Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?

Comment: Re:Not really. (Score 0) 145

by wierd_w (#48920143) Attached to: Gamma-ray Bursts May Explain Fermi's Paradox

No. 6000 years. Not 4000. (This isn't helping your argument to authority btw.)

It is now currently 2015AD. The earliest true written language examples come from 3200BC.

That's 6000 years. Not 4000.

The major breakthrough that fed the industrial revolution was the discovery of easily manufactured steel using the bessemer process. Prior to this, steel was too inconsistent and too expensive to create the industrial equipment needed for rapid technological advancement. (other metals are too soft, too brittle, too heavy, or too expensive.) The materials required to produce mass manufactured steel are not very rare, and the properties of them were well known well prior. Most were known at the time language was first being put down in permanent form. (In fact, fired clay tablets-- requiring kilns-- are the best surviving examples of such early literature, and many such texts discuss the shipment of smithable ores, indicating that the humans knew the properties of those metals in sufficient detail to be able to construct a bessemer reactor if they had the idea for it. That idea came about in the western world in less than 120 years-- Human understanding of those metals went from simple metalurgical formulae and psudo-religious hogwash in the dark ages to structured science after the renaissance during that time, permitting the creation of the theory behind the bessemer reactor.)

The big factor was probably a population requirement not being met previously-- a situation exacerbated by warring over resources and over gods and politics. You need sufficient population numbers to sustain a boom in technological growth, and the ancient world lacked the workforce.

However, this has more to do with the fact that our planet had several events that nearly wiped out the human race, putting our numbers at low values initially. Things like the Toba eruption, and of course, the ice-age. Things like the black death also would have played significant roles in reaching the required number of humans needed for an industrial revolution. Humans have a surprisingly small amount of genetic diversity, indicating a prior genetic bottleneck in the past, hinting at such a catastrophe early in our history.

It is foolish to assume that all possibly intelligent creatures would have such setbacks both in nature and in culture.

As a consequence, even if we take the linked article at face value, and have 2 G type star systems with habitable planets forming at exactly the same time, there is a pretty good chance that they could have us beaten technologically by now.

Comment: Re:Not really. (Score 1) 145

by wierd_w (#48919989) Attached to: Gamma-ray Bursts May Explain Fermi's Paradox

Is your reading comprehension broken?

The point was that humans went from just one step above agrarian culture, to nuclear power in 200 years, out of a possible period of 10,000 years in which that rapid progress could have happened.

This means that just looking at our own species as the model, we could have been at our current level of technology thousands of years ago, had we decided that waving our dicks around and arguing over gods and politics was less important than improving ourselves through discovery, invention, and knowledge.

It is reasonably possible for another species to have reached our level of sophistication 9,000 years before us, as a consequence-- and now be 9,000 years ahead of us in technological innovation. That's a pretty significant amount, given that our own use of writing is only around 7,000 years.

But what did you take away from it? Some bullshit canard about how humans should focus on going to space that you beat about like a strawman.


Comment: Not really. (Score 5, Interesting) 145

by wierd_w (#48919559) Attached to: Gamma-ray Bursts May Explain Fermi's Paradox

This does not really resolve fermi's paradox. It just helps define fermi's paradox.

The human race has been in mostly the same state physiologically for more than 10,000 years-- That is to say, you could clone a person who lived 10,000 years ago, and never tell them their origins, and they would integrate into our society without problem.

Our civilization has been prevented from leaving the earth by our own silliness. Our big push out of a major duldrum of ignorance has been a bittersweet one; After the renaissance, we discovered that we were capable of much more than we had. We focused on that, and coined a now much maligned term: "Progress."

For the better part of the past 2 centuries, humans were focused on attaining such "Progress", and technological advancement grew at previously unprecedented speeds. We literally went from covered wagons and horses to nuclear power in 200 years.

It wasn't biology holding humans back from this rapid achievement-- It was attitude and social conventions. Things like warring over who's god has the biggest dick, or over who has the most money. (Things we STILL fight about to this day!) When there is a major social focus to improve, we have historically demonstrated the ability to do it.

If we can thus do this-- Go from horse drawn conveyances to nuclear energy in 200 years-- then there is very little reason to expect other potential civilizations from doing so as well, and perhaps not having spent quite as much time arguing over who's god has the mightiest member.

Yet, when we look up into the sky, we dont find any. We strain with our radio telescopes, and hear only the strange EM flux of gas giants, the hissing and popping of stars, and the screams of magnetars.

This finding does not settle Fermi's paradox. It just sets a slightly smaller boundry.

Comment: Re:and when the next one has a bomb? (Score 1) 217

by wierd_w (#48919425) Attached to: White House Drone Incident Exposes Key Security Gap

That argument applies equally well to the silly notion of using a trebuchet lower down in the discussion. A trebuchet loaded with a large conventional bomb can be driven down pensylvania ave, then lob the payload right over the fence, and quite likely, through a window of the whitehouse.

Better ban trucks! The president's gotta be safe!
Oh, or maybe ban the sale of welding equipment and metal tubing!

Again, the pathology here is asserting that 100% safety is possible or desirable. It is neither.

We get a significantly large benefit from public availability of welding supplies and metal pipes, that it more than makes up for the ability to weld together a popup trebuchet, and install it in the back of an old pickup truck, and maybe drive it past pensylvania ave.

The same is true for heavy lift drones. We get a significantly large benefit from public availability that it makes up for the security issue.

A toy airplane on the president's lawn is no more scary than trash thrown over the fence. (Which happens frequently.) That trash COULD be a pipebomb, after all.

Personally, I would go so far as to say that even *IF* somebody built a weaponized quadcopter, and purposefully flew it at the whitehouse, that we should not ban the technology. Just improve the countermeasures, and MAYBE introduce tracking of ownership. (at the MOST.)

Jumping at shadows is just dumb. Being afraid of the unknown is dumb. Being afraid of change is dumb. All are things humans are well known for doing. All are impulsive reactions based on fear, which is not a rational emotional state. That's why decisions predicated on a state of fear are dumb. Decisions about public policy are not excluded.

Comment: Re:and when the next one has a bomb? (Score 1) 217

by wierd_w (#48919321) Attached to: White House Drone Incident Exposes Key Security Gap

No, I gave as reasonable of a suggestion to an impossible problem as can likely be given.

You can NEVER be 100% safe. If you believe that this is false, by all means, demonstrate such. At this very moment, you could come into contact with a drug resistant skin infection and die horribly and have no workable medical defense-- for instance. Short of not being alive, there is no way to avoid death. That is simply the truth.

Good policy looks for the most protection possible, with the least collateral damage. Heavy lift commercial drones have lots of market potential, and can revolutionize many fields, such as geology, mineral prospecting, search and rescue (Since an emergency package could be delivered quickly, etc) in addition to Bezos' pie-in-the-sky ideas for package delivery. (the former ideas are much more likely to happen.)

You would trade clearly applicable technology for the illusion of being safer.

I'd say that demonstrates clearly which of us shouldnt be making or endorsing public policy.

Comment: Re:and when the next one has a bomb? (Score 1) 217

by wierd_w (#48916313) Attached to: White House Drone Incident Exposes Key Security Gap

A 40lb payload would require a mammoth sized drone, which would be EASILY detected by radar. Thus, does not fit the problem cited.

The 4lb payload quadcopter cited is in the grey zone. It is thin, and thus would be hard to detect with radar. However, it is unlikely to be able to travel any considerable distance. This means to be deployed, it has to be deployed in close proximity to the target. A better solution than blanket "No peons, you cant own drones with that weight class!" would be like what we have with guns near schools. Registration of heavyweight drones (To improve tracking), and exclusion zones where such objects cannot be on-site. The "Gun-free zones" near schools routinely make it so people near a school cannot store firearms there. It does not prevent ownership, they just cant have it on premises.

That kind of regulation would be OK, and would work. Going full retard with hysterics about "Omagard! Drones!" fear mongering is something else entirely, which is what the presented article is actually about. The device in question was a small toy aircraft. Not a heavy lift quadcopter, nor an autonomous drone. Doing this latter results in serious civil consequences for minimal gain, and is just bad public policy.

Comment: Re:and when the next one has a bomb? (Score 1) 217

by wierd_w (#48915729) Attached to: White House Drone Incident Exposes Key Security Gap

A vehicle with that much lift capacity could instead have actual aimable guns installed, or have several pounds of high explosive installed. (Enough to actually do some damage)

Then again, we have systems in place already to detect terrorist activity before they strike already. How does restricting the use of hobby drones (most of which are NOT heavy lifters, like that one, due to cost) make a significant improvement to detection and prevention of attacks that is enough to justify the civil collateral damage?

Comment: Re:Eveyone complaining... (Score 3, Informative) 217

by wierd_w (#48915623) Attached to: White House Drone Incident Exposes Key Security Gap

The most powerful IED that could be transported by a recreational drone would be one carrying a model rocket engine. These contain PETN solid fuel, which is a high explosive. With clever design, this solid fuel engine could be used to make a small explosion.

The problem? This would be at most enough to damage a few windows, and maybe maim somebody at point blank range.

Thinking like yours would lead to the pre-emptive banning of not only hobby RC controlled aircraft, but also hobby rocketry, and a whole shitload of other innocent hobbies-- all because "Whoooo! Something spooky but unlikely COULD happen, so in order to be "PERFECTLY SAFE", All those things have to be preemptively banned! You dont want somebody to be HURT do you!?"

When considering civil policy, one has to weigh in the direct AND indirect costs of a policy change on the standard of living and quality of life of the people who are going to be living under that policy. There is too much collateral damage for policy of this kind to justify it, even if it could maybe, theoretically, save a life.

Other things that can be used to make IEDs? A bag of flour and a box fan with a cigarette lighter.

You REALLY need to distance yourself from the "MUST FEEL SAFE AT ANY COST!" programming that the government has been pushing. Rational evaluation of that kind of policy shows, consistently, that it leads to a less desirable future than allowing the "Oooh, scary!" things to exist.

Comment: Re:and when the next one has a bomb? (Score 1) 217

by wierd_w (#48915377) Attached to: White House Drone Incident Exposes Key Security Gap

A claymore mine is significantly heavy. A small autonomous drone is incapable of achieving the lift necessary to carry one. A drone large enough to carry one would be military grade hardware anyway. Military grade drones can be spotted quite easily.

The scenario you have painted here is a farce.

The typical payload of a domestic RC plane (the usual device to be refit as a domestic drone) is around 2 ounces. The extended battery and the flight control system take up the vast bulk of this. Hobby "Drones" can't carry much more than a ball point pen around.

Really, you should be having more of the reaction the Russians had to the "Penis copter" event, and less of the "OMAHAGARD! TURRORISTS!" reaction that we americans seem to have to EVERYTHING since september 11.

Comment: Re:Lack the power to do much harm? (Score 1) 217

by wierd_w (#48915125) Attached to: White House Drone Incident Exposes Key Security Gap

You aren't thinking as absurdly as you should be!

You should jump straight to Poe's Law territory!

"I mean, Imagine of a terrorist put an ounce of anthrax spores on there with a CO2 cartridge powered delivery system! They could fly right into the white house and POOF! Dead president!"

Never-mind that when you think about things,literally EVERYTHING is deadly when applied the right way. For the above (possible, but wtf) scenario, the solution is to better regulate the supply of deadly biological agents, not to regulate the supply of consumer devices--- but that would be sensible.

Comment: Re:That'll stop the terrorists! (Score 1) 217

by wierd_w (#48915043) Attached to: White House Drone Incident Exposes Key Security Gap

Now I want to see the whitehouse enact absurdly draconian security after some enterprising people unleash some cyber-roaches and some augmented mice (article is on remote controlled rats, but is over 10yrs old. By now the tech should be small enough to deploy on mice) on them.

Just dump shittons of them on the whitehouse one day. Don't even bother to remote control them. Just let the vermin do what vermin do best; seeking out nooks and crannies in the security system there and setting up residence. All those "Spybugs" and rats in the walls would drive the secret service to a foamingly fervent frenzy of paranoia.

These days though, they would call that a terrorist attack though, rather than illustrating that there is no such thing as a secure compound, just a compound with security measures intended to deal with the most dangerous hazards.

It is the lack of perspective there that troubles me most about this modern era. People are fixated on being "Perfectly safe!", rather than "Sensibly safe". Perfectly safe is impossible. Sensibly safe is. Sacrificing the latter to try and get the former only overtaxes you, and is the product of paranoia.

Comment: Re:That'll stop the terrorists! (Score 2) 217

by wierd_w (#48914535) Attached to: White House Drone Incident Exposes Key Security Gap

Ah, the canard of "Some regulations are bad, thus remove ALL regulations! Genius!" --- You realize how this is absurd, right?

It's also not what I was saying. I want politicians to think about what they are proposing with seriousness and a sense of perspective. Not blindly shooting from the hip. Repealing all regulations would be a clear-cut case of doing the latter, not the former.


If I were a grave-digger or even a hangman, there are some people I could work for with a great deal of enjoyment. -- Douglas Jerrold