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Submission + - SpaceX Conducts First On-Pad Test-Fire Of Falcon 9 (

FleaPlus writes: On Saturday SpaceX successfully conducted a launch dress rehearsal and on-pad test firing of their completed Falcon 9 rocket, with the 15-story tall rocket held down to prevent launch (Videos). SpaceX is one of several likely competitors (ranging from the upstart Blue Origin to the more experienced Boeing) in NASA's new plans for commercial crew transportation to low-Earth orbit. SpaceX has been cleared by Cape Canaveral for the Falcon 9's first orbital launch next month, carrying a test model of the company's Dragon cargo/crew capsule, although CEO/CTO Elon Musk has cautioned that they're still in the equivalent of 'beta testing' for the first few flights.

Submission + - Attack of the Killer Electrons 1

Hugh Pickens writes: "At the peak of a magnetic storm the number of highly energetic 'killer electrons' strong enough to damage electronics and human tissue can increase by a factor of more than ten times and they can be dislodged, posing a danger to spacecraft, satellites, and astronauts. Killer electrons can penetrate satellite shielding, so if electrical discharges take place in vital components, a satellite can be damaged or even rendered inoperable. For many years, the mechanism by which killer electrons are produced has remained little understood, in spite of physicists’ attempts at solving this puzzle. Now Astrobiology Magazine reports that data shows that the increase in the creation of a substantial number of killer electrons is due to a two-step process. First, the initial acceleration is due to the strong shock-related magnetic field compression. Immediately after the impact of the interplanetary shock, Earth’s magnetic field lines began wobbling at ultra low frequencies. In turn, these ULF waves effectively accelerate the seed electrons provided by the first step, to become killer electrons. “These new findings help us to improve the models predicting the radiation environment in which satellites and astronauts operate. With solar activity now ramping up, we expect more of these shocks to impact our magnetosphere over the months and years to come,” says Philippe Escoubet, ESA’s Cluster mission manager."

Nearby Star Forecast To Skirt Solar System 135

PipianJ writes "A recent preprint posted on arXiv by Vadim Bobylev presents some startling new numbers about a future close pass of one of our stellar neighbors. Based on studies of the Hipparcos catalog, Bobylev suggests that the nearby orange dwarf Gliese 710 has an 86% chance of skirting the outer bounds of the Solar System and the hypothesized Oort Cloud in the next 1.5 million years. As the Oort Cloud is thought to be the source of many long-period comets, the gravitational effects of Gliese's passing could send a shower of comets into the inner Solar System, threatening Earth. This news about Gliese 710 isn't exactly new, but it's one of the first times the probability of this near-miss has been quantified."
It's funny.  Laugh.

Anti Terror Honor System 74

Fortunately for us, the FAA has imposed the honor system as our next best defense against terrorism. Hopefully this will allow them to increase the volume of non-bladder liquid I'm allowed to take on planes.

Comment My favorite charity (Score 1) 287

I want societal expectations and systems to support the following.

I'll be glad to read a message from a stranger for a price. After my escrow agent informs me my message reading fee has been placed in escrow, I'll gladly look at the message. If I don't like the message, I'll cash your check. No problem! If I like the message, depending on how much I like it, I'll leave the money in escrow or refund it; and if I reply, I may send you an unguessable email address for future free correspondence.

Friends and relatives would have each have an unguessable email addresses for me (and presumably each other).

This would enable folks without a personal assistant to be reachable yet not open themselves up to the spamming scum of the earth.

This would be useful for social networking sites that focus on professional relationships, like LinkedIn.

It's essential that the terms be set by the recipient.

Lord of the Rings

LoTR Lawsuit Threatens Hobbit Production 427

eyrieowl writes "J.R.R.'s heirs are suing for royalties on the LoTR films. Apparently they haven't gotten any money due to some creative accounting. Peter Jackson ought to understand...he had to sue the studio for much the same reason. As for The Hobbit? FTFA: 'Tolkien's family and a British charity they head, the Tolkien Trust, seek more than $220 million in compensation...[and]...the option to terminate further rights to the author's work.'"

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PL/I -- "the fatal disease" -- belongs more to the problem set than to the solution set. -- Edsger W. Dijkstra, SIGPLAN Notices, Volume 17, Number 5