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Comment History will always remember the 747 (Score 1) 345

The version of the story I was told was that at the time it was on the drawing table, supersonic transport was the future for passenger travel for everyone. But cargo was not expected to go that way and Boeing felt they needed to split their offering into an efficient giant cargo aircraft and a supersonic transport for people. They designed the cargo transport to have an elevated cockpit so it could have maximum internal space (which became the 747's top deck), and the supersonic transport was ultimately canned. The 747 ended up just as popular for passenger transport as a happy coincidence.

It's not about Europe's elite vs American pluralism. Go over to Europe and see just how elite their airlines are... the US is the one with classes. Going out on a limb, the 747's ability to isolate the classes and provide a swanky bar for those of distinction probably had something to do with it's success. The US pulled the plug on supersonic transport before it ever had a chance to prove itself or not (look up the supersonic airport that is half built in the Everglades, it's still there!).

Comment Re:As a Greek, disappointed from slashdot (Score 1) 1307

The dynamic is pretty simple if you can look at it from the rear view mirror.

Forget all of the countries and the names. To get people out of trouble from borrowing too much, the people that didn't borrow too much have two choices... cut off the remainder and let them sort it out which will be very ugly, or to loan them even more money and cross their fingers that everything will work out.

There's no way that any newspaper story can capture what really happened in Greece, but yet that doesn't matter. It still comes down to whether Greece gets cut off or not. That's why the no vote is so puzzling.. it can either be a bold move to draw the conclusion of a mess that went too far, or a case where the demonstrators burn down their own neighborhood to make a point. I'm not sure which has happened, but if I was Europe, I would would shift from rescuing the economy to rescuing the people and sending food and medicine.

Comment Re:Failure to even Attempt to process the article. (Score 5, Informative) 926

I've manipulated my weight by over 30 pounds down and up since the beginning of the year. I've done it on a schedule based on calorie intake and burn measured carefully. I average 3.5 workout hours a week. I've spent just as much time eating over my calories burned as I have eating under. And I'm not eating superfoods or no carbs, or no fat, or whatever other fad... I'm eating pretty much the same stuff I always have just on a budget. My weight change has been impossible to detect day-to-day on the scale it's been so slow yet the total impact has been huge.

For years I believed the calorie thing was bunk and indeed I managed my "weight" but got fatter and fatter with the scale largely in the same range. When my weight would go up I'd cut back and lose weight... but it didn't impact my physical dimensions. So last year I said that was it and decided to get serious.

Losing weight is a mental task. It's the time and consistency that it takes that is so brutal. Society suffers from a negative feedback loop where everything promises quick results, and when you don't get them, it feels impossible. The reality is losing a pound a week of fat is rapid weight loss. And when your weight fluctuates by a few pounds a day it can take a long time for readily apparent results to show up. But if you stack up 26 weeks of weight loss you will feel like a champion and it didn't take superhuman effort on any given day to do it.

Start today and by the end of the year you'll see major changes. Or you can keep doing what you are doing thinking the calorie math doesn't work and you will probably keep on the same trend line.

Comment Re:"As soon as 20 years?" (Score 1) 475

For what it's worth, the Saturn 5 as it was configured in 1969 had enough Delta-v to get to Mars and enter Mars orbit. It just didn't have consumables to keep the people alive that long. It probably would have taken three Saturn 5 launches to mount a Mars mission with that hardware. We had most of the technology to do this in 1969 although some of the details of how to accomplish it remain unsolved.

Comment Proof of the Law of Large Numbers (Score 1) 217

As the number of people foreclosed on increases, the probability of find just about anything increases as well. If there's an Action Comics #1 out there, that makes me suspect (1) we've foreclosed on a hell of alot of people, and (2) I can only imagine what other improbable forgotten items are being found. We could very easily be approaching Hoffa odds.


Own Your Own Fighter Jet 222

gimmebeer writes "The Russian Sukhoi SU-27 has a top speed of Mach 1.8 (more than 1,300 mph) and has a thrust to weight ratio greater than 1 to 1. That means it can accelerate while climbing straight up. It was designed to fight against the best the US had to offer, and now it can be yours for the price of a mediocre used business jet."

PhD Candidate Talks About the Physics of Space Battles 361

darthvader100 writes "Gizmodo has run an article with some predictions on what future space battles will be like. The author brings up several theories on propulsion (and orbits), weapons (explosives, kinetic and laser), and design. Sounds like the ideal shape for spaceships will be spherical, like the one in the Hitchhiker's Guide movie."

EA Shuts Down Pandemic Studios, Cuts 200 Jobs 161

lbalbalba writes "Electronic Arts is shutting down its Westwood-based game developer Pandemic Studios just two years after acquiring it, putting nearly 200 people out of work. 'The struggling video game publisher informed employees Tuesday morning that it was closing the studio as part of a recently announced plan to eliminate 1,500 jobs, or 16% of its global workforce. Pandemic has about 220 employees, but an EA spokesman said that a core team, estimated by two people close to the studio to be about 25, will be integrated into the publisher's other Los Angeles studio, in Playa Vista.' An ex-developer for Pandemic attributed the studio's struggles to poor decisions from the management."

Comment Re:Can a Slashdot pilot tell us . . . (Score 1) 101

There's a typo I want to correct in there. If the airport has an operating control tower you do have to talk to them to get clearances to operate (taxi out of parking, take off, land, enter their airspace, etc).

Of course there's an exception to everything. If you don't have a radio or it is broken, there are procedures where the control tower shines a light at you and you see green or red and depending on the light pattern they can provide clearances to aircraft without radios. To take-off like this you'd need to call up the tower and make arrangements and for landing you'd in theory have to wait until they noticed you circling and you got your green lights.

Comment Re:Can a Slashdot pilot tell us . . . (Score 2, Informative) 101

Any pilot can call for a weather briefing prior to a flight, but most don't. For most private traffic, the pilot never talks to anyone other than the other pilots in the area advising what they are up to... and technically don't have to do that even if the airport doesn't have a control tower (most don't).

It is extremely unlikely that the weather briefer or ATC would inform pilots of mountain phenomena because it's like warning pilots that bright blue light shines from every possible direction when not obscured by clouds. It's just a given.

There are basics about mountain flying you are taught regardless of where you learn, and any west coast pilot has to deal with these realities if they go anywhere inside of the coast. I've fought off 400 ft/min downdrafts on flat land 800 miles from a mountain.

Fossett would have known very well about mountain waves. He would not have continued towards the peak of the mountain if he was sinking. The probable cause report doesn't really inform us of anything more valuable than "the sky is blue".

Comment Re:Waldos (Score 1) 258

The autopilot isn't HAL, or anything like it. Autopilots execute a series of instructions which are programmed at the start of any flight and modified as necessary en route.

Essentially, the autopilot follows a script while using the instruments to maintain the airspeed, altitude, and climb/descent rate that is programmed. They also entrust it with turning off the seatbelt lights at 10,000ft.

This is the easiest part of flying and the most mundane. The auto-pilot accomplishes this through something very similar to a bunch of PID controllers connected to the most basic sensors.

That may not prevent it from being called a robot... but it's really the reverse scenario of what you present. The robot takes care of a relatively trivial task while the pilots take care of "everything else" (flight rules, fuel, traffic, coordination, navigation, etc etc).

I took a fish head to the movies and I didn't have to pay. -- Fish Heads, Saturday Night Live, 1977.