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Comment: Re:Maybe someday we'll know why we invaded iraq (Score 2) 174

by kenwd0elq (#49756287) Attached to: WSJ Crowdsources Investigation of Hillary Clinton Emails

"So why was all the intelligence about Iraq wrong? That is an unanswered question. The Republican controlled Congress never stepped up to the plate to ask any hard questions. Gosh, I wonder why? "

WTF are you talking about? EVERY nation's intelligence service agreed that Saddam was working to obtain nuclear weapons, and everybody ALREADY KNEW that he had chemical weapons - because he had already USED them, in Iran and on his own people.

Comment: Re:Fight! (Score 1) 292

by kenwd0elq (#49703645) Attached to: Larson B Ice Shelf In Antarctica To Disintegrate Within 5 Years

I've got five dollars that says it won't.

Not because I have any particular expertise in ice or in Antarctica; my degree is in physics, not climatology - but because NONE of these quasi-apocalyptic predictions are true, or have ever come true. Not when predicted, and not after. We were supposed to have been swarmed by a billion starving climate refugees by now. It didn't happen. The Arctic Ocean was supposed to be ice free, and the snows of Kilimanjaro were supposed to all have melted by now. Didn't happen. The snows of the Himalayas were supposed to be melting, and gone completely by 2035; not happening. Not one single climate prediction has come true, and I don't think this one will, either.

Comment: Re:Eff that... (Score 1) 49

by kenwd0elq (#49703489) Attached to: Planetary Society Wants To Launch a Crowd-Funded Solar Sail

Science fiction writers Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven often have "real scientists" run the numbers on their stories. Pournelle believes that a big enough laser could launch satellites from the ground into orbit.

Only part of the thrust would be light pressure; a volatile "fuel core" being vaporized by the ground-based laser would provide much of the blast-off thrust. But you'd still have the advantage of having your "engine" here on Earth, being able to repair or replace it as needed, and eliminating having to boost your engine to orbital velocity.

With Moon-based lasers (several of them spaced around the Moon) you could push a lightsail-powered probes to interplanetary distances, and perhaps even to the stars. This is one of the plot elements of the Niven & Pournelle story "The Mote In God's Eye".

Comment: Re:Sagan? Don't you mean Clarke? (Score 1) 49

by kenwd0elq (#49703415) Attached to: Planetary Society Wants To Launch a Crowd-Funded Solar Sail

The story was a good one and was anthologized in several collections. But Clarke was a real genius, where Sagan only talked a good game. If Clarke had patented all the innovative ideas that he wrote stories about - like geosynchronous communications satellites or ground-controlled approaches in bad weather - he'd have been richer than Bill Gates and Warren Buffet combined.

Comment: Re:There is none other than in a secret service (Score 1) 420

by kenwd0elq (#49655423) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Moving To an Offshore-Proof Career?

Indian and Chinese tech workers are often excellent technically, but run into road blocks trying to talk to Americans over the phone, because their accents are sometimes horrendous. One of our vendor companies has offshored their technical support to India. He was trying to help me with the problem on a remote connection and on the phone, and I couldn't understand 2/3 of what he said. Finally I hung up the phone, opened a Notepad window, and typed "Sorry, my phone just died. We'll have to chat this way." The Indian tech could TYPE English perfectly well - he just couldn't SPEAK it.

Comment: Hands-ON Work (Score 1) 420

by kenwd0elq (#49655389) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Moving To an Offshore-Proof Career?

Get a job, or enter a career that require that YOUR HANDS touch the hardware. If you can use Skype, Webex, LogMeIn or TeamViewer to do your work, your job can be outsourced to India or the Philippines. (The Philippines are taking online-support work away from India because Filipinos often speak excellent English, while Indian and Chinese accents are sometimes unintelligible.)

For example, I work for a document management company that started as a copier company. Our copier techs drive to the customer's location and repair and maintain the machines onsite. I work remotely, but in close consultation with the on-site technicians.

Comment: Tells (Score 1) 93

by kenwd0elq (#49598685) Attached to: Humans Dominating Poker Super Computer

A person can read the "tells", or body language and mannerisms, of another player. The computer cannot. Presumably the computer has no "tells" of its own, but an experienced player should usually win - because poker isn't a game of math, it's a game of psychology. Or rather, it's only PARTLY a game of mathematics and probability.

Comment: Re:Setting up a new planet. (Score 1) 137

by kenwd0elq (#49494821) Attached to: Road To Mars: Solving the Isolation Problem

You're right; all of the people who go to Mars will die.

Of course, all the people who stay here on Earth are ALSO going to die. And while it's quite likely that the ones who go to Mars are likely to die sooner than the ones who stay behind, that isn't quite so certain - and we'll learn lots of stuff about Mars, and about ourselves, in the attempt.

In his book "The Right Stuff", author Tom Wolfe noted that all of the streets at Edwards Air Force Base were named for dead test pilots. Getting out of bed and leaving home, and going into space, or out to sea, or even across town; these things can be dangerous. We can't attempt to avoid all risks and still remain human.

Comment: Re:So how rare is this occurance? (Score 4, Interesting) 83

by kenwd0elq (#49434699) Attached to: Collision With Earth's "Little Sister" Created the Moon

Our substantial magnetic field may be due to the merging of the iron cores of the Proto-Earth and Theia. Earth is the most dense planet in the solar system, and from what we know of Mars and Venus, we suspect that our iron core is far larger than the other terrestrial planets.

Venus has a super-thick poisonous atmosphere; it's at least possible that our large Moon has, over a period of 4+ billion years, "skimmed away" enough of our atmosphere to have protected the Earth from a similar fate.

Of course, we only think that our atmosphere is right because we evolved here, in this atmosphere; if the atmosphere had been different, we would have evolved differently, and (had intelligent life developed at all) we'd think that THAT was the right sort of atmosphere.

Comment: Why different? (Score 3, Informative) 83

by kenwd0elq (#49434671) Attached to: Collision With Earth's "Little Sister" Created the Moon

Why should the material composition of Theia have differed all that much from the Proto-Earth? They formed from the same planetary nebula, and at relatively similar distances from the Sun; shouldn't they have been similar in composition? And how can anyone state with any certitude, 4+ billion years later, how much of the merged Earth's crust was from Theia, and how much from the proto-Earth, and whether the lunar material was one, the other, or mostly mixed? It was a long time ago, and the Early Heavy Bombardment period would have stirred things up further. In fact, it's not unlikely that the Early Heavy Bombardment material was long-period debris from the original collision.

If Theia had formed substantially closer, or substantially farther away from the Sun, then the debris from the collision could hardly have remained close enough that the shards would coalesce to form the Moon. The differing orbital velocities would have seen to that.

You can fool all the people all of the time if the advertising is right and the budget is big enough. -- Joseph E. Levine