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Comment Yes, the tech already exists... (Score 1) 90

The answer is yes. The technology to detect the difference has been around for over a decade, but it's not in any iris scanner for security that I'm aware of.

My Mom and Dad (yes, both of them, this one was actually Mom's idea), hold a patent on a method for using a laser and optical system to measure a bunch of things about the eyeball, including intraocular pressure. It's sensitive enough to not only measure the internal eyeball pressure, but you can very easily see the pulse, and with a bit of clever math, it's even possible to use it to generate a non-contact blood pressure measurement.

So, in short, It's certainly possible to tell the difference between a live eyeball and a dead one in ways that are pretty difficult, and certainly cumbersome, to fake, if you care enough to do so. Combining this with some other methods could easily result in a very accurate system that would also be very hard to spoof...

Comment Re: They'll say anything (Score 1) 659

Yeah, seems everyone took out their camera that night to film either the rising fireball or the celebrations about it ;) The rebels have tried several times to assault it in the past but always been beaten back. Reports on why it exploded are conflicting; one early report suggested that a helicopter full of explosives crashed on a warehouse in the complex. Firefighters from Assad-controlled areas all over Aleppo were called in because the al-Safirah fire department was overwhelmed, but they couldn't get close due to the intensity of the flames and risk of further explosions. A number of people living in the vicinity of the factories were admitted to the hospital on poisoning symptoms from the fumes.

It's now an open question as to how much they're going to be able to salvage and get back in operation; no question that's going to be top priority for them at this point.

Comment Re: They'll say anything (Score 1) 659

Oh, and I don't want to sound like the coalition hasn't done anything bad. They've actually had their worst incident in quite some time (perhaps the worst during this entire conflict) during the SDF siege of Manbij, after misidentifying a crowd as fleeing Daesh fighters; they killed dozens of civilians (including a number of children), with some reports over 80. That was about a week ago. Much of the Syrian opposition issued a unified demand that they stop the bombing (even though they're also fighting Daesh). They've long been very uncomfortable with how close the coalition is working with the SDF (Kurds, primarily) - they accuse the Kurds of ethnic cleansing arab villages in order to build "Rojava" (their Kurdish state in Syria)

I'm trying to think of the last time they specifically hit a hospital however. They recently captured the hospital in Manbij, but it wasn't bombed in the process.

(Honestly, if you asked the opposition the worst thing they'd done, the NySA would probably argue that it was abandoning them right as the assault on Al-Bukamal began, in order to pursue the Daesh convoy fleeing from Fallujah... they and their sleeper cells really got slaughtered because of that one)

Comment Re: They'll say anything (Score 5, Informative) 659

I follow the Syrian conflict very closely and there's a new hospital or clinic hit by airstrikes about once a week on average... sometimes more, sometimes less. It's not always clear which airforce (Syrian or Russian) is doing it, but more often than not when the distinction can be determined it's Russian. There was a multiple clinic hit in Idlib about a week ago, while an ambulance was hit in Aleppo 4 days ago.

It's really a meat grinder over there :(

A lot of the time the hits on civilian targets are accidental. Sometimes they're on purpose. Most of what Russia uses, and virtually all of what the Syrian air force uses, are "dumb bombs". For the past month the vast majority of Russia's air power has been directed at north Aleppo (Handaraat / al-Mallah, primarily), so there's been a great amount of white phosphorus and cluster bombs, but in denser-populated areas near Castello Road they use a lot more high explosives. So there's a lot of potential for accidental hits. On the other hand, in many cases it's hard to interpret the attacks as anything but deliberate attacks, particularly on hospitals that are treating wounded rebels - multiple hits on the same target, targets with no conflict in the immediate area, with no obvious targets of value nearby, etc. They do a lot of "double tap" hits on them as well.

Just in case anyone isn't aware... this isn't "ISIS" that they're focusing on. Daesh (ISIS) doesn't exist in Aleppo, let alone Idlib (further), let alone Latakia (even further), let alone the freaking Jordanian border which they've been bombing recently much to the anger of the Pentagon (whose "New Syrian Army" is there trying to take Al-Bukamal from Daesh and cut off Daesh traffic to and from Iraq). When they do bomb Daesh, it''s overwhelmingly in two areas: Palmyra and Deir ez Zour. The latter is a Syrian government pocket in the middle of Daesh territory that they've been struggling to hang onto for a long time, against constant assault. The former is well known. One exception: the government forces, with some Russian air support, tried an assault from Ithyria toward the Daesh city of al-Taqbah, but they were basically baited into a trap and suffered massive losses. They retreated back to Ithriya and haven't retried since then.

Oh, and while we're talking about Syria, two things of mention:

1) The massive "factory of death" southwest of al-Safira exploded last week, with a huge earthquake that rattled houses 50km away, was visible 75km away and audible 100km away. Hopefully that'll reduce the barrel bomb and elephant rocket attacks... at least somewhat...

2) There's a lot of chatter that Nusra is imminently going to break with al-Qaeda. This would be huge if it happens, but I'll trust it when I see it.

Comment Re:Here's more credible evidence of Trump-Russia t (Score 2) 659

A more assertive US? From the guy who wants the US to leave Ukraine to Russia, and overrode the Republican party on the platform issue? Stating that he wants to give Putin a free hand in Syria? Insists that there's no evidence that he kills journalists, political opponents and invades countries? The guy who's exchanged repeated back-and-forth praise with Putin on the campaign trail, with fawning language like "It is always a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond" and "a very bright and strong leader"... so much of a bromance that people in Eastern Europe have started painting murals? Are you talking about the same Donald Trump here?

Comment Re:XKCD Predicted this (Score 1) 68

The sad thing is that Spirit could still be with us today too if things had played out differently. When Spirit got stuck a lot of their early attempts to get out so that they could get to a good wintering grounds were in vain. However, right near the end they came up with a clever way to "swim" the wheels through the sand and were nearly out when winter hit and they had to leave it in a poor location... where it failed to wake up the next spring, most likely due to excessively low internal temperatures.

Curiosity is great, but the cost of Curiosity-style rovers is just so high. When I think of all that could be done with the Mars 2020 budget (Curiosity-style clone).... ugh. I would have rathered they make incremental improvements to a Spirit / Opportunity style design than a Curiosity one. Maybe more / larger radiothermal heaters so that they're not as cold-sensitive and improved wheels and flash storage, for example. Get their price down to ~$350M USD per mission (from $410M/rover for Spirit & Opportunity) rather than 2,1 billion USD per mission (aka Mars 2020, down from $2,5M for Curiosity). Send a new pair for $700M with new sets of instruments to new areas, save $1,4 billion, and put, say, $800M toward a new Titan mission and $600M to a new Venus mission.

I just don't like how Mars keeps becoming more and more of a money pit that sucks the funds from exploration of every other part of the solar system.

Comment Re:Headphone Jack is Pretty Crappy (Score 5, Insightful) 504

Indeed, I've never had a modern 3,5mm headphone port wear out. I've had a lot of micro-USB ports wear out. : And it's only logical that would be the case, the electrodes on the headphone port are far more robust than those on a micro-USB port.

I know that the standard response to "3,5mm port removal is the feature that nobody requested" is "it'll be painless and we'll be able to use the extra space to more useful internal hardware without having to make the phone bigger". But just ignoring the "painless" thing... how much more "capability" can you add in such a little space? That's enough for what, maybe 5% more battery time?

Maybe I'm wierd, but I couldn't give a rat's arse how thick a phone is... I just want it to be robost and not a big headache.

Comment Re:Much better source of Hydrogen (Score 4, Interesting) 71

There's actually a plausible case for bringing hydrogen back from Venus (not Jupiter) - it's highly deuterium-enriched (~150-240x Earth) due to the great amount of hydrogen loss to space over the planet's history. If further enriched in-situ (using the local abundant energy resources), it could be exported back to Earth. And there's a pretty clever way to do in-situ enrichment as well: whatever facility you're operating is going to need nighttime energy storage. Electrolysis has a very strong enrichment factor. If you wire your fuel cell stack in a cascade, you're enriching the deuterium at the same time you're storing electricity, and hence getting it for "free" (only the cost of the cascaded plumbing versus a simpler linear approach). There's also potential for enrichment on the recombination side.

Exporting from Venus is (obviously) not economically viable at present, however; you need the total costs to get the return product** to be under $1k per kg. ~$2k/kg if you had to return some hydrogen-bearing material anyway (such as plastic containers) and returned deuterated versions instead. But there could well be a potential case in the distant future for importing hydrogen.

** Costs include in-situ propellant (and potentially drop tank) production for launch, fueling the cycler, deorbit costs at Earth, and of course maintenance of everything involved, not least capital cost amortization if you want to be fair.

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