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Comment: Re:FUD filled.... (Score 1) 212

It sounds like this transformer had its center tap grounded and was the path to ground on one side of a ground loop as the geomagnetic field moved under pressure from a CME, inducing a common-mode current in the long-distance power line. A gas pipeline in an area of poor ground conductivity in Russia was also destroyed, it is said, resulting in 500 deaths.

One can protect against this phenomenon by use of common-mode breakers and perhaps even overheat breakers. The system will not stay up but nor will it be destroyed. This is a high-current rather than high-voltage phenomenon and thus the various methods used to dissipate lightning currents might not be effective.

+ - Letter to Congress: Ending U.S. Dependency on Russia for Access to Space 1

Submitted by Bruce Perens
Bruce Perens (3872) writes "I've sent a letter to my district's senators and member of congress this evening, regarding how we should achieve a swifter end to U.S. dependency on the Russians for access to space. Please read my letter, below. If you like it, please join me and send something similar to your own representatives. Find them here and here. — Bruce

Dear Congressperson Lee,

The U.S. is dependent on the Russians for present and future access to space. Only Soyuz can bring astronauts to and from the Space Station. The space vehicles being built by United Launch Alliance are designed around a Russian engine. NASA's own design for a crewed rocket is in its infancy and will not be useful for a decade, if it ever flies.

Mr. Putin has become much too bold because of other nations dependence. The recent loss of Malaysia Air MH17 and all aboard is one consequence.

Ending our dependency on Russia for access to space, sooner than we previously planned, has become critical. SpaceX has announced the crewed version of their Dragon spaceship. They have had multiple successful flights and returns to Earth of the un-crewed Dragon and their Falcon 9 rocket, which are without unfortunate foreign dependencies. SpaceX is pursuing development using private funds. The U.S. should now support and accelerate that development.

SpaceX has, after only a decade of development, demonstrated many advances over existing and planned paths to space. Recently they have twice successfully brought the first stage of their Falcon 9 rocket back to the ocean surface at a speed that would allow safe landing on ground. They have demonstrated many times the safe takeoff, flight to significant altitude, ground landing and re-flight of two similar test rockets. In October they plan the touchdown of their rocket's first stage on a barge at sea, and its recovery and re-use after a full flight to space. Should their plan for a reusable first-stage, second, and crew vehicle be achieved, it could result in a reduction in the cost of access to space to perhaps 1/100 of the current "astronomical" price. This would open a new frontier to economical access in a way not witnessed by our nation since the transcontinental railroad. The U.S. should now support this effort and reap its tremendous economic rewards.

This plan is not without risk, and like all space research there will be failures, delays, and eventually lost life. However, the many successes of SpaceX argue for our increased support now, and the potential of tremendous benefit to our nation and the world.

Please write back to me.

Many Thanks

Bruce Perens"

Comment: Re:Where were you when the Eagle landed? (Score 1) 211

by tragedy (#47505721) Attached to: Apollo 11 Moon Landing Turns 45

From the article you link to:

Before the war, Bush had gone on the record as saying, "I don't understand how a serious scientist or engineer can play around with rockets",[56] but in May 1944, he was forced to travel to London to warn General Dwight Eisenhower of the danger posed by the V-1 and V-2.

So, it looks like he wasn't a fan of rocketry in general, which wasn't really particularly visionary of him in retrospect.

Comment: Re:Evolution (Score 1) 253

by Bruce Perens (#47485313) Attached to: New Treatment Stops Type II Diabetes

:-)

You make it sound like starving people are getting fat too.

If they are becoming obese, the particular individual has a surplus of caloric intake, if only for this year or month. This is not to say that they have proper nutrition. So I am not at all clear that the fact that there is obesity in the third world is confounding evidence.

Comment: Evolution (Score 1) 253

by Bruce Perens (#47480445) Attached to: New Treatment Stops Type II Diabetes
For most of the existence of mankind and indeed all of mankind's progenitors, having too much food was a rare problem and being hungry all of the time was a fact of life. We are not necessarily well-evolved to handle it. So, no surprise that we eat to repletion and are still hungry. You don't really have any reason to look at it as an illness caused by anything other than too much food.

Comment: Old wives tale (Score 1) 253

by Okian Warrior (#47480317) Attached to: New Treatment Stops Type II Diabetes

Remember the movie wall-e? All those fat people on the ship, we're going to end up like them if we don't tackle the root problem. A cure for type II diabetes is great and all, but it does nothing to solve the root problem(s).

This is an echo-chamber response: someone on the internet heard something, and keeps repeating it. It's rooted in emotional superiority, and comes from someone with no background in scientific research or statistics.

All attempts to pin obesity on the "that sounds about right" reasons have failed, including exercise and food intake - for both amounts and types of food.

In particular, lab animals grown today are fatter than the ones grown decades ago, despite having the same (and well-documented) diets and exercise. (Source.) Same with pets.

Current opinion holds that there is something in the environment that causes obesity - some agent that wasn't pervasive a couple of decades ago. Over 700 possible causes have been suggested, including your favorite bugaboo (whatever that is). We're slowly going through the options looking for the cause.

No diet will work, even that great "miracle cure" you heard about on Oprah. Lack of exercise doesn't cause it. Diets and exercise regimes work for *some* people because in changing their behaviour they eliminate the causal factor inadvertently - without knowing what it is. It wasn't the diet and it wasn't the exercise.

Try to keep current with scientific theory, otherwise we'll be repeating these old wives tales forever.

Comment: Definition of AI? (Score 2) 71

by Okian Warrior (#47476679) Attached to: Interviews: Ask Dr. Andy Chun About Artificial Intelligence

Can you explain to us exactly what AI is?

As a definition, the Turing test has problems - it assumes communication, it conflates intelligence with human intelligence, and humans aren't terribly good at distinguishing chatbots from other humans.

Also, using a test for a definition works well in mathematics, but not so much in the real world. Imagine defining a car as "anything 5 humans say is a car" and then trying to develop one. Without feedback or guidance, the developers have to trot every object in the universe in front of a jury, only to receive a yes/no answer to the question: "is this a car?"

Many AI texts have a 'kind of fuzzy, feel-good definition of AI that's useless for construction or distinguishing an AI program from a clockwork one. Definitions like "the study of programs that can think", or "programs that simulate intelligent behaviour" shift the burden of definition (of intelligence) onto the reader, or become circular.

One could define a car as "a body, frame, 4 wheels, seats, and an engine in this configuration", and note that each of these can be further defined: a wheel is a rim and a tire, a tire is a ring of steel-belted rubber with a stem valve, a stem valve is a rubber tube with a schrader valve, a schrader valve is a spring and some gaskets...

With a constructive definition, one could distinguish between a car and, say: a tractor, a snowmobile, a child's wagon, a semi, and so on. Furthermore, it would be conceptually straightforward to build one: you know where to start, and how to get further information if you are unsure.

Compare with a group from mathematics: a closed set plus an operator with certain features (associativity, identity, inverses), and each feature can be further defined (an identity element is...). Much of mathematics is this way: concepts constructed from simpler concepts with a list of requirements.

The study of AI seems to be founded in mathematics. At least, all the AI papers I've read are heavy with mathematical notation - usually obscure and very dense mathematical notation. It should be possible to determine with some rigor what the papers are talking about.

Can you tell us what that is? What *exactly* is AI?

Comment: Re: If you pay... (Score 2) 15

Martin,

The last time I had a professional video produced, I paid $5000 for a one-minute commercial, and those were rock-bottom prices from hungry people who wanted it for their own portfolio. I doubt I could get that today. $8000 for the entire conference is really volunteer work on Gary's part.

Someone's got to pay for it. One alternative would be to get a corporate sponsor and give them a keynote, which is what so many conferences do, but that would be abandoning our editorial independence. Having Gary fund his own operation through Kickstarter without burdening the conference is what we're doing. We're really lucky we could get that.

Comment: Re:One hell of a slashvertisement! (Score 2) 15

I think TAPR's policy is that the presentations be freely redistributable, but I don't know what they and Gary have discussed. I am one of the speakers and have always made sure that my own talk would be freely redistributable. I wouldn't really want it to be modifiable except for translation and quotes, since it's a work of opinion. Nobody should get the right to modify the video in such a way as to make my opinion seem like it's anything other than what it is.

Nobody said computers were going to be polite.

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