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Comment: Re:Your justice system is flawed, too. (Score 1) 1081

by athmanb (#49260721) Attached to: How To Execute People In the 21st Century
You're putting too much value on single people. Hitler as a person didn't cause WW2, and certainly wouldn't be able to repeat it in 1980. Franz Ferdinand didn't really cause WW1 either. Both of them were only a single symptom of their times and if they hadn't existed a similar course of history would have taken place.

Hitler could only start WW2 in the 1930s because he had a willing base of angry Germans with a mix of justified and unjustified grievances. He was the "first past the post" politician to harness those frustrations but if he hadn't existed some other populist would have, if not a Nazi then a Communist. 50 years later the situation was entirely different, the people content, and nobody could've gotten a majority support for political upheaval. We know this because the RAF certainly tried to.

Comment: Re:At this point Mars is running before you can wa (Score 1) 228

The only way I can think of to remove Venus' atmosphere is through freezing. But then you're stuck with a -80C planet.

As far as chemical means go, CO2 is incredibly stable. Even if you do find a way to convert it down to carbon and oxygen by spending inordinate amounts of energy on chemical processes you still end up lowering the pressure by only one third (since the other two thirds are oxygen) and you now have a planet where everything you bring down to the surface will go up in a fire immediately.

You could instead combine it into carbonates but you'd need huge amounts of cations for that and I'm not aware of any significant source of such ionized materials that aren't already combined into salts.

Physically removing it is out of the question because you'd need to find a way to accelerate the entire atmosphere to escape velocity. Just knocking a few asteroids into it won't help much because the gases will never leave Venus's sphere of influence and should return over the next years.

Comment: Re:How is that startling? (Score 1) 413

by athmanb (#48480449) Attached to: Mathematicians Study Effects of Gerrymandering On 2012 Election
This is absolutely untrue, just look at these maps. Control over redistricting by party:
Gerrymanderization of districts:
WV, IL and MD are truly gerrymandered democratic controlled states. As opposed to the entirety of the southeastern US from Texas to Pennsylvania that are republican controlled and gerrymandered.

Comment: Re:510kph is airliner speed? (Score 1) 419

by athmanb (#48396183) Attached to: Japanese Maglev Train Hits 500kph

Hokkaido is a bit of a bad example though since there's no Shinkansen service through the tunnel.

Going 1500km the other way to Kagoshima the train takes about 7 hours, and the airplane 5-6 (from city center to city center). That's with the 270km/h regular Shinkansen. If you increased the speed to maglev levels the train would outperform an airplane.

Comment: Re:A question for the Astronomers (Score 2) 58

by athmanb (#43367773) Attached to: Kepler Watches White Dwarf Warp Spacetime
By the way your analogy is very wrong. Because while there are indeed a lot of stars, they are also quite far away. An average star (diameter 10^6 kilometers) at 1000 light years (10^17 kilometers) distance is merely 10^-9 degrees across. To fill the entire night sky with stars you'd need 10^22 stars at that distance which is about how many of them exist in the entire universe. In fact it's statistically quite impossible for stars to actually cover each other.

Comment: Re:Neil deGrasse Tyson (Score 1) 520

by athmanb (#43064829) Attached to: Neil deGrasse Tyson On How To Stop a Meteor Hitting the Earth

There is literally nothing we could do about a Kansas-size (500km) asteroid but that scenario is highly unlikely, there isn't any evidence that such an impact happened anywhere in the solar system in the last 3.5b years.
A realistic scenario is an asteroid between 100m and 1km, and ion thrusters and nuclear propulsion have a high enough efficiency that they can influence that category.

Comment: Re:Big deal... (Score 1) 848

by athmanb (#42928095) Attached to: Billionaires Secretly Fund Vast Climate Denial Network

"No" doesn't mean "No" as the rather tired example of yelling fire in crowded theatres clearly establishes. There are also libel/slander laws passed by congress that limit free speech and nobody has a problem with those. I would hazard a guess that even a hard core libertarian like you wouldn't have a problem with restricting someone's speech if that person is passing out lies intended to damage your life.

Where exactly those borders to free speech are is of course open to debate, but an absolutely inviolable freedom cannot exist much as a true immovable object cannot exist.

Comment: Re:It's because of the police abuse (Score 1) 188

by athmanb (#42852393) Attached to: Egyptian Court Wants To Block YouTube For a Month

This stuff happens everywhere there is a strong state religion and the state relies on religious authorities to manage the population. You inevitably get a religious elite that meshes with the government and profits from the status quo. Those are then of course thoroughly unfriendly to anyone wanting to change the system.

Your "Islamic democracy" really isn't any different than the "Orthodox democracy" in Russia or "Buddhist democracy" in Thailand so there's absolutely no need to be especially islamophobic about it.

Comment: Re:Do not use usernames in email addresses (Score 1) 383

by athmanb (#42755435) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Name Conflicts In Automatically Generated Email Addresses?

Especially in AD you have to assume that everybody knows all user names. Every account has the rights to enumerate and read all nonsecret properties of every other account, and in most environments (especially university ones) getting access to one account is trivial.

Adding a bit of security-through-obscurity to the usernames is akin of putting a bike lock on a bank safe.

interlard - vt., to intersperse; diversify -- Webster's New World Dictionary Of The American Language