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Comment: Damned if you do, damned if you don't (Score 4, Insightful) 438

by miniMUNCH (#45125485) Attached to: <em>Gravity</em>: Can Film Ever Get the Science Right?
"Why don't they make more movies with space realism?"

"Damn, that *space realism movie* had some minor/moderate inaccuracies... I was really disappointed [that they didn't spend 500 million on production cost to really film he whole movie in microgravity]."

For space sake... there seems to be no way to please certain people.

If you are a NASA, space-science, space-exploration supporter: There is a time to be scientifically brutal and honest, and a time to sell cars (to borrow the phrase from Steven Spielberg, among others). When something like Gravity gets made, spend 95+% of time lauding the good aspects of the film... less time preening your own scientific ego about how much you know about space.

Comment: 600 days to Eurpoa? How precisely? (Score 1) 212

by miniMUNCH (#44891023) Attached to: Join the Efforts of a Manned Mission To Jovian Moon Europa
What is the basis for asserting a 600 day travel time... because it seems way too early to possibly assert a travel time without a launch window, a spacecraft/payload design specification, and a suitable launch vehicle.

The current, relatively small, Juno mission to Jupiter is going to take 5 years to get to Jupiter.
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/juno/spacecraft/index.html#.UjqKkj_lcyY

Galileo took about as long...

How do they plan to get orders of magnitude more payload to Jupiter 3X faster than Juno?

Comment: Re:#1 tool a robot probe could carry to Europa: (Score 2) 83

by miniMUNCH (#44505407) Attached to: NASA Appointed Team Set Out Priorities For a Europa Surface Mission
In addition to the significant radiation problem (pointed out already).

The spacecraft changes from something the size of a small car for a robotic mission to something much more massive to support human life for the 6+ year trip to Europa.

We simply don't have the "technology <--> budget" combo to do a manned mission to Europa within the first half of this century. We need major game-changing tech breakthroughs to carry out a human mission even to Mars, let alone the Jovian planets.

A a robotic landing mission to Europa is technically feasible right now given a sufficient budget. We don't have all the technology properly glued together: but we can navigate a 'mother ship' spacecraft to Jupiter, can maneuver the craft to make numerous precision passes of Europa, we have autonomous vehicle control theory and codes which can improved upon and readied for a Europa landing, and we can design and fabricate the spacecraft. There are some serious challenges, of course, and success is not guaranteed, but it is doable.

Comment: Re:Unfunded mandate? (Score 1) 285

We keep on talking this way about accepting risk, not accepting risk... when it is really more about spending money intelligently. NASA/RFSA/ESA/ et al. accept 'intelligent' risk on big missions all the time (mars landings are crazy hard).

NASA's job is to DO it, not 'try' it. (Yoda: "there is no try...") Sure, government can give some company money to try to do something, and when that company screws up they can pay their lobbying department overtime to smooth things over with Congress.

(Think about it... you don't pay 50 million to build damns which *might* hold water. -OR- Car manufacturers have been designing and making cars, continuously innovating and integrating new technology, for over 70 years... they still don't always integrate new tech seamlessly and frequently have to issue recalls.)

NASA generally can't issue recalls once the mission is off the launch pad... if you launch a flawed entry-decent-landing vehicle towards Mars it just crashes when it gets there (and that has happened). The best route for fundamentally new missions is to go for maximum mission assurance... it costs more but you almost always get the accomplishment you are after. It would be one thing if, for instance, NASA's track record was not so good... but it is pretty damn good.

This policy is also followed by Russia, ESA, JAXA. And this policy and systematic, organizational means by which this is achieve has had extremely positive cascading effects in numerous aspects which we often take for granted (commerical aerospace, medical device, etc.).

Comment: Re:Unfunded mandate? (Score 1) 285

Sir/madam... you are entirely misjudging the landscape of Aerospace technology and Space Exploration.

The fact is that SpaceX is indeed quite awesome (as are numerous other aerospace companies). SpaceX in particular as of late. they are learning and succeeding at an incredible rate and are taking some new ideas and putting them into action. But they have not yet done anything from a mission prospective that wasn't already done over 40 years ago (launch into LEO, dock with something, return stuff to planet surface.... Russian Aerospace and NASA wrote the book on how to do that 40 years ago). SpaceX doesn't have a legacy of any successful missions that have pushed the boundaries of space exploration.

NASA, RFSA, ESA, and other government funded space exploration centers have an incredible track record of pushing the limits in space exploration: these organizations have executed amazing, high-risk, missions with a remarkable track record of success.
Shuttle program, ISS, Hubble, Messenger, Cassini, MRO, Curiosity, Planck, etc.... the list goes on and on.

People talk about JWST in negative terms now... but I believe the folks on the JWST project are going to get it 'perfect' and JWST is going to be a crowning achievement for mankind.

Comment: Work at Math, but don't stress too mucht for CS (Score 1) 656

by miniMUNCH (#43875973) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Important Is Advanced Math In a CS Degree?
To the OP.... Math is sort of the language of science and provided much of the logical foundation of computer science, programming languages, compilers, etc.
Advanced maths can be challenging to learn especially when it is not taught well (which is increasingly becoming the case these days).

Two comments:

With regards to differential equations, don't stress out in short term... you may not run into too many Diff Eq or integral in your CS degree undergrad.

In the long term, having a solid understanding of advanced mathematics and some physics (optics, E&M, mechanics) will open doors in your career and will enable you to teach yourself new technology. So do yourself a favor, summer is coming up... keep working at the DiffEq's, Fourier series, etc. a little bit here and there over the summer. Maybe even consider getting a minor in Physics?

Best of luck

Comment: Re:What satellite costs 1.5 billion? (Score 1) 128

by miniMUNCH (#43285633) Attached to: PlanetIQ's Plan: Swap US Weather Sats For Private Ones
Yeah, quickly read up on JPSS... that is not a freaking simple system that any ole contractor could simply pull out of their rear end given some government cash:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joint_Polar_Satellite_System_%28JPSS%29

A bigger problem with our budget on these things is our incessant need to put state-of-the-art, never-flown, technology on the JPSS. Also, the requirement to sub contract just systematically kills NASA's ability to stay on budget... the overhead costs and near infinite opportunity for miscommunication also causes some serious problems. But that is cost of enriching private pockets with taxpayer money...

BUT, future going forward... launching "build-to-print" satellites of the same design would be cheap.

Comment: What satellite costs 1.5 billion? (Score 1) 128

by miniMUNCH (#43285455) Attached to: PlanetIQ's Plan: Swap US Weather Sats For Private Ones
The figure seems highly dubious to me...

That 1.5 billion includes quite a bit of development cost, no doubt... cost that would be carried by the taxpayers no matter what. The cost of the launch and operation is no where near 1.5B per satellite (and falling with SpaceX's continued progress).

The government simply needs efficient grouping of duties and expertise... giving NASA and NRO responsibility for all government satellite development and operation (unclassified / classified respectively) is the logical decision.

PlanetIQ cannot design a better planetary study / weather satellite than NASA... and NASA/NOAA would end up having to do so much hand-holding (at significant cost) to make sure PlanetIQ didn't totally blow it.

Comment: my 0.02 on solid modeling software (Score 1) 218

by miniMUNCH (#43195397) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best 3-D Design Software?
Some good options above... i have a few extra bookmarks!

Most of the big aerospace and automotive *big equipment* industries use either NX or CATIA. NX used to be called Unigraphics, among other things. Haven't used Catia but NX is fast and quite powerful. Creo, once Pro/E, is sorta in this ball park but I understand it is sorta buggy and lacks some features... but that is hearsay. The key thing that differentiates these packages is high level CAM, PDM and simulation-based design integration. NX and CATIA are very expensive but the money is easily made back in time saved in a high-through put design to manufacture environment (GM, Boeing, SpaceX...)... for instance, Siemens makes NX and also makes awesome CNC equipment and CNC control system hardware (computers, PLC's, servo controllers, etc.) SO... your CAD--> CNC setup becomes almost effortless and you can get great 'manufacturability' feedback information in real time while you are designing parts and assembllies. If money is no object, NX is awesome... but certainly gross overkill for the individual.

Solidworks (from the same company as CATIA), SolidEdge (from same place as NX), SpaceClaim, and Inventor are all high quality solidmodelers with some good advanced features. I have used Solidworks for a couple of projects and like it well enough... really, they all get the job done and have very similiar feature sets. Solidedge used to blow the others out of the water but that is less the case these days, or possibly not at all. For the individual or small shop, Something like Solidworks or Inventor is all you need.

Right now, if you are a student, I believe you can download/register/install an academic version of Inventor for free (along with pretty much everything Autodesk makes...which is a lot). At least that used to the be the case. SolidEdge has a free trial/academic version that used to last one year.

CAM software is also real expensive but a lot of the 3D printer and hobbyist CNC's have integrate or cheap CAM packages that work well enough.

If you are not a student, the only option under 2000 USD is Alibre which I hear is not bad... or go with something funky or opensource.

Comment: whatever (Score 1) 815

by miniMUNCH (#43089327) Attached to: Gnome Founder Miguel de Icaza Moves To Mac
Miguel is not wrong... the lack of sufficient standards amongst distro's was and still is a major stumbling block in individual user adoption and still gives linux that 'slightly unkept feeling about it'. After a while even really intelligent people can get tired of tinkering with unix/linux and just want something to work out of the box. OSX just works and has most of what linux can offer to the individual user, and often times with a muc,. much better user/programmer experience.

For Big Data, the 'new' big iron (read clouding computing)... linux is great. If you are a company the monetized internet traffic, performs big computations, etc., and can fund people to make linux do your laundry, then linux is 99% upside... pretty much no downside because you'd already have to code most of your own shit no matter what platform you selected.

It really isn't quite the same case with linux as it was unix in the 80's, but there are some similarities... particularly for the companies attempting top [obtaining] profit from linux. Back in the 80's, IBM, HP, Dec, SGI, etc. never agreed to standardize API's and figured they could carve up the market betweenst themselves... along comes DOS, windows, with it's cheaper price and working GUI, with half decent documented API's... and Unix went out to pasture. And then, as now, l/unix developers pretended like the lack of standardization was not a problem... well it was then, it is now. Difference is, linux is free so people are relatively happy to live with it. Far too simple a history, I know... and Linux does not have to be relevant to a majority user based (it is general open source and not for profit).

Note: I would term myself a linux and programming dabbler at best. I dabbled with Gentoo, linux from scratch as my more 'hard core' distro quite some time ago and then kinda dropped out of the user base... i dabble with a bit of C and python from time to time now. In the past 10+ years, User experience on linux has seen little improvement, in my opinion... linux is still just as cool and fun to tinker with as it ever was, though. So don't take this as bashing. Use of 'bash' intended... the world needs a lot more bash, or was it hash?

Comment: Re:Is the hole rotating, or just the disk? (Score 1) 227

by miniMUNCH (#43031657) Attached to: Spinning Black Hole's Edge Rotates At Nearly the Speed of Light
First things first... how does a singularity, i.e. a 0-D object, have 'spin'? Author please explain how you can attribute spin to a black hole. I think something got mixed up in the message of what the NuStar scientists actually figured out and what got reported here.

From simple classical arguments, it is not surprising that, from conservation of angular momentum, matter traveling into the black hole could reach 'observed' angular speeds up to the speed of light. Very cool that we have moreorless observed this angular velocity limit.

Comment: faith/philosophy and science should not fight (Score 2) 813

by miniMUNCH (#42880411) Attached to: Missouri Legislation Redefines Science, Pushes Intelligent Design
What i find most tragic about this news and the comments is how many people entirely misconstrue the supposed debate between faith/philosophy and science when, in fact, there is almost no common ground between the two... they deal with very different aspects of the universe and our experience of it in our brief lives.

A few postulates to consider (some humour intended herein):

1) Numerous books of the Bible are written poetically and as allegory... Genesis and Revelations are the two most obviously allegorical books of the bible and is not an accident the first and last books are allegorical in nature (it kinda sets the tone for the entire compiled scripture). Some how a lot of Christians 'bishops/pastors/etc." didn't get the memo at some point and started interpreting the whole bible literally. Comical to say the least

2) Many (most) Christians worldwide do not believe the world is only 6000-10000 years old... so don't lump them all into one group. AS it often happens in human existence, the dumbest people are often the loudest people. Throughout christian history, lots of leaders said lots of dumb things (that are not intrinsically support by the Bible by the way)... to go crazy and throw away an entire body of philosophy/faith because a few or even many people say some silly things is just not very scientific... yes, scientists, I'm holding the standard of being a good science and maintaining some objectivity even when it is something you really don't like. As a PhD scientist, I have heard a lot of scientist say dumb things at conferences, even read incredibly dumb things in peer-reviewed journals (which means the reviewers were dumb too). I have said some incredibly dumb things too! We seem to only remember the great scientists and forget that for every Einstein there were and still are hundreds of reasonably bright people saying and doing things that ranging anywhere from unimportant to just ole dumb. This is still the case today... less than one percent of the worlds population is responsible for over 98% of the world technological advancement. So lets not pretend like science has never made mistakes and is somehow pristine and perfect... it is not. Hundreds of years from now scientists are going to talk about how dumb we were to stick with quantum mechanics, the standard model, blah blah, for so damn long when there were (and have been for some time) some huge problems with the theories... and at the same time, we as a society really are not funding and encouraging enough totally revolutionary, outside the box, thinking.

3) The universe is here with lots of mass and energy (more than anyone can possibly conceptualize) and yet, from our meager scientific observations, mass can be neither created or destroyed... so we have some explaining to do. Right now, Science does not have all the answers In fact, there are a lot of fundamental "how and why" type of questions to which science doesn't have the foggiest notion of an answer and can't even conceive an experiment to develop an answer. So, being intellectually honest for a moment, one can hardly fault someone for looking to the existential for answers. i would in fact argue to 'believe' that science will one day answer all the burning questions of why and how the universe/existence came about requires a "leap of faith" (the very thing religion is ridiculed for). Seriously, despite incredible technological advancement in the past 2000 years, science is not any closer to figuring out why we are here in the first place and what this existence/universe is all about. But that is okay, it is NOT sciences' job to figure out why we are here or even necessarily why physical laws are the way they are.

4) Atheism is a philosophy/belief/faith and it is not the only philosophy/faith of "Science"... there is no systematic scientific proof in favor of any stance on the existence/non-existence of a supreme being or the supernatural. No logically perfect argument can be construed for or against... just drop it. Realize that reach of science, and even logical deduction, has limits. As a sort of corollary: most religious texts and 'system of religious beliefs' have almost nothing to offer to scientific progress...and why would they? That would be like randomly including a chapter on automotive electrical maintenance in a book about 14th century art history. So relax and be careful about what you say about science on 'religious grounds'... you might say something really stupid; Also, just admit when you said something stupid (everyone has at one point or another), own it, and move on; last few parts were not a postulate, sorry.

5) No rationale, logical argument can be made as why someone should believe a certain creed or philosophy nor can any creed, philosophy or religious belief be proven or supported by any form of scientific rationale or observation (in part because each individuals observation/rationale of metaphysical matters is highly subjective in nature)... so, yep... just drop it already.

6) There is "A Truth" to our Universe/Existence, but few if any humans know what that Truth is with absolute certainty, and even if someone did... well, see #5... just forget trying to make other folks believe it... just drop it.

So those are my few postulates offered for consideration... totally draft form. Do what you will with it all.

Philosophy and science should have a deep admiration one for the other, they should exist symbiotically in our minds and in our discourse... no matter our beliefs, we humans have so much more in common than we do differences. Peace Out.

Comment: Re:lol (Score 1) 332

by miniMUNCH (#42606691) Attached to: Pot Smokers Might Not Turn Into Dopes After All
Exactly... whenever we talk about the effects of any chemical on the human system, genetic diversity must be taken into account. Chemicals in any substance absorbed into the body has an effect based upon the 'endocrinology' of the individual (whether it be consumed food, a chemical spilled on the skin, dope smoked, etc.). Allergies are a perfect example here, natural tolerance for alcohol... and so on. I know people who have smoked pot for over 10 years and are rocket scientist smart & 100% able... I know of cases where patients *think* even just a few months of light pot smoking has caused sustained (possibly permanent) and significant loss of mental capability, particularly memory function. The key thing here is that individuals are informed with some of the baseline science and the potential risks... help young people make informed decisions.

Each honest calling, each walk of life, has its own elite, its own aristocracy based on excellence of performance. -- James Bryant Conant

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