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Comment Re:Mars is impossible (Score 1) 310

Sci-fi does great things to inspire people but inspired people have to educate themselves beyond the Star Trek to see what the real trek would even be like. They just hand-wave and say things like "technology is evolution" like somehow that makes a Mars base happen because reasons.

Hmm. Mars enthusiasts have to "educate themselves", you say. Can you tell me what the Sabatier reaction is, and what implications it has for in-situ resource utilization on Mars? Can you tell me how the radiation risk on Mars compares to that of, say, the Apollo missions or just living in a high-radiation environment like that of Colorado? How about we discuss the Linear-No-Threshold radiation risk model and whether it's a valid assumption? How about you expound for a bit on the Oberth Effect and how it impacts Delta-V requirements?

I'm far from an expert on spaceflight, but I have read a number of technical books on the topic, taken university courses, and attended a conference devoted to the question of Mars colonization. So, please do yourself a favor and read up on the REAL technical difficulties that exist with respect to human spaceflight, and don't randomly accuse people of being pie-in-the-sky Star Trek fans with no grounding in reality. There are lots of interesting questions to discuss and nobody thinks that interplanetary colonization will be easy, but human exploration has always occurred at the very limits of our technological capability.

If you have some real technical objections to human spaceflight, it would be interesting and useful to discuss them, but at this point it sounds like you're expounding about something that you haven't really taken the time to understand. The real thing I want to find out: how does supplying air for a modern space traveler with modern technology compare, in terms of actual difficulty, to supplying food for an colonist using colonial-era technology? I would much rather put my trust in the former than the latter, and it seems clear to me that the challenge is fundamentally the same in both cases: the application of technology to sustain human life away from major social infrastructure.

Comment Re:Mars is impossible (Score 1) 310

Yeah, I'm pretty sure it is Physics. You cannot make a REAL spacecraft that approaches any significant fraction of the speed of light.

Carl Sagan and Freeman Dyson, for starters, disagree with you. Do you even know what Project Orion is? It uses only conventional technology, no unobtainium. Gets to 0.1c in 36 days.

All the money in the world isn't going to get humans out of our solar system.

It would cost ~$400B. A lot of money, but less than what we spent on the bank bailouts or Iraq war.

Comment Re:O RLY? (Score 1) 310

That's entirely my point, though. Any launch vehicle that lives or dies at the whim of congress (and has design requirements forced on it to boot) is never going to be anything more than a jobs program. Space access is not the reason SLS exists. Keeping Alabamans employed is, and it is succeeding brilliantly at that task.

So, remove that aspect of control from congress. NASA offers $100M for a rocket, and buys it off the shelf when they need it vs dumping $4B on building the Senate Launch System. With the fixed launch price, industry is motivated to get cheaper because then their profit is larger. Congress doesn't get to force a vehicle to use obsolete, expensive hardware like the SRBs. If NASA has its plans upended every 8 years as presidents are wont to do, the vehicle is still there, it just flies somewhere different.

NASA should be doing fundamental research and launching missions that aren't commercially viable (no reasonable ROI) and LEO access (even heavy lift) doesn't fit - it's something we've known how to do for years. Even BLEO, do a couple small launches and do on-orbit assembly, or wait a bit for Falcon Heavy (which will likely fly before SLS anyhow). SLS is the absolutely worst place NASA could be spending money if we actually care about doing stuff in space.

Comment Re:Mars is impossible (Score 1) 310

You are right. We just build thick-roofed shelters out of rock and sand. What was I thinking? Hey Charlie, go dig up some rock and sand and build a roof ok? Did you bring the shovel?

You are trying to be facetious, but it is really no more complicated than that. Send a structure (inflatable or whatever) and then through good-old elbow grease bury it with rock and sand. What's the problem?

Comment Re:Mars is impossible (Score 3, Insightful) 310

The things preventing us from reaching other star systems isn't physics. It's economics, psychology, and sociology. Given the money and the will, generation ships are perfectly viable. That's not to say that they are likely, but to say interstellar travel is impossible due to physics is flat out wrong. Hell, use something like Project Orion and you might not even need a generation ship.

Comment Re:Mars is impossible (Score 5, Insightful) 310

We haven't evolved to live outside of tropical climates by your argument, because we can't live in Northern latitudes without artificial clothing and shelter.

Technology is evolution. We now direct our own adaptation to the environment and use technology to live in places that couldn't otherwise sustain us. Living on another planet is no different.

Comment Re:Mars is impossible (Score 1) 310

Yeah. All you need is a "slightly larger" rocket to settle Mars. To hold the excavator. And plants. And something that can make water and Co2. And concrete. And iron. And...

You will be dead from the radiation before you even get halfway there.

Don't be so dramatic. The cancer risk from radiation is lower than that of smoking. Making CO2 is unnecessary because it's already in the Martian atmosphere. For the same reason, you can bring a ton of Hydrogen and make yourself 13 tons of rocket fuel (and/or water if you want) using the oxygen and carbon from the CO2. In many ways, Mars is actually an easier challenge.

Comment Re:Mars is impossible (Score 1) 310

We've got no evidence to suggest that low gravity will be a dealbreaker, and there are easy ways to deal with it if there are prolonged problems (centrifuges, etc).

Radiation is a challenge, but not an insurmountable one. Very advanced technology, known as a hole in the ground, would be suitable to address risk from solar events, and outside of those events there is acceptably low risk from the background radiation - the risk is lower than that of smoking, for instance, or the risk of the launches that we freely send astronauts on.

Comment Re:Common Sense (Score 3, Informative) 310

It's only common sense to someone who doesn't understand orbital mechanics very well. Mars is many times farther in terms of distance, but in terms of Delta-V it isn't much more difficult to reach. What's more, resources on Mars are much easier to take advantage of because we can pull them right out of the atmosphere, rather than having to process regolith or solid ice.

So, stopping at the moon as a cost-saving measure is completely misguided. There's also not a lot of scientific interest there. If Mars is where we want to be, the most efficient thing to do is go straight there. Building a base on the moon to go to Mars is like building an underwater city to cross the Atlantic.

Comment Re:O RLY? (Score 1) 310

So the important question is:
Do we want to just send some people to walk around on Mars, and then quit all manned space exploration after that?
Or do we want to be able to send manned missions all over the solar system?

I agree that your questions are the right ones to be asking. I disagree that they point to moon operations, though.

The decision that will enable travel all over the solar system isn't moon or Mars - it's commerce or government. We need high-volume space access with a profit motive included. This is happening with SpaceX and others (Blue Origin, SNC, Virgin Galactic) but NASA is still holding on to the old way of doing things.

The biggest win would be if NASA would abandon SLS entirely (they could keep Orion if they want) and start architecting missions exclusively around COTS launch providers. Instead of one SLS launch you get 7 or 8 Falcon launches, or 4 or 5 ULA launches - adding that kind of volume to the launch market would help development happen faster and help bring costs down more and more.

Once that approach is taken, then the moon or Mars is just a detail - there are mission profiles that could get us to a sustained presence on either one in a handful of launches on EXISTING commercial vehicles. Get us to Falcon Heavy in a few years and the case is even more clear cut.

Submission + - VGA in Memoriam (hackaday.com) 1

szczys writes: VGA is going away. It has been for a long time but the final nails in the coffin are being driven home this year. It was the first standard for video, and is by far the longest-lived port on the PC. The extra pins made computers monitor-aware; allowing data about the screen type and resolution to be queried whenever a display was connected. But the connector is big and looks antiquated. There's no place for it in today's thin, design minded devices. It is also a mechanism for analog signaling in our world that has embraced high-speed digital for ever increasing pixels and integration of more data passing through one connection. Most motherboards no longer have the connector, and Intel's new Skylake processors have removed native VGA functionality. Even online retailers have stopped including it as a filter option when choosing hardware.

Submission + - Some e-mails from Ms. Clinton's private server "too damaging for release"

mi writes: The intelligence community has now deemed some of Hillary Clinton’s emails “too damaging" to national security to release under any circumstances, according to a U.S. government official close to the ongoing review. A second source, who was not authorized to speak on the record, backed up the finding.

One wonders, what possible new damage can occur now from releasing them, if — as we were told — foreign spies have "almost certainly" already read it all anyway?

Submission + - Rootkits: The next big security challenge

storagedude writes: Rootkits are becoming a critical security challenge, writes Henry Newman at Enterprise Storage Forum. The solution: a secure supply chain for firmware, and users need to be alert for any changes or insider threats.

'The only way I can see this working — and there is still risk — is if you have multiple employees inspecting the firmware to ensure it is indeed the manufacturer’s firmware. I would have at least two or more people get the firmware and validate the SHA256 hashes,' Newman writes.

Submission + - Asus ZenBook UX305CA: What Intel Skylake Core m Is Capable Of When Setup Right (hothardware.com)

MojoKid writes: ASUS recently revamped their ZenBook UX305 family of ultralight notebooks with Intel's 6th generation Skylake Core m series, which brings with it not only improved graphics performance for the 4.5 Watt processor family but also native support for PCI Express NVMe M.2 Solid State Drives. The platform is turning out to be fairly strong for this category of notebooks and the low cost ZenBook ($699 as tested) is a good example of what it's capable of in a balanced configuration. Tested here, the machine is configured with a 256GB M.2 SSD, 8GB of RAM and a 2.2GHz Core m3-6Y30 dual-core CPU. Along with 802.11ac wireless connectivity, the ZenBook UX305 is setup nicely and it puts up solid performance numbers in both standard compute tasks and graphics. It also offers some of the best battery life numbers in an ultralight yet, lasting over 10 hours on a charge in real world connected web testing.

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