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Comment Torus? PLEASE! (Score 1) 152

I'd say we team with Satan himself if we could just build a Stanford Torus. Or *anything* that spins. I want to look up and see this with my telescope before I die!

Sure there's difficulty and complexity there, but so many of the problems we have (both biological and station operation wise) are fixed or at least minimized with a little artificial gravity. ANY "permanent" outpost needs artificial gravity. Many industrial processes we'd like to do might benefit from some weight/acceleration too. (and of course some stuff works better weightless- with some spin it's easy to have the best of both :) ) We've GOT to do this, let's stop stalling!

And many of the human issues of long duration flights to Mars or asteroid missions are minimized/eliminated with some spin. People bungie-corded to a tread mill is not a clever solution, it's an embarrassing duct-tape patch. People should be coming back from space ready to walk away and live normally.

Unless some clever physics/math/etc. geek comes up with a magical artificial gravity field, our only choice is to spin.

Comment Can't believe nobody's mentioned Cormac McCarthy? (Score 1) 796

No where near SciFi or Fantasy, which seems to be the bread and butter of most /. folks, but... I think he's an amazing writer. His writing is dense and rich with old terms and phrases that have disappeared. His characters are coarse, gritty and flawed, and they speak and act like real people and not people in books (albeit exceptional people). The stories are sometimes just plain painful (but good).

"Blood Meridian" gives you characters that are just despicable and evil, but fascinating. "The Road" is post-apocalypse, which ought to suit a lot of /. folks. If you liked the movie version of "No Country for Old Men" as is usually the case the book is better. I'm afraid his "Border Trilogy" has made me never want to visit Mexico.

Comment Re:Captured at the end of the War (Score 4, Interesting) 123

The book "The Making of the Atomic Bomb" (Richard Rhodes) has a lot of interesting information, and different perspectives, on the atomic bombings. There's the traditional "we would have so many causalities" argument that's always made. But there were some other possible motivations that are very interesting, and the cynic in me tends to give them a lot of credence.

(Oh, and the book is fascinating, I think, a very good "geek" read. Things like the Nagasaki bomb having never been tested- there was so little Plutonium available they didn't want to waste any on a test, and they were *that* confident in the design they didn't feel a test was necessary. They just did the math.)

First, the development of "The Bomb" had been horrendously expensive, and mostly a "black" project. It was all going to come to light after the war. People involved in it needed a win- you couldn't have spent all that money for no reason and not expect to be crucified when it became known. So- "Bomb something, do it quick, we have to use it to justify having developed it!" Political CYA.

Also, there was a huge amount of concern about the Soviets. They had developed this huge army, and we didn't like how they thought- they were becoming the enemy. We needed to demonstrate that we had the ultimate big-stick so there wouldn't be any mistaking who the toughest kid on the block really was. Chest-thumping on a massive scale.

And also, there was concern about having to share the control of Japan after they surrendered. Things weren't going so well in Germany and we simply didn't want to have to include the Soviets in the process. If the war went on the Soviets involvement would necessitate including them... if we ended it quickly though, before they were really involved, we could leave them out. Like not sharing these subs :)

Personally I suspect all of these issues (and more) played into it. I think the "too many american lives would be lost" argument isn't really sufficient on it's own. But second-guessing secrets from 60-some years ago... who knows?

Comment Re:Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (Score 1) 700

Absolutely agree- I've read Zen' 4-5 times, and given copies to several friends.

I had a really hard time understanding some people, how they just didn't see what was important... it was so obvious to me, how could they not? Zen' helped me to understand these other people, how they were wired so differently :)

I think a lot of us on /. are way to the "Classic" side of the bell curve, and have to function in a world full of people who literally don't see what we do (and vice-verse).

I enjoyed the story of their trip too, although I was stunned to learn a while back that his son Chris had died. And it's very insightful in regards to education.

Comment I.... don't really see a problem (Score 1) 521

I know most folks are going to run up the "holy crap it's Big Brother!" flag... but I don't know if I really care or not.

It's sort of like data retention, in a way- one firm I worked with was very concerned that every scrap of "evidence" from their work be discarded- they tended to do sloppy work and get sued a lot, and were working under the assumption that our own records would generally show how f@#Ked up we were.

The company I'm working for now almost has a totally opposite mindset- they find that their records typically support their assertion that they've done good work, and so keeping records is a good thing.

Big Brother knowing where I've been, assorted points on a map... well, how does that really harm me? Now if I'm out doin' crimes, then obviously I'm bothered, but otherwise.... I just don't see a reason that I would care.

I can see it being part of a "slippery slope" issue, but this is public- there is no assumption of privacy. If you *are* expecting privacy in public, well, that went away as soon as everyone started carrying cameras.

(And, if I'm doin' some crimes, I'll game the system and use it to my advantage!)

Comment iPad anywhere near "mission critical" reliability? (Score 2) 220

I'm really uncomfortable with this, being as the iPad is a consumer-grade device built as cheaply as possible with it's #1 function being generating profit for Apple, and I don't think the device was designed with critical use in mind. It's made to be *just* reliable and durable enough that the warranty return rate isn't too high, and no more. (If I were Apple I'd be really uncomfortable with people using them for anything more than entertainment! for liability purposes!)

From what I've seen using iPhones in a business environment, they're NOWHERE NEAR being what I would consider business class devices- we've had many of them not survive 1 day of use before breaking. Not that they weren't dropped or abused, but that's life of mobile devices and I imagine daily use in a cockpit isn't any cakewalk.

I guess I'm a bit of an Apple-hater at my core, but even considering this I just don't think this is smart at all. Appropriate devices can certainly be built- there are specific military standards for devices durability in the field, lots of devices built to those standards, and that could be a minimal starting point. I would think the FAA should publish (or adopt an existing) standard for non mounted cockpit devices?

I used an old Sanyo "rugged" phone until I upgraded to an Android recently. It had survived too many drops onto concrete to count, being dropped in a lake at least twice, and even flying off the top of my car at 40+mph (took a long time to find the battery!)- it looked like hell but it never failed. Had to reboot it about twice in the 5 years I used it. Lots of other devices are designed to be, and are, that tough. That's the kind of reliability you have to have for a critical device.

Comment "Hydrogen economy" is a fallacy (Score 1) 247

So far, Hydrogen is just plain BS. Bush used it as a lame trick to direct our attention away from efficiency or any sort of oil policy changes that would have been correct (albeit always unpopular with someone).

Hydrogen is just storage, not energy. Now if we had an infrastructure of nuclear (ohhh! even better Fusion!) plants pumping out clean inexpensive electricity, and wanted to use that to make hydrogen, it might make sense. Without the magic of electricity being cheap enough that efficiency doesn't matter, it's just stupid.

I think, what we need more than anything, is better batteries. We're really close to having what we need now, perhaps just need to get costs down through volume production... ALL the cool energy sources we all love- wind, solar, tide, geothermal, unicorns on a treadmill, etc.- pump out electricity. I need to put THAT in my tank, not a difficult to store low density gas. I don't even consider it particularly hazardous, just not desirable.

Now, at the same time, I'd love to be able to run natural gas in my diesel, and need a high-density low-pressure tank to do that, probably using some of the new nano-porous schemes. I like natural gas because at least for now it seems abundant, and it burns relatively clean compared to oil. (It "sucks less".) But when it's time has passed I need to move on to electric.


Have I Lost My Gaming Mojo? 418

danabnormal writes "Increasingly I'm being frustrated in my attempts to find a game I want to play. In an effort to catch up, I've been using my bog standard Dell laptop to dig out treasures I have missed, such as American McGee's Alice, Grim Fandango and Syberia. I don't often get the time to play games, so I like to have the opportunity to dip in and out of a title without feeling like I'm losing something by not playing it for periods of time. But when I find a title I like, I make the time. Heavy Rain is the last game that gripped me, that truly engaged me and made me want to complete it in a single sitting. I'm tired of the GTA formulas, bored of CoDs and don't have the reaction time to think on my feet for AOE III. Is it about time I tossed in the controller and resigned myself to the fact that the games I want only come out once in a blue moon? Or have I just not found that one great title that will open me up to a brand new genre? Lords of Ultima is going OK at the moment — is there anything of that ilk I've missed? What are your thoughts? Do you stick to a particular genre? Are you finding it harder, as you get more mature, to find something you want to play?"

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