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Comment: Re:Missing the point (Score 1) 193

Maxwell and Newton were one-in-a-million. (if not more) Do we really want to only harness that small a portion of the human race's mind-power? Yes there will always be some who will have found their motivation in the natural world, and don't need any artifice. But is there really a problem with providing inspiring artifice? Does that make contributions those people make worthless? They may well be second-rate compared to Maxwell or Newton, but that also takes in the vast majority of mankind. To do better seems good.

Comment: Re:The idea is interesting but I'm not convinced. (Score 1) 193

Which highlights what I'd really like to see added to the ISS - a farm module. Test a farm module on the ISS, getting the concept ready for a Mars mission. Do we really plan to send something on the order of 2 years of consumables on a Mars mission, recycling only the water? We need much more complete recycling, and we'll need it for any permanent presence anywhere beyond Earth. For that matter the only reason we don't need it on Earth is because we've got this giant biosphere that has handled the details pretty well for us, up until the past several decades.

I rather like the idea of such a farm module even on Earth. No doubt it would be designed for compactness, efficiency, and minimal hand-holding. Sounds good to me - put one of those in the back yard and cut the grocery bills. (I realize that the initial outlay is likely prohibitive, but the idea is neat.) There are also likely places on Earth where such a thing would be worthwhile, say Antarctica or other inhospitable locations.

(Note that I didn't say that a farm module would use sunlight - that might not work for Mars, and probably not beyond.)

+ - 5,200 Days Aboard ISS and the Surprising Reason the Mission is Still Worthwhile

Submitted by HughPickens.com
HughPickens.com (3830033) writes "Spaceflight has faded from American consciousness even as our performance in space has reached a new level of accomplishment. In the past decade, America has become a truly, permanently spacefaring nation. All day, every day, half a dozen men and women, including two Americans, are living and working in orbit, and have been since November 2000. Charles Fishman has a long, detailed article about life aboard the ISS in The Atlantic that is well worth the read where you are sure to learn something you didn't already know about earth's permanent outpost in space. Some excerpts:

The International Space Station is a vast outpost, its scale inspiring awe even in the astronauts who have constructed it. From the edge of one solar panel to the edge of the opposite one, the station stretches the length of a football field, including the end zones. The station weighs nearly 1 million pounds, and its solar arrays cover more than an acre. It’s as big inside as a six-bedroom house, more than 10 times the size of a space shuttle’s interior. Astronauts regularly volunteer how spacious it feels. It’s so big that during the early years of three-person crews, the astronauts would often go whole workdays without bumping into one another, except at mealtimes.

On the station, the ordinary becomes peculiar. The exercise bike for the American astronauts has no handlebars. It also has no seat. With no gravity, it’s just as easy to pedal furiously, feet strapped in, without either. You can watch a movie while you pedal by floating a laptop anywhere you want. But station residents have to be careful about staying in one place too long. Without gravity to help circulate air, the carbon dioxide you exhale has a tendency to form an invisible cloud around your head. You can end up with what astronauts call a carbon-dioxide headache.

Even by the low estimates, it costs $350,000 an hour to keep the station flying, which makes astronauts’ time an exceptionally expensive resource—and explains their relentless scheduling: Today’s astronauts typically start work by 7:30 in the morning, Greenwich Mean Time, and stop at 7 o’clock in the evening. They are supposed to have the weekends off, but Saturday is devoted to cleaning the station—vital, but no more fun in orbit than housecleaning down here—and some work inevitably sneaks into Sunday.

Life in space is so complicated that a lot of logistics have to be off-loaded to the ground if astronauts are to actually do anything substantive. Just building the schedule for the astronauts in orbit on the U.S. side of the station requires a full-time team of 50 staffers.

Almost anyone you talk with about the value of the Space Station eventually starts talking about Mars. When they do, it’s clear that we don’t yet have a very grown-up space program. The folks we send to space still don’t have any real autonomy, because no one was imagining having to “practice” autonomy when the station was designed and built. On a trip to Mars, the distances are so great that a single voice or email exchange would involve a 30-minute round-trip. That one change, among the thousand others that going to Mars would require, would alter the whole dynamic of life in space. The astronauts would have to handle things themselves.

That could be the real value of the Space Station—to shift NASA’s human exploration program from entirely Earth-controlled to more astronaut-directed, more autonomous. This is not a high priority now; it would be inconvenient, inefficient. But the station’s value could be magnified greatly were NASA to develop a real ethic, and a real plan, for letting the people on the mission assume more responsibility for shaping and controlling it. If we have any greater ambitions for human exploration in space, that’s as important as the technical challenges. Problems of fitness and food supply are solvable. The real question is what autonomy for space travelers would look like—and how Houston can best support it. Autonomy will not only shape the psychology and planning of the mission; it will shape the design of the spacecraft itself.

"

+ - The World of YouTube Bubble Sort Algorithm Dancing

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "In addition to The Ghost of Steve Jobs, The Codecracker, a remix of 'The Nutcracker' performed by Silicon Valley's all-girl Castilleja School during Computer Science Education Week earlier this month featured a Bubble Sort Dance. Bubble Sort dancing, it turns out, is more popular than one might imagine. Search YouTube, for example, and you'll find students from the University of Rochester to Osmania University dancing to sort algorithms. Are you a fan of Hungarian folk-dancing? Well there's a very professionally-done Bubble Sort Dance for you! Indeed, well-meaning CS teachers are pushing kids to Bubble Sort Dance to hits like Beauty and a Beat, Roar, Gentleman, Heartbeat, Under the Sea, as well as other music. So, will Bubble Sort dancing to Justin Bieber and Katy Perry tunes make kids better computational thinkers?"

Comment: Re:Bear repellent? (Score 1) 276

by dpilot (#48653789) Attached to: TSA Has Record-Breaking Haul In 2014: Guns, Cannons, and Swords

Bear spray is quite nasty stuff. It's meant to stop something big and mean, or at least pursuade it to look toward less-equipped hikers.

Would you have had the "is ... a weapon?" response had it been tear gas instead of bear spray?

The last hike of the vacation was the Grinnel Glacier Trail, and at the end I gave my can to someone headed up that didn't have one. Wasn't going to do me any good, didn't need it at home even if I could get it on the plane, and they weren't properly equipped to hike in Glacier N.P. without it.

+ - Problem Solver Beer Tells How Much to Drink to Boost Your Creativity

Submitted by mrspoonsi
mrspoonsi (2955715) writes "When you've been stuck on a problem or that creative spark just won't come, the chances are you've turned to a cup of coffee to get things moving. A quick java infusion can certainly help, but studies also suggest that alcohol can also have a positive impact on your creative cognition. University of Illinois Professor Jennifer Wiley determined that a person's "creative peak" comes when their blood alcohol level reaches 0.075, lowering their ability to overthink during a task. Medical Daily reports that marketing agency CP+B Copenhagen and Danish brewery Rocket Brewing wanted to help drinkers reach their imaginative prime, so they decided to create their own beer to do just that. The result is he Problem Solver. It's a 7.1 percent craft IPA that its makers say offers a "refined bitterness with a refreshing finish." To ensure you reach the optimum creative level, the bottle includes a scale, which determines how much of the beer you need to drink based on your body weight. The agency does offer a word of warning though: "Enjoying the right amount will enhance your creative thinking. Drinking more will probably do exactly the opposite.""

+ - Heathkit – The electronic history mystery->

Submitted by coop0030
coop0030 (263345) writes "In 2013 there was a lot of buzz in the electronics communities about Heathkit returning in some way, however it’s been exactly one year and there has not been any updates. Heathkit “came back” in 2011 too, but nothing materialized then either. Here is our attempt to help piece together some of the puzzle of what has become of Heathkit."
Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:um.... (Score 2) 156

by dpilot (#48646569) Attached to: Can Rep. John Culberson Save NASA's Space Exploration Program?

>NASA did all the really hard work (the basic design of space rockets). You know, the Basic Science that costs billions and
>doesn't pay off for decades. You see, private companies are too focused on short term profit generation to basic science.
>That's why it's done on the public dime.

I won't disagree with you. But I also believe that NASA should be allowing basic launch stuff to go to companies like SpaceX, which reap the rewards of all of that public domain knowledge - the fruits of publicly funded NASA research. It's past time for basic Earth orbit access (and somewhat beyond) to be business as usual.

NASA should be moving on to bigger, tougher jobs, targets that are still beyond the horizon of ordinary business, just like space travel was 50 years ago.

+ - Obsessed: Star Trek TOS continues-> 2

Submitted by SternisheFan
SternisheFan (2529412) writes "ST:TOS's Starship Enterprise was on a 5 year mission, but the original series was canceled after the third year. A new Star Trek:TOS is being created by a dedicated cast and crew intent on keeping true to the spirit of Gene Roddenberry's television show. From recreating the original sets with incredible accuracy and attention to details, staying faithful to original storylines has been a true labor of love for all involved.
        Click on the link below to view a series of videos showing the progress being made on recreating the iconic series."

Link to Original Source

+ - Scientists Discover That Exercise Changes Your DNA

Submitted by HughPickens.com
HughPickens.com (3830033) writes "The human genome is astonishingly complex and dynamic, with genes constantly turning on or off, depending on what biochemical signals they receive from the body. Scientists have known that certain genes become active or quieter as a result of exercise but they hadn’t understood how those genes knew how to respond to exercise. Now the NYT reports that scientists at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm have completed a study where they recruited 23 young and healthy men and women, brought them to the lab for a series of physical performance and medical tests, including a muscle biopsy, and then asked them to exercise half of their lower bodies for three months. The volunteers pedaled one-legged at a moderate pace for 45 minutes, four times per week for three months. Then the scientists repeated the muscle biopsies and other tests with each volunteer. Not surprisingly, the volunteers’ exercised leg was more powerful now than the other, showing that the exercise had resulted in physical improvements. But there were also changes within the exercised muscle cells’ DNA. Using technology that analyses 480,000 positions throughout the genome, they could see that new methylation patterns had taken place in 7,000 genes (an individual has 20–25,000 genes).

In a process known as DNA methylation, clusters of atoms, called methyl groups, attach to the outside of a gene like microscopic mollusks and make the gene more or less able to receive and respond to biochemical signals from the body. In the exercised portions of the bodies, many of the methylation changes were on portions of the genome known as enhancers that can amplify the expression of proteins by genes. And gene expression was noticeably increased or changed in thousands of the muscle-cell genes that the researchers studied. Most of the genes in question are known to play a role in energy metabolism, insulin response and inflammation within muscles. In other words, they affect how healthy and fit our muscles — and bodies — become. Many mysteries still remain but the message of the study is unambiguous. “Through endurance training — a lifestyle change that is easily available for most people and doesn’t cost much money,” says Sara Lindholm, “we can induce changes that affect how we use our genes and, through that, get healthier and more functional muscles that ultimately improve our quality of life.”"

+ - Is the Higgs Boson a Piece of the Matter-Antimatter Puzzle?->

Submitted by TaleSlinger
TaleSlinger (3080869) writes "Why there's more matter than antimatter is one of the biggest questions confounding particle physicists and cosmologists, and it cuts to the heart of our own existence. In the time following the Big Bang, when the budding universe cooled enough for matter to form, most matter-antimatter particle pairs that popped into existence annihilated each other. Yet something tipped the balance in favor of matter, or we – and stars, planets, galaxies, life – would not be here.

The paper is based on a phenomenon called CP – or charge-parity – violation, the same phenomenon investigated by BaBar. CP violation means that nature treats a particle and its oppositely charged mirror-image version differently.

"Searching for CP violation at the LHC is tricky," Dolan said. "We've just started to look into the properties of the Higgs, and the experiments must be very carefully designed if we are to improve our understanding of how the Higgs behaves under different conditions.”

The theorists proposed that experimenters look for a process in which a Higgs decays into two tau particles, which are like supersized cousins of electrons, while the remainder of the energy from the original proton-proton collision sprays outward in two jets. Any mix of CP-even and CP-odd in the Higgs is revealed by the angle between the two jets.

"I wanted to add a CP violation measurement to our analysis, and what Matt, Martin and Michael proposed is the most viable avenue,” Philip Harris, a staff physicist at CERN and co-author of the paper said, adding that he's looking forward to all the data the LHC will generate when it starts up again early next year at its full design strength.

"Even with just a few months of data we can start to make real statements about the Higgs and CP violation," he said."

Link to Original Source

+ - Neil deGrasse Tyson causes social media firestorm with tweet on aliens & hum->

Submitted by MarkWhittington
MarkWhittington (1084047) writes "Twitchy, a site that monitors interesting traffic on Twitter, took note on Sunday of a tweet by the celebrity astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson over how aliens might regard humans. He tweeted, “Aliens, seeing Humans kill over land, politics, religion, & skin color, would surely ask, ‘What the f*%k is wrong with you?’” As far as can be determined, Tyson is not personally in contact with aliens and does not have any basis to suggest that they are appalled at human behavior or that they used salty language. However, his views on morally superior aliens looking down on humans seem to track with those of C.S. Lewis, a Christian apologist."
Link to Original Source

+ - Stem Cell Treatment to Regrow Torn Meniscus 'Very, Very Close'->

Submitted by LesterMoore
LesterMoore (1842172) writes "In a new study, researchers put 3D model meniscus in sheep's knees. (Their joints are a lot like humans'.) The model attracted stem cells to it and supplied growth factors and eventually biodegraded. New working menisci grew and the sheep regained full mobility. Orthopedists say similar treatments for humans are "very, very close," according to one article."
Link to Original Source

The confusion of a staff member is measured by the length of his memos. -- New York Times, Jan. 20, 1981

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