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Comment Re:How do you get slow neutrons? (Score 2) 188

These specific neutrons are supposedly created during a process of weak interaction called "electron capture"
This is not pseudo-science - it is a well-known process - see the Wikipedia article.

When this happens in heavier elements/nuclei the neutron is not emitted but becomes/stays part of the original nucleus.

In TFA case the sole proton of a hydrogen atom is converted. Thereby the formerly bound proton becomes a free neutron, but with a very low kinetic energy (in fact, below thermal). Free neutrons can themselves trigger nuclear reactions in nearby atoms, thereby transmuting them.

You are right, one could do crazy things - if this theory is true it would open the door to an entirely new technological field (nuclear chemistry). It goes beyond being just another energy source.
One of the claims is that you can very effectively shield gamma radiation.

The new aspect here is that you can trigger electron capture (with a laser) for stable elements - hydrogenated metals, whereas usually electron capture is a decay channel for unstable elements.

By analogy to electricity that's like the difference between a lightning bolt (a natural force we can't control) and somebody being able to build an electric circuit.

Even if the chances were high that the whole story/theory falls apart we should devote significant resources to investigate because the potential benefits are tremendous.

Comment Re: Why is this guy still talking (Score 1) 468

That's probably a sign to switch markets, i.e. work in an entirely different part of industry. You need to stay ahead of the development (change of demand) - keep the initiative - otherwise you'll end up on the sidelines.

Today's connected world makes it easier to acquire new skills and also advertise yourself (via LinkedIn - if you have relevant skills, the new job will find you). But you need to be smart, see where trends are going and keep the initiative.

Comment Re: Of course (Score 1) 210

The question is whether we (or who) will have control over the AI that becomes highly advanced. IMO it will be one of the business giants Alphabet, Amazon, IBM or Wolfram Research who will operate the first such AI, probably secretly and very likely it will connect to the internet, otherwise it would have very limited background.

The scary thing is such AI being controlled by someone like Alphabet enabling them to dominate everybody else even more.

At some point an advanced AI would be as intelligent as a human. This itself would not be such a huge benefit for a company (which have tens of thousands of employees). However companies could run many instances of the AI, in fact they'd probably run as many as they can support.
Also AIs would be basically immortal which means you don't lose their experience due to retirement.

We should also keep in mind that the intelligence of humans varies wildly. Not everyone is Einstein. Then consider that the truly big breakthroughs are usually driven by a single or very few extraordinary individuals, rather than a combined mass of average individuals.

Comment Re:The toothbrush test is idiotic (Score 2) 97

That's entirely correct. There are other implications when selling machinery, i.e. capital goods: the individual client has much more power over the manufacturer. A toothbrush consumer represents only one-billionth of your revenue and has virtually no power over the manufacturer. A capital goods customer can represent several percent of your revenue - in some industries several ten percent. That is on the order of the operating profit, i.e one customer can influence a lot the economic outcome.
To deal with such customers you need not only to have a very good product, but also very good sales people (key account managers) and a very responsive field service, both of which are expensive to have. You cannot afford to have a homepage with no email to write to or no phone number to call.

Submission + - Continuing progress on "In Situ Resource Utilization" for space exploration. ( 2

RockDoctor writes: Many Slashdot readers will have heard of Robert Zubrin with his plans for launching self-contained rocket fuel plants to Mars to convert 1kg of hydrogen (supplied from Earth) to 18kg of oxygen/ methane to be used as rocket fuel to return explorers to Earth. This is an example of Utilizing (using) In Situ (already there) Resources (Mars' CO2 atmosphere) to reduce launch costs (masses) from Earth to achieve desired aims in space exploration at more affordable costs.

In 2013, the Journal of Aerospace Engineering ran a special volume on "In Situ Resource Utilization" with 20 papers on the subject. (These are paywalled, unless you know of tools like Sci-Hub to read the work paid for by your taxes.)

Yesterday, one of the editors of that special volume, Philip Metzger (a NASA planetary scientist specialising in the properties of Lunar soils) released a paper on Arxiv expanding on his contribution to that 2013 volume and detailing a roadmap for humanity to take gain control of the Solar System in order to solve problems on Earth. In the 2013 paper, Dr Metzger asserted (with working) that

bootstrapping can be achieved with as little as 12 t landed on the Moon during a period of about 20 years. [ I know it's Slashdot but RTFAFFS ! ...] The industry grows exponentially because of the free real estate, energy, and material resources of space. The mass of industrial assets at the end of bootstrapping will be 156 t with 60 humanoid robots or as high as 40,000 t. [...] Within another few decades with no further investment, it can have millions of times the industrial capacity of the United States. Modeling over wide parameter ranges indicates this is reasonable, but further analysis is needed.

The 2016 Arxiv paper produces some of the results of that further analysis, concentrating in particular on the need to develop a "water economy [..] to manufacture rocket propellant" from in situ resources on the Moon and later the asteroids.

The 2013 paper's abstract ends with one of the milder understatements in history.

"This industry promises to revolutionize the human condition."

Without doubt, Slashdot will contribute much heat and little light from typing hordes who haven't read either paper to dilute their ignorance, but analyses like this are not, as frequently described, the work of "space nutters" but realistic possibilities. Realistic until the author sees the fatal stumbling block to all such dreams :

"It will require a sustained commitment of several decades to complete."

— a level of dedication that humans have not shown themselves capable of for centuries, even for their highest achievement to date, war.

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