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Comment My first grade school computer program in 1970 (Score 2) 54

Coincidentally my school got a Dartmouth BASIC teletype terminal to a nearby college computer within months of The LIFE article in Scientific American. So that became my first computer project. The display was an printed array of asterisks or blanks. At 110 baud or ten characters a second I recall the display was slower than the kilo-op computer. Five years later that was our term project in the MIT Digital Computer Lab. My partner built the rule engine out of TTL gates. I built the display from timed dots on an oscilloscope. Pixel graphics were still five years in the future. TTL was so fast even then that we had slow down the system to see the output. The lab only had a limited number of $100 one-kilobyte RAM, so we had to share them among projects.

Comment Mars air is about 1% Earth (Score 1) 107

Enough that parachutes work to a certain degree and are used fro probe landings.
Enough that you have to some sort of heat-sheilding on probe entry.
Not enough to breath. Almost all carbon dioxide anyways.
Not enough to block solar radiation. Astronauts would fry in a large solar storm.

Comment junk may not really be junk (Score 3, Interesting) 110

Its just poorly understood DNA sections. The ENCODE project studied non-coding DNA and estimated that up 80% could be important. Some codes for RNA which until recently was hard to measure because it decays so rapidly. Some may encode for epigentic control like methlyation locations. Some may control the folding of histone-DNA complexs, forcing sections sections DNA to be nearly one another for reasons we dont understand yet.

Clever biochemists will figure these out soon enough.

Comment History's chicken-vs-egg problem (Score 1) 273

Do great men make great events, or do great events make great men? The most recent invocation was the PBS 70th anniversary of the atom bomb and how Grove and Oppenheimer pulled it off in a short time. I suspect both sides are correct. There are clever peopel in all eras ready to be tapped.