* Posts by DropBear

4365 posts • joined 4 Mar 2013

Astroboffins spy a rare exoplanet evaporating before their eyes

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Re: Rather a lot of unanswered questions there

Sorry but that excuse is objectively wrong. The article clearly says "in only a few billion years from now, half of the planet may be gone". Not the atmosphere. The planet. I continue to consider my question valid, and apparently eight people didn't read the article.

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Rather a lot of unanswered questions there

So how exactly will the planet continue to evaporate once it lost all its atmosphere - is its sun going to start chipping away at rock then? Or is it a completely gaseous planet (in which case what exactly delimits its "atmosphere")...? And how can we even possibly know it's shrinking, considering that based on its expected billion-year lifespan and the history of our ability to detect exoplanets being measured in mere years it's hard to imagine we could possibly have detected any directly measurable change in its size...? Is this a theoretical inference only, based on the circumstances we expect the exoplanet to exist in...?

Waymo presents ChauffeurNet, a neural net designed to copy human driving

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Re: Simple questions

It's not about the emergency services. Around here the law says if there's simultaneously a working traffic light and a traffic agent actively directing traffic, the latter wins no matter what the lights say (and this happens all the time, whenever cops have nothing better to do I suppose). So yeah, it's quite on point asking whether an AI driver would recognize the often relatively subtle gestures those guys use to signal "your turn, get moving..."

Equifax how-it-was-mega-hacked damning dossier lands, in all of its infuriating glory

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There's rather significant difference between wrongfully blaming an innocent for something he's not guilty of and wrongfully blaming an admittedly guilty party as the sole reason for the consequences that were not caused by his actions alone. Neither is fair, but I don't think the "scapegoat" was fired for "single-handedly leaking the whole database" but rather for "not applying an important patch in due time", which apparently he did (fail to) do. Unless he can prove holding back the patch was an instruction from higher-up, I don't see how he can sue simply for nobody else being blamed at the time.

Official: Voyager 2 is now an interstellar spacecraft

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Re: Scale

Okay, attempt number two: if Voyager 2 could shine a laser pointer on the Sun from London, by the time we would see the red spot (if we could) Voyager would already be in Sydney...

College PRIMOS prankster wreaks havoc with sysadmin manuals

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That is not my experience at all. More specifically, while most students would probably indeed frown upon causing significant problems or harm to others, most of them are absolutely fine "pranking" their peers with stuff that adults (including the same people later on) would find distinctly distasteful.

Bloodhound SSC reaches the end of the road for want of £25m

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Re: Crowdfunding?

I follow this sort of thing fairly closely - and these days we're more like in the miserably failing to crowd-fund-my-pointless-hairdryer-on-wheels-that-also-makes-coffee era. Kickstarter et al. is no longer new or glamorous, and years of either failing to deliver completely or delivering half-assed stuff eroded the initial enthusiasm to a mere shadow of its former self; and that's not even speaking of the amount of competing rubbish that raises the noise floor sky high nowadays. Finally, altruism and grand ideals are well and good, but out here in the real world projects that actually promise to deliver a product to each of the punters tend to do spectacularly better than the "come share my dream" type. My prediction is they would have brought in less than a single million if they tried.

Ecuador says 'yes' to Assange 'freedom' deal, but Julian says 'nyet'

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Re: Double down?

Coming from a non-English speaking country I can only offer an outsider's anecdotal, strictly non-academic (and at least somewhat impartial) perspective, but to be honest I have encountered "double" or "double down" used plenty of times yet I have never, ever heard or read "double up" before today. Which is not a comment on what may "officially" be right or wrong - just a remark offered at face value...

It's official. Microsoft pushes Google over the Edge, shifts browser to Chromium engine

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Re: Oh Homer - "work with anything other than Chromium"

>> user@host:~$ apt-mark showhold

>> firefox-esr

>> thunderbird

>> user@host:~$

...just sayin'.

Awkward... Revealed Facebook emails show plans for data slurping, selling access to addicts' info, crafty PR spinning

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"I can one-up that, I'm Android free as well."

I can two-up that with my fiendish two-layer defence. Against direct snooping I'm protected by simply not having any Facebook or Twitter accounts. Second, against posts from friends and family betraying the Ferrari and the mansion I cannot possibly afford I'm protected by the fact that, uh, I cannot possibly afford any*.

* Yes, I also make my life dull and uninteresting on purpose for the same reason - to starve them of anything they might foolishly post about me. At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it...!

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Re: Users should pay to use Facebook

"no one will pay ever and whatever the cost would be it will be too much anyway"

That sounds to me like Zuckerberg actually agreeing with them, not with you who seems to think there would be a reasonable business case charging the users for access. Zuckerberg very explicitly does not think so, at any level the users would consider not to "be too much anyway".

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Re: I'm out of here!

"elReg counts as anti-social media then I take it?"

I personally don't consider absolutely any interaction with others over the internet as "social media". It may well be a completely arbitrary distinction, but I see "social media" as places concentrating content concerning the subjective existence of their members, with well-defined networks of ties.

Considering here we tend to discuss topics of _common interest_ mostly based on objective happenings in the world (as opposed to whose most remote acquaintance had a new sprog recently which definitely fails the _common_ interest criteria for me) and generally without a particular distinction about who we are interacting with (or indeed any peer pressure concerning what we read or we decide to reply to, which I see as a huge part of the toxicity of actual SNs) I really don't see The Register comparable to what people traditionally call "social media".

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Re: $0.10 per Year

...from a _single_ company. Depending on how many of them spend that sum on your "content", you may well not be earning enough to offset your own data's value to FB even if you _would_ be willing to pay to keep it private.

Talk about a GAN-do attitude... AI software bots can see through your text CAPTCHAs

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While I am indeed one of those people who hates picking out cars, street signs and other objects in CAPTCHA image grids working for Google for free, the part I really hate with impossible-to-properly-describe fury is that apparently there is no limit on how many times you can be forced to try again. Usually it just goes on endlessly, tile set after tile set after tile set, and there is no recourse because a) you probably have something you _need_ to do behind that captcha you can't do anywhere else and b) absolutely everyone is using the same disgusting system anyway.

The fact that if as a consumer I had any power whatsoever then right now there would be a giant smouldering crater full of liquefied rock where the captcha servers used to be illustrates nicely that I am nothing more than powerless cattle and a product both for the suppliers of those captchas and the sites employing them.

FCC slammed for 'arbitrary and reckless' plan to change how text messages are regulated

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What in the name of...

That anyone between a handset and another one gets to "not deliver" a text message is absolute news to me. Privacy issues aside (I never told the telco they may sift through what I type, even with a machine) I would plainly call that loss of service if it happened more than once and either move to another telco that doesn't do this or else encrypt every text I send or receive (99% of my texts go to a single, like-minded person).

Microsoft's .NET Core 3 is almost here, which means time to move on from .NET Framework

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I'm not particularly familiar with VS specifically but we live in a post-fixing-bugs world, don't you know. The current MO is to just move fast and when (not if) you break things just keep adding enough new bugs until the old one gets superseded naturally all on it own. And if in spite of your best efforts the code ever shows signs of stabilizing just declare it obsolete, abandon it, and rewrite everything using the latest even more bug-ridden tech, from scratch. Repeat as many times as needed, but long before you reach anywhere near feature parity with the old version. We live in a world of continuously improving software, where "better" is defined as "never mind the loss of features and stability, feel that Nightly goodness!".

As sales slide, virtual reality fans look to a bright, untethered future

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I don't see how stand-alones are supposed to be so much better than a Cardboard-clone plus a phone, considering that's exactly what they are except infinitely more expensive (assuming everyone already has their phone) and a lot less compatible with existing VR apps (for those which either don't run Android at all or run some locked down custom version of it that won't install Shark Experience or Rollercoaster Experience or whatever it is that goes this week).

So far no other rig including all the big names can match the fun per buck that can be had with a nearly decade old phone, a sub-$10 plastic box with (individually adjustable!) lenses, some PC-to-phone glue software and basically ANYTHING 3D built using the Unreal Engine, using nothing more than a single command line parameter.

Tesla autopilot saves driver after he fell asleep at wheel on the freeway

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Re: The elephant in the back seat

"The default behaviour is not happening. That is a bug the size of an elephant."

Wrong. See word in bold.

No, you haven't gone deaf – the Large Hadron Collider has been wound down for more upgrades

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It has already been done (aka "how you take a picture of the Sun at night")

Here's the list of space orgs big and small sparring to send next NASA gear to the Moon

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Re: Probably not, because there isn't a cloud in space.

"And then there is the Oort Cloud"

Yeah sure, have you even looked at those ping times...?

WhamWham, bambam, no thank you, SamSam: Iranians accused by the Feds of orchestrating ransomware outbreak

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So the Feds "told" every single exchange, in every single country around the world they shall not process payments* for these addresses? I'm glad we worked out how things work. Or else what...?

* not that I'm defending those two pricks. It's just so rare to see the World Police openly in action...

3ve Offline: Countless Windows PCs using 1.7m IP addresses hacked to 'view' up to 12 billion adverts a day

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Not really - please note that it was _its_ decision not to install on systems _with_ security software that _it_ was obviously already running on. Unless you referred to the uselessness of security software that most people are already well aware of, so it's not particularly worrying news either.

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Re: "3ve" (pronounced "Eve".)"

I think I'll go with "thrive" and I think I can see Occam nodding too...

Australia to build a pirate-proof fence: Brace yourselves, Google

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Re: "primary effect" is infringement

I'd argue that depends rather a lot on how and who gets to decide how "primary effect" should be assessed. Because for the deluge of copyrightwise-challenged stuff that Youtube hosts, it still drowns in at least an order of magnitude more of cat videos, fail compilations, angsty teenager rants, furious SJW rants, rants of people furious about others' furious rants, rants of Dave Jones simply furious and never needing a reason to be so, "let's play" streamers and other genuine and would-be Youtube celebrities, and generally just people making a fool of themselves in front of a webcam. Astonishingly, even some arguably watch-worthy original content, which is already infinitely more than anything on "legitimate" TV (apologies to any mathematicians offended by equating "anything over zero" with infinity) - but that's just my highly subjective opinion.

Pulses quicken at NASA as SpaceX gets closer to crewed launches and Russia readies the next Soyuz

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Re: Drugs assurance

"What controls does SpaceX have in place to minimise the risk of doped-out or coked-up staff making dangerous manufacturing slips?"

And why do they need one specifically against drugs...? How about tired staff? Or improperly trained staff...? Or disgruntled staff...? And if they don't, why do "drugs" feature in the headlines announcing this investigation...?

Montezuma's Revenge can finally be laid to rest as Uber AI researchers crack the classic game

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Sounds like brute force indeed

Okay, you know what - I'd like to see an "AI player" that learns to complete Thunderbirds (yes, exactly the ones you are thinking about, complete with pool animation in its intro), _without_ having a custom path-finding algorithm hand-coded inside it first. Let's see it "evolve" one...

Euro consumer groups: We think Android tracking is illegal

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Re: Spyware ecosystem

"But then, I use a firewall (as everyone should) to ensure that no apps (or the OS itself) can communicate without my permission"

You do realize that even apps fully firewalled from any network access are completely free to load a webpage in a browser window for you (and it will be the browser doing the net access, not them)...? And that in that process they are able to send whatever data they feel like to the server they load? And that you won't necessarily _see_ said page at all...?

Boeing 737 pilots battled confused safety system that plunged aircraft to their deaths – black box

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This is not the first crash I heard about that involved auto-anti-stall. I'm a bit fuzzy on the details, but it was a passenger plane (on a test flight? Not sure but I don't think there were any passengers in it...) that was supposed to do a low pass over an air show for the audience - except they were instructed to do it unusually low, failed to locate the airstrip involved in due time, botched the approach and embedded the plane in the forest at the end of the strip. An already shitty situation for sure, but the explicit reason preventing them to at least _try_ pulling up was, again, the automatic anti-stall overriding the pilots, ruling "nope, the trees it is for you!". Due to the circumstances there should even be some footage of it happening, possibly even on the net. Arguably, the plane may have crashed either way (well I guess we'll never know now will we), but at the very least the pilots should have had the decision about where to crash...

Check your repos... Crypto-coin-stealing code sneaks into fairly popular NPM lib (2m downloads per week)

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Re: The rigour of it all

Oh yes, particularly that "if builders built houses the way programmers built programs, the first woodpecker to come along would destroy civilization" bit - it applies just a well with engineers for builders.

AI snaps business titan jaywalking

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Re: I think I need to follow Ethan Hunt's example

"I need to create masks to wear whenever I go out of the house"

Just get a bike and a tinted helmet. As long as you don't try to do any banking you should be fine...

LG: Fsck everything, we're doing 16 lenses in smartphones (probably)

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"Because of that, nothing under at least 100Mpixels is going to compete"

As an interesting bit of trivia, photos easily exceeding that resolution were commonly taken even over a decade ago (well, commonly among those who cared for that sort of thing). It's just that the weapon of choice allowing that was not a traditional photo camera at all - but an even more "traditional" camera obscura with a, uh, flatbed scanner where the image formed. And yes, the subject had to be perfectly immobile while the "shot" completed, so it was mostly scenery shots only...

NASA's Mars probe InSight really has Mars in sight: It beams back first pic after touchdown

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"At the right moment, InSight stretched out its legs to absorb any shock as it set itself down on the rocky ground."

But before that happened, and after the parachute opened and the heat shield dropped away, one kilometre above the ground InSight let go of the parachute, fell away, veered out from under it, then slowed to a low constant speed descent right before it hit the ground, turning its pulse engines off as soon as it did, to prevent toppling over. And yes, I would need brown trousers for all that too.

Sacked NCC Group grad trainee emailed 300 coworkers about Kali Linux VM 'playing up'

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To be fair, I have zero confidence "motherboard failure" was anything other than a default "we have no idea what your problem is" response, and I have to agree "reinstall Windows" is a completely inappropriate "solution" to any problem, let alone against self-unlocking (if that really happened). I'm not saying her claims have merit (and she probably did indeed handle everything as poorly as possible), but the whole thing sounds much more fishy than NCC tries to make it look. I'm not convinced there wasn't _something_ going on we have no idea about.

Great Scott! Is nothing sacred? US movie-goers vote Back To The Future as most-wanted reboot

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No, no, no, folks!

How could they not make a reboot of "Where Eagles Dare" yet?!? Or maybe "The Guns of Navarone"...? Come on, I have a whole list - and when we're done with it, we can just move on to John Wayne...!

Facebook spooked after MPs seize documents for privacy breach probe

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Paris Hilton

Re: It's got me wondering...

"If the public can made aware of just how pernicious this company is in terms of the effects it has had on society (the world over) could we see a backlash against Facebook to the extent where it becomes unfashionable, or (even better) socially unacceptable to use social media sites such as these?"

Totally! I'm, like, soooo outraged I'm going to get on Twitter, like, right now to warn all my bestest frenemies to #GetOffFacebookNow...!

Consultant misreads advice, ends up on a 200km journey to the Exchange expert

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Re: If...Then...Else

Because that's the kind of instruction that never fails to confuse its audience. First they get "you don't need to" followed by "but you can if you want" and that invariably results in "now should I or should I not?" - I'm pretty sure the syndrome even has a name but I can't recall it. I do understand that this is technically not a fault in the instructions themselves which merely go to out of their way to fully describe all possible options and possibilities, but the fact remains their effect on the user is to cause confusion and paralysis unless said user is unusually adept at this sort of thing. Which is exactly what one should not and can not ever safely assume.

Tech bosses talk kids' books! Could they show a glimmer of humanity? You only get one guess

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There's a "small" problem here...

...the people in question were asked to help assemble a "box of books" for children, and their answers reflect that; they never said they read whatever they picked as kids:

"Ewing says she kept her brief fairly open: She asked these people to identify children’s books that inspired them. Some of them chose books from their own childhood, but others chose books that they had read to their own children–thereby passing on their love of reading to the next generation–or books that they had recently stumbled upon."

Oi, Elon: You Musk sort out your Autopilot! Tesla loyalists tell of code crashes, near-misses

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Re: Marketurds vs Reality

In my experience, most modern software seems to fail miserably when it invariably does due to having been written to implement more or less only the shortest and most complication-free path between A and B, invariably keeling over as soon as (more than) one unforeseen factor takes it out of whack. And that is exactly why agile is unfit for purpose with anything that must work reliably: because the whole idea of fully specified requirements is that they're the only way to consider the implications on everything on everything.

Now, this is not to say that non-agile guarantees that those implications are fully and correctly considered; it's not even to say that agile couldn't, in theory, re-consider every single relevant interaction on-th-fly. Rather it is to say that it is not possible for humans using agile to do that in practice, ever, full stop.

It's hard enough even for excellent programmers to hold the entirety of the context of a problem in their mind all at once even when they go brick by brick starting from foundations - sometimes completely impossible already with large enough systems. But trying to do the same thing based just on diffs makes it flat out impossible for anyone, all of the time.

Shocker: UK smart meter rollout is crap, late and £500m over budget

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Re: smart meter != reduction in energy consumption

"Gives me a far better idea of what it consumes and how I should ration it if necessary."

Funnily enough, my turning off of an electric appliance is governed by me no longer needing it at the moment. Whereas if I do, it will be on, even if it blacks out the other half of the city. No smart meter or dumb meter for that matter is of any help with doing that.

Microsoft: You looking at me funny? Oh, you just want to sign in

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Re: I Don't Get It...

I find the apparently incredibly popular "auth sticks don't make you perfectly secure so they're worthless" argument rather disingenuous. Yes, it's obviously true - nothing can possibly authenticate you absolutely perfectly, duh. Anything can be either stolen, faked, divulged or guessed. And yes, depending on what local authentication (if any) a stick/token requires to work they can be worse at that job, locally, than a strong password would be.

But they offer something no passphrase can - protection against remote attackers; yes your token may be vulnerable to people who are physically right next to you, but it should protect against anyone who isn't - and that may well be all that some of us need. Outside high-value targeted ops, almost all identity theft occurs remotely, via phished or stolen and decrypted credentials. Tokens do stop that, leaving you only having to secure a physical artefact - a task most of us have quite a bit of experience with.

No, it's not perfect - it can be stolen or lost, and then you're down to PIN / fingerprint / whatever it uses for local auth to protect you hopefully just long enough until you notice it missing and invalidate it; yes, that _is_ a window of opportunity. And make no mistake, absolutely nothing, _nothing_ can protect you against duress. But auth tokens are a formidable protection against the type of threats 99.99% of people can expect to face day to day and it's still a heck of a lot better than any password alone...

Behold, the world's most popular programming language – and it is...wait, er, YAML?!?

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Re: YAML aint markup language

Is that a valid proof that YAML is in effect identical to ZAML (or VAML or WAML...) considering their meaningful* part will never resolve to anything that isn't identical regardless of amount of recursion...?

* which makes comparisons with 1.3333... =/= 2.3333... rather unfair considering "1" and "2" are very much meaningful parts of those numbers

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Re: Yet another

Yes, as far as I'm concerned, everything after 2000 is "recent". For me, everything that isn't happened before it. If I'll still be alive in 2040, I promise to revise that statement - not until then.

Germany pushes router security rules, OpenWRT and CCC push back

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Re: @AC - to find a good non-smart TV

"unless TV manufacturer pays for the cellular connection so their TV can access Internet, I'm safe."

Until the first manufacturer who decides that after using the TV unconnected for $time, it just connects to the first open WiFi it can see* without asking you.

* It might be the case that you're living deep in the mines of Moria safe from other neighbouring APs, but most people can at least intermittently pick up at least one open AP wherever they live, and as we well know if something is possible** it's just a matter of time until some bright spark goes and does it.

** Impossible will still happen, it will just take a bit longer...

Big Falcon Namechange for Musk's rocket: BFR becomes Starship

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Re: Well if it's a starship

Yeah, I like that Mighty Dub Katz song too...

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Look, for all we know the name might be perfectly justified - maybe he also intends to land on the Sun...

Did you hear? There's a critical security hole that lets web pages hijack computers. Of course it's Adobe Flash's fault

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Would those be the kind of "UI designs" that renders the "back" button (and most conventional ways to navigate a website, for that matter) completely useless...? Because those sites are welcome to rot away together with Flash as quickly as possible. Shooting them behind the barn would be far too good for them.

Holy moley! The amp, kelvin and kilogram will never be the same again

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Re: "...using methods that can be replicated anywhere in this Universe."

"The Kibble balancer wouldn't work in a weightless environment"

That is not wrong, but it needs to be noted that on the other hand the balance would work just fine on the Moon or Mars - for any of those, including Earth, you also need a precise measurement of the local "g", measured using meters and seconds.

The other thing to note is that while the Kibble balance was used to pin down a value as precise as possible for the Planck constant so that it results in our legacy kg being as close to the new definition as possible, once that is done one doesn't necessarily need to use a Kibble balance specifically to derive a reference kg from the Planck constant again - any apparatus linking the two units would suffice - weight may be gravity-dependent but mass isn't.

And indeed, while the Kibble balance may be the most famous, other approached to define the kg starting from the same constant do exist - most well known probably being the Avogadro Project silicon sphere atom count.

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Re: Scale

"I think we need to be careful about describing units as large or small"

I don't think so. Until you can produce a complete set of Planck constants compared to which we may rigorously classify ours as absolutely small medium or large, everything we measure will necessarily be numerically compared to whatever arbitrary units we ended up using owing to practical scales of our existence.

And the example you provide is a particularly unfair one given that the speed of light seems to be the largest of all possible speeds we need to concern ourselves with - most other things we measure don't really seem to have limits like this. Nonetheless, rest assured that if we ever discover some clever way to get from A to B faster than light (probably without actually needing to exceed the speed of light), "c" will indeed be considered laughably small whenever discussed in the context of interstellar travel...

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Re: My calculator is out of date

You aren't really paying attention, are you. There's no choice involved (or rather, it's already decided that there won't be any, really soon):

"On 16 November 2018, the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) voted to redefine the kilogram by fixing the value of the Planck constant, thereby defining the kilogram in terms of the second and the speed of light. Starting 20 May 2019, the new value is exactly h = 6.62607015 × 10^-34 J ⋅ s"

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Re: Ship's keel.

Oh, a lunacy competition...? Woohoo, I'm in! How about... sawdust and ice?!?

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