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Comment Re:Better yet - stay away from both lobes (Score 1) 110

Because a lot of tasks are painfully boring for a human to work on, and computers don't care. Computers that emulate some human ability, like neural networks, can be improved on by using more accurate models than the old neural networks. They still have many useful applications, despite being based on simplistic or incorrect models of how real neurons behave. You don't need a full human mind emulation to do useful work. Though, this is one small step in that direction.

Comment Re:How dare he threaten NASA pork? (Score 1) 116

Binzel's proposing sending astronauts to asteroids that pass very close to Earth, not just robotic missions - which I agree with. From the source article:

Once humans can reach one asteroid in its native orbit, the gateway is opened such that hundreds (if not thousands) more will be accessible, enabling a steady programme of exploration to be unrolled in the late 2020s and 2030s.

Comment Another idea (Score 1) 549

If you build a massive transportation infrastructure capable of hauling people & cargo for numerous several month journeys, you've pretty much adapted humanity to live in the space between worlds. At that point, why limit yourself to just Mars? As much as I'd love to visit, climb the mountains, rappel the canyons, and explore the lava tubes, there's a lot more solar system to see. Colonizing Mars adds one element of redundancy, but numerous self-sufficient space colonies, living off sunlight and the rich (and accessible) resources of asteroids would be far more robust - and interesting.

Comment Re:The failure mode is transformer core saturation (Score 1) 91

True, but only one of those - ACE - provides definitive storm strength and arrival time, by sampling the solar wind directly upstream of Earth for magnetic field & plasma properties (density, speed, and temperature). SOHO and STEREO let you know that something left the sun using imagery and estimate the arrival time. All of those are old NASA satellites long past their design lives, and never intended as reliable weather forcasting assets. The Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) will take over for ACE next year.

Grid operators respond by reducing the output of baseload power plants (nuclear, coal, etc.) and bringing up small local generators (e.g. natural gas) to reduce the load on long distance transmission lines and their transformers. That is sufficient for the more common small events. Probably not for events like Carrington and the May 1921 geomagnetic storm, but at least they will be in a position to respond. The big danger would to be blindsided because the government couldn't get their act together enough to fund reliable forecast & warning systems. The worst events can take as little as 18 minutes from a satellite at L1 to Earth.

Comment Re:Thanks for pointing out the "briefly" part. (Score 2) 461

Indeed. Renewable energy supporters often sound like they aren't convinced that their solution is actually better - just that it's more ethical - and fail to bring up the measurable benefits. Non-renewables right now enjoy an implicit subsidy because all the damage they do isn't showing up in their price at the pump or electric bill - it's being absorbed in higher taxes, medical bills, business expenses, and the like. A carbon tax is a way to make that cost explicit and make the energy market more functional with better information.

Comment Re:Mostly a repeat. (Score 1) 104

Not a repeat, just another project, and it is TIG. Another project called Strongprint is using TIG because the mass of the print head can be quite low and move over a large, fixed print surface. The one you cited uses MIG and moves the print surface under the print head using a delta robot, while Strongprint mounts the print head on a delta robot, and Delaire's printer moves the TIG head on a gantry. http://reprap.org/wiki/StrongP...

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