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Comment: Re:Elon Musk Called it Two Years Ago (Score 1) 439

by catchblue22 (#48262579) Attached to: Antares Rocket Explodes On Launch

The engines were probably fine, chances are it's something to do with the fuel delivery system that caused the explosion.

The Russians built good engines, and they built a lot of them because they anticipated needing many to get to the moon. Rather than a few big engines like the Saturn V they were using 30 odd smaller ones to do the same job. They had some problems but eventually got it working, just because they abandoned the idea of manned moon missions.

My guess is that it was a turbo-pump that failed. Those are a part of this Soviet engine, and were also likely made in the 1960's.

Comment: Elon Musk Called it Two Years Ago (Score 5, Insightful) 439

by catchblue22 (#48257777) Attached to: Antares Rocket Explodes On Launch

Elon Musk called it two years ago in this interview.

Musk: The results are pretty crazy. One of our competitors, Orbital Sciences, has a contract to resupply the International Space Station, and their rocket honestly sounds like the punch line to a joke. It uses Russian rocket engines that were made in the ’60s. I don’t mean their design is from the ’60s—I mean they start with engines that were literally made in the ’60s and, like, packed away in Siberia somewhere.

Comment: Re:All very sad (Score 1) 439

by catchblue22 (#48257659) Attached to: Antares Rocket Explodes On Launch

NASA spent many years developing processes and vehicles that, initially, had a very high failure rate. Today we are conditioned to expect that these launches will go off safely, but do we need to give the private sector 20 years or so to sort itself out before we start allowing people to fly in their rockets?

Almost all the US space program is ALREADY private. The dominant US launch platform is United Launch Alliance, which was created by a merger of Lockheed Martin and Boeing when the US tried to bring in competitive bidding for Air Force launches. Their merger allowed them to become the sole bidder on most launches, allowing them to continue to receive their cushy "cost plus" bids. These "cost plus" bids allow them to pretty much charge whatever they want for costs, and then receive on top a guaranteed profit margin. There is no incentive for efficiency. In fact, ULA has almost no international customers because their costs are more than double their competitor's prices. They grow fat at the teet of the US Air Force.

Space X is a relative newcomer, but since its first generation rocket (Falcon 1) had three failures, the last of which was caused by a timing error in stage separation, it has had a nearly perfect launch record. The Falcon 9 rocket has never had a significant failure (ie. one that prevented orbit of the primary payload). Touch wood. Their rockets have been designed in house with the eventual goal of re-use. Their rocket engines are designed to be simple and failure resistant. And their rockets have nine engines, so that even if one fails the flight can continue. I wouldn't write off competition yet.

Comment: Re:Horrible track record (Score 1) 439

by catchblue22 (#48257517) Attached to: Antares Rocket Explodes On Launch

I seem to remember a SpaceX rocket accidentally self destructing recently. And people have died serving NASA missions. Tell me who has this illusive awesome track record you are looking for?

It was a test vehicle that self-destructed, and not a full rocket. The test vehicle did not have all of the redundancies of the production rocket. A single sensor failure stopped the rocket. In the real rocket, there are multiple redundant sensors from which the control systems constantly poll...if one goes, the computer ignores it in favor of the other working sensors.

Comment: Obligatory Socrates Quote (Score 1) 296

by catchblue22 (#48256635) Attached to: We Are All Confident Idiots

When I left him, I reasoned thus with myself: I am wiser than this man, for neither of us appears to know anything great and good; but he fancies he knows something, although he knows nothing; whereas I, as I do not know anything, so I do not fancy I do. In this trifling particular, then, I appear to be wiser than he, because I do not fancy I know what I do not know.

From Socrates, The Apology (399 B.C. or so)

Everything old is new again.

Comment: Re:That was quiet (Score 1) 175

by catchblue22 (#48227205) Attached to: Computer Scientist Parachutes From 135,908 Feet, Breaking Record

Hadn't heard anything of this before today, I'll have to look for videos. I guess he didn't want to draw any attention.

There was a video on the NYTimes site, but it was really short. And I just realized that the New York Times has one of the most irritating video players I have ever used.

Comment: Re:Satellites were Once Considered Crazy (Score 1) 352

Elon Musk is in many ways like Werner Von Braun

You mean he's a mass murderer who used technology to rain down death onto the allies? Wow.

Von Braun risked his life to even think about using his rockets for space travel while working under the nazis. He almost single-handedly dragged the Americans into the space age. He is not perfect. But he did change our world in a positive way.

Comment: Satellites were Once Considered Crazy (Score 2) 352

This article argues that Elon Musk is in many ways like Werner Von Braun or the Soviet scientist Sergei Korolev (who pushed the Soviets into space). One thing I got from this article was that the original and primary motivation for building rockets was to make weapons. Von Braun and Kovolev almost singlehandedly pushed their own countries into building rockets to put people into space. Without them, we might not have had satellites as quickly or at all. Placing satellites into orbit and putting humans into orbit was once considered crazy. American government officials considered Von Braun to be eccentric, but they didn't care as long as he gave them better ICBM's. Now our entire civilization is built around satellite technology, and our moon shots have brought us technology advances such as the microchip.

When we talk about putting more humans it can sound a little crazy. However I don't think it is any more crazy than having people climb Mt. Everest, having bases in Antarctica, or sending three small ships westward into the unknown ocean to find a new world. We humans have an inbuilt desire to explore. To ignore that is to go against our fundamental nature.

Comment: Re:Other things they said couldn't be done... (Score 1) 571

by catchblue22 (#48150379) Attached to: Lockheed Claims Breakthrough On Fusion Energy Project

At any rate, when I become annoyed enough, I respond with evidence oriented responses. I find references to uphold my position, and include quotes and links. Now someone may disagree with me, but at least I am not making assertions based solely on my individual position. I am generally disappointed because very few people respond with their own external references.

Agreed. Thus my signature. Sometimes I feel like slashdot is like this:

O: Yes it is!

M: No it isn't!


M: It's just contradiction!

O: No it isn't!

M: It IS!

O: It is NOT!

M: You just contradicted me!

O: No I didn't!

M: You DID!

O: No no no!

M: You did just then!

O: Nonsense!

M: (exasperated) Oh, this is futile!!


O: No it isn't!

M: Yes it is!


M: I came here for a good argument!

O: AH, no you didn't, you came here for an argument!

M: An argument isn't just contradiction.

O: Well! it CAN be!

M: No it can't!

M: An argument is a connected series of statements intended to establish a proposition.

O: No it isn't!

M: Yes it is! 'tisn't just contradiction.

O: Look, if I *argue* with you, I must take up a contrary position!

M: Yes but it isn't just saying 'no it isn't'.

O: Yes it is!

M: No it isn't!

O: Yes it is!

M: No it isn't!

O: Yes it is!

M: No it ISN'T! Argument is an intellectual process. Contradiction is just the automatic gainsaying of anything the other person says.

O: It is NOT!

M: It is!

O: Not at all!

M: It is!

Comment: Re:Sounded real promising right up to.... (Score 4, Insightful) 571

by catchblue22 (#48149461) Attached to: Lockheed Claims Breakthrough On Fusion Energy Project

Sounds real promising right up to "operational within a decade" that's code for we have an idea that on paper sounds like it might possibly work. Please give us lots of money.

Oh puleeaze. This is Skunkworks. Thomas McGuire did his PhD thesis on fusors at MIT. This isn't just some investment scam. Do some research.

Comment: Re:Other things they said couldn't be done... (Score 1) 571

by catchblue22 (#48149439) Attached to: Lockheed Claims Breakthrough On Fusion Energy Project

Yeah. I'm somewhat disappointed that shallow dismissive/mocking comments seem to outnumber more engaged comments by three to one. We are supposed to be geeks. How many of us have heard about this reactor? It was announced many months ago. How many of us have searched the term "high beta reactor"? This development is potentially world-changing. It would solve the world's energy problems. It would make human deep space travel feasible. And the announcement is coming from a credible scientist from a credible laboratory.

I am beginning to suspect that slashdot is getting spammed by agenda driven posters.

Comment: Re:Amazing if it works (Score 4, Interesting) 571

by catchblue22 (#48149339) Attached to: Lockheed Claims Breakthrough On Fusion Energy Project

But plenty of fusion reactor designs have worked in theory; making them work in practice, though...

Yes, but this is Lockheed Martin. And we live in the age of computer aided design, where we can simulate much of an object before building this. In addition, I'm fairly sure that they have built smaller versions of this as proofs of concept. And now they have Thomas McGuire making the announcements, who is the lead scientist on the project, instead of the project manager doing presentations. He wrote his PhD thesis at MIT on fusors.

I am inclined to believe that this is the real thing. My main question is this: They use radio frequency radiation to heat the plasma; how have they overcome the rf shielding effect caused by hot plasma?

Comment: Limitations of D-Wave's Computer (Score 2) 39

by catchblue22 (#48126949) Attached to: Microsoft's Quantum Mechanics

I thought the article had a fairly succinct criticism of D-Wave's computer:

Since 2009, Google has been testing a machine marketed by the startup D-Wave Systems as the world’s first commercial quantum computer, and in 2013 it bought a version of the machine that has 512 qubits. But those qubits are hard-wired into a circuit for a particular algorithm, limiting the range of problems they can work on. If successful, this approach would create the quantum-computing equivalent of a pair of pliers—a useful tool suited to only some tasks. The conventional approach being pursued by Microsoft offers a fully programmable computer—the equivalent of a full toolbox. And besides, independent researchers have been unable to confirm that D-Wave’s machine truly functions as a quantum computer. Google recently started its own hardware lab to try to create a version of the technology that delivers.

You will be successful in your work.