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Comment: Re:why so long (Score 2) 85

by Thagg (#49624589) Attached to: Opportunity Rover Reaches Martian Day 4,000 of Its 90-Day Mission

It's kind of interesting.

One of the big reasons that they thought it would be limited to 90 days is that the solar panels get covered in dust, and as that happens the amount of energy collected diminishes. They figured in about 90 days, based on previous missions to Mars, they'd be out of juice.

And...for the first 50 days or so, it was going that way. And then, a whirlwind came by, and scrubbed the rover clean. This has happened many many times since. An unexpected good fortune.

Comment: Re:Backup Generator replacement? Not so much (Score 1) 307

by Waffle Iron (#49614331) Attached to: Tesla's Household Battery: Costs, Prices, and Tradeoffs

Ok, I'll grant that I could understand your first sentence. However, if it were really a problem, installing a heating loop under the array would fix the problem at the touch of a button. For the DIYer, some plastic tubing, antifreeze, and aquarium pump, and a 5 gallon tank of propane would do the job. I'll also point out that although it snows frequently, that's not typically a disaster. It's also only been 200 years since a mammoth earthquake that would, if it happened today, paralyze this nation for months. That's only three lifespans, so the odds of witnessing that again may not be as low as you assume.

Your entire second paragraph is an incomprehensible bowl of word soup. You seem to be advocating that 50 million people without gas hop in their cars and find a hotel in a different region of the continent.

Your last paragraph disregards the whole point of the damned thread: that you can recharge the batteries indefinitely without fuel. Even when keeping a dangerous amount of volatile gasoline on your premises, you get a couple days max of electricity generation, and as I pointed out, natural gas generators are no panacea either.

Comment: Re:Backup Generator replacement? Not so much (Score 1) 307

by Waffle Iron (#49612021) Attached to: Tesla's Household Battery: Costs, Prices, and Tradeoffs

How about a large earthquake on the New Madrid fault in Missouri takes out most of the gas pipelines in the central US. There could very well be precious little electricity or gasoline available for an extended period of time.

I don't know why everyone who replied is so focused on snow. If the blizzard is that bad, you'll be sitting around with nothing better to do than figure out how to clear snow off a few dozen square feet of slippery surface. If you do a half-assed job with a roof rake, the sun hitting a south sloping roof would generally finish the task quickly.

Most of the country doesn't even get hurricanes. However, if a hurricane has ripped the roof off of your house, then you've got bigger fish to fry than a lack of electricity.

Comment: Re:This again? (Score 1) 471

by Bruce Perens (#49598949) Attached to: New Test Supports NASA's Controversial EM Drive

OK, I will try to restate in my baby talk since I don't remember this correctly.

Given that you are accelerating, the appearance to you is that you are doing so linearly, and time dilation is happening to you. It could appear to you that you reach your destination in a very short time, much shorter than light would allow. To the outside observer, however, time passes at a different rate and you never achieve light speed.

Comment: Where we need to get to call this real (Score 1) 471

by Bruce Perens (#49596461) Attached to: New Test Supports NASA's Controversial EM Drive

Before we call this real, we need to put one on some object in orbit, leave it in continuous operation, and use it to raise the orbit by a measurable amount large enough that there would not be argument regarding where it came from. The Space Station would be just fine. It has power for experiments that is probably sufficient and it has a continuing problem of needing to raise its orbit.

And believe me, if this raises the orbit of the Space Station they aren't going to want to disconnect it after the experiment. We spend a tremendous amount of money to get additional Delta-V to that thing, and it comes down if we don't.

Comment: Re: Elon Musk (Score 1) 108

by Bruce Perens (#49582987) Attached to: Russian Cargo Spacehip Declared Lost

Obviously I am missing something, then. Please fill me in on your better information sources. Email to bruce at perens dot com if you don't want to put them on Slashdot.

It's time to start planning another trip to Lompoc. The Motel 6 was sort of yukky last time. Maybe I'll try something else. There was an official visitor observation site that I found and got into last time, but that was for the Delta, and it was on Pad 4 if I remember correctly. This one is all the way on the other side of the base on Pad 7 or 8, isn't it? There are some farm roads that might be good observation sites if they are open.

Comment: Re:Well... (Score 1) 108

by Bruce Perens (#49582029) Attached to: Russian Cargo Spacehip Declared Lost

I am not confident that the world will remain a hospitable place for life until we are ready by your standard.

Getting the resources and people there is very close to being within our technical capability. The task ourselves, if we perform it, will take care of the remaining gaps.

Creating a self-sustaining colony outside of the Earth's environment is going to need a lot of work, but it is not work that can ever be achieved on this earth. We have to actually put people in space to achieve this. Our best experience so far is with submarines. Academic research has so far yielded only farcial frauds like Biosphere II.

If I have not seen so far it is because I stood in giant's footsteps.

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