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Comment Re:Asset forfeiture? (Score 1) 65

Of course, this is the same country that allows asset forfeiture. I'm sure your wallet is guilty of some crime or other...

It doesn't have to be, here's how it goes:

It looks like you're carrying lots of money. Drug dealers carry lots of money. Hence I will confiscate this money as possible drug profits. If you can show a paper trail in court, you can have it back some day. If you can't, tough. If you need the money right now, tough. Oh and there's no presumption of innocence and no free legal aid since it's a civil matter, if you lose as you very well might you'll also lose a ton on lawyer and court costs.

One joint was sufficient to confiscate a sailboat. A cheating husband's wife lost their jointly owned car because he was illegally using it to have sex with prostitutes. People's homes have been confiscated because their kids or tenants have been selling drugs out of their room. Rental companies have lost their property because the people who rented it used it for smuggling, even though the company wasn't even a suspect. Basically you can get robbed without any fourth amendment protection, it's insane.

Comment Re:Do we really need more people? (Score 1) 160

In most wealthy countries, kids are a liability because you have to feed, clothe, and shelter them without them delivering any kind of return on investment. In poor countries they tend to be an asset because they end up being extra farm hands, laborers, etc.

The value of child labor is quite modest, they work at slave labor rates. The primary reason to have kids is to have them support you economically and otherwise when you're elderly and they are young adults because being old and childless is harsh in many poorly developed societies. High risk of child death leads to "insurance", 95% of the women have an extra child because 5% of them will die. Losing a child is of course always a tragedy, but in the western world you'll still get to live at a decent nursing home and have most your needs taken care of so you don't need a fallback plan.

From what I understand, the population boom in Africa is not really necessary anymore. But it takes quite some time from you stop needing it until people realize it. Not to mention a lot of cultural momentum, if it's normal to have five kids many women will have five kids. And as you get wealth the pyramid starts turning, instead of having five kids to support you maybe it's you who want to divide your wealth on two kids and not six poor kids. It's a lot of psychology involved, not just economics.

Comment Re:It's true (Score 2) 229

Pixar was unique in Silicon Valley companies in that we had deadlines that could not move. The film had to be in theaters before Christmas, etc. I'd see employees families come to Pixar to have dinner with them. I took the technical director training but decided to stay in studio tools, first because Pixar needed better software more than they needed another TD, and second because of the crazy hours.

Comment Re:Wonder how it compares to Airlander (Score 1) 105

That accident sure was a black eye for them... but the design is now better because of it. Also, gotta love having an aircraft whose crashes are in slow motion ;) "Coming soon on World's Least Dramatic Air Crashes!"

I imagine for the pilot it was sort of like when you're driving down a slope on ice and you lose traction, and you end up skidding down the whole slope at a several kilometers per hour: First, alarm and futile attempts to regain control, followed by acceptance, then "Okay, you can stop any time now...."

Comment Re:Going Howard Hughes... (Score 2) 105

Airships are not party balloons; they don't "pop" when you make a hole in them. They have low overpressure and a huge volume to surface area, so a "bullethole" is just a slow leak; it's not even a reason to land. A helicopter is far more vulnerable to small arms fire than a helium airship.

As for what it buys over a helicopter, show me a helicopter that can move 50-500 tonnes payload at a per-kilogram rate cheaper than a freight truck while flying halfway around the world without refueling. Because that's what people are looking to build with this new generation of airships. Even Airlander 10, which is just a commercial prototype for the Airlander 50, carries more payload than the largest helicopter used by the US military, the Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion.

Comment Re:Going Howard Hughes... (Score 3, Interesting) 105

A common usecase for large airships is remote mining operations. They need big, heavy pieces of equipment brought into places without roads. Currently, the first step is to build a road - which is expensive and environmentally destructive. An airship needs only a clearing - and the "skycrane" variants don't even need that.

Another advantage is that it's much easier to design them to carry "bulky" cargoes than airplanes. Again, especially "skycrane" designs where the cargo hangs beneath.

Comment Re:Wonder how it compares to Airlander (Score 2) 105

Given the fact that it's rigid, and given the size of Hangar Two and the fact that the frame is said to take up much of the hangar, it's probably much larger than Airlander 10.

Probably also doesn't look like a giant rear end ;) Even if it's a lifting body, the fact that it's a rigid airship (from the description) means that they can shape it however they want. So probably something like a flattened teardrop, if they go for the hybrid (lifting body) approach. Which generally seems pretty popular these days, for good reason (lots of extra lift at little cost, higher top speeds because you don't have to have as large of a cross section for a given cargo, etc). But of course there's nothing here to suggest whether it's actually a hybrid.

Comment Re:Money to burn I guess (Score 2) 105

It's easier to hate on?

I'm wondering what the "innovation" is. Because I'm sure that he's not doing this without some angle, something unusual that he's doing with this one vs. other airships. Some sort of wow factor.

Sergei, blow me away with something totally crazy. Like make its skin transparent, fill it with heliox and have people live inside the envelope farming, like an Earth prototype of a Venus colony ;)

But honestly, my expectations are that it's a generic freight carrier, and that the twist would be that it's a rigid lifting body. Maybe if we're really lucky, solar-powered too.

Comment Re:Going Howard Hughes... (Score 4, Interesting) 105

I personally find it very exciting. I knew that Alphabet had rented the Moffett Field hangars from NASA and were rennovating them. But their official stated purpose for doing so was to store a number of company planes. This is the exciting part:

Engineers have constructed a metal skeleton of the craft, and it fills up much of the enormous hangar.

So first off:

1) It's a rigid airship. Which used to be common but is now rare. Zeppelin NT is a semirigid, with a trilobate truss inside, but there's not many other examples. Rigids are favored when you're building something very large, as they reduce the stress on the skin.

2) It's huge. Hangar 2 is 52,1 meters high, 90,5 and 327,7m long.

I hope it's a lifting body! If I'm not mistaken it'd be the world's first rigid lifting body airship (correct me if I'm wrong!). Either way it's yet another sign that we're - at least temporarily - entering a new lighter-than-air renaissance. Who knows whether it will last, but it's great to see so many companies giving it another shot, making use of modern technology and design. Because there have been some huge improvements since the old Akron / Macon days. Also wonder about the fuel. Something like Blau gas, so it's buoyancy-neutral as it burns?

Of course, not everything in the article is exciting or new...

He went on to describe a prototype he was considering of a helium-based craft that appeared to breathe. "And so the way that works is that the helium in the main envelope is taken and stored in bags inside the airship at a slightly higher pressure," he said. "As you do that, air is taken in from the outside into essentially like lungs that are attached in the side of the vehicle. So the analogy of breathing is a good one. And the overall lift of the vehicle is equal to the weight of the air that is being displaced by the helium. And as you change that, you can control the amount of buoyancy that the vehicle has."

Um... yes, that's how lift cells work.... you either use them or you use ballonets, your choice... there's a couple other possibilities, like high overpressure superpressure balloons, or compressors + gas tanks, but the former doesn't scale, and the latter generally comes with too much mass and cost penalties with too poor responsiveness.

BTW, for those not familiar with the Macon and the Akron, I definitely recommend reading about them. They were literal flying aircraft carriers. You know how a landing jet on an aircraft carrier catches a cable with a hook? They did that too, but in the other direction - they caught a "trapeze" on their topside. They were then raised into the hangar, which was designed for five airplanes.

They unfortunately weren't long in service. Both of their losses could have been prevented with any combination of better weather prediction, computer controls, and better lift control. The Macon's loss was also stupid in that they were flying with unrepaired structural damage, out doing fleet maneuvers.

Comment Re:Beta testing self-driving vehicles... (Score 1) 50

Well, eventually they will figure it out how to make self driving cars safer than more than 99% of human drivers. When that happens, I'm not sure, but it will happen. Now, if you introduce them too early, a very risky and unsafe version of self driving cars that is maybe safer than 20% of the human driver population, but less safe than 80%, then anybody of those 80% using a self driving car would mean a safety risk.

Except that's not really how it happens, you don't need to be a race car driver to be a good street driver. A good street driver is merely consistent, appropriate speed, paying attention, obeying the traffic rules. It's not a skill level, it's a fail rate. You do things right for a year or five years or twenty years and then for some reason you fuck up. As in failed to yield, ran a red light, didn't see the pedestrian, fell asleep at the wheel, didn't check their blind spot, lost control of the car fail. I can guarantee you that all the SDC test vehicles are better than 100% of humans at not rear-ending anyone.

If it's not coming officially it's coming unofficially with all sorts of assistants where technically you drive yourself. And people will ignore it, but we'll dismiss them as Darwin awards.

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