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Comment: Re: Scaled Composites renamed (Score 1) 38

by jd (#48909771) Attached to: Virgin Galactic Dumps Scaled Composites For Spaceship Two

Solar sail can achieve 25% light speed, according to NASA, and Alpha Centauri is 4 light years away.

You want a manned mission (with robots doing all the actual work) to determine if the conventional wisdom that a manned mission to the outer planets is physically impossible is correct. Even if the pilot dies, you learn the furthest a manned mission can reach. There's seven billion people, you can afford to expend one or two. Ideally, they'd be volunteers and there'll be no shortage of them, but if you're concerned about valuable life, send members of the Tea Party.

Comment: Re: Scaled Composites renamed (Score 1) 38

by jd (#48909107) Attached to: Virgin Galactic Dumps Scaled Composites For Spaceship Two

No big surprise. The military are willing to invest what it takes for what they need. Military entities are, by necessity, pitifully naive when it comes to anything useful, but once they specify what they think they want, they don't shirk at the cost, they get the job done. A pointless job, perhaps, but nonetheless a completed job.

The corporate sector wants money. Things don't ever have to get done, the interest on monies paid is good enough and there hasn't been meaningful competition in living memory. Because one size never fits all, it's not clear competition is even what you want. Economic theory says it isn't.

The only other sector, as I have said many times before, that is remotely in the space race is the hobbyist/open source community. In other words, the background behind virtually all the X-Prize contestants, the background behind the modern waverider era, the background that the next generation of space enthusiasts will come from (Kerbel Space Program and Elite: Dangerous will have a similar effect on the next generation of scientists and engineers as Star Trek the old series and Doctor Who did in the 1960s, except this time it's hands-on).

I never thought the private sector would do bugger all, it's not in their blood. They're incapable of innovation on this kind of scale. It's not clear they're capable of innovation at all, all the major progress is bought or stolen from researchers and inventors.

No, with civilian government essentially walking away, there's only two players in the field and whilst the hobbyists might be able to crowdsource a launch technology, it'll be a long time before they get to space themselves. The military won't get there at all, nobody to fight, so the hobbyists will still be first with manned space missions, but it's going to take 40-50 years at best.

We have the technology today to get a manned mission to Alpha Centauri and back. It would take 15-20 years for the journey and the probability of survival is poor, but we could do it. By my calculations, it would take 12 years to build the components and assemble them in space. Only a little longer than it took for America to get the means to go to the moon and back. We could actually have hand-held camera photos taken in another solar system and chunks of rocky debris from the asteroid belt there back on Earth before Mars One launches its first rocket AND before crowdfunded space missions break the atmosphere.

All it takes is putting personal egos and right wing politics on the shelf, locking the cupboard and then lowering it into an abandoned mineshaft, which should then be sealed with concrete.

Comment: Re:WHO forced them? (Score 1) 141

by demachina (#48854029) Attached to: Iran Forced To Cancel Its Space Program

Iâ(TM)m not exactly sure why Saudi Arabia would want to harm Islamic State. ISIS is Sunni, fundamentalist and they are tearing apart the Alawite and Shia pro Iranian states in Syria and Iraq. You would almost figure some Saudiâ(TM)s are funding ISIS under the table.

ISIS is undoing some of the damage George W. did to Sunni interests by toppling Saddam and unleashing a wave of Shia ascendence in Iraq.

Comment: Re:WHO forced them? (Score 4, Interesting) 141

by demachina (#48850069) Attached to: Iran Forced To Cancel Its Space Program

More probably plunging oil prices have wiped out the Iranian governments revenue stream. There is speculation that one of the reasons Saudi Arabia is continuing to pump oil and crater oil prices is to cripple Iran, a bitter Shia enemy, and defund programs like uranium enrichment, missile development, their miliary in general and their support for other anti Sunni groups in the Middle East.

The other speculations for continued Saudi efforts to crash oil prices are to wipe out frackers in the U.S. so they can regain more political control over the U.S., to wipe out expensive offshore and artic oil exploration, to punish Russia at the behest of the U.S. or because Russia is a key benefactor of Iran.

Comment: Re:Great to see (Score 2) 152

by Michael Woodhams (#48800243) Attached to: Chinese Spacecraft Enters Orbit Around the Moon

A minor nit-pick: I think you mean "chemical rocket".

Probably the most common rockets are liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen. Neither are fossil fuels. Solid rockets could contain oil-derived plastics in their fuel, I don't know enough to say how often this is so. SpaceX uses kerosene/liquid oxygen which does use fossil fuel, although I expect it wouldn't be hard to substitute a suitable biofuel if they really wanted to.

Comment: Re:Great to see (Score 5, Interesting) 152

by Michael Woodhams (#48799757) Attached to: Chinese Spacecraft Enters Orbit Around the Moon

Since 1969 there have been people living on Earth who have visited another world. It would be a terrible failure of humanity if one day this was no longer true. I am not fond of the Chinese government, but if they send people to the moon, I'll be enthusiastically cheering them on.

Comment: Yet Another X-Bone (Score 4, Informative) 155

by jd (#48793009) Attached to: 'Silk Road Reloaded' Launches On a Network More Secret Than Tor

People have been designing virtual networks for decades. I2P is well advertised on Freenet, itself a well-known secure network.

Nothing new here. The security and reliability of none of this software is proven, it may not even be provable due to the distributed nature. That reduces the problem to one of how many people you're ok with knowing what you're doing.

Comment: Re:Rock paper scissors (Score 1) 340

If game theory mathematicians say they've got a strategy which provably can't be beaten, I'll believe them until someone finds a flaw in their method. Mathematicians are notoriously picky about what constitutes a 'proof'. I'm sure they are quite aware of the possibility of an opponent which knows their strategy and adapts to it. (Note that in the rock paper scissors example, knowing the perfect strategy does not let you beat it.)

The article does not specify whether the strategy is deterministic or probabilistic. I expect the latter: sometimes its big lookup table will say "in this situation, raise 15% of the time, fold 85% of the time."

Comment: Rock paper scissors (Score 4, Insightful) 340

by Michael Woodhams (#48771147) Attached to: Researchers "Solve" Texas Hold'Em, Create Perfect Robotic Player

You can better understand what is going on by considering the much simpler game Rock paper scissors. 'Perfect' here basically means the strategy gives you the best possible worst case.

For RPS, the perfect strategy (using the term in the same sense as it is used for the poker bot) is to play completely randomly. There is no way to gain an edge over this strategy, no counter-strategy which will give you more than 50% chance of winning, even if you know your opponent's strategy. (In this case, there is also no strategy which will give you less than 50% chance of winning against the 'perfect' strategy.)

For the poker bot, there is no strategy that will give you greater than 50% chance of winning against it in a two player game. If you know its strategy perfectly (but of course you don't know its cards) the best you can do is to equal that 50% chance (which is what happens if it plays itself.) Unlike RPS, you can can lose to the perfect poker bot by playing poorly. Also, as noted in the article, the perfect poker bot always plays as if it were playing against perfect opposition. A good human player will fleece you faster then the perfect bot, because the human player will notice your peculiar imperfections and exploit them, choosing to play in a way which would be suboptimal against a perfect opponent, but superior against you.

Comment: Re: any repercussions? (Score 1) 165

by jd (#48768569) Attached to: Porn Companies Are Going After GitHub

I honestly doubt any severe repercussions will occur, the DMCA is too weasel worded. Defamation is another matter. Accusing a company like Atlassian of hosting pirated porn is a serious commercial matter. (Slandering open source developers is another matter, freedom of speech and all that, America hasn't really grasped the concept of reasonableness and balance.)

Accusations that are clearly defamatory against a commercial entity can harm political donations, jobs in battleground states, and inflict restraint of trade, on the long run-up to a major and likely to be bitter election... That is clearly not going to fly with elected judges and elected political representatives.

The question is whether legitimate businesses involved in legitimate trade will simply ignore the action or file for defamation. Winning or losing doesn't matter, most of the porn companies are probably small enough that bad publicity and legal fees will cripple them. Obviously winning (even if by default) would be better, it would create case law on the issue.

The problem with DMCA is that we've been here before many times. And there have been DMCA cases the industry has lost. Yet nothing has changed, no precedents have been set, no behaviour on the part of industry or takedown farms has been modified. You'll have to do something new.

If I were a grave-digger or even a hangman, there are some people I could work for with a great deal of enjoyment. -- Douglas Jerrold