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Comment Re:Goddard? Not so fast... (Score 2) 109 109

Well, that's an ignorant comment of yours. The mods need to do a little checking before modding up.
Here ( is a picture from the mid-30's of Goddard with one of his rockets which was equivalent or better than the Germans' at the time.
Here ( is a statement by von Braun himself about Goddard's work:
"Nevertheless, in 1963, von Braun, reflecting on the history of rocketry, said of Goddard: "His rockets ... may have been rather crude by present-day standards, but they blazed the trail and incorporated many features used in our most modern rockets and space vehicles". He once recalled that "Goddard's experiments in liquid fuel saved us years of work, and enabled us to perfect the V-2 years before it would have been possible."
And from the same wiki article:
Three features developed by Goddard appeared in the V-2: (1) turbopumps were used to inject fuel into the combustion chamber; (2) gyroscopically controlled vanes in the nozzle stabilized the rocket until external vanes in the air could do so; and (3) excess alcohol was fed in around the combustion chamber walls, so that a blanket of evaporating gas protected the engine walls from the combustion heat."

Comment Re:Been there. Done that. (Score 1) 248 248

The amount of money spent on healthcare in the USA was $3.8 trillion in 2014 (, about half of that paid for by government. So $10 billion is about 3/1000 of that. You don't think they can find the 0.3% of the total;for your $10 billion in additional research for cures within the existing medical system greed, fraud, and waste? You have to get it from NASA?

Comment Re:I was really excited about this (Score 1) 134 134

Except for the Europeans, has any country had a significant space mission success without a burst of nationalist self-congratulation? The Russians do it, the Chinese do it, the Indians do it. Europe/ESA is the anomaly here. At this time in human history nationalism remains a strong motivator for national achievements (good and bad). And as someone pointed out before me, nationalism opens up the public budgets for missions like this. I'll turn your question around, without knowing if you are European or not -- why is it that Europe with a larger economy than the USA, arguably a better educated populace, and (arguably) equivalent technical abilities, has been so slow to execute significant missions like New Horizons? ESA has had a few notable missions such as Rosetta (yay!, go ESA) but unquestionably Europe has not matched the US in the peaceful exploration of space -- is it a lack of nationalism as a critical needed impetus? You take the good with the bad -- I'll take the nationalism if it gets us these missions.

Comment Re:I was really excited about this (Score 2) 134 134

If you look at the history of the launch vehicle used for New Horizons, the Atlas V, there wasn't all that much German content in it. The "German rocket meme" applied strongly to the Saturn series of rockets developed almost in a linear progression from the V-2 by von Braun's group in Huntsville. But while von Braun was working for the Army and later NASA in Huntsville, the Air Force was developing the Atlas and Titan rockets independently of the Germans. And a few decades further back, Robert Goddard developed the technology of liquid fueled rockets before and independently of the Germans in the 1920's and 30's. Here is a statement by von Braun himself, 'He (von Braun) once recalled that "Goddard's experiments in liquid fuel saved us years of work, and enabled us to perfect the V-2 years before it would have been possible."' --

Comment Re:Greeks surrender: no restructuring (Score 3, Informative) 485 485

"Failed state" California sends more money to the federal government both in total and as a percentage of what it gets back than "flourishing Texas", although neither of them are net takers.
Rhode Island is not a net taker either. That isn't exactly what you were trying to measure but if Cali didn't have to subsidize a bunch of other states then its finances would look better, which by the way is in surplus for 2015.

Comment Re:Seems like there's a simple middle ground solut (Score 4, Informative) 139 139

Totally agree with you. This model is similar to scientific data acquired via federally funded research. The data belongs to the public but the researchers who proposed and did the research work get exclusive rights for a reasonable period of time in order to give them incentive to do the work in the first place.

Comment Re:Ethics? (Score 1) 190 190

Right now there is a rat infestation in my yard and house. I don't have any ethical issues with getting rid of them by any manner possible. We tried live traps and got one. Next it is going to be lethal traps and poisons and I am beyond caring about whether the lethal traps are painless or not. So ethically, what's the diff between these lab rats and my pests? Just a rhetorical question, as intuitively it seems there is a difference but I can't figure out what it is.

Comment Re:Not a surprise (Score 1, Troll) 109 109

Though I agree with you in spirit, I don't know why almost all the posts decrying the spying nowadays imply that there was a better time in the past, like we have lost some benevolent government we used to have. Check out what J Edgar Hoover was doing with the FBI through most of the 20th century. At least we don't have FBI directors for life now. And in the 60's we had the sitting president's brother as the federal attorney general, put there under instructions of the president's father (who bought an election or two to get his son in power). And that president (JFK) has been beloved since his death. I can't see a credible claim that things are any worse now than they were in the "good old days".

Comment Re:See with what equipment (Score 4, Informative) 54 54

There is one asteroid, Vesta, which can be seen every couple of years or so by people with decent (not exceptional) naked eye eyesight. I've seen it a few times, you just need to know exactly where to look and a have a bit of stargazing experience at picking out faint objects. Its last opposition was in April 2014. Without looking it up I'd guess the next is in late 2015 or early 2016.

Comment Re:When can we end the corporate experiment? (Score 3, Interesting) 316 316

"NASA" hasn't built a launch vehicle since the Saturn 1 in the early '60s. Everything since then has been built by private contractors, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, North American, etc. And only the first eight Saturn I's were built by government personnel (von Braun's group in Hunstville). The last two were built by Chrysler -- it was a big deal to pass the assembly to them (I think it may have been only the first stage at that time). As far as schedules are concerned there is no schedule pressure now for anyone like there was for NASA with Apollo in the '60s.

Comment Re:Because titan has ice, pluto isn't even a plane (Score 1) 98 98

Oops, you are right and I jumped in too soon. Guess I'm just tired of the "Pluto is a planet" contorted arguments which I really shouldn't care about. In reality does the nomenclature really matter that much? Pluto and Charon are what they are, Kuiper belt objects if they must be classified; more similar to a bunch of others out there than to any other solar system objects. The term "planet" seems to be too broad and undefinable to be useful; it's often pointed out that the newish IAU definition has problems. And whether they are a "dwarf planet and moon" or "double planet", an accurate description requires more detail about their system than a couple of words can convey. I'm staying out of it going forward.

Comment Re:Because titan has ice, pluto isn't even a plane (Score 4, Informative) 98 98

Technically the Pluto-Charon system is not a primary with a satellite, but a double system. The center of mass of the system is not within either body, but in the space between them. Anyway, several asteroids have been found to have tiny satellites, so owning a satellite doesn't count for much anyway.

Comment Re: Corrected headline (Score 1) 305 305

Maybe you consider it unfortunate, but throughout human existence (longer than recorded history) the people with the bigger guns got to decide events and the outcome of disagreements. That is why the mid-20th century cultures of Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany no longer have any say in world affairs. It is still true now and will remain so that the cultures with the smaller guns (or none) continue to exist only at the forbearance of the stronger cultures. You don't have to like it, but that is the way it is, it's practically a natural law. Now what gave the European societies of the 15th through 20th centuries their bigger guns? That would be their continuous development of technology during that time, all kinds of technology, including bigger guns. Their pursuit of knowledge about the natural world and its forces (science) is what enabled the technology. Technology and those who wield it will have the final say in how things come out -- you can't rail against that any more than you can rail against gravity. And for "stewards of the land" -- the Land couldn't care less, it was here before the Native Americans and European Americans were here and will be here long after people are gone. It was here during the Cretaceous and saw the dinosaurs and their entire ecosystem wiped out -- the Land doesn't care.

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