're not even upholding it.

As with pretty much every categorization of object in pretty much every field of science, you need heirarchies and multiple groupings to describe the world. Among planets, we already know of significant diversity, and should only expect it to grow - hence we have terrestrial planets, gas giants, ice giants, hot jupiters, super earths, etc, and yes, dwarf planets - which should be just another category among the significant diversity already out there. Everyone knows a planet when they see it - you don't have to scan its orbit to see if it's "cleared" it, with some still-not-yet-agreed-upon definition of "cleared". If it's large enough to relax into a hydrostatic equilibrium, that's both meaningful, intuitive, and what people expect when they hear the word "planet". By any reasonable definition, our solar system has at least dozens, potentially hundreds of planets. And that should be seen as something to celebrate, not to be appalled about.

Comment: From (Score 4, Informative) 30 30


Steve5304: Rumors that Contact with new horizons has been lost again or was never regained. Unconfirmed

Alan Stern: Such rumors are untrue. The bird is communicating nominally.

Alan Stern is the director of the New Horizons mission. So no worries. :) You can see that two way communication is in progress here at the Canberra dish.

This was a really minor glitch and will have no impact on the mission as a whole. There weren't even any significant observations planned for today.

(As a side note, the closer we get to Pluto and the more we see of it (dark band at the bottom is around the equator), the more it's starting to remind me of an airless Titan :) )

Comment: Re:kernel developers on Macs - that would be me (Score 1) 74 74

Mac Pros, which run certified Unix (OS X) are possibly the _best_ option for serious professionals.

Who cares whether a Unix is certified? Linux is the big daddy of the server rhythm these days. It's all been over but the tears for Big Iron Unix since you started seeing people consider the GNU toolchain 'indispensable' on it.

There are also a couple other companies making one or two choices in well-built hardware you can install enterprise Linux on, of course.

There's a lot of companies making much more capable hardware these days, particularly in the graphics department, and featuring considerably more expandability. Much of it comes at significantly lower cost, as well, and if you spend more money, you'll know what you got for it in most cases.

Comment: Re:Road trips. (Score 1) 511 511

It doesn't actually matter. What you have to ask is not whether people live in cities, but how far they live from work. I've known people to commute for two hours in California, and I'm not even talking about heavy traffic situations. A lot of people are now living up here in Lake and Mendocino counties and working way the hell down in SF and the like, that's a two hour drive on a good day.

Comment: Re:Range and recharging time (Score 1) 511 511

Some of the weight difference definitely gets eaten by the vehicle frame, so it's capable of the hauling and towing capacities that make it "super duty", but there's a whole lot of room there for more batteries than any sedan could reasonably carry.

Physically, there is room. Economically, there is not. Pickups are already brushing the top of what people are willing to pay for them.

I'm assuming Tesla has already thought of this, but just can't build yet another line simultaneously with all the others.

The only manufacturer who might reasonably pull this off any time soon is Ford, because they're the only ones with a lightweight pickup big enough to stuff batteries into and still do work. They would need to make a lightweight chassis that was designed to accommodate the battery packs, but they could do that with in-house expertise now. And nobody is going to buy a Tesla pickup. People are married to brands in trucks.

This conversation does take me back to when Ford was playing around with Capstone turbines in C-Max people movers and so on. Perhaps Ford should offer an Aluminum F150 EV with a turbine range extender option :)

Comment: Re:EVs are a PITA (Score 1) 511 511

So, I am helping everybody (and the planet) out by burning three dinosaurs to every one you do not.

Oh no, you've got it twisted. I live in the sticks and I'm two meters tall and I can't afford a new car either. I have a 300SD and I'm working to bring up an A8 Quattro right now. You can buy a lot of fuel for twenty thousand dollars...

Comment: Re:I don't think it's so much speculation (Score 1) 511 511

A quick google disagreed with this "fact", showing a slight increase in median household income over the last half century....

You mean, as compared to inflation? Because the minimum wage hasn't kept up with inflation in over twenty years, and more and more people are living on it.

Comment: Re:What about the first VR rape? (Score 1) 125 125

Let's not get carried away here. You can always remove the head gear or turn-off the device. Although I can see some complaining anyway.

And because you can always remove the head gear or turn-off the device, of course actual rape victim simulators will spring up, just like zombie attack simulators have. We know they will, because they alrady do, even in text adventure form. Players will claim it's just a game rendered harmless by the player being in control, and could even have therapeutic use, while naysayers will claim it's effective propaganda for rape culture precisely because it renders rape "harmless", and both will be entirely right.

So yes, people will complain, and those complaints can't be just summarily dismissed. There are issues at stake here which are extremely relevant to the dawning Information Age: are progandists blameless for the results of their propaganda just because their propaganda has artistic or entertainment value? To what extent are people responsible for their internalized cultural values, or for being unaware of them? At what point does making other's suffering your entertainment make you a villain?

You're using a keyboard! How quaint!