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Comment: Re:Not really a US company? (Score 1) 60 60

I'm having a hard time seeing their value launching from any latitude. For $5m you could easily tag along as a secondary payload on a much larger launch. OneWeb is going to be launching up to 36 satellites per launch for their worldwide sat internet coverage (Rocket Lab's claimed target market). You could launch as many as 80 150kg internet sats on one falcon 9 for less than $70m. That's $870k per sat vs $5m.

Comment: Re:Structure & microstructure (Score 1) 43 43

Agree, very promising technology with lots of small scale uses right now. This is the first time I've heard of printing ships and I like the idea of printing buildings on site using recycled building materials.

Living bone awesome, they have their own independent neural network that can function without any help from the brain, (as does your gut). The neural network in your bones is responsible for the structural adaptations made in response to environmental stresses in individuals, it basically senses stresses in 3D and orchestrates bone building to compensate. It is light years ahead of our current materials science but not so much as to be totally implausible.

Comment: Treasurer for sale (Score 1) 260 260

It's actually relatively rare for Aussie politicians to sue people for what they say, Sir Humphrey would call it a "very courageous decision". There was however the recent case of our Federal treasurer who sued a major newspaper for printing the headline "Treasurer for sale". He won a partial victory, the article and headline together were deemed ok because a "reasonable person" would not conclude he was corrupt if they read it in toto. However, using the same logic, promotional posters that just displayed the headline were deemed defamatory. It was also shown via internal emails that the person responsible for the headline had a personal grudge against the treasurer, ie: intent to defame was established.

Disclaimer: Personally I dislike the federal treasurer on multiple levels and think he is guilty of many misleading headlines and public statements that have caused significant financial harm to millions over the last couple of years, but I consider myself a reasonable man and agree with the court's reasonable decision.

Comment: Structure & microstructure (Score 2) 43 43

I don't think the article is suggesting aircraft carriers have a big fabber below desks that will print you out a new aircraft. I expect it will be used in the first instance to reduce inventory for all the spare bits and pieces, and it will be asked to make a new handle for the coffee jug. But I reckon this could go a long way...

The big drop forges are used to form and work-harden material in one blow. If you have a press that is big enough to whack out a whole aircraft bulkhead in one go, then you end up with a thin, light component without any heat-affected zones from welds. That is pretty good way of making tough microstructures provided you can chose your atoms so they form the right sort of microstructures by themselves. You can, in theory have aluminium alloys with carbon fibres in them, but you cannot get them by conventional techniques. But you might be able to lay down sprayed metal and fibres and design your microstructure from scratch. It will probably be slow because you haven't got the massive parallelism of all the atoms doing the right thing for themselves, but it will get us into places that drop forging has never gone.

The other thing we can do is to make complicated internal structures. Our bones have a lattice of tiny struts that are continuously broken and repaired, which is how they optimise their strength. People have made a similar structure for a car bumper. It took a day to print a bumper but it had millions of little struts that absorbed energy as the bumper hit something and crumpled, in a way that a bulk plastic product never could. I can imagine aircraft wings could be stiffer and yet fail in a controlled slow bending rather than buckling if they were made like this. One day we could even mimic the regeneration process of our bones.

I suspect the actual story is nothing like as exciting as this. But it is a beginning.

Comment: Re:Fee Fees Hurt? (Score 3, Informative) 260 260

Free (political) speech is the traditional interpretation of relevant common law that dates back almost 1000yrs, it is not specifically codified in most commonwealth countries but I'm pretty sure the people who wrote the bill of rights were well aware of English common law and similar traditions in France. Speaker's corner in Hyde Park has been the icon for that tradition since the 1850's. Under the traditional interpretation you have a right to broadcast your opinion and you can poke fun at me via parody, but you don't have the right to deliberately misinform the public in order to defame me, nor do you have the right to follow me around and shout at me. For example, in most commonwealth countries the Phelps family would be classified as a "serial pest" and would quite likely spend some time in the lock up for harassment. It has nothing to do with the vile things they say, it's all about the time, place, and manner, they choose to say it.

Commonwealth countries also do not elect unqualified judges from the general population, they are appointed on merit and experience, not popularity.

Comment: Bullcrap! (Score 2) 260 260

Cheap, reliable, VPN's are everywhere, ya wanker!

I use a VPN daily, as do many people I know here in Melbourne. Malcolm Turnbull (the federal communications minister and first heir to the Aussie throne) recently stood on the steps of parliament and strongly recommended their use as a privacy tool, his words were broadcast and dissected ad-nauseam all over the national MSM for days on end. I'm in my 50's, and sure, our current far-right government is the worst pack of amoral bullshitters I have ever seen in parliament but the "anti-piracy" legislation does not ban VPN's and was never intended to do so.

Pro tip: Might want to get someone knowledgeable to check that the "blockage" you are experiencing is not due to a malware infection.

Comment: Re:I can see it now (Score 4, Interesting) 43 43

I can see a ships hull being printed in one piece but a lot of plane parts are made from drop forged metal because it's the only way they can be made both strong enough and light enough to fly, I assume jet engines have a lot of drop forged parts for similar reasons, 3D printers are not going to replace drop forges any day soon. Also the skin of an aircraft is not like the skin of a car, commercial aircraft use a laminated skin to make it more resistant to tearing when the skin is broken at high speed.

Comment: Re:It's that time... (Score 1) 319 319

Asimov's intention was to demonstrate there is no such thing as a "recipe for life" for robots, humans, or any other life form. The 10 commandments and other real life attempts to provide a recipe for life are also full of holes, ambiguities, and corner cases that can only be resolved by human judgement. This is why courts have a judge and jury.

After an instrument has been assembled, extra components will be found on the bench.

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