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Comment Re:Say this aloud: "It's so massive..." (Score 1) 220

Your guess of my age is off by a little more than 2 decades. It turns out that Charon was discovered much earlier than I had realized (in 1978, not circa 1998 when I became aware of it) during a time in my life when I was concerned with trying to make a 10 acre hobby farm profitable ---or at least a break-even activity--- to the exclusion of my astronomy hobby. With the information I gave you, your estimate of my age was a good one. My facts were wrong.

One of the things I really missed when I moved from the cold, clear winter nights of New England to cloudy skies of western Oregon was star gazing. The four inch reflector telescope that gave me many pleasurable nights in high school did not make the trip out west, but instead went to my brother. Now that I am spending a handful of nights each year under the starry skies of eastern Oregon, I miss it, and I'm thinking of replacing it, perhaps with one of the new-fangled computer driven 'scopes. That would accept a camera. Thoughts on this, anyone?

Comment Re:Time to sell my Apple stock... (Score 1) 338

Sure, and that's probably an argument to keep my stock, but not one to buy a new MBP to replace my ancient (mid 2010) MBP-17". Instead I'll probably go with the Dell with the mobile Xeon, 32GB ECC RAM, etc. Of course I still want MacOS, so that's the main requirement: whatever hardware I get has to be able to run as a hackintosh.

Comment Time to sell my Apple stock... (Score 4, Interesting) 338

Waited years for an update and this is it? Seriously? A touch bar? That's what they added? It took years to add something that other manufacturers added and abandoned?

What I'm most pissed about is that they are offering a "pro" system with a max of 16GB of RAM.

I'll be looking elsewhere and seeing what better, truly "pro" laptops can be hacked to run MacOS.

Comment Re:Say this aloud: "It's so massive..." (Score 1) 220

I'm reaching way back into my long term memory, but IIRC, the existence of Pluto was predicted from disturbances in the orbits of Neptune and Uranus. However it was not where astronomers were looking for it, but further from the ecliptic than anyone expected. I believe it was first seen by a comet hunter. So that was a happy accident.

I was taught back in the day that Neptune's existence was first postulated from disturbances in Uranus' orbit, and Pluto was first inferred because Neptune did not account for all of Uranus' deviation from the expected path. I was taught this some 3 or 4 decades before we even knew about Charon. It sounds like we now know that Pluto is not massive enough to account for deviations. So I guess Pluto's discovery was one of those occasions when you look for something, but by accident find something else that at first looks like what you looking for. So that kind of accident.

Comment Re:Say this aloud: "It's so massive..." (Score 4, Interesting) 220

A more careful reading of the article reveals that what is being tilted is the plane of the ecliptic. From a geocentric point of view, that appears to be a tilt of the Sun's axis, but to an observer outside the solar system, it is the plane of the orbits of all the known "non-dwarf" planets that is tilted. (IIRC, Pluto's orbit is outside the plane of the ecliptic-- which is part of the reason it took so long to find it after the maths showed it must exist.)

Do we have enough data to estimate the orbital period of Planet IX? If so, it may be possible to correlate its changing angle to the plane of the ecliptic with long term changes in Earth climates. It would seem that during the thousands of years when Planet IX is near the plane of the ecliptic, the Earth's orbit would become more oval. Currently Earth is closest to the Sun (and moving faster in its orbit) around January 3, give or take a day; and most distant around July 3 (moving most slowly in its orbit). This causes Summer in the northern hemisphere to be around 4 days longer than Summer in the southern hemisphere. If Planet IX can cause a tilt of the planetary orbits at this time, then when it is in line with the plane of the ecliptic the Earth should see northern Summers significantly longer than southern Summers (and southern Winters longer than northern Winters).

Comment Re:It's cool. It's also going to be a while. (Score 1) 88

Flatland is a lot more dangerous than 3D space. So many factors to consider--- is that ball that just bounced across the road ahead being followed by a kid or a dog? Is there an icy patch on that shady curve up ahead? In the air, potential hazards can be spotted long before they become threats and there are a lot more options for avoiding them.

The way to reduce traffic fatalities is to put everyone in the air, but make it so that they have to leave the driving to the AI. The operator's input should be no more than what we tell our Garmen, Tom-Tom, or other GPS to do now: this is where I want to go, show me the alternate routes and I'll pick the one I want.

Comment Re:It's cool. It's also going to be a while. (Score 1) 88

Aside from take-offs and landings, the problems the AI of a flying machine will face are a lot more simple than those an AI of a car must face. Drones show that many flying AI issues are already adequately solved. Issues concerning toddlers chasing after bouncing balls or ice on the shady curve just simply don't exist at flight levels above 10 feet. And take-offs and landings are probably not going to be much of an issue, what with sonar or laser assisted optical rangefinders managing the last little bit.

I look forward to the day when I can call up my personal drone on my smart phone, have it meet me on the rooftop, climb inside and tell it to take me the beach--- by the scenic route. It will join the airborne swarm and the distributed group AI will maintain safe distances between all the personal drones, cargo drones, airliners, and incoming meteors.

I don't think the future is like a flying car. I think the future is like a quadcopter on steroids, with wings for long distance aerodynamic flight.

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