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Comment $30 billion away (Score 3, Insightful) 361

About $30 billion away. When the predictions of fusion being 20 years away were made, they were based on there being an adiquately funded research program. Since then we've spent less than what was projected as the "fusion never" scenario, which lo and behold is what we've got. Even ITER took 20 years just to figure out who was going to pay for it (first proposed in 1985)

Comment Re:No.. THIS is saving a space station... (Score 1) 50

With the exception of some elements that were purchased from Russia (Zarya for example) and Soyuz flights, the rest of ISS is operated through barter agreements (e.g. in exchange for the Canada Arm2, Canada gets a certain number of flights to the station)

Comment Re:Is this a good thing? (Score 2) 50

The problem is like the Shuttle, ISS was pennywise and pound foolish. Congress wasted much of a decade sending NASA back to the drawing board again and again to reduce the cost of Space Station Freedom, ultimately spending more in these redesign efforts than was saved by down scoping the station, and resulting in a station hampered in its ability to do research. Cancelling the Hab module for example means several racks on Destiny are used to provide ISS life support rather than R&D. The Centrifuge module was cancelled, along with the R&D opportunities it could have provided. Most importantly much of the funding originally planned to create an organization to facilitate research on the station and establish network of universities with supporting grants was cut. The original plan was to have something similar to the Space Telescope Science Institute (created for Hubble), in place for ISS operation. Rather we have CASIS which was only founded in 2011, and has been a complete and total disaster.

Comment Re:100 million quest to waste 100 million (Score 1) 208

There is also speculation that the Moon is important in maintaining the dynamo in the Earths core that generates our magnetic field and plate tectonics that help manage the amount of water and carbon in our biosphere. That said, these are arguments that support the argument that complex multicellular life requires unique conditions, but many of these aren't required for life in general. That said, even if these conditions are horrendously unique, estimates on the number of planets out there are "astronomical". There may be upwards of 100 billion habitable planets in the Milky Way alone.

Comment Re:we prefer Little Planet (Score 1) 321

So you've just created your own definition, one that is'nt in consensus with the astronomical community. Since definitions are not scientific "truths" they require consensus, as fields of study require common terminology in order to effectively communicate. In this case, the consensus is that planets need to clear their orbit, which means Pluto doesn't qualify

Comment Re:WTF? (Score 1) 321

I simply refuse to stop calling Broccoli a type of rock, why do a bunch of biologists get to decide to call it a vegetable. Definitions mean things, and generally the professionals who work with these terms on a daily basis are best positioned to create these definitions.

Comment Re:Not fear but precaution (Score 1) 419

For 12 years I lived about 4 blocks away from a decommissioned research reactor, and downwind and downstream of a major reactor complex. Never caused me concern because I've actually looked into the statistics and understand a concept called comparative risk. People rant and rave about "nuclear" just how bad and dangerous something becomes, simply by attaching an adjective to it. My mother is still alive thanks to nuclear technology. In her case the nuclear medicine used to treat her cancer 30 years ago.

Comment Re:Effect of nukes on NEOs (Score 1) 272

Can you show your math? I just did the same with a 1km impactor blown into 2million chunks (one thousandth the mass chixulub), resulting in enough energy to light the continental US on fire. Chuxulb weighing in at 1E15 kg (low estimate), smashed into 20m pieces (the same as Chelyabinsk) would result in 1E8 pieces (Chelyabinsk weighing in at 10000 tonnes) , each dumping 500kt of energy into the atmosphere, or 2.09E23J. That's enough to raise the temperature of the ENTIRE atmosphere of the planet by 40 degrees (2.09E23J / 1005 specific heat of air / 5E18kg mass of atmosphere)

Comment Re:Effect of nukes on NEOs (Score 1) 272

It's not just the energy of things landing on your head. All that energy still goes somewhere, it doesn't just magically dissipate just because you've blown it into little pieces. Sure you don't get one big crater that puts enough dust into the atmosphere to cause global winter. You lite the hemisphere on fire which generates enough soot to cause a global winter. Note the fireball for Chixulub was in the hundreds of kms in diameter

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