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Submission + - Light Sail propulsion could reach Sirius sooner than Alpha Centauri (arxiv.org)

RockDoctor writes: A recent proposition to launch probes to other star systems driven by lasers which remain in the Solar system has garnered considerable attention. But recently published work suggests that there are unexpected complexities to the system.

One would think that the closest star systems would be the easiest to reach. But unless you are content with a fly-by examination of the star system, with much reduced science returns, you will need to decelerate the probe at the far end, without any infrastructure to assist with the braking.

By combining both light-pressure braking and gravitational slingshots, a team of German, French and Chilean astronomers discover that the brightness of the destination star can significantly increase deceleration, and thus travel time (because higher flight velocities can be used. Sling-shotting around a companion star to lengthen deceleration times can help shed flight velocity to allow capture into a stable orbit.

The 4.37 light year distant binary stars Alpha Centauri A and B could be reached in 75 years from Earth. Covering the 0.24 light year distance to Proxima Centauri depends on arriving at the correct relative orientations of Alpha Centauri A and B in their mutual 80 year orbit for the sling shot to work. Without a companion star, Proxima Centauri can only absorb a final leg velocity of about 1280km/s, so that leg of the trip would take an additional 46 years.

Using the same performance characteristics for the light sail the corresponding duration for an approach to the Sirius system, almost twice as far away (8.58ly), is a mere 68.9 years, making it (and it's white dwarf companion) possibly a more attractive target.

Of course, none of this addresses the question of how to get any data from there to here. Or, indeed, how to manage a project that will last longer than a working lifetime. There are also issues of aiming — the motion of the Alpha Centauri system isn't well-enough known at the moment to achieve the precise manoeuvring needed without course corrections (and so, data transmission from there to here) en route.

Comment Re:Schneider/Amstrad CPC 6128 (Score 1) 856

Finally, I had to read thousands of posts just to find that hardly anyone had an Amstrad!

I got my CPC 464 in 1986, with green screen and built-in tape deck.

The taoe deck had azimuth problems throughout it's lifetime, constantly drifting and needing to be re-adjusted - I remember Gauntlet being very troublesome to load!

When I was 14 I bought a 286 Compaq Laptop with hard-earned paper delivery money, it had a lovely sharp B&W VGA screen, and pirated Windows 3.1, motivated by games like Midwinter 2 and Day of the Tentacle!

I also used Borland tools a lot on this machine, especially later when doing my Computing A-Level. Borland C++ and Borland Turbo Pascal are still valuable teaching tools today, even on this old old (sic) silicon.

Submission + - SeqBox - Container format that can survive total loss of file system structures (github.com)

MarcoPon writes: SeqBox let you encode a file in such a way that, even if the file system become completely toasted, partition info are lost, and so on, it's still possible to reconstruct the SBX container just by looking at the raw sectors themselves.
The tools have been tested in a variety of platform and with different file systems.

Standard disclaimer: I'm the author.

Comment Re:Editors, you stripped the original title (Score 1) 642

I posted the comment you are all replying to without clicking "Preview", and I'm doing the same now. The only caveat is that Slashdot shows you your comment and says "If you see a mistake, you should have clicked Preview" or similar.

Requires Positive Karma, I reckon... (clicks Submit, to the right of Preview)

Comment Re:Editors, you stripped the original title (Score 1) 642

Exactly, and if you saw that, you also saw my post regarding real and imaginary threats...

Back on topic, the lunar lander didn't have,massive rockets, or a lot of fuel, so it's not as outlandish an idea as some people who claim to be experts in physics are claiming it is...

Comment Re:Dropped from the moon? (Score 1) 2

How about "fired from the moon"? Would that be a problem for us?

Also, another of the points made, about the moon being strategically very important, is an accurate one.

Publish this, please, with harsh mistress headline intact, it's an excellent discussion topic, and you can all war over your fears of scary trannies armed with moon-based impellors (and then I can cherry-pick quotes which destroy both the left and the right, at my leisure, by bringing up the difference between transphobia and islamophobia - hint, one's based in observable reality...)

Submission + - Brianna Wu Is A Harsh Mistress (washingtontimes.com) 2

Applehu Akbar writes: A transgender-issues activist and Democratic candidate for Congress says the advent of the space tourism industry could give private corporations a “frightening amount of power” to destroy the Earth with rocks because of the Moon’s military importance.
Brianna Wu, a prominent “social justice warrior” in the “Gamergate” controversy who now is running for the House seat in Massachusetts’ 8th District, suggested in a since-deleted tweet that companies could drop rocks from the Moon.
“The moon is probably the most tactically valuable military ground for earth,” the tweet said. “Rocks dropped from there have power of 100s of nuclear bombs.”

Comment Re:Post the 8 words Slashdot! (Score 4, Insightful) 40

No, I doubt it. These people aren't necessarily suicidal, and often have perfect eyesight and hearing, but no motor control. This man just got hope for the first time since whatever happened to him, leaving him in this state.

This is a truly beautiful, and humane use for computing. Please don't be so negative, this is an outstanding achievement, on a par with the fact that ancient humans would pre-chew food for members of the tribe with no teeth. It shows we naturally care about each other, and support each other.

Submission + - Phone Bot to Target Windows Support Scammers

Trailrunner7 writes: he man who developed a bot that frustrates and annoys robocallers is planning to take on the infamous Windows support scam callers head-on.

Roger Anderson last year debuted his Jolly Roger bot, a system that intercepts robocalls and puts the caller into a never-ending loop of pre-recorded phrases designed to waste their time. Anderson built the system as a way to protect his own landlines from annoying telemarketers and it worked so well that he later expanded it into a service for both consumers and businesses. Users can send telemarketing calls to the Jolly Roger bot and listen in while it chats inanely with the caller.

Now, Anderson is targeting the huge business that is the Windows fake support scam. This one takes a variety of forms, often with a pre-recorded message informing the victim that technicians have detected that his computer has a virus and that he will be connected to a Windows support specialist to help fix it. The callers have no affiliation with Microsoft and no way of detecting any malware on a target’s machine. It’s just a scare tactic to intimidate victims into paying a fee to remove the nonexistent malware, and sometimes the scammers get victims to install other unwanted apps on their PCs, as well.

Anderson plans to turn the tables on these scammers and unleash his bots on their call centers.

Submission + - User Trust Fail: Google Chrome and the Tech Support Scams (vortex.com)

Lauren Weinstein writes: It’s not Google’s fault that these criminals exist. However, given Google’s excellent record at detection and blocking of malware, it is beyond puzzling why Google’s Chrome browser is so ineffective at blocking or even warning about these horrific tech support scams when they hit a user’s browser.

These scam pages should not require massive AI power for Google to target.

And critically, it’s difficult to understand why Chrome still permits most of these crooked pages to completely lock up the user’s browser — often making it impossible for the user to close the related tab or browser through any means that most users could reasonably be expected to know about.

Submission + - County's Claims That Its Social Workers Didn't Know Lying In Court was Wrong (ocweekly.com)

schwit1 writes: Using taxpayer funds, government officials in Orange County have spent the last 16 years arguing the most absurd legal proposition in the entire nation: How could social workers have known it was wrong to lie, falsify records and hide exculpatory evidence in 2000 so that a judge would forcibly take two young daughters from their mother for six-and-a-half years?

From the you-can't-make-up-this-crap file, county officials are paying Lynberg & Watkins, a private Southern California law firm specializing in defending cops in excessive force lawsuits, untold sums to claim the social workers couldn't have "clearly" known that dishonesty wasn't acceptable in court and, as a back up, even if they did know, they should enjoy immunity for their misdeeds because they were government employees.

Submission + - What is the most useful nerd watch today?

students writes: For about 20 years I have used Casio Databank 150 watches. They were handy because they kept track of my schedule and the current time. They were very cheap. They require very little maintenance, since the battery lasts more than a year and the bands last even longer. Since they were waterproof, I do not even have to take them off (or remember where I put them!). They were completely immune to malicious software, surveillance, and advertising. However, their waterproof gaskets have worn out so they no longer work for me. Casio no longer makes them or any comparable product (their website is out of date). I don't want a watch that duplicates the function of my cell phone or computer. What is the best choice now?

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