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Comment: Re:hooray for the government (Score 2) 68

by occasional_dabbler (#48628407) Attached to: Councilmen Introduce Bills Strongly Regulating UAV Use in NYC
My reply appeared above your comment, for some reason... Bird strike inside of the FAA rules should be acceptable as an everyday occurence (laundry bills aside). 1549 was outside of these rules (many more birds hitting both engines) and it was a lucky escape; a very experienced pilot and a suitable place for a ditching (The first well-observed and survivable ditching in maybe 50 years? - it was by no means certain that ditching was a safe manoevre; all the substantiation was from scale model tests and simulation - no full-size tests).

To be quite blunt: if a bird of 8lb goes into your engine you're ok, if a bird of 9lb goes into your engine there's no guarantee. If the bird's bigger brother goes down the other engine then you're in the realms of statistical probabilities and prayer.

Comment: Re:hooray for the government (Score 1) 68

by occasional_dabbler (#48628237) Attached to: Councilmen Introduce Bills Strongly Regulating UAV Use in NYC
One of the institutions of which our colonial cousins should be very proud is the FAA, who make all the aerospace regulations freely available. These may seem like archaic and restrictive laws to prevent you from building your own aeroplane/rocket/drone but in fact they are extremely well researched and analysed specifications for anyone who wants to make a safe aeroplane/rocket/drone. They are also copied pretty much verbatim by everyone except the Russians (who have a similar system but with significantly worse weather!) and us Europeans, who go to great lengths to harmonise with the FAA so that the rules are more or less equivalent

So let's get to details and look at 33.76 regarding bird strike. The rules regarding what an aircraft engine should be able to ingest are enlightening: even the largest engines are only certified safe to fly after ingesting a bird of 8lb. This is a lot less than a person (that was a ridiculous example from the GP; ingesting a person would destroy an engine). Birds are obviously a lot more easily ingested than a carbon-fibre and steel drone.

Any reasonably large drone would have enough mass to endanger a civil airliner and you're just playing the numbers until one is brought down with three to four hundred deaths.

Comment: Re:Space has its own problems (Score 1) 280

by occasional_dabbler (#48628011) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Should a Liberal Arts Major Get Into STEM?
I think the problem is similar in both cases; the actual technical part, that people on /. are likely to enjoy, becomes a smaller part of the job the longer and/or more successful you are at it. If you work for a commercial enterprise then you are a businessman, and the people who enjoy that environment and get on are not generally the techies. If you want to stay in pure technical work then think about academia.

Comment: Re:Space has its own problems (Score 2) 280

by occasional_dabbler (#48612111) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Should a Liberal Arts Major Get Into STEM?
Very well put. I took an engineering degree at one of the World's best schools (Cambridge University) I ended up as an aerospace engineer and it has not been a bad life, all told; I could take you around most civil airliners and show you the parts that were 'mine' with some pride.

What I know now is that I would have been happier and/or richer being either:

(a) a banker, or

(b) a programmer.

Most of engineering is very, very dull indeed.

Comment: Just like in my personal life... (Score 3, Interesting) 334

by occasional_dabbler (#48526187) Attached to: Aliens Are Probably Everywhere, Just Not Anywhere Nearby
...there is no fairy godmother gonna make it all alright.

The situation is very simple: The probability of all life being extinguished on Earth in the next 2 ish billion years is 100%. If we want to survive beyond that we need to get off planet. Earh is 4.5 billion year old. Talk of cost is ridiculous: I can fly from UK to US for less than one day's wages (on a good day) and I'm just a regular guy. 500 years ago it took the lifetime's savings of a wealthy man to make the same journey. It is ALL about energy. Once we have a reliable means of providing it on a sun-scale then we can do anything we want. We evolved to an understanding of relativity and quantum mechanics in a few million years, why the hell shouldn't we make a few more steps, given the same time again?

Comment: Re:Not surprising at all. (Score 1) 250

Not a single song has ever been deleted from either my Winphone or my Nexus tab from either my Windows or Linux Boxen (either to either) ever, that I didn't request myself to be deleted, ever. The Kindle is still a good enough product that I will put up with Google's shitty behaviour for now but the iPod is so passe that I don't need to put up with Apple's douchebaggery any more.

Comment: Not a Story: Logistics (Score 1) 2

The first batch of product to market is sent by airfreight, which is expensive so you only send enough to satisfy a reasonable portion of the initial demand. Later, the product is sent by surface (ship) in larger quantities so there are more available and the supply/demand economics can start to kick in.

A mathematician is a device for turning coffee into theorems. -- P. Erdos