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Comment Re:A field in its infancy (Score 1) 70

One (simple) dust-cloud accretion program is located here:


Accrete is a physical simulation of solar system planet formation,
originally published to Usenet-- probably comp.sources.unix-- in 1991
by Joe Nowakowski. This software is in the public domain.

This simulation works by modelling a dust cloud around a Sun-like star,
injecting a series of masses which collect dust, and form planets.
The simulation then determines what the planetary environments will be
like in terms of temperature, atmospheric composition, and other
factors. The system description is saved to a file named "New.System".

The following output will give a good idea of the end results:

                                                  SYSTEM CHARACTERISTICS
Mass of central star: 1.247 solar masses
Luminosity of central star: 2.875 (relative to the sun)
Total main sequence lifetime: 4339 million years
Current age of stellar system: 3091 million years
Radius of habitable ecosphere: 1.696 AU
[ ... ]
Planet #4:
      Distance from primary star (in A.U.): 1.038
      Eccentricity of orbit: 0.004
      Mass (in Earth masses): 0.383
      Equatorial radius (in Km): 4675.0
      Density (in g/cc): 5.344
      Escape Velocity (in km/sec): 8.08
      Smallest molecular weight retained: 12.16 (CH4)
      Surface acceleration (in cm/sec2): 698.22
      Surface Gravity (in Earth gees): 0.71
      Boiling point of water (celcius): 53.6
      Surface Pressure (in atmospheres): 0.146
      Surface temperature (Celcius): 8.39
      Hydrosphere percentage: 50.46
      Cloud cover percentage: 22.87
      Ice cover percentage: 3.61
      Axial tilt (in degrees): 23
      Planetary albedo: 0.177
      Length of year (in years): 1.06
      Length of day (in hours): 18.14

Comment Leviton 57000 TVSS (Score 1) 341

You're looking for something like the Leviton 57xxx series TVSS, which provides 3-phase WYE protection for all phases to ground, all phases to common/neutral, and common to ground. It's designed to handle extreme events like a close lightning strike or loss of phase. It's got field-replaceable modules so you can replace them if they blow their fuses or MOVs without needing an electrician.

It gets installed between your house power feed and your primary distribution breaker panel. (If you have a primary disconnect switch, it would go there, otherwise you can get a variant of this with an integral disconnection switch.)


You'd be looking at a cost of about $4000 including installation.
I used one in a small datacenter in front of a 20kVA Powerware 9330 UPS.

Comment Re:The list of ISPs (Score 1) 194

Add Verizon DSL in Manhattan, NY:


I was using my own nameservers before, but I'd recently swapped out my older Linksys BEFSR81 (which was becoming flaky) to an E2100L.
Its DHCP server was using Verizon-supplied nameservers by default. Fixed that, thank you ICSI team.

Comment Re:Why paper books are better (Score 1) 181

Most paper in books don't last that long. I'd guess 150 years is the limit.

You're right that most mass-market paperback books won't last that long, at least not without significant yellowing and deterioration. However, any trade edition paperback or hardcover book ought to be made from acid-free paper, which is supposed to be good for hundreds of years if kept in reasonable archival storage conditions.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acid-free_paperwikipedia link

The documents we do have that are much older were made using a (more expensive) process which includes durability as a side effect. There's no way one can produce the volume of books we do using that kind of process - it would be prohibitively expensive.

This is true, although it's more because a lot of cheap paper around nowadays is made by recycling, which means using bleaches and acids to remove the old print. (But recycled paper is more often used for newspapers and napkins than for books....)

Back in time, they tended to use natural fibers like Egyptian papyrus or cotton, rather than wood pulp, which tend to last longer than paper made from wood pulp.

Comment Re:My naive assumption... (Score 1) 422

If you force Vsync on the display preferences, you'll prevent the game from trying to render faster than 60Hz.

Depending on the game, it might only recompute physics, check for collisions, etc at the same rate it renders frames-- which means that if your hardware is capable of going faster, you might get slightly more realistic behavior if it goes faster than your monitor refresh rate. On the other hand, if your system is chugging, you might find shots passing through their targets.

Other games keep rendering and gameworld physics stuff separated, and do world physics updates at some rate like 100Hz regardless of the display framerate.

Comment Still doesn't help some of us. (Score 1) 130

While the occasional woman likes a geek, us rarer gay geeks tend to not catch the eye of our mostly trendy shallow ilk. While I think my "I failed the turing test" shirt is witty and looks good on me, I'm immediately IDed as straight or laughable in a bar. My appearance is not sub par either. Maybe I should petition AE to start making apparel for my kind.

Comment Sorry, ladies, I'm taken. (Score 1) 2

Geeky personality, check. Facial hair, check. Chest hair, check. Gray hair, check. Glasses, check. Soft and cuddly, big time. Not overly concerned with appearances, check. Doesn't watch weight, yep. Passionate sports fan, GO PACKERS. Cries at sappy films? More often than not. Reads a lot, check. A few flaws? Define "few".

According to this, in London, I'd be a total superconducting babe magnet!

(Thankfully, my blushing bride gives me many reasons to not test that theory out.)


The Irksome Cellphone Industry 272

gollum123 writes "David Pogue of the NYTimes wonders why Congress is worrying about exclusive handset contracts when there are more significant things that are broken, unfair, and anti-competitive in the American cellphone industry. He lists text messaging fees, double billing, handset subsidies, international call rates, and 'airtime-eating instructions' among the major problems not being addressed by Congress. 'Right now, the cell carriers spend about $6 billion a year on advertising. Why doesn't it occur to them that they'd attract a heck of a lot more customers by making them happy instead of miserable? By being less greedy and obnoxious? By doing what every other industry does: try to please customers instead of entrap and bilk them? But no. Apparently, persuading cell carriers to treat their customers decently would take an act of Congress.'"

Passenger Avoids Delay By Fixing Plane Himself 178

It would be a shame if an engineer on a recent Thomas Cook Airlines flight doesn't get a complimentary first class upgrade every time he flies. The engineer was on flight TCX9641 when it was announced that the trip would be delayed eight hours, while a mechanic was flown in to fix a problem. Luckily for the other passengers, the engineer happened to work for Thomsonfly Airlines, which has a reciprocal maintenance agreement with Thomas Cook. After about 35 minutes the man fixed the problem and the flight was on its way. A spokeswoman for Thomas Cook said, "When they announced there was a technical problem he came forward and said who he was. We checked his licence and verified he was who he said he was, and he was able to fix the problem to avoid the delay. We are very grateful that he was on the flight that day."

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