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Comment: Re:Frickin' Lasers! (Score 1) 232

by prisoner-of-enigma (#48925075) Attached to: White House Drone Incident Exposes Key Security Gap

You can get around this by using an array of lasers, each of which is individually rather harmless, but focused together would be enough to destroy such a target. The "danger area" would be restricted to the focal point. Anything outside/beyond/inside that point would receive much less laser power and likely escape damage.

Now if your drone is using active terrain masking, that makes it more difficult to hit at range. However, such a system would probably require a human remotely controlling it, making that susceptible to jamming. I don't think automated terrain avoidance (in real time) is practical just yet for anything a non-military entity could get its hands on. And in any event, such a terrain-avoidance system would likely need its own sensors (radar/lidar) which could be detected, jammed, or both.

Comment: Re:Stronger regs ? Try a better radar (Score 1) 232

by prisoner-of-enigma (#48924983) Attached to: White House Drone Incident Exposes Key Security Gap

If you shield a drone it becomes heavier and then needs to be bigger. Also at that point the drone needs to either be self guiding or have a communication/control system that won't be knocked out. You get the old little more weight little more propulsion to carry the weight cycle going and all of a sudden your drone isn't small anymore.

So what's your point? That a more capable drone is also bigger? So? So what? That's obvious. Do you think the added size/complexity of such a thing would be any impediment whatsoever to a determined aggressor? If you want to penetrate controlled airspace to do something nefarious, you're perforce going to want something that's difficult to detect, difficult to jam, difficult to shoot down, and has enough payload to carry whatever you need to cause the damage you're looking for.

That seems an incredibly strong statement. So strong that it looks like it doesn't have enough thought behind it.

Really? Then let's hear your alternative options. I already covered sensors and weapons, but let's recap. Radar is vulnerable to stealth, so it won't do the job alone. Lidar is too short ranged to do the job alone. Acoustic is even worse. But put together, a web of such sensors would be very difficult to overcome. If there are other sensors out there that are even remotely applicable, please enumerate them.

As for weapons, you have only three options: ballistic, missiles, or directed-energy weapons. Ballistic weapons have all kinds of downsides, from trajectory computation to wind to limited ammo, not to mention the inevitable collateral damage from misses (of which there will be MANY). Missiles have similar downsides. DEW's have (almost) none of these, the sole one being the potential for (minor) collateral damage in the case of a miss. You could even potentially mitigate this by using an array of low-power lasers, individually almost benign, but focused together to take down a drone.

Comment: Re:radar would have no problem distinguishing quad (Score 1) 232

by prisoner-of-enigma (#48924865) Attached to: White House Drone Incident Exposes Key Security Gap

This assumes you can get a good doppler signature on the rotors at all. I'm not an expert on radar/stealth construction, but I know a fair bit about it. A rotor made of radar-transparent (or absorbent) material would make it rather hard to detect, at least until it was well within range to do damage.

Comment: Virgin Mary grilled cheese (Score 3, Funny) 192

by CanadianRealist (#48923543) Attached to: Facebook Censoring Images of the Prophet Muhammad In Turkey

After hearing about the grilled cheese sandwich that looks like the virgin Mary I read this headline and the image that comes to mind is a roast turkey where the pattern of browning on the skin sort of looks like an image of the prophet Muhammad.

Then I think Facebook is being biased. If they allowed pictures of the virgin Mary grilled cheese then they shouldn't censor pictures of the Muhammad roast turkey.

Then I imagine extremists shouting "death to the turkey!"

(News can me so much more entertaining if you allow yourself to be creative.)

Comment: Re:Not really. (Score 0) 211

by wierd_w (#48920143) Attached to: Gamma-ray Bursts May Explain Fermi's Paradox

No. 6000 years. Not 4000. (This isn't helping your argument to authority btw.)

It is now currently 2015AD. The earliest true written language examples come from 3200BC.

That's 6000 years. Not 4000.

The major breakthrough that fed the industrial revolution was the discovery of easily manufactured steel using the bessemer process. Prior to this, steel was too inconsistent and too expensive to create the industrial equipment needed for rapid technological advancement. (other metals are too soft, too brittle, too heavy, or too expensive.) The materials required to produce mass manufactured steel are not very rare, and the properties of them were well known well prior. Most were known at the time language was first being put down in permanent form. (In fact, fired clay tablets-- requiring kilns-- are the best surviving examples of such early literature, and many such texts discuss the shipment of smithable ores, indicating that the humans knew the properties of those metals in sufficient detail to be able to construct a bessemer reactor if they had the idea for it. That idea came about in the western world in less than 120 years-- Human understanding of those metals went from simple metalurgical formulae and psudo-religious hogwash in the dark ages to structured science after the renaissance during that time, permitting the creation of the theory behind the bessemer reactor.)

The big factor was probably a population requirement not being met previously-- a situation exacerbated by warring over resources and over gods and politics. You need sufficient population numbers to sustain a boom in technological growth, and the ancient world lacked the workforce.

However, this has more to do with the fact that our planet had several events that nearly wiped out the human race, putting our numbers at low values initially. Things like the Toba eruption, and of course, the ice-age. Things like the black death also would have played significant roles in reaching the required number of humans needed for an industrial revolution. Humans have a surprisingly small amount of genetic diversity, indicating a prior genetic bottleneck in the past, hinting at such a catastrophe early in our history.

It is foolish to assume that all possibly intelligent creatures would have such setbacks both in nature and in culture.

As a consequence, even if we take the linked article at face value, and have 2 G type star systems with habitable planets forming at exactly the same time, there is a pretty good chance that they could have us beaten technologically by now.

Comment: Re:Not really. (Score 1) 211

by wierd_w (#48919989) Attached to: Gamma-ray Bursts May Explain Fermi's Paradox

Is your reading comprehension broken?

The point was that humans went from just one step above agrarian culture, to nuclear power in 200 years, out of a possible period of 10,000 years in which that rapid progress could have happened.

This means that just looking at our own species as the model, we could have been at our current level of technology thousands of years ago, had we decided that waving our dicks around and arguing over gods and politics was less important than improving ourselves through discovery, invention, and knowledge.

It is reasonably possible for another species to have reached our level of sophistication 9,000 years before us, as a consequence-- and now be 9,000 years ahead of us in technological innovation. That's a pretty significant amount, given that our own use of writing is only around 7,000 years.

But what did you take away from it? Some bullshit canard about how humans should focus on going to space that you beat about like a strawman.


Comment: Not really. (Score 5, Interesting) 211

by wierd_w (#48919559) Attached to: Gamma-ray Bursts May Explain Fermi's Paradox

This does not really resolve fermi's paradox. It just helps define fermi's paradox.

The human race has been in mostly the same state physiologically for more than 10,000 years-- That is to say, you could clone a person who lived 10,000 years ago, and never tell them their origins, and they would integrate into our society without problem.

Our civilization has been prevented from leaving the earth by our own silliness. Our big push out of a major duldrum of ignorance has been a bittersweet one; After the renaissance, we discovered that we were capable of much more than we had. We focused on that, and coined a now much maligned term: "Progress."

For the better part of the past 2 centuries, humans were focused on attaining such "Progress", and technological advancement grew at previously unprecedented speeds. We literally went from covered wagons and horses to nuclear power in 200 years.

It wasn't biology holding humans back from this rapid achievement-- It was attitude and social conventions. Things like warring over who's god has the biggest dick, or over who has the most money. (Things we STILL fight about to this day!) When there is a major social focus to improve, we have historically demonstrated the ability to do it.

If we can thus do this-- Go from horse drawn conveyances to nuclear energy in 200 years-- then there is very little reason to expect other potential civilizations from doing so as well, and perhaps not having spent quite as much time arguing over who's god has the mightiest member.

Yet, when we look up into the sky, we dont find any. We strain with our radio telescopes, and hear only the strange EM flux of gas giants, the hissing and popping of stars, and the screams of magnetars.

This finding does not settle Fermi's paradox. It just sets a slightly smaller boundry.

Comment: Re:and when the next one has a bomb? (Score 1) 232

by wierd_w (#48919425) Attached to: White House Drone Incident Exposes Key Security Gap

That argument applies equally well to the silly notion of using a trebuchet lower down in the discussion. A trebuchet loaded with a large conventional bomb can be driven down pensylvania ave, then lob the payload right over the fence, and quite likely, through a window of the whitehouse.

Better ban trucks! The president's gotta be safe!
Oh, or maybe ban the sale of welding equipment and metal tubing!

Again, the pathology here is asserting that 100% safety is possible or desirable. It is neither.

We get a significantly large benefit from public availability of welding supplies and metal pipes, that it more than makes up for the ability to weld together a popup trebuchet, and install it in the back of an old pickup truck, and maybe drive it past pensylvania ave.

The same is true for heavy lift drones. We get a significantly large benefit from public availability that it makes up for the security issue.

A toy airplane on the president's lawn is no more scary than trash thrown over the fence. (Which happens frequently.) That trash COULD be a pipebomb, after all.

Personally, I would go so far as to say that even *IF* somebody built a weaponized quadcopter, and purposefully flew it at the whitehouse, that we should not ban the technology. Just improve the countermeasures, and MAYBE introduce tracking of ownership. (at the MOST.)

Jumping at shadows is just dumb. Being afraid of the unknown is dumb. Being afraid of change is dumb. All are things humans are well known for doing. All are impulsive reactions based on fear, which is not a rational emotional state. That's why decisions predicated on a state of fear are dumb. Decisions about public policy are not excluded.

Comment: Re:and when the next one has a bomb? (Score 1) 232

by wierd_w (#48919321) Attached to: White House Drone Incident Exposes Key Security Gap

No, I gave as reasonable of a suggestion to an impossible problem as can likely be given.

You can NEVER be 100% safe. If you believe that this is false, by all means, demonstrate such. At this very moment, you could come into contact with a drug resistant skin infection and die horribly and have no workable medical defense-- for instance. Short of not being alive, there is no way to avoid death. That is simply the truth.

Good policy looks for the most protection possible, with the least collateral damage. Heavy lift commercial drones have lots of market potential, and can revolutionize many fields, such as geology, mineral prospecting, search and rescue (Since an emergency package could be delivered quickly, etc) in addition to Bezos' pie-in-the-sky ideas for package delivery. (the former ideas are much more likely to happen.)

You would trade clearly applicable technology for the illusion of being safer.

I'd say that demonstrates clearly which of us shouldnt be making or endorsing public policy.

Comment: Re:and when the next one has a bomb? (Score 1) 232

by wierd_w (#48916313) Attached to: White House Drone Incident Exposes Key Security Gap

A 40lb payload would require a mammoth sized drone, which would be EASILY detected by radar. Thus, does not fit the problem cited.

The 4lb payload quadcopter cited is in the grey zone. It is thin, and thus would be hard to detect with radar. However, it is unlikely to be able to travel any considerable distance. This means to be deployed, it has to be deployed in close proximity to the target. A better solution than blanket "No peons, you cant own drones with that weight class!" would be like what we have with guns near schools. Registration of heavyweight drones (To improve tracking), and exclusion zones where such objects cannot be on-site. The "Gun-free zones" near schools routinely make it so people near a school cannot store firearms there. It does not prevent ownership, they just cant have it on premises.

That kind of regulation would be OK, and would work. Going full retard with hysterics about "Omagard! Drones!" fear mongering is something else entirely, which is what the presented article is actually about. The device in question was a small toy aircraft. Not a heavy lift quadcopter, nor an autonomous drone. Doing this latter results in serious civil consequences for minimal gain, and is just bad public policy.

Comment: Re:and when the next one has a bomb? (Score 1) 232

by wierd_w (#48915729) Attached to: White House Drone Incident Exposes Key Security Gap

A vehicle with that much lift capacity could instead have actual aimable guns installed, or have several pounds of high explosive installed. (Enough to actually do some damage)

Then again, we have systems in place already to detect terrorist activity before they strike already. How does restricting the use of hobby drones (most of which are NOT heavy lifters, like that one, due to cost) make a significant improvement to detection and prevention of attacks that is enough to justify the civil collateral damage?

Gravity is a myth, the Earth sucks.