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Comment: Re:Tracking` (Score 2) 233

by photonic (#46668445) Attached to: Most Expensive Aviation Search: $53 Million To Find Flight MH370
Data charges would be much less than that, $20 extra per ticket would be unacceptably high. Some spokesman for Inmarsat (who obviously has a big interest in making permanent data connections mandatory) said that data costs for such a flight would be on the order of 1$/hour for the whole aircraft. Data rates should also be pretty low, 1 GPS coordinate per minute would have helped enormously for both the AirFrance and MalaysiaAirlines crashes, the detailed high-bandwidth data you can always get from the black box if you can find it.

Comment: Re:Part of this is a late April fools joke. (Score 4, Interesting) 364

by photonic (#46638701) Attached to: Your Car Will Tell You How To Hit the Next Green Light
True story: The lecturer that taught us general relativity at university was a fantastic guy that was also pretty good at drawing cartoons. For one of the questions on the final exam, he drew a scene of a guy being stopped by a policeman: "I am stopping you for crossing the red light." "I saw it as green, I swear officer." "Fine, then I will write you a ticket for speeding." The question was to calculate the speed of the car, given the wavelengths of green and red light and the velocity of light.

Comment: Re:Forbit all HFT (Score 1) 246

contribute to society except for profit for themselves

Your opinion, fortunately we aren't slaves to one person's opinion as to what is valuable "to society". I am sure all the employees, their families, children, dogs, etc. of the HFTs, producers of all the networking and computing gear they use, the buildings and home they inhabit, the doctors they visit, and so on, might disagree with you about the lack of contribution to society.

That is a bad argument: People making money with organized crime spend money on employees, family and goods too, but that does not make it a good thing. If the HFT people would not be skimming billions of dollars from the market, millions of people might have received 100$ more since their pension fund would have done slightly better, and they would have spent it the same. What did the HFT contribute to society to rip off all those people?

Comment: Forbit all HFT (Score 3, Interesting) 246

HFT should be banned, there is nothing these robo-traders contribute to society except for profit for themselves. The argument that they provide for liquidity of the market, or whatever, would not change if everyone would be trading at second scale instead of microsecond scale. My proposal (as someone how knows nothing about stock markets): make it a level playing field and only allow trading at say exact 30 second intervals or so, which should be synced world-wide. In this way, the big firms would only have an advantage over the small guy when new information becomes available in the last half second before the deadline, instead of on every instance of new information. After everyone has placed their orders for the current round, the stock market then takes a few seconds to update all stock prizes, after which everyone has 'infinite time' to compute his action for the next round.

Comment: Re:Jumping the gun (Score 3, Informative) 194

Scientist are still analyzing the data of ESA's Planck satellite, with first results expected in October this year. This instrument is supposedly sensitive enough to confirm or reject BICEP's results. I guess Planck's team must feel pretty depressed that the potential big discovery of their 700 MEuro instrument is scooped by the relatively small-scale BICEP experiment.

Comment: Indirect measurement of gravitational waves (Score 5, Informative) 269

by photonic (#46507967) Attached to: Big Bang's Smoking Gun Found
Note that this the second indirect evidence for the existence of gravitational waves, the first one was the orbital decay of a binary system that included a pulsar, discovered by Hulse and Taylor (Nobel Prize 1993). Today's result, if confirmed, seems pretty spectacular, and might be rewarded with a second Nobel Prize. For a first direct detection of gravitational waves, we have to wait for first detections by LIGO, Virgo and eLISA.

Comment: Re:Resonant Detector (Score 1) 70

by photonic (#46487033) Attached to: The Earth As a Gravitational Wave Detector
The LISA project has a long history, with several iterations of down-sizing its costs, and at some point the Americans pulled out of the project completely. The latest version of the project is called ELISA, which was recently approved as ESA's L3 mission in 2034. A bit late, but better than nothing ...

Comment: Multimedia overlay on ruins in Rome (Score 3, Interesting) 322

by photonic (#46221255) Attached to: What Are the Weirdest Places You've Spotted Linux?
Last year, I visited the Palazzo Valentini in Rome, which is just a few steps away from Piazza Venezia and within falling distance of Trajan's column. They dug up some Roman remains of houses and temples in the basement of a more modern building. They did quite some effort to make it into a multimedia show, with beamers projecting accurately aligned overlays of all kind of things that had disappeared. One cool effect was for example to extend a mosaic, of which only a small piece was left, over an entire room. I was observing how the tour-guide started the shows, he was just launching a VLC player or so on a linux box sitting in a rack in the corner. From the looks of the icons, it was probably an older version of Ubuntu (8.04 or 10.04).

Comment: The point: hear safety announcements (Score 2) 106

by photonic (#45424294) Attached to: EU To Allow 3G and 4G Connections On Planes
There are two reasons you have to switch of your electronic devices during takeoff/landing: first, the electronic interference, which is not considered a problem anymore these days. The second, more unknown, reason is that they do not want you to listen to music so that you can hear the safety announcements. I am not talking about the usual 'live-vest is stored under your seat' story that everyone has heard 100 times, but instructions to evacuate in case of real emergencies. Since these emergencies happen mostly during the first and last few minutes of a flight, they want you to pay full attention. Source: close friend is instructor for flight crews.

Comment: Reusable first stage? (Score 2) 97

by photonic (#44987345) Attached to: SpaceX Falcon 9 Blasts Off From California
I watched the webcast live. The qualification of the upgraded Falcon 9 seemed to have gone very well, with payloads deployed in nominal orbits. They were also supposed to do some first tests for recovering the first stage. The only thing that I could find was that the second of two burns after separation sent it into a spin, after which it crash-landed in the ocean. Anyone has some more news about that?

Comment: This is pretty old technology (Score 3, Interesting) 90

by photonic (#44984083) Attached to: Matchstick-Sized Sensor Can Record Your Private Chats Outdoors
I remember seeing a presentation by these guys when they were probably still a recent startup company at Twente University, must have been around 15 years ago. Their sensor is build with MEMS technology and consists of 2 or 3 tiny wires (maybe 1x200 micron) that are suspended over a valley etched out of a silicon wafer. When these wires are heated up, a sideways airflow will cause tiny difference in temperature between the wires that can be read out by measuring the resistance. At the time, their target application was low-cost microphones for use in mobile telephones. IIRC, the sensitivity of this sensor had a sensitivity that rolls off as 1/f inherent to the involved physics and they were struggling with the noise at high frequencies in the reconstructed sound. Looking at their website, the sensor still looks exactly the same. Assuming no major breakthrough (I could imagine they lowered the noise by a factor 10 meanwhile, but not that they solved the 1/f problem), I guess the major change now is that they can do more fancy signal conditioning with a DSP in real time. Too bad they went for the military market, but I guess that is a way to slap a few 10-Euro sensors together and sell them as a 10kEuro package. Does anyone know what could be done with these direction sensitive flow-sensors that cannot be done with a phased-array of conventional microphones?

% APL is a natural extension of assembler language programming; ...and is best for educational purposes. -- A. Perlis