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Comment: Hit mass with mass (Score 1) 150

Don't carry payload into orbit - it's phenomenally expensive. Instead, gather mass that's already up there using lightweight automata. Then accelerate it, and keep it in a parking orbit. Rinse & repeat. The best way to shift mass is with mass. It doesn't really matter what it is. It's also far safer to manipulate mass than it is to manipulate nuclear charges.

Comment: Re:If we're all going to take Adderall... (Score 1) 407

by Erikderzweite (#49536947) Attached to: Using Adderall In the Office To Get Ahead

As for federal holidays: there are 13 of them in our federal country (Bavaria). This year we have 9 of them which are not Saturday or Sunday. Our company also has a policy of "bridge days": if a holiday is on Tuesday then the company's building is closed on Monday. Same with a holiday on Thursday: the "bridge" day is Friday then. You have either to take a vacation or to spend accumulated overtime. This usually leads to an extra vacation week on Christmas. But such rule is not common.

If you absolutely want to work on the weekend or on a holiday, you have to jump over some major hurdles: you can't work alone and you have to notify the security and the management in advance. It is being frowned upon either.

Comment: Re:If we're all going to take Adderall... (Score 1) 407

by Erikderzweite (#49536811) Attached to: Using Adderall In the Office To Get Ahead

The US concept of sick days is pretty alien here in Germany. You can be sick for up to three days in a row without doctor's notice. If you're sick longer than three days in a row, you need a doctor's notice. But there is no limit set: neither the employer nor the employee can really predict how long one will be sick.

It is seen as a better alternative to employees showing up sick and probably contagious because they don't want to lose money. Last winter I had to take medical leave quite often, probably had had any flu virus that was around. No complains from management whatsoever. My superior was worried about the state of my immune system though and has recommended that I make some additional medical tests to be sure.

So my 6 weeks are guaranteed, if I'm sick, I simply call sick. No change to available vacation days.

Comment: Re:If we're all going to take Adderall... (Score 5, Informative) 407

by Erikderzweite (#49526213) Attached to: Using Adderall In the Office To Get Ahead

In the industry I work the unions have enforced contracts to prevent the abuse you are talking about (Germany).

38-hour weeks are an exception here with 35 being the norm. We are basically forbidden to work more than 10 hours a day. It is not forbidden per se, but the law states that you cannot operate a vehicle after more than 10 hours of work and the company is therefore required to pay for the taxi home. So it is being frowned upon and if you work longer than 10 hours your superior is in big trouble.

Vacations are mandatory, 30 days per year (6 weeks in US terms) +1 extra day for Christmas. You have to take them, otherwise your superior is in trouble. Same with overtime: if you have too much of it, you have to take some days off. And you're getting paid extra if you take a mandatory vacation.

Many engineers here are not happy with the rules but they also understand why these are in place.

I was offered a job in the USA once with almost double the payment. But after I have calculated missing vacation days, overtime insurance costs, vacation and Christmas bonuses etc. I found out that per-hour payment is better here.

+ - Interstellar travel was almost possible, 70k years ago...->

Submitted by mrthoughtful
mrthoughtful writes: According to the bods at the University of Rochester, 70,000 years ago, a recently discovered dim star (Scholz's star) passed through our Oort cloud, in a near collision with Sol only 52,000 AU distant. Although this is still quite a distance, it is far closer than Proxima Centauri's current 266,000 AU, but still a stretch for Voyager I's 125 AU. Still, maybe the best way to engage in interstellar travel is just to wait until the time is right.
Link to Original Source

Comment: This is -the- Dyson (Score 1) 249

by mrthoughtful (#49074151) Attached to: Game Theory Calls Cooperation Into Question

Dyson is one of my science heros. cf.
He is a notable subversive and a joker. He was once commissioned to write a paper for the US DOD regarding the use of nukes in Vietnam. He is pointing something else out in this paper (already three years old - not news), and it appears the irony is being missed.

+ - World most dangerous toy 'Gilbert Atomic Energy Lab' goes on display at museum->

Submitted by hypnosec
hypnosec writes: The Gilbert Atomic Energy Lab — dubbed as the world's most dangerous toy — has gone on display at the Ulster Museum in Northern Ireland. The toy has earned the title of most dangerous toy because it includes four types of uranium ore, three sources of radiation, and a Geiger counter that enables parents to measure just how contaminated their child had become. The Gilbert Atomic Energy Lab was only available between 1951 and 1952 and was the most elaborate atomic energy educational kit ever produced. The toy was one of the most costly toy of the time retailing at $50 — said to be equivalent to $400 today.
Link to Original Source

Comment: Tiros: first global weather photo (Score 5, Interesting) 28

by mrthoughtful (#48855851) Attached to: NJ Museum Revives TIROS Satellite Dish After 40 Years

Although I personally find the idea of resurrecting an old dish rather 'non-news', Tiros was pretty cool series of satellites. Here is the the first (composite) photo of global weather taken using the infrared cameras on an early Tiros:

Comment: Should have mixed it with Primer. (Score 2) 254

by mrthoughtful (#48764765) Attached to: Heinlein's 'All You Zombies' Now a Sci-Fi Movie Head Trip

IMO, Primer sets the bar for time-travel movies, even though it's deliberately ambiguous. It seems that really, the only 'next step' is to bring out many more of the complex paradoxes that something like Primer begins to address.

For instance, what would happen (not used, but implied, in Primer) if one put an (unoccupied) running box (IIRC Primer only uses collapsed boxes) inside a running box? My guess is that it would allow for arbitrary backward time travel (with the Primer provisio that it would be a branched universe)..

Comment: It's life Jim; but not as we know it (Score 1) 300

by mrthoughtful (#48753423) Attached to: The Search For Starivores, Intelligent Life That Could Eat the Sun

This is all sort of Solaris stuff - and like Lem suggests, we would have no ability to communicate with an organism of that order. (John C Lilly points out that we wouldn't be able to communicate meaningfully with Whales, let alone planetary organisms).

And when imagining living beings that are larger than planets, how can we even be able to begin to define them as alive?. Why aren't stars alive in the first place? If not, what makes them not so? Just because their method of reproduction involves their own death - it's just a little bit exotic is all.


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