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Comment: Re:And today (Score 1) 211

by cusco (#47507905) Attached to: Apollo 11 Moon Landing Turns 45

for the enormous cost of servicing the Hubble it could have simply been replaced,

No, there's not enough pork in a new telescope for Congress to pass funding, which is why Webb took so long to get funded. To dig a tunnel out of prison you might want a boring machine, but if all you have is a shovel you'll use that. NASA was stuck using a spoon because that was all that Congress would allow. The most disappointing thing that we learned from the entire Hubble mission is that while they wouldn't even pay for basic maintenance on Hubble until NASA had grovelled sufficiently and promised even more giveaways to the Pentagon, they gleefully purchased so many Hubble-class telescopes for the National Recon Office that the NRO couldn't even use two of them.

If Webb ever needs servicing it will be abandoned, since Congress will never budget the funding for the R&D in time to prevent minor malfunctions from cascading into complete failure. There just isn't enough pork in it.

Comment: Re:"Moondust" (Score 1) 211

by cusco (#47504035) Attached to: Apollo 11 Moon Landing Turns 45

Non-obligatory XKCD. 'Number of living humans who have walked on another world.'

The overtext says, "The universe is probably littered with the one-planet graves of cultures which made the sensible economic decision that there's no good reason to go into space--each discovered, studied and remembered by the ones who made the irrational decision."

Comment: Re:What if we hadn't? (Score 1) 211

by cusco (#47503195) Attached to: Apollo 11 Moon Landing Turns 45

Early on VonBraun planned on using multiple launches and assemble the spacecraft in orbit. Kennedy's 'end of the decade' deadline made that proposal a non-starter, since we didn't have the time necessary to learn the proper construction techniques, so we ended up with the enormous beast of the Saturn V as our booster. It's too bad, VonBraun's design would have had people working on the surface for as much as a month at a time before returning, and the program would have grown at a sustainable rate that could have been integrated into the economy and government.

Comment: Re:It's right there! (Score 1) 211

by cusco (#47503079) Attached to: Apollo 11 Moon Landing Turns 45

The moon landing was carried live worldwide, even on the few television stations in the USSR and China. To my knowledge it still holds the record for the program with the largest percentage of televisions worldwide tuned in. (Any game in the World Cup had larger numbers, but as a percentage of total available viewers I believe Apollo still wins.)

Comment: Re:It's not a miracle (Score 1) 211

by cusco (#47502893) Attached to: Apollo 11 Moon Landing Turns 45

Not to be rude, but that's a rather absurd assumption. Do you really think we know everything that will ever be possible to learn about physics? Since the majority of the universe seems to be made of matter and energy that we can't even detect yet I think there just may be some wiggle room for new discoveries.

Even more absurd is the assumption that the only reason to go to space is to go to other stellar systems in the blink of an eye. There is more than enough here in our own system to keep humanity occupied for centuries, and generation ships would be a natural outgrowth of asteroid colonization.

Comment: Re:And today (Score 1) 211

by cusco (#47502427) Attached to: Apollo 11 Moon Landing Turns 45

Sorry, but people poking and prodding and adjusting things are all that keep most of the experiments on the ISS running. You have a very distorted view of the reliability of electrical and mechanical equipment if you're unaware of that simple fact. Hubble functioned for as long as it did only because human beings were able to get up there and work on it. The big reason to have people living and working in space is that because THAT'S THE ONLY FRELLING WAY TO LEARN HOW TO LIVE THERE! If we're ever going to colonize the rest of the universe we're going to need to take these baby steps, and the sooner the better.

Comment: Re:It's always the other guy's fault. (Score 2) 211

by cusco (#47501133) Attached to: Apollo 11 Moon Landing Turns 45

So how does one learn how to colonize space without "slinging meat bags" out there? Robots can do a lot of exploration and even do some of the preparation for installing habitats, but the only way to learn how to live in space is to actually GO THERE. Yes, LEO is barely "in outer space", but until we come up with good shielding we need to rely on the Van Allen belts for protection. For now, we're just taking baby steps, and the pols insist that killing brown people is more important than learning to run so that's what we'll continue doing for now. Space is our future, though.

The Earth is the cradle of humanity, but mankind cannot stay in the cradle forever. - Konstantin Tsiolkovsky

Comment: Re:Bitcoin isn't money but it's still a financial (Score 1) 135

by cusco (#47427287) Attached to: Judge Shoots Down "Bitcoin Isn't Money" Argument In Silk Road Trial

Unless you're a former Treasury Secretary who goes to work for CitiCorps money laundering, er, 'private banking' division, or the head of the New York Stock Exchange who can go to Colombia and offer the NYSE's services to the FARC. Then you're just a shining example of the values of a Business Administration degree.

Comment: Re:Bitcoin isn't money but it's still a financial (Score 2) 135

by cusco (#47427203) Attached to: Judge Shoots Down "Bitcoin Isn't Money" Argument In Silk Road Trial

When get get cash from an ATM, the bank associates your name with the unique ID on every bill.

No, they don't. Not even the $100 bills. My mother ran a credit union for over a decade, if the gov't tried to foist that kind of overhead on the country's credit unions you would have heard the banshee wails all the way to McMurdo Station. Whether Chase, BoA or one of the other major money laundries does for some bizarre reason it's voluntary, not a requirement.

Comment: Re:Fear Mongers Didn't Want to Let Cassini Fly (Score 2) 45

by cusco (#47400473) Attached to: Cassini's Space Odyssey To Saturn

And even then, multiple RTGs have been involved in launch failures and none have ever caused a problem. More often than not they were fished out of the ocean (US) or dug out of the tundra (USSR), refurbished, and used again on a later mission. I've never been clear on the mechanism the Luddites propose for the RTG to "vaporize" and then spread radioactive dust evenly throughout the atmosphere, targeting human lungs, either.

Comment: Re:Really bad explanation of the evolution. (Score 1) 133

by cusco (#47400377) Attached to: Tibetans Inherited High-Altitude Gene From Ancient Human

You just implied that the only non-sexual method of gene migration was artificial, which isn't the case. Among some genera transplanted genes cause evolution to advance much faster than typical mutation rates would.
And yes, the Denesovians are extinct, whether they are a modern human subspecies or an entirely separate humanoid species (the answer to that will depend on which definition of 'species' you use). The African Hairless Dog and the Siamese Hairless Dog both survived into the late 19th century, late enough to be photographed. Being dogs they would have mated with any other canid that held still long enough so some of their genes are still going to be out there, but both breeds have been extinct for a century.

Comment: Re:Trolling (Score 2) 349

by cusco (#47384901) Attached to: Qualcomm Takes Down 100+ GitHub Repositories With DMCA Notice

I remember the original VCR lawsuits, where the principal complainant, Sony Entertainment, sued manufacturers of VCRs to try to somehow disable them from copying tapes. The principal defendant? Sony Electronics, the largest manufacturer of VCRs at the time. Then we got to see the whole show play out again a few years later with CD burners.

Comment: Re:Really bad explanation of the evolution. (Score 1) 133

by cusco (#47377469) Attached to: Tibetans Inherited High-Altitude Gene From Ancient Human

Horsepuckey. Transposons (sp?) are chunks of DNA that get moved around between species by viruses and plasmids. It's actually quite common. We have many chunks of non-human and in fact non-primate genetic material in our DNA that was imported over the eons. I don't know how much of it is expressed as active genes and how much is just 'junk' DNA, I haven't read up on it for several years, but it's there.

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