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Comment Re: Speed wasn't SR-71's problem. (Score 1) 301

There were over 1000 recorded attempts to shoot them down. None came particularly close. Among other problems, most antiaircraft missiles (particularly air-to-air) rely on flight surfaces designed for maneuvering in the denser air at lower altitudes and become poor at tracking at SR-71 flight altitudes. Most missiles couldn't win in a tail chase either. And they weren't designed to deal with the high net velocity of closing head-on (more similar to those for ABM defenses). The low radar cross section made it even more challenging, reducing the amount of time they had to prepare.

The Soviets and/or other anti-US powers would surely eventually have gotten the job done with advancing tech and enough tries, but at the time of its retirement, it still flew in a pretty safe envelope. Not perfectly safe. but pretty safe.

Comment Speed wasn't SR-71's problem. (Score 5, Insightful) 301

The programme was killed because they were a pain to maintain. Advancing needs meant that they would have on top of that had to spend money on a tech upgrade (such as adding a realtime data link). Meanwhile, there were programmes hungry for its budget, including stealth aircraft (B2) and drones (Global Hawk).

That said, in today's threat environment, I'm sure mach 5 would be appreciated ;)

Comment Re:Whatever (Score 1) 342

Lol, you realize that we were occupied by the UK and subsequently US, don't you? Then had a NATO base here for half a century? That Icelanders are among the best non-native English speakers in Europe? That there's more English TV stations broadcasting here than Icelandic?

Comment Re:Finland too.. (Score 1) 342

Worked here. TV = sjónvarp = vision-caster. And speaking of that, "radio" is "útvarp", out-caster. Again, I don't see why France gets so much credit for linguistic preservation. Their linguistic preservation efforts seem lackluster at best, and their adoption rates of official terms even more lackluster.

Comment Re:Whatever (Score 3, Interesting) 342

I don't know why France gets so much credit for linguistic preservation. Seriously, it's 2018 and they're just now getting around to formalizing a French word for smartphone? And like usual, I imagine few people will use the new word.

When telephones came out, Icelandic quickly adopted the word "sími", resurrecting an old word for "thread". Cell phones came out, and they became "farsímar". Smartphones came out, and they quickly became "snjallsímar". I mean, it doesn't happen immediately. People were calling tablets "tablets" at first, but when it came out that the proper word was "spjaldtölva", people switched over pretty quickly. Tölva (computer), by the way, comes from "tala" (number) plus "völva" (prophetess). :)

A fun experiment is to go to Wikipedia and enter a bunch of random science terms in different science fields - preferably ones not named after a person or whatnot (which tends to carry over between *any* language) - and for each one, look at the in-other-languages sidebar to see what the word is in other languages. Because as a general rule, in almost every language the terms very strongly resemble the English.... except Icelandic. You know, you look up photon, and it's a bunch of entries like "photon", "foton", "fotona", "futun", etc, etc.... then you get to Icelandic, and it's "ljóseind". ;) It's "tyrannosaurus", "tiranozaurus", "turanosaurus", etc, etc.... then Icelandic, "grameðla". But it's actually quite useful. For example, in some members of my family there's a condition called ankylosing spondylitis. Unless you're a doctor who's familiar with the field, or someone in your family has it, odds are you have no clue what that is. But in Icelandic, it's "hryggigt" - that's "hryggur" (spine) + "gigt" (arthritis). Anyone can see that term and immediately have a rough idea of what the primary symptoms are like (the spine slowly fuses, among other things).

That's not like Icelandic is "pure" or anything. "Hæ" is essentially embedded in the language, for example. "Basically" is pretty much becoming that way. Etc,. But at least in general, people try. And for most - not all, but most - new science/tech terms, the Icelandic terms stick.

Comment Re: 4 meter wing spans? (Score 2) 183

Mortar attack on December 31 - oh really?

Russian officials have suggested the U.S. or its allies may have had a role in the drone attacks on the bases. Mr. Putin said drones captured in the course of the attacks revealed highly sophisticated technological elements that were acquired and passed to the rebels from abroad.

The Pentagon has said it played no role in the drone attacks.

A person close to Russia’s Defense Ministry said the accusations have largely served to deflect attention away from Russia’s own failure to protect its main Syrian base at Hmeimim.

The base was hit by a number of drones on New Year’s Eve, killing two service people, injuring 10 and damaging at least six planes, the person said. The attack was allegedly the first to penetrate the base’s formidable defenses including Pantsir and S-400 surface-to-air missiles.

Comment Re: 4 meter wing spans? (Score 5, Interesting) 183

Indeed, an ammo dump at Slinfah was hit by one of them as well - it was first assumed to be an Israeli airstrike, and only later determined to be a drone attack. The drones are perfectly designed for hitting soft targets - rather than single powerful charges, they use 8-20 PETN bomblets, packed full of ball bearings.

Concerning tracking them... these are not that large, and made of wood. I imagine they're pretty hard to track and home in on. Plus, having to waste an antiaircraft missile on someone people glued together with bargain basement parts is asymmetric to the benefit of the rebels. Russia's Hmeimim base is packed full of their most advanced antiaircraft systems, yet they still lost planes (ironically, as usual, they spent the next several days both simultaneously confirming and denying that they got hit ;) ). Locals described the sky as lit up by antiaircraft fire.

The US should take a lesson from this and seriously up their efforts toward anti-drone defenses. For now, I expect Russian/Iranian/Assad/Hezbollah/etc forces to put more effort toward hardening depots, airfields, etc against attacks from the air. The drones have a 100km range, which lets them reach from well behind the frontlines.

I would expect GPS to have been jammed at Hmeimim. If not, Russia is incompetent. If so, the drones would appear to be prepared to deal with the loss of GPS signal. Russia was apparently caught off guard with the sophistication of the drones and is now trying to claim that they couldn't have figured out how to make them on their own. I don't buy this at all; both anti-ISIS rebels and ISIS have long been working on drone technology, as well as other "advanced" technology (such as remote-controlled robotic guns).

Comment Re:what about nagging? (Score 4, Insightful) 95

I'd put up with that if they'd go back to the days before they assumed that all of their users are 12 years old. I can't begin to express how annoying it is when I'm in a chat display and the screen gets flooded with animated hearts, or I hold down too long when scrolling and the interface tries to make me randomly insert an emoji. My phone has accidentally sent way too many emojis, often in completely inappropriate contexts. FB has also entirely thrown out the notion of "screen real estate", deciding that the goal is to fit as *little* info onto the screen as possible.

Oh, and let's not forget the incredible "walled garden" annoyance wherein they try to make you use Facebook as your web browser on cell phones.

And as for the "public content" reduction, sounds like they're just trying to encourage providers of "public content" to pay them, otherwise their posts get hidden. I "like"d various public content pages because I *want* to see their posts; if I didn't, I wouldn't have liked them :P

Comment Re:What if he actually WAS an ambassador? (Score 5, Informative) 252

Where does this notion come from that a nation can "force" another nation to grant a particular individual diplomatic status? Diplomatic status is requested by the sending state, and then the nation in question either approves or denies their request.

The exact same thing applies to asylum. You can say whatever you want about a person "having asylum". Nobody else has to listen to your declaration. Some states have treaties mutually recognizing each other's asylum cases, but the vast majority do not.

And it's a damn good thing that international law works like this.

Comment Re:It may be lost .. it may be not (Score 4, Interesting) 171


Right now the focus is being put on the payload adapter, which mates the spacecraft to the stage. Normally SpaceX provides their own adapters, but for this mission, Northrop created a custom adapter for the spacecraft (makes you wonder what the unusual requirements were?)

If the satellite was to be some sort of "stealth" payload, capable of hiding from ground observation, then "faking a separation failure" might be a perfectly prudent course of action. However, for most satellites, it would be immediately obvious whether it had separated or not, to any nation paying attention. And I'm sure lots of nations were paying attention to this.

Comment Re:Facts please? (Score 1) 103

A more important aspect is that NASA's costs don't inflate with the CPI. They inflate with the NNSI (Nasa New Start Index), which is a much steeper rate. Why? The CPI is based on a "grab bag" of consumer goods. Consumer goods have in general become much cheaper to produce over time, moving from domestic hand labour to varying combinations of mass production and overseas production. NASA, however, still builds things in small quantities with labour from a highly trained workforce. So it's natural that their inflation index would be higher than the CPI.

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