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Comment: He must enjoy preaching to the choir. (Score 1) 12

by LWATCDR (#48689233) Attached to: Neil DeGrasse Tyson Explains His Christmas Tweet

What is funny is so many people will just not get it.
It doesn't matter if he is right which he isn't since that day means different things to different people.
He has just alienated a large number of people for no good reason. His tweet will change no a single mind. All it will do is get praises from his fans.
That is not good science, education. or frankly good manners.

Comment: Re:Missing the point (Score 1) 205

Maxwell and Newton were one-in-a-million. (if not more) Do we really want to only harness that small a portion of the human race's mind-power? Yes there will always be some who will have found their motivation in the natural world, and don't need any artifice. But is there really a problem with providing inspiring artifice? Does that make contributions those people make worthless? They may well be second-rate compared to Maxwell or Newton, but that also takes in the vast majority of mankind. To do better seems good.

Comment: Re:The idea is interesting but I'm not convinced. (Score 1) 205

Which highlights what I'd really like to see added to the ISS - a farm module. Test a farm module on the ISS, getting the concept ready for a Mars mission. Do we really plan to send something on the order of 2 years of consumables on a Mars mission, recycling only the water? We need much more complete recycling, and we'll need it for any permanent presence anywhere beyond Earth. For that matter the only reason we don't need it on Earth is because we've got this giant biosphere that has handled the details pretty well for us, up until the past several decades.

I rather like the idea of such a farm module even on Earth. No doubt it would be designed for compactness, efficiency, and minimal hand-holding. Sounds good to me - put one of those in the back yard and cut the grocery bills. (I realize that the initial outlay is likely prohibitive, but the idea is neat.) There are also likely places on Earth where such a thing would be worthwhile, say Antarctica or other inhospitable locations.

(Note that I didn't say that a farm module would use sunlight - that might not work for Mars, and probably not beyond.)

Comment: Alcohol intolerant (Score 1) 330

by Theovon (#48684045) Attached to: Drunk Drivers in California May Get Mandated Interlock Devices

I suspect that if I could drink alcohol, I might do so on occasion. However, even small amounts make me feel awful. As a result, I'll never get a DUI (unless it's a false positive or someone spiked my drink, but in the latter case, I probably would be unable to stay awake). Does that make me fortunate or not?

When I was in my 20's and would go bar-hopping with my friends, they'd smoke and drink alcohol. I'd smoke and drink espresso.

+ - 5,200 Days Aboard ISS and the Surprising Reason the Mission is Still Worthwhile

Submitted by (3830033) writes "Spaceflight has faded from American consciousness even as our performance in space has reached a new level of accomplishment. In the past decade, America has become a truly, permanently spacefaring nation. All day, every day, half a dozen men and women, including two Americans, are living and working in orbit, and have been since November 2000. Charles Fishman has a long, detailed article about life aboard the ISS in The Atlantic that is well worth the read where you are sure to learn something you didn't already know about earth's permanent outpost in space. Some excerpts:

The International Space Station is a vast outpost, its scale inspiring awe even in the astronauts who have constructed it. From the edge of one solar panel to the edge of the opposite one, the station stretches the length of a football field, including the end zones. The station weighs nearly 1 million pounds, and its solar arrays cover more than an acre. It’s as big inside as a six-bedroom house, more than 10 times the size of a space shuttle’s interior. Astronauts regularly volunteer how spacious it feels. It’s so big that during the early years of three-person crews, the astronauts would often go whole workdays without bumping into one another, except at mealtimes.

On the station, the ordinary becomes peculiar. The exercise bike for the American astronauts has no handlebars. It also has no seat. With no gravity, it’s just as easy to pedal furiously, feet strapped in, without either. You can watch a movie while you pedal by floating a laptop anywhere you want. But station residents have to be careful about staying in one place too long. Without gravity to help circulate air, the carbon dioxide you exhale has a tendency to form an invisible cloud around your head. You can end up with what astronauts call a carbon-dioxide headache.

Even by the low estimates, it costs $350,000 an hour to keep the station flying, which makes astronauts’ time an exceptionally expensive resource—and explains their relentless scheduling: Today’s astronauts typically start work by 7:30 in the morning, Greenwich Mean Time, and stop at 7 o’clock in the evening. They are supposed to have the weekends off, but Saturday is devoted to cleaning the station—vital, but no more fun in orbit than housecleaning down here—and some work inevitably sneaks into Sunday.

Life in space is so complicated that a lot of logistics have to be off-loaded to the ground if astronauts are to actually do anything substantive. Just building the schedule for the astronauts in orbit on the U.S. side of the station requires a full-time team of 50 staffers.

Almost anyone you talk with about the value of the Space Station eventually starts talking about Mars. When they do, it’s clear that we don’t yet have a very grown-up space program. The folks we send to space still don’t have any real autonomy, because no one was imagining having to “practice” autonomy when the station was designed and built. On a trip to Mars, the distances are so great that a single voice or email exchange would involve a 30-minute round-trip. That one change, among the thousand others that going to Mars would require, would alter the whole dynamic of life in space. The astronauts would have to handle things themselves.

That could be the real value of the Space Station—to shift NASA’s human exploration program from entirely Earth-controlled to more astronaut-directed, more autonomous. This is not a high priority now; it would be inconvenient, inefficient. But the station’s value could be magnified greatly were NASA to develop a real ethic, and a real plan, for letting the people on the mission assume more responsibility for shaping and controlling it. If we have any greater ambitions for human exploration in space, that’s as important as the technical challenges. Problems of fitness and food supply are solvable. The real question is what autonomy for space travelers would look like—and how Houston can best support it. Autonomy will not only shape the psychology and planning of the mission; it will shape the design of the spacecraft itself.


Comment: Re:Mod parent up. (Score 1) 519

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48678647) Attached to: Paul Graham: Let the Other 95% of Great Programmers In

... the companies pushing for more visas are NOT doing it because they're looking for the best and the brightest from around the world. They're doing it to drive the price of programming

They're also creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. The depressed prices for programmers and refusal of employers to hire Americans (for any but a few top-level jobs requiring rare or broad-ranging talents and experience), while importing H1Bs from several countries for any position short of startup principals and early-hires, has not been missed by the Millenials. The latter are, entirely rationally, avoiding computer science degree programs in droves.

There is no shortage of US computer scientists now. But if this keeps up, in another 20 years there WILL be a shortage of YOUNG US computer scientists.

Comment: Because the brown ones taste different! (Score 1) 84

by Theovon (#48676561) Attached to: High Speed DIY M&M Sorting Machine Uses iPhone Brain

Are you trying to match the M&M's to the decor of a room or something? Do the brown ones clash with your shoes?

Ok, sure, I realize that the green ones have some special magic that improves your chances of making a home run in baseball. But I just don't see any way that the brown ones are otherwise special.

Comment: Re: Call me conervative, but (Score 1) 67

by Half-pint HAL (#48674911) Attached to: The World of YouTube Bubble Sort Algorithm Dancing
Actually, insertion sort can be done with a single array structure. When you insert a value into the new list, you delete it from the old list. So the total len(old) + len(new) = len(original). You can use a single int to identify the partition between the segment of the array that represents the new list and the segment that represents the new, sorted list, and effectively do sort-in-place. Hell, it's not even an extra variable, as you would need that index to keep track of the next element to add to the new list anyway.

+ - The World of YouTube Bubble Sort Algorithm Dancing

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "In addition to The Ghost of Steve Jobs, The Codecracker, a remix of 'The Nutcracker' performed by Silicon Valley's all-girl Castilleja School during Computer Science Education Week earlier this month featured a Bubble Sort Dance. Bubble Sort dancing, it turns out, is more popular than one might imagine. Search YouTube, for example, and you'll find students from the University of Rochester to Osmania University dancing to sort algorithms. Are you a fan of Hungarian folk-dancing? Well there's a very professionally-done Bubble Sort Dance for you! Indeed, well-meaning CS teachers are pushing kids to Bubble Sort Dance to hits like Beauty and a Beat, Roar, Gentleman, Heartbeat, Under the Sea, as well as other music. So, will Bubble Sort dancing to Justin Bieber and Katy Perry tunes make kids better computational thinkers?"

Modeling paged and segmented memories is tricky business. -- P.J. Denning