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Comment: Re:How dare he threaten NASA pork? (Score 1) 116

Binzel's proposing sending astronauts to asteroids that pass very close to Earth, not just robotic missions - which I agree with. From the source article:

Once humans can reach one asteroid in its native orbit, the gateway is opened such that hundreds (if not thousands) more will be accessible, enabling a steady programme of exploration to be unrolled in the late 2020s and 2030s.

Comment: Another idea (Score 1) 549

by rolias (#48041623) Attached to: Elon Musk: We Must Put a Million People On Mars To Safeguard Humanity
If you build a massive transportation infrastructure capable of hauling people & cargo for numerous several month journeys, you've pretty much adapted humanity to live in the space between worlds. At that point, why limit yourself to just Mars? As much as I'd love to visit, climb the mountains, rappel the canyons, and explore the lava tubes, there's a lot more solar system to see. Colonizing Mars adds one element of redundancy, but numerous self-sufficient space colonies, living off sunlight and the rich (and accessible) resources of asteroids would be far more robust - and interesting.

Comment: Re:The failure mode is transformer core saturation (Score 1) 91

by rolias (#47538409) Attached to: The Truth About Solar Storms

True, but only one of those - ACE - provides definitive storm strength and arrival time, by sampling the solar wind directly upstream of Earth for magnetic field & plasma properties (density, speed, and temperature). SOHO and STEREO let you know that something left the sun using imagery and estimate the arrival time. All of those are old NASA satellites long past their design lives, and never intended as reliable weather forcasting assets. The Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) will take over for ACE next year.

Grid operators respond by reducing the output of baseload power plants (nuclear, coal, etc.) and bringing up small local generators (e.g. natural gas) to reduce the load on long distance transmission lines and their transformers. That is sufficient for the more common small events. Probably not for events like Carrington and the May 1921 geomagnetic storm, but at least they will be in a position to respond. The big danger would to be blindsided because the government couldn't get their act together enough to fund reliable forecast & warning systems. The worst events can take as little as 18 minutes from a satellite at L1 to Earth.

Comment: Re:Thanks for pointing out the "briefly" part. (Score 2) 461

by rolias (#47316909) Attached to: Half of Germany's Power Supplied By Solar, Briefly
Indeed. Renewable energy supporters often sound like they aren't convinced that their solution is actually better - just that it's more ethical - and fail to bring up the measurable benefits. Non-renewables right now enjoy an implicit subsidy because all the damage they do isn't showing up in their price at the pump or electric bill - it's being absorbed in higher taxes, medical bills, business expenses, and the like. A carbon tax is a way to make that cost explicit and make the energy market more functional with better information.

Comment: Re:Mostly a repeat. (Score 1) 104

by rolias (#47267221) Attached to: 3-D Printing with Molten Steel (Video)
Not a repeat, just another project, and it is TIG. Another project called Strongprint is using TIG because the mass of the print head can be quite low and move over a large, fixed print surface. The one you cited uses MIG and moves the print surface under the print head using a delta robot, while Strongprint mounts the print head on a delta robot, and Delaire's printer moves the TIG head on a gantry. http://reprap.org/wiki/StrongP...

Comment: Open source (Score 2) 211

by rolias (#47231303) Attached to: Tesla Releases Electric Car Patents To the Public
This is about the best press coverage that open source can get, when an aggressive, innovative, and successful CEO with the ear of the press & public challenges the idea that patents actually help "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts..." It's a rare day when I hear the words "open source" on NPR's Marketplace.

Take your work seriously but never take yourself seriously; and do not take what happens either to yourself or your work seriously. -- Booth Tarkington