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Comment Re:Just curious... (Score 1) 232

I see your point. I think there is no getting around the fact that we would receive too little light from the planet. Discarding almost all of the photons coming from it is the best start for a solution, if the best result we could hope is to tell the planet together with all local junk from interstellar objects.

Comment Re:Just curious... (Score 1) 232

IANAA but I have an impractical idea that might work. Everything outside solar system is either redshifted or blueshifted by a large margin. If we use a very narrow band of spectrum for observation we may observe only stuff move relatively slowly wrt Earth. For example, if we are reasonable sure that any planet in our neighborhood would have some helium in it, just look at around 447.148 nm. Stuff near us move relatively slowly wrt Earth, so helium's absorption bands would be shifted only slightly. If we have a whole sky map at 447.148 nm and one at 447.147, subtracting the former from the latter would give you map of things that are something close by and has helium in it.

Comment Mr. Don Dailey (Score 3, Interesting) 107

I am disappointed to see only one mention of late Don Dailey in TFA. He is actually the guy who wrote the whole thing. I had followed his posts for years in computer go mailing list. I have learned a lot from him as an R&D engineer in an unrelated field (chemical industry). While many people adopted "improvements" only because it made sense to them, Mr. Dailey had a very systematic and methodological approach to changing the program. He had ideas and insights for improvement like many others, but he never fell in love with his own ideas. If something did not work, it did not. No matter how plausible it seemed. He also had most patience I have seen of an online person. He would carry on discussions long after it was obvious the other party was not paying enough attention or was simply stupid. He did this almost to the day he died.
Congrats Mr. Dailey. You have done it.

Comment Re: This is ridiculous (Score 1) 117

IIRC that would be two. But that is not the correct way to look at it. How many Mars landers were lost after they left the Earth orbit, but before they were restarted to enter Mars orbit? I believe that number is zero. Mr. Newton is driving these craft now. It is very improbable for a mission to fail while cruising in sleep mode.

Comment Re:Is it really "impossible"? (Score 1) 315

Conservation of momentum is just as fundamental a principle as conservation of energy. That doesn't mean that a drive that requires no fuel is impossible - because you can convert energy to matter - it just means that it has to dump the counterforce somewhere to keep momentum accounts balanced.

This device cannot work by ejecting mass it produces. The (lowest) quoted performance is 5.3 uN per W. If input energy is completely converted to ejection mass, the mass must be ejected at ~1500c to achieve the quoted force.

Comment Re:The issue is not about compliance with the law (Score 5, Informative) 94

The situation in Turkey is not just another free speech banning law, making law maker and enforcers looking ridiculous. Not at all. There is a mindbogglingly huge corruption scandal going on. The prosecutors were removed from the case, police were ordered not to obey court orders, tens of thousands of civil servants have been relocated etc to stop the investigation. The extend and the number are both unbelievable, so I will leave it to look them up yourself (you would never believe an anonymous source on internet talking about 12 digits, would you?)

Now, when it became apparent that the prime minister had no intention to actually let courts do their job, the prosecutors (quite unlawfully) started leaking dozens of voice recordings of their evidence. So far we have learned that Mr. Prime Minister ordering newspapers what not to press, ordering his son to move hundreds of millions of dollars from his house, selling valuable land to his friendly businessmen, using tax law to crush unfriendly businessmen, ordering the police to increase tension during Gezi movement etc. Tomorrow is the big day. It is said that the PM will not be able to keep his post no matter what after the recording posted on 25th of March. The leaked tapes so far has been uncovered PM's behavior so unconstitutional and immoral that I cannot image what could possibly be so much bigger. The expectation is that either PM's ordering assassination of a opposition leader or he having sex with a minor. Whatever it is, it got PM panicked. This is what got actually twitter banned. There is a cover story, but it is so hastily constructed that *the cover story itself is unlawful.* The story is that a court banned twitter on for not complying, a court which is not authorized to do so, and a court which denies doing/trying to do so.

So whatever your ideas on different lands having different customs and laws, this is not the event to discuss them. Twitter ban in Turkey is 100% wrong.

Comment Re:Don't go to college, it's clearly not for you (Score 1) 384

In the book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell summarizes a series of research which seems to prove that while having enough intelligence for a particular task is a must to succeed in that task, having additional IQ makes next to no difference. This is true for at all levels of complexity of tasks (from winning a Nobel to keeping a daily job) inspected. Being a bright and otherwise nondescript person I am, I would love to see some research contradicting the claim. I suspect there is none.

Comment Re:Inventor of the Lazy Gun (Score 2) 141

I strongly disagree. The real SF element in the book is what if we will not have access to stars? What if we improve our technology to magic like levels but fail to find new frontiers? It is probably the most insightful and most relevant SF book he has ever written. Banks puts the planetary system in isolation but having stars just 4 light years away is no guarantee that we will ever reach them. The premise is species-survival level important.

As for "magical" items, like lazy gun, they serve their purpose best when there are no plausible explanations to their inner workings. They illustrate the point of being made by much advanced technological level characters' better if they make less sense. His choice of extreme cartoonishness, rather than SF classic technobabble is a brilliant invention.

The adventure is great too. A real page turner, if you don't stop to think about implications.

Comment Re:Neil deGrasse Tyson (Score 1) 520

Pushing gently over a long time, without any contact is the idea. For rocky asteroids known to be structurally sound, non-contacting may not be important. But pushing with exhaust without landing is a very inefficient idea. To keep spacecraft same distance from the asteroid, you have to waste half of your propellant in the opposite direction.

Comment Re:Neil deGrasse Tyson (Score 1) 520

The escape velocities of many asteroids are very low and the exhaust velocity for high Isp engines are very high. The difference is at least 100 fold. For a net momentum change, it would be enough to not aim exhaust directly to the asteroid. The gravitational capture of propellant is impossible. No special diversion mechanisms are necessary.

Comment Re:I don't get it. (Score 1) 1313

I think the issue is when you feel that you deserve to work a couple hours a day (or week) and get paid more than other people who work for 10s of hours a week (or day) and be paid the same amount.

I own a business. I'm in the business of selling my labor. Therefore, I'm going to maximize MY profits. That means getting paid as much as I can for as little work as possible. If business owners shouldn't be stigmatized for being greedy assholes, then workers shouldn't be stigmatized for being lazy assholes.

This double standard has to go.

In business, you don't maximize profits by having less of them. Getting paid as much as you can for a particular work is a proper business goal, getting it for as little work as possible is just plain laziness.

Comment Re:Surprise (Score 2) 468

If most scientists agreed that world was flat, and you were to somehow decide what to do on that information, the rational course of action would have been assuming the world is flat. The rational course of action does not depend on the physical reality but on the best available information. By definition, that information is judged to be better than its rivals. Whether a theory is better than its rivals is the pertinent question, whether it is actually true is not. "The truth" cannot be known as such, as is the "actual fact."

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