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Comment Re:No one should be blamed for the spread of virus (Score 1) 341

There is no vaccine for HIV yet.

Not for lack of trying. Scientists have been working on it for years, and a few hopefuls made it to clinical trials, but nothing has proven reliable yet. HIV mutates like crazy - no matter what scientists come up with, the virus always manages to evolve a workaround. It's so adaptable that even when treating a single patient with antiretrovirals, the drugs have to be changed after a time because the virus evolves resistance.

Comment Re:AIDS in the 1970s (Score 1) 341

There's also the evolutionary psychology angle: The optimal reproductive strategy differs. Men have the option of fathering a vast number of offspring and potentially abandoning them, while women can produce only a small number and so have a reason to hold out for the most-fit partner. As the post below explains. I would expect it to be a combination of biological and social factors.

Comment Re:AIDS in the 1970s (Score 1) 341

This statistic fails the basic sanity check: It's simply too high to be believable without some overwhelming evidence.

I've seen studies mentioned claiming to show that gay men have more sexual partners than straight men. I've never actually looked into the question myself so I don't know how reliable they are, but it does seem very plausible. But 200+ sexual partners a year? That wouldn't leave enough time to hold down a job. You'd have to devote your leisure time entirely to the task of getting laid, touring the seediest gay clubs every evening - and you'd have to keep moving between them to gain access to new partners. That's assuming you pair up with each one exactly once, no repeats, and who would want that?

Maybe you could find a couple of men who are just that dedicated to making the high score table, but 'not uncommon' is ridiculous.

Comment Re:The ship (Score 1) 221

A manned mars mission would run about eighteen months on the surface, as that's how the launch window line up.

The equipment needed for eighteen months would also be far too bulky to land safely, so it would have to be done with multiple landings: One manned, many unmanned 'cargo pods' full of supplies and equipment. Such a mission would probably include a small farm - not just for a bit more food, but for research.

It doesn't matter how you plan it, there's no escaping that even the most basic flag-planting mission to Mars is going to be tremendously expensive.

Comment Re:It sounds more attractive with every detail (Score 1) 221

Look at the options though.
Option one: Enjoy a long, healthy life on earth. Raise a family if you can. Grow old. Spent the last decade of your life in a care home as your mind decays before dying of natural causes. Your immediate family will mourn you for a few years, but in the end you will leave no legacy but a headstone.
Option two: Volunteer for the mars colony mission in thirty years and head off. Spend your life advancing mankind, breaking new ground, and solving exciting problems on the frontier. Enjoy seeing the whole world follow the exploits of you and your team, via somewhat-delayed radio link. Die of radiation-induced cancer ten years later because Mars' medical facilities are still lacking compared to those of Earth. Have a mountain named after you.

Lots of people will pick option two. You're dead either way in the end.

Comment Re:No Von Neuman Machines yet (Score 1) 221

What available resources? Mars has no petrochemicals. It's very rich in iron, which is certainly nice, and I'm sure there are other metals you can find and mine - but doing so needs industrial machines, and smelting/refining equipment, and a lot of power.

I do think that eventual colonisation is a worthwhile goal to pursue. In the spirit of exploration, and advancement, and as insurance against a possible planet-wide disaster. But I also know that realistically, it's probably going to be the single most expensive project in the history of mankind to date and on a time scale of a century or more. But this is the time to start laying the foundations that later generations will build upon. I don't expect to see a self-sustaining mars colony any time soon, but someone has to start the project - even knowing they won't see it finished.

Right now, those foundations mean developing a safer, more reliable and cheaper means of getting there and landing, and eventually a limited-duration manned research mission. Small steps, but the eager potential-Martians of 2080 will thank us for laying the groundwork.

Comment Re:I have one of those watches (Score 1) 425

They are not complex, but they are precision - tolerances are tiny fractions of a millimeter. On parts that can wear down over time, or corrode, or get coated in dust. This is why responsible gun owners recognize the importance of maintaining their gun. If you buy a gun for self-defense and just leave it sitting by the bed for ten years, when someone really does come to rob your house it may well just jam. Or explode and take your fingers off.

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