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Comment Australia completed the first successful Scramjet (Score 5, Informative) 59

There are actually FIVE countries that have successfully tested scramjets in flight - the list should include Australia. What is more, the Australian project (HySHot run from the University of Queensland) was the FIRST successful scramjet flight (in July 2002).

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HyShot

Submission + - SpaceX touches down! (twitter.com)

RobHart writes: SpaceX has successfully landed back its Falcon 9 first stage (and delivered 11 Orbcom satellites to orbit).

Comment Re: Many thanks for the feedback (Score 1) 63

The advice given was nearly unanimous: an iOS device. So you'll try an Android since there's "an app you need that only runs on Android." So why did you ask us then? At least include all relevant information next time.

Simple reason for not including that info - I wanted to hear opinions on all possibilities, not just limited to Android. Good functionality will trump one particular App. My friend doesn't have access to that App now so continuing not to have it is not the real issue - useable, portable email and web access is much more important.

Comment Many thanks for the feedback (Score 1) 63

Many thanks for all the feedback. I will talk to the Blind Association here in Australia and then take my friend to try out a few tablets. For software reasons, I am hoping that Android will do enough on a large tablet (there's an app that doesn't run on IOS that I know he would like to have access to), but we'll go and look at iPads as well!

If there are any more comments, please do post them - I'll check back several times over the next few days.

Again, my thanks!

Robert Hart

Submission + - What tablet and software for a partially sighted person?

RobHart writes: My friend has had both retinas detach, twice. He is legally blind but partially sighted. He has a number of devices that help him read (either by magnifying the text or as text to speech) — but none are really portable. What do Slash Dotters recommend (if anything) in terms of a tablet and software that will make it possible for him to do email and read at least some web sites?

Submission + - SpaceX CRS 5 Launch successful (nasaspaceflight.com)

RobHart writes: SpaceX has successfully launched its 5th resupply mission to the ISS. At this point, the Dragon capsule is in its initial orbit with the solar panels deployed. The first stage completed its re-entry burn and we are awaiting news of its attempted landing on a barge in the Atlantix

Submission + - Virgin Galactic suborbital space plane explodes and crashes. (abc.net.au)

RobHart writes: ABC Australia is reporting:-
"United States officials are investigating the crash of a Virgin Galactic spaceship in the Mojave Desert in California, which has killed one pilot and injured another. A witness said it exploded soon after it detached from a mothership after leaving the Mojave Air and Space Port on Friday. The co-pilot of the spaceship was killed in the crash, while the pilot, who ejected, was injured, Kern County Sheriff's spokesman Ray Pruitt said."

With the explosion of the Antares rocket seconds after lift off, this week is not proving a good one for space companies.

Comment Report is from a crowd funded organisation (Score 4, Informative) 279

As a slightly different slant on this troll rousing topic, it is worth noting a few things.
1) Per capita, Australia is the worlds highest emitter of greenhouse gases as we use mostly coal to generate electricity. Furthermore, we are one of the worlds largest coal miners/exporters and so contribute significantly to global CO2 production elsewhere.
2) In September, Australia elected a new government that is predominantly in the hands of climate change deniers. The Prime Minister (Tony Abbott) is on the public record saying that climate change is "crap" (http://blogs.abc.net.au/victoria/2009/12/climate-change-is-crap-tony-abbot-said-to-the-pyrenees-advocate.html). Amongst the new government's first acts was to defund the Climate Commission (along with several other "green" initiatives of previous governments). They are also committed to repealing the existing Carbon Tax legislation, but cannot (yet) force this through the upper house (Senate) which they do not control.
3) In response to its defunding, the Climate Commission reformed itself as the Climate Council, raising around $1 million in under two weeks. Whilst not big bikkies in US terms, this is extremely significant in a small population country like Australia that demonstrates that many Australians feel very strongly about climate change - strongly enough to not only make a one off donation but to commit to regular, monthly donations to support the ongoing public information work of the Climate Council.

From their "about" page http://www.climatecouncil.org.au/about-us/
"The Climate Council is an independent non-profit organisation funded by donations by the public. Our mission is to provide authoritative, expert advice to the Australian public on climate change."

Submission + - SpaceX launches second geosynchromnous satellite in 5 weeks. (space.com)

RobHart writes: SpaceX this morning completed its second successful geosynchronous launch in 5 week, this time pushing a Thiacom communications satellite into orbit. SpaceX is turning the satellite launch market on its head, with launch costs that are fractions of its competitors (to date, principally the United Launch Alliance). Later this year, it will demonstrate its Falcon 9 Heavy rocket and during 2014 it will move closer to manned certification for the Falcon 9/Dragon combination.

Submission + - Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN) downgraded (theguardian.com)

RobHart writes: Following election promises to create a "better, cheaper, sooner" NBN, the new Australian government has reneged, announcing instead n NBN to cost $12bn more and take four years longer. The critical change is that the new network is based on Telstra's aging and unreliable copper network rather than fibre to the home as has already been delivered during the NBN roll out to date.

Comment Read John Wyndham's "The Outward Urge" (Score 1) 206

In 1959, John Wyndham (the Day of the Triffids, the Chrysalids etc) wrote a set of linked short stories about a family participating in the colonisation of space. In one of these, the USA, Russia and the UK have nuclear armed moon bases.

An interesting case of art imitating life - even if the the life was top secret at the time!

Comment Re:Somebody shake that mans hand (Score 5, Insightful) 193

If you look at the list of companies that were sued (and have settled), you will notice that none of them is an Australian company. It was Australian tax payer dollars that funded this research (and the patenting process), so just how does the Australian government tax all those non-Australain companies??? The ONLY way to do it is with patents so that the companies making money from the technology in many countries around the world pay a part of their profits back to the inventors.

As has been said, the CSIRO will use this money to fund further research - such as the "pure" radio astronomy work which resulted in this spin off piece of technology in the first place!


Comment Is Maths ability seen as relevant? (Score 1) 845

Bias up front: I am an ex academic (in engineering), bored early retiree who is now teaching senior Maths/Physics at high school (in Australia) - including 10th grade Maths. As well as being an academic, I worked in the private sector (including my own business), so I have some idea as to what I would expect of general clerical staff.

I am truly astonished that a "well educated" person could not solve the sort of problems referenced in the article. Simple Maths problems like these do not just show Mathematical capability, but also demonstrate logical reasoning skills - the sort of skills I would look for when hiring someone for a general clerical position.

That said, quite a few of my (middle to lower ability class) kids in 10th grade this year failed to meet this sort of standard, although with most of these it was lack of effort/application not innate ability that determined their outcome. Quite a few of these kids said they couldn't care less as "Maths was irrelevant" to their area of career interest (despite solid examples that demonstrated that idea to be incorrect).

I have the feeling that many kids regard Maths as hard and "you can do well without it" as a socially accepted truth. Yet we live in an increasingly technical (numerate, Mathematical) world, so I can't help but feel this widely accepted "truth" will (or quite probably already is going to) bite us in the bum: without logical, (mathematically literate) people to run our world, it will fall into a hole...

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