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Comment Re:...and lunges at you (Score 2) 63

I can just imagine some rogue programmer installing the following on it:

1) As big of a battery pack as it can carry as "payload", strapped to its back.
2) Facial recognition software that measures the number of and distance to any people recorded by its camera
3) Modern neural net, trained by being rewarded when the actions it takes lead to 1) it approaching other people, and 2) people fleeing from it.

' ... and then setting it loose in the streets.

Comment Re:we can't even be bothered to get that right.... (Score 2) 144

Another option apart from orbit is going to L2 and back, if they want to basically "hover" with the moon blocking the Earth, right on the cusp of drifting away from the Earth-Moon system and into a free orbit around the sun. They'd be the first people ever to go there. It's 3.5km/s outbound, 0.6km/s back. Or if they want a long-duration stay (~100d) they can get back by the interplay of the Sun-Earth-Moon system for only 0.1 km/s (in the process going way far away from Earth).. There's probably some such returns with intermediary dV and durations as well.

But obviously a free return trajectory is the lowest energy. If I recall correctly Apollo's burn was ~3.2 km/s

Comment Re:sigh (Score 1) 105

that would be an interesting twist: lots of new beachfront property.

As opposed to what is going to happen, which is lots of old properties become beachfront :)

Well, maybe you're right, but even if this was something of a 1970s meme, the fact was that it was at best a view held by all a minority of researchers, and even those researchers weren't proposing that Ice Age was going to happen any time soon, save perhaps in geological time.

Comment Re:sigh (Score 1) 105

It sounds more like anecdotal claims of dubious merit to me. I've suspected for several years now that posters who proclaim that they were told this by college profs were either exaggerating or simply making it up, basing it on something they read elsewhere on the Internet. As it is, even the article I mention suggests that, at the time, there were some legitimate fears that sulfur dioxide aerosols from industrial pollution could lead to cooling, but that that view was only held by a minority of climatologists, and never really seems to have been viewed by the wider scientific community as a significant issue. Fifty years ago, the research was much as it is today, that human CO2 emissions will trap more energy in the lower atmosphere and lead to surface warming. In reality, AGW is about as controversial in the scientific community as biological evolution or Big Bang cosmology.

Comment Re:Onward to Venus [Re:Moon- not perfect, but has. (Score 1) 330

That's an old graphic, but yes, we have an excellent artist aboard. Of course, they mostly want to go for what looks the most aesthetically pleasing, while I'm always niggling on the technical details ;) The conversations usually go like,

"But.... you can't have people living there, the ballonets are going to expand into that when they launch the ascent stage... either the ballonets are going to dramatically expand or the habitat is going to dramatically collapse, take your pick. And if you store the ascent stage that close, it's going to destroy the whole habitat if there's a mishap while it's fueled. And how can I possibly fit all of that floor area into the fairing? Plus I don't see any scrubber for ISRU... it's going to need to be big, I'm struggling to get the absorption figures to work for sufficient resource collection with a 4.2 meter prop....." ;) But really, so long as their final graphics don't end up with a giant pirate flag or anything like that, I'm sure we can deal with a bit of "artistic license" :)...

Oh wait a minute, I just noticed your username. Geoffrey.landis? As in, the Geoffrey Landis? Oh wow, hey, we should chat some time. ;) (bare minimum, I at least need to ask for permission to reproduce some figures from a few of your papers). If you get a chance, definitely drop me a line at mQeme@eaQku.neQt (remove Qs to despammify). I actually just dropped by Slashdot as a break in the middle of working on some graphics illustrating non-Hohmann transfer times vs. delta-V between Earth, Mars and Venus, demonstrating the advantage Venus has due to the Oberth effect ;)

Comment Re:The benefits of Single Payer (Score 1) 111

I can only speak to the work I've done in a fairly small project that merged multiple sources and creating a set of file formats and protocols to communicate changes. It certainly wasn't trivial even in my case, and working with vendors to create interfaces in their own applications to work with these protocols could be a challenge. I suppose in many instances with aging infrastructure, you may also be dealing with fairly old systems where finding expertise to actual build interfaces could be a problem. But the theory I was operating under is that you create a common environment that discrete systems can push to and pull from was still a lot cheaper and manageable than telling everyone involved "We're moving you over to a new system".

It seems rather odd to me, as a person who comes from a networking background, that there would be this obsession over running the identical application, or running a centralized application, in all agencies or departments, is necessary or even desirable. The world I started out my professional life in was dominated by networking protocols, whether we're talking low-level data exchange protocols like TCP/IP or NETBIOS or higher level protocols like SMTP. One never really expected that all front end applications would function the same, or possibly even do precisely the same things, but you built message-exchanging protocols, databases and file formats that captured the data and activities that could at a minimum be expected by all the front-facing high level applications, and then the only problem you might have to deal with is where one particular application didn't support all the necessary features.

This monolithic system approach just seems so very 1950s-1960s to me, and suffers the same kinds of problems that older approach often had, with too many critical failure points that would simply bring an entire system down, where having a distributed system with multiple independent or semi-independent nodes meant that failures were at least limited, and the wider system could still function. It strikes me that the current drive in many governments towards monolithic centralized CRM-style applications is the product of both heavy sales pressure from big guys like HP and Oracle, and a lack of perspective and experience by organizational IT decision-makers.

Comment Re:Rockets are too expensive (Score 1) 330

1) It's about 7% of what NYC consumes, not 10%. NYC being only a tiny fraction of total US demand, which is in turn just a fraction of world demand. Global electricity production averages around 15 TW.

500MW is a moderate sized power plant. Not even a large one. It's nothing that impressive. Cost of such a plant is 500M-$1,5B, which is nothing by rocketry standards.

2) That's not 500MW to stand idle; that's 500MW to launch 175 tonnes per day. That's 68.5kWh per kilogram. $7 of electricity per kilogram. Oooh, what a terrible waste of power.

3) If that's too much, the larger version uses significantly less per kilogram.

Is there some reason to get so much mass out of this gravity well

Do you seriously have to ask what sort of market there would be for ~$800 tickets to orbit? I'm sorry, but we're not talking "for the wealthy", we're talking for everyone at those prices.

Comment Re:sigh (Score 2) 105

From what I can gather, the actual researchers suggesting a new Ice Age were not talking in fact about an imminent return of continent-spanning glaciers. That was hyperbole by science journalists of the time. This is why I find people who make claims of the state of any area of research based upon what some science reporter in a newspaper or magazine writes is a pretty dubious activity. Science journalists, to put it bluntly, spend their days sexing up often rather mundane or esoteric research into something that can produce "wow-pow!" headline, often betraying their own ignorance of the research in question.

Comment Re:sigh (Score 1) 105

And once again, what does the musings of a Law Professor in 1970 have to do with the state of the science in 1970? I don't give a flying f--- about 1970 climate zeitgeist. That's not the claim. The claim is clearly that climatologists in the 1970s believed the world was entering a new glacial period soon.

According to Skeptical Science, there were something like seven research papers in the period mentioning cooling, as opposed to over forty talking about temperature rises due to CO2.

The Skeptical Science entry goes further to suggest that some of the reasons some researchers were positing cooling was due to SO2 releases at the time. One can debate whether those releases would have slowed temperature increases, but seeing as that SO2 limits were put in place, that's rather a moot point.

So what we have is a few alarmist articles of the period, little of their content apparently based on climatology research even at the time, and the usual anecdotal claims of "I remember my professor/teacher/some guy on TV saying the ice age was coming." In other words, no, few if any climatologists actual thought there was an ice age, and by that point, even 45-47 years ago, global warming due to human CO2 emissions was seen as a real phenomenon.

Comment Re:sigh (Score 3, Insightful) 105

Do you have any citations in peer reviewed literature from the period? Do you think a Time Magazine article quoting a fucking law professor somehow constitutes an expansive statement on the view of climatologists in 1970?

JEsus Christ, the extent the deniers will go to is just fucking stunning. Since the heyday of the Creationists, it's hard to imagine a more motivated, and yet more fundamentally moronic group of people than the web forum climate skeptic.

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