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Comment Re:Behemoth boring machine... (Score 2) 111

Comparing the two tunnels is a bit unfair because the new construction is like digging 14 of the old tunnels.

The new tunnel is circle 60' in diameter, compared to the 30' semicircular train tunnel (8 times bigger), and the new tunnel is 1.75 miles long compared to one mile(.75x8=+6). Plus, the floor of the old tunnel was flat and only required laying train tracks. The new tunnel is circular and will require a double roadway and utility spaces.

If the new tunnel was dug with picks, shovels, and dynamite, it would take 14 times the 1.5 years of the old tunnel or 21 years total. Then start the construction of the interior infrastructure.

No, this isn't a project that would be feasible with picks and shovels.

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Comment Re:Shouldn't be hard, actually (Score 1) 61

The new RC transmitters are specifically designed to resist interference in a dense EM environment. They use Spread Spectrum technology to prevent inadvertent interference between multiple RC transmitters. (They have tested up to 100 simultaneous users without conflicts.) Each air vehicle is also "bound" to a single transmitter and will ignore any control signal that doesn't have the bound transmitter's unique serial number. The transmitters will randomly switch channels within the frequency so it is hard to take over the signal.

Some brands will also hop frequencies while continuing to switch channels in order to reduce interference. Other brands transmit on two simultaneous frequencies while channel hopping. http://www.rcmodelreviews.com/...

Saturation jamming is possible but most of the newer receivers have a "lost signal" mode that can be programmed. Some maintain altitude while starting a slowly expanding spiral, with the thought that the aircraft will come back closer to the transmitter to regain control. With the addition of programmable micro-controllers in the aircraft, almost any lost signal behavior is available.

If I knew my aircraft was in an area where active countermeasures might be used, I might program a rapid climb to max altitude, a random three-leg return path to near the point of launch, then... Well, you get the idea.

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Comment Re:Time to abolish patents (Score 1) 62

The USPTO can (and does) award patents for almost anything. The patent examiners aren't experts in every field and if they receive advice that an item, method, or process is unique and non-obvious, they will award a patent.

But a patent is just a pretty piece of paper until you try to enforce it. Only then will the courts actually look at the merit of the patent and declare it enforceable or invalid.

The main reason for granting patents is to persuade inventors to publish their ideas so knowledge will spread and in return they are given exclusive licensing rights for a reasonable amount of time. The publishing and sharing of new ideas is the good side of patents. The litigation necessary to challenge or defend a patent is the unfortunate bad side.

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Comment Re:Why did they need FAA's permission? (Score 1) 95

Actually, the FAA is requiring all NEW remote control toys purchased starting tomorrow (21 Dec 2015) to be registered before their first flight or face huge penalties. Owners of previously purchased or built toys must be registered by 19 Feb 2016.

Because failure to register an aircraft can result in civil penalties up to $27,500 and criminal penalties can include fines of up to $250,000 under 18 U.S.C. 3571 and/or imprisonment up to 3 years. 49 U.S.C. 46306, if approached by government officials it is cheaper to throw the transmitter in the bushes and walk away from the whole thing rather than get caught flying your unregistered toy in the park. https://www.federalregister.go...

Under the strictest interpretation of the law, foam gliders, heavy Frisbees, and most box kites would also fall under this misguided registration effort. The FAA's interpretation: if it flies in the air, it falls under our control.

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Comment Court challenge likely (Score 1) 533

From the USAtoday article: http://www.usatoday.com/story/...

The registry could be challenged in court.

Marc Scribner, a transportation expert at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, an advocacy group for limited government, said the FAA should have allowed public notice and comment about the final rule for the registry, which will be published Tuesday in the Federal Register. Ignoring those requirements means government officials "are practically demanding litigation," Scribner said.

“The FAA’s mandatory consumer drone registration scheme is both unreasonable and probably illegal,” said Eli Dourado, director of the technology policy program at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, who said he expects the registry to be overturned if challenged in court. “There is little evidence that small consumer drones — essentially toys — pose a risk to the national airspace.”

A 2012 law that called for the FAA to develop rules for commercial drones explicitly prohibited the FAA from regulating “model aircraft” for “hobby or recreational use” that is operating within community-set guidelines.

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Comment Tested in the courts (Score 1) 130

The USPTO can (and does) award patents for almost anything. The patent examiners aren't experts in every field and if they receive advice that an item, method, or process is unique and non-obvious, they will award a patent.

But a patent is just a pretty piece of paper until you try to enforce it. Only then will the courts actually look at the merit of the patent and declare it enforceable or invalid.

The main reason for granting patents is to persuade inventors to publish their ideas and in return they are given exclusive licensing rights for a reasonable amount of time. The publishing and sharing of new ideas is the good side of patents. The litigation necessary to challenge or defend a patent is the unfortunate bad side.

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Comment Re:I second the RF jammer (Score 1) 156

You're assuming the bad guys will use common frequencies that match your jammer. They can change the frequency they operate at faster than you can reprogram your jammer. Plus, all new transmitters use Spread Spectrum technology to combat both accidental and intentional interference.

You would be surprised at what some competitors will do at RC contests (turning on an older transmitter on the same frequency) to destabilize an opponents aircraft on purpose. Spread Spectrum technology and serial number encryption are used to prevent this.

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Comment Re:...uhh (Score 4, Interesting) 186

Every signal that we have sent out requires them to be visually oriented. Do you think the TV signals we beam into space will make any sense to beings that communicate ultrasonically? An encoded 2D image interlaced with alternate lines 30 times a second won't be of much use to intelligent vampire bats.

What about beings from an ice planet that communicate with different temperatures of liquid methane? Or beings that communicate using pheromones? Or interference patterns of UV radiation? Or any other sensory stimuli that we haven't even imagined yet.

We also try sending out mathematical sequences we assume they will recognize, like Pi. Except many mathematicians think Tau is a better constant to broadcast. (Tau is 2 x Pi. Tau fits many mathematical equations much better than Pi.) Pi and Tau are great constants for plane geometry, but what about beings that live in water or other liquid media. Circles are very rare in water. Spheres are much more common and the use of Pi may or may not be instantly recognizable. What about a constant that describes the relationship of the volume of a sphere to its radius/diameter?

There have been many studies that show that one method of communication that covers long distances is artificial gravity waves. Until we can send or receive these signals, we might be looked at like newborns clapping their hands and thinking they are communicating.

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