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Comment Ark of the Covenant! (Score 5, Funny) 330

Red Mercury is totally bogus. If they were smart, they'd go to Ethiopia and swipe the Tabota Seyen -- the Ark of the Covenant. There's your super-weapon. I mean, all you have to do is carry it in front of your army, and it just wipes out your enemies in masse! The Ethiopians themselves have used it multiple times in battle.

Did you guys *see* what it did in Raiders of the Lost Ark? That movie was totally fact-based! ;)

Comment Re:GOVERNMENT's commitment? (Score 2) 109

I see much evidence that major governments -- and major environmental groups -- don't really take global warming seriously and don't really want the problem solved. You can judge them by their actions.

If they really took it seriously, the environmental groups would all be backing nuclear power instead of fighting it.

If the US government took global warming seriously, they'd allow new reactor designs instead of forcing companies to go build in China because they have given up on ever getting anything approved in the USA.

If the world took global warming seriously, we'd have massive programs to develop nuclear fusion reactors. It would be like the Manhattan Project or the Apollo Program. I have to grit my teeth when the UN announces ten billion dollars in financial aid to sinking island nations, but nobody can cough up 1/50th of that for a new research reactor.

Comment Re:Typical Liberal Thinking (Score 3, Insightful) 109

Natural gas is a stopgap -- and a highly useful one. I would compare natural gas to a hybrid car, like a Prius. It still burns petroleum fuel, but not as much, and it still pollutes, but not as much, and it can help fill the gap until pure battery electric cars are perfected and take off.

In the case of natural gas power plants. . . For now, they're much better than coal. For the future, solar power and nuclear fusion will eventually kill them off.

Comment Re:Typical Liberal Thinking (Score 1) 109

Where's your logic? Why ask a bunch of rhetorical questions when you could look up the answers yourself in five minutes? Maybe because you don't really want to hear the answers. . .

Coal is the dirtiest and most lethal power source by many measures. Yes, we've introduced a lot of environment and safety regulations on coal mining. Yes, we've put scrubbers in the smokestacks and largely gotten rid of acid rain. Coal is much better than it used to be -- but it's still the worst, by far, when compared with any other energy source in widespread use. And we still haven't gotten CO2 sequestration proven and deployed. THAT is why they want to get rid of coal power plants.

Comment Re:Smart man (Score 1) 378

A generational ship would have to be huge, and therefore insanely costly to build and push across interstellar space, and SLOW. Which means that your crew's distant descendants, when they arrived, would find their destination already long since colonized by AIs who got there much more quickly and easily, and probably any earth-like worlds already colonized by humans who were faxed across and synthesized by the AIs.

A generation ship is one of those things that might be technically possible if there were no other way, but there are other ways, and they are so very much superior.

Comment He's Right (Score 5, Insightful) 378

His position is very sensible, and I honestly don't understand all the massive backlash against it.

I guess I can understand some resentment from people who've grown up on Star Trek, at being told it isn't going to play out that way. But seriously now. . . Star Trek was never even hard SF. It was a 1930s pulp sci-fi concept resurrected into a 1960s TV show, and it was fantasy from the beginning. Slashdot is supposed to be news for nerds. Nerds should know this. We should be smarter.

I also wonder how many of you read TFA? Let me help you out: "Some find this to be negative—an absolute statement of limits and thus of giving up. My job here is to prove the opposite: humans exploring the universe with nanotechnology robotics, bio-molecular engineering, and artificial intelligence is something that is exciting and positive, and is based on an optimistic view of the future."

He's not saying we can't explore space with human crews and colonies. He's saying it won't make sense to, because we'll have much better options. Human beings are very costly to keep alive in space, much more than machines -- so we'll send the machines. With uploading, we may *be* the machines.

In fact, I'll go further. I think we should *explore* Mars with manned missions -- because today's robotics technology is too limited, it would take centuries to explore Mars with robots at the pace we're going. But I think we should *settle* Mars with robots. In this case Futurama is probably a better guide than Star Trek. . .

Fry: So let me get this straight. This planet is completely uninhabited?
Bender: No, it's inhabited by robots.
Fry: Oh, kinda like how a warehouse is inhabited by boxes.

Yes. That's Mars.

Comment Re: Revolt (Score 1) 418

or else. . . Put the required backdoor in the software for UK customers, then every time they start to use it pop up a warning: "As required by law, this device is not secure! Do not enter any message that you don't wish to be read by the UK government, the USA, China, or the Russian mob."

Let's see how that goes over.

Comment increasing mass?? (Score 4, Interesting) 100

OK, correct me if I'm wrong here, but. . . Won't a lithium-air battery (or an aluminum-air battery, which is also discussed from time to time) actually increase in mass as it discharges? It's pulling oxygen from the air and then binding it into oxides which then have to be carried around until the battery is recharged, right?

Comment It's the NUCLEAR FUSION, stupid! (Score 1) 173

This is why I don't believe most national governments, "green" activist groups or political parties are serious about tackling global warming. If they were, we would be spending serious money on nuclear fusion research -- beyond just ITER, I mean. We need a Manhattan Project for fusion, an Apollo Program for fusion. But we don't have one. The only reason I can figure is that the people in charge don't really want to solve the problem. That would derail their gravy train. Why spend $200 million on a research reactor that might solve global warming once and for all when you could instead ship $10,000 million in "aid" to island nations that are about to sink? The latter plays much better at the UN!

I firmly believe we could have had nuclear fusion power plants up and running by the year 2000 if the effort had been funded appropriately. We didn't put the funding into this in the 1970s or in the 1980s or in the 1990s -- and surprise, surprise, nothing happened! The only thing we've put money into has been ITER, where they squandered many years just arguing over where to build it, and the design is already looking outdated. If we managed the Apollo Program the way we have ITER, people today would be laughing at the idea of space travel. "A moon landing? That's 40 years away -- and always will be! Haha!!"

Comment What kind of fuel??? (Score 1) 151

Please tell me we're not talking about chemical rockets here? A nuclear rocket is the most sensible way to get to Mars, as it can reduce the flight time to a third of what's required with chemical fuel. Then everything becomes vastly easier. The life support and other supplies are greatly reduced. The crew's exposure to radiation and microgravity is greatly reduced. We developed nuclear rocket engines in the 1960s. It's time to use them.

Now, if you want to mine thermal reaction mass on the Moon, sure. . . Why not? The Moon would be a great proving ground for equipment and techniques that would be used on the later Mars mission.

Comment Re:Remodeling (Score 1) 137

Thanks for reminding me that only the moneyed elites can afford a $350 flat screen TV from Wal-Mart and a sofa, or have any space in their hovel for such an extravagant rig. Because I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth, I forgot that the masses of ordinary people are living in cardboard boxes and subsisting on canned beans. I am ashame.

Comment Re:Remodeling (Score 1) 137

Well, let's do some thinking about this. . . .

Minimum or maximum? Valve haven't been very clear about what the 15 X 15 ft specification actually means. I don't believe it means you require 15 X 15 ft clear space to use their headset. I think what they mean is that a 15 X 15 ft space is the largest area the lighthouse system is capable of scanning reliably. I also got the impression that it can be programmed with the location of furniture protruding into the play area (let's say, a dresser up against the wall) and incorporate that into its boundary warning system. (I'm reading between the lines here. But if I am wrong in these understandings, then practically nobody -- including me -- will be able to use the thing without knocking out walls inside their home!)

A lot of people do have "home theater" if you understand home theater to be as little as a 40 inch flat screen TV and a sofa. It doesn't have to be a 65+ inch TV with 7+ surround speakers and an elaborate seating arrangement in order to be home theater. Some people do have that, and that kind of rig is analogous to the 15 X 15 ft space for VR -- but it's not typical and doesn't need to be.

With movies, the content isn't tied to a specific form factor. You can watch movies on the 65+ inch home theater, but you can also watch them on an iPhone and everything in-between. VR may not have that kind of easy scalability at first. But there was a time when TV didn't either. And we do have the Samsung phone VR thing. . . This is the beginning of the journey, not the end.

Comment Remodeling (Score 1) 137

For whatever it's worth, I'm remodeling a guest bedroom with this exact purpose in mind. I'll get a folding wall bed, so it can still function as a (spartan) guest bedroom, but with the bed folded up there'll be just about 12X12 feet of open space.

I'm thinking of the comment I read somewhere from somebody at Valve. . . I don't remember who, or the exact quote, but basically: "People already routinely set aside space in their houses for a home theater. If VR is compelling enough, they'll make room for it."

Comment Lessons of the Taser (Score 1) 712

We've already been through this with the now-widely-issued Taser, and I should hope some lessons have been learned.

The Taser was originally sold as a non-lethal replacement for the service pistol, as a defensive weapon. Instead we've seen Tasers widely used as compliance devices -- in other words, as a replacement for the billy club. Instead of thumping or choking an uncooperative subject, now you can zap him until he cries uncle! Rather than issue Tasers as a replacement for firearms, it's now common to see a cop with a Taser on one side of his belt and a Glock on the other -- and when they need to actually defend themselves, the Glock is what they reach for.

We're living in a golden age. All you need is gold. -- D.W. Robertson.