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Submission + - Former Astronauts: Obama Nasa Plans 'Catastrophic' ( 1

krou writes: Talking to the BBC at a private function held at the Royal Society in London, former astronauts Jim Lovell and Eugene Cernan both spoke out about Obama's decision to postpone further moon missions. Lovell claimed that 'it will have catastrophic consequences in our ability to explore space and the spin-offs we get from space technology', while Cernan noted he was 'disappointed' to have been the last person to land on the moon. Said Cernan: 'I think America has a responsibility to maintain its leadership in technology and its moral leadership... to seek knowledge. Curiosity's the essence of human existence.' Neil Armstrong, who was also at the event, avoided commenting on the subject.

Nothing To Fear But Fearlessness Itself? 660

theodp writes "In a post last August, Robert X. Cringely voiced fears that Goldman Sachs and others were not so much evil as 'clueless about the implications of their work,' leaving it up to the government to fix any mess they leave behind. 'But what if government runs out of options,' worried Cringely. 'Our economic policy doesn't imagine it, nor does our foreign policy, because superpowers don't acknowledge weakness.' And now his fears are echoed in a WSJ opinion piece by Peggy Noonan titled 'We're Governed by Callous Children.' She writes, 'We are governed at all levels by America's luckiest children, sons and daughters of the abundance, and they call themselves optimists but they're not optimists — they're unimaginative. They don't have faith, they've just never been foreclosed on. They are stupid and they are callous, and they don't mind it when people become disheartened. They don't even notice.' With apologies to FDR, do we have nothing to fear but fearlessness itself?"

Plowing Carbon Into the Fields 467

OzPeter writes "A wheat farmer in Australia has eliminated adding fertilizer to his crop by the simple process of injecting the cooled diesel exhaust of his modified tractor into the ground when the wheat is being sown. In doing so he eliminates releasing carbon into the atmosphere and at the same time saves himself up to $500,000 (AUD) that would have been required to fertilize his 3,900 hectares in the traditional way. Yet his crop yields over the last two years have been at least on par with his best yields since 2001. The technique was developed by a Canadian, Gary Lewis of Bio Agtive, and is currently in trial at 100 farms around the world."

Why Computers Suck At Math 626

antdude writes "This TechRadar article explains why computers suck at math, and how simple calculations can be a matter of life and death, like in the case of a Patriot defense system failing to take down a Scud missile attack: 'The calculation of where to look for confirmation of an incoming missile requires knowledge of the system time, which is stored as the number of 0.1-second ticks since the system was started up. Unfortunately, 0.1 seconds cannot be expressed accurately as a binary number, so when it's shoehorned into a 24-bit register — as used in the Patriot system — it's out by a tiny amount. But all these tiny amounts add up. At the time of the missile attack, the system had been running for about 100 hours, or 3,600,000 ticks to be more specific. Multiplying this count by the tiny error led to a total error of 0.3433 seconds, during which time the Scud missile would cover 687m. The radar looked in the wrong place to receive a confirmation and saw no target. Accordingly no missile was launched to intercept the incoming Scud — and 28 people paid with their lives.'"

Disease May Prevent Manned Journey To Mars 177

Pickens writes "Science Daily News reports that human missions to Mars and all other long-term space flights might be compromised by disease, first because space travel appears to weaken astronauts' immune systems; and second, because it increases the virulence and growth of microbes. 'When people think of space travel, often the vast distances are what come to mind first,' says Jean-Pol Frippiat from Nancy-University in France, 'but even after we figure out a way to cover these distances in a reasonable amount of time, we still need to figure out how astronauts are going to overcome disease and sickness.' Frippiat says studies show that immune systems of both people and animals in space flight conditions are significantly weaker than their grounded counterparts and that common pathogens such as Salmonella, E. coli and Staphylococcus reproduce more rapidly in space flight conditions, leading to increased risk of contamination, colonization and serious infection."

Unix is the worst operating system; except for all others. -- Berry Kercheval