Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?

Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!

  • View

  • Discuss

  • Share

We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).


Comment: Re:Sigh... Yet another scam (Score 1) 233

by Teancum (#49074813) Attached to: Mars One: Final 100 Candidates Selected

Countries can't do it, because it costs too damn much. It isn't just focusing on the problem at hand, but making it much cheaper to put things into space... a task that governments are ill suited to perform as well for multiple reasons. The economic justification for going to Mars simply isn't there.

I also have doubts that even the supposed $10 billion figure that Mars One claims to be able to raise is going to be sufficient to pay for everything needed on Mars for even a small crew of say a dozen people.

Comment: Re:This whole thing is a disaster waiting to happe (Score 1) 233

by Teancum (#49070903) Attached to: Mars One: Final 100 Candidates Selected

...and what is the survival probability of a soldier on the front lines of war?

Surprisingly, pretty good. I've seen figures of less than one bullet in a thousand fired in combat even hits a person, even with highly trained soldiers on both sides that are even trying to aim... like was the case at the Battle of the Bulge during World War II or fighting in the trenches of World War I with aggressive attacks. For soldiers in some of the more recent wars that the USA has been in, you have a much better than 90% chance of surviving combat engagements, and for some units definitely higher than 99% of the soldiers will return home without any combat injuries of any kind beyond PTSD. If you can get a medic to get ahold of you and pull you from the front line, your odds of survival even with combat injuries are pretty damn good.

This is a pretty lousy example to give.

Comment: Re:Sigh... Yet another scam (Score 1) 233

by Teancum (#49070869) Attached to: Mars One: Final 100 Candidates Selected

Explain how the Mars One people are getting there, and with what funding, and I'll stop calling it a scam.

You're missing the point. Nothing gets done if people don't just start doing it.

I would agree with your basic sentiment, but my problem with Mars One and the guys trying to do this is that they are biting off far more than they can chew by going to Mars in the first place. If the goal is to get people into space, they should start out by simply getting private individuals into space (including some of these "candidates"). It is proven technology, where flight slots are definitely available for a proven price (currently about $50 million per seat) and a whole lot of eye candy and places to film in even exotic locations like Star City, Russia to show what it is like to go into space.

Yeah, lets do this thing, but do it on a reasonable level first before you decide to bite big and try to do something that all of the largest spacefaring countries of the world combined simply can't do right now. It can be done on a bite sized basis where these producers could earn some credibility before going to Mars.

Mars One most definitely haven't done that.

These guys definitely deserve to be heckled right now as there are basic questions even related to the physics of how they plan on accomplishing this thing they propose, much less trying to work out how they plan on getting it financed with fanciful scam artist style projections of future income that is most definitely not proven.

Comment: Re:Sigh... Yet another scam (Score 1) 233

by Teancum (#49070867) Attached to: Mars One: Final 100 Candidates Selected

One day we might be able to have a stable society that doesn't rely on continual expansion for the fringe mentalities and trade/distraction with the preexisting societies but we definitely aren't there yet and at 300 years our greatest nation is about tapped out with a continually bloated government and is getting set in it's ways (at least if the modern economic environment is any indication - which would difficult to argue against).

There is such a stable society. It is called a hunter-gatherer society where people congregated into groups of roughly 100-500 or so people (usually splitting into two or more groups when it got to that larger size even if they still maintained relationships with those other groups). The problem here is that cities were built that broke that kind of society where the hunter-gatherers have been pushed to the fringes of the world and quickly disappearing as they get pushed into increasingly marginal land.

What hasn't been mastered is the concept of a city, especially when the number of people gets over a million or so people in that city. That is also a very new concept, where it wasn't until the late 18th Century that London & Paris reached this milestone of size and became the major industrial cities that we know today.

There are a couple earlier historical examples like Rome and perhaps Yaodharapura (home of the Angkor Wat). Neither city was sustainable at that size. Mostly, our experience in dealing with industrial societies is mostly stuff found in the last century or so and by even historical standards so recent as to not have much of a precedent to even compare against.

Comment: Re:Numbers (Score 1) 149

by Teancum (#49041145) Attached to: Mooted: An Undersea Link From Finland To Estonia

Of comparable size and complexity is the "Big Dig" in Boston. A difference is that it was paid with federal appropriations, thus never had to turn a profit. It really depends on what the governments of Estonia and Finland want to do in this situation, and if they can convince other EU members to help chip into the project too.

Comment: Re:Alternate Idea (Score 1) 69

by Teancum (#49038215) Attached to: SpaceX Falcon 9 Launches, Rocket Recovery Attempt Scrapped

You really think SpaceX invented the "smart bomb"? In other words, a guided missile?

It is perhaps a good thing that technology can be refined and used for something that might actually help humanity rather than be something that is designed to kill. Why do you think it is such an awful thing?

Comment: Re:Just to be clear (Score 1) 48

by Teancum (#49022221) Attached to: Tracking System Bug Delays SpaceX's DSCOVR Launch

Yes, I get that the cameras have utility as engineering diagnostics when things go very bad. The Shuttle and even the Saturn V had dozens of cameras at nearly every possible angle, and as the cameras got smaller there were even more that were stuffed onto the various devices... including the SRBs and even the external tank.

As an engineer, you can pull out a whole lot of information about what is happening at each stage, especially if it is a high speed camera watching stuff that happens at launch... as that is when a lot of stuff can go bad. These other cameras are definitely useful to see if something goes wrong and try to get more information visually apart from some other electronic telemetry that sometimes doesn't tell the whole picture.

I don't know where this particular camera is located at on the 1st stage though, but it is very possible to be located just above the grid fins to watch their performance as that was something which wasn't working properly on the last launch.

The PR value is definitely there too though, and you can't deny that having pretty pictures to share with the public can be useful. I have no doubt that if things go smoothly (with likely a couple second delay preview before going to the public video feed) this landing will be seen during the launch too.

Comment: Re:Just to be clear (Score 3, Informative) 48

by Teancum (#49015073) Attached to: Tracking System Bug Delays SpaceX's DSCOVR Launch

The video transmitter was just something on the rocket so nice folks here on Slashdot and elsewhere can get pretty pictures of the 1st stage landing. It had nothing to do with the successfully launching this rocket, although it might have impacted what was seen on the webcast if the landing attempt was going on... assuming SpaceX doesn't mine showing video of the rocket falling into pieces again but this time from the perspective of the rocket as it is falling apart.

The payload can be sent into space and meet 100% of the paid objectives without this telemetry working. It likely is a frequency conflict, or at the very least a secondary transmitter that isn't working properly as this link is only really needed after stage separation. Most other rocket launching companies treat spent 1st stages as trash to be randomly discarded in hopefully an unpopulated area and ignored afterward... but SpaceX intends to treat the 1st stage like a separate vehicle with its own mission objectives (mainly to land on the barge in once piece).

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) 492

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) 492

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) 492

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).

There are two major products that come out of Berkeley: LSD and UNIX. We don't believe this to be a coincidence. -- Jeremy S. Anderson