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Comment: Re:What about long-term data integrity? (Score 1) 427

by Roger W Moore (#48464423) Attached to: How Intel and Micron May Finally Kill the Hard Disk Drive

Such statistics are meaningless in my book.

Not entirely - it tells you the number of write cycles each cell has: 5*365=1,825 cycles. You then just have to hope that the load leveller knows what it is doing because a single file like a mailbox could easily exceed that in a day if the writes were always to the same location on the disk.

Comment: Re:LOL (Score 2) 427

by Roger W Moore (#48464389) Attached to: How Intel and Micron May Finally Kill the Hard Disk Drive

I don't know what their capacity was...

Well a C90 tape had a 90 minute length and, depending on you computer the data was written at 1200 baud (BBC Model B) to ~1500 baud for a ZX spectrum. Unfortunately there was some overhead so lets say this was 20% (guesstimate). This would give a tape capacity of 90x60x(1200/8)x0.8=648000 bytes or ~633 kB. Some people used to use C120s which would get you an extra 33% but those tapes were thinner and more likely to break or suffer degradation in sound quality which meant you lost your program. With a Spectrum and a C120 you'd might be pushing the dizzying heights of a whole MB on tape.

Comment: Re:Not Entirely the Right Question (Score 1) 332

If the human knows that the robot is an autonomous killing machine the only rational approach is that the robot is dangerous at all times and must be treated as such.

The premise that this is the only rational approach is wrong though. Suppose you lived in a town where the only way to keep armed militants off the streets was to have those streets patrolled by robots programmed to shoot anyone carrying a gun? If you stay away from the robots you will be going into areas far more dangerous where the likelihood of getting short by some extremist is higher than the likelihood of getting shot by a malfunctioning robot.

If the alternative to the robot is something even more likely to result in serious harm or death then it is entirely rational not to run away from them.

Comment: Re:Nuclear Power has Dangers (Score 1) 519

by Roger W Moore (#48442413) Attached to: What Would Have Happened If Philae Were Nuclear Powered?
Alpha particles are actually the most dangerous form of radiation because they are the most highly ionizing and so they cause the most damage to cells. While this also makes them the easiest to shield (even a fair amount of air will stop them) their danger lies from either direct skin contact or from consuming something contaminated by them.

Comment: Re:Nuclear Power has Dangers (Score 1) 519

by Roger W Moore (#48439903) Attached to: What Would Have Happened If Philae Were Nuclear Powered?

The half life is not all that long on the isotopes used in RTGs

You do realize that there is a decay chain right? The next one in the sequence has a half life of 246,000 years and it carries on after that ending at some stable isotope of lead.

No military has ever put dirty bombs in to inventory. The reason is that they are really not effective weapons.

Correct. However there is a difference between deliberately trying to destroy something and accidentally doing so. No military has ever used a nuclear power station as a weapon. Are we therefore to conclude that they are completely safe and pose zero risk of contaminating the environment? The question is not whether these things are a deadly weapon the question is whether they are dangerous. Plutonium is also extremely toxic chemically.

Even if these batteries can be made safe enough to launch, and I don't doubt that they could, you have to prove that which will require a considerable engineering effort potentially making them more expensive than the budget will allow. In addition Pu-238 has a very limited supply.

Comment: Re:Nuclear Power has Dangers (Score 1) 519

by Roger W Moore (#48439879) Attached to: What Would Have Happened If Philae Were Nuclear Powered?

Testing is done by firing the battery from an artillery gun directly into a solid steel wall several feet thick.

...and did they heat it up to however many thousands of degrees it would reach during re-entry first? That's assuming it simply didn't burn up in the atmosphere first like many meteorites, some of which have very high metal content.

Comment: Probably Not a Lot (Score 3, Informative) 42

by Roger W Moore (#48438163) Attached to: CERN Releases LHC Data
What you are getting is the reconstructed data. To be able to do anything scientifically valuable with it you have to understand the intricate details of the reconstruction software, the trigger, the calibration etc. etc. To be honest I would be amazed if anyone outside CMS will be able to do much with it at all. I'd also expect that there will be bandwidth restrictions on accessing the data since the dataset is multi-PB (if it is the full set of run I data).

We did a similar exercise with the D0 experiment at Fermilab several years ago and it was of interest to practically nobody. I expect there may be somewhat more interest with this being the LHC data but I'd be surprised if anything useful comes of it given the massive amount of work required to be able to do a useful analysis. The best I can think of is that this might make a really nice undergraduate course project or, with some pre-written, high level analysis code, perhaps even as outreach for high school students.

Comment: Rubbish (Score 1) 98

by Roger W Moore (#48430963) Attached to: UNSW Has Collected an Estimated $100,000 In Piracy Fines Since 2008

In England this would be covered under Fraud Act 2006 sections 2, 4, 6 and 7 (that's 4 separate INDICTABLE criminal charges with a concurrent maximum sentence of ten years).

You are talking rubbish. Organizations issue fines all the time in the UK e.g. libraries can fine you if you are late returning a book etc. I doubt every library has a sworn judge and a panel of jurors on hand to adjudicate your fine.

Any organization can levy a fine through an agreement. Students typically sign that they agree to be bound by the terms of the university's code of student conduct in before they are allowed to enrol. That code will undoubtedly contain the relevant clauses allowing a discipline procedure to levy a fine on the student. Even without such a signed agreement the fine can still be enforced with the threat of losing you membership of the organization should you fail to pay.

I can't see any way that any of the above constitutes false representation or abuse of position and section 6 and 7 have to do with possession, making and supplying articles for use in fraud (did you even read the act before citing it?).

This is certainly not the behaviour you would expect from a university and I am frankly amazed that they are doing this to their own students. However if it is done within the discipline framework of the university and the students have signed on to follow that code then I would expect that their choices are limited to either paying it or dropping out and finding a better university to attend.

Comment: Nuclear Power has Dangers (Score -1) 519

by Roger W Moore (#48424259) Attached to: What Would Have Happened If Philae Were Nuclear Powered?

I was ignorantly assuming that they'd do everything they could to insure the accomplishment of the mission.

They almost certainly did within the allowed budget. There are two problems with nuclear power spacecraft. The first is that if something goes wrong on takeoff you risk what is effectively a 'dirty bomb' going off somewhere in the Earth's atmosphere which is not good. The second, which does not apply in this case, is that if you make it into space safely you had better make sure that the craft does not return for Earth for a few billion years otherwise, again, it is like a dirty bomb going off in the atmosphere.

Clearly deep space missions like this mean that there is no chance of return but you still have the risk of a disaster on launch which is not entirely uncommon as the recent Antares Rocket launch showed.

Comment: Not Entirely the Right Question (Score 2) 332

Which is more likely to shoot a civilian...

That's not entirely the right question. You need to account for which is more predictable for another human. If you are in the middle of a war zone with soldiers getting blown up by booby traps then you might expect a human soldier to be rather nervous and so you would approach them with extreme caution or get out of the way. However if you have a robot wandering down a street in a peaceful area and the right set of circumstances just happen to cause it to misidentify a random, innocent person as a target that person has no possible way to predict that they need to be extremely cautious.

The result is a complex combination of both a human's ability to know when they are in danger and the predictability of the gun owner. While a human may be more likely to make wrong decisions under pressure fellow humans are also going to be aware of this and take extra precautions. With a robot the decision will be entirely based on how good the robot makes a decision since the human has no way to know whether the robot is likely to be hostile or not.

Comment: Re:I see why the boson is a "God Particle" (Score 4, Informative) 67

by Roger W Moore (#48415229) Attached to: Elusive Dark Matter May Be Detected With GPS Satellites

The fundamental problem with the "standard model" is that it's based on gravity.

Actually the one thing that the Standard Model is absolutely NOT based on is gravity. Gravity being so weak and have an long range actually is responsible for the structures at the largest scales of the Universe which is precisely where we see Dark Matter. The reason for this is that EM is so much stronger that it will force charge cancellation to a large high degree on smaller distance scales: if there is a charge imbalance opposite charges will be rapidly dragged in to create a balance. This cancels EM out at larger distance scales since the charges balance leaving only gravity (the strong and weak nuclear forces being short range [~nucleus] due to their physics).

How many Unix hacks does it take to change a light bulb? Let's see, can you use a shell script for that or does it need a C program?