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Comment: Re:Hobbit (Score 1) 246

by tnk1 (#49786459) Attached to: How To Die On Mars

I don't disagree that the problems are hard, but I think reality will show people where they need to be. No one is going to spend tens of billion dollars on a trip to Mars unless they really think it can be done and have something to back that up.

I think it is possible to set up a colony now, it is just extremely likely to fail with the shoestring funds and priority we're allocating to it. I think that any one of a million things can go wrong that would kill every last person who tried to do it. So yeah, Mars One = space suicide pact. That is, if it even gets more than a foot off the ground.

What I don't think is that we lack the suitable technological level or resources to do it. We don't need to have another technological revolution to make the trip possible, we just have to devote the time and resources to devising the solutions. The problem in that case is less of possibility and more of priority. If we made this our top priority, I am 99% certain we could have a successful colony on Mars in short order, but no one is going to make that our #1 priority. So, now we figure out what we can do with the limited resources we've allocated the project.

I'm okay with the sci-fi people being optimistic. Optimistic people make difficult things happen in the face of adversity. Realism takes care of itself.

Comment: Re:Hobbit (Score 1) 246

by tnk1 (#49786213) Attached to: How To Die On Mars

There's a shitload of iron on Mars. It's just that it's all attached to those pesky oxygen atoms.

That said, while I agree that some people severely underestimate the amount of effort to set up full-on industrial activities on Mars, we do have enough understanding of how things work to make it happen. We wouldn't be building things straight up from the Stone Age.

The trick is that the initial settlement would be very tenuous. You would have to ship the exact amount of what you need to start off a process, and proceed down that path with little possibility of variance from your plan. You would only have x amount of tools and n amount of materials to work with. If you can get the next stage set up, then there is probably another milestone you have to reach, which also is very constrained in what you need to do.

Chances are decent you would fail and with Mars, that failure costs billions of dollars and more importantly, dead astronauts/colonists. However, strictly speaking, we're at the earliest point where we could give it a "go". It's just that the probabilities are not really on our side yet.

Devising the reduced gravity methods of certain processes has to be done, but as long as such things are actually possible, they can and will be done. It's just a matter of priority and time.

Comment: Re:Hobbit (Score 1) 246

by tnk1 (#49786099) Attached to: How To Die On Mars

The environment is barren and the atmosphere is much too thin and lacking in oxygen to support unsuited humans. I don't know if it is actively poisonous if you were in a cavern with an artificial atmosphere, although there are going to certainly be places that are more toxic than others, just like on Earth.

However, with the right equipment, water is water and oxygen is oxygen. You should be able to produce those from what is on Mars, but you're right, there is a certain amount of equipment that would need to get there. Presumably, at least some of the initial work of preparing the habitat would be done by programming or remote control via pre-staged equipment.

It is certainly possible to colonize Mars, the question is, is it worth the large expense? That's harder to say.

Comment: Re:Hobbit (Score 1) 246

by tnk1 (#49785777) Attached to: How To Die On Mars

It may be easier, but actually understanding the geology of Mars under the surface is something that you need to be able to do. What is the composition of the layers you are digging into? How far down do you dig to find a layer that is easy enough to work, but able to support itself?

And of course, is there anything like ground water? Mars is a desert on the surface, but might well have ground water underneath at some level.

There are things we can use like ground penetrating radar from satellites to try and get answers to those questions, but it is far easier to do that sort of survey work on Earth than it would be on Mars. And you'd have far better results with a dedicated human or robotic survey mission to the surface.

Comment: Re:And so preventable (Score 1) 176

by tnk1 (#49763595) Attached to: <em>A Beautiful Mind</em> Mathematician John F. Nash Jr. Dies

It is legal to not wear a seat belt in the back seat in many jurisdictions, and the regulation where it is required is enforced in even fewer. The idea being, I suppose, that the seats ahead of you keep you from being ejected through the windshield.

However, if one was riding in the front seat, the wearing of seat belts is required by law just about everywhere now.

It was not clear to me their seating when they were ejected, but at least one would have been in the back, presumably. Certainly, I have trouble believing that both a) fit up front and b) that the fasten seat belt tone didn't annoy everyone into buckling up in the front.

A sad way to go for someone who successfully fought against a much more difficult condition.

Comment: Re:And? (Score 2) 292

by tnk1 (#49763557) Attached to: Study: Science Still Seen As a Male Profession

Here's the thing. There may be programs trying to get men into nursing. I have no interest in being a nurse, and I never have. I know it can be a rewarding career, and there's certainly little in the way of layoffs in that field. I just don't want to do that kind of work.

And you know what? I can see why a woman may say the same thing about IT or STEM. I certainly didn't get into IT for the social aspects, I had to actually like what I was doing and want to do it.

I don't think you can make a field welcoming to someone who doesn't want to be in the field. What you can do is remove all the sexist bullshit around that field. You can stop harassment and expect people to act like adults. Definitely expect and enforce equal opportunity in the workplace. Welcome the females who want to be in this field as actual colleagues, and I think that if women will want to be in these fields, they will actually get into them.

Perhaps it is just that we are forcing it. Some women will pioneer their way into the field. Others will follow on, but still have a pioneering aspect. Eventually, there will be enough of a group of females in the business that less pioneering sorts will feel more comfortable. I think women will have to make their own home in these fields for themselves, even if it takes decades. One can't be made for them.

The problem is, when you force it, you start doing things like shifting money away from men to women for education and opportunities for advancement. That may get some women in the field, but the men may resent the hell out of them. The worst thing you can do to someone entering a field is suggest that they didn't earn their way into that field, but were instead coddled into it. And this starts tarring the women with interest and talent with the same brush as the women who didn't have the interest and the talent.

Comment: Re:Are you saying that criminals don't exist? (Score 1) 163

by tnk1 (#49758869) Attached to: 'Prisonized' Neighborhoods Make Recidivism More Likely

Actually, I am not stating anything about skin color. Ethnicity can mean "Irish" or "Italian", and it certainly used to be a problem back in the day. Of course, it doesn't help if you are both brown and foreign.

And I am not suggesting that we'll always have a "high" population in jail, however, there will be a tendency for it to be high-er. That's because the groups in power become fearful of a larger segment of the population. The "high" prison population in the US is that, but also the War on Drugs, which inflates the crap out of the statistics by locking up people in prison with hard time who wouldn't even be in jail in other countries.

Still, I want to be clear. Pointing at Finland, which is ethnically homogeneous and the size of a moderately sized US state, is a complete apples to oranges comparison and is not incredibly helpful. It's sort of like someone in a gated community around a golf course asking why those inner city youths can't manage to behave themselves.

Comment: Re:Are you saying that criminals don't exist? (Score 4, Insightful) 163

by tnk1 (#49755189) Attached to: 'Prisonized' Neighborhoods Make Recidivism More Likely

Well for one thing, the population of Denmark is 89.6% Danish. Finland is effectively ethnically homogeneous as well.

Homogeneity breeds better understanding and better community outcomes. Less fear of the other, more ability to emphasize with your neighbor who happened to get in trouble.

In other words, nothing like the United States. Make no mistake, immigration and diversity have good effects, but it has some pretty breathtaking challenges as well.

Comment: Re:Personal vs. Species Survival (Score 2) 233

by tnk1 (#49755063) Attached to: Asteroid Risk Greatly Overestimated By Almost Everyone

In fact, as soon as civilization breaks down, ebola and highly fatal diseases like it would burn out before they killed everyone because transport systems would stop transferring infected over long distances faster than the incubation period.

Of course, then you'd have the loss of civilization which could kill everyone down to the carrying capacity of what was left, but humanity would still survive most likely.

Nevertheless, a big asteroid strike or nuclear winter, which would affect the whole planet for extended periods of time, might kill off humanity. In fact any catastrophe that globally ended the various species closest to us in the food chain would quickly end us as well because there wouldn't be enough energy production in the system to support us at the apex.

Comment: Re:Do as we say not as we do. (Score 1) 34

by tnk1 (#49753663) Attached to: Security Researchers Wary of Wassenaar Rules

Obviously, software, even weapons software, does not deliver lead or steel to an opponent directly.

What I think everyone is having trouble with is the fact that software can often make less effective weapons much more effective, or even weaponize information itself.

It would be interesting to have a Second Amendment like set of rights for encryption and hacking. I don't know that I would oppose that, although I'd like someone to do some serious thinking about the consequences of such. Like the actual Second Amendment, it is what I would consider to be the acceptance of a certain risk enshrined in the Constitution for the purposes of preventing tyranny and allowing for individual or local self-defense. That risk should not be played down, but it can be accepted.

Comment: Re:Do as we say not as we do. (Score 3, Interesting) 34

by tnk1 (#49747941) Attached to: Security Researchers Wary of Wassenaar Rules

I don't think that's particularly odd.

Try operating a private military and see how long you get away with that.

Spying and hacking is basically the same: considered to be weaponized and therefore the state monopoly of force applies.

Note, I am not passing a judgement on whether the state monopoly on force is a good thing, only that it is generally accepted.

Comment: Re:Two general directions... (Score 1) 268

by tnk1 (#49747869) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Career Advice For an Aging Perl Developer?

He should make sure he considers learning Python or Ruby (if he's going to a chef shop). They're not that hard to figure out if he already mastered Perl, but he will have to learn more OO if he wants to work with those effectively.

If anything, it's probably a good thing he didn't try learning OO with perl. Perl OO is a terrible hack.

Like punning, programming is a play on words.