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Comment: Test and launch are the same, it is GREAT! (Score 2) 21

The landing of the first stage in the Atlantic (a process that required decelerating it and bringing it to a hover just above the surface of the ocean before letting it fall in), is part of the resupply mission to the ISS. That is, once the first stage boosted its cargo towards the ISS, it then performed this test.

Too bad that they didn't try to return the first stage to land and then try to land it there but I understand their desire to do things one step at a time (it's safer this way also). I'm curious to know if this first stage had landing gear attached (maybe not because of the additional weight, drag). Also, in the future when they DO try to land it on land, where will they be aiming? If the flight profile of the first stage is mostly vertical then, without much fuel I guess they could return to Florida, otherwise would they be going for a Caribbean island? The Azores or Canary Islands? Africa? I'm sure they've got this figured out, I'm just curious.

Anyway, if they manage to recover the first stage by soft landing it without dunking it in salt water, it could REALLY drop the costs of space flight, even if they don't manage to reuse the 2nd stage (which they plan to do also). I remember reading that of the $20 million cost of a launch only about $500,000 was due to fuel, so this is a complete game changer. Even if the stage can only be reused a few times it'll make access to low earth orbit (the expensive part of space travel) much cheaper!

I only hope and pray that it works reliably and that the weight penalty is not too great! I thought they would have to use a lot more fuel to slow down and turn around but I guess they're using air resistance for the braking and the (now almost empty) booster is very light. Pretty unbelievable when you see a 10 story tall rocket turn around and land on a pillar of fire.

Comment: "along the lower portion of the windshield" (Score 1) 172

by wisebabo (#46705501) Attached to: Land Rover Demos "Transparent Hood"

The article (and video) doesn't make clear how large the "heads up display" is but considering that they say it is along the lower portion of the windshield that implies it must be pretty big (to cover the area of the "hood").

The range rover isn't a military aircraft where the H.U.D. is going to be relatively near the pilot's face and directly in front of the pilot. For the range rover it wouldn't be safe or convenient to hang a piece of glass so near an ordinary automobile driver. The H.U.D.'s purpose in this case is to "mask" or overlay the hood which subtends a large part of the driver's viewing angle. Since it is placed far away (at the lower part of the windshield) it must be large. Hence it will also occupy a large portion of the (front seat) passenger's viewpoint and thus will project a distorted view unless corrected as I described above.

Comment: Parallax, and why stop at the hood? (Score 1) 172

by wisebabo (#46705203) Attached to: Land Rover Demos "Transparent Hood"

Well this will work (well?) for one point of view, the driver presumably. The passenger will see a distorted view unless they use some sort of system that can show two different images for two (or more) different viewpoints. They could use the "micro louvers" screen filters (patented by 3M I think) or some more sophisticated system that are used on some large screen LCD TVs that provide multiple points of view (or 3D images) without glasses. It's the same problem basically.

Why stop with just the hood? Why not make the door panels, the dash, even the roof and supports transparent? This would require displays that can be placed on curved surfaces but with OLEDs that is hardly a show-stopper. The big advantage to this, as opposed to most applications, is that the position of the driver (and passenger's) head and eyes are pretty well defined so the system wouldn't have to be calibrated to work with a lot of extreme cases (say with the driver's head down around the feet).

Comment: Re: Too bad they won't use glycoproteins (Score 1) 357

by wisebabo (#46603269) Attached to: Gunshot Victims To Be Part of "Suspended Animation" Trials

I think it might be one of Orson Scott Card's books, either "Capitol" or something related to his "Worthing" saga. I did a (very) quick google search and found this review:

"enjoyed this series of short stories dealing with Capitol, and the drug Somec, which is given only to Capitol's elites, and allows them to extend their normal life spans over hundreds of years by sleeping a good part of the time. How Somec was developed, how Capitol was constructed, the used and abuses of the immortality drug in a strange society, are described in these interconnecting glimpses into fascinating characters. "The Worthing Saga" is the novel connected to these ideas, but I preferred the format of this book, rather than the drawn out plot of the novel. "

Comment: Too bad they won't use glycoproteins (Score 3, Interesting) 357

by wisebabo (#46600901) Attached to: Gunshot Victims To Be Part of "Suspended Animation" Trials

The real(?) key to long-term suspended animation (months, years) would probably involve cooling the body to sub-freezing temperatures.

At that point, you need something to keep the ice-crystals from rupturing cells. In certain antarctic fish they have glycoproteins that do this (I think other hibernating animals use glycol or glycogen).

Until we get nuclear fusion(?) it's clear that spaceflight even just within our solar system is going to require some pretty lengthy journeys. On the other hand, if safe long-term suspended animation is attained, there might be a whole bunch of "future" travelers who might decide to jump (one way of course) years, decades, centuries into the future.

I think there was a science fiction book which talked about the (disastrous) effects such a technology had on society.

Comment: What about our spacecraft at Mars? (Score 3, Interesting) 38

by wisebabo (#46599709) Attached to: NASA Snaps Shot of Mars-Bound Comet

If we are getting decent images from 353 million miles away how about when we take pictures from 84,000 miles? I mean we (the U.S.) will have 3 orbiters around Mars including MAVEN as well as two working landers. The Europeans have one or two and I think India has one on the way.

Of course the Hubble is a really good telescope but the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has a camera that can see meter wide objects from orbit (it can see the landers, supposedly it has the best telescope ever sent to another world) so that's not too bad (and it will be a thousand times closer!). Perhaps we can send one of the older orbiters on a "suicide" mission to get really close! (fuel providing).

On the other hand, I wonder what plans are being made to protect these assets from the "blizzard" of particles surrounding the comet? If the visible coma is 12,000 miles across even now, how large will the accompanying and expanding cloud of particles from the comet be? If it's on its outward trajectory from the sun, it might be pretty big since it will have had a lot more material being blown off of it. Will the space agencies try to arrange it so that their spacecraft are on the other side of the planet when it blows through? (If they had a lot of delta-V, I'd suggest they hide out behind one of the moons but I'm afraid that's science fiction for now). Will it go through the Mars system quickly enough to make this feasible?

I'm sure this is all being worked out by people who are much smarter (and better trained) than I so I think we can look forward to a real scientific windfall (cometfall?) in October! :) It's really going to be something!

Comment: Re:Loses credibility with this statement (Score 1) 292

by wisebabo (#46544357) Attached to: Back To the Moon — In Four Years

Shit, I just lost my comments I was typing up so I'll just summarize what I was writing. If you do a little research (KE=1/2mv2, escape velocity = 25,000mph) you'll see that the energy dropped by a boulder from the moon still doesn't compare to that of an equivalent mass of nuclear weapons by about 1-2 orders of magnitude (I looked up the Trident missile warheads as a reference). (Also hardened warheads are much better at getting through the atmosphere intact than rocks: see Chelyabinsk which was a 50 ton? meteor that only broke windows). So until the Chinese build a really cheap way of launching things off the lunar surface (electromagnetic launchers?) launching nukes are still the way to go even if it means bringing them from earth to do so.

I'm not doubting that someday someone may have electromagnetic launchers on the moon but if the Chinese have the money and resources to build such a system in the near future, the U.S. will have a lot more to worry about than being bombed by rocks from space.

By the way, what's Sherlock?

Comment: Loses credibility with this statement (Score 2) 292

by wisebabo (#46543739) Attached to: Back To the Moon — In Four Years

"three- or four-day notice of a missile strike off the moon"

Sorry but I really doubt that the moon is a useful military platform. As he mentions, you would get a three or four day notice of an attack; on the other hand an ICBM launched from a nuclear sub on a depressed trajectory has a flight time measured in MINUTES. The cost (and difficulty, and danger) of lugging a nuclear tipped missile (capable of crossing cislunar space) all the way to the moon (and maintaining it and protecting it against solar flares, cosmic rays, temperature extremes, and meteorites) would be enormous. His own estimates contend it would cost $300M just to put 8 tons on the lunar surface. Presumably the missiles wouldn't just lie around on the surface but would have to be dug in (excavation equipment, power requirements). And don't even solid fueled ICBMs need regular topping up of some critical elements? (batteries need to be replaced, tritium in nuclear triggers decays). So a supply chain stretching to EARTH must be maintained or the value of this deterrent (there's no way it could be used for a first strike, even today we've imaged the entire lunar surface to a meter resolution) goes away.

Unless he's proposing that the Chinese build an entire lunar colony with the industrial capacity to build robust launch systems, this is wildly impractical. On the other hand if the Chinese can manage to put a serious industrial infrastructure (creating solid fuels from lunar dust? mining uranium ore?) on the moon in a few decades then the U.S. will have a lot more to worry about than getting nuked by china. (Nuclear Bombs are the only practical weapon for something costing this much, "rods from god" are great when compared to chemical explosives but with E=MC2 a nuclear warhead has millions of times more energy per kg).

It would be great to see NASA use Space X's Falcon heavy instead of their own heavy lift launcher which seems like a huge waste of taxpayer money (and that's if it even gets built). Unfortunately, after reading his outlandish (jingoistic?) fears about China, I have to question the rest of his reasoning. No wonder why Fox News is publishing this.

Comment: Very useful ON THE MOON (Score 1) 78

by wisebabo (#46541867) Attached to: Could Earth's Infrared Emissions Be a New Renewable Energy Source?

Ok, even if this is just marginal on earth (because of the low temperature gradient due to the atmosphere), it should be GREAT on the moon.

During the long lunar night when temperatures drop hundreds of degrees, it should be much easier to generate significant power from the still warm lunar soil. Coupled with the solar power from the long lunar day, it should make long term lunar exploration much more feasible (and prevent problems like the shutdown of "Jade Rabbit" due to freezing).

Comment: Why aren't (more) governments being overthrown? (Score 1) 320

As an American Taxpayer, all this is well and good (well as long as it's not MY country that's being hacked) but...

With all this data/phone calls being intercepted, why hasn't more governments that the U.S. doesn't like been overthrown?

IF they have so totally compromised the infrastructure of foreign nations as to be able to hack even the heads of states e-mail (Sorry Chancellor Merkel!) and intercept and record ALL of a nations telephone conversations they must have dirt on SO MANY PEOPLE.

How many mistresses and Dachas does Putin have? How many billions (and where are they kept) are stashed away by the rulers of China? How does Syria's Assad (and his cronies) coordinate their attacks? How many people are the Egyptian military torturing? Is Thaksin really directing his sister in Thailand? Why is Maduro such an idiot? It would seem to be a simple thing to just publish the information and bring to bear (what's left) of public opinion against these rulers. Sure people would claim that they were faked but there would be enough of a ring of truth (because they're true!) that these accusations would stand. Also remember that even if the U.S. didn't have the dirt on the top dogs, they've probably got enough on close associates (allies, friends, lovers, family) to make things very uncomfortable.

Maybe the NSA/CIA/POTUS hasn't done this because this was meant to be a very last resort weapon since once the cover was blown nobody would trust their electronic devices again (then again it would be very hard to live without telephones!). Well SINCE THE COVER IS NOW BLOWN, I SAY USE IT! (Or at least threaten to use it). Make it known to these rulers that if they don't do X, all their assets/girlfriends/drug habits are going to be exposed to the world. Maybe in a few years they'll have replaced their infrastructure with something they think they can trust (ha ha) but until then let's make the world a better place!

Or maybe the NSA is just drowning in data. (Have you tried listening to an entire countries worth of phone calls?) Carl, I thought you solved this by now!

Comment: An Airforce General once said... (Score 4, Insightful) 236

by wisebabo (#46437953) Attached to: SpaceX Wants To Go To Mars — and Has a Plan To Get There

A new plane doesn't make a new engine possible. A new engine makes a new plane possible.

It's great that there Elon Musk is pushing out gains in performance, reusability and most importantly cost in chemical engine design! Kudos to him (and his company).

Of course for the real exploration of the solar system to begin, we'll need nuclear (fusion!) or other such unrealized technologies. Still it's a good start!

Comment: Is there such a thing as Xtreme eating? (Score 3, Interesting) 274

by wisebabo (#46223943) Attached to: The Death Cap Mushroom Is Spreading Across the US

So, is there such a think as Xtreme eating (like extreme sports?)

If the people who ate them " described them as the most delicious mushrooms they've ever eaten.'" have all survived once they took the antidote, would other people consider eating this mushroom KNOWING that they were putting their life at risk (assuming they had access to the antidote)?

I mean is this akin to eating the "Fugu" fish (which I have!) where, for some, part of the attraction of the food is the possibility that you might die?

Are there other foods which are (potentially?) dangerous or deadly but are so tasty that it is worth the risk?

Comment: If there's a heaven I hope he goes there (Score 1, Offtopic) 125

by wisebabo (#46097991) Attached to: Megatons To Megawatts Program Comes To a Close

I wish history (books? professors? courses?) would do a better job of recognizing people like this.

Like the people (Mr. Haber?) who created the Haber process that gave the world cheap, safe (not made from human excrement!) fertilizer. Or the "father" of the Green Revolution. Or not just the creators of the life saving vaccines (Pasteur, Salk) but the ones who are getting them distributed including (Gasp!) Bill Gates.

Of course this list could get rather long. What about the inventor of the container ships that may have reduced the costs of global trade? Or the inventor of the jet engine or radar or even asphalt pavement? Too bad there a "good" politically neutral way of rating someone's contribution to mankind. (My business friends would say "money" is the way the world rewards people but, as we all know, the market is often wrong. I'm sure Kalishnikov made a lot more money selling his rifles than Dr. Neff did from his efforts.

(Then again there are those who may have been in positions of great power and respect but who have left legacies that are a bit more troubling. Like Mao, whose great leap forward may have caused tens of millions of deaths from starvation. Or the president of S. Africa (after Mandela) who's resistance to fighting AIDS caused the epidemic to go on. Or (gasp again!) perhaps the founders of the U.S. who didn't/couldn't stop the scourge of slavery from being a part of the new nation.)

That's probably a big reason why people believe in God; judging a very flawed humanity would require a truly omniscient point of view. Maybe we can ask Google to do it someday :)

Anyway, if there are any other people who have contributed so much but been recognized so little, I'd love to know about them.

Comment: Do what Jason Bourne did (Score 4, Informative) 381

by wisebabo (#45896153) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Protect Your Passwords From Amnesia?

Tattoo your safe deposit bank number (the bank of which required your biometric identity to get into the vault) on your arm. Maybe you should also tattoo the name of the bank (and address?) there, I seem to remember that he had problems remembering he had a safe deposit box there.

Hacking's just another word for nothing left to kludge.