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Comment Re:as a European. (Score 1) 1040

But entitlements are not sustainable at their current growth rate.

Per that picture, interest on the debt is really what is unsustainable. Entitlements grow relatively gradually and seem to be coverable with revenue restructuring. Something like 7.5% increase in absolute tax revenue or a 33% relative tax increase. Getting rid of the Bush tax cuts (for everyone) would be 10%. Removing the payroll tax cap would probably be another 5% of that. Corporate and loophole reform would probably get another 5%. Reforms to cut that rate of growth of entitlement spending (raising the retirement age, Health Care Act reform, Part D repeal, etc...) might fill in the rest.

By any means, I don't know too well, but it seems do-able if we face up to our underfunded liabilities, and, well, fund them. We'd still be paying significantly less than most of Europe even after that.

Interest on the debt meanwhile, threatens to doom us all and probably needs to be faced within the next twenty years before it does spiral out of control. How to fix the hole? That's when we start having to make the harder decisions.

Comment Re:Important for two reasons (Score 1) 204

Yep, someone in the press asked a question along the lines of your second reason the panelist wasn't as enthusiastic about it as you might expect. He stressed this was important for the life side because it's the strongest evidence for current liquid water but not really for colonization.

The poles already contain massive quantities of pure ice water, that would not be too difficult to get at. These leaks by comparison would be highly salted to the point of almost un-usability since pure water would boil at Mars atmospheric pressure. One of the panelist even compared it to being more like a slow-flowing gel than a traditional liquid. It isn't too much water either. They were ball parked estimated to be somewhere around 25,000 gallons annually or so per crater (Maybe a backyard swimming pool's worth.). To put it into perspective, they think each of those little trickles you see on the images was only 25 gallons or so.

Finding evidence of a significant quantity of non-polar water ice (they're currently thinking it may be in aquifer like structures several kilometers under the surface) would be huge from a colonization stand-point, however.

Submission + - Salty water flowing on Mars, data sugests (scienceblog.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Observations from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have revealed possible flowing water during the warmest months on Mars. Dark, finger-like features appear and extend down some Martian slopes during late spring through summer, fade in winter, and return during the next spring, NASA says, and repeated observations have tracked the seasonal changes in these recurring features on several steep slopes in the middle latitudes of Mars' southern hemisphere.

Comment Re:Yes, but.... (Score 2) 199

God is by definition infinitely complex. Any finite explanation of the universe, no matter how complex, is simpler than an explanation by God. Occam's Razor, correctly stated, is that the hypothesis with the smallest new assumptions is generally the one to be desired. The hypothesis of God is the ultimate assumption since it is supra-rational. Essentially, a million finite (provable) assumptions is still less than one infinite (unprovable) assumption. Is this a problem? Not necessarily since you're already talking about the value of faith, but using Occam's Razor in your argument is dubious at best.

Comment Re:No; "powerful explosions" belongs to literature (Score 1) 269

With regard to the sociological note. It's a half truth. H.G. Wells wrote about something similar to atomic bombs in a 1914 novel (The World Set Free) when there was no understanding of how an atomic bomb would actually work. In fact, there are newspaper articles from the 30's reporting about the wondrous possibilities of nuclear energy. Strangely enough, Leo Szilard, the man who hypothesized the chain reaction as the real basis of a nuclear weapon, read that book a year before his discovery. This was 1933. Mainstream acceptance of the possibility of a bomb was not until after the first fission was actually achieved: 1938. The bomb project began in 1940. Around this time, Niels Bohr (that Niels Bohr) estimated that building a bomb was a practical impossibility as it would require the industrialized output of most of a nation to get sufficient amounts of enriched uranium. He concluded it could be done but only in far future (much like an antimatter bomb). When he joined the project and saw the shear amount of resources the American's were devoting to the project and the advances being made, he changed his mind.

For instance, after spending roughly the cost of the LHC on the first uranium separation facilities at Oak Ridge, (fun fact: a significant portion of the USA's silver coinage reserve was melted into calutron's for magnetic separation) the facility, which consumed about 15% of United State's electrical output, was producing about a pound of U-235 a day, enough for a bomb every 6 months.

The LHC or ALPHA is like a mass spectrometer. It's a scientific tool. Technically, you can also use a mass spectrometer to enrich the uranium to make an atomic bomb, but it would take about a million years to make enough. See the similarities?

It is a bit disingenuous for CERN to say "we" can't make antimatter bombs. If "we" means CERN then it's absolutely true, but to comment in an overall sense of "we" would be yet another foolish misunderstanding of the abilities of an industrialized nation to accomplish something when incredibly dedicated to it.

The real reason we won't see anti-matter bombs is in CERN's quote though. A hydrogen bomb is plenty "good enough".

Comment Re:19 miles isn't "space" (Score 2, Insightful) 243

To be fair, atmospheric pressure at 19 miles is just a little under 1% of what is at sea level and about equivalent to the atmosphere of Mars.

But we've seen these kinds of cheap high altitude balloons cover by Slashdot for about a year now and every time it happens, it seems to be picked up as a "new" event.

The thing that is really annoying though is that they all are doing the same thing without any improvement. Next time I have to read this story, please say someone floated a model rocket with an M engine up to 20 miles and got it the golden suborbital height.

Comment Re:I smell a turd... (Score 1) 71

The motion control tech behind Kinect was acquired when Microsoft purchased an Israeli company a few years ago. The tech (an IR grid is projected and an IR camera examines and analyzes for deformations of that grid to calculate position) has hardly changed since then. There were demos of this back in 2007 I believe where you could shoot virtual hoops. All this time has been Microsoft developing software, because, to be honest, it took awhile to figure out what you could do with this thing.

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Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards. -- Aldous Huxley