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Comment: Re:Too bad! (Score 1) 141

by taiwanjohn (#48851243) Attached to: Iran Forced To Cancel Its Space Program

How can you claim to have any knowledge of the degree to which Iran is enriching its uranium? Citation please! What we've heard from international inspectors seems to indicate that they are playing above board, just as it seemed in the run-up to the Iraq war... Pardon me if some of us get a sense of "deja-vu" in this situation.

Comment: Re:Too bad! (Score 1) 141

by taiwanjohn (#48851125) Attached to: Iran Forced To Cancel Its Space Program

Ok, sure. But given the prevailing wind patterns, wiping out Israel with nukes would not have favorable "fallout" for Iran. Therefore, why would they do it? I still don't see it.

It's the same MAD conundrum that kept the USA and USSR from wiping each other out a few decades ago. We survived that threat ok, and the USSR was a much worse threat than puny Iran ever was or will be.

Comment: Too bad! (Score 4, Insightful) 141

by taiwanjohn (#48849927) Attached to: Iran Forced To Cancel Its Space Program

Whatever you think of their politics, I'm sorry to see them leave the club, even if it's only temporarily. Spaceflight is one of the few remaining areas of "friendly rivalry" where everybody still cheers for the other teams' success, even as we hope to best them. Nobody ever watches a launch and thinks "I hope it explodes! I hope it explodes!" No... you always think "Go, baby, go!"

+ - How fiber paid its own way in a small Iowa town... ->

Submitted by taiwanjohn
taiwanjohn (103839) writes "About 20 years ago, my home town had a local referendum on whether or not to upgrade the electrical grid, and we ended up with blisteringly high-speed internet access and cheap, high quality cable TV.

I can't remember if it was funded by a local option sales tax or a normal bond issue... but the local electrical utility got the money to install a fiber net around town to monitor their grid usage at a very fine-grained scale. This, in turn, allowed them to more accurately predict grid load and thus reduce their peak-time purchases off the national grid...

In a nutshell, the project paid for itself ahead of schedule, and Cedar Falls residents got a kickass broadband boost a good decade before the rest of the world."

Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:Minor setback (Score 1) 213

by taiwanjohn (#48782097) Attached to: SpaceX Rocket Launch Succeeds, But Landing Test Doesn't

It will be interesting to see how "bad" this landing was... Was it a total, catastrophic loss, or did it just break a leg on landing and fall over onto the barge platform? The engines are the most expensive part of the "stack", and there are nine of them on the F9 booster stage. If they can salvage six or seven of these Merlin engines from this booster, even that will be a major victory.

Given the rate of innovation and development we've seen from SpaceX in the last few years, I suspect we'll see them nail the landing within the next couple of launches.

I can hardly wait! ;-)

+ - SpaceX Rocket Landing Test Crashes After Successful Cargo Launch->

Submitted by 0x2A
0x2A (548071) writes "A Falcon 9 rocket built by SpaceX successfully launched a Dragon cargo ship toward the International Space Station early Saturday— and then returned to Earth, apparently impacting its target ocean platform during a landing test in the Atlantic.
"Rocket made it to drone spaceport ship, but landed hard. Close, but no cigar this time. Bodes well for the future tho," Elon Musk tweeted shortly after the launch."

Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:Linguistic speciation... (Score 2) 578

by taiwanjohn (#48726039) Attached to: What Language Will the World Speak In 2115?

It's kinda cool that we can witness this process in real time, as populations in Singapore, India, etc. gradually adopt more English vocabulary, norms, and syntax. Singapore is a great example of this phenomenon... say a Cantonese-speaking guy marries a Malay-speaking girl. Neither one of them speaks "native" English; they both have an accent. But they also can't speak each others' native tongue. Their only shared language is "broken" English... and that's what their kids grow up with as their native language.

Living in Taiwan all these years, I find myself confronted with a host of different accents and dialects that I would never have encountered back home in Iowa. I've heard all manner of "English" from Kiwis, Ozzies, Scousers, Paddies, etc... not to mention folks from other language families altogether.

Even as the old divisions fade away, you can see the new divisions emerge...

To quote Mr. Spock... Fascinating!

Comment: Re:Balloons speckled with paint... (Score 4, Interesting) 174

by taiwanjohn (#48725543) Attached to: How Galaxies Are Disappearing From Our Universe

A spot of paint on your balloon would locally restrict expansion as it inflates, as galaxies seem to do in our expanding universe. My understanding of current hypotheses is that dark matter plays the role of "paint" in this analogy. However, there's an intriguing alternative explanation, which only becomes apparent when you think of space as a fluid.

Ironically, I stumbled upon this notion after musing on the strong interaction. (And I confess I was a bit high at the time.) Something that repels at a distance but attracts in proximity... that reminds me of bubbles interacting in the surface tension of fluids. So I googled "space as a fluid" and found that there's a whole branch of inquiry in this direction. It doesn't get as much attention as String Theory, but it's not dismissed out of hand either. (Correct me if I'm wrong... IANA physicist.)

Anyway, I'm curious to hear others' thoughts on this.

Comment: Re: You insensitive clod... (Score 1) 97

by taiwanjohn (#48685621) Attached to: My laptop lasts on battery for ...

My desktop PC has multiple screens (one of which is 42") and a full-size "ergonomic" keyboard. No laptop can come close to this experience.

To be fair, I do in fact "own" a laptop (iBook G3), but I haven't actually used it in 6 or 7 years. I don't have anything against them, I just haven't had much need for one in recent years. Last time I traveled, I found my phone was enough to stay connected, and if I ever needed a "real" computer, it was not hard to find. Frankly I don't see much use for that form-factor in my lifestyle for the foreseeable future.

I understand that some people still need a laptop to get their job done. I'm not one of those people. And given the choice, I'd much rather use a desktop.

New York... when civilization falls apart, remember, we were way ahead of you. - David Letterman