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Comment JPL (Score 2) 363

The Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, CA. You need to book in advance, but they do lab-wide tours for the public at least a few times a week. Too bad you just missed seeing MSL in the clean room! Was a real sight to see a few months ago. The rest of the Lab is still very cool -- the museum alone is worth it.

Comment Decadal Survey one step ahead (Score 1) 233

Per the 2010 Decadal Survey... "The committee is alarmed at the status of plutonium-238 availability for planetary exploration. Without a restart of plutonium-238 production, it will be impossible for the United States, or any other country, to conduct certain important types of planetary missions after this decade."

NASA Delays Discovery's Final Launch To February 62

Velcroman1 writes "NASA has postponed the launch of space shuttle Discovery's final mission to no earlier than early February — the latest in a long string of delays that have kept the spacecraft grounded for more than a month. Discovery is now slated to launch no earlier than Feb. 3, with the delay allowing NASA engineers more time to analyze why small cracks developed in the shuttle's huge external fuel tank. The cracks have since been repaired, but NASA wants to make sure similar issues don't pose a future concern."

Comment Re:Kinf of Funny as News (Score 1) 89

I was about to launch into a huge rant about this, but you said it all for me. Whatever this article is talking about, it sure isn't AI. And it sure isn't news. The closest thing to it that they mention is the EO-1 software, which I use every day (hey! I work at JPL!) for other missions. If they wanted to talk about complicated planning systems, they should have thought about the MER (rover) to Odyssey (orbiter) relay communications scheduling, or AIM's on board event-based autonomous planning and scheduling software, or Kepler's fault protection tree. As was said already, it's only "AI" in the most liberal sense of the word. They're portraying this AI thing as "new" and revolutionary, when satellites and their engineers have been doing this for decades.

Comment Re:What am I missing? (Score 1) 61

From "Augustine's Laws," written a few decades ago... "The Defense Marketing Survey has stated that it has compiled a list of over one million acronyms which are in common usage in defense matters alone. These acronyms consist principally of 'words' made up of five or fewer letters. Since the number of five-letter (or less) acronyms that can be formed with the English alphabet is no more than about 14 million, it can be seen that nearly 10 percent of all possible reasonable acronyms have already been used up." (lulz) The American aerospace industry is very acronym happy. I can't speak for the rest of the world, though a quick read of Aviation Week will confirm that it's widespread... But just because you CAN pull out random letters doesn't mean you SHOULD.
It's funny.  Laugh.

Newsweek Easter Egg Reports Zombie Invasion 93

danielkennedy74 writes "Newsweek.com becomes the latest in a long list of sites that will reveal an Easter egg if you enter the Konami code correctly (up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, b, a, enter). This is a cheat code that appeared in many of Konami's video games, starting around 1986 — my favorite places to use it were Contra and Life Force, 30 lives FTW. The Easter egg was probably included by a developer unbeknownst to the Newsweek powers that be. It's reminiscent of an incident that happened at ESPN last year, involving unicorns."

Comment Excellent (Score 2, Insightful) 429

One of the best articles I've seen on stats (and their misuse). I'm taking a data analysis course at the moment and I've spent at least a dozen hours simply computing confidence intervals, testing the null hypothesis, and determining significance. It really has changed how I view statistics because it keeps pounding in these very key but oft-ignored principles.

Comment Re:Correction for the summary (Score 2, Interesting) 64

Very nice catch. You are correct. I do mission operations for Kepler (at LASP) and I remember being trained/briefed on the engineering side of things about a year ago. One of the principle investigators (PIs) was there giving an overview of the science and he mentioned "star wobble" as an alternative method of exoplanet detection. Given the numbers he was throwing around talking about Kepler's sensitivity to light (which is outrageously good, at that), someone asked if it could detect "star wobble." He sorta glumly looked back at the guy asking the question and said, "Nope. Wish we could."

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"There is nothing new under the sun, but there are lots of old things we don't know yet." -Ambrose Bierce