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Comment Research Triangle Park (Score 1) 555

The next Silicon Valley already exists. It's called RTP (Research Triangle Park, North Carolina). RTP is the largest concentration of PhDs in the world. It is the home of countless tech startups. My daughter worked for an RTP game engine company for two years, then went to work for Duke University for two years and next week is joining an internet advertising startup at RTP. This back and forth synergy between RTP and the major universities in the area (UNC- Chapel Hill, Duke, and NC State) is a major driving force. RTP is on the leading edge of biotech innovation. UNC is building Carolina North in Chapel Hill which will be a world class biotech incubator and the seat of UNCs science graduate programs. The Duke Medical Center and UNC Hospitals offer the clinical trial infrastructure that biotech startups require. Most major tech companies already have a research facility at RTP and many are expanding even in this depression we are currently in. The quality of life and cost of living certainly beat Palo Alto and Phoenix (maybe not San Francisco yet :) You just have to learn to like grits.

Comment Re:Short Time Frame = Unknowns (Score 1) 744

No, manmade CO2 will not affect the climate 100,000 years from now. Nobody has claimed that it would. The Earth will survive. New species will evolve. Even humans will survive. But civilization may not. And the higher methane release rates are a result of methane ices melting because of temperature increases, caused by manmade CO2. It is one of the long predicted positive feedback loops that make our massive CO2 production so dangerous. We live in a thin layer of gas on a solid/liquid surface. There is not that much of a buffer against the changes we make.

Comment Re:Obama is actually thinking logically (Score 1) 411

You are making lots of assumptions. Obama is planning to use LEO to build a long range ship capable of going to Mars. That will mean some humans involved in construction but it may also be possible to use robots for much of the construction. In any case, I'm just saying that unless people are going to colonize Mars, there is little reason to have people in space, even for construction. The only exception that comes to mind would be a radio telescope on the far side of the moon. If we can't do it with robots, then there might be a reason for people to go there. But it might also be better to just have a space based radio telescope that can be direct launched.

Comment Obama is actually thinking logically (Score 2, Insightful) 411

The only reason for manned flight is to get to a place worth colonizing. The only place worth colonizing is Mars. All other missions can be done better, cheaper, faster, with robotic craft. So Obama has it exactly right. There is no reason to go back to the moon (Bush just wanted to use it as a military base and didn't even make progress with that). Armstrong is an old guy who was trained as an engineer and made one flight that put him in the history books. That doesn't mean that he knows much about the long-term space policies we should follow. And you notice that he is still thinking of space as a playing field for international competition rather than cooperation. This is the '60s talking.

Comment Re:manned space exploration = fail (Score 1) 136

So let's find out if we can survive there longterm. Send volunteers. I'd go and I don't think there would be a problem finding many qualified colonists. There is water on Mars, in huge quantities. The atmospheric pressure is highest at the bottom of the canyons and liquid surface water has been seen there. So a habitat could be just a pressurized tent in a canyon. Make it of a material that can pass solar except for UV and not re-emit infrared. Extra heat will have to come from somewhere.... maybe a micro nuclear reactor or large solar panel field. Start agriculture under tent cover immediately. There is plenty of CO2 the atmosphere and the plants will make oxygen. So will electrolysis of water. Weed and disease free agriculture would be far more efficient than Earth agriculture.... Look, I grew up in the 1960s in Huntsville, Alabama. NASA was a shirtsleeves engineering group that got stuff done. It doesn't have to cost a fortune, and even if it did, it would be worth it to save humanity.

Comment Re:manned space exploration = fail (Score 1) 136

I agree with this. There is no reason for humans (basically fragile bags of water) to be in space for any reason except to get to another planetary surface. Machines can do a better job of exploration at much less cost because they don't require life support. There is only one planetary surface that it would be worth sending humans to and that is Mars. But NASA has gone out of its way to make such a project prohibitively expensive. How do we make Mars possible? First, it should be a one-way trip. The goal should not be exploration (which should already have been done by machines) but rather colonization. We should pre-position colony supplies and then send a sustainable group of colonists to begin establishing a permanent, self-sufficient outpost. And why should we establish such a colony? Because someday.... maybe tomorrow.... maybe in a hundred thousand years, the Earth will be hit by a large asteroid that will at the very least end civilization. It could even result in the extinction of humanity. The cost of establishing a technological outpost is a small price to pay for ensuring the continuance of the human race. And if the asteroid never comes, we will still have a new planet to terraform and develop.
Transportation

Porsche Unveils 911 Hybrid With Flywheel Booster 197

MikeChino writes "Porsche has just unveiled its 911 GT3 R Hybrid, a 480 horsepower track vehicle ready to rock the 24-hour Nurburgring race this May. Porsche's latest supercar will use the same 911 production platform available to consumers today, with a few race-ready features including front-wheel hybrid drive and an innovative flywheel system that stores kinetic energy from braking and then uses it to provide a 160 horsepower burst of speed. The setup is sure to offer an advantage when powering out of turns and passing by other racers."
Crime

Submission + - End of the tenure process? (mediaelites.com)

duckintheface writes: A professor at the University of Alabama in Huntsville reportedly (http://mediaelites.com/?p=12975) killed three members of the Biology faculty when she was denied tenure. After serving for seven years as Assistant Professor at UAH, Harvard trained biologist Amy Bishop, PhD was denied tenure and then allegedly opened fire in a faculty meeting, killing three and wounding three other members of the faculty.

As tenure becomes more difficult or impossible for even very talented candidates to achieve, many will find themselves... at the age of 35-40.... tossed out on the street with nothing to show for spending their entire adult lives working at low wages. Should we be surprised if this becomes a more common end to the tenure process?

Comment military bases (Score 1) 920

The reason for "Moon, Mars, and Beyond", the Bush plan for space exploration was always to put a military base on the moon. If the choice was that or nothing, I'd take nothing. But Obama has shown genuine interest in Mars and in a plan based on Phobos prior to establishing a colony on Mars. That's the route that most astronauts favor as do most serious scientists. Failure to fund Constellation does not mean we are giving up on Mars.

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