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Comment Re:Maybe I'm missing something. . . (Score 1) 44

Most of SpaceX's launches are for private companies. And their real profit plan is satellite internet; these random couple dozen launches per year for the government and private companies is nothing compared to the value of being able to provide cheap high speed internet access everywhere on Earth without having to lay wires. But that requires thousands of satellites to be launched.

Interestingly enough, this also appears to be Blue Origin's profit plan, via their work with OneWeb.

Comment Re:The actual real problem with Mars... (Score 4, Insightful) 44

What's the problem with SpaceX getting government launch contracts? No, seriously. They're charging less than ULA and thus saving the government a ton of money. What's your huge problem with saving money and having the money that is spent go to a company that's focused on great things rather than some conglomerate of huge military-industrial giants?

I've never understood this animosity.

Comment Re:Netflicks? (Score 1) 67

People still pay for that stuff? Why?

You do know there are streaming sites out there which remove all the commercials, offer closed captioning, and a selectable quality from 360p-1080p.

I would be totally cool with a working Netflix plugin for my linux-based Kodi installation. I have no problem handing Netflix a tenner every month just to get reliable access to the content they host.

Comment Re:Huh? I use these all the time. (Score 1) 226

This gets down to something that used to be a common UI design principle before software became so feature-ful it became impractical: manifest interface.

The idea of a manifest interface (which also is a principle in language and API design) is that if the software has a capability you should be able to see it. You shouldn't have to root around to stumble upon it. Tabs follow this principle; there's enough visual and behavioral cues to suggest that you need to click on a tab. The little "x" in the tab also follows this principle.

But context menus you access by right-clicking break this rule, which means that there may be millions of people laboriously clicking on "x" after "x", unaware that they can make all the extraneous tabs in their browser disappear with just two clicks.

This, by the way, is why Macintoshes were designed with one button on the mouse. But even Mac UI designers couldn't get by with just single and double-click, so you have option-click too, bit by in large you could operate most programs without it.

Anyhow, to make sure people know about this kind of feature, your program is going to have to watch their behavior and suggest they try right clicking. But that way lies Clippy...

Comment Re:think of the children! (Score 3, Interesting) 143

Actually yes. Scientific or not, a list short enough for kids to learn in grade school is a damn good idea

Well, then, it's time to start teaching that there's only 8 rivers in the world, and all others are dwarf rivers and don't count as rivers. And 8 bones in the human body, the rest being dwarf bones that aren't really bones. And 8 particles in physics, and all others dwarf particles and don't count as particles. And 8 galaxies in the universe.... you get the picture.

. And for fuck's sake, Pluto and the other KBOs ARE DIFFERENT ENOUGH from the asteroids

Since we're apparently going into shouting mode, Pluto IS FAR MORE LIKE THE TERRESTRIAL PLANETS THAN THE TERRESTRIAL PLANETS ARE LIKE THE GAS GIANTS. If anything should be kicked out of the planet club, it's the gas giants.

The issue isn't whether KBOs should have their own classification. They do: KBOs. The question is whether it makes sense to group dissimilar objects (terrestrial planets and gas giants) but artificially exclude other objects in hydrostatic equilibrium, objects with active geology, internal differentiation, fluids, and all of the other hallmarks we associate with planets. Nature has given us a very clear dividing line: objects in hydrostatic equilibrium are where you go to see tectonics, mineralization, fluids, search for life, etc, while objects not in hydrostatic equilibrium are where you go to learn about the formation of the solar system, find its building blocks, learn about what life was built from, etc. Nature rarely gives us such meaningful dividing lines, but in this case, it has, and we should respect it.

Comment Re:No (Score 2) 143

Well, the current definition is "cleared the neighborhood" (despite how much that they like to pretend that it actually says "gravitationally dominant"). And Earth most definitely has not cleared its moon. So....

Actually, by that definition, Earth isn't a moon, either, as it doesn't orbit something defined as a planet. Earth would be a "small solar system body".

Comment Re:The devil needed an escape route (Score 1) 282

I apparently missed where the Falcons got declared Superbowl champs by being several points down at the end of the game but being declared the winner by an arcane system that values points scored in the last quarter at several times the value of points scored in the other quarters - an arcane system created because the Founding Fathers of American Football didn't trust referees.

But honestly I don't say it to complain about your crazy rules. I say it because I think it's hilarious how much it ticks him off that a majority of Americans who voted didn't vote for him, to the degree that he went into full Alex Jones Conspiracy mode trying to find some reason why he didn't actually lose the popular vote ;) I've never before seen such a fragile snowflake in charge of a major power. The not being able to get over the fact that his inauguration crowd was so much smaller than Obama's was the funniest part, to the point of ordering the parks service to try to find more pictures to try to prove that it wasn't. "Dude: Let It Go Seriously." It's like saying "We won the football match, but they didn't declare me MVP, it's a conspiracy!" Dude, you won, what the hell are you complaining about? Go put a pen in your tiny hand and sign all those bills you've been wanting to sign and indulge in the moment. How can you be complaining about winning? How on earth is your victory walk an angry time? Yeah, a lot of people don't like you. Golly gee wilickers, I can't figure out why! Toughen up, buttercup, you're the f'ing president.

Comment Re:Making NASA Great Again (Score 5, Informative) 282

Actually the Wikipedia article on the National Aeronautics and Space Act has an interesting list of the legislation's priorities, starting with priority #1:

The expansion of human knowledge of phenomena in the atmosphere and space;

Historically speaking the act, which was signed into law in July of 1958, was a reaction to the "Sputnik Crisis" created by the Soviet launch of an artificial satellite eight months earlier in October of 1957 -- an act which filled Americans with awe and a little dread, knowing that a Soviet device was passing overhead every 96 minutes.

So arguably NASA was founded to achieve preeminence in Earth orbit, not necessarily manned space exploration, which isn't mentioned at all in the legislation. Yuri Gagarin's Vostok 1 flight was still three years in the future, and JFKs Rice Moon Speech followed a year and a half after that. That speech is well worth watching, by the way, if all you've ever seen is the "We choose to go to the moon" line.

Manned exploration of the outer solar system wasn't really what the founding of NASA was all about; in fact manned spaceflight has only a single mention in the unamended 1958 text:

... the term "aeronautical and space vehicles" means aircraft, missiles, satellites, and other space vehicles, manned and unmanned, together with related equipment, devices, components, and parts.

The main focus of NASA at its founding was to provide a single agency to coordinate space and spaced-based research, which at the time would have been largely (although not exclusively) Earth-focused.

Comment Re:Stop discussing vaporware (Score 1) 243

In this particular case, when we are discussing something with immediate consumer applications

Not in the slightest. It takes many years to turn a lab battery tech into a commercial product. Li-ions took over a decade.

Yes, I get it, it is vaporware.

No, it's a lab demonstration. You embarrass yourself by not knowing the difference.

There may be 10-20 people in the world, who are sufficiently well-versed in the topic.

Nonsense, there are tens of thousands of people actively researching advanced batteries, and orders of magnitude who are otherwise well versed in the topic.

So, why is he doing a press release?

He's not "doing a press release". He published a peer reviewed paper (sent in October, accepted in December). Peer reviewed - read: reviewed by people knowledgeable in the field. Published in a respectable journal. All of this is exactly what scientists are supposed to do. The university he worked for made a press release about the publication of his paper, which is what Universities do constantly. There is literally nothing about this that is unusual.

Whether or not we comprehend the theory of it — or whether the theory will even be published.

I've ceased being interested in this paper and am now far more fascinated with the device you're using to post on Slashdot from the past.

Comment Re: Stop discussing vaporware (Score 1) 243

It's a nice snarky response, but not appropriate for lab technologies. Lab prototypes are not exactly like commercial cells; they tend to be heavy and/or require a lot of supporting hardware and/or are sensitive to their operating conditions and/or other issues. The potential of a technology that's been researched in the lab requires analysis; turning it into finished commercial products takes money. You can't just say "send me a working battery" as if things pop straight from lab tech to some sealed product that blows refined commercial products off the market.

Thankfully, at least from reading the paper, the tech being utilized here doesn't sound particularly complicated to build. Hopefully there will be some outside attempts to reproduce it soon. If outside attempts confirm the results, then it can start to come time to think about making it into actual battery products. Although they're going to need to have a firm understanding of exactly what's going on in order to be able to optimize it. If outside attempts can't reproduce it? Then there's a good chance it'll go down the cold fusion route.

Comment Re:Really? (Score 3, Informative) 243

The argument is that when charged you have lithium metal on the anode and nothing on the cathode; when discharged you have the same lithium metal coated onto the cathode, but the cathode being otherwise unchanged (no reaction); and therefore you've just moved the lithium and not done any work.

It'd be a valid argument, but only if they can prove that there is no work needed to strip the lithium from the cathode. If there is a charge gradient providing a force that has to be resisted to remove the lithium, then it takes work to remove it, and there's no thermodynamic argument.

I personally don't feel qualified to assess whether there's any merit to either side.

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