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Comment: Re:Not a problem... (Score 1) 306

by david_thornley (#47950523) Attached to: New Study Projects World Population of 11B by 2100

You think Project Orion is the solution to interstellar travel? Look, guy, space is big. Mind-bogglingly big.. You may think it's a long way to the chemist's/drug store, but.... If we can get a spaceship going at three thousand kilometers/second, it'd take centuries to reach the nearest star. You may want to calculate how much energy it would take to get something going that fast, and consider the size of a self-contained habitat that will function for centuries.

Comment: Re:Not a problem... (Score 1) 306

by david_thornley (#47950491) Attached to: New Study Projects World Population of 11B by 2100

The characteristic of most deserts is not that there's a lot of salt water, but that there's not a lot of water no matter what. Granted, there are deserts that run into oceans or seas, but there's a whole lot of desert terrain that isn't. The reason why they tend to get an unusual amount of solar power is that they don't get the clouds or precipitation. So, why would we want desert-based desalinization plants?

Comment: Re:No, It Won't (Score 1) 306

by david_thornley (#47950419) Attached to: New Study Projects World Population of 11B by 2100

Could the US feed the world?

IIRC, feeding plants to cows to get beef is about 10% efficient, so let's assume that each of about 300 million Americans is eating effectively ten times as much as is needed. Then, the US could feed about three billion people, or less than half the population.

Water availability is not just a matter of cities. California has some farmland that is very productive, except that it requires considerably more water than it actually gets.

Comment: Re:You "mind isn't as sharp"? (Score 1) 219

by david_thornley (#47950021) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Pick Up Astronomy and Physics As an Adult?

Depends partly on how new the subject. If it has something to do with computers, I can probably learn it faster at my present mumble years of age than when I was 20. Something like music theory I'm not so sure about. I've lost a few mental steps, but I've learned a whole lot about how to learn.

Comment: Re:So then they get another warrant ... (Score 1) 490

by david_thornley (#47948653) Attached to: Apple Will No Longer Unlock Most iPhones, iPads For Police

Communications is a special legal case. Putting anything else in that category would require a new law.

Ever wondered why some places have strict policies on shredding documents and wiping email? It's because if they have these policies, they're not in legal trouble if they're asked for the material. (They are in trouble if they get rid of data they're legally ordered to collect.) It's perfectly legal to limit one's ability to comply with possible court orders.

Comment: Re:What's your suggestion for intelligence work? (Score 1) 490

by david_thornley (#47948541) Attached to: Apple Will No Longer Unlock Most iPhones, iPads For Police

IIRC, the US did a lot of good work in helping crack the four-rotor Enigma cipher, after other Allies had pretty well solved the three-rotor problem. There were other codes and ciphers the US cracked or helped crack.

(Of course, the US also supplied some vulnerabilities. For part of the North Africa campaign, a US military observer was filing excellent and comprehensive reports on the Allied forces in theater, using a code the Germans had a copy of. Once he was recalled, and the German signals intercept unit was destroyed in a chance encounter, Rommel's decision-making seemed less miraculous.)

(Can you find one country that didn't rewrite WWII history for popular consumption? If the rest of the Allies wanted to get their distortions out, they needed to create their own worldwide movie industry.)

Comment: Re:Sanity... (Score 1) 490

by david_thornley (#47948369) Attached to: Apple Will No Longer Unlock Most iPhones, iPads For Police

Do you have case law to back up your interpretation? We won't know for sure unless and until the US Supreme Court rules, but there's indications that the courts will provide at least some password privacy.

IANAL, but the following is my understanding. A subpoena is for civil suits, not criminal. Most privacy fanatics are more afraid of criminal cases, in which case we're talking about search warrants. These usually involve LEOs showing up and collecting whatever is on the warrant, which may be paper files or hard disks or whatever. However, none of these require any cooperation from the defendant. If the defendant refuses to divulge a safe combination, the police can just break it open somehow (so it may be in the defendant's interest to hand over the combination, to avoid destruction of the safe). Requiring any sort of cooperation to collect evidence is getting awfully close to compelling self-incrimination.

Some people have a great ambition: to build something that will last, at least until they've finished building it.

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