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Comment Problem across many fields (Score 1) 224

As a low-temperature physicist, I've been following this issue for some time now, as have many others in my field. At a conference this summer there was a panel discussion on the problem, and how seriously it is affecting not just the low-temp physics community, but many others, as well. A few years ago we could buy He-3 for a few hundred dollars per gaseous liter; it is now pretty much impossible to get your hands on any new He-3, and the prices quoted are in the many thousands of dollars per liter (for when it does eventually become available). As another poster above pointed out, it's used in dilution refrigerators to achieve sub-Kelvin temperatures, necessary for many scientific experiments, as well as some other specialized applications. As others have also pointed out, it's used for MRI; and obviously it's used for neutron detection. There are myriad applications for He-3, and only some of them can be achieved with lesser efficiency with other materials. Part of the reason prices were so low until very recently is that the government had tens of thousands of liters stockpiled, collected over time from tritium decay. A decision was made to start releasing the stockpile, and so global production was bolstered by this stockpiled material, which, while substantial, pales in comparison to the amounts required by DHS. The stockpile has been steadily shrinking for a number of years, and even if we were to access it and use it, that would be a very brief respite to the shortage. He-3 production has been decreasing as we disarm, and it's mind-boggling to think that nobody in the government saw this coming. They're basically the only ones producing He-3, so you'd think they'd be able to do the simple math and see that the amount they'd need to implement their plan would be leaps and bounds beyond what even the US and Russia combined could supply. On a slightly more technical note, this is also very bad news for the low-temperature community. As mentioned before, dilution fridges need He-3 to function, but they also generally need to be immersed in a bath of liquid He-4. With the global He-4 shortage that has also recently been in the news, most new dilution fridges are now what is called cryogen-free, not requiring the bath of 4K He-4 to stay cold, and thus not requiring hundreds of dollars of helium to be cycled through the system daily. However, the cryogen-free fridges happen to require a significantly larger quantity of He-3 to get cold. So not only are we forced to move away from more traditional helium-cooled cryostats, we're also currently unable to fill any of the new type of fridge, at least until the hold on He-3 is lifted, and then probably at significantly increased prices. In the most recent issue of Science there was an article about this, and there's a quote from of one of the dilution fridge manufacturers that if things don't change for the better, they will be out of business in a year. All thanks to the monumental short-sightedness of DHS.

Comment Conspiracy to raise prices (Score 3, Interesting) 703

A quote from Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations 1776, is the best answer on James Murdoch worry for News Corporation's $32.996 billion USD revenue:

"People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices."

Comment Re:Its been done for years already (Score 2, Insightful) 711

There is, each power of 10 has it's own name. Kilo just happens to be one of the names that gets more used because it's convenient.

10^1 = deca-
10^2 = hecto-
10^3 = kilo-

After that naming is in steps of power of 3 to make things easier. Now if 2^ system had special naming scheme it would be fine to use whatever power of 2 that is appropriate, but unfortunately it has mixed up commonly used prefixes with totally new meanings. Using kilobytes meaning 1024 bytes makes as much sense as having megafeet to mean a mile and not 10^6 feet.

Comment Re:It's not an emergency (Score 1) 169

No, it's not an emergency ... but I just got this assignment five minutes ago and I have to have it done in three hours because my boss said to have it done in three hours so he can put in on the web in three hours and 15 minutes and because he's planning to drop something else on my desk in three hours and five minutes. Man, I don't have an option here. Can you help me, please?

(Writing as someone who has run an Open Source project before)

If said reporter had never heard of my project before, I cannot think of any use case where I would want to be mentioned under those circumstances. As a comparison, when my work or my group's work has been covered on TV for the evening news (KSBY-6 and NHK-1 respectively) we were given more lead time than that to get ready for the cameras.

Now, if you were looking for my reaction to the latest diarrhea of the mouth from Richard Stallman, I'm not likely to have something written up in advance. I tried to ignore him as best as I could. I'd certainly spend some time and answer questions. I'm not sure what intelligent questions one could ask if the reporter had never heard of XEmacs before getting the article assignment as he wouldn't know why he should be talking to someone like me for balance.

If you don't know about the Great Digital Divide in the open source world with Richard Stallman's name written all over it, you shouldn't be in the business. He most certainly is NOT a universal spokesman.

Now, to warp things around a bit, assume that the Oracle takeover of Sun had taken place in my watch. We have plenty of documentation on our website that details our relationship with Sun and thus why someone should be talking to me. If the reporter had never heard of XEmacs before, I'm don't think I'd want to be in said article. Anything I might have to say is going to get lost in confusion.

What I'm mainly getting out of this is that you seem to not only want to use our code for free, you are expecting us to write your "news" articles for you too and slap your byline on our writing.

Correct me if I'm wrong. Under the scenario you have described, I don't want to be mentioned in the article if you haven't done enough research to know why you should be talking to me. But if you had, I'd certainly be willing to give you a quote or two.

Comment Re:Wing Commander (Score 1) 1120

If this is what you're looking for, check out Vendetta Online ( It's an MMO space fighter simulator with a focus on the dogfighting element. It has a small but dedicated userbase, user-contributed content, and 4 developers who are responsive and active in the community (if you're around at the right times, usually around the weekly updates, you can even shoot at some of them!). They recently introduced dynamic warfare, where factions fight for control of various sectors in an on-going war, and are working towards player-owned stations and capitol ships. If a space fighter simulator is what you're looking for, check VO out. Just be warned that it can be very, very addictive.
Role Playing (Games)

Submission + - Vendetta Online adds "Dynamic Warfare" gam 1

Incarnate-VO writes: With the Friday night release, Linux-friendly space MMO Vendetta Online has launched Dynamic Warfare: a new long-term battle and large-scale warfare mechanic designed to permit factional conquest of geographical areas. In this first-generation implementation, players and NPCs of the Itani and Serco Nations vie for weekly control of 177 sectors within a critical solar system (Deneb). Several different battles may be running concurrently at any time, with a variety of different battle scales ranging from epic conflicts of capship fleets to small fighter-only engagements. The diversity of scale allows both varied gameplay styles and accessibility to players on older computing hardware.

Comment Re:Terrible Article (Score 1) 871

As a counter-counter anecdote for Leopard, I also have it running on my 12" PowerBook G4, though mine is only 867 MHz. Trying to watch any videos online is impossible, neither the sound nor the video track properly, and the box grinds to a nearly complete halt. For regular computing, it works, but there's a definite sluggishness that was not there in Tiger. I currently have Gentoo installed on it while I check to see if my family has any Tiger install disks lying around, and even though I can't watch anything online on it, it still works better than in Leopard. Of course, it's working gloriously on my Intel iMac, which is only a couple of years old, but it doesn't function gracefully at all on lots of older hardware.

Comment Re:How can people expect... (Score 1) 823

As a physics grad student, I can tell you that there are still scientists doing "their thing to broaden humankind's knowledge" all over the place. I'm working in a field with pretty much zero possibility of finding something that will make tons of money, or will feed into anyone's skewed worldview, something that is basically science for the sake of science. While we certainly have to put down possible things the science can be used for in our grants, most of those are still about understanding more about the world around us in general, and unconventional transport in particular. There are still a lot of scientists doing this kind of thing, you just never hear about it because no non-scientific journal is going to say one word about a new collective mode in the order parameter of superfluid Helium-3.

Comment Re:Surprisingly hard (Score 1) 299

I'm not sure if it's the one you are referring to (I doubt it, as I don't think anyone would refer to it as rather funny), but Vendetta Online has a native client for Linux as well. OSX, Windows, and both 32- and 64-bit Linux. The only trouble I've ever had with it on Linux is purely a third-party issue, where the voice chat implementation (not done by Guild Software, who makes VO) segfaults with Pulse Audio. But that is not something they have any control over, and other than that the game runs just as well (sometimes better) in Linux than on other platforms.

Comment Re:telenet to watch live games (Score 1) 170

Most of my first gaming experiences were with Angband back in the 1.0 days, and while I did play Nethack some after that, I was always more a fan of Angband. It's certainly somewhat less sadistic (though you can make it as sadistic as you please with some of the birth options), and the variety of things you can find in the game is truly phenomenal. Sad to say I'm past the days of jumping at purple j's, but somewhere in the back of my mind success is still spelled Ringil.

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