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Comment: Re:What's it good for? (Score 1) 216

by butalearner (#48433539) Attached to: Russia May Be Planning National Space Station To Replace ISS

That's just the hard limit. There will be many catastrophic events between now and then. Sure, the odds that the next one occurs in the next couple of decades is astronomically small, and we have a really, really long way to go to settling on another planet or in space. But your statement "if there's still a civilization" is telling: if we left it to people like you, humanity would keep kicking the can down the road, over and over, until it's too late.

Comment: Re:NDS != NDS (Score 1) 59

by butalearner (#48433327) Attached to: The Nintendo DS Turns 10

Both of my original DS's have a cracked hinge (rough handling from the kids), but both of them still work. Our family still uses them occasionally to play multiplayer games like Mario Kart and New Super Mario Bros DS with our two 3DS XLs.

That's a pretty awesome feature. Several months ago I picked up three used copies of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time for cheap, and the 3DS XLs my wife and I got last Christmas can play multiplayer with the systems we had even before we had kids.

Comment: Re:Huh (Score 1) 223

by butalearner (#48386857) Attached to: Comet Probe Philae To Deploy Drill As Battery Life Wanes

The legs are 'springy' and can be used to hop the lander off the surface. The problem is that they can't tell the orientation of the lander. If it's in a cave, the legs might hop it deeper into shadow.

I understand why they haven't tried it yet, but if it's about to run out of juice anyway, there's no reason not to give it a shot.

Comment: Re:Genius /Insanity (Score 2) 49

by butalearner (#48386835) Attached to: Mathematics Great Alexander Grothendieck Dies At 86
From Wikipedia:

His growing preoccupation with spiritual matters was also evident in a letter entitled Lettre de la Bonne Nouvelle that he sent to 250 friends in January 1990. In it, he described his encounters with a deity and announced that a "New Age" would commence on 14 October 1996.

Yikes. There are still 20,000 pages of unpublished manuscript around, written before the early 1990s. Hopefully most of it was written before these encounters.

Comment: Re:Huh (Score 4, Informative) 223

by butalearner (#48385889) Attached to: Comet Probe Philae To Deploy Drill As Battery Life Wanes

"It seems to me the design and/or planning of this mission were poorly thought out"

Is the funniest fucking thing I've heard all day. Do you have any idea how well thought out this mission was? FFS look at the trajectory it took 10 YEARS(!) to get to the comet. And you think they overlooked the fact that the comet is craggly?


And Philae bounced twice, finally settling in two hours after first touching the comet, which is enough time for the comet to rotate almost 60 degrees. The two systems meant to prevent bouncing - the thruster and the harpoons - failed, so it ended up some kilometer away from the carefully chosen site. That we are getting any science at all after that potentially mission-killing news is just fantastic.

I'm hoping they make some last-ditch effort to have Philae try to jump over to another part of the comet to get more sunlight, though I'm not sure what kind of resources they have to try it. Can they command the drill and/or the legs to jab downward relatively quickly? Command the harpoons to fire? I don't know, but you can bet this will be part of the design on future missions. I actually did some work on this, which made hopping around a key part of the mission.

Comment: Re:Ya...Right (Score 1) 285

by butalearner (#48377799) Attached to: U.S. and China Make Landmark Climate Deal

Of course, since the President has a pen, I'm sure this won't even be submitted to the Senate, and he'll attempt to enforce it through the EPA, or some other anti-American Federal agency.

You know what's anti-American? Calling other Americans anti-American because they disagree with you.

Here's a funny little factoid for you: the Pledge of Allegiance was written by a socialist.

Comment: Re:Uh, simple (Score 1) 246

by butalearner (#48361291) Attached to: The Strangeness of the Mars One Project

My statement was that we will tailor ourselves through a mixture of technology and biology.

If we were actually committed to the technology, we would never have to go ourselves. Sending human bodies implies a zealous commitment to a low tech solution frozen in time, like steam power in the age of electric cars. If we had the technology to make Mars comfortable we would have no need to do so, since martian robots will outstrip the utility of the human body by a country light year.

This is not quite correct, because robots don't have brains, and that is unlikely to change in the near future.

Some parts of our bodies are easier to replace than others. We have been replacing skin, blood, and bone (albeit imperfectly) for a long time. We are becoming better and better at replacing or removing parts of organs like kidneys, lungs, and even the heart. We are not even close to doing the same with our brains. We are starting to learn to do some awesome stuff with it, like control other people's limbs, and we may have even found the on-off switch for consciousness, but we can't replicate or replace the brain. We tried removing parts of it before, but even ignoring the horrid ethical violations, lobotomies had disastrous results and are no longer practiced.

Anyway, the point is, yes, robots could (and will) be a very significant part of colonization effort, but they can't replace humans entirely. I'll give you the idea that much of the human body is low tech, but our brains, though far from perfect, are more advanced than anything we've got.

Comment: Re:Uh, simple (Score 1) 246

by butalearner (#48360781) Attached to: The Strangeness of the Mars One Project

Infrastructure is a lot more complicated some pressure capsules and solar panels. Infrastructure to make a colony viable would mean agriculture and industry (including ways to deal with their negative externalities). Everything about both of those would need to be bootstrapped from Earth.

Even at SpaceX's best rates for the Falcon 9 and Dragon capsules at maximum capacity it would take over 14,000 launches to put those 100,000 colonists into orbit. That alone would cost a trillion dollars (assuming awesome rates from SpaceX and no failures). Just the structures and resources to keep those people alive for the first year would cost several tens of trillions of dollars more. The infrastructure to make an actual colony...well hopefully you get the picture. To put the numbers in better perspective we've only launched a little over 300 manned orbital missions in history. Ever.

A solid outline of the challenges, but a simplistic understanding of the proposed solutions. You don't put 100,000 colonists in orbit as fast as possible and put them to work building a metropolis on Mars. You put a few fertile and healthy couples on Mars at a time, over and over, and you grow the colony over hundreds of years. In fact, you grow several independent ones simultaneously, so one can evacuate to others in the event of an emergency. An additional 300 launches spread out over, say, six Earth-Mars launch windows (about 10 years) could mean 1200-1800 colonists, not counting any children they may have, and the infrastructure, agriculture, and industry involved in supporting those people would grow with the population. It would be heavily reliant on Earth for a long time, but that reliance could slowly disappear over time as Martian humans make do with what they can produce themselves, which could end up being a lot more than we can imagine with today's technology.

Of course, also on those timescales (centuries), the ability to recolonize Earth is questionable. Even the first human that grows up on Mars would have a great deal of trouble adapting to Earth, which would have three times his or her native gravity! They could probably do it with some fancy exoskeleton technology that might not exist yet, but their bones wouldn't be used to the stress at all, and they could easily have some crippling agoraphobia. But who knows what other adaptations the human body will undergo, given enough time. If anything, colonizing Mars is a stepping stone to a mostly space-faring civilization, but that's far, far into the future.

Comment: Re:colonies are viable, just not cost effective (Score 1) 91

by butalearner (#48337057) Attached to: Revolutionary New View of Baby Planets Forming Around a Star

They certainly are if you want them to, you know, ACTUALLY EXIST. Just saying things isn't enough, making glib oversimplifications and appeals to emotion either, you have to actually BUILD IT.

Apple can't build an iPhone with a 5.05 inch screen. Haha! You Apple Nutters think they can do anything. If you think they can do it, where's the part number for the screen? Where's the schedule? Sorry, nobody in the world makes 5.05 inch screens, the technology just isn't there.

Am I doing it right?

You have *NOTHING*.

Ah ha! I know you! You're the software patent examiner that rubber stamps everything that's In The Cloud(TM) or On A Smartphone(TM). We have inflatable habitats in space, but inflatable habitats On The Moon(TM) is entirely new and unproven technology!

Comment: Re:colonies are viable, just not cost effective (Score 1) 91

by butalearner (#48334565) Attached to: Revolutionary New View of Baby Planets Forming Around a Star

Good job ignoring all the parts that countered your main point and focusing on the bit about future technology. Go back and read the tl;dr section and tell me, what technology is missing there? No, part numbers and schedules are not technology, and note the "earth-dependent" prefix on colony. I'll grant you one thing: a heavy lift vehicle that would make the whole thing much easier. But we had one in the past and with Falcon Heavy and/or SLS, we'll have one in a few years. It'll take longer than that to build and test the habitat and train the "colonists" anyway. The technology to maintain a permanent and self-sustaining presence can come later.

Comment: Re:This image cost a billion dollars (Score 4, Informative) 91

by butalearner (#48333551) Attached to: Revolutionary New View of Baby Planets Forming Around a Star
From the link someone else posted:

Although the star is much smaller than the Sun, the disc around HL Tauri stretches out to almost three times as far from the star as Neptune is from the Sun.

That's the caption on an approximate side-by-side comparison image. Neptune is 30.1 AU, so, 80 AU or so? In the image, the disk looks closer to two times the size, but I'm going with the words.

Comment: Re:Drake equation (Score 1) 219

by butalearner (#48278715) Attached to: Most Planets In the Universe Are Homeless

This impacts Drake equation and might shed light as to why we have not detected any other sentient life in the universe.

No, it does not impact the Drake equation at all. The drake equation is based on R* and f(p) which are the the "rate of star formation" and the "fraction of those stars that have planets" (from your link on wikipedia). Both of these numbers are not affected by this finding.

Really it doesn't matter much since proposed numbers for the various factors vary so wildly, but it could change the Drake equation if you wanted (there are other factors listed on the Wikipedia page that could change it as well). In this case, the first three multipliers, R* x fp x ne, estimate the rate at which habitable planets form, but since those terms focus entirely on planets around stars, it ignores habitable homeless planets. So you might replace that with (R* x fp x ne + Rh x fhh), where Rh = rate at which homeless planets form, and fhh = fraction of homeless planets that are habitable. Granted, fhh is probably extremely small (civilization would have to develop deep underground near a molten core), but if we can imagine it, we can't rule it out. There's a bit of a weird crossover when it comes to planets that are flung from other systems (e.g. if it was too close to its star to be habitable, but now its in near-absolute zero interstellar space...), but I'm ignoring that for now. It's all just interesting conjecture anyway.

Comment: Re: how many small businesses has Obama killed? (Score 3, Interesting) 739

by butalearner (#48277401) Attached to: Statisticians Study Who Was Helped Most By Obamacare

That could've been accomplished without messing with my private insurance.

I know this is a personal anecdote, but since I work for large aerospace corporations, this is a personal anecdote for a significant number of people. Before the provisions of Obamacare went into effect, my healthcare premiums rose 20% to 33% per year since 2008. From 2013 to 2014, when all the major provisions went into effect, my deductible went up 20%, but my premium stayed the same (and I never hit the old deductible limit anyway). I changed jobs this year, and in 2015, my premiums and coverage are both staying the same.

I have no idea if Obamacare is responsible for this state of affairs or if it's just coincidence, but it's a damn sight better than what was happening before it came along.

Comment: Re:What did you expect.. (Score 4, Informative) 144

by butalearner (#48271075) Attached to: New Crash Test Dummies Reflect Rising American Bodyweight

Go compare what is costs in most cities to put a veggie loaded salad with some white meat chicken on the table ($20-25 in my experience)

Where are you paying this much?? I mean, chicken breasts in the meat dept on sale are about $1.99/lb....whole chickens often are $0.89/ a veggie and chicken dinner to feed a family of 4 isn't $25?!?!

Where in the US do you live where food is so expensive?

It's almost certainly the veggies that are the problem. In Colorado, the thinnest state in the nation (though even 1 in 5 adults there are obese), I could get all manner of cheap but high-quality fruits and vegetables all year round from Sprouts (a chain grocery store that calls itself a farmer's market). Bell peppers were almost always on sale for $0.25 - $0.50 apiece, and that's including orange ones, which are generally more expensive. Where I live now, 1 in 3 adults are obese, and I'm lucky to find green bell peppers, which are usually the cheapest, for $1.00 apiece. The parking lot farmer's markets (they also had those in CO, by the way, but prices were rarely better there than at Sprouts) are all over now, and their prices weren't much better anyway, so crappy grocery store produce is once again my only option.

As a result, we often end up buying frozen veggies, which don't taste nearly as good, so we don't do it as often. We ate a lot more rice and veggie dishes and salads in CO, but we eat more pasta and meat dishes here.

Over the course of making this post, I found out that Sprouts is coming to my city in 2015. I am very excited about this.

Comment: Re:But where are the potentional profits? (Score 1) 116

Tell me how you intend to make a *profit* by going into space with massive amounts of technology and resources???

To get the same things we already have here?

True, even with those kinds of numbers, I very much doubt it will be profitable to bring it back to Earth. It does, however, enable a leap forward for human spaceflight. It's tremendously expensive to lift stuff from Earth's surface, and water is far and away the most useful resource for astronauts, well beyond simply drinking or bathing with it. Surround a spacecraft with it and you've got a radiation barrier. Electrolyze it for rocket fuel (and potentially other types of fuel for backup power) and components of breathable air. Grow crops for food and natural carbon dioxide scrubbing. If you're on an asteroid, moon, or planet, mix it with regolith to help create surface structures.

Felson's Law: To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is research.