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Comment: Re:Larger landing area (Score 3, Insightful) 340

Rockets are capable of incredible acceleration, especially when they're low on fuel and deprived of their payload. Under those conditions, the F9 first stage could easily go from 50MPH (~22m/s) to 0 in the space of a few meters.

Also, you *want* to land fast, because for every second you spend in the air you lose another 10m/s of your limited delta-v (fuel), and the faster you're traveling the more aerodynamic control you have.

Yes, I know all this from playing KSP.

Comment: Re:What? Why discriminate? (Score 2) 698

by pushing-robot (#49478197) Attached to: 'We the People' Petition To Revoke Scientology's Tax Exempt Status

I'm not saying you're wrong but that's probably the weakest possible argument for religious tax exemption: Minus the clever wording, Jesus in that scene is explicitly telling the Jewish religious leaders that they should pay taxes.

The argument that churches are a form of charitable/nonprofit organization makes the most sense, though religious organization are not currently held to the same standards of accountability as other nonprofits. The other common argument that taxing churches would begin a slippery slope to regulating them, violating the principle of separation of church and state, seems specious considering (a) slippery slope arguments are always questionable, and (b) churches have no problem taking all manner of public benefits. Still, the most likely argument seems that churches have been around a long time, have many voters and lawmakers among their vast membership, and thus get the laws they want.

Comment: Solution (Score 2) 137

by pushing-robot (#49475583) Attached to: Road To Mars: Solving the Isolation Problem

Go up with Bethesda's current RPG. You'll be back before you finish it.

Seriously, though: cp library_of_congress /media/box_of_microsd_cards. Read books. Watch movies (and binge on TV seasons). Play games with your crewmates. Teach yourself something. Watch recordings from friends and family, record clips to send back. Invite tech companies to develop push versions of their services; they can't buy publicity like astronauts checking Facebook from Mars.

It's hardly isolation, and six months will go by before you know it.

I guess our biggest challenge is getting to Mars before our collective attention span has decreased to the point where we can't survive without minute-by-minute feedback from our social circle.

Comment: Re:Does anybody realize (Score 5, Informative) 44

by pushing-robot (#49456841) Attached to: Google Battles For Better Batteries

* Batteries have far lower energy density than gasoline (and even most explosives).

* Batteries have a maximum discharge rate, which means they can't release all their energy instantaneously under practical conditions. In other words, instead of detonating like a firecracker, they tend to just spray fire and sparks for a few minutes like a fountain.

* "Real" explosives are not hard to acquire or manufacture, and bags of fertilizer and cans of fuel oil cost far less than an equivalent mass of Li-Ion batteries.

"Now this is a totally brain damaged algorithm. Gag me with a smurfette." -- P. Buhr, Computer Science 354