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Comment Re:How about that (Score 1) 71

The trend is towards using regular English endings in words with Germanic roots.

It makes good sense, too. English has so many rules specifically because it hasn't done that in the past, so we have words constructed with rules for latin, greek, german, english, etc., as you clearly know. It's infuriating.

Comment Re:Against the law (Score 1) 36

Haven't we had this discussion multiple times before?

Yes, but idiots keep pointing out how illegal Uber is without stopping to think about whether those laws are just. Nobody gives a fuck about the argument that what Uber is doing is illegal, unless they are already anti-Uber. Legality does not equal morality, so breaking the law is not in itself a sign of evil.

Comment Re:Are and storms that fierce on Mars? (Score 1) 49

Clarification on radiation shielding: you generally don't use just a hydrogen rich layering, there may be metallic layers as well (such as the craft's outer skin, tankage, etc). But most of the high energy solar and GCR is charged particles, mainly protons. The lower end of the energy range will almost entirely impact whatever shielding you use, creating a small shower of secondaries. Some high energy particles will impact, some will pass right through. Those that pass through will most likely pass through everything, and those that do impact crew will mostly impart only a tiny fraction of their energy to them. Those that impact the shielding create an ever-growing shower of secondaries; where the secondaries aren't sufficiently blocked poses more of a risk to the crew than had the particle not impacted anything at all on the way in. Primaries at over 10MeV or so are particularly prone to kicking off secondaries, and once you get into hundreds of MeV spallation starts becoming a significant component.

All of this together means that the most important particles to block are the secondaries, in that they're more numerous, less likely to cause negative side effects by blocking them, etc. Heavier secondaries like alphas are easy to block, while it's unrealistic to block a significant fraction of high energy gammas on something as light as a spacecraft. This leaves the neutron secondaries as your prime target for elimination, which can generally be captured if moderated down first, but otherwise pose a risk to the crew. The lighter the element and the higher the cross section, the better the moderator; also, the lighter the element, the more you can carry on a spacecraft. Hydrogen fits all three bills well. Once moderated down, then the capture cross section becomes key. Hydrogen can manage thermal neutron capture over a sufficient distance, but far better is something like boron. In fact, metals can sometimes be counterproductive, especially on the inner side of the shielding. They increase the risk of spallation, bremmstrahlung, and your neutron captures are much more likely to produce short half life isotopes which will then undergo beta- decay.

There's no need for an unusual amount of metal in the shielding (over what would be needed to build the craft itself), and no need to make it a faraday cage. EM radiation and charged particles are very different beasts.

Comment Re: The new normal for Android (Score 1) 114

Almost ALL Android Devices are "Abandoned" on the day you buy them;

Literally the only Android device I've got which got no updates is the Sony Xperia Play. I learned my lesson, and Sony can DIAF. (They explicitly promised ICS for it, but never delivered.) Every other device I've got has had at least two substantial upgrades, or will be getting them. TF201 got two. Moto G had one, is getting another. Nexus 4, not a problem. My crappy MK908 TV stick had two updates. All of these devices got at least a couple of years of support.

YOU brought up length-of-OFFICIAL-Support. you lose.

You don't even understand the argument, iFanboy. The argument is that once official support is over, your iDevice is garbage. At least there's a chance that someone will support your Android device. Now go throw your old Apple devices in the landfill and shut the fuck up.

Comment Re:Before anyone bangs on about bedallions and so (Score 1) 36

Before anyone starts with the whole "medallion" thing, that's not a thing in London. If you want to publicly tout for business (i.e a black caps), you have to do "the knowledge" which is a very extensive and tough test for knowing your way around without a stanav. And no: having a sat nav is not remotely equivalent to actually knowing your way around

No, it's better. Google knows where traffic is stacked up in real time. If there's been an accident and a lorry is across all lanes someplace, Google will know about it before a driver with "the knowledge" — it doesn't mean you're bloody omniscient. If you were, you wouldn't go into the cab business, because you'd be able to see that self-driving cars are about to eliminate it entirely and this is just a big wankfest to grab the last few years. Like you'd be an idiot to go into trucking right now, as a career.

Comment Re:Are and storms that fierce on Mars? (Score 1) 49

It is apart from solanine. Potato starch is indigestible raw. It passes all the way into the intestines intact, where it then begins to ferment under the influence of anaerobic bacteria. This yields significantly less caloric energy as well as indigestion and bloating.

Anyway, Weir wouldn't have had to worry about potatoes greening (solanine) because he had at least 2-3 orders of magnitude too little light to actually grow potatoes, thinks that the entire part of the plant above the soil is the "fruiting body", and thinks that potato mounding involves completely burying the plant and planting new potatoes directly on top of it. Not to mention the perchlorates, ethylene gas, or the 50 other things that would have actually killed his potatoes if grown as described. (Note to anyone who's ever owned a winter greenhouse or done significant indoor plant growing: expect to repeatedly hit your head against the wall if you read The Martian).

Oh, and try not to think too much about his plan of having humidity condense on the habitat and rain back down as a method for watering the plants (sensitive life-critical electrical systems and condensation: best friends 4everz!). It's bad enough when it happens in your apartment... I remember the day when my light fixture fell to the floor and broke because it had filled up with water and become too heavy to support itself - sure explained the reason why the breaker to that room kept throwing! At least in the movie they seem to have added a grow tent, judging from the trailer (haven't seen the movie yet). Although grow tents bring their own problems... and most clear plastic sheeting is polyethylene, which is a pain to bond.

Comment Convenient + clean (Score 1) 315

It's a resealable glass of clean water that you can buy anywhere and carry in your pocket.

Saying "it makes no sense whatsoever to buy bottled water... For people who live in first-world countries with proper sanitation and water treatment"...
It is like saying the same thing about cloth handkerchiefs vs. paper tissues or paper towels vs. cloth towels.

With proper sanitation - why not just wash your ass and use a cloth towel afterwards instead of toilet paper?
You can take it with you everywhere, in a small plastic box.
And if a toilet has no bidet attachment, just use that bottled water to wash your ass.

I'm only half joking here. It is all perfectly doable. Have done it on camping and such.
Apart from carrying a towel with me. No, I don't hitchhike.
But doing all that to avoid toilet paper or paper tissues would be rather inconvenient on a regular basis.
Same as having MY dedicated 20$ aluminum-whatever-alloy water bottle I'd keep forgetting, losing or lugging around when I don't need or don't want to be lugging it around (i.e. when I need my hands or pockets free or busy with something else).

I've refilled my store-bought water bottle with local tap water IF it was good (where I live it really isn't) but then I'd just dump the bottle in the trash when I don't need it anymore.
Convenience. Of use and disposal. Plus a guaranteed clean source of drinkable water.
Available at every news stand kiosk.

Comment Re:Are and storms that fierce on Mars? (Score 1) 49

At least the story is internally consistent: because the Hab is radiation-proof, radio waves don't go through it

Yet another Weir misunderstanding, confusing all forms of radiation as if they're the same thing. If you want to block radio waves with as little mass as possible, you use metals. If you want to block streams of charged particles with as little mass as possible (the actual goal), you use hydrogen-rich materials, ideally with a borated inner liner. Weir has a history of misunderstanding radiation and confusing all types as if they're the same thing - check out his rant about how horrificly dangerous the radiation from an RTG is ;) Speaking of that...

I've also seen reviewers complaining that Mark Watney oversells the dangers of the radiation inside an RTG. In the book at least he is joking around a lot and using imprecise terms such as "box full of radiation"

He's not "joking around", the rant is like a page and a half long, describing it as vastly more dangerous than Pu-239, with a long line of superlatives for how to describe its incredible "danger". He talks about how it gets glowing hot with radiation and extends that logic to meaning that said radiation would be a lethal threat to his protagonist should the case crack. Which is of course absurd. Alpha doesn't even penetrate the outer layer of dead skin - alpha emitters are only dangerous if ingested or inhaled, and there's no realistic way to do that with an RTG, they're designed to even withstand unshielded reentry without burning up (and have done so - ex. Apollo 13). He'd be at far more risk of burning his suit - they're designed to operate at temperatures of 1000-1100C on the inner core and can still be very hot on the cooling fins (which, by the way, are often very large - on Curiosity, they're the giant angled section in the right near the guy in this picture. That's just to dissipate the heat used to produce a mere 125 watts of electrical power.)

My explanation of how the Hab is radiation-proof: a superconducting magnetic shield.

Microwave communications are based on photons, aka chargeless particles, aka no Lorentz force, aka no deflection.

Only protects against charged particles though...wouldn't stop gamma rays. How common is random gamma radiation on the surface of Mars?

Nor neutrons. Nor very high energy particles, such as in GCR, according to studies of realistically-implementable systems. But lower energy charged particles comprise the lion's share of the radiation exposure. Also, a lot of the neutrons and gamma that one would be exposed to with conventional shielding are secondaries.

Comment Re:Are and storms that fierce on Mars? (Score 1) 49

There were far more major glaring errors than that. I managed to read about a quarter of the book, needing something to bang my head into on almost every page. No, I don't want to turn this thread into yet another "rip on the terrible 'science' in The Martian" thread, so I'm not going to start yet another "list" like I've done the last times the book came up on Slashdot.

Honestly, with how much he screwed up the science in general, I doubt Weir's "I did it for artistic license" excuse about the dust storm. It comes across as a post-facto to explain away one of his screwups that was getting the most complaints.

Comment Re:weakly disguised hit-piece (Score 1) 294

Apple invented basically none of the UI metaphors they capitalized on. What they did was put them all together in a way that wouldn't shit the bed constantly. That's no small achievement, they were the first to manage it with smartphones and you have to give them credit for that, and for successfully appropriating all these UI concepts. But that's about where it stops. That's a significant couple of achievements, but still don't add up to innovation. It's really just about taking the time to refine what you're doing before you add more features, which is a lesson which more corporations (and people, probably) could stand to learn.

Comment Re:GOOD GRIEF! (Score 2) 315

high fructose corn syrup: 55% fructose, 45% glucode

table sugar: 50% fructose, 50% glucose

yep, huge difference there.

And yet, the research. Maybe high-fructose corn syrup has more differences than just the fructose/glucose levels? Despite what the powerful corn lobby in the US would have you believe, corn is just not all that good for you in large amounts. And with the amount that goes into HFCS, drinking soda pop is getting corn in large amounts.

Plus, it's all patented-gene bullshit with a heaping side order of glyphosates, and who wants to give money to Monsanto?

The life of a repo man is always intense.