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Submission + - Chinese robots play ping pong (

wisebabo writes: While I'm not sure I'd agree with the commentary as to their emotional disposition, I'm glad that finally someone has built a robot capable of playing ping pong. They don't seem to be that great at playing, but hopefully the technology will get better. As a side note, while the humanoid design is appealing and might help it qualify for competition, is that really the best design? I recall seeing once some Japanese robot that was decidedly not anthropomorphic that did some amazing super fast ball bouncing. Are there any other designs that have been used or even tried?

Submission + - Mars is not the best place to look for life ( 1

EccentricAnomaly writes: A story over at Science News quotes Alan Stern (former head of NASA Science missions) as saying: "The three strongest candidates [for extraterrestrial life] are all in the outer solar system" He's referring to Europa, Titan, and Enceladus. So why is NASA spending $2.5B on the next Mars Rover and planning to spend over $6B more on a Mars sample return when it can't find the money for much cheaper missions to Europa or Enceladus?

Submission + - Faster-than-Light Neutrino Mystery Likely Solved

Hugh Pickens writes writes: "It's now been three weeks since the extraordinary news that neutrinos travelling between France and Italy had been clocked moving faster than light and more than 80 papers have appeared attempting to debunk or explain the effect. Now Ronald van Elburg at the University of Groningen has made a convincing argument that he has found the error. The OPERA team says it can accurately gauge the instant when the neutrinos are created and the instant they are detected using clocks at each end but the tricky part is keeping the clocks at either end exactly synchronized using GPS satellites, which each broadcast a highly accurate time signal from orbit some 20,000km overhead. But there are two frames of reference: the experiment on the ground and the clocks in orbit. If these are moving relative to each other, then under special relativity "from the perspective of the clock, the detector is moving towards the source and consequently the distance travelled by the particles as observed from the clock is shorter," writes van Elburg. How big is this effect? Van Elburg calculates that it should cause the neutrinos to arrive 32 nanoseconds early but this must be doubled because the same error occurs at each end of the experiment accounting for 64 nanoseconds, almost exactly what the OPERA team observes. "If it stands up, this episode will be laden with irony," according to the Physics arXiv Blog. "Far from breaking Einstein's theory of relatively, the faster-than-light measurement will turn out to be another confirmation of it. ""

Submission + - No more film movie cameras. (

phil reed writes: Creative Cow Magazine reports that Manufacturers of movie cameras have quietly discontinued production of film cameras. There are still some markets — not in the U.S. — where film cameras are still sold, but those numbers are far fewer than they used to be. If you talk to the people in camera rentals, the amount of film camera utilization in the overall schedule is probably between 30 to 40 percent. However, film usage is dropping fast, which has ramifications up and down the production line. Archivists are worried.

Comment Re:PR (Score 1) 236

I had a quick look around, it seems that the European JIME mission is still on, Japan and Russia are interested in joining to provide magnetospheric study and a Europa lander, respectively. So it's not a total loss. I'd still rather see the US research community contributing though, saying that as a European myself. There's some serious expertise there.

Those missions were initially sold as being cooperative with the NASA Europa mission. Without the NASA mission it's going to be much harder to sell those missions to their respective national governments.

Comment Re: I had no idea they'd shit-canned Europa (Score 1) 236

It's worse, it looks like they want to shut down Cassini early:

The plan was to have Cassini end its mission by flying between the planet and the rings to do essentially the Juno mission at Saturn. NASA's already paid for Cassini, it's a waste to shut it down early... Juno was $1B, and Cassini could do the same thing at Saturn for pennies on that dollar.

Comment Re:Acronym (Score 1) 236

It would have been nice if the summary had stated what OMB stands for somewhere (Office of Management and Budget). I was trying to figure out if it was some wacky new term for Obama or his administration.

This has been modded "funny", but seriously, no-one outside the US is going to know this.

You could google, or maybe read the article

Comment Re:Blaming the wrong people (Score 1) 236

It's not the administration's fault, it's Congress. NASA HQ and the administration didn't even want to build SLS -- they wanted to bolster the commercial launch market instead -- and were forced to do it by the Congressional committee.

If there's someone Lou Friedman should be complaining about, it's Senators Nelson and Shelby and their fixation on providing pork to large aerospace contractors in return for bribes, I mean campaign donations.

I would have hoped that someone in his position would be better informed, frankly.

Congress shares the blame, but OMB is part of the White House, and they are the ones trying to scrap the Mars program to pay for the big rocket. NASA is unable to get the cost of the rocket down, so the White House had three choices: 1) ask Congress to send more money to pay for their rocket or remove the mandate, 2) tell NASA to change its ways and built the rocket more cheaply, or 3) through the robotic missions under the bus. #1 probably would have worked because it's asking the powerful Senators who designed the rocket to send more money to their home states, but it would require Obama sticking his neck out for NASA, and what President is going to do that in an election year? #2 makes the most fiscal sense, but would have made enemies in the Senate and Congress (they don't care if NASA goes anywhere, they just want the money spent in their home states). So they chose #3.

Comment Re:PR (Score 1) 236

NASA uses a lot of tax money and, with a population whose general impression of resemasearch is that it just giving money to boring nerds in labcoats (ignoring the economy generated by products of past research), they must do regular "America #1, Yihaaaa!" performances in order to keep the population from objecting too much against NASA funding.

I want to do Apollo Again! Apollo was very exciting. Everyone was excited.
(youtube video about how exciting Apollo was)


Submission + - Is OMB wiping out planetary exploration? (

EccentricAnomaly writes: Lou Friedman (former head of the Planetary Society) has written a provocative article over at Space Policy Review where he accuses the Obama administration of working on plans to gut the robotic Mars program in order to pay for NASA's exciting new rocket. This is after NASA's already killed the Europa mission that was to have been the next outer planet mission after Cassini.

Comment Re:As a Mac admin, I agree. (Score 1) 341

I always hated OS X Server because I was brought up on the old UNIX boxes and I liked to do everything on the command line... but the #@$@#$ GUIs in OS X Server would clobber all of my config files (and they were not well documented either). I'm very glad to see OS X server go back to the command line and be more like Linux.

Comment Re:Here's what I'd do (Score 1) 396

If I were you, I'd put the year-end bonus in a 6-mo CD, and get the tablet when the CD's term is up

Waiting 6 months might well be sensible. But the average CD yield is 0.63% (APR). So... $1000 in a 6 month CD will net him under $3.50.

Put the money into Apple or Google stock and buy a tablet when the profits are enough to cover it. That's how I paid for my first iPhone (and then some).

Check out this link on how much money could be made by buying Apple stock instead of Apple products:

Comment Re:Hydrochloric acid? (Score 3, Informative) 121

LH2/LOX engines will perform better than this new compound no matter what. The only way to get better performance than LH2/LOX (for a chemical rocket) is to change the oxidizer.... maybe liquid ozone... or Fluorine. Fluorine is the best oxidizer you can get. Problem is that it tends to oxidize its container and then oxidize you.... nasty, nasty stuff.

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