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Comment Europe had a launcher (Score 3, Informative) 27

"ESRO enjoyed its first big success in 1968 with the launch of ESRO 2B, an astronomy survey orbiter that was delivered to orbit utilizing a Scout rocket from the Western Test Range in California. But the establishment of a European launch vehicle, which was eventually named Europa, didn't progress as hoped. Several nations collaborated on the vehicle, with the United Kingdom developing the first stage (based on the “Blue Streak” ballistic missile), France the second stage, and Germany the third. Europa experienced many growing pains, cost overruns, and a lack of focus. Successive rocket stage failures eventually doomed the program."

What isn't mentioned is that there were 2 countries that had developed space programs with a launch capability by 1971 in the same time period as they were trying to develop Europa. The French had the Diamant launch system, and in the same period the UK developed the same Blue Streak missile technology, used on the Europa first stage, into the Black Arrow rocket. Both countries had successfully launched satellites by 1971. The Europa launch system was your obvious european politically driven mixture of technology from UK, France and West Germany with the divisions causing confusion and poor communication between the engineering teams. Result was it failed, got scrapped and the Ariane launch system was developed and put together by the French, which makes sense as they had the most experience and success with their own launch vehicle. The UK dropped their space launch capability and decided to focus on what would become ESA, making them the only country to have developed a national satellite launch capability and then to have dropped it.

Comment Re:Great Moments in Private Enterprise Space Histo (Score 2) 108

The song... Hmm... I forget all the lyrics (or most of them) but rain on your wedding day is not ironic. However, if she had had some history of weddings and they all went off without a hitch and then said that this next one wouldn't be canceled because... Wait, what? I'm wasting too much time here. ;-)

Ahh, yes the Alanis Morrisette ironic paradox. If the song is supposed to be about ironic things and actually called "ironic", yet none of the examples given in the song are actually ironic, that is ironic itself. The paradox is that if the whole title and song is ironic, then the title of the song is appropriate again and the song is not ironic anymore, and then you start back at the beginning :D

Comment PMT (Score 3, Informative) 109

The other place vacuum tube technology in a big way still exists is Photomultiplier tubes. Photodiode technology has come on significantly, but for very low light level applications PMTs win. They lose out in quantum efficiency to silicon and ingaas photodiodes at almost all wavelengths of light PMT are actually useful at. But the internal amplification of the tubes means dark noise is very low at low light levels. To the point that PMTs can detect single photon events (photon counting) with a collection area of an inch or larger. Avalanche photodiodes (photodiodes with internal amplification) can do photon counting but only on devices less than a mm, which limits their applications.

Of course PMTs have their weirdnesses. The gain you apply is not able to be known accurately. The devices have weird non-linearities at low gain. They have a polarisation bias. And many more.

Comment Re:CVS or Subversion (Score 3, Informative) 325

It is perfectly possible to branch in SVN and manage it. Git is better for branching and developing in complex and large team environments. But this is not the case here. They probably have max 3 guys maintaining and max 3 guys on a development branch. SVN is more than capable of handling that.

Comment No new components needed (Score 1) 153

VW use exhaust gas recirculation EGR as a core part of their emmisions control http://www.myturbodiesel.com/wiki/egr-system-faq-for-vw-and-audi-tdi/ . This is throttle-able to vary the amount of EGR for different loads and conditions and so can also be essentially shut off by the engine control system.

There are more then enough sensors on a modern car to sense test bed situations. There are accelerometers for the traction control and airbag systems that can sense lack of real acceleration during apparent acceleration on the speedometer. And there are steering wheel position sensor which has inputs for the traction control system.

All that is required to combine this information into a "defeat device" is some code.

Comment A cynical strategy (Score 1) 372

The issue here is actually the FDA rules on generics and how it doesn't work for "orphan drugs". The FDA demands that a generics manufacturer do some basic clinical trials to prove the drug is as effective as the original. Simply showing it is the same chemical entity is not enough.

This creates a problem, as the generics company has to buy the drug on the open market to compare to. An often expensive and difficult endeavour. It also advertises to the original manufacturer exactly what they are doing, so it is hard to keep generics development quiet.

In this particular case the medication is given in controlled clinical environments, so it can essentially have it's distribution controlled by the original manufacturer to prevent a generics company comparing to it.

It should be noted that the big companies pull similar tricks to delay launching of competing generics.

A generics company could create the same drug, and go through full approval for the FDA. It will end up not being "interchangeable" though, which means one prescription for the original drugs can not be used for the generic.

The simple solution is to enact a law that forces all marketed drugs to also be sold for reference use at the current marketed price, for exactly this type of comparison.

Comment Re:Uh seriously? (Score 4, Interesting) 71

That doesn't mean Coca cola can solve those problems.

Actually they can. See http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/09/25/coke-applies-supply-chain-expertise-to-deliver-aids-drugs-in-africa.html

Basically coke success has been built on it's supply chain. It can deliver coke to nearly anywhere in the world. That supply chain expertise is being tapped to deliver various other medical essentials to remote places as well.

Comment Where you based (Score 1) 479

You don't happen to be based in SE england? Got a CV I can look at?

Your experience is useful. The PhD put into the right context (this is where CV writing skills come in) show a complex problem solving skillset that is more useful in the more interesting dynamic environments more than the lock and key set of on trend skills.

Where your job search is actually failing is the wall of stupid HR and recruitment agency keyword searching techniques. To get around the flood of CV's non-technical people are used to screen CV's before they hit the manager actually hiring. They use key word searchs to find the skillsets, the hiring manager gets to choose from a small selection of people that can write in the right languages and use the right technologies without training.

What you have to find is a way around that barrier. Which is harder than it seems.

Comment Re:Playing the ball... (Score 1) 770

So your argument is we will run out of fossil fuels after a massive rise in cost (essentially peak oil). Therefore the max amount of CO2 in the atmosphere will be lower than predicted.

If that is the case to protect the economy in the future there should be short term efforts (high carbon taxes, subsidies move to renewable and non-fossil fuel energy sources) to move the economies infrastructure off fossil fuels so there are no nasty economic shocks in the future.

Either way the solutions the same.

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