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Comment Re:Portion of the proceeds? (Score 2) 179

It's also worth noting that Francis Crick wished to give Rosalind Franklin greater credit, but didn't due to the personality conflicts between Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin:

Moreover, she became great close friends with Watson and with Crick. But sheâ(TM)s unlikelyâ"if in fact she felt they had stolen her discovery. She must have known that they were using her data because there were no other dataâ"her data are acknowledged in Crickâ(TM)s paper. And again, in the second paper he published in Nature a month later. What prevented Crick from giving a much fairer acknowledgment to Rosalind Franklin in the original Nature paper, which he wished to do, was that he to negotiate this with Wilkins.

So in his original draft is, he says, "We thank Rosalind Franklin for her beautiful uh photo of DNA," which makes quite clear that this was what he was relying on. Now, at Wilkinsâ(TM) suggestion he crossed out the phrase "beautiful photo." So it was not an adequate acknowledgment but it was a very different story than stealing her discovery, which is the way it has been portrayed.

Elkin: Nicholas, you are absolutely right. There was an earlier, more accurate acknowledgment. It wasnâ(TM)t to Franklin, it was to Wilkins and Franklin and it did say "very beautiful photographs" which only meant Franklinâ(TM)s. And Wilkins was the one who crossed it out. There are actually six drafts. Very interesting to see that.

And also to see how weak, false, even the first two or three were, before Wilkins got it to decimate it more compared to the draft they wrote about the first model, where they very very clearly acknowledged Franklin.

Comment Re:Economies of scale (Score 2) 79

I really hate when people take that "Why build one when you can build two for twice the price" quote from the film adaptation of Contact and try to be clever by quoting it as if it had any bearing on reality. In the real world, the per-unit cost of building multiples of the same thing in parallel costs considerably less than building a one-off.

Comment Re:Doesn't work unless... (Score 1) 194

A simpler solution is to verify if the image has slightly alterations over time, or to require that the person to blink or do any other thing.

Android 4.1 (Jellybean) has a "liveness check" which requires an eyeblink to unlock:

Comment Suspicious until full text of bill released (Score 1) 188

Although I'm hopeful about the concept, I'm suspicious until the full text of the bill is released. Considering the proponents of the bill, I wouldn't be surprised if this ends up being a thinly-veiled way to protect particular pork projects, worded in such a way that it could only be used to keep projects like SLS from being cancelled while being of limited applicability to other NASA projects. After all, after the Falcon Heavy starts launching, locking SLS into a multi-year procurement contract is probably going to be the only way to keep money funneling towards SLS contractors.

Also, from what I've been able to read online so far, NASA (along with the DOD and Coast Guard) already have some multi-year procurement capability, bit can't use it where there's significant technical risk. With NASA technical risk usually means cost-plus contracts, and cost-plus contracts combined with multi-year procurement is potentially very bad, depending on how the bill is worded.

Comment Re:It also means... (Score 2) 188

Sometimes NASA needs the flexibility to cancel contracts though, especially when a project goes drastically overbudget or is realized to be a bad investment. If this bill had been passed a few years ago, NASA would quite likely still be wasting a large chunk of its budget trying to get the Ares 1 rocket ready to launch in ~2014.

Comment Argh, not this again (Score 4, Insightful) 138

The submission and at least one of the linked articles are just silly "OMG CHINA" rabble-rousing in an attempt to justify the diversion of NASA resources from commercial providers like SpaceX towards giant white elephants like the SLS heavy-lift rocket (and the legacy contractors behind it). I've yet to see any evidence that China's supposed plans for a heavy-lift rocket are anything more than sketches from dreamy engineers, without any actual funding behind them; if anything other non-existent heavy-lift rockets like SpaceX's Falcon XX have more progress behind them.

If anything, indications so far suggest that China's space exploration plans involve the more sensible approach of assembling exploration modules in space, instead of building rarely-used mega-rockets that launch everything up at once.

Comment Re:Question... (Score 0) 168

Yup, the head of the House Appropriations CJS subcommittee in charge of NASA, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va) actually attached a clause to NASA's funding bill last year that explicitly prohibits any NASA collaboration with China. Of course, this was the same Rep. Wolf who raised a media ruckus back in 1995 when he demanded that the Clinton administration investigate claims that human fetuses were being sold in China as a health food.

Comment Re:Here are the environmental threats (Score 2) 409

That's some pretty impressive fearmongering on the part of the Environment Texas group, but if you read the actual letter from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department you'll see their supposed "objections" are actually fairly minor concerns and recommendations that they'd like SpaceX to address. If anything they're as concerned or more concerned about litter from the up to 10,000 spectators that might go to see launches than they are about the complex itself.

Comment Re:How can I tell the editors didn't RTFA? (Score 3, Informative) 409

Environment Texas also pointed out the risk the project poses to the south Texas economy. According to a 2011 Texas A&M study, nature tourism generates about $300 million a year in the Rio Grande Valley, created 4,407 full- and part-time jobs and $2.6 million in sales taxes and $7.26 million in hotel taxes. The Rio Grande Valley has been named the number two destination in North America for birdwatching and attracts visitors from all over the world to view almost 500 species of bird.

It isn't apparent from this snippet, but the Rio Grande Valley isn't some tiny valley that will be entirely dominated by SpaceX moving there. The Rio Grande Valley is actually a gigantic area composed of 4 entire counties and over 20,000 square miles. SpaceX is interested in a plot of land on the edge of that valley that occupies much less than a square mile, and will be firing its rockets (powered by oxygen and kerosene) out over the ocean.

Brownsville itself is super excited about SpaceX potentially moving there, and I suspect few if any of the people involved with this "Environment Texas" group actually live in Brownsville.

Comment Awesome comment from Buzz Aldrin (Score 1) 217

I thought this comment from Buzz Aldrin was pretty cool:

"This weekâ(TM)s successful launch and delivery of logistics supplies to the International Space Station by a U.S. commercial space company reminds us that where the entrepreneurial interests of the private sector are aligned with NASAâ(TM)s mission to explore, America wins. Falcon 9â(TM)s maiden flight to ISS â" and the other commercial space launches that lie ahead â" represent the dawn of a new era in space exploration. Nearly 43 years after we first walked on the moon, we have taken another step in demonstrating continued American leadership in space."

Comment Re:Hooray. (Score 1) 217

SpaceX intends to replace NASA in the "Moving stuff into space" department, AFAIK. I have never heard that SpaceX has any interest in building and running science probes to Pluto, or gamma ray telescopes or climate monitoring satellites

That said, SpaceX is actually collaborating with NASA Ames to potentially Dragon as a low-cost means of delivering science payloads to Mars:

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