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Comment Re:Shipping and Handling (Score 1) 277

I suspect there will be... issues trying to build a parachute that could slow down a 200 km wide hunk of iron. For one thing, (and this is just one tiny objection) the air at the top of the asteroid would be a bit thin even with the bottom touching the earth.

Of course, I know, I should have been clearer here. Air-based parachutes won't work. Instead you'd have to use a SOLAR parachute. You're falling towards the sun, and you just need a reverse solar sail - the one that can accelerate space craft away from the sun, can also slow it down when you go towards the sun.

There of course will be practical issues with the whole size of the darn thing and travel times of a slowed down asteroid, but that's what the smart guys at NASA are for.

Other solution: how about gravitationally accessed decelleration? Maybe that also works.

Comment Wondering how it will compare to the real thing (Score 1) 86

There are a few major differences with the real thing, which vastly change the psychological impact.

This seems to simulate life ON Mars, rather than travelling TO Mars. Big difference: on the journey there is far less to do than upon arrival on the red planet. Boredom is what gives rise to tensions, having (hopefully interesting) things to do is what keeps you happy.

The experiment lasts for 8 months, doesn't a (mostly boring) return trip take longer than that?

There is ALWAYS the option of bailing out halfway. Yes, sure, it's forbidden and so, but the option is there. The people in the dome know that. If they really want, if someone gets really sick with some life-threatening condition, they WILL be taken out. In the event of a real trip to Mars, that option just isn't there. There is no help around the corner, it is not simulated far away, it's really far away. Knowing that you are committed is a whole different thing than knowing you can make it stop, even if it is only in really extreme situations.

The simulation is a limited time, and a well known limited time. Participants can count down to the day they're released, and know when the torture wills top. That makes it much easier to deal with than the one-way trip as suggested by Mars One.

The above are all things that I know can not be practically or even ethically be done on Earth. It may make a huge difference, though, when a manned Mars mission would actually take place. How people really deal with the above is not sure. One of the main things may be how to deal with emergencies, especially the part where you know that you can never summon help - I mean just look at how people fall over one another about the idea of movie theatres jamming mobile phones, potentially blocking people from making emergency calls until they walk out of the theatre!

Comment Re:Shipping and Handling (Score 1) 277

I'm sure that the NASA spacecraft that attaches some rockets to the asteroid to change its course, can also attach a parachute or two so it can land gently.

After all, the thing is really just about 200 km diameter. Shouldn't be too hard to find a spot for that. As long as it's not in the sea (global warming is doing enough already to give us wet feet) or NIMBY as I like to keep the view I have now.

Comment Re:69% know that piracy is illegal ? (Score 1) 252

In many countries, only the uploading (distribution) part is illegal indeed, not the downloading/streaming part. Depending on the exact wording, it may even be legal to download stuff and keep copies without license.

From a legal perspective, bittorrent is a problem as it automatically uploads as you download, or at the very best offers to upload - in case there are only seeders, no other leechers or none that are interested in your downloaded parts. This is in most countries a breach of copyright.

Comment Re:Since they determined autopilot wasn't to blame (Score 1) 182

The driver still is responsible for operating the vehicle, including in emergency situations. The owner here did not make any attempt to avoid the collision but should have been aware of the situation. Either he was being an inattentive driver, or he deliberately failed to take action, expecting the Tesla system to instead. In either case the Tesla system is not the one to blame for the accident not being avoided.

As much as I love the idea of automated cars, I still have the feeling it's applied the wrong way.

Tesla takes away the easy parts of the driving from the driver. That's of course like 98% of a regular car ride. Most rides you just follow the road, stop at traffic lights, move on with traffic, nothing happens. It's the bit that is the problem: cars or trucks that cross in front of you and force you to slow down, pedestrians suddenly trying to cross, etc.

So as a result, 98% of the time the driver doesn't need to pay attention because the car does so. Most of the above described situations are also handled by autopilot: the crossing truck is detected, and the car slows down or even stops as needed. I think in most cases by the time the driver realises the car is not reacting, it's too late.

In the captioned case, possibly the driver saw the truck, but was used to his car seeing it as well and automatically start slowing down. So the truck starts to turn on the road, and the car starts slowing down. Mmm... The car starts slowing down, I said. There's this obstacle. Hey, shouldn't it start to slow down about now? It always does. Oh. Maybe I should help and apply the brake. Like now. Before something goes CRASH!

It sounds much safer to me to have the driver in control all the times, and have the car look "over his shoulder" and correct if something is about to go wrong. It's got most of the benefits of the existing autopilot, without inviting drivers to go watch Harry Potter movies while sitting behind the wheel.

Comment Re:Boeing or not going (Score 1) 140

Funny you mention Hong Kong. It's where I live.

I don't see flying cars/buses/whatever here any time soon. The reason: high-rise buildings (most city blocks here are anywhere from 50 to 480 meters tall) and mountains (the tallest being over 900 meters tall). With those high-rises there is almost no place for any aircraft to land safely, it's just too dense. There's a heliport at the harbour and a few super luxury hotels have helipads on the rooftop. That are about your only realistic options.

Add to that the sheer volume of people that want to be moved. Trains are the more efficient way to go for that - the busiest line is operating 12-coach trains, 20 trains an hour, and it's actually not enough to handle rush hour traffic. The train network is being expanded steadily, with more lines being added. Mostly underground, out of the way of everything. Currently the trains handle some 3.5 million passenger trips every day, road public transport (buses, minibuses, taxis) handle at least that number of trips between them.

Other dense population centres will have the same problems. Huge numbers of people that want to move around, basically limiting any air transport to just a fancy premium service. No space to land on the ground as you're always too close to buildings, one of the main issues after noise would be the unpredictable winds tossing your drone around.

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