Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
Last Chance - Get 15% off sitewide on Slashdot Deals with coupon code "BLACKFRIDAY" (some exclusions apply)". ×

Comment Re:Cruise missile defense? (Score 1) 43

And what is this thing going to do about a cruise missile if it does see one? Maybe it is supposed to be connected to some kind of air defense, but the only way one of those is going to be shot down is if it is detected over the horizon.

You might note that the horizon distance is highly dependent on the height of the observer over the spherical planet. That's the whole point of putting the sensors on blimps. Once detected, engagement can be managed with a variety of weapons systems; most likely by fighter planes on short notice standby.

Comment Re:Obligatory War Nerd (Score 1) 43

The "War Nerd" is a persona created by literature doctorate/professor John Dolan, who's thesis was analysis of Maquis De Sade's writing (the legendary smut writer who's name gave us the modern English word 'sadism'.) What John Dolan knows about military weapons systems could fit in a thimble with room left over for his brain. That's the entire reason he needs the persona; he couldn't talk about military weapon systems and be taken seriously otherwise.

Comment This Exists For A Damn Reason (Score 1) 43

The blimps are deployed to protect Washington, D.C. against the Nuclear cruise missile armed Russian submarines that Putin has redeployed near the US coast - presumably as a stop-gap measure till they can build and test a new generation of ballistic missile submarines (the first of which was launched recently.) The system is designed to detect cruise missiles coming in at supersonic or high subsonic velocities; weapons with very unique and well-known sensor signatures. A system that picks up one asshole riding an autogyro will also pick up bird flocks, ultra-lights and other things, and generate so many false positives that it will be useless. Filtering out extraneous data is a crucial component of any early warning system. Leave it to a journalist to criticize a crash-program implemented to counter a real and present danger for doing exactly what it's supposed to do.

Comment Re:So? (Score 1) 172

Information gets conserved in all experiments we do outside black holes, so we kind of assume this must be some cosmic requirement (why?), and for some reason which is never properly explained we just can't accept that black holes would destroy information. Because... well, why exactly? Why is it such a problem that information would simply disappear in a black hole?

I'm no physicist, so I don't fully grasp the concept of "information" and all its intangibles myself, but just from the description given in the article:

n the Universe as we understand it, there are certain properties of matter and energy that contain information. A particle like a proton or an electron contains not only a mass, an electric charge and a spin, but also other quantum properties like baryon number, lepton number, weak hypercharge, color charge, and quantum entanglements connecting one particle to another.

- I can discern that "information" is intrinsically linked to matter and energy. I also remember from high school science that energy cannot be destroyed; it can only change states, and that mass is technically just energy in a specific form (such as gasoline in your car, the burning of which the engine converts into kinetic energy to move the vehicle down the road.) Now just what these "numbers" or "charges" are I don't know and don't care, but I also know the periodic table of the elements has a bunch of numbers like that which list their (miniscule) weight, number of orbiting electrons, and other shit like that. In other words it's a complete description of what state the energy is currently in using science geek numbers. I also remember from high school science that velocity isn't just how fast something is going, but how fast it's going and in what direction? So I can naturally work out that this must be the same kind of thing, just using crazy-ass quantum stuff I don't understand.

Now scientists are screaming because the real-world metadata is missing and they don't know where it went. Who cares? Well, I know that mass/energy can't be destroyed, only transferred. That's something everyone knows and it's pretty dang intuitive. But since the scientists can't find the information on what happens to the mass/energy in the black hole, they're flipping their wigs... and I can understand. Mass/energy is changing form when that black hole vacuums it up and utterly rips it apart down to the subatomic whatever - big surprise there. But where the hell did it go?

Now the article states that all the information goes into the black hole - duh, obviously - but the black hole itself doesn't change one bit, and that's where you SHOULD find the information encoded. To borrow the earlier analogy, when heat energy goes into an ice sculpture, it melts into a puddle. The ice sculpture and the puddle are still the same mass and all, but their states; their "information" sure as hell isn't the same, and you can see it easily. But, as the article says, "as far as we can tell, black holes are completely described by only three properties: their mass (governed by the total amount of matter and energy that went into them), their electric charge, and their angular momentum." And that's strange, because energy cannot be destroyed, so if energy is leaving source A and entering recipient B, you expect to see B changing somehow. The mass/energy entering the black hole and not coming out isn't surprising. You knock a golf ball into the hole, and you can't see it anymore. Big frikkin surprise. But if you knock sixty golf balls into that same hole, and they keep going in without overflowing - well, the damn thing must be shredding them like the monster noise in your sink to fit them all in. Stands to reason; if the matter changes state it can fit just fine. But if that's what's going on, why can't you hear the damned monster noise? It's spooky.

Or another analogy from an unsophisticated layman like myself. An F-18 drops a GBU-38/B JDAM GPS guided bomb through the window of an ISIS-held building. We know this is going to rapidly change the states of a hell of a lot of energy and matter. The F-18 circles around and flies lower to observe the spot it dropped the bomb - and the building is just sitting there, looking exactly like it did before. The F-18 pilot knows his bomb went in and, uh, changed states with great speed, but he was expecting to see the information of that change encoded on the building, somehow - smoke, flames, a big goddamn bomb hole in the roof, something. But he doesn't. The building has encoded nothing. Nothing at all. So even though he knows where the bomb went, and how it changed states... but did it? How the hell can a bomb go off and not encode the hell out of the building he dropped it on? He starts to wonder. Did the bomb actually go off? Did it even go in? He checks the desert - nope, it definitely did not miss, and a dud would still leave a mark on the ground somewhere. The only possibility is that the bomb missed the ground, and he knows damn well bombs can only fall down, so where the hell is going on!?

This is pretty intuitive to me - matter/energy not leaving the black hole isn't an issue, but the fact that we can't see any evidence of the inputs and exchanges is just freaking weird. Energy can go in and not come out, but we ought to see the damn information, one way or another. From then on out the article is pretty straightforward - someone in 1936 figured out that the bomb craters are forever extant on the Event Horizon, but then Hawking went and discovered this radiation that eventually makes black holes evaporate, and the radiation has damn-all to do with the bomb craters. You'd expect to see iron or smoke or cordite or some miniscule evidence of the bomb, like terrorists which had their states changed into many tiny pieces, but they don't. It's like the bomb never hit, even though we know it did. What the HELL is going on!? Hawkings recent suggestion is that the terrorists were asploded into such fine powder that there's no way we can tell they were once angry men with beards before interfacing with a JDAM rapidly changing mass/energy states - the radiation IS the evidence, we just can't read it.

I'm a Journalism major. Considering that even I was able to understand the import of the article, my professional analysis of Mr. Sigel's article can only be a ringing endorsement of his ability to communicate with the common man.

Comment Re:Christie is ideal (Score 1) 576

So you want the US to go full imperialist? It's an idea; solve the Mexican illegal immigrant problem by annexing Mexico. Send in a team of special prosecutors (perhaps ex-US Attorneys headed by Christie) to bring the corruption down to New Jersey levels, then admit the Mexican States to the US.

Woah, woah, slow down there pal. Do you really want another California?

Comment Re:Wrong people to strip (Score 1) 576

These are blue-collar, hard-working, decent people who have come here to escape ruthless violence

It sure would be nice to separate the honest hard-working blue-collar folks who come into the country seeking a better life from the drug runners and gangsters who caused the "ruthless violence" you speak of, and are doing their damnedest to export it across the Rio Grande - more than they already do, that is, firing .50 caliber machine guns across the river at the DEA. Immigration is about accountability - how are we supposed to send the thieves and thugs packing if we can't even keep track of who is who? Trump is making a damn good point - we can track a UPS package from store to doorstep with childish ease, but the much more serious issue of keeping track of noncitizens in our country is in a hopeless shambles.

In fact, Mexican workers that are paid "under-the-table" (as in they don't have anything taxes taken out of their paycheck) are relatively rare.

I'd love to know how their taxes are being reported to the IRS without their non-legal status being noticed - simple complacency? Does the IRS not care as long as they get their cut? But aside from that nobody should be personally insulted if they ARE paid under the table; the only reason most businesses hire such people is that they can get away with paying them less than minimum wage. The fear of deportation after any law enforcement contact cements their status as nonpersons that can be abused and exploited at will.

If our immigration system was better structured and more efficient, these things wouldn't be a problem. People wouldn't have to overstay their visas illegally to stay in the United States; the path to citizenship would be clear-cut, and we could afford to stop summary deportations because we'd know damn well who was on the straight and narrow and who wasn't. The biggest victims of our fucked-up immigration system are the immigrants themselves.

Comment Re:A silly test (Score 1) 502

When they say shoot back maybe they're talking about a serious anti aircraft missile... okay. But why are you doing close support in that kind of environment in the first place? US doctrine says you get air superiority before you advance your ground forces. Which includes pacifying ground based AA.

Exactly. Something people often ignore is the difference between a STRIKE fighter and a dedicated CAS aircraft. The F-35 is going to make a superb strike fighter; especially its ability to fly into the teeth of enemy air defense networks. But one thing we've learned in wars like Desert Storm is that the short-ranged, low-level stuff - SA-9, SA-13s and various Self Propelled Anti-Aircraft Guns (SPAAGs) just can't be wiped out en-masse like the big long range SAM sites can. They're quick, mobile and just too easy to hide, so any aircraft going in low will have to expect to take fire from them. The A-10 is armored to hell and gone in expectation of this. The F-35 will fly well above their engagement ceiling. Whether or not it can still find targets successfully is the big question.

Why not give it that new sensor package and helmet at well?

It already does. The F-35 basically comes with the Sniper FLIR pod built into the plane; this same pod has been used as an external mount on many other aircraft - including the A-10. As for the helmet, the A-10 doesn't really need it; that helmet is more about 360 degree visibility for dog-fighting.

My issue with the F35 is that its trying to be everything to everyone and generally succeeds so far as I can tell at nothing. That's bullshit.

That's because you've been listening to too many morons who don't know what the fuck they're talking about. The "Fighter Mafia" guys who created the A-10 and the F-16 have been spewing shit at every aircraft built since their Precious Gift To Fighter Pilots was made; complaining that the new planes are "too big" and will be "spotted too easily," as if the Mark 1 eyeball is the primary early-detection sensor in modern air combat. Next time Sprey opens his mouth I hope someone shouts "GET BACK TO YOUR PORCH, GRANDPA!"

The plane does fucking plenty. Like the F-22 before it, it's got this nifty "supercruise" feature; suffice to say this thing can thunder along at supersonic without using afterburners. Most fighter planes spend most of their time at high subsonic speeds, which is their most fuel-efficient cruising speed. Going to 100% power (military) will push them over the sound barrier - a bit. But to really hit their maximum speeds; to push towards 1.7 or 2 or even 2.5 knots, they've got to lay on the afterburner - and that DEVOURS fuel like nobody's business. Two hours of fuel at cruising speed is gone in twenty minutes with afterburner on; since fuel is being injected directly into the exhaust chamber - instead of a jet engine, the afterburner basically turns it into a rocket. The F-22 and F-35, on the other hand, can blast along at those speeds all damn day. Much like the Concorde or the SR-71, those planes and their engines are designed to fly supersonic as a matter of route, with sane fuel consumption enabled by normal engine operation. This not only gives them incredible range, but they reach targets a hell of a lot faster. The F-18, as good a plane as it is, has terribly limited range; the F-35 nearly doubles that - and the F-35 can carry nearly double the damn payload, depending on configuration, twice the distance as the F-18. As for dog-fighting - note the wing shape similarities between the F-22 and the F-35. Then account for the vectored-thrust nozzles that let you continue to "point" the nose even after your wings are no longer generating lift (i.e. a stall, falling out of the sky.) Traditionally, good-turning planes are defined by big wings that let them turn very tightly before the wings no longer generate lift and they fall out of the sky. The F-22 and F-35 don't need that - they can damn near turn around on a dime to put their guns/missiles on target. Yes, they can dogfight.

A multi-role fighter is no replacement for a dedicated CAS platform - if CAS was so dead, why are we still buying attack helicopters? But "multi-role" does NOT mean "jack of all trades, master of none." Far from it. The P-47 became legendary as a ground-attack fighter because of its ability to shrug off battle damage and its heavy payload. The P-38 was similarly legendary as a ground-attack plane because of its twin engines (allowing it to survive otherwise lethal hits from ground fire) and a payload so heavy that some examples were converted to light bombers! (In fact, the A-10 "Lightning II" is named after the P-38.) What history seems to have forgotten is that both of these spectacular "multi-role" fighters were built as specialized high-altitude, long-range escort fighters. The P-47 especially was optimized for high-altitude, long range and high speed fights with tons of complicated ductwork in its big belly to power the turbochargers that gave its engine high-altitude performance. The F-4 Phantom was quite similar; its speed was utterly insane for its day and set several world records; it was a plane designed around hunting down strategic bombers and giving them a bad day. But in all those cases, that massive performance edge turned out to have plenty of fringe benefits, such as being able to deliver literal tons of explosives onto the heads of unpleasant people at high speed. The F-35 will have its uses, believe me.

Comment Re:Hmm, the only reason to use Firefox... (Score 1) 192

My reason for not using Chrome is twofold:

1. Chrome uses your machine resources to the fullest to make things faster. That's good - I bought a lot of RAM, I want it to be used. Unfortunately, it also means Chrome uses a lot of machine resources - like, a LOT. 2. They've had the same moronic tabbing scheme for *YEARS.* Firefox got rid of the "every tab link gets smaller as more are crammed in" after version 2.0, for chrissakes.

For someone like me who likes to have a LOT of tabs open, Chrome is simply unusable. If not for that, I'd be using it now - Firefox's constant stability issues are inexcusable, and even Pale Moon has issues.

Comment Re:Well-regulated militia (Score 1) 698

Your insistent assertion that the majority opinion in District of Columbia vs. Heller was shockingly arbitrary is an opinion I find hard to lend credence to, given that the majority opinion was quite throughly documented, supported, and defended. Would you care to elaborate on your opinion? Or are you simply bitching because the decision of a majority of legal experts disagreed with your personal bias?

Some programming languages manage to absorb change, but withstand progress. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982