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Comment Re:Reference devices? (Score 4, Interesting) 178

I'm inclined to disbelieve the story because of this. Developers use Nexuses (Nexi?) as a reference platform, and manufacturers know that if their device doesn't run something a Nexus does, then the fault lies with them.

Completely eradicating Nexus and the concept of a base platform (contrary to myth, the Nexus doesn't run "Stock Android", but "Stock Android with Google's recommended extensions") would make many of the issues Google has been trying to fix a major headache again.

It's possible that Google intends to release the G branded phones in parallel to the Nexus devices, or that the G branded phones will be reference platforms after all. But the story as written seems improbable.

Comment Re:Stop with the hysteria (Score 2) 189

I think you're missing the wood for the trees here. The argument isn't "Who's the most evilist?", or "Should we ban guns?", it's"Is ISIL even in the ballpark on a list of the biggest threat to (American) lives?" Suicides, etc, absolutely do factor into that.

ISXYZ is a terrible organization, and needs to be stopped, but in the same way as Ted Bundy needed to be stopped. The entire country was not shut down to catch Bundy, and nobody felt the need to hamper channels of discussion and political discourse in order to ensure one serial killer was brought to justice.

Comment Re:a very large planet, 15 times the Earth (Score 1) 151

And something basically to that effect was for a period at the IAU conference the definition being haggled over. A lot of people went home at that point thinking that either that would get voted in as the definition, or there would be no definition, and were fine with either outcome. The committee however changed the proposal before the vote came up.

Comment Re:Could you gush a little more? (Score 4, Interesting) 380

I've been debugging and rewriting a lot of legacy C# code recently, and I have to say that it's a breath of fresh air. I used to advocate Java, before Oracle went crazy, but after using C# I never want to touch that bureaucratic pile of over engineered crap and its litigious nutcase "owner" again.

Google: please, please, consider switching. You could even piss Oracle off by porting over the official JVM to Android, writing a Dalvik to Java byte code convertor, and letting legacy Java Android apps run at 10% of the speed they're supposed to, just to simultaneously encourage developers to move to C# and to end the lawsuit with Oracle completely unable to do anything about it.

Comment Re:The universe. (Score 1) 151

These are what the IAU came up with, in a vote that was very controversial among its membership. An association dominated by astronomers, not planetary scientists, who were by and large against the decision. And a set of terminology that you can often find flatly ignored in scientific papers. Example. In short, the only group that the IAU is able to bludgeon into using their term is the general public (using the "We're scientists, if you don't use our term you're wrong and ignorant" gambit), not the scientific community itself.

Comment Re:If the singularity doesn't happen... (Score 2) 151

Stop feeding the troll ;) If a person can't handle an argument without name calling, they're not worth your time.

For what anyone not trolling :) There is nothing magical about existing on Earth that allows a nuclear reactor to run. Earth does provide a few conveniences, mind you - your mass budgets are unlimited, and cooling is easier. But nothing about either bulk nor mass prevents nuclear reactors from operating in space, by any stretch, and the two main things limiting their use have been a lack of need and NIMBY (the former being little applicable in the former USSR, they used them quite a bit, although they still lacked a need for high powers and so generally kept them fairly small; in the US, NIMBY limited the US to just one launch, although the US developed a number of other systems, some to flight-ready status, on the ground).

The typical mass balance for a in-solar system fission fragment rocket (measured simply by MWt, not MWe, since thrust is direct) is about 20% payload, 20% structural, 35% reactor, and most of the rest toward various aspects of cooling. The nuclear fuel makes up only about 2% of the total mass (figures from the Callisto baseline). For an interstellar mission, however, the fuel would make up the a large minority or the majority of the mass, trading significantly reduced acceleration for significantly longer acceleration times. On an in-solar-system version, power density is about 6kWt per kilogram of reactor mass (that 35% figure above). This is actually quite low by large-space-reactor standards; many modern multi-megawatt reactor research projects for NEP and defense purposes (example) often deal with density figures of 50-100 kWe per kilogram, including cooling. But a fission fragment reactor has a sparse core and has to rely extensively on moderation / reflection to keep up a sufficient neutron flux; higher core density is prohibited because then the fragments would thermalize.

One thing that's neat about a fission fragment reactor is that, like systems like VASIMR, it can operate in various output modes, trading ISP for thrust as needed. In pure fission fragment mode it's ISP is is ridiculously high, nearly 1m sec; your thrust is purely the relativistic fission fragments from each reaction, carrying the majority of the reaction's energy away. However, you can inject gas into the stream as reaction mass, limited only by the density to which your magnetic nozzle can keep the stream confined. So where higher thrust maneuvers are needed, you can use the same engine (up to the aforementioned extent, of course; you're not going to take off from a planet with a FFRE!)

Comment Re:Taxonomy and location (Score 1) 151

So it's up to the planetary scientists to do something about it if they think it makes little sense

Do what? They make up less than 20% of the membership of the IAU. It's a bunch of astronomers. What do you want them to do, file a lawsuit?

They're doing the main thing that they can, which is complain about the "definition" foisted upon them, as Stern was doing above. Something you apparently find fault with.

All I hear is a bunch of bitching about it but no serious counter proposals.

That's your fault if you don't pay attention to the debate, because there have been tons of alternate proposals.

If the IAU decision wasn't scientifically useful then it will be ignored anyway.

And hence a giant stink that lowered the discourse for nothing.

How do you see this as even remotely similar? If you take a shrew from Ohio and you place it in Nepal, does it cease being a shrew and become a dwarf shrew that no longer counts as a shrew?

Actually biologists do stuff like that all the time.

No, they don't.

There are species that are considered different based almost entirely based on location

No, there aren't.

but it does happen and it's not irrational.

No, it doesn't, and yes, it is.

Seriously, you're going to cast doubt on the guy who came up with the Stern-Levison parameter that's used to make that distinction?

When he says something igorant, yes I am.

Right. Got it. The guy who co-invented the Stern-Levison parameter doesn't know how to calculate a Stern-Levison parameter. But you do. Thank you! I take it your name is Harold Levison?

Pluto is absolutely not "much like" "big rocks", and the fact that you'd make this claim is a profound expression of ignorance on the topic.

You are seriously arguing that Pluto is nothing like other "dwarf planets" or other large rocky/icy objects in our solar system?

Pluto is more like Mars than it is Ceres, at the very least. As for other dwarf planets... we have no idea, we've never even been there. Going by things that would be counted as dwarf planets if they were free orbiting, there's a massive range of properties. What's the universal property (apart from size / hydrostatic equilibrium / general terrestrial nature) between Pluto, Luna, Ceres, Ganymede, Callisto, Europa, Io, Titan and Triton? Answer: not a damn thing. They're all radically different environments. Some are more similar to each other than others, but they're anything but a logical "group" distinct from the terrestrial planets.

Versus "big rocks", however, the comparison is even more ridiculous. There is literally nothing beyond "they're both made of solid matter" in common between Pluto and a typical large asteroid. Including, for starters, Pluto isn't made of rock. It has some unknown percentage of rock in its interior, but it's overall made of ices, with a thin gas atmosphere (not all that different, structurally, from the ice giants Neptune and Uranus, although the latter two are obviously on a much larger scale and reach much higher pressures in the gaseous state before transitioning to the ice states).

Comment Re:If the singularity doesn't happen... (Score 1) 151

I'm sorry, I must be a nutter. I was under the mistaken view that we live in a world where there are many dozens of different designs for fission reactors that have been developed, with new designs being developed and prototyped every year, and full scale reactors being produced on scales orders of magnitude larger than is required for spacecraft propulsion. Little did I know! Thank you for correcting me for my sinful error.

Comment Re:These are good changes (Score 1) 71

Binge-on isn't a data cap, it's a bandwidth limiter.

If you think that 10+ phones using DASH, RTSP, etc, to try to stream an HD video (5Mbps+) out of a single 50Mbps LTE tower, isn't going to cause severe problems for everyone else using that tower, then you have a strange understanding of network protocols and video protocols in particular.

I'd also like to know where the "money making ploy" is in a system that gives you unlimited video for free if you're willing to stream it at lower, DVD-quality, bitrates.

Comment Re:What the hell is the big deal with "planet"? (Score 1) 151

The most ridiculous thing about the "cleared its orbit" standard is... MOST planets didn't clear their orbit. Jupiter, and to a lesser extent Saturn, did. Particularly in the case of Mars. Mars does not dominate it's neighborhood, a fact clearly reflected by how low of a percentage of asteroids are in a Mars resonance vs. Jupiter. Mars has a significantly lower Stern-Levison parameter than Neptune, and yet Neptune has freaking Pluto in its neighborhood. And even if one wants to argue that Pluto is too small versus Neptune to count as "not cleared", it certainly isn't too small compared to Mars to count. The reason Mars does not have things even bigger than Pluto in its neighborhood comes down to one word: Jupiter.

And I know some people will say, "but the Stern-Levison parameter says Mars would have". It says no such thing. The Stern-Levison parameter is about a body's ability to relatively clear its orbit of asteroids, not protoplanets. It's based around the size and orbital distribution of our current asteroid belt.

But of course, this was not a scientific reality seeking a definition. They had a definition they wanted (that Pluto wouldn't be a planet) and were trying to come up with some sort of scientific reasoning, any reasoning, as to why. This is quite clear from their statements on the topic, they already had the result they wanted and were playing around with different reasonings to get it. And this mangled, self-contradictory definition is what they came up with and passed at the last minute (when most people had left thinking that there either wasn't going to be a new definition or that it would be based around hydrostatic equilibrium, based on what had been discussed previously, and were fine with either outcome). And so now we have a situation where a "dwarf X" isn't an "X" from a body that otherwise declares dwarf things to be smaller versions of the same thing, where exoplanets aren't planets, based on a lie that all planets have "cleared their own neighborhoods", without any sort of clear definition as to what a "neighborhood" or "clear" is.

Heck, if I wanted to be pedantic I could point out that not even Jupiter would meet their definition because - again, to be pedantic - it does not orbit the sun. The point that Jupiter orbits (the Sun-Jupiter barycentre) is almost always outside the sun.

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