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Comment Re:Wash your hands! (Score 1) 374

This is good advice, and gives me an opportunity to speak to the community at large: some of us who go to cons and are in a position to shake tons of hands politely decline. It's not because we're being dicks, it's because we know it's a good way to substantially decrease our chances of catching and spreading any germs.

Comment Oh, cruel irony (Score 2, Interesting) 374

I played the PAX Pandemic game, where the Enforcers handed out stickers to attendees that read [Carrier] [Infected] or [Immune] (There was also a [Patient Zero].

I got the [Immune] sticker, and by the time I got home on Monday, it was clear that I had the flu. I've had a fever between 100 and 104 all week that finally broke last night, but I'm going to the doctor today because I think whatever I had settled into my lungs. I'll tell him about the H1N1 outbreak and get tested if he wants to run the test, but at this point I think it's safe to assume that I was [Immune] to the Pig Plague, but definitely [Infected] with the damn PAX pox.

Even though it's been a week of misery, it was entirely worth it, and I don't regret going to PAX for a single second.

Comment Re:Want to go back to the Moon? Build Saturn Vs! (Score 2, Interesting) 491

Yes, but the thing is, *we know how to do all that*, we've done it before. Far better and easier and cheaper, IMHO, than this Ares nonsense with SRBs ready to kill the crew during launch.

Hell, we could take the Saturn Vs lying on the ground (3-4) of them, the unflown CMs and LMs lying around, and refurbish them, for starters!

Comment Want to go back to the Moon? Build Saturn Vs! (Score 4, Informative) 491

What's maddening is that nobody involved in this debate seems to realize that:

1. We solved resonance and pogoing issues in the 1960s vis-a-vis the Saturn V stack.

2. We can simply dust off the Apollo 18-20 J-series mission plans and the Apollo X/ALSS/AES/LESA studies, and execute them.

3. All we need to actually get back to the Moon is a Saturn V stack updated with newer materials and automation technologies.

4. SRBs are insanely dangerous due to their non-throttalability, and should not be man-rated beyond the poorly-designed Shuttle stack.

We knew all this *more than 40 years ago* (we ignored the SRB issue back then, which led directly to Challenger); how can these people be so ignorant?!

Here's a link to just a few of the studies which were done of follow-on missions. Here are links to Apollo X, ALSS, AES, and LESA.

Stephen Baxter's Voyage is an interesting alternate history based upon some of these mission plans (although he's way too hard on the Germans, IMHO).

The bottom line - if NASA want to go back to the Moon (far better to offer a $20B X-Prize for the first organization to put 30 men on the Moon for a year and a day, and return them safely to Earth), all they have to do is to start building modernized Saturn Vs, Apollo CMs, SMs, & LMs.

Comment Re:Iron Man's Suit Defies Physics -- Mostly (Score 2, Interesting) 279

Hydrogen peroxide powered rocket packs fly for around 30 seconds, because they have a specific impulse of around 125, meaning that one pound of propellant can make 125 pound-seconds of thrust, meaning that it takes about two pounds of propellant for every second you are in the air. Mass ratios are low for anything strapped to a human, so the exponential nature of the rocket equation can be safely ignored.

A pretty hot (both literally and figuratively) bipropellant rocket could manage about twice the specific impulse, and you could carry somewhat heavier tanks, but two minutes of flight on a rocket pack is probably about the upper limit with conventional propellants.

However, an actual jet pack that used atmospheric oxygen could have an Isp ten times higher, allowing theoretical flights of fifteen minutes or so. Here, it really is a matter of technical development, since jet engines have thrust to weight ratios too low to make it practical. There is movement on this technical front, but it will still take a while.

John Carmack

Comment John Scalzi on why it won't work (Score 1) 370

John Scalzi wrote a hilarious exchange on his blog the sums up perfectly why this idea is made of fail:

Sony BMG spokesperson: We're pleased to announce we are the final major music corporation to release electronic tracks without that pesky DRM! All you have to do is leave your house, go to a selected retail outlet, buy a special card there, go back to your house, scratch off the back of the card to find a code, go to our special MusicPass Web site, enter said code, and download one the 37 titles we have available, from Celine Dion to the Backstreet Boys!

Kid #1: Or, in the time it takes me to jump through all those hoops, I could just download all 37 of those albums off of Pirate Bay.

Kid #2: Or, I could just scratch off the back at the store, record the pin number, go home and download the album through a Tor connection, so you can't trace my IP number.

Kid #1: Also, what's with this first slate of artists? Celine Dion? Backstreet Boys? Kenny Chesney? Barry Manilow? Are you high?
There's much more, but I didn't want to jack his entire post.
IT

Information Overload Predicted Problem of the Year for 2008 146

Wired is reporting that information overload is being predicted by some analysts as the problem of the year for 2008. "'It's too much information. It's too many interruptions. It's too much lost time,' Basex chief analyst Jonathan Spira declared. 'It's always too much of a good thing.' Information overload isn't exactly new, but Spira said the problem has grown as technology increases societal expectations for instantaneous response. And more information available, he said, also means more time wasted looking for the right information, whether in an old e-mail or through a search engine."
Patents

Submission + - In Microsoft Patent Application, Lion Tames You! 1

theodp writes: "Remember how the press gushed over Bill Gates' plans for a spam-less future? Well, some of the details are on display in Microsoft's recently published patent application for Order-Based Human Interactive Proofs (HIPS), and the annoying little puzzles that are the CAPTCHAs of the future may leave you less than wowed. For example, take Microsoft's exemplary maze (please!), which you may be asked to navigate while avoiding things that are dangerous — such as a lion and a canon — to prove you're Human and worthy of e-mail access (path D-A-F-O-B-H-K should be your final answer!)."

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