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Comment Mercury is very hard to land on (Score 1) 348

Mercury lives close to the bottom of a very deep gravity well.

https://xkcd.com/681/

If you fall down that well, you gain an enormous amount of velocity that you have to dump if you want to orbit/land on the planet. Mercury has no atmosphere to aerobrake so you need fuel to stop.

The rail gun you'll need to send shipments back to earth would be pretty immense to lift any reasonable mass out of that gravity well.

Comment Re:Get rid of the side mirrors (Score 3, Interesting) 123

Yeah. I'm sure that's the case. It would be nice if the laws were written as functional requirements such as "Vehicle shall provide a means for driver to see at least, blah blah blah....." Rather than naming a specific required outdated and limiting technology. Once again, the legal system stifling innovation.

Comment Get rid of the side mirrors (Score 3, Insightful) 123

If Elon is looking for a low coefficient of drag, why don't we drop the side mirrors in favor of high resolution wide angle cameras? I've always thought we could replace the center mirror with a long full car width LED display monitor showing a 180 degree view behind and sides fed by 2 wide angle cameras on the back or sides.

Comment Gender equality (Score 3, Insightful) 1142

How serious of a problem do you think gender inequality is in the scientific academic world? What would you do to correct it?

Follow up:

You caught a lot of heat for the "Dear Muslima" episode last year. Do you feel you were misinterpreted or misrepresented? Is there anything you regret or would have said differently in retrospect?

Biotech

Biotech Report Says IP Spurs Innovation 126

ananyo writes "A report presented at the 2012 BIO International Convention in Boston, Massachusetts suggests that patents do not stifle progress when they occur at early phases of research, as some have suggested. Over the past decade, increases in patents have been matched by growth in the biotech and pharmaceutical sectors in India, Brazil, Singapore and other countries with emerging economies. The strength of patent rights can be quantified in an index ranging from 0 (no patent rights) to 5 (very strong). Over time, the countries that U.S. biotech and pharmaceutical companies have invested in have moved up the IP barometer, the report (PDF) says."

Comment Re:Good (Score 1, Informative) 167

You're an idiot.

First, launch escape systems only work if activated prior to an explosion. It won't save the lives of astronauts after the fact, the abort has to be done prior to the catastrophic event.

Second, of course the the Space Shuttle had Launch abort system. It had "Abort to Landing Site", "Transoceanic Abort Landing", "Abort Once Around", and "Abort to Orbit". Only Abort to Orbit was used in the program (STS-51-F):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Shuttle_abort_modes

Additionally, there was equipment and flight software for crew inflight bailout:

http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/shuttle/reference/shutref/escape/inflight.html

This was not available during powered flight.

Comment Re:OK, X-Rays are banned (Score 1) 225

Do you have any evidence that it is harmful? Because I have not seen anything convincing. Let's look at some facts:
  1. - Frequencies used in security applications have a water penetration depth of on average 0.3mm. So any potential damage is limit to surface layers of skin.
  2. - A purely mathematical model suggests that photon energies involved have a potential to break bonds in the loaclized sites of the DNA helix which may interfer with RNA transcription. No practical experiments have been done to confirm this.
  3. - Probabilty of these photon interactions is extremely small due to the tiny photoelectric cross section of the bond sites.
  4. - You're body is exposed to orders of magnitude more radiation which is actually ionizing from cosmic and terestrial sources daily.

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