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Comment: Re:Jesus, we're fucked. (Score 1) 351

by Teancum (#48901547) Attached to: Americans Support Mandatory Labeling of Food That Contains DNA

As she continued to ignore me my explanations grew longer and more detailed, until finally she interrupted me with "What's inertia?"

After you explained the concept, did she at least understand the idea but not the term, or was even the concept of inertia something that was a revelation?

Comment: Re:Discussion is outdated (Score 2) 488

by Teancum (#48901397) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Is Pascal Underrated?

I *think* that fpc Pascal can not properly handle utf8 strings

Only because of purists that insist a six byte character is counted as one character.

A lack of documentation is an issue, but that is simply because it is an open source project. About par for the course on most open source projects, from my experience too. Delphi has some amazing documentation, but then again they can pay for that documentation to be developed.

Comment: Re:Modula-3 FTW! (Score 1) 488

by Teancum (#48901381) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Is Pascal Underrated?

People gave up on Pascal and moved to C++ back then for a reason.

It wasn't really for a good reason other than simply the choice of the software development shop, as well as the cost of compilers where C compilers were widely used as assignments in Computer Science graduate courses... thus frequently offered for free. Arguably a C compiler is also easier to write than a good Pascal compiler, so it frequently is the first compiler available for a given instruction set or computer architecture.

That doesn't mean it is necessarily inferior or for that matter better than C++ for high level application development. It does explain why you see fewer people developing in Object Pascal vs. C++.

Comment: Re:Modula-3 FTW! (Score 3, Interesting) 488

by Teancum (#48901253) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Is Pascal Underrated?

Wow, I hope you're not suggesting 22 div 3 vs. 22/3 is more intuitive to a novice for what it does compared to 22/3 and 22/3.0!

A properly designed compiler (like Turbo Pascal and later Delphi) makes no distinction nor software penalty for using either convention. This is nit picking at such a minor detail, although as a software developer I like to emphasize that I am using an integer division as opposed to floating point, thus deliberately use the div operator when appropriate. For a novice, it shouldn't make any difference at all.... particularly for the kinds of applications developed by a typical novice that would have any sort of confusion over this issue (or some C++ developer tasked to do some Object Pascal debugging).

Comment: Re:Modula-3 FTW! (Score 3, Informative) 488

by Teancum (#48901197) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Is Pascal Underrated?

From a maintainability standpoint when you need to have code written by an experienced software developer familiar with Pascal and its various (current) compilers as opposed to an experienced software developer familiar with C++... when you hand those software packages over to another developer to continue development by somebody having to start cold on that software and fix bugs, make extension, or overhaul that code... I dare say that the software written in Object Pascal can be developed sooner than a comparable application in C++. My direct experience has been in about half of the time or less than a comparable C++ program.

That is my standard for readability. The only reason you might notice some developers who have a hard time with Pascal readability is mainly due to the fact that the developer is simply unfamiliar with Pascal syntax due to a lack of development in that language for a prolonged period of time. Handing Object Pascal code to somebody else already familiar with the language clearly has a huge advantage.

Just because it is different doesn't mean it is worse. It might mean that you would need to personally take some extra time to learn another programming language. Besides, for a Pascal programmer, curly braces are for comments and stand out very well for that purpose.

Comment: Re:Great to see (Score 1) 152

by Teancum (#48810421) Attached to: Chinese Spacecraft Enters Orbit Around the Moon

Space-X could reproduce the orbital flight of Apollo 7 (first crewed flight of Apollo) tomorrow if there was a reason to, using the Falcon 9/Dragon system.

I would ask a SpaceX engineer about this first. The ones I've talked to about this very point have cringed with even the mere suggestion of this idea. And yes, they've been asked.

No, SpaceX could not duplicate the flight of Apollo 7 tomorrow. They are gearing up to be able to duplicate that flight though in a fashion, so no doubt they will get there somewhat soon, but the Dragon 1 capsule as it currently stands is not crew capable and neither is the Dragon 2 capsule prototype.

Comment: Re:Great to see (Score 1) 152

by Teancum (#48810401) Attached to: Chinese Spacecraft Enters Orbit Around the Moon

You are confusing science with technology. The equipment necessary to send a crew into orbit simply doesn't exist right now in America. Yes, the science in terms of how it can be done has been created and you can look at previous designs to see how it was done in the past can be done, assuming of course that some of the really critical steps done by previous engineering teams was even recorded and documented.

It also helps to know that previous designs were successful, so you are attacking this engineering challenge with the knowledge that somebody has solved this problem before and that it can be done. That doesn't mean that any particular design will be successful though. It is also far more than political issues right now. Going into space on any current American spacecraft would get that crew member killed. Period.

Comment: Re:Great to see (Score 1) 152

by Teancum (#48810351) Attached to: Chinese Spacecraft Enters Orbit Around the Moon

Considering that both launch pads 39A & B have been completely dismantled for new rockets, that the Shuttle processing facility to get the vehicles ready for launch has been also rebuilt to do other things, and there are no external tanks available nor even a manufacturing plant capable of building them, I'd say those Shuttle orbiters are going to stay mothballed permanently.

At this point, even the engines have been torn apart and are currently being repurposed and reworked for use on the SLS.

No, there is no way they will ever launch again and it would be years of effort to even try with billions of dollars spent in an effort that would be akin to building a whole new Shuttle by the time you are done. The capability of launching the Shuttle is definitely gone.

Comment: Re:that's bs. (Score 1) 152

by Teancum (#48810333) Attached to: Chinese Spacecraft Enters Orbit Around the Moon

The Dragon has no life support right now and is very much incapable of carry a human crew. Elon Musk jokingly said that you might be able to get a ride with a cot and a scuba tank, but it definitely would not be capable of bringing a crew into orbit with its current configuration. The Dragon 2 (which still isn't flightworthy by any stretch of the imagination) is going to be crewed and like I said, some effort is currently underway to get that crew capability to return. I think you are underestimating the effort that SpaceX still needs to take in order to get people into space.

And no, I'm not just talking flight worthiness standards either where you might say NASA is being too cautious. That might be a legitimate gripe as arguably the Space Shuttle also failed to meet those standards too. It also isn't just the FAA-AST nor a NASA flight certificate as the Dragon capsule that just flew into orbit would literally kill a crew member if somehow somebody stowed away themselves inside that capsule. While docked to the ISS the capsule uses the ISS ventilation and life support system with merely a couple of fans inside of the Dragon that help to circulate the air. That is definitely not life support equipment.

As it stands, the Dragon capsule can't even be used as an emergency escape devices if somehow the Soyuz was damaged in a disaster like depicted in the movie "Gravity".... even assuming that the ISS crew could improvise something to act as emergency couches by stuffing in a bunch of soiled clothing and odd soft parts of the ISS. It is a nice thought experiment though.

No doubt that SpaceX is close to the caapability and having the capability to do downmass of several metric tons of supplies is definitely a key step to crew capability. It will be happening in the next couple of years, but SpaceX is still definitely incapable of sending or even recovering a crew from space even in an emergency.

Comment: Re:Success rate of 0% (Score 1) 152

by Teancum (#48800171) Attached to: Chinese Spacecraft Enters Orbit Around the Moon

It didn't help that Sergei Korolev died right before the Apollo moon landings. It was even apparently due to a poorly trained surgeon for what should have been a routine medical procedure that caused his death. Had Korolev been around to provide strong leadership to the Soviet Moon program, I think there might have been an outside chance for a Soviet crewed lunar landing to have happened by about 1970 with the N-1 rocket becoming successful.

The funny thing is that the N-1 engines that should have gone to the Moon ended up being used by Orbital Science for sending supplies to the International Space Station. Then again, when one of those engines exploded shortly after launch, it destroyed one of the cargo modules and a couple of satellites... so the disaster of the N-1 seems to keep repeating itself.

Comment: Re:Great to see (Score 5, Interesting) 152

by Teancum (#48800149) Attached to: Chinese Spacecraft Enters Orbit Around the Moon

America has lost the capability of being able to reproduce the original Mercury flight of Alan Shepard. There are some efforts to try and build some new spacecraft that might actually be useful in the future and they are currently under development, but none of them are flight worthy. If some alien creature was discovered orbiting the Earth and simply asking for somebody from the Earth to meet with them in orbit in exchange for huge amounts of cultural and scientific data, it would have to be done right now with a Soviet-era Soyuz spacecraft or with a Chinese Shenzhou spacecraft. America wouldn't and simply can't do something like that.

Yes, the technological capability of going to the Moon has been lost in the past 40 years and needs to be rebuilt from scratch. All we know is that it was done in the past, where sadly an entire generation of kids are starting to believe the Moon hoax guys because the technology to get to the Moon no longer exists.

Comment: Re:Geeks don't get it (Score 2) 496

by Teancum (#48800097) Attached to: Ted Cruz To Oversee NASA and US Science Programs

NASA funding since the Nixon administration has been pretty flat and generally is something like social security.... a death trap politically speaking if you try to cut it. Just look at how quickly Barack Obama changed his tune about NASA when he was running for President and needed the votes in Florida after he proposed a virtual elimination of NASA (if anybody has that kind of memory). People talk about shutting down programs at NASA, but it really doesn't happen.

There have certainly been some disasters at NASA in terms of program management like Constellation and the James Webb Telescope that have eaten up almost all funding at the agency as it should be seen as a zero-sum game for any new programs that get done within the scope of NASA. But none the less I dare you to show any deep cuts to NASA after the damage following the cancellation of Apollo happened!

I do agree though that when you ask those of older generations (especially those over 60) how much money is being spent on NASA, they think about 5% of the federal budget is still going to that agency. It is even a figure they think is where it should be at too, and are greatly surprised when you tell then that the actual figure is less than 1/10th of that amount.

Money is its own reward.