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Submission + - Aerographite: the solution to space junk (

wisebabo writes: This newly "discovered" (manufactured) material is the lightest ever created. It weighs only .2mg/cm^3.

What this means a giant "plate" of this stuff 1 km x 1 km by 1 meter thick weighing 200 metric tons could be launched by one (or maybe two) Falcon Heavy.

Aerogels have proven stopping power for hypervelocity fragments, the were used on NASAs Stardust and Genesis probes to capture particles impacting at many kilometers/second. True these particles were microscopic but this "plate" (oriented perpendicular to the direction of motion) would be a meter thick. While obviously incapable of stopping large objects, it would be ideal for stopping (or slowing which is just as good because they would de-orbit) small objects like paint flecks or even things like bolts. I contend these are the most dangerous space junk objects because it is economically infeasible to track down and catch them due to their sheer numbers.

Anyway, what really makes this (more) practical now, in addition to its light weight the material is highly compressible. From TFA: "by a factor of a thousand, only to spring back to its original size. So it could actually be squeezed into the payload bay of a Falcon and presumably pop out.

All you have to do is add a guidance system, solar panels, and ion drive to compensate for atmospheric drag, solar pressure, momentum loss from impacts and to change orbit to go after more stuff!

Oh and you've got to figure out how to make a square kilometer of this stuff at an affordable price.

(Spin off technology, ultra springy "air beds"!). Graphene/carbon, is there anything it can't do?


Submission + - Kepler data analysis: Earthlike worlds "extremely rare" (

wisebabo writes: Well that sucks.

While this isn't quite what the author of "Rare Earth" said (I think he thought complex life was unlikely, not that the planets themselves were rare), it's still not good.

Anyway, maybe James Cameron was right on basing Pandora on a moon around a gas giant (in this study, plenty of gas giants are in the habitable zone). Here's to our blue-skinned Nav'i overlords!


Submission + - Lower CO2 emissions due to natural gas ( 1

wisebabo writes: Because of the falling prices of natural gas (due to the discovery, and exploitation) of shale gas reserves in the U.S, by fracking) carbon emissions were reduced.

In my book, this is (almost) completely a win-win. Jobs, money, infrastructure and technology are being invested in the U.S., often in communities that need it most (rural poor) rather than going to countries who's people hate our guts. Hopefully our president won't have to "bow down to a Saudi King" and he won't have to apologize for our armed forces burning Korans because we won't be there.

Yes, there is some "minor" (and, as an Californian big earthquake survivor I do mean minor) seismic activity and water supplies may get contaminated but the benefits to the country (and the communities!) outweigh this. (Water, while it should never be wasted, is not particularly scarce in this part of the country, it isnt a desert). And it will help tide us over till we get to a true carbon-neutral economy!

Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.


Submission + - Not a Troll! Honest question about Climate Change ( 1

wisebabo writes: Ok, I'm a pretty liberal guy who's written on slashdot quite a few times about how the evidence seems to support 1) global warming 2) that's man-made and 3) that it's going to be big enough (more than 2 degrees c) to cause problems.

Then I came across and read (all 58 pages!) this presentation made by a noted skeptic to the British Parliament. He agrees with 1 + 2 but not 3.

It comes down (I think he claims) to one simple fact; doubling of CO2 levels BY ITSELF will only raise temperatures by 1 degree (he says all the models use that), it is the positive feedback from other things in these models (like evaporation) that causes temperatures to soar. He says that these models are wrong on this point and that, in fact, the data shows negative feedback.

After looking a bit around the Internet, including the 4th IPCC report, I couldn't find anything to directly refute this. So realizing that slashdot is the repository of all accessible human knowledge, I was wondering if there was someone out there who could succinctly tell me why he's wrong about the feedback being negative. Or why he's wrong in some other more important way. Or what I got wrong from reading his paper. I'm hoping slashdot will shed some light (not heat, ha ha) on the subject.

Anyway, if I've been wrong all this time about global warming, my apologies! I'll treat my brother (a real skeptic, he bought me that Michael Chrichton book, the one which had the climate guys driving Prius's killing skeptics with darts from poisonous tree frogs!) to a nice dinner.

I still think he's probably wrong; I think most climatologists disagree with him. But science is not a popularity contest, if he's right against most everyone else (like the guy who predicted quasicrystals) I hope he's proven right and wins the Nobel (just like that other guy did)!


Submission + - Forget Sharks with Lasers! How about Flying Squid! ( 2

wisebabo writes: It turns out that it's more energy efficient for squid to FLY through the AIR than swim through water.

So how long until these evolve into flying face huggers? If they're as mean and as big as humboldt squid, we're screwed.

(Maybe on an alien world, where the atmosphere is thicker and maybe gravity less, could these squid evolve into a true jet propelled species? Of course their gills would have to evolve to lungs but that's been done).


Submission + - The True End of History (and everything else)? (

wisebabo writes: So they're going to release FULL details of how to make this? Time to whip up my bio-reactor!

Ok, so this easily transmissible human to human virus (as predicted by ferret models) *only* has a lethality of 50% but that should be enough to collapse civilization. At least it'll help cut down on global warming.

Still that doesn't compare with that (smallpox?) variant which had an almost 100% fatality rate. I remember that one was suppressed pretty fast. I guess they think this one isn't nearly as dangerous which i would agree with except for the fact that it is AIRBORNE TRANSMISSIBLE (it's based on the Flu!). Boy is sneezing going to be a real conversation killer!

Seems like we've solved the Fermi Paradox; once a species has figured out to make or modify self-replicating nano bots (like viruses), they'll inevitably make one that will in one way or another wipe them out.

Hey, let's see if we can get them to release this in time for 12/21/12!


Submission + - Getting closer to the Singularity! (

wisebabo writes: The Singularity I've thought will be achieved when we get two things 1) true atomic level control over matter as demonstrated by human designed robots that can replicate themselves from the lego blocks of nature, atoms, and 2) when we have supra-human intelligence that can take over the difficult process of thinking. (Of course having #2 will make it a lot easier to achieve #1 but that's another topic).

Well it looks like we're getting closer to the first goal. Harvard researchers have built robots made from DNA. While I'm not sure the robots themselves can self-replicate, it seems probable that using PCR it would be easy to make trillions of these things at a time.

I know robots made from DNA may not be as flexible or robust as ones made from a completely "bottom up" approach (by Eric Drexler's assemblers) but it's a (good) start.. By using these self-assembling systems as a base, we can hopefully use them to make more general purpose machines. And as long as they're made from fragile DNA (carbon links) there's less chance of them becoming an unstoppable Grey Goo!

Now if only we could solve that pesky A.I. problem. If Siri and Watson had a baby, would it be HAL?


Submission + - THIS should be (one of) the best ways to make robots! (

wisebabo writes: Until we have nano bot self replicators* this is a good way to make LOTS of tiny robots cheaply. It leverages our huge technological infrastructure in making 2D chips into 3D bots!

*I guess if you think viruses are nano bots then I guess we already know how to make them already. I was cooking up a batch in my nose just last week!


Submission + - THIS should be (a big part of) the future of space exploration! (

wisebabo writes: As long as we are still in debt to the Chinese and can't afford an ambitious space program, we should be developing THESE (humanoid telerobots). Just get the astronaut NEAR the Moon or Mars (or someday Titan!) and operate these without that stupid speed-of-light time delay. A huge proportion of the weight and complexity of going to these places is that last 100 miles so while times are lean this is the way to go.

Maybe James Cameron can be persuaded to do a pre-quel of Avatar, unfortunately I don't think he'll find a planet full of sexy tele-robots!


Submission + - You be the judge: 26 seconds of the Global Climate (NASA data) (

wisebabo writes: In the spirit of the recent story about the (lack of) decline in mass of ice in the Himalayas over the last 10 years, here is a short animation by NASA of records since 1880.

Since it shows a GLOBAL perspective rather than a regional one and TEMPERATURES not ice mass over more than a CENTURY, it seems to be a more direct answer to the question, is there a statistically significant trend in the Global Climate? (That's in contrast to the Regional study which focused on ice? Mass over just a Decade).

Editors, it would be nice if you could embed the animation so slashdotters don't even have to click on a link. (I'm sorry I don't know how).


Submission + - NASA needs women ( 1

wisebabo writes: (Actually so does ROSCOSMOS and CNSA)

So here, unfortunately, is another hurdle in MANkind's dreams of long duration space flight. It turns out there are serious vision problems in astronauts that don't go away when they return to earth. Strangely enough these problems don't seem to affect women!

Anyway, at this point I'd normally say rather than making big elaborate spacecraft with spinning sections to provide gravity and heavy radiation shielding, we should just genetically re-engineer humans. But I recently read the short story "People of Sand and Slag" which describes a dystopian future where this has been done. Unfortunately the people(?) of the future have lost their humanity in more ways than one.

So maybe that's not the best idea. Hibernation anyone?


Submission + - Just 26 seconds will convince you of Global Warmin (

wisebabo writes: I don't know how to show an animation clip so perhaps the editors can help me.

Here is an animation that despite the lack of titles, text or legends makes its point very clearly. The earth is warming at an accelerating rate. I don't think one can doubt the data (will deniers seriously claim NASA would have been faking the data which goes back to the 1800s?) but I'm sure someone will find something to quibble over.

More serious deniers will now claim it ain't caused by humans. Despite most/every climate model supporting this conclusion (not to mention a considerable coincidence as shown by this animation), they won't be satisfied. Perhaps in the long run the data will be too overwhelming but, like (some famous economist said) we (and large parts of the biosphere) will all be dead.

By the way, if a picture is worth a thousand words, how many do you suppose this animation is? (I'm sure deniers will say "zero").


Submission + - Astronomers release database of variable luminosit (

wisebabo writes: So, anybody going to write a program looking for artificial sequences? (primes, fibonacci, integers).

Wouldn't a good way to attract attention "cheaply" would be to put up some (very) big solar sails in orbit around a star to modulate (and maybe collect!) its output? With "micro-transits" being a preferred way to find extra-solar planets, somebody looking could stumble across this.

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