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Comment Re:Nothing new here (Score 1) 123

given that self driving cars cannot handle streets that have not been mapped to millimeter precision, or road constructions, or bad weather, or any of a million other real life conditions.

That's ... not how self-driving cars work. They rely on onboard sensors to follow the lane and deal with a variety of hazards. They aren't ready yet because the bar is so high, but they already work most of the time, even in bad weather with road construction.

there's no reason to believe anyone alive to day will live to see true self driving cars.

They're already here. Volvo will have 100 around the world this year (a few are already on the road in Sweden). General availability will be a few more years, but Volvo won't release them until they're safe (unlike Tesla). Self-driving functionality is a big chunk of Volvo's "no deaths in a new Volvo in 2020" plan.

Comment Re:It must really suck... (Score 1) 526

H1B's are not laying down roots, they are not getting married and having kids, they are not buying homes, and they are not making consumer purchases aside from necessities

I've known about 100 H1-B workers in my career - all but two of them were married, had kids, bought homes, made plenty of consumer purchases, eventually got their green card, and are still living here. One exception just had bad luck with his wife being laid off in an economic downturn, and they moved back to India because she really didn't want to be a stay-at-home mom. The other moved to Australia, got married, etc. etc.

Are you in "IT" and not software development?

Submission + - Texas Sets New All-Time Wind Energy Record (scientificamerican.com)

An anonymous reader writes: On December 20, a low-pressure weather system crossed through the Texas panhandle and created sustained wind speeds of 20 to 30 mph. The burst of wind propelled Texas to surpass its all-time record for wind energy production, with wind providing 45 percent of the state’s total electricity needs — or 13.9 gigawatts of electric power — at its peak.

The so-called “Competitive Renewable Energy Zones” (CREZ) wind energy transmission project is one of the key reasons Texas calls itself the national leader in wind energy today, with over double the wind generation capacity of any other state. This is a triumph of the public/private partnership.

Comment Re: Threshold (Score 1) 402

The used Honda Civic will be a better car in every way than the new 70s Malibu, is the thing.

The real argument here is that "a new car that keeps up with the Jones's" doesn't get cheaper. That's just the thing: status symbols, even small ones like a new family sedan, can never get cheaper, by definition. People complaining about how stuff doesn't get cheaper are usually talking about that. The equivalent car keeps getting cheaper, but that stops being the car that impresses over time.

Yup, no matter what happens with technology, or Socialism, or anything else economic whatsoever, it can never get cheaper to impress your neighbors with your status symbol. The upside is: that's why automation will never leave everyone jobless, as the cheaper it is, the more it fails the status test, so there's always something left to do.

Comment Am I the only one... (Score 5, Interesting) 128

.... who can't help but cheer at my screen when they nail one of those landings? Now I finally understand how sports fans feel when they watch a game and do the same thing ;)

One thing nobody can deny about them is optimism. ;) Seriously, their IPS numbers are, pardon the pun, out of this world. $200k per booster launch. $500k per tanker launch. I mean, really? Good luck with that. No, seriously, good luck with that; I won't be expecting anything close to that, but please by all means prove me wrong ;) ITS would be a great system to have, I've been playing around with some Venus trajectories with it recently. Looks like it can do a low-energy transit with nearly 300 tonnes of payload from LEO and back again with the same, over 400 if starting at a high orbit - but from an economics perspective the high energy transfers actually make more sense.

I noticed a lot of people were confused about why Musk wanted the trips to be so short and was willing to sacrifice so much payload to do so - many assumed it had to do with radiation or something. But the issue is, when your craft costs so much but your launch costs are cheap, you can't have it spending all of its time drifting in deep space, you need to get it back for a new mission as soon as possible. There's a balancing point, in that if you try to go too fast, you reduce useful payload below the point of making up for it with going faster - but a minimum energy trajectory is just not optimal when the ratio between launch costs and transit vehicle cost is so extreme. I come up with the same thing from Venus as they were getting for Mars, although for the Venus case you end up aerobraking to a highly elliptical orbit rather than to the surface for ISRU refill (you need ISRU, but for the ascent stages, so it's not realistic to do so for the return stage in the nearer term). So for Venus they get no refill like on Mars, but they also don't have to do a powered landing nor do an ascent on return - it's six of one, half a dozen of the other. Both are quite accessible with it.

Comment Re:Great strides (Score 1) 128

It depends what you mean by "refurbishing"; each element is different.

The solid rocket boosters, for example, suffered a hard impact into salt water. They then had to be fished out of the water. And of course you don't just "refill" a SRB, they have to be taken apart and recast, then put back together.

The ET is disposable, and had to be rebuilt from scratch.

The orbiter was legitimately reusable, but with design flaws.

I don't blame the shuttle program - they were sort of pigeonholed into this dead end by circumstances. The concept came about during the heyday of the Apollo Programme, when NASA budgets were serious. It was supposed to be a much more reusable, much more maintainable, and somewhat smaller system. It was supposed to then have a huge flight rate supporting all of these big projects that were on NASA's docket, including a permanent moon base and a huge manned orbital station dwarfing ISS, which was supposed to replace Skylab.

But of course, Vietnam and the realities of having soundly trounced the USSR in the space race led to their budgets being slashed, which pushed the program into ever more untenable positions until it was nothing more than a jobs programme. Forget full flyback reusability of all parts. Forget the titanium frame for the shuttle, which would have let it run hot and thus not required so sensitive of a TPS. Go begging for money and be forced to modify the design to meet Air Force requirements, pushing you into an inferior design position. On and on.

If I'd fault them for anything, it'd be for going straight for a full reusable workhorse rather than a small-scale pilot programme first. But those were the days of optimism. Optimism which only recently seems to start being regained.

Either way, the Falcon boosters are a very different beast. A vertical soft landing is hugely different from the SRBs, yet the thermal issues are far easier than with the Shuttle. And the Merlins were designed from the start under the principle of preventing the need for a full teardown. That doesn't mean that they will be cheap to reuse. But it does mean that they have the possibility of it.

I do think SpaceX had a rather clever strategy, in that while their goal was reusable, they made a rocket that in the process was cheap as a disposable. So they could get volume and flight history while working on getting the kinks out. They may have flown too close to the sun with the densified propellants and (externally) unlined COPVs, but obviously, with a company like this, their whole existence is to push the envelope.

Comment Re: Awesome (Score 3, Insightful) 128

Most of Europe agrees with you. And even the US agrees with you up through high school plus with various forms of assistance for college, including state-subsidies, particularly for state colleges, and federal subsidies (direct subsidies, tax credits, and tax breaks), roughly $80B/year each. Pell grants alone cost the government $35B.

Comment Re:Look to history (Score 5, Informative) 287

You, sir or madam, are a lying sack of dangerous shit.

Quote WebMD:

"Home Remedy No-No Number 4: Colloidal Silver

With hype and hope spread by word of mouth and the Internet, colloidal silver is believed by some to help treat a range of infections and diseases.

"People believe that colloidal silver can treat fungal infections, TB, HIV, herpes, and even cancer by boosting the immune system," says Ted Epperly, MD, president-elect of the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Unfortunately for colloidal sliver supporters, they're wrong, and the consequences of their mistake could be costly.

"One of the most well-known side effects of colloidal silver is that it turns a person's skin a greyish shade of blue," says Epperly.

The skin isn't the only organ affected by colloidal silver; so are the kidneys, stomach, and brain, as well as the nervous system. Silver is actually deposited into the cells of these organs, possibly causing cell damage and death, leading to organ failure.

"The effects of colloidal silver are toxic and cumulative," says Epperly. "Worse, they're irreversible."

Epperly urges people to ignore the hype and instead, talk to a health care provider about the proper way to treat infections and diseases.

http://www.webmd.com/women/features/5-home-remedy-no-nos#3

Comment Re:Do you know how to read? (Score 1) 402

Tehre are over a million skilled manufacturing jobs sitting unfilled in the US. There's a vast labor shortage in all the skilled trades. We're failing as a nation to enable people to take skilled blue-collar jobs. Our obsession with "everyone goes to college" is making high school worthless for half the population. The near absence of quality, reputable vocational training is really sad. But the jobs are there.

Comment Re:Kill it with fire (Score 1) 526

A visa program where you get into the US by having a company sponsor you for a professional job is a good thing - it's sold evidence you'll be a net-contributor to the system. But it needs to covert to a green card quickly. If the median H1-B holder got a green card in 1-2 years, it would be fine. But now its, what, 3-5 years depending on whether you have a master's? Too long; allows for too much exploitation.

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