Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?

Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!

  • View

  • Discuss

  • Share

We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).


Comment: Conclusion close; logical path is not. (Score 1) 629

by rickshaf (#43577747) Attached to: Why We'll Never Meet Aliens
The writer's conclusion is that we Humans will progress to the point that we won't care to travel to other stars, and that other species have likely evolved to the same state. I'd suggest that the first part is likely correct. We will progress to the point that we have access to all the information and Human opinions that might interest us and, thus would allow us to travel to the stars. However, whether or not we're interested might be much less important than the issue of latency. If we're all connected, traveling much past the Moon will cut us off from the "hive mind" in such a way that we'd be so lost as to no longer be functional, due to the delay in exchange of information due to the finite speed of light. This isn't an original thought. The late, great space scientist, philosopher, and SciFi writer Charles Sheffield made this exact point in his short story "Power Failure", which I read in his 1979 collection known as "Vectors". It is the single most thought-provoking SciFi collection I've read.

Comment: Re:Space Intruder Detector (Score 1) 301

by rickshaf (#38300368) Attached to: US Air Force Pays SETI To Check Kepler-22b For Alien Life
OK, putting all the snarky, sophomoric thoughts aside, the USAF *should* be doing this sort of thing. It's the ultimate in military intelligence, finding out who's out there, how far away "they" are, and making an estimate of what nasty things they might be capable of doing to our species. (Oh, and I worked doing operations planning on the old NASA SETI Program in the 1980s, and I came at SETI from two points of view: One was for the pure science of finding out more about our Universe, but the other from the point of view of military intelligence, on the periphery of which I worked a decade earlier.)

Comment: Who Woulda Thunk It! (Score 2, Insightful) 426

by rickshaf (#34340486) Attached to: Students Banned From Bringing Pencils To School
I teach at a small charter high school here in N. AZ. Aside from grading papers, the bane of my existence is that students come to school WITHOUT so much as a single pencil with which to write! They have their cell phone, they have their cigarettes and lighter, and they can afford piercings and tattoos, but not a single pencil! WHAT was that "teacher" thinking?

Comment: I teach math. Here's what I use. (Score 1) 467

by rickshaf (#31730994) Attached to: Help Me Get My Math Back? Nicely done Algebra 1 text. No problem set, however. Don't let the somewhat klutzy organization of this text put you off. What this guy is doing is running you through Algebra 2 by discovering it for yourself. This is the text I use at the small charter school where I teach, and it's working well with kids who have never, ever gotten school at all! Good luck to you.

Comment: Newsweek's Assertion "Not Even Wrong" (Score 1) 259

by rickshaf (#31410702) Attached to: How the Internet Didn't Fail As Predicted
OK, at the time of that article, the Internet had already become much more than a novelty. Newsweek just didn't notice. And I'd have to agree that the Internet had NOT become a necessity. I'd even agree that, if the Internet isn't available to me for say, 48-hours, it's no biggie. I'd just have to deal with a bunch of emails that have been accumulating. However, if the Internet as a whole went down for an extended period of time, there would be hell to pay. Just look at the economic consequences to businesses in Egypt when that ship hit and cut an undersea cable carrying much of the Internet connectivity between there and Europe. It wasn't pretty for them....

Comment: A Definition of Life from Philip Morrison.... (Score 1) 270

by rickshaf (#31226338) Attached to: "Immortal Molecule" Evolves — How Close To Synthetic Life?
I worked on the NASA SETI Program in the 1980s in the Deep Space Network at NASA/JPL in Pasadena, CA. I led a small team of engineer/astronomers who provided a wide variety of planning, scheduling, and execution of radio astronomy and radar astronomy experiments withing the DSN. Sometime during that time, a senior manager of SETI, N. A. Renzetti, arranged for the late Dr. Philip Morrison to meet with my team and a few others one afternoon. There was no particular agenda, but we understood that we were there to hear about Dr. Morrison's opinions about SETI. One of my colleagues asked what his definition of life was. He replied that, boiled down to its essentials, it was the ability to reproduce. He then mentioned, almost in passing, that he had heard from a geologist at MIT about a particular variety of clay that, if given the right raw materials, could reporduce itself, but, if the raw materials were present, but the clay was not, no clay would be produced. I asked the obvious question: "How was the original batch of this clay produced?" Dr. Morrison replied that he really didn't know, but made a joke about chickens and eggs.... I've occasionally wondered about that clay over the years. Has anyone else every heard of this (possibly) prolific stuff?

Comment: Re:what's with the quotes? (Score 2, Interesting) 89

by rickshaf (#31133074) Attached to: Father of the Frisbee Dies At 90
Uh, actually, no airfoil, either fixed or rotary, generates lift. For example, the wing of an airplane sitting on the ground generates no lift unless air is flowing over it. A frisbee sitting on the ground is just the same. Only when the person flying it imparts a force to it does it "fly". Another way of looking at this is to hold a frisbee at shoulder height in a horizontal position and then drop it. It will float in a semi-stable position down to the ground, because it has a large cross-sectional area WRT its mass. Do the same thing, but give it a bit of spin, and it will float down very smoothly. It's behavior is no different from a parachute, with the exceptions that parachutes aren't designed to spin, and you don't strap it on!

Comment: A Little More About Fred Morrison (Score 1) 89

by rickshaf (#31133020) Attached to: Father of the Frisbee Dies At 90
I never had the pleasure of knowing Mr. Morrison, but I played various frisbee-disk games for a lotta years, and even played flying-disk golf at the pro level for a while. But I had a real job, so left the ultra-serious play to other, better players. I heard various stories about Fred over the years. All seemed to indicate that he was friendly, very straightforward man. I was told once that he had bought a hardware store in the early 1960s in Sierra Madre, CA. Folks asked him why he was going to his hardware store every day if he was making so much money in royalties from frisbee sales. "Well, I like owning my own hardware store!", he replied. I really can't prove this story to be true, but if it's not, it oughta be! Thanks for the revolutions, Fred! Adieu.....

If they can make penicillin out of moldy bread, they can sure make something out of you. -- Muhammad Ali