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Comment: Re:Manual control (Score 1) 446

by Ford Prefect (#48017083) Attached to: The Physics of Space Battles

The most unrealistic thing in space operas is the notion that the human crew could do anything in terms of gunnery or navigation better than a computer.

While definitely not using realistic physics in any way, I liked a space battle in one of Iain M. Banks' Culture novels. A horribly beweaponed Culture ship is describing to its human passenger precisely how it is outwitting and annihilating its alien foes, mentioning that there's a particularly good moment coming up - eventually admitting that it's merely running through a slow-motion replay, the real battle having been over in a matter of milliseconds.

Comment: Re:OK (Score 1) 268

by Sique (#47991287) Attached to: IBM Solar Concentrator Can Produce12kW/day, Clean Water, and AC
It's not so much the alternatives becoming cheaper than the extraction of fossil fuels becoming more and more expensive. We extract gold with much more cost per kilogram than coal -- but only because selling the gold will give about $1200 per ounce.

Whether some geological formation is called a deposit for some mineral is depending not only on the characteristics of the local geology, it is at first a question of economics: Does it make sense to extract the mineral here, or will it be cheaper to buy somewhere else and get it shipped? When we are talking about the exhaustion of deposits, we always have to keep the qualifier in mind "under current technological and economical conditions".

Comment: Re:Frankenfood (Score 1) 308

by Sique (#47988529) Attached to: Irish Girls Win Google Science Fair With Astonishing Crop Yield Breakthrough
Actually, GMO uses a completely natural process, that's called "retro viral infection", and it's often deadly (HIV for instance is a retro virus). In GMO it's called "DNA shuttle". A retro virus puts its own DNA into the host's DNA causing the host to produce copies of the retro virus. For GMO, the retro virus first gets some additional DNA (mostly from a completely unrelated species) to produce the desired proteins, which it then carries into the host and which (hopefully) will integrate into the host's DNA, thus the name DNA shuttle. If the GMO designer is lucky, the host will battle the retro viral DNA and keep the additional DNA.

It has nothing to do with evolution, though the human DNA shows the remainings of several retro virus infections that were kept in the genome, but seems mostly unfunctional right now.

Comment: Re:BS (Score 1) 119

by Sique (#47981621) Attached to: Fukushima Radiation Still Poisoning Insects
There are additional effects: Radiation is not as bad for animals living all the time there. A local wolfpack seems to do just fine. It is rather bad for animals being there only occasionally, like migratory birds. Those animals show much higher level of gene defects. It seems that at least vertebratae can adapt to the higher levels of radiation if they live there all the time. But it's not so easy for those moving in and out all the time.

Local lakes (Tchernobyl borders to a very extensive swamp region, the Pinsk marshes) show very high levels of gene defects in newts and frogs -- not because they got too much radiation, but because migratory predators are missing that normally would eliminate those specimen.

Comment: Re:DAESH, not ISIL (Score 1) 475

by drooling-dog (#47973781) Attached to: US Strikes ISIL Targets In Syria

I know very little about them or where they came from, but I do know that the continued flow of hundreds of billions of dollars per year to who-knows-who depends on the inability of the US to extricate itself from this quagmire. And so now we have these public decapitations, clearly designed to inflame the public and create a political environment guaranteeing that the torrent of war money continues for years to come. And when that finally starts to slow, who doubts that some other convenient outrage will be perpetrated to start the cycle all over again?

Comment: Re:There are numerous other obvious flaws (Score 2) 275

by Sique (#47967977) Attached to: Nvidia Sinks Moon Landing Hoax Using Virtual Light
You misunderstand the basic principle of the Moon landing hoax conspiracy. At first, prima causa, is the premise that the Moon landings didn't happen. Everything else has to fit this. There are pictures of the landings? The pictures are fake. There are people working at the Moon landings project? The people are liars. There are contemporary reports of the Moon landings? They are fabricated by a concerted propaganda blitz etc.pp.

The idea that you can topple the prima causa by attacking the conclusions is naive. The premise is all that's about it. The Moon landings have to be fake. Everything else is just a corollary.

Comment: Re:TFS BS detector alert (Score 1) 794

by Sique (#47966989) Attached to: How Our Botched Understanding of "Science" Ruins Everything
Science works without even the existance of ultimate causes and absolute truth. They are nice projections of the expected direction research will go, but there is no reason for them to actually exist. Some famous scientists even voiced amazement about the apparent universal validity of their theories.

Comment: Re:So educational! (Score 2) 794

by Sique (#47964723) Attached to: How Our Botched Understanding of "Science" Ruins Everything
We do experiments with the Sun everyday. For instance we put up calendars and models of the movement of Sun and Earth, which predict that Sun and Earth tonight will be in such a position that the day-night-terminator will cross San Francisco, CA at 6.06 pm. It's a valid prediction, which can be tested very easily for people being in San Francisco tonight.

Comment: Re:They're not astronauts, they're ballast. (Score 2) 77

For space tourism flights to the International Space Station, they're regarded as spaceflight participants rather than 'proper' astronauts (or cosmonauts).

Having seen quite how much training fully qualified astronauts and cosmonauts have to go through, I wouldn't be surprised if they become some vaguely protected terms in the not-so-far future...

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