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Comment: With a RTG, it couldn't have got to the comet. (Score 2, Informative) 523

by robbak (#48423289) Attached to: What Would Have Happened If Philae Were Nuclear Powered?

It's a question of weight. No matter how you build them, nuclear Radioisotope Thermal Generators are heavy. This mission was heavily mass-constrained. What they wanted it to do was at the limit of what the rockets were capable of.

Add a several-hundred-kilogram RTG to to mix, and the 'rocket equation' kills you. You just cannot get the probe to the comet. Solar panels were the only option.

Comment: Re:What makes you think it was environmentalists? (Score 1) 491

by robbak (#47869049) Attached to: To Really Cut Emissions, We Need Electric Buses, Not Just Electric Cars

What, coal money bankrolled the 'green' message that demonised nuclear? Well, today's bankrolling of the anti-green message preventing action against climate change certainly backs up your point, I'll give you that.

Of course, the worst thing to ever happen for nuclear *power* happened over Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

Comment: Well, we really should be at that stage by now. (Score 3, Insightful) 491

by robbak (#47867879) Attached to: To Really Cut Emissions, We Need Electric Buses, Not Just Electric Cars

We should have been working hard at improving nuclear power, and solving its problems, to the point that this would, by now, be a no-brainer. So those polluting diesels are another thing we can blame on the environmentalists that shut down nuclear power research in the '70s.

Comment: Re:what does auto-termination mean? (Score 4, Interesting) 113

by robbak (#47735977) Attached to: Anomaly Triggers Self-Destruct For SpaceX Falcon 9 Test Flight

That's pretty much it. The on-board computers detected that the rockets attitude or location was out of limits, so it triggered some explosive detcord fixed against the fuel and lox tanks, tearing them open, so that the rocket safely disintegrates.

I notice from the video that the destruction is done in a way that doesn't mix the LOX and fuel together - you can see the Cold Lox falling away and the ignited cloud of burning RP1 floating higher. Really nice bit of design I hadn't thought of.

Comment: Re:Questions like this really reveal the definitio (Score 1) 115

by robbak (#47640229) Attached to: Can We Call Pluto and Charon a 'Binary Planet' Yet?

Again, I would have to be convinced that a group containing more than two objects with sizes within an order of magnitude of each other would be stable. Myself, I can't see it. Two large moons would push each other into chaotic orbits which would, sooner rather than later, lead to either a collision or an ejection.

The only way I can see a system with two large moons is with a planet that is completely dominant, such as Saturn or Jupiter and it's moons. (I'd argue, for instance, that Earth could not have held on to two moons.)

But these questions can really only be answered when we have more binary-planet candidates to categorize.

Comment: Questions like this really reveal the definitions. (Score 1) 115

by robbak (#47636331) Attached to: Can We Call Pluto and Charon a 'Binary Planet' Yet?

The answer is simple - that Lagrange point is not stable, so the moon would not remain there. Each moon would be pulled from that point by the other's gravity, until they either collide or one or both items are thrown from their orbits.

So as a planet cannot have two moons that orbit opposite each other, the concept of a binary planet with a definition based on the location of its barycenter is valid. But we'd first want to see one - Pluto/Charon is a poor example, as Pluto is considerably larger and heavier than Charon, so 'Planet/moon system' defines it better. If we start to find real binary planet systems outside of our solar system and stat characterizing them, then we will be able to know what sorts of systems happen and how they form, and maybe then we will find that Pluto/Charon belongs as an outlier there. But that's for a future time.

Comment: Patent is for use without music? (Score 3, Informative) 162

by robbak (#47542047) Attached to: Bose Sues New Apple Acquisition Beats Over Patent Violations

The thing that commenters over at Ars haven't picked up on - this patent is only infringed if the customer wears the headphones without playing music. Noise cancellation with added music - OK, there's prior art for that. Turn the music off - it becomes patentable technology.

The claim states that Bose is on the hook because their documentation states that you can use the headphones without music for noise cancellation only, which induces their customers to infringe Bose's patents.

How is that legit? How can not adding music create a patentable technology?

Comment: Re:Hmm, an immediate hostile reaction, you say? (Score 1) 200

by robbak (#47541197) Attached to: Cable Companies: We're Afraid Netflix Will Demand Payment From ISPs

Not at all!

But as it currently stands, Comcast's customers are paying Comcast to delver the data from Netflix at up to the speed the customer is paying for. For Comcast to help fund Netflix' expansion so that they could better support Comcast's customers' demands might, just "might," be reasonable. For Comcast to hold Netflix to ransom is certainly not.

Comment: Hmm, an immediate hostile reaction, you say? (Score 1) 200

by robbak (#47537781) Attached to: Cable Companies: We're Afraid Netflix Will Demand Payment From ISPs

"If a broadband provider were to {snip} block or degrade access to its site if it refused to pay a significant fee, such a strategy almost certainly would be self-defeating, in light of the immediately hostile reaction of consumers to such conduct."

You mean the hostile reaction you are getting right now as you do exactly that? Like how every one of your customers that has any other option dumps you in a heartbeat?

Yes, if anyone should be paying anyone, it is Verizon/Comcast that should be paying Netflix, as Netflix is providing the content that Veriz/cast sell to their subscribers.

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