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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:Lack of social ability at Microsoft (Score 1) 103

One thing of note is that this particular acquisition is not DevDiv, it's Azure ML. But Azure ML is, in some ways, even more F/OSS friendly - at least I don't know anyone else in MS running Linux servers in production for user-facing services, and it's where a lot of ex-MSR guys (like, from those labs that were closed) ended up. It's also where all the Python stuff now is.

Then again, after Satya's takeover, there was a strong push from top down to stop treating open source in general and Linux in particular as pariah, in all divisions. In no uncertain language, like "we've been acting stupid about this for a while now and let competitors eat our lunch; time to catch up while we still can". The recent slew of announcements, from .NET Core officially supported on Linux, to most open MS projects migrating to GitHub, is the outcome.

FWIW, I didn't think I'd ever hear a Microsoft lawyer utter the words "GPL is actually kinda cool" while explaining to developers the company's new open source policy in his official capacity. Yet, here we are.

Long and hard? Yes. But this kind of thing makes it worth it (and also shows that, perhaps, it's not quite all that long if you go fast enough).

Comment: Re:Why oh Why (Score 1) 103

There's one other aspect to it that is obvious when you see who the people on MS side talking about this are. It is, effectively, an acquisition by the Azure ML division - the sole purpose of which is to get the "big data" people to come to Azure and pay for burning CPU cycles.

Comment: Global warming = doomsday? (Score 2) 214

by Roger W Moore (#48898239) Attached to: Doomsday Clock Moved Two Minutes Forward, To 23:57

you have to wonder why anyone would put any stock in it.

Especially given that they now track global warming. Nuclear war is a doomsday scenario but global warming is most certainly not. It may cause economic hardship and the displacement of populations as sea levels rise plus the need to alter crops etc. but it is not going to wipe humanity off the face of the earth. Since the clock is supposedly set by scientists if they can be so wrong about something scientific then I have little faith they can predict the likelihood of nuclear war either given that this depends on politics.

Comment: Re:Well that suprised me ... (Score 1) 508

I always found it quite amusing that it's much easier to immigrate to US as a relative (and I don't mean someone really close like a spouse or a child, but e.g. parents?) than it is as a skilled worker. Of all the countries that I've looked into, US is the only one like that. All others (of interest to me) had shorter immigration tracks through work than through family.

Fundamentally, there may be no basis for anything.

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