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* Posts by Big John

121 posts • joined 28 Oct 2009

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First Earth-sized planet in habitable zone around star spotted by NASA

Big John

The Red Planet

"..the planet is closer to its sun than Earth is to our star, but only receives around a third of the sunlight we do, but that that's more than enough for plant life to thrive."

One 3rd the solar radiation flux that Earth gets, but more important, at a longer average wavelength too. Okay, red dwarfs are most common, but if vegetal life can't get a proper jolt from the weak tea doled out by said stars, what then?

Even if plants can get by on weak red light, just how vigorous could such life be? And I bet the leaves would have to be black to work at all. Talk about a Goth World! I know, I know, I only say that because mine eyes are adapted to a higher spectrum. Surely in infrared such a world could be fabulous. Just don't expect any car chases.

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KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline

Big John

Re: @Big John Obligatory...

"I notice that they have noodly appendages. There could be room for religious argument here."

I get your drift, but there are problems. First, since these spongoids presumably have no muscles, those "appendages" would be better characterized as tendrils. Second and more important, where are the meatballs?

Third, there are a lot of these creatures, but the Noodly One is said to be unique, if very messy. At least that was my understanding...

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Big John
Pirate

Obligatory...

I for one, welcome our absorbent marine overlords.

Let us all bow down and pay obeisance to His Most Holey and Unshellfish Majesty, Spongebob the First!

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SpaceX Falcon tests HOVERCRAFT tech – despite ISS outage

Big John

Re: At last!

"Where are the fins?"

They get burned off when the motor gimbals to the side...

1
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Forget the beach 'n' boardwalk, check out the Santa Cruz STEVE JOBS FOUNTAIN

Big John

Re: Re:images of Steve Jobs per square meter

"Not every image of the late Mr. Jobs is actually an icon."

Could we use the measured value of IIJm2 to determine if a location is in fact a religious institution? Perhaps anything below a 5?

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Big John

Re: Re:images of Steve Jobs per square meter

"Inverse images of Jobs per square metre"

That would be "Inverse icons of Jobs per square metre."

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Big John

Not that bad

C'mon people, try googling "bad public art" if you want some real pain. This one isn't even close. In fact, the tackyness only enhances the tribute. Besides, how many of us are going to get a tribute of any kind, even a tacky one? Not a whole lot. And from a non-fanboi, computer-avoider, no less!

Face it, Jobs made a big impact for better or worse, and a weird, somewhat "inaccessible" statue is pretty appropos, I think. It's certanly less evil than that hideous squared-off post-thingy hoax that was unveiled a while back.

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Solar-powered aircraft unveiled for round-the-world flight

Big John
Linux

Flight Route

https://mapsengine.google.com/map/edit?mid=zqS42va89qTY.kI9RV8qDLf7o

At no point does the route touch the Southern Hemisphere. I detect not-so-subtle 'Northism' here.

That aside, it does make sense to stay out of the South, since that half of the globe won't be getting a lot of sun during the northern summer. Obviously this implies the next big challenge: The Southern Around the World Solar Flight! Much harder, with all those nasty great ocean spans to cover.

I wonder if they have a chase boat? It would have to be a hydrofoil to keep up tho.

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Drone 'hacked' to take out triathlete

Big John
Black Helicopters

Occam's Razor

Okay, I'm going to be the skeptical one here. This photo outfit's drone knocks out the runner and they suggest it was some kind of outside hacking that caused it. But let's look at the facts. They are videoing the event live. Presumably they get pretty close to the runners to get dramatic shots. It's all too likely that given the above, an unfortunate accident will eventually happen. And the New Era owner has a clear motive to suggest "circumstances looked to be suspicious," rather than admit his company's incompetence or recklessness is to blame.

Maybe there was a nefarious hacker, maybe not. Untill New Era provides some evidence, I think not.

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Soccer's dull? A MIND-CONTROLLED robo-suit will be used to take first World Cup 2014 kick

Big John

Re: Implications

"... so yeah they would fit an airline seat... but if not, neither do wheelchairs...."

And neither do a lot of average Americans. Woe to those who have to sit next to them! Maybe the "Exos" wouldn't be all that bad...

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Big John
Gimp

Implications

But can it ride a bicycle? Or at least do a bicycle kick?

Seriously, what happens if this idea actually works out well? I'd guess there will be more and more invalids walking around in these things, and there will be demands to accomodate them just like with wheelchairs.

Oh sure, stairs will be doable, but what about seating in public transport? These gadgets won't be fitting in a standard airline seat any time soon. Just how much extra expense will we face to handle discrimination lawsuits? And what about inperfect interactions with the able-bodied, such as getting knocked down accidentally, or spilling hot soup on someone? Where will the blame fall?

Then there's the question of "assisted sex." The more I think about it, the less I want to think about it. I'm not talking about invalids getting it on, but non-invalids finding alternate uses for powered exoskeletons. Oh well, can't hold back progress, I guess.

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Artists install Monty Python silly walk signs in Norwegian town

Big John
Meh

Walk the walk

Rather than signs, wouldn't it be more artistic to actually DO silly walks? I can see this thing catching on...

Silly Walk drill teams

Silly Walk relay races

Walk Silly for charity

"Am I silly now?" advertising campaigns

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New IPCC report: 8 ways climate change will throw world INTO PERIL

Big John

Predictions

"This is not, therefore, a report trying to prove or disprove anthropogenic climate change theories. Instead, it's all about how the world responds to the shifting climate we find ourselves in."

For "shifting climate" read "global warming" under a new name, as is clear from the report, which posits a rise of 3C by 2050. But they aren't "trying to prove or disprove" the AGW theory, oh no. They just "acknowledge" that it will happen! Good on them, glad to see they've finally come out of denial.

If we accept that they (in this case) are neutral on AGW and just want to find out what the future impacts will be from climate change, why then is it automatically assumed that there will be a big rise in the temp? Why not look at rises AND falls? And why assume a big change anyway? If they are as neutral as all that, isn't making such a big assumption about the far future a bit error-prone, like say, predicting the weather?

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Meet the man building an AI that mimics our neocortex – and could kill off neural networks

Big John

Re: model a neurone in one supercomputer

I agree. These guys never seem to address the arguments in Penrose's book:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Emperor%27s_New_Mind

I don't blame them; if Penrose is right, no binary comp will ever achieve intelligence as we know it. Assuming we actually have it.

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Play Mario using just your EYES as Google Glass gets JavaScript

Big John
Thumb Down

"Segway was another hyped up thing, world changing apparently. It was for the inventor who went off a cliff on his."

Let's not be spreading misinformation, shall we? The inventor is alive and well. The plunger was the bloke who bought the company later:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1315518/Segway-tycoon-Jimi-Heselden-dies-cliff-plunge-scooters.html

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Homeopathic remedies contaminated with REAL medicine get recalled

Big John
Pirate

Water music

I wonder if the Ocean "remembers" everybody that's ever pissed in it?

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RISE of the LIVING CHAIR: Boffins recruit E coli to build futuristic materials

Big John
Coat

Re: Where's the LiveSkin™?

Um, we already have that. It's called 'skin.'

Feeds itself, repairs itself, easy to clean. And for the "smelly" part, consider how you'd smell without your skin.

Now, a live coat that turns into a flying suit...

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Big John

Extended application

Why stop at simulating chairs? What about simulating chair-warmers too? Specifically bureaucrats? The benefits are many: No salary, better listener, more efficiency, less ugly. What's not to love?

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Candy Crush King stops trying to trademark CANDY in the US

Big John

Re: What's in a name?

"What's irritating about 'Candy Crush' is the insidious infiltration of our beautiful language by yet another hideous and redundant American word, viz. 'Candy'."

Um, the origins of the word 'candy' are a little older than the USA:

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/candy

The French, Arabs, and Persians might take issue with your assertion of US origin, heh.

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Missing matter found by squinting through gravitational lens

Big John

Tests in collision

What I find interesting is that there are now two ways to measure galactic cluster mass. The boosted photon method and the grav lens method, and they disagree with each other, by a substantial amount.

These two tests can't both be accurate at the same time, so at least one must be way off. That means the theory behind one or both has flaws that need to be worked out. Any talk of "finding mass' should wait 'till the descrepancies are resolved.

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Hear that, Sigourney? Common names 'may not constitute personal data'

Big John
Big Brother

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!!

Very confusing article, let's see if I've got it right.

This Edem fellow feels wronged by faceless bureaucrats, demands their unmasking, first court agrees. Said bureaucrats continue the fight to remain faceless and a higher court decides that no, their very identities really are 'personal data' that may not be legally divulged, according to rules created by other faceless bureaucrats.

So the system is rigged such that if you get screwed, tough, you ain't finding out who's screwing you, ha ha! Get lost, lusers!

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It's a scientific FACT: Online comment trolls are SADISTS

Big John

Re: So, uhm...

"What does this make me when I start trolling the trolls..."

Is it truely possible to troll a true troll? After all, they (by definition) don't care about what they post, so the most you could do is confuse them. That might be fun, but it hardly qualifies as trolling.

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James Dyson plans ROBOT ARMY to take over the world

Big John
Windows

Squalor is the prime irritant

What about all the people who already eat "Yesterday's cold pizza as tomorrow's breakfast..."? What will they do when robots take care of every tedious chore in their lazy lives?

Yup, they evolve into huge disgusting sluglike things, ministered to and totally dependent on their mechanical servants. And that kind of tale NEVER has a happy ending!

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Big John

Re: The dream lives on.

"It's only when you try to make a human that you realize how light the structure is"

Precisely. We are still a loooong way from a human-mass robot that can come close to the performance, reliability, and ruggedness of a human, not to mention the self-repairing and *ahem* self-replicating features.

And the AI side is no better, maybe a lot worse. Sooo, I guess we'll just have to be satisfied with good old human overlords, or insect, or alien, or vegetable...

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CERN outlines plan for new 100km circumference supercollider

Big John
Mushroom

Re: Ah yesss...

"MORE POWER, IGOR!"

Modern translation:

"I think it is time we demonstrated the full power of this station."

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Big John

Big jump up?

I vaguely recall from reading that to get from where we are atom-smasher-wise to an energy level that would reveal new stuff would be pretty big, certainly much bigger than the plan being envisioned. If that's actually the case, it would mean this plan is really just featherbedding for the CERN blokes.

Is that the case? I admit my memory about this is a bit hazy...

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Greenland glacier QUADRUPLES speed, swells seas

Big John

Re: I sea swelling

"'sea-borne ice' is one of _two_ things: icebergs which did break off a land-borne glacier _OR_ ice that formed on the sea."

Agreed. However, sea ice is not and never was the issue in the original article, please re-read it if you doubt me. True, sea-borne ice does not raise sea level as it melts, but if it got in the sea by running off the land and into the water, it definitely DID raise sea level at that time. Or perhaps being under-educated I have somehow got this wrong?

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Big John

Re: I sea swelling

"While what you say is true, it is irrelevant because it FAILs to connect to the actual claim."

The actual claim included this little nugget:

"This retreat is a cause for some concern..."

The author was specifically referring to the retreat of the glacier foot from the sea and onto the land. He says this fact is a problem, in the very next words:

"..seeing as how unlike sea-borne ice, melting land-based ice adds to sea-level rise as it dumps its chilly self into the ocean."

The author is clearly implying that this 'sea-borne ice' got there by calving off a land based glacier, not by forming as sea ice. Sea ice was never mentioned. Therefore the actual claim compares floating glacial ice to melted glacial ice. Therefore your criticism is unwarranted. You really should take a course in basic logic.

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Big John

Re: I sea swelling

"As does your misunderstanding of the author's reference to sea-borne v. land-borne ice."

Hmmm, let us revisit the offending quote:

"This retreat is a cause for some concern, seeing as how unlike sea-borne ice, melting land-based ice adds to sea-level rise as it dumps its chilly self into the ocean."

In the context of the article, that 'sea-borne ice' got in the sea exactly how? Did it form there? Or did it break off a glacier that formed on land? Obviously the latter. So the fact that the ice is now floating (when it had not been previously) indicates that when it entered the sea it perforce had to drive up the sea level.

Have I clarified it enough?

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Big John

Last time I checked, sea level rise was one of the big boogeymen of the AGW crowd, and the article is all about said rise, and the author tries to instill fear with loaded but unsupported language, and even a pathetic 'joke' about a 1600M rise (ha ha), so I might be forgiven for jumping to a conclusion. Heck, that's SOP for the AGW'ers!

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Big John
FAIL

I sea swelling

Who keeps posting this kneepad-style AGW bilge? Feel the propaganda:

"This retreat is a cause for some concern, seeing as how unlike sea-borne ice, melting land-based ice adds to sea-level rise as it dumps its chilly self into the ocean."

WRONG. As a glacier tongue enters the sea it raises sea level just the same as if it had melted on land and had run down as liquid water. Fail.

"We know that from 2000 to 2010 this glacier alone increased sea level by about 1mm," says Joughin. "With the additional speed it likely will contribute a bit more than this over the next decade."

Oh, we 'know' this, do we? Got proof?

"A millimeter here, a millimeter there, all coupled with the overall expansion of the mass of a warmer ocean, and pretty soon you're talking about beachfront property in Denver, Colorado.

Well, no, of course – but you get the implications."

Oh, I get it alright. Be afraid, be VERY afraid! Pay no attention to your lying eyes, that's just weather! This glacier over here is what matters, and it's going BERSERK! Aaaaagh!

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iFrame attack injects code via PNGs

Big John

Re: iFrames are pretty evil concept

"I never liked the iFrame"

What are you saying?! Where would Facebook and Twitter BE without their massive, oppressive iframe script-injectors on half of the interwebs?

I just love it when a client wants those stupid badge-links on their site and then blames me when it loads about as fast as molasses in Winter...

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Is modern life possible without a smartphone?

Big John
Windows

Phoneless Phreedom

I come from a time when a person could walk out the door and no one knew where you were, or could 'contact' you. Yes, it meant some emergencies were not handled as fast as they could have been, but it also meant you were your own boss, striding the world in unfettered freedom to do what you wanted to.

I spend too much time online already, don't want any fetters on me when I go out, thanks. Don't carry a phone, never have, never will. Color me a throwback and loving it.

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Unmanned, autonomous ROBOT TRUCK CONVOY 'drives though town'

Big John
Go

Optimal solution?

I seems to me it would be a lot more effective to use remote drivers, the way they pilot drones. A real mind to cope with all the complexities of the road in a battlezone, but no exposure to a real human being. The autonomous system could serve as a backup in the case of jamming.

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A BBC-by-subscription 'would be richer', MPs told

Big John

Follow what money?

As an outsider to Britain I'm puzzled by this:

"Yet the political will was lacking. The BBC won't dare raise the subject in public - and Ministers have become almost as dependent on the guaranteed firehose of cash as the BBC itself, Elstein claimed."

Apparently the Ministers are enrichifying from the current system and want to keep it that way, but exactly how are those monies getting to the Ministers? Is it built into the system or are they skimming somehow?

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Boffins: Antarctic glacier in irreversible decline, will raise sea levels by 1cm

Big John

A choice of words

Examine the wording of the opening paragraph:

"A new paper in Nature Climate Change describes how the Pine Island Glacier (PIG) has been shedding ice into the ocean at a dramatically increasing rate. Using observations on the grounds and from satellites, the team says the rate of loss has increased from 20 gigatonnes a year between 1992 and 2011 to about 100 gigatonnes a year. The team estimates the rate of loss will continue at this rate for the foreseeable future."

"Shedding ice." "Rate of loss."

Um, the glacier is transporting fallen snow to the ocean as ice, right? The flow rate would be expected to vary with time. So why the breathless reporting on "rate of loss?" Is there an ideal mass for that glacier? Would the world be better off if it fattened up a bit? Or is all this part and parcel of "Dem seas, dey gonna rise" fear-mongering?

Witness the admission of "thickening" attributed to a mere La Niña "event," as opposed to the generally accepted slide toward global warm.. uh, climate change. Forgot for a moment.

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Large Hadron Collider competition: VOTE NOW to choose the WINNER

Big John

Re: Oh gods, the pain!

I thought it was pear shaped...

0
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Workers, guards clash in hours-long Samsung factory RIOT in Vietnam

Big John

Not adding up

"Clashes like the incident at Samsung's factory site are also rare in Vietnam, where the authoritarian government takes a dim view of violent labor disputes".

So such clashes are rare in VN, but when they do happen it's total chaos? And what gov DOESN'T take a dim view of violence in labor disputes? That sort of thing ought be confined to verbal threats and the occasional kneecapping.

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Boffins build sticky-limbed lizard-bots to tend spacecraft

Big John

Re: Anchor points

"So more akin to a spider traversing its webbing."

You're halfway there. What about slapping a few thin 'king posts' all over the station that stick out a ways, with thin wires running from station points to post ends and between posts too? Then a bot could reach out to the nearest wire and pulley along it, switiching wires as necessary until arriving at the target point. All parts of the station are easy to inspect and reach with no possible damage along the way.

Of course you'd need a bot to rig the whole thing...

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Big John

Re: Flatlander thinking

"That makes the robot itself bigger and makes for more small parts having to carry a lot of load as it moves, making it more likely to break. I expect it would also make dealing with the recoil of taking a pad off the surface harder, but IANAE"

I thought of that too, but there's this:

"Geckos' toes seem to be "double jointed", but this is a misnomer. Their toes actually bend in the opposite direction from human fingers and toes. This allows them to overcome the van der Waals force by peeling their toes off surfaces from the tips inward."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gecko

So I envision a robot with long slender legs that have minimal strength. The pads have these backward bending toes which can be actuated via a strong wire running inside the leg and reeled in from the main body. All the wires can be pulled via the same motor/drum by splitting the drum into six (or eight) sections, with a sliding drive axle that's keyed to engage only one section at a time. Almost off-the-shelf stuff.

The main body doesn't have to be large, since even a thin weak leg can move it around in free fall, given a little time to apply torque. It's analagous to the shuttle's robot arm. Not really quick I admit, but still faster than that agonizingly slow gadget they got now!

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Big John

Flatlander thinking

Since this thing is meant to operate in free fall, why not make the legs very long, with several joints? Then it's easy for the feet to reach a variety of nice anchor points and the travel speed would be a lot higher. For operations requiring torque, just lower the main body and attach it with some stubby feet, then employ a strong servo arm.

The main body would stay far away from station clutter, with a good view of everything too. And turning corners would be no problem.

Also it would be a lot closer in appearance to those space spiders!

3
0

Antarctic ice shelf melt 'lowest EVER recorded, global warming is NOT eroding it'

Big John
Thumb Up

Page Two, I Love You

The "Keep yer comment cogent or we'll vaporize it" threat is great! The signal to noise ratio has never been higher on this topic at the Reg. But will it last...

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1

Coming in 2014: Scary super-soldier exoskeleton suits from the US military

Big John
Facepalm

Re: Battlefield Realities

"See, what I'm thinking about is a Large AGILE Target."

There's another point I didn't mention before: ground pressure. Any armoured vehicle tends to be massy, and a battlefield often has soft ground underfoot. Tanks use many many treads to spread the load, and even then they sink in a bit. Consider the footprint of heavy body armor. Pretty tiny compared to mass. It's hard to be agile when your feet are sinking into the ground all the time.

The obvious solution is to, uh, enlarge the feet. This would also obviate the need for weapons at all; The enemy would laugh themselves to death.

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Big John
Mushroom

Battlefield Realities

It seems to me the only justified use for expensive enhanced musculature is to allow a grunt to carry really heavy body armor that can withstand hits which would penetrate the current armor in use. Attempting to enhance speed and agility seems like a stretch technically, and an unencumbered human is already pretty good in that department.

So assuming the heavy armor, what is the result? A tall (for its mass) target, that isn't terribly spry. It may take hits better, but it will take a lot more hits, and draw the fire of bigger weapons too. Battle tanks solve this by being very low (compared to mass) while being quite speedy, if not too agile. Also, tanks place their armor in a thick belt around the low sides while letting the big flat top and bottom go almost unarmoured. That's not an option for our tall legged warrior. Finally, tanks mount a baddass main weapon, accounting for a sizable fraction of total mass. They can do this due to a wide and very strong base, along with a fairly unitary construction.

So with the body suit we're left with the worst possible armoured solution: Tall, slow, clumsy, and with no more real firepower than before. Noooo. It's like those stupid Battlemech fantasies, only at least they have big weapons. A platoon of Battlemechs wouldn't last long against a platoon of tech-equivalent tracked battle tanks. Just a bunch of LSTs - Large Slow Targets.

4
0

Euro satellite to count a BEELLLION stars, find origin of Milky Way

Big John

Re: Huh?

"It doesn't sit exactly at L2 it orbits around it - there is still an overall resonance that keeps it around that point."

You're confusing L2 with L4/5, which are indeed stable points. The other three points require some delta-v corrections to remain on station. However it's less critical than I assumed. Here's what Wikipedia has to say:

"Although the L1, L2, and L3 points are nominally unstable, it turns out that it is possible to find (unstable) periodic orbits around these points, at least in the restricted three-body problem. These periodic orbits, referred to as "halo" orbits, do not exist in a full n-body dynamical system such as the Solar System. However, quasi-periodic (i.e. bounded but not precisely repeating) orbits following Lissajous-curve trajectories do exist in the n-body system. These quasi-periodic Lissajous orbits are what most of Lagrangian-point missions to date have used. Although they are not perfectly stable, a relatively modest effort at station keeping can allow a spacecraft to stay in a desired Lissajous orbit for an extended period of time." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lagrangian_point

As for sunlight, That page states that at L2 some sunlight does sneak around the edges of the earth, so solar power works.

2
0
Big John
Alien

Huh?

"...Gaia is now en route to the stable point at L2..."

Who writes this tripe? L2 is stable like a pin balanced on its point is stable; ie. not very much. I'm also curious why L2? Hiding behind the moon would make sense if the Earth's radio emissions were a problem, but they are apparently using visible light. This only makes sense if they actually intend to spy on that alien base located on the farside.

0
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Feminist Software Foundation gets grumpy with GitHub … or does it?

Big John
Go

Inspiring text

I'm reading the docs, and it's comedy gold!

http://feministsoftwarefoundation.org/C-plus-Equality/repository/Fri%2013%20Dec%202013%2003:38:14%20PM%20PST/README.md

Selected gems:

Primitive variable types are not defined on declaration. Instead, the variable is free to choose its own type when it is utilised/-ized. This preserves the variable's right to self-identify as any datatype it feels that it is.

Booleans** are __banned__ for imposing a binary view of true and false. **C+=** operates paralogically and transcends the trappings of Patriarchal binary logic. **No means no, and yes could mean no as well. Stop raping women. Instead of **Booleans** we now have **Boolean+**, or **_bool+_** for short, which has three states: *true, false, and maybe*. The number of states may go up as intersectionality of the moment calls for such a need.

Line terminators should not be used. Programmers get to select their own 'line decorator' to use in lieu of a line terminator. This is of course open to interpretation and can be eschewed altogether as a badge of solidarity for differently abled programmers.

In C+=, you don't write to a file. Dictating to the poor files what sort of information they must store is Patriarchal. Instead, The \<fileIO> library brings in the functions pleaseWrite() and pleaseTellMe(). They both have a chance to return "no", and if so all other calls to the same file are automatically passed over because as we all know, once a file says no to being written, you must always respect that.

Sweet.

6
0

Cambs prof scoops $3m Fundamental Physics prize

Big John
Mushroom

Hoverboards are fine, but flying cars are a non-starter, for this reason...

Picture the sleazest, litter-hurling, all-over-the-road, hound-dogs-in-the-back citizen, rattling on down the road.

Now picture that same individual (and millions like him) owning flying pickup trucks, flying OVER YOUR HOUSE, any dang time they want.

Fences will become a joke. Anti-aircraft missile launchers will be the new fences. >:-D

0
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OHM MY GOD! Move over graphene, here comes '100% PERFECT' stanene

Big John

Re: How about

Tinselene? Ribbontin? Or, dare I say it...

..Conductin...?

8
0

Denver robocops fit Nasal Ranger to perceive potent pot puffing pollution

Big John

Re: "... greater than a 7-to-1 dilution rate to be deemed a nuisance"

"...I'm assuming that 7-1 dilution means 7 parts air to 1 part smelly substance."

Eeewwwwww!

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