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Comment Re:Im not trying to be that guy.. (Score 1) 112

No, hydrazine does not need an oxidiser: it's a monopropellant.

Schiaparelli had three 17.5 litre tanks, each filled with 15kg of hydrazine. There was also a 15.6 litre tank of high-pressure helium used to keep the hydrazine under pressure during firing.

Would it hurt people to occasionally do some research before contributing to the general drivel that Slashdot has become?

Schiaparelli's fuel tanks are filled

Hydrazine as a rocket fuel

Comment Re:Thankfully NASA took the pictures (Score 1) 112

Speaking from the ESA team that co-published those MRO CTX pictures yesterday, your assertions are nonsense and need correcting.

There was a fully coordinated operation in place to track the lander during its descent, using the GMRT in Pune, India, our own Mars Express spacecraft, NASA's MRO, and the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter itself, while data came down through our ESTRACK network and NASA's DSN. The Opportunity rover also in Meridiani Planum took images during the descent, but it was known that that would only possibly work if the lander came down at the long end of the landing ellipse: in the event, the targetting was fine, and it came down within ~5km of the centre of the ellipse.

All agencies and partners cooperated fully, as we always do when it comes to Mars (and other solar system) operations, and all data were released as soon as they were available and analysed, including from our own assets. Nobody has been withholding anything beyond the reasonable time needed to analyse the data: we're less than 3 days past the Schiaparelli entry and descent, and a lot of information is already available. The various teams involved are working day and night to understand the complex data.

The MRO CTX images were pre-planned, regardless of a successful landing or not, and were made available by NASA to the ExoMars project team as soon as possible. A number of meetings and joint telecons were held yesterday to analyse and agree on their content to the extent possible (CTX is fairly low resolution: much better information will come via HiRISE when it targets the site next week), and to agree on a time to release them.

Indeed, at ESA, we were working very hard yesterday to publish them jointly as soon as possible, in order to make them available to the European media for last night's news. Due to the timezone different to California, it was challenging for NASA to get the images and accompanying text approved by then, but we're very grateful that they worked hard to make that possible.

Finally, remember that we deliberately sent Schiaparelli there as a test demonstrator. We successfully carried out the hypersonic entry and supersonic parachute deployment phases, prior to the apparent failure during the thruster phase, and telemetry during the whole descent down to the surface were recorded and are back on Earth. Yes, we're obviously very disappointed that we didn't manage the final phase, but we will learn from the data. We also successfully put the main scientific mission, the Trace Gas Orbiter, into orbit around Mars.

We have not withheld information: we've been as open as possible throughout. I'm sure that the truth of the matter won't dissuade you of your "NASA great, ESA bad" opinion, but sometimes it's important to lay out the real story for others to judge.

Bottom line is that Mars was, is, and will always remain hard.

Comment Re:If the point was ... (Score 4, Insightful) 334

There's no proof that it has anything to do with Wikileaks, but in a world of IoT devices with no thought toward security, anyone who cares to do so can mount DDOS with the power of a national entity.

What's the point of doing what Assange and Wikileaks have been doing without any moral position? He isn't helping his own case.

Comment Re:Legal? (Score 2) 281

No, of course it is not legal to set a trap to intentionally hurt someone, even if you expect that the trap could only be activated by the person committing property theft or vandalism. Otherwise, you'd see shotguns built into burglar alarms.

Fire alarm stations sometimes shoot a blue dye which is difficult to remove or one which only shows under UV. Never stand in front of one when pulling the lever! But they are not supposed to hurt you.

And of course these booby traps generally are not as reliable as the so-called "inventor" thinks and tend to hurt the innocent.

Comment Re:So, what's Soylent really about? (Score 1) 207

Like Boost, too much simple sugar.

Water, Corn Maltodextrin, Sugar, Blend of Vegetable Oils (Canola, Corn), Milk Protein Concentrate, Soy Protein Isolate, Cocoa Powder (Processed with Alkali). Less than 0.5% of: Nonfat Milk, Magnesium Phosphate, Sodium Citrate, Soy Lecithin, Natural & Artificial Flavor, Calcium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Cellulose Gum, Potassium Citrate, Choline Chloride, Ascorbic Acid, Cellulose Gel, Carrageenan, Salt, Ferric Phosphate, dl-Alpha-Tocopheryl Acetate, Zinc Sulfate, Niacinamide, Manganese Sulfate, Calcium Pantothenate, Copper Sulfate, Thiamine Chloride Hydrochloride, Vitamin A Palmitate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Folic Acid, Biotin, Chromium Chloride, Sodium Molybdate, Sodium Selenate, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin B12, Phylloquinone, and Vitamin D3.

Comment Re:So, what's Soylent really about? (Score 1) 207

The closest would be Boost Plus, which still comes in short on calories and way too much simple sugar. Look at the ingredients!

Water, Corn Syrup, Sugar, Vegetable Oil (Canola, High Oleic Sunflower, Corn), Milk, Protein Concentrate, Cocoa Processed with Alkali, and Less than 1% of: Calcium Caseinate, Soy Protein Isolate, Sodium Caseinate, Gum Acacia, Fructooligosaccharides, Potassium Citrate, Inulin (from Chicory), Soy Lecithin, ...

Comment Re:So, what's Soylent really about? (Score 1) 207

First, you're not realizing what I bill those customers. I don't want to wave money around on Slashdot but I assure you, you too would drink an unoffensive bottle of Soylent for that much. The main thing it buys me is freedom, and there is no shortage of pleasure coming from that. I can work on what I want most of the time, or not work, if I just keep a few of those customers.

Second, you can't have any of the real pleasures in life without your health. You are evolved to be attracted to foods that would have been infrequent windfalls throughout most of the evolution of human beings. Now, you can have them for every meal, and your body is sending you the signals to do so despite the fact that those foods will ultimately be detrimental to you. If you are still compelled to eat them, there's a pretty good chance that's the addiction talking.

Comment So, what's Soylent really about? (Score 4, Insightful) 207

I have some customers in San Jose, and live in Berkeley. Given the horrid traffic and the lack of good trains with little hope that BART's Silicon Valley extension will be done within a decade, I get up at 5AM when it's necessary to work at these customer sites, hit the road by 5:30, and head home around 1 PM.

Obviously, that doesn't leave time for a leisurely breakfast. So, a cold bottle of Soylent 2.0 just out of the 'fridge is about my best option while driving. Warm Soylent doesn't actually seem that much worse, and I've used that during long drives when the alternative would have been fast food.

Yes, I get paid enough to compensate for all of this.

Soylent 2.0 tastes OK, but not so good that you'd eat it just for the taste. It takes care of physical needs and doesn't do anything nasty to my gastrointestinal system. I do not attempt to use it as a total food replacement.

Consuming Soylent, though, leads one to think about how food flavors and other characteristics of food are evolved or engineered to manipulate us, and how this is a dependence or addiction and perhaps the largest cause of health issues in our lives.

Comment Re: Why is it preposterous? (Score 1) 230

About 61% nationally of fatal crashes involve only one vehicle. The NHTSA says here that in about 70% of fatal single-vehicle crashes, the automobile ran off of the road. This is low-hanging fruit for computer driving to achieve a safety improvement.

98% acceptance? Probably 40 years from the first deployment of true autonomous systems. The rich and businesses go first. Just as luxury cars and long-haul trucks have always been the first to get almost any safety feature.

Comment Re: Why is it preposterous? (Score 1) 230

So, California conditions other than the mountains. Not a problem for me, and an obvious good place to start.

Regarding cost, they're prototypes. If the system adds $30,000 to the cost of the vehicle, it would be cost-effective for a lot of people here. I doubt it has to add that much.

Comment Re: Why is it preposterous? (Score 1) 230

Sure but computers have a long way to go before their weaknesses don't overshadow their strengths in a way that amounts to being safer than a human.

I am wondering. People are good at inferring data from context. A ball bouncing into the street is liable to be followed by a child. A wobbly tire might be about to blow out and cause another car to veer suddenly. That sound might indicate a train coming.

Are these inferences not trainable? For certain image classification tasks, computers are already better than people.

Obviously we have a way to go if we take the Tesla approach, and equip the vehicle only with sensors that do not interfere with the vehicle's appearance. But the Google approach, where the vehicle has a good enough radar to sense moving objects that people can't see, might be closer to being able to operate with human-equivalent safety in limited situations. It's still going to need to hand over control on some roads or if it approaches something abnormal. But I'd happily pay for one that handles the highway most of the time.

Comment Re: Why is it preposterous? (Score 1) 230

While there may be many drivers who have achieved a certain level of safety, people have certain weaknesses that computers don't. They don't have perfect attention. Their reaction time is significant. Most people can't look in even two directions at once and their multitasking capability is pitiful.

So at some point in the future we will see that computers achieve a higher safety level than any sample of human drivers, while remaining imperfect. At this point, it will probably become necessary to ban manual driving on highways, for the protection of the other people on the highway.

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Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"