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Comment Re:Cost of loss? (Score 1) 104

Production of food is not the problem. The problem is getting it to where it's needed. Often the worst famines have nothing to do with not enough but with inadequate distribution, often due to war. Many times food that is delivered by charities is taken over by warlords who then profit on it.

Yeah, but there is something to be said for sending food when there is a drought or some other disaster that has caused an actual shortage of food.

Some of the food that we send will end up in the hands of the people after the government officials have stolen their share of the food and the local warlord has taken his toll and what not.

Comment Re:Cost of loss? (Score 5, Insightful) 104

How much did all of this mission cost? Does anyone realize how much food that money could have provided to those in need ON THIS PLANET?! We have no business looking off-planet until we learn to live in harmony with THIS planet.. and with each other.

If you take the budget of ESA and divide that number by the GDP of the EU (a slightly misleading calculation, but not grossly so) you find that the EU spends less than 0.04% of its GDP on space.

You also have to keep in mine that the European economy has a tremendous amount of over-capacity in terms of unemployed people and under-utilised infrastructure and machinery. Europe would not be able to increase its production of food and other goods by anywhere near 0.004% if we stopped spending money on space. We'd just have more unemployed scientists, engineers and factory workers.

Comment Re:Think I've heard this one before (Score 1) 269

I can't find it now, but about 5-10 years ago I saw a talk on youtube where a guy suggested that we should demonstrate to the public how safe driverless cars are by having volunteers run out in front of them on a closed stretch of road... As if the laws of inertia and friction don't apply to driverless cars.

Around the same time I watched an information video published by the Swedish road authority where they claimed that they will be able to make roads in Sweden a third narrower once all cars are driverless. I guess that would work, were it not for winter and rain, and again those pesky laws of inertia and friction.

The thing that I think a lot of people overlook is that human drivers are actually pretty good at not getting killed or seriously injured while driving. Look at the statistics. Look at vehicle between deaths and vehicle miles between serious injuries in the US. It's not going to be easy to build driverless cars that can match those numbers. I highly doubt that Google or Tesla is anywhere near that level of safety.

I don't doubt that driverless cars will become an order of magnitude safer than manual cars unless they get banned (or effectively banned through draconian regulation), but it's going to take many years to get to that level. In the meantime a lot of people will die. Some of them will die in accidents that a human driver could easily have avoided. I think it's going to be tempting for politicians to step in and demand extreme regulation.

Comment Re:You've heard this one before? (Score 1) 269

You'll have to write the timeline yourself, but I think I that if you compare and contrast how the nuclear industry and the mobile phone industry have handled concerns about potential dangers with their respective technologies, you'll see that the nuclear industry consistently dismissed the concerns, while the mobile phone industry consistently responded to concerns by publishing data and funding studies that attempt (but of course fail) to show that phones cause cancer.

The global anti nuclear movement managed to kill off nuclear power in the ten years following the TMI accident. The anti-cellular and anti-wifi people have never really been able to organise as a movement.

I claim it's because the industry itself is constantly playing a game of "Maybe out tech is a bit dangerous. Maybe it's not. Look at these studies and make up your own mind." I think it's a clever way to make people feel complicit and perhaps even a tiny bit rebellious when they're holding their phone to their ear, ignoring the advice about using a headset.

Elon Musk should just probably make blunt estimates (preferably over-estimates) about how many people he expects to die while driving on Autopilot.

Comment Think I've heard this one before (Score 3, Insightful) 269

The proponents boldly claim how the new technology is going to be completely safe and how it'll be available for everyone everywhere at virtually no cost.

Then mistakes are made and there is a minor accident. Nothing too bad in the big scheme of things, but a serious accident nonetheless.

Then the accident is followed by attempts to cover it up by lying to the public about minor details about the accident, followed by more bold claims about how the technology is so absurdly safe that the opponents can only be evil. The media has field day after field day exposing the lies. Soon, there is a public outcry, which causes the government to step in with draconian regulation.

And then it's all over. The regulations make it impossible to build and operate the technology at a reasonable cost.

Comment Re:Lol no (Score 1) 158

They could call rename it the Galaxy Pro series. In the wild I've mainly come across Galaxy Notes in corporate settings. So it would make sense. I don't really care.

I'm not buying a phone from Samsung again until I know that they know how to make their phones not burst into flames.

The proper way to deal with this failure is to literally attempt to burn through all of the hundreds of thousands of units that they've recalled until they get a grip on what went wrong.

Comment Oh no! Work. (Score 2) 275

So we're talking about 250 new installations per year. I'm assuming that's for the whole industrial world. That's something like 2 new plants per year per industrialised country. That is not a lot if you compare it with what the industrial world built built back in the 1950's and 1960's after WW2. Sounds reasonable in terms of volume of work.

I mean it sounds reasonable when you first think about it. But I don't know...

I mean it would take work. It would take actual investment in actual projects, and actual political decisions about actual things. You know, those old-fashioned secondary sector of the economy things that we're not suppose to have to bother with in the modern world. We'd even have to hire actual workers to do actual work. Like, physically do work. Like, non-office work.

And you'd have to train people to do it too! I you think about it, you'd have to train unemployed people so that they could take these construction and planning jobs.

Seriously? There ought to be a way to solve global climate change in some reasonable way. Like by inventing a new financial scheme, or by making a new smartphone app. Or at least by having drones or self-driving cars do all the work. I'm sure someone will think of something.

Comment Re:And I was modded down... (Score 1) 182

My understanding is that no team of engineers have ever had a fully satisfactory understanding of a space launch system. Space launch designs have such tiny margins for error that some subtle phenomenon going on with the design could be serious enough to destroy the rocket.

The gunshot-sounding pop could easily have been the sound of the first thing to fail inside the rocket. That sound (and any other sounds from the launch pad) could have echoed off of the building. People are notoriously bad at recalling the sequence of events, so it's possible that a person could report hearing the echo before the sound itself.

The problem with the gunshot theory is that it has an incredibly low a priory probability. The ULA has a lot to lose by trying to sabotage their competitors in a blatantly illegal way. It's the last thing they would do. It could have been an employee acting on their own (perhaps someone with mental health problems), but what are the odds that the ULA has such an employee combined with the odds that that employee could have successfully smuggled a rifle all the way to the top of the building? Close to zero.

The gunshot theory only becomes probable if they find hard evidence, like bullet fragments, or tell-tale damage to the wreckage.

Comment Re:And I was modded down... (Score 1) 182

Yeah but the point is that the strut that failed in 2015 was directly attached to the helium tank that failed last month. There is literally a strong connection between the two. Perhaps there's a logical connection too.

I would suspect a flaw in the design process that lead to the design of that part of the rocket.

SpaceX says they've looked at all the obvious explanations, but they have probably only had time to look at the known obvious explanations. There could be 'unknown obvious' explanations, explanations that are not obvious because the engineers lack a full understanding of the rocket. Explanations are only obvious if you fully understand the thing that you're trying to explain.

The rifle theory is incredibly unlikely when you consider that new rocket designs (like the Falcon 9) tend to fail every now and then. So far it has always been because of some problem with the rocket or with the processes surrounding its use.

Like someone wrote on the SpaceX Reddit: SpaceX probably only wanted to go up on the roof to look for debris from the rocket in case any of it happened to land on the roof.

Comment Re:And I was modded down... (Score 1) 182

IIRC the previous malfunction was caused by a faulty strut attached to one of the helium tanks. This would be the second time that that part of the rocket malfunctioned.

It sounds like the Falcon 9 helium tanks need a lot more analysis and testing.

I would not put my money on the rifle theory, not unless they have found bullet fragments or suspicious-looking damage.

Comment Re:Do away with them (Score 3, Insightful) 89

Well the answer to your question is that Type.NULL is something that you define yourself or read about in the docs/code if it is coming from a dependency and use instead of NULL.

There are times when having your software lie to you is better than having it do nothing. That's when you use Type.NULL.

There are also times when having the software crash is better than having it lie. That's what NULL is for.

Of course, if you and everyone on your team always writes correct code then it doesn't matter how you encode non-existent values. Your code will neither crash nor lie. The problem is that writing correct code is sometimes hard and often takes a lot of time.

Comment Re:Do away with them (Score 0) 89

And what do you do when something doesn't have a value? A new employee has been hired but you don't know his birthday? Plug in 1900-01-01? And check for that? Nulls serve a purpose.

Pretty much, yeah.

Using Type.NULL instead of NULL lets your code fail partially or quantitatively instead of failing completely. Perhaps the value Date.NULL will suffice for the birth date for most use cases. Perhaps it's okay if your system thinks you're employing a bunch of 116-year olds.

The only fatal flaw with this scheme is that it fails as soon as you introduce inheritance, because Person.NULL != Employee.NULL, even though logically speaking the absence of a Person implies the absence of an Employee.

Comment Re:Update frenzy (Score 0) 67

The flat head nails that your hammer interacts with have an interface that is both sufficiently good and sufficiently difficult to reinvent that even the most creative of people and large of firms have been unable to replace it with something incompatible. (I'm sure Apple will eventually move into the carpentry business and invent a new type of nail that requires a special $59.95 Apple hammer and $4.95 a piece Apple nails. But that hasn't happened yet.)

So in order to make software with longevity you simply need to make sure that your application's components speak with one another and the surrounding world through API:s that are really good and really difficult to reinvent. Like SOAP over HTTP.

Comment Re:Sorry... Not a reused booster... (Score 1) 338

There are flaws in every sufficiently complex piece of technology, and no, you can't just magically find them all by looking Real Hard.

You can find a lot of the ones that are most likely to cause a complete failure.

My understanding is that they could have found last year's problem by doing a sufficient amount of parts testing to verify the numbers on the data sheets from their suppliers. It would have cost a lot of money to do that, but so does losing a payload and having to suspend launches for months.

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