Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:Aerospace Engineering Graduate Student (Score 1) 283

Mod parent up... although, as a Purdue alum, I can warn you that the Michigan student tend to be a bunch of arrogant fucks who talk too much shit about how great their football team is... But the Michigan alums that I work with tend to know what they are doing, and the small sat programs there are really cool... and SpaceX is full of a lot of Michigan people too.

Comment Re:do as well as you can in core engineering progr (Score 2) 283

Mechanical, aeronautical, electrical or computing. A good name school helps, but a 4.0 degree from a less stellar school is good too.

You learn much, much more from a top tier school. GPA is for schmucks. I'd rather have someone with a low GPA from a good school where they learned the theory behind stuff than a 4.0 from some middling school where they only know how to do cookbook problems. Space is full of hard problems, and if you want to make a difference in aerospace you need to seek out a school that will expose you to hard problems.

Comment MIT and CalTech aren't good for space (Score 4, Informative) 283

Don't go to Caltech for aerospace unless you just want to learn airplanes. I work at JPL and have a lot of interaction with CalTech students who complain about the lack of space stuff in the aero department... they don't even have an orbit mechanics class. MIT is ok if you want to do systems engineering, but generally their aero department doesn't do much space stuff either (last I heard, their orbit class was taught by a grad student who took it upon himself to have some sort of orbit class).

If you want to do SpaceX, I'd write them an email and ask for their advise, ask where they recruit from. They will probably want chemical prop and systems engineering people.

From what I've seen the best schools if you want to do space are Carnegie Mellon, Purdue, Colorado, UT Austin, Georgia Tech, Stanford, Michigan, UCLA, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Carnegie Mellon and Stanford have awesome robotics programs. Michigan and Caly Poly SLO have excellent cube sat programs. Michigan, Stanford, and UCLA have excellent electric propulsion. Georgia Tech and Michigan have excellent systems engineering. Purdue, UT Austin, and Colorado have excellent orbit mechanics. And Purdue has probably the best chemical propulsion program. Georgia Tech has a really amazing senior design class (best out of the 5 that I've advised as an industry person).

If you don't want to go to far, I'd recommend Michigan, Purdue, or CMU. But try to email SpaceX and see what they advise (but be aware that the person who responds will be biased towards their alma mater)


Submission + - Using Fuel Depots Instead of Giant Rockets (

EccentricAnomaly writes: The New York Times has a story about a leaked NASA study that showed it would cost $80 BIllion less and get astronauts to an asteroid sooner if NASA used fuel depots instead of developing a new rocket. According to the article, NASA's response to the leaked study is to start developing fuel depots in addition to continuing its new rocket program. Because, after all, who doesn't need more cool stuff.

Submission + - A Silicon Valley School That Doesn't Use Computers

Hugh Pickens writes writes: "Matt Richtel writes that many employees of Silicon Valley giants like Google, Apple, Yahoo and Hewlett-Packard send their children to the Waldorf School in Los Altos where the school’s chief teaching tools are anything but high-tech: pens and paper, knitting needles and, occasionally, mud. Not a computer to be found. No screens at all. Computers are not allowed in the classroom, and the school even frowns on their use at home. “I fundamentally reject the notion you need technology aids in grammar school,” says Alan Eagle whose daughter, Andie, attends a Waldorf school, an independent school movement that boasts an 86 year history in North America. “The idea that an app on an iPad can better teach my kids to read or do arithmetic, that’s ridiculous.” Advocates for equipping schools with technology say computers can hold students’ attention and, in fact, that young people who have been weaned on electronic devices will not tune in without them. But Paul Thomas, who has written 12 books about public educational methods, disagrees, and says that a spare approach to technology in the classroom will always benefit learning. “Teaching is a human experience,” says Thomas. “Technology is a distraction when we need literacy, numeracy and critical thinking.”"

Submission + - Why computer voices are mostly female (

PolygamousRanchKid writes: One answer may lie in biology. Scientific studies have shown that people generally find women's voices more pleasing than men's. "It's much easier to find a female voice that everyone likes than a male voice that everyone likes," said Stanford University Professor Clifford Nass, author of "The Man Who Lied to His Laptop: What Machines Teach Us About Human Relationships." "It's a well-established phenomenon that the human brain is developed to like female voices."

One notable exception has been Germany, where BMW was forced to recall a female-voiced navigation system on its 5 Series cars in the late 1990s after being flooded with calls from German men saying they refused to take directions from a woman. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment on why the company gave Siri a female voice in the U.S. Nor would she say why Siri speaks like a man in the UK, where iPhone 4S owners have swarmed online forums to request a female voice instead.

Until then, some bloggers have wondered: Are computerized female "assistants" sexist? Not necessarily, said Rebecca Zorach, director of the Social Media Project at the University of Chicago's Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality. "What's interesting to me is how they seem to intentionally make her speech sound artificial — they could choose to make her speech more seamless and human-like, but they choose instead to highlight the technology," she said. "That makes you aware of how high-tech your gadget is."


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

Slashdot Top Deals

Economics is extremely useful as a form of employment for economists. -- John Kenneth Galbraith