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Comment Trying to source a quote (Score 1) 354

.. which said that it was never that fusion was 50 years away, but that it was 500 billion dollars away. The fifty years was just an estimate based on how much funding, brainpower, and so forth went into it. Let's face it, you can't just put a basket in a storage locker with a placard atop it reading FUSION, then come back in fifty years and expect to find something in the basket.

We have not spent the large amounts of money required to do the research. When we do, it's in fits and starts, buffeted by people with ecodread and slavered over by those in the DOD who lust for some new level of destruction. It's always been easy to just ... drill another well. Blow up another mountaintop for coal that they assure us will be clean, this time around.

Comment Canned Monkeys (Score 0) 920

Human spaceflight is, at this time, an enormous waste and will remain so for decades.

We need a Beanstalk and variants thereof to get canned monkeys up into space at a reasonable price point, and we need semi-autonomous probes and drones to build the colonies on ... wherever, because this is not like the Frontier. You can't just stumble onto the Martian surface, chop down some trees, build a lean-to, then set traps for bunnies. We need drones to skitter through the Asteroid Belt, locate nickel-iron rich rocks, then smelt them down with either fusion (unlikely), fission (environmentally terrifying), or solar power to build three meter thick slabs of metal to shield the helpless, bored primates from the oncoming sleet of cosmic rays and other charming particles as they take a two year trek. By the time they get there, hardy robots will have needed to build an enormous infrastructure to support now less-healthy monkeys in an environment not particularly compatible with terrestrial life of more than a few dozen cells in scope.

We do not have the robotics and IT to make this happen. Instead, we get a metric/English issue and we slam probes down onto the surface of Mars.

Let me know when we get some reasonable colonization and return thereof from Antarctica. It's a far more welcoming environment. It's just not !!!SPACE!!! and therefore science-fiction fans everywhere do not get all excited about it.

Now I know everyone will get all excited about Tang and freeze-dried foods and all of the wonderful things we got out of our last serious space program. Great. What have we gotten since the Shuttle got started? Well, not much. Because we're doing the same old approach and have solved all of the technical issues encountered in doing that approach. If we use that approach to get to Mars, we will develop few new technologies.

Or we could build the aforementioned probes and drones. We'd learn a lot from that. Sending some folks to the Moon again? Not really.

Comment Wait for the apologists ... (Score 1) 585

A friend who works the pharmacy at Walgreens has some very entertaining stories to relate. Despite signs posted otherwise, people will pull up to the drive-through, with other customers waiting behind them, and continue conversations for a few minutes before turning to the pneumatic tube. Once, my friend asked one of these folks if there was anything they could do and received a lecture about how rude it is to interrupt someone's conversation.

Similarly, I see this waiting in line at restaurants all the time. I could make exceptions if someone had arrived and was taking, say, a request for a Coke for one kid, a Sprite for another, and so forth, but I encounter that about once a year.

I'm sure someone will chime in with the idea that this person might be a DOCTOR *Felicia Day eye-widen and gasp* and we mustn't do anything to interrupt. When was the last time you or anyone you know had an actual life-or-death emergency call to their off-duty doctor? It isn't as if you get too many over the phone heart surgeons responding to a phone call in the movie theater with this stunning new operation that only they have performed and they must relate every cut, clamp, and stitch to some quivering and clueless resident.

If I were building a movie theater, I'd use enough rebar to make it into a giant Faraday cage. And maybe have an FCC-approved step-pedal triggered highly localized cell phone jammer at every cash register. As it is, I have stopped ducking and weaving to everyone who, so immersed in their uber-important cell phone conversation that they cannot look where they are going, would like to bump into me.

Comment Re:Should be a selling feature... (Score 1) 265

I provide some video streaming to not-a-lot of users at my job. It's free. I just began looking around for new solutions, since we have been serving in just one format for a while. H.264 looks awfully attractive, and then BAM, I come across the licensing stuff and I am absolutely terrified.

I am loath to even suggest it as a solution, since it will require some serious lawyering and quite possibly some large payments to the MPEG LA group.

Comment FireFox is in Denial (Score 0, Troll) 346

The developers of FireFox are in a state of denial; that rarely lends itself to dealing with reality-based threats very well.

Take the memory management issue -- the developers routinely say "There's no such thing." Or "you're using too many plug-ins and extensions." Or any number of excuses. I can hit the same pages with Opera as with FireFox, with less memory usage. And I'm not using plug-ins. The reflex nerd answer is "well, stop browsing that way!" That is a foolish thing to say, as it will cause me to switch to a browser where I do not have to alter my habits.

You can see that Internet Explorer's market share continues to drop, but as of late, it is not through growth in FireFox. It's from the adoption of other competing browsers. As long as the Mozilla Foundation is operating with the THERE ARE NO BAD PROBLEMS, JUST BAD USERS mindset, they'll continue to make more and more strategic blunders. Reliance on Google is one of them. Google has no friends, only temporary allies which may be either dispatched or eaten when it is convenient.

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Tower Switch-Off Embarrasses Electrosensitives 292

Sockatume writes "Residents in Craigavon, South Africa complained of '[h]eadaches, nausea, tinnitus, dry burning itchy skins, gastric imbalances and totally disrupted sleep patterns' after an iBurst communications tower was put up in a local park. Symptoms subsided when the residents left the area, often to stay with family and thus evade their suffering. At a public meeting with the afflicted locals, the tower's owners pledged to switch off the mast immediately to assess whether it was responsible for their ailments. One problem: the mast had already been switched off for six weeks. Lawyers representing the locals say their case against iBurst will continue on other grounds."

Comment I fully expect ... (Score 1) 689

... to see these HEY THERE IS NO CONSPIRACY bots auto-responding to anything mentioned about $conspiracy, amongst the webcam bots, in the handful of remaining Yahoo! Chat rooms which remain until Yahoo! gives up and shuts down chat altogether. See also the Israeli "MegaPhone" application.

Automated comments, emails, robodialers, blog posts, and messages: making humans more distrustful of human communication year by year.

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Living In Tokyo's Capsule Hotels 269

afabbro writes "Capsule Hotel Shinjuku 510 once offered a night’s refuge to salarymen who had missed the last train home. Now with Japan enduring its worst recession since World War II, it is becoming an affordable option for people with nowhere else to go. The Hotel 510’s capsules are only 6 1/2 feet long by 5 feet wide. Guests must keep possessions, like shirts and shaving cream, in lockers outside of the capsules. Atsushi Nakanishi, jobless since Christmas says, 'It’s just a place to crawl into and sleep. You get used to it.'”
Space

Astronomers Discover 33 Pairs of Waltzing Black Holes 101

Astronomers from UC Berkeley have identified 33 pairs of waltzing black holes, closing the gap somewhat between the observed population of super-massive black hole pairs and what had been predicted by theory. "Astronomical observations have shown that 1) nearly every galaxy has a central super-massive black hole (with a mass of a million to a billion times the mass of the Sun), and 2) galaxies commonly collide and merge to form new, more massive galaxies. As a consequence of these two observations, a merger between two galaxies should bring two super-massive black holes to the new, more massive galaxy formed from the merger. The two black holes gradually in-spiral toward the center of this galaxy, engaging in a gravitational tug-of-war with the surrounding stars. The result is a black hole dance, choreographed by Newton himself. Such a dance is expected to occur in our own Milky Way Galaxy in about 3 billion years, when it collides with the Andromeda Galaxy."

Comment There's other things besides Lithium Ion (Score 3, Interesting) 325

I'd prefer an EESU from EESTOR (if that ever happens), since it would be cheaper on a buck-per-Joule level and it would last for a very, very long time. Second to that, nickel-iron batteries, which are heavy and inefficient, but survive much abuse and have working lifetimes far longer than that of most other batteries. Pity they are no longer made in the United States; much of their price is presumably in just shipping them here.

Science

Aussie Scientists Find Coconut-Carrying Octopus 205

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from an AP report: "Australian scientists have discovered an octopus in Indonesia that collects coconut shells for shelter — unusually sophisticated behavior that the researchers believe is the first evidence of tool use in an invertebrate animal. The scientists filmed the veined octopus, Amphioctopus marginatus, selecting halved coconut shells from the sea floor, emptying them out, carrying them under their bodies up to 65 feet (20 meters), and assembling two shells together to make a spherical hiding spot. ... 'I was gobsmacked,' said Finn, a research biologist at the museum who specializes in cephalopods. 'I mean, I've seen a lot of octopuses hiding in shells, but I've never seen one that grabs it up and jogs across the sea floor. I was trying hard not to laugh.'"
Space

Big Dipper "Star" Actually a Sextuplet System 88

Theosis sends word that an astronomer at the University of Rochester and his colleagues have made the surprise discovery that Alcor, one of the brightest stars in the Big Dipper, is actually two stars; and it is apparently gravitationally bound to the four-star Mizar system, making the whole group a sextuplet. This would make the Mizar-Alcor sextuplet the second-nearest such system known. The discovery is especially surprising because Alcor is one of the most studied stars in the sky. The Mizar-Alcor system has been involved in many "firsts" in the history of astronomy: "Benedetto Castelli, Galileo's protege and collaborator, first observed with a telescope that Mizar was not a single star in 1617, and Galileo observed it a week after hearing about this from Castelli, and noted it in his notebooks... Those two stars, called Mizar A and Mizar B, together with Alcor, in 1857 became the first binary stars ever photographed through a telescope. In 1890, Mizar A was discovered to itself be a binary, being the first binary to be discovered using spectroscopy. In 1908, spectroscopy revealed that Mizar B was also a pair of stars, making the group the first-known quintuple star system."

Comment Re:First Lesson in Relativity... (Score 1) 392

I see plenty to be excited about. For one, you're not having to chuck stuff out the back. With a rocket, you are carrying your reaction mass along with you. You're not only having to accelerate your ship, you're having to accelerate the stuff you'd just gonna throw out the rear a few minutes from now. It means that ships are very heavy and inefficient.

With this, you're just concerned about your energy. Without it, you're concerned about your energy, and the extra mass you have to carry along with you, and that makes the energy required go up. No dragging along big tanks of propellant with you. It might be quite liberating.

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Zombie Pigs First, Hibernating Soldiers Next 193

ColdWetDog writes "Wired is running a story on DARPA's effort to stave off battlefield casualties by turning injured soldiers into zombies by injecting them with a cocktail of one chemical or another (details to be announced). From the article, 'Dr. Fossum predicts that each soldier will carry a syringe into combat zones or remote areas, and medic teams will be equipped with several. A single injection will minimize metabolic needs, de-animating injured troops by shutting down brain and heart function. Once treatment can be carried out, they'll be "re-animated" and — hopefully — as good as new.' If it doesn't pan out we can at least get zombie bacon and spam."

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