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Comment Re:The treaty says no such thing. (Score 1) 135

I considered the near Earth object case. Clearly that's the easiest place to return material from; the problem is that it's coals-to-Newcastle. So far as we know the bulk of that material is stuff that's easy to get here on Earth: silicates, sulfides, iron, nickel etc. Judging from meteors found here on Earth there are exotic materials like iridium, but in trace quantities.

While there's no doubt lots of valuable stuff like platinum up there, I think people are picturing it as floating around as nuggets of largely native metal. The platinum deposits in Canada's Sudbury Basin were delivered by a meteor, but that meteor was fifteen km across. It contained a lot of Pt in absolute terms, but in relative terms the Pt was rare compared to silicates or nickel. The liquefaction of the meteor in impact separated the heavy metals into convenient deposits. If we tried to mine that object while it was in space we'd have had to crush and melt a lot of ore to get much Pt.

Comment Re:Apple would reject 100% CPU app (Score 1) 288

I thought 100% CPU loops in a background application were exactly what the App Store review process was designed to prevent.

Unfortunately, first-party code doesn't go through that same process. I was thinking in particular about a recent experience with spotlight indexing when I made that snarky comment.

Comment Re: The treaty says no such thing. (Score 1) 135

You know, you post as AC but it's really obvious who you are, you have the same writing style everywhere you post ;)

Anyway, here's what the treaty actually says:

Outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means.

Any questions?

Comment Re:The treaty says no such thing. (Score 2) 135

The missing part is making explicit that an entity owns what it mines and has the right to work the mines it develops. I think given the context it's pretty clear that this was expected, but it is an oversight. You know, if one corporation spent billions clearing the overburden off an asteroid, then another company comes in and just starts mining the ore in question... that's a big problem. It needs to be controlled. Really, it should be allocated out in blocks, with exclusive rights given to use the blocks but only if they're actively working those blocks within a certain timeperiod from their last renewal.

On Earth this is done by nations auctioning off resource extraction rights, but since there's no national ownership of territory in space, no nation could rightfully profit from selling off resource blocks. Blocks would either have to be free or for profits go to an international fund. In the early days, since nobody knows whether space mining actually will play out to be profitable at this point in time, one would expect them to start out free.

But of course all of this would require a new treaty.

Comment Re:The treaty says no such thing. (Score 1) 135

Things don't always come down to that. Look at the Cod Wars between Iceland and the UK. Three times Iceland pushed the UK - a nuclear power with hundreds of times its population - back further and further out its shores. The UK had the military ability to crush Iceland like an ant. But Iceland succeeded by combination of making it economically unfeasible for the British to fish Icelandic waters (net cutters, for example) and well-played international geopolitical maneuvering (for example, threatening to give the NATO base at Keflavík to the Soviets if the US didn't exert pressure on the UK, while also successfully positioning itself as a small weak state being bullied by a large powerful one)

Anyway, the Outer Space Treaty was well meaning. Think of the context of the Cold War and how that was all playing out. It seemed logical to think that both nations would begin laying claim to various bodies (or parts thereof), say by landing as many landers as they could to them... which would inherently lead to disputes, just like happens with worthless pieces of land on Earth - with the each side supporting their claim by military means, just like happens on Earth. It was seen as a ripe grounds for an unchecked military escalation, and while it would start out on other celestial bodies, it would progress to LEO and GEO, and then to Earth.

They were probably way overly optimistic about the space of advancement in space technology (remember, this was 1967) and overly pessimistic about everything else. They certainly weren't trying to "block commercial mining"; the goal was simply to prevent a space arms race between rival powers. Quite to the contrary, the treaty talks frequently about encouraging the peaceful use of space for the benefit of humanity. There's just one detail missing, which is to make explicit that corporations or individuals own what they mine. Without that, there won't be much of any "use of space" beyond exploration.

Comment Re:The treaty says no such thing. (Score 2) 135

Getting things *to* locations in space is inherently expensive. The cost of getting them *back* is not inherently so, if you don't insist on each return having a custom reentry vehicle and instead just shape it as its own reentry vehicle, with full expectation that it'll suffer some ablation during atmospheric entry. Some NEOs have only dozens of meters per second delta-V to reach earth intercept with an optimal trajectory and timing - a good baseball pitcher could do that unaided ;)

Comment Re:The treaty says no such thing. (Score 4, Interesting) 135

It does not prohibit colonization, it just prohibits exclusive territorial claims.

Right, which does not necessarily prevent claiming materials found as private property.

That said, this is all a tempest in a teapot. At this stage of technology asteroid mining is about the worst imaginable investment anyone could make. It's a purely emotional investment, driven by enthusiasm, and it doesn't stand up to critical scrutiny. We don't even go after the valuable on the sea floor because the cost of finding and raising them makes that unprofitable. If there were hundred pound chunks of refinery-pure platinum floating around in the asteroid belt it would cost more to fetch and return them than they'd fetch on the market.

The economics of space travel is dominated by the cost of moving mass in and out of gravity wells and imparting the necessary acceleration to match position and velocity with targets. It follows that we're looking for stuff with the highest value/mass, and until costs drop by a couple of orders of magnitude there's only one commodity worth returning from space: knowledge. The first physical substances worth mining will be things useful in the pursuit of knowledge -- e.g. water that can be converted to rocket fuel without tankering to the outer solar system.

Comment Re:Source Code (Score 1) 45

The ransomware gets its name from the fact that the "DecryptorMax" string is found in multiple places inside its source code.

They distributed the source code with the ransomware?

Or the strings in the source code ended up generating strings in the object code and something like the "strings" tool found them.

Comment Re: Because backups are important (Score 1) 45

We can only assume they are too cheap, lazy or distracted with other things to keep frequent backups.

Or they think they ARE keeping backups, because they ARE - on a different part of the same disk, using automated processes provided and touted by the vendor - but the ransomware disables the tools and deletes the backups. Oops!

There's a difference between "backups" and "adequate, off-machine, backups".

Comment Looks to me like an oversight. (Score 1) 45

Why would you need a random .png from the Internet? Can't they just keep whatever part they need (header?) as part of the binary?

I'd guess:
  - The authors wrote the tool to use enough of the start of an encrypted/clear file pair to generate / sieve the key and deployed that.
  - Some used discovered, after the tool was deployed, that the invariant header of a .png file was long enough that any .png file could function as the "clear" for any encrypted .png (or at least that many unrelated pairs could do that.)

I'd bet that, if the authors had thought there was a nearly-universally-present file type the ransomware would chose to encrypt, with a large enough header to pull off this trick, they'd have included a canned header and the option to use it in the tool.

Comment The HELL they can't! (Score 1) 45

That's something conventional flow batteries can't do.hat's something conventional flow batteries can't do.

The hell they can't. Industrial-scale Vanadium Redox flow batteries are doing that right now, in utility companies, and have been for a couple years. (In New Zeeland, if I recall correctly.)

I think the reason they're not more widely used already is that they're under patent protection, the company is small, and its owners don't want to license the technology or dilute their equity, so the supply is limited to their ramp-up and funding sources.

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