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Comment Yes, you see it here in S.E. Asia (Score 4, Interesting) 403

So I'm very familiar with two countries, Vietnam and Thailand.

Vietnam, as you all know, went through a difficult occupation by the French, then the Americans, before having their country divided in two and then suffering a devastating civil war which killed millions of people (4 million?) before unification. The result? Everyone, more or less, started out very poor (during the late 70s and early 80s starvation was a real fear). So everyone was equal. Now though, inequality is climbing (fast) as the winners have "capitalized" (ironic comment intended on the supposedly communist country) on their ability to extract a greater and greater portion of the country's rising wealth. Still, for a time, society was remarkably fluid and anyone could be anyone (for example the ex-prime minister came from humble beginnings).

Thailand has not been conquered by a foreign power (ever?), certainly not by the westerners who did so to every other country in S.E. Asia. (That was due to the astuteness of their past king(s) who played the foreigners off against each other). So the power structures in Thailand have remained static for hundreds of years. In the last century, because of the great increase in wealth coming from modernization and technology, much of it was captured by the ruling class. Thus you have an urban elite that was (until recently) running the show from Bangkok (the "Hi So" or High Society) and getting richer and richer in the process. A populist (yet corrupt) billionaire politician used this great divide to sweep himself into power (sound familiar) only to be ultimately blocked by the military (acting on behest of the existing power structures).

Comment Does this mean more fuel for thrusters? (Score 2) 56

So if they aren't going to be using the main engine for a major trajectory shift, does this mean that more fuel is available for the thrusters?

In my long (non) professional career of following of various space programs, it always seems that the limiting factors to a mission is 1) the availability of fuel for the thrusters (for minor course corrections, attitude control/dumping of momentum) and 2) how many reaction wheels are still working (although there have been creative solutions such as using sunlight pressure for attitude control). If Juno's thrusters same the same fuel (and fuel tank!) as the main engine then perhaps it now has access to a much larger supply and can conceivably last a long long time. :)

Of course, Juno's limiting factor WAS the intense radiation it was going to have to have faced but perhaps the new orbit has reduced that substantially. In fact, if there IS a lot more fuel available, perhaps it can use the fuel (once the primary mission is over) to get it out of the high radiation regions (perhaps by some creative gravity assists from the Galilean moons) and perform a multi-year "tour" of the Jovian system. This would possibly make up for the scientific tragedy that befell the Galileo probe when its high gain antennae didn't open and the data rate dropped by (three? more?) orders of magnitude. It'd be fantastic to get some really good pictures of Europa (life!) and Io (volcanoes!).

Or just put it in a relatively distant parking orbit around Jupiter and (because it's solar powered) let it monitor the Jovian system for (hopefully) decades

Submission + - US National Academy of Sciences allows genetic modified children (

wisebabo writes: Hey! Slashdot labelled this as *s*p*a*m* and it isn't! So I'm resubmitting this

Looks like genetically editing human germ line cells is not longer completely verboten (yes the allusion to German Nazi era eugenics by use of the word "verboten" was deliberate). A National Academy of Sciences panel has approved, under narrow (for now) circumstances, genetically modified children. Now with CRISPR-cas9, it has become easier to precisely edit the human genome.

Even if they manage to keep the circumstances "narrow" it seems obvious that other nations will not be so cautious. For example China where they've created genetically modified "super dogs" and you can even buy genetically modified "micro pigs" that don't grow big! Of course China is not the only country doing this, New Zealand is pursuing an audacious project to use genetic engineering to WIPE OUT entire species (as I submitted earlier in slashdot).

Anyway, if you're bothered by the "narrow circumstances" clause in the NAS recommendation, go to Vietnam (or another one of many countries) where there are no particular regulations regarding genetic engineering.

Submission + - SPAM: Designer Babies on the way! 5

wisebabo writes: Looks like genetically editing human germ line cells is not longer completely verboten (yes the allusion to German Nazi era eugenics by use of the word "verboten" was deliberate). A National Academy of Sciences panel has approved, under narrow (for now) circumstances, genetically modified children. Now with CRISPR-cas9, it has become easier to precisely edit the human genome.

Even if they manage to keep the circumstances "narrow" it seems obvious that other nations will not be so cautious. For example China where they've created genetically modified "super dogs" [spam URL stripped]... and you can even buy genetically modified "micro pigs" that don't grow big! [spam URL stripped].... Of course China is not the only country doing this, New Zealand is pursuing an audacious project to use genetic engineering to WIPE OUT entire species (as I submitted earlier in slashdot).

Anyway, if you're bothered by the "narrow circumstances" clause in the NAS recommendation, go to Vietnam (or another one of many countries) where there are no particular regulations regarding genetic engineering.

Link to Original Source

Submission + - First Gene Drive to wipe out mammalian species (in NZ) (

wisebabo writes: Say goodbye to our little whiskered friends!

So there is an (approved?) effort to wipe not just any species, (there's been discussions to wipe out the mosquitos that carry Malaria), but a MAMMAL. Specifically the house mouse which, along with other invasive species introduced by Westerners, have ravaged New Zealand's ecosystem. (Amongst other things they've rendered extinct many of the flightless birds there). They'll try using the "Gene Drive" which is a new genetic weapon made possible by the editing system CRISPR-cas9 (very new but even now being taught in my course on genetic engineering). Basically, it'll make all of the the children of the genetically engineered mice MALE and then all of their children MALE and so on. This'll continue until there are no females left and the population will crash. If this is successful, they want to use this technique on other species until ALL of the predators on New Zealand are wiped out.

(I doubt if they will use this on the biggest, most damaging predator of all...) (No I didn't say Trump)

Comment Re:Hmm (Score 2) 43

I once, a long time ago in a place far far away, went to the JPL monthly lecture in Pasadena California. This one was about the Cassini probe then completing its first few months around Saturn.

After the lecture, under the imposing model of one of the Voyager spacecraft, I met with the Project Scientist (I'm not sure if she is the same one as the current one) and asked her if they could do a "risky" maneuver at the end of Cassini's lifetime. Have Cassini go to the rings (in a synchronized fashion as you say) but stay "just" above them using a continual very low thrust from its main engine(s) or thrusters.

I had seen the pictures taken edge on of the rings and seen how "razor" thin they were (at least on a cosmic scale). It appeared to (my very unprofessional, untrained eye) that there was no debris or particles immediately above or below the rings. There seems to be some mechanism which causes particles to stay exactly within the rings (collisions and redistribution of momentum?). So, maybe Cassini could just apply a very small amount of thrust, perpendicular to the ring plane, to counteract its orbital trajectory that would normally take it up and down through the ring. It could then hover a few (tens? hundreds?) kilometers above the rings and could get unbelievable closeups of them without getting ground to pieces.

I think she just laughed and probably knew of a dozen reasons why this wouldn't work (the thrust would be too low, the propellant use too high, there was still probably way too much debris around, they wouldn't be able to navigate that accurately, etc.). Still your comment made me think about this, and that someday maybe with a probe with an (low) thrust long duration ion drive, it would be able to float just above the rings (as close as would be safe), synchronized with them, and be able to take spectacular long duration exposures of the tumbling pebbles, boulders, mountains that make up this spectacle.

Comment Re:About Hillary (Score 1) 277

The TECH GUYS involved were given immunity and yet still pleaded the fifth. The INVESTIGATION never recorded any interviews with her and never put her under oath. I'M not saying she did anything that was technically illegal, but she definitely shouldn't be given more power.

"whisper whisper hint hint" (note, please show me HILLARY in this)

So, you're willing to judge based on hearsay and unproven allegations? (Why don't you do this to Trump, there's nothing hearsay out of what comes out of HIS orifice!). This is despite (as is well documented) the enormous effort by the right to trash her (and both houses of Congress spending what, $47 million of OUR taxpayer money for nothing!). Why didn't the investigation put her under oath? I'm sure the Right would say because they were in her pocket (as if investigators, even if they weren't hired by the Republican congress, didn't have even an inkling of moral courage. If you think that they were so easily corrupted, you are either not a professional or don't know what it means to have ethics). Don't you think that it's because they didn't think the charges (of which there were none filed) were worth pursuing? Maybe they had the ethics not to pursue baseless charges. Don't you think that just maybe that the tech guys, facing prison, possibly invoked their right to SELF (not Hillary) incrimination? Or are you amongst the (almost) majority of Americans who've been guzzling the kool aid?

I'm afraid Lincoln was wrong when he said, "You can fool some of the people all of the time or all of the people some of the time but...". Well at least Lincoln was wrong when it came to getting enough votes to win an electoral college victory. (Please don't tell me you drank the kool aid about Trump winning the popular vote, or that millions of illegal votes were cast or that the inauguration was the largest in history or all the other nonsense he REGULARLY farts. It would be funny if these were the only things he was (self) deluded on, unfortunately when it comes to climate change, immigrant threats to American jobs, international relations with our allies and other, critical issues that will affect Americans for generations to come; it crosses the line from comedy to tragedy. Hope you don't have kids!

You know, Lincoln spoke at a time when people chose their leader through debate and reasoning (remember the Lincoln Douglas debates?). People cared about facts and certainly any serious contender for most powerful office in the land didn't make things up to stroke his own ego. Now, however, America has elected its leader on a process much closer to Reality Television; one not based on character and competence. No wonder Trump won

Comment Post the attack (Score 2) 71

I'm curious. Does this attack really work? Does the defense really work?

If the researchers have an effective attack AND an effective defense why not release both so that we can try it? Aren't there some Samsung users out there (okay all of them) that you'd like to annoy?

(Sorry, but with the way things are going, being sociopathic is now in vogue)

Comment Re:Fitness for purpose? (Score 1) 71

Considering that most (all except Google's?) devices are not allowed to receive updates except once they've been vetted by their cell phone carrier, how can this have been patched? I thought a lot of the carriers stopped offering updates on devices more than one or two generations old

Anyway, why don't we test it? Post THE ATTACK and see if any devices are still affected :)

Comment Re:About Hillary (Score 1) 277

Look, as I said, there's a vast (yes even the most cursory web searches will turn up many web sites like breitbart) "industry" seeking to say bad things about Hillary. Since I am not familiar with this particular claim (and again, I'm sure I'll never be familiar with all of them like that pizza child sex ring Fake news that led to an armed assault by another deluded Republican) I spent a few minutes looking online for evidence of the above claim that "she had the server wiped..."

Unless I'm very wrong about the abilities of Hillary (who, admittedly in the eyes of Republicans, seems to be capable of doing almost anything evil), she's not an expert in server technology and probably has never heard of what was apparently used ("Bleach Bit"?). Therefore, I assume she must have gotten someone else to do it. Okay, is there an order from her to do so? If so, is there any record of this order?

You know, if I were a tech guy asked to do something that looked very illegal ("hey I want you to completely wipe the server NOW and don't retain any backups and don't tell anyone") and could have me end up in prison, I'd really want to 1) refuse the order or 2) get it in WRITING (preferably signed). You know, even if it weren't so (obviously) illegal (I mean there was a federal subpoena for the records), I'd probably want the order in writing anyway because wiping out the boss' server because you misinterpreted what she said (I said "clean the files" not "wipe them!") would possibly be a career ending move (certainly a job ending one).

Don't you think it's more likely that the IT guy just panicked when he realized the server was hacked (and he was responsible for it's security?). Or that maybe he knew that the justice department was likely to be sniffing around and he wanted to do his boss a (misguided) favor? I don't even know if the wipe was successful, of course I'm assuming the Bleach bit worked but what about all the backups or e-mails sent through other servers or they could possibly get them from the recipients (I'm not an expert at these things so there may be other ways of recovering them).

From my (admittedly brief) search (which however did include the top republican sites) THERE'S NO EVIDENCE THAT HILLARY ORDERED IT DONE

I'm not saying she didn't, it's just we don't know. Considering that she's a (good) lawyer (her Harvard Law degree must be worth something) and that she is very well aware of the penalties of obstruction of justice and that she is NOT an expert on computer security and has no idea if the would, in fact be able to get rid of all the incriminating evidence and that she wouldn't even be sure that the IT guy would cooperate but instead would turn her over to the feds, I think it's likely it's that she didn't. If every republican slimeball I mean operative couldn't get this evidence (and they would really really want to, obstruction of justice can get you sent to PRISON FOR A LONG TIME) then there probably wasn't any don't you think?

Of course you didn't think, and that's the problem. Fake news wins again! Actually this is more like just plain old insinuating, you should read some high-school books on the dangers of relying on hearsay. After forty years I can still remember the name of the book "The Ox-Bow incident", look it up. Or, more tragically read up on the case of Emmett Till, a 14 year old black boy taken out of a jail by a mob with no trial and lynched. Oh and the main accuser has admitted she made it up (but of course there wasn't even a trial to give the poor kid a chance. The woman who made it up refuses to be identified knowing that in no way did he deserve what happened. I hope it follows her to her grave and beyond).

Enough! No one can spend this much time refuting every falsehood and unfounded allegation out there, we have to rely on the people to be well educated. Oh wait, that's precisely the demographic that DIDN'T vote for Hillary

Comment About Hillary (Score 0) 277

Before I get a raft of Hillary bashers commenting on my post let me try to condense the discussion to save your time (and mine).

"What! Of course Hillary is corrupt, she made hundreds of thousands per speech to Goldman Sachs!"

First of all, from what I understand, the money from Goldman went to her foundation not her personally. Not only has her foundation been repeatedly vetted (as opposed to Trump's foundations which are still under investigation over activities directly pertaining to their purpose) they got decent ratings from third parties (not perfect, they sometimes tried too many things) at least they weren't a glorified tax shelter. That is, at least she (and Bill) tried to make the world a better place instead of just using them to avoid taxes (speaking of taxes look up Trump using over $800M in other people's losses in his business to effectively not pay taxes).

Of course the ironic thing is that now a former (head?) of Goldman Sachs is on Trump's cabinet. (Or, since I don't know if he's been confirmed, at the very least a bunch of very rich guys. So much for draining the swamp).

"They (the foundation) took money from foreign donors" Sure, and Trump (almost) had a chief of staff who had $12M earmarked for him on accounts from Russian allies in Ukraine. The first is not illegal (at least not unless she held public office which she didn't at the time). Again, like it or not (I don't), this is very common on Washington :( On the other hand, Trump was right to remove him (unfortunately he did so only when he was exposed).

"But she had her own e-mail server!" Yes, just as her republican predecessor (Colin Powell) had and in fact recommended that she do herself.

"She got hacked" You know, when a state power (Russia in this case) wants to hack you, you can't expect to prevent it. By the way, what did the Russians find? Anything really damaging (like how they need to hide Obama's lack of being an American citizen from the people? Or their plans to overthrow the government?). Aren't you impressed by, aside from all the stupid half-assed things her staff were doing and saying (like in any large organization) there was no apparent corruption (like where to put all the bribe money?).

Look, I am not going to be able to refute the entire industry set up to bash Hillary. Maybe you believe that where there's smoke there's fire. Well sometimes that's not true; you can go back in history to as far as the Salem Witch trials, to the McCarthy "Red Scare" to see how many people were convinced through their equivalent of "Fake News". In this case, you've got literally tens of millions of dollars in direct investigations trying to find the "fire" that was causing the "smoke" made by the hundreds of millions being spent by her opponents. So, in the words of another old campaign slogan, "Where's the beef?"

The great thing about Trump is that all of his "fire" is out in the open, he's saying these things HIMSELF or not saying like as in not releasing his taxes (although that's just one of many in a long string of significant broken promises).

I guess that's why our justice system is "innocent until proven guilty". Too bad that politics (and people) don't hold themselves to this standard.

Comment What I just sent to the corrupt govt. here (Score 2) 277

Hi there, I live in Vietnam. I just saw a govt. owned newspaper (tuoi tre news) say that the Prime Minister thinks Vietnam could be the home of a tech giant like Google, Facebook, etc.

I don't think so. They have a comments section (most likely to find troublemakers like me) but I've been so frustrated that I decided to send the following reply. (If I start posting from another country, you'll know what happened).

************ In response to the PM saying that Vietnam could be the home to a tech giant **************
While I wish what PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc said would happen, I wouldn't hold my breath.

Certainly there is potential in Vietnam. In my almost 10 years here, I've been impressed by the ambition, hard work ethic and focus on education that is a hallmark of the Vietnamese people. IF they think their efforts will be rewarded, the Vietnamese work just as hard the Chinese, Japanese or even Koreans (my ethnicity :); this is no doubt due to their shared confucian cultural heritage. This is in contrast to their S.E. Asian neighbors who have a more relaxed buddhist/muslim/hindu approach to life. Whether or not this "better" depends on what you think the purpose of life is, however for getting ahead in a material world it is obvious which one is more focused on the here and now instead of the hereafter (or previous life).

Unfortunately due to the, there is no way to beat around the bush, CORRUPTION in Vietnam, this potential is wasted or going abroad. I'm not singling Vietnam out, fully 85% of humanity lives under a corrupt government ( However no country has created a global (tech) giant without getting corruption at least somewhat under control. I'm afraid Vietnam is far from close to doing so.

I speak from experience, I had two successful (if small) high tech companies in the U.S. before coming to Ho Chi Minh City almost 10 years ago to retire. Now, with time on my hands I've been toying around with they idea of starting a bio-tech company utilizing the latest techniques in DNA nanopore sequencing along with bioinformatics (hopefully enhanced by machine learning). However, I've found the bureaucratic hurdles to be almost unsurmountable. Just getting a simple chemical in Vietnam, a process that is literally overnight in the U.S. takes up to two months. Getting customs approval for more advanced material has been a nightmare; many times shipments are delayed on items that must be kept below freezing. I'm sure some of them have been damaged as a result.

No, much more likely than Vietnam growing its own tech giant, would it contribute to one in another country. This would follow in the fine tradition of Syria (Steve Jobs), South Africa (Elon Musk), Russia (Google founders), Andy Grove (Intel, Czech) who all went to America. Not that America is immune; now that the Trump has come, the republican party has already tried to get rid of anti-corruption efforts and his wealthy white cabinet (and himself!) are filled with major conflict of interest problems. It's sad, the people who believe Hillary was corrupt, instead of just ambitious (and what presidential candidate isn't?), were the reason why Fake news (and Russian involvement) succeeded. However, the U.S. still has many fantastic strengths, Vietnam not so much. So, while I can easily see the next tech giant being founded/run by a Vietnamese (in fact I know of someone who is well on his way to doing so in the next big thing in biotech :) I'm afraid it won't be in Vietnam.

Vietnam has been good to me, I've actually been able to gain a level of proficiency in genetics at a university here (thank you International University!) and maybe I'll even be able to repay the country a bit by doing something here (if the government doesn't kick me out). However, to really be successful, I'll need to go somewhere that doesn't require a "expedited fee" to get things done or regulations whose only purpose is to elicit said fees.

New Zealand anyone?

Comment Re: Can someone explain in laymans terms how.... (Score 2) 334

Yes, these were some of the thoughts that immediately crossed my mind and when I heard that it might be metastable (when you relieve the pressure it might stay in that form).

I was wondering what the energy released would be if one could trigger the change back from the meta-stable state back to the normal (lowest energy?) ground state. It might not be a lot (like if you convert diamonds into graphite) but maybe not. I remember hearing of a science fiction story in which a "molecular distortion" battery could store and release fully 10 percent of its rest mass as energy. Of course this would only be for energy storage, not production so there would be no net gain (and maybe big losses). Still it would be a great boon for portable sources of energy for transportation (or explosives!).

Likewise, having just a metallic (powdered?) form of hydrogen could do wonders for space travel. Not having to cryogenically store liquid hydrogen at a few degrees above absolute zero would be great. Even if the solid had to kept below 83K that's still a big improvement. And if the density was (much) higher then there would be big structural savings on having smaller propellant tanks.

I wonder if metastable metallic hydrogen would have any impact on nuclear fusion. IF (and it's a big IF) they can produce small "pellets" of this for use in the inertial confinement (laser) fusion reactor, I'm hoping they can try it with other isotopes (I assume they used straight up single proton hydrogen). Deuterium or tritium might have more "explosive" results!

Comment Re:If they have this kind of money (Score 2) 122

I'm not sure that cost is the only consideration in whether or not the U.S. should help defend S. Korea. This is even though I have heard that S. Korea pays the U.S. a couple(?) of billion a year in reimbursement; whether or not this is a fair amount I have no idea.

Much more important is the implied alliance between the two nations. If N. Korea attacks S. Korea, inevitably American soldiers will be killed which will bring a much stronger response from the U.S. If N. Korea attacks S. Korea with nukes then they will invite an immediate (and apocalyptic!) nuclear response.

Perhaps more importantly having a U.S. presence in S. Korea TELLS THE CHINESE that the U.S. is a power in their backyard and the U.S. could make life difficult for them in any really serious conflict. (Imagine if China had military bases in Canada). Having U.S. stealth bombers minutes away from Chinese territory must be something that keeps the Chinese strategic planners up at night. The expansion of the THAAD missile defense system to S. Korea allegedly "solely" for the defense of S. Korea and Japan must also make them worry. Could it, indeed, be used to intercept Chinese ICBMs headed for the U.S.? That would mean China would be emasculated in a strategic nuclear conflict (they used to have, like, only 200 warheads that could reach the U.S,; a first strike coupled with a good missile defense system could've rendered them completely useless. That's surely one reason why China is now building subs carrying nuclear weapons, unlike the ICBMS launched from China they can be launched from anywhere and would not have to fly directly over the S. Korean defenses on their way to their targets in the U.S.).

Consider the alternative: the U.S. says "you're on your own" to S. Korea (and Japan). Within a year, the extremely technologically capable S. Koreans and Japanese would likely have their own nuclear weapons (and delivery systems as evidenced by the latest Japanese solid rocket booster). Sounds good no? Except now the Chinese would have to worry about nuclear weapons being delivered onto their soil in minutes by intermediate range ICBMs. They'd have to invest in missile defense and/or more nuclear weapons to ride out an attack. Perhaps India would be spooked and would also follow their "rival" (the Indians like thinking the Chinese are their chief competitor, the Chinese couldn't care less). That could provoke Pakistan to add to their arsenal (at 100+ warheads the fastest growing in the world). Not good since the Pakistanis are probably the country most likely to give (or have stolen from) nuclear weapons for use by radical Islam. Of course with Trump saying the Saudis (who, remember comprised 19 of the 20 hijackers on 9/11) should be allowed to have nukes for use against Iran, maybe there is another pathway for nuclear terrorism.

Anyway, while some of these "dominos" falling is farfetched you can see how inter-country tensions are a lot more complex than a simple "let them pay for their own defense". That's why nuclear non-proliferation treaties (were) a critical part of world diplomacy (until the Bush administration let the Indians be recognized as a DECLARED nuclear power, the first since WWII, with no substantial penalties).

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