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Comment Impossible efficiency (Score 1) 185

"Not much else is known: Its power is strangely classified, but the laser likely operates in the 15 to 50 kilowatt range" ... "It also presumably excludes the cost of shipboard electrical power, likely in the thousands of watts, that would be needed." Impressive efficiency, lasers do well to be 10% efficient so 100KW would be a decent baseline power. They should have said hundreds of thousands of watts. Probably just bad editing but not a good sign about this article.

Comment Guilty until someone can read a binary file (Score 1) 340

There is no way to distinguish binary data from encrypted terrorism. A entire encrypted disk that asks for a password is clearly encrypted and the lawyers can have much fun deciding what this means but what if I have a few Gb of data from some obscure program on a dedicated logger partition. In this case there is no immediate way to prove that this is not encrypted (commie propaganda/terrorism/insider trading/worry of the day) data, this is not hypothetical - I am sure that it is done today. Does this mean that people are guilty until someone produces a app that can read a binary file? Even this is not the end of if because if I was a halfway cunning terrorist I would write a app that happily decodes my nefarious data as something innocuous. It will not be long before it is possible to have 2 or more passwords that decrypt into entirely different results - it might already happen but what will happen when this is common? It is the kind of thing that the legal system needs to be able to deal with.

Comment Re:Ridiculous! (Score 1) 590

Looking at the original link they are redefining Thor as the being that holds Mjölnir. Which is tough on the demigod Thor who happened to be the wielder of Mjölnir. They do seem to have confused Mjölnir and Thor but I am sure this is entirely deliberate and I am equally sure that nobody really cares. Comic books take religion/mythology and rework it as seems commercially appropriate but this one does seem to be gratuitous - they could have used a generic costumed superhero where retirement and replacement is normal (Watchmen) but replacing immortal(ish) gods is a bit much.

Comment Failure modes. (Score 1) 307

If you buy a car then you are buying a complex machine with many failure modes. There is a huge business dedicated to saying that these failure modes are due to human failure or engineering oversight. Both are possible but the human element dominates - at a guess for every mechanical/software failure there are at least 100 human failures. The insurance industry loves this kind of issue. I suspect that when safe computer controlled cars become practical the insurers are going to be a issue.

Comment Temptation to just fix it in the background (Score 1) 307

If you are responsible for a subsystem and you discover a potential fault then the temptation to quietly fix it in future versions and not worry about the 'probably OK' past is huge. This is human nature but the company needs to have schemes in place to allow people to say that something is wrong without worrying about being sacked.

Comment Re:Hope you've got a big mixer (Score 1) 157

Quote from the linked article "These findings point to an increase of up to two orders of magnitude – a hundredfold- in concentrations of strontium-90 in the sea, with respect to the background values for this part of the Pacific before the Fukushima accident". I am guessing that the background levels of strontium-90 are going to be minute, I am impressed that it is even detectable, this feels like a 100 times almost nothing is still almost nothing.

Comment Re:NIF was really for weapons research (Score 1) 143

Sharks with frikkin' lasers are old school. Be afraid of carp with particle beams! And I know that the real purpose of the NIF is bomb research but as a side effect it is still a good physics experiment. The only worry is that the results are always going to be filtered by security concerns so some results are going to vanish - this makes it trickier to use as a source of data but still good (rose tinted glasses? I hope not).

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