Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Compare cell phone plans using Wirefly's innovative plan comparison tool ×

Comment Re:If the singularity doesn't happen... (Score 1) 135

You are misunderstanding his proposal. The thing is, this is NOT a fast way to get from star to star, it's a way to spread analogous to the way the Polynesians did. You travel only slightly faster than the local drift, because you need to mine it as you go past, but you don't slow down. You are traveling slightly faster (or slower?) than the local drift because you want to be continually getting new resources. In a way it's analogous to filter-feeding like an anemone...but in an area where you need to keep moving because you require a variety of resources, and only occasionally do you encounter a place that could supply all of them. (Then you reproduce and spread some more.)

A society that lived in this way would need to be very stable. It probably requires fusion power reactors, but you might be able to do it with fission. It also requires a compelling virtual reality and a decent AI. And better ion rockets than we currently have. (Not necessarily more powerful so much as able, given electricity, to run on rocks.) It also requires the ability to maintain a nearly closed eco-system for extended periods of time, and to cycle the population through periods of stability and growth as determined by external needs.

Comment Re:Wow, and I thought the existing Sednoids were n (Score 1) 135

That wouldn't work unless the stars were in a stable multi-star system. And even then most of the Lagrangian points are unstable. The Trojan works well, but the others...

Still, you are talking about an orbit around the Lagrangian in a binary system, presumably the L1 point directly between the two stars. It could be stable if you got into it, but getting into it would be a real trick. If you found one it would almost be a guarantee that it was put there intentionally.

Comment Re:Wow, and I thought the existing Sednoids were n (Score 1) 135

How many? My guess is LOTS. You know how there are lots more small stars than large stars... well there's an equation that models that reasonably well as far down as we could expect to detect things. But I see no reason that just because something isn't self luminous it should be less likely to exist, so I expect lots more brown dwarfs than class M red dwarfs, and lots more loose planets than wandering brown dwarfs, and lots more asteroids than planets (and lots more small planets than large planets) and lots more dust than any of the above. In a fairly smooth curve, where your position on the curve reflects the amount of mass you hold, and the divisions between the categories are irrelevant. There are differences between class F stars and class G stars, but the boundaries are artificial.

I acknowledge that there are arguments against this position, but I'm not convinced. I'm no astronomer, but I predicted brown dwarfs before they were accepted, so I've got *some* understanding of what's going on. (Of course, this could be a bit like Bode's law, and be rather circumstantial, but I consider it the simplest hypothesis.)

Comment Re:11 GHz (Score 1) 258

Only one star is known to have a habitable planet...Sol.

I agree the odds are that it is something other than aliens, but...

Think a bit about how hard it is for us to detect an earth-sized planet. Now imagine trying to do that 95 light-years away. I don't think the lack of a known earth-sized planet should be given ANY weight. You wouldn't expect to know about it even were it present.

Additionally there could be folk there beaming signals to a probe that was approximately in line with us (at the moment), and which was far out from their star and only carried a weak antenna. Unlikely, but possible. Perhaps it's an interstellar probe en-route to their nearest star. Perhaps it uses a light sail. (Why 11 GHz? Perhaps the astronomers were only listening on a narrow frequency band? Perhaps there are dust clouds that filter out the other frequencies? I'm missing too much to be plausible here...maybe their light sail or lasers are optimized for 11GHz for some reason.)

But it's probably local military communications...and good luck getting that released.

Comment Re:11 GHz (Score 1) 258

Yes, it's used by the military, but the signal is coming from space. So it could be military satellite transmissions. The Kardashev Type II civilization if only if it were a broadcast signal rather than a beamed transmission, but even if it is beamed it implies a more developed civilization than we've got. Of course, they could be only more developed in certain ways...

Comment Re:how about looking at it from another angle (Score 1) 172

I, personally, found the web much more useful before it was polluted with the kind of stuff that most commercial sites, explicitly including "news organizations", include.

It's true, in those days I searched using boolean patterns, but without all the extraneous noise I got better answers than I do now with highly refined search engines.

Comment Re:I think Google would walk here (Score 1) 172

You're wrong, even though your conclusion is right.

Local news is important, but most "news sources" aren't sources, they repeat what the wire services send them. And Google can subscribe to the wire services for a lot less hassle than dealing with every local paper. And I rather expect that the wire services provide translated versions of the news into most European languages, so THAT's not a problem.

This might cause the wire services to devote more effort to local news, of course.

This is a structurally bad answer, but it's the answer that the economics of that law would encourage. It will lead to increased monopolization and homogenization of the news...but laws can do that kind of thing.

Comment Re:Google's reply? (Score 1) 172

It's not that they're a monopoly, although they are, it's that they are a natural monopoly, which doesn't require government interference to exist (as a monopoly). If it did, then Bing would be the dominant search engine.

Now there are generally many possible sources for any news story, and Google can choose whichever it wants to choose. If it has to pay it would probably pick AP, Reuters, maybe a couple of others and ignore the rest. Whoops! There go the local news sites. How many people will go to a site that promotes the local high school soccer team? A few. What will the advertisers pay? Not enough to run the site, so it will depend on someone doing it as a hobby. How many sites will be able to pay for an AP and Reuters connection if they aren't indexed by Google? Not many.

So you have a natural monopoly. And making them want to stop indexing you is a fast route to bankruptcy.

Please note that these same arguments apply if you substitute a different search engine for Google. ANY other search engine.

Comment Re:good luck with that one... (Score 1) 172

Sorry, but "fair use" within the US only works as a defense if the court agrees with you. Which means you've got to pay for a lawsuit, and you don't get the money back even if you win.

Also, "fair use" within the US is not well-defined, so trying that as your defense is always a crap-shoot (admittedly some cases are clearer than other, but even one measure of music has been found to not fall under fair use).

Slashdot Top Deals

There must be more to life than having everything. -- Maurice Sendak