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Comment: The most mesmerizing is not the video itself (Score 1) 74

by vikingpower (#48640593) Attached to: NASA Video Shows What It's Like To Reenter the Earth's Atmosphere
...but the text under it:

New video recorded during the return of NASA’s Orion through Earth’s atmosphere this month provides a taste of the intense conditions the spacecraft and the astronauts it carries will endure when they return from deep space destinations on the journey to Mars.

NASA is quietly, but openly, talking about going to Mars. It means I will be over 60 years old when they finally do it. But I will be there to watch the launch, and will be cheering and crying when they land on Mars. My parents saw the first man walking on the moon, via TV, and barely understood what they say. We *will* understand what we'll see. We will.

Comment: The arxiv paper (Score 3, Insightful) 45

by vikingpower (#48539879) Attached to: A Common Logic To Seeing Cats and the Cosmos
offers an interesting look upon what generalizes, and what does not generalize, when you "zoom out" from a system built up of neighbouring spins, replacing groups of neighbouring spins by single-spin blocks. The interesting link with CS is the fact that the arxiv paper considers binary spins. Thinking this through, the paper might indeed offer some explanation for large-scale behaviour ( read: macroscopic ) as composed of small-scale ( read: microscopic ) interactions. Quite interesting, indeed.

Comment: Re:Edge on perspctive (Score 2) 129

by vikingpower (#48537199) Attached to: How Astronomers Will Take the "Image of the Century": a Black Hole
You overlook one thing: bending of light by the super-intense gravity of the black hole. The "back" side of the accretion disk, i.e. the side turned away from us, emits light. The black hole's gravity will pull that light around the bh and bend it in all possible ways; see Kip Thorne's results found in simulating the Gargantua black hole for the move "Interstellar", he's actually working on a physics / astrophysics paper with his findings. Bending of the accretion disk's light, which the bh will throw forward to us, will produce a halo effect around the bh. What you'd expect to see would be an intensely black sphere, surrounded by a great glow. ( The glow, btw, would be there in nearly all frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum, from radio through infrared and visible light into the hardest X-ray reaches. )

Comment: A few words from a 47-year old guy (Score 3, Informative) 376

by vikingpower (#48492761) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: IT Career Path After 35?
I developed for years, moved into software architecture / lead engineer roles, and then, some years ago, noticed that - although my experience increased and increased - I got "stuck" at a certain employment and salary level. I did not want to make the jump into management for the life of me, so I established myself as an independent software architect. msobkow, above, points out that willingness to travel is of paramount importance to stay in the business, and I absolutely second that. I have gigs all over Europe ( am writing this post right now from a Berlin hotel, on a Sunday evening, in order to be at my customer's tomorrow morning ) - and I never, ever enjoyed work as much as since I became independent. It even does not feel like work anymore: I have made my hobby out of my work, so to say. I simply advertise myself as the "programming and software architecture guy who deals with the hard problems the young guys are afraid of". It works. Yes, I stay informed of new developments in my field, learned a new language ( Julia ), am learning a new language right now ( K ). For sure, there is a future in non-managerial IT. You just need to set a sensible course, be flexisble enough to seize opportunities, and off you go. I plan to work way beyond 65, for sheer pleasure, and you'll have to pry the keyboard from my cold, dead hands.

Comment: Re:"Computer" (Score 2) 81

by vikingpower (#48395841) Attached to: Real Steampunk Computer Brought Back To Life

I checked that in vol. 3 of the 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary, my proudest material possession. You are right. Up to at least the 1850s, as supported by the extensive corpus of citations in the OED, "computer" meant "a person performing computations". The first solidly documented occurrence of the word as "machine performing computations" is from 1897; from 1915 on, the word is only found in this sense, i.e. the sense of "person performing computations" has then fully disappeared, in a period of only 18 years.

Interesting. You made me discover something I did not know. Thanks.

Comment: "Computer" (Score 4, Interesting) 81

by vikingpower (#48393711) Attached to: Real Steampunk Computer Brought Back To Life

"Computer", actually, has the meaning: "Machine that performs computations". In that sense, this contraption truly is a computer. It probably only has a memory size of only a few bytes, in modern terms, and can only do a few FLopS also. Yet, it is a computer, in all senses of the word.

Funny. I always thought of Michelson as of one of the two guys involved in the "failed" mirror experiments that allowed A. Einstein to come up with the theory of Special Relativity. Not so, it turns out now: the guy was an accomplished engineer. How great.

Real programmers don't bring brown-bag lunches. If the vending machine doesn't sell it, they don't eat it. Vending machines don't sell quiche.