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Comment: Grades by Category (Score 2) 92

by Tablizer (#47978449) Attached to: Sci-fi Predictions, True and False (Video 1)

Here's my general assessment of the pace of progress we've actually made compared to what was predicted since around the Sputnik era:

Earth transportation: D- (relatively cheap air-fare about only gain. NO flying cars.)
Space transportation/exploration: C- (chem rockets still expensive as hell)
Artificial Intelligence: B-
Electronics/Computers: A (arguably only area faster than expected)
Medical: B-
Poverty: D (still not solved)
Reduced Work Week: D+
Population Overload or Resource Shortages: C- (problems less than anticipated)
Big Brother: B

Comment: Re:Thanks for the fraud, Turbotax (Score 1) 274

We wouldn't have this problem if we filed our taxes online. Turbotax has prevented that, because they want to charge us for doing what the government could do free...

After the debacle, I don't think many are ready to support that idea. Make sure that puppy is well-tested BEFORE launch this time.

Plus, relying on TurboTax dumps any hacking blame onto a private company. Politicians don't want that risk.

Comment: Re:List the STL? Seriously? (Score 5, Interesting) 390

by Tablizer (#47975971) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Finding a Job After Completing Computer Science Ph.D?

listing all the container classes in STL from the top of my head

I was once was asked a similar kind of question about a library, and told them "I tend not to index them that way in my head. How about asking me what class or function I'd use to perform a particular task? That's how my head stores things."

They seemed to be satisfied with that response and proceeded to ask me "how to" code questions, which I readily answered.

Comment: Re:The sad history of US nuclear weapons. (Score 1) 314

by Animats (#47975529) Attached to: US Revamping Its Nuclear Arsenal

I'm talking about a slightly later period. The third plutonium implosion bomb (Trinity was #1, Nagasaki was #2) was ready to go before the end of the war. Groves decided not to ship it to Tinian. Production rate was about one every 3 weeks.

But that design wasn't suitable for long-term storage. Wikipedia: "The lead-acid batteries that powered the fuzing system remained charged for only 36 hours, after which they needed to be recharged. To do this meant disassembling the bomb, and recharging took 72 hours. The batteries had to be removed in any case after nine days or they corroded. The plutonium core could not be left in for much longer, because its heat damaged the high explosives. Replacing the core also required the bomb to be completely disassembled and reassembled. This required about 40 to 50 men and took between 56 and 72 hours, depending on the skill of the bomb assembly team." It took a few more years to develop a bomb that was suitable for routine storage at an air base.

Comment: Already happened with desktops (Score 1) 235

by Animats (#47975449) Attached to: Do Specs Matter Anymore For the Average Smartphone User?

This already happened with desktop computers. A few years ago, we reached the point where basic desktop machines had a few 3GHz CPUS, a few gigabytes of memory, a terabyte or so of disk, and the capability to talk to a 100MHz Ethernet. There, things stopped. Desktop machines haven't become significantly more powerful since. They still power much of the business world, they work fine, and nobody is "upgrading". Innovation in desktops has become cosmetic - Apple makes one that comes in a round can.

Phones seem to be getting there. The iPhone 6 has no major technical improvements over the iPhone 5. Its specs are comparable to the Nexus 4 of two years ago. We may be approaching that point with phones.

Comment: The sad history of US nuclear weapons. (Score 4, Informative) 314

by Animats (#47971615) Attached to: US Revamping Its Nuclear Arsenal

It's amazing how bad many nuclear weapons were, and perhaps are. The Hiroshima gun bomb wasn't much better than an IED. If the Enola Gay had crashed, it probably would have gone off. (The crew was under orders not to land with the bomb; if they had to return to base, they were to dump it in deep water.)

For a while after WWII, the US didn't actually have any functional nuclear weapons. This was a major secret at the time. The war designs weren't suited for long-term storage. Nobody wanted another gun bomb, and the first generation electronics for triggering implosion didn't store well. A "GI-proof" line of bombs had to be developed.

The first round of Polaris missile warhead wouldn't have worked. This was learned only after there were SSBNs at sea with functional missiles and dud warheads. That took over a year to fix.

In recent years, there was a period for over a decade when the US had lost the ability to make new fusion bombs. The plant to make some obscure material had been shut down, and the proposed, cheaper replacement didn't work.

There was a tritium shortage for years. The old tritium production reactors were shut down years ago, and no replacement was built. The US is now producing tritium using a TVA power reactor loaded with some special fuel rods. Commercial use of tritium (exit signs and such) is way down from previous decades. (Tritium has a half-life of around 11 years, so tritium light sources do run down.)

The US was the last country with a gaseous-diffusion enrichment plant. The huge WWII-vintage plant at Oak Ridge was finally dismantled a few years ago. There's a centrifuge plant in the US, privately run by URENCO, a European company.

The US had a huge buildup of nuclear capability in the 1950s, and most of the plants date from that era. They're worn out and obsolete.

And that's the stuff we know about. Being a nuclear superpower isn't cheap.

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