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NASA: Curiosity Has Found Plastic On Mars 293

dsinc writes "Last week Curiosity was able to use its SAM (Sample Analysis at Mars) device to confirm the discovery. A robotic arm with a complex system of Spectral Analysis devices was able to vaporize and identify gasses from the sample, concluding that it is in fact plastic. How plastic formed or ended up on the Martian surface is quite an exciting mystery that sparks many questions. The type of plastic sampled as we know so far can only be formed using petrochemicals, meaning not only that there could possibly be a source of oil on the Red Planet, but that somehow it got turned into plastic. Even more interesting is that oil or petrochemicals used to create this type of plastic are only known to come from ancient fossilized organic materials, such as zooplankton and algae, which geochemical processes convert into oil pointing to the earthshaking evidence that there was once life on mars. 'Right now we have multiple working hypotheses, and each hypothesis makes certain predictions about things like what the spherules are made of and how they are distributed,' said Curiosity's principal investigator, Steve Squyres, of Cornell University. 'Our job as we explore Matijevic Hill in the months ahead will be to make the observations that will let us test all the hypotheses carefully, and find the one that best fits the observations.'" Update: Yes, it's a hoax

Comment Saggy Bums? (Score 2) 24

So, in a few years time when my body slumps a little more and my ass is hanging down, I can get a 'Sponge Bob' job down the back and another complementary do-hickey up front? This is strangely appealing on several levels. I can see the cost benefit analysis, and why wait for the future; do they need human test subjects?

Comment Re:The marketing dweeb bastards won't quit (Score 1) 175

What's all this about Duck Tape, or Duct Apes? How about a simple solution: put a fish bowl in front of the sensor! It will probably still pick up your hand gestures, but get driven crazy by the Goldfish! OK, I have been watching too much the American Dad (social education programs.)

Comment 7 cent Nickel (Score 1) 825

There has been historic debate upon this subject...

The nickel today is not what it was fifteen years ago. Do you know what this country needs today?A seven-cent nickel. Yessiree, we’ve been using the five-cent nickel in this country since 1492. Now that’s pretty near a hundred years’ daylight saving. Now, why not give the seven-cent nickel a chance? If that works out, next year we could have an eight-cent nickel. Think what that would mean. You could go to a newsstand, buy a three-cent newspaper and get the same nickel back again. One nickel carefully used would last a family a lifetime!

Groucho Marx (film: Animal Crackers)

Some many years ago, Britain adopted a decimilised currencey. It simplified things, yet there were hidden disadvantages: after the introduction of the new coinage (12 old pennies comprised a shilling, then became 5 New Pence) prices for goods were converted upward, and led to a one-off step in inflation. for example, something that sold for an old penny, coverted directly to 0.416666667 in New Pence would now be sold for a New half penny, which was 0.083333333 New pence increase - a small matter of 16% increase. If you were a scruffy schoolkid who dealt in exchange rates based on the 'Mars Bar' economic standard, things got tough!

Comment Solar Panel Motion (Score 1) 180

I watched the ground (stupendous,) I watched the lightning (amazing,) I watched the stars (Fascinating: it's worth watching them come upwards from the horizon - like rain in reverse, and also watch the atmospheric effects on them.) Then I tried to figure out where places are (still clueless: would like second-by-second tabulated list of locations, please.) Then I started watching the ISS itself - the play of light and reflections on the equipment that is visible, and have to ask (someone knowledgeable, please) if the motions of the solar panels while in earth shadow are really necessary? It just seems uneconomical electrically and mechanically to allow such movements.

Just asking, as always.

(SETI user of the day 19 September 2011 - Every Little Helps!)

Submission + - Personal Content Ripping to Become Legal - In UK (

the monolith writes: The British Government will later today clarify it's new position on when making copies of copyrighted material is acceptable. The statement will also detail the legal position on changing format of copyrighted material e.g. to MP3, OGG etc.. Clarifying the boundaries will also define in a heavy chalk outline where other works of artfulness stand, or not.

Comment Nostalgia? It Is Still Relevant Technology (Score 2) 46

Oh, yes - people still looking for a fast startup can relate to core memory. You switch the machine on, set the switches to the base address, hit 'reset', hit 'run' and you are up and running the last loaded program (CPU next instruction address registers etc.. are volatile, so can't be used) So, for example, set 0019, Res, Run, and you are up and running (CIL System 90, and others) Not too shoddy, eh?

Oh, er, when can we get a 5 channel paper tape reader, 8 cps (characters per second) teletype, 800bpi (bits per inch - cute, eh?) mag tape, and punch cards, please :-))

Oh, for the days of spicing an edit into a bit of blank paper tape and taping it into the right place, !syad dlo doog eht erew esoht as we used to say.

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