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Comment The Real Issue Here (Score 2) 148

Let's not forget that Joe Barton is perhaps the dumbest and most openly corrupt person in congress today. Yes, that is saying a lot too. This is the man who thought he stumped Energy Secretary Stephen Chu with the question "Where does oil come from?" This is the guy who apologized to BP for Obama making them pay New Horizon reparations in the Gulf Coast. Joe Barton represents everything wrong with modern American politics and he does it with a holier-than-thou attitude.

What I'm saying is if Joe Barton went on TV and said the sky was blue, I'd go out and see if it had changed to green.

Comment Re:too small - space gravel (Score 1) 96

The air force is capable of tracking things as small as 1 cm2, which is the size of these chips. Furthermore, you track and avoid them like everything else in orbit. Their orbital information is added to the huge databases that allow mission planners to use a safe trajectory. Proposed ChipSat missions like this are meant to act as an array that follows a common orbit. As for mission lifetime, federal regulations specify that almost without exception, any assets you put in low earth orbit must be able to naturally decay in 25. If you're geosynchronous, then it's your responsibility to place the satellite in a designated graveyard orbit. A lot of safeguards are in place now to make responsible use of orbital territory. The real danger is from things left up there during more careless times. Oh, and China. They're still being massive dicks about generating space debris.

Comment Yes! (Score 1) 79

It's a very real concern. There are extensive regulations and procedures for having and disposing of assets in orbit. When you put something into space, you can't just choose any old path. Orbital trajectories, especially geosynchronous ones, are highly valued and some missions require very specific flight paths. If a unit becomes unresponsive in a critical orbit for a communications network, the entire system cannot as easily adjust it flight path because now there's a new hazard there.

Right now, the probability of hitting something is fairly low. But collisions do happen. Last year Iridium lost one of their satellites when it collided with a large deactivated Russian satellite, creating a very large and hazardous debris cloud. Crashes like that accelerate a scenario called Kessler Syndrome. This is when the amount of mass in space is high enough that large collisions begin happening. Those collisions create even more debris, increasing the amount of collisions at an exponential rate. We can track everything in space above 5 cm right now, but scrap even smaller than that can cut through just about anything we can put in space right now.

Believing You Are Very Good Or Evil Boosts Your Physical Capabilities 192

Research by Kurt Gray, a doctoral student in psychology at Harvard, shows that a person's capacity for willpower and physical endurance increases if they perceive themselves as good or evil. "Evil" acts in particular give a person a large boost in physical strength. From the article: “'People perceive those who do good and evil to have more efficacy, more willpower, and less sensitivity to discomfort,' Gray said. 'By perceiving themselves as good or evil, people embody these perceptions, actually becoming more capable of physical endurance.' Gray’s findings run counter to the notion that only those blessed with heightened willpower or self-control are capable of heroism, suggesting instead that simply attempting heroic deeds can confer personal power."

Comment Re:No more one-off prototypes (Score 3, Insightful) 156

By your definition, CERN is not a feat of engineering. Engineering, to me, is about systems. It's about taking many separate things making them function together to create something new. The purpose or application is moot. The real challenge of engineering is to account for the endless variables that can affect your product/system, from material properties to failure points. Engineering is the ability to weave the things and information you have to work with as seamlessly as possible. Yes, engineers make products. But they are also coders who work on simulations and so much more.

Submission + - Final Fantasy marathon fundraiser (

An Onymous writes: Some random gamers (literally) has taken upon themselves to play through all of the Final Fantasy games in one sitting. The purpose of this exercise? Fund raising for a cancer charity. Now, Penny Arcade has been doing fund raising by asking for gamer donations for quite a while, but fundraising by playing the game, webcasting it and asking for charity donations is a rather interesting way of going about it.

Comment Working out the bugs (Score 1) 144

"Critics, though, have always pointed to multiple hurdles - to the cost of launching and assembling large solar stations in orbit, to the losses in efficiency in conversion, and to the safety issues surrounding some wireless transmission methods, particularly those that use microwaves.

Astrium says the latter can be addressed by using infrared lasers which, if misdirected, would not risk "cooking" anyone in their path."

I got a great laugh out of that one. A+ journalism!

Comment It's culture, not medium. (Score 3, Insightful) 157

When you see kids insisting on incorrect spelling/grammar online, it's not necessarily because the medium encourages bastardizing the language in every instance. It's a desire to cool by being anti-intellectual. In their minds, only a nerd and an adult takes out the times to make everything they type in informal settings 'perfect.' We even do it here in sophisticated places like Slashdot. When someone brings up or wants to enforce the subtle differences between affect and effect, we just hand-wave it, call them grammar Nazis, and move on. It's the same thing. So next time you feel like blindly criticizing the next generation, why not try holding that critical lens to yourself as well?

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