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  • Jun 30th, 2015 @ 6:25pm

    nuclear power

    It's cold on Mars, so heat is required to keep people alive. Not to mention necessary to melt ice for water, and process the air to make it breathable.

    Any attempt to send humans to Mars will mean we'd better get serious about 4th generation nuclear power. There is simply no other way to keep humans alive on Mars. The current 3rd generation nuclear power plants are not up to the task, since they are water cooled, and Mars is not exactly overflowing with water. Plus generation 4 has the added advantage of consuming its own nuclear waste.

    Other alternatives for energy on Mars? Almost nothing. Fossil fuels - even if they existed on Mars - would be useless given the lack of oxygen with which to burn them. Wind power...yes, Mars is windy, but with an atmosphere less than 1% of the density on Earth, a 100 mph wind on Mars is less powerful than a one mph wind on Earth.

    There is solar. But given the super cold nights, it's unlikely that enough heat energy could be collected and stored during the daytime to survive the night. Storage of solar energy on Earth is barely doable (pumped storage is most feasible), but would be far more challenging on Mars where water cannot be stored on the surface in liquid form.

    So we'll have to get over our anti-nuclear allergy, or else forget about sending humans to Mars.

  • May 29th, 2015 @ 9:40pm

    Body & dash cams should be required for police

    I think that all police departments should be required to outfit their officers and their patrol cars with video cameras. And it should be prohibited for the officer to disable such devices, on pain of being fired. The only time they should be able to cover the lens is when they're going to the toilet.

    As another poster said, having this keeps both sides honest. One reason why the police should be in favor is that when they encounter a really bad buy, the video evidence will be very useful in getting a conviction. But of course it works the other way too - rouge cops who abuse and plant drugs on prisoners will have their bad behavior recorded.

  • Apr 17th, 2015 @ 7:47pm

    desalination consumes energy

    It takes energy to desalinate sea water. It would be nice to think that we're always going to use alternative energy sources like solar to do the job, but in the real world it's more likely to be coal or natural gas. So desalination is, in most cases, not exactly "green."

  • Apr 14th, 2015 @ 4:03pm

    We could be even worse off...

    The intent of this law in New Mexico sounds good, but there is a danger. Now if the cops really want to steal your stuff, they'll try like hell to get you convicted of something. Could be anything, like "resisting arrest" which is one of their favorites.

    A better reform would be that the cops can't keep your stuff at all, even if you are convicted of something. In the case where a person does commit a serious crime, and let us say a boat was used (for example, to smuggle drugs), the most that should happen is that the boat gets seized, sold at auction (after conviction) and the money donated to a charity, not the cops themselves. If the cops take it, then it's stealing, and they should be prosecuted for theft.

  • Oct 30th, 2014 @ 7:54pm

    What were the five crimes that were solved?

    Just wondering what the five crimes were. Smoking a joint? Spitting on the sidewalk? Failure to file a tax return?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

  • Oct 9th, 2014 @ 6:28pm

    suicide

    To me, the quality of life is far more important than the length of time I get to live. Unfortunately, not taking antibiotics, not taking anti-cancer drugs, etc - as a form of suicide, it sucks. The big problem is not death, it's pain. Nobody wants to suffer a horrible, slow death, which is what you can expect if you die from cancer and numerous other diseases.

    Some people get lucky and die from a heart attack in their sleep. But you can't count on that.

    Few (if any) countries in the world make it easy or even legal to commit suicide. The drugs that would make it possible are hard to obtain, and becoming harder. It used to be that people would off themselves with sleeping pills. Back in the old days, the drug of choice was barbiturates (ie Marilyn Monroe). These are no longer prescribed, and that is intentional. The type of sleeping pills now prescribed are either benzodiazepines (ie Valium) or Z-drugs (ie Ambien). These drugs are designed so that you need a huge amount (like several hundred) for a fatal overdose, and even if you manage to swallow so many, there is a good chance you'll throw them up, meaning you'll wake up the next day with a massive hangover, but not dead.

    What is a cancer victim to do? In the USA, it's way easier to obtain guns than drugs. And so guns have become the main vehicle of deliverance in America. That is extremely messy, to say the least. There are, of course, botched attempts, where the patient only succeeds in causing severe wounds and thus suffers even more pain.

    As a society, we don't seem ready to accept that assisted suicide is humane. Dr Jack Kevorkian devoted his life to trying to assist terminally ill cancer patients commit suicide, and it landed him in jail. There is a good movie about him:

    "You Don't Know Jack"
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1132623/

  • Oct 6th, 2014 @ 10:40pm

    Third World Country

    You'd expect this kind of thing in a corrupt third world country. Maybe Zimbabwe or Uzbekistan. But this is the USA. You know, self-appointed "leader of the free world." A "land of milk and honey." A "paradise on Earth" (oh, wait, I think North Korea has that title trademarked).

    It's official - the USA has finally crossed the line to become a third world country. A banana republic, without the bananas.

  • Oct 2nd, 2014 @ 7:19pm

    I know I harp on nuclear energy, but...

    I know I harp on nuclear energy, but I just never see any mention in these articles about how they intend to power these interplanetary rockets and Mars colonies.

    It will require nuclear power. Without it, manned space flight beyond the moon is out. However, these days it just isn't fashionable to be pro-nuclear, even when we're talking about Mars.

    Fossil fuel on a planet with no oxygen in the atmosphere is useless, since it won't burn. And the possibility of finding fossil fuel on Mars is slim, though I won't dismiss it completely. The thin atmosphere makes Martin wind power equally useless. It is sunny on Mars, but that's not sufficient to generate enough heat to survive night time temperatures of minus 100 degrees Celsius. No hope for hydro-power or geothermal either. A Martian colony powered by solar and wind is going to be a graveyard, populated with colonists frozen to death.

    So if Elon Musk is serious, he ought to be talking about this. I hope he doesn't think that the colony can be powered by his lithium-ion batteries, recharged with a long extension cord from earth.

  • Sep 29th, 2014 @ 3:16pm

    Cams should be required

    Dashcams should be required in all police cars, on the cop's body, and especially on their tasers.

    If a cop disables a cam, that should be grounds for instant termination of their employment. If a person is arrested and the video and/or audio was somehow "lost" or deleted, then the charges against that individual should be automatically dismissed.

    Only if this happens can we keep the police state at bay.

    Will these cams cost too much? Funny, that question never gets asked when the US government hands out tanks and machine guns to small town cops. How many cams can you buy for the cost of a tank?

  • Sep 24th, 2014 @ 5:24pm

    nuclear rockets

    Nuclear rockets - I mentioned this before in a discussion we had about Mars. In a nutshell, my argument is that we need to have them or else it's unlikely that any astronauts will survive even a one-way journey to Mars.

    NASA actually developed a nuclear powered rocket (named Nerva) in the 1960s, and ground testing proved that it worked. But it's funds were axed by the Nixon administration, which was not particularly friendly to the space program. So Nerva never flew:

    http://www.daviddarling.info/encyclopedia/N/NERVA.html

    A nuclear-powered rocket would allow astronauts to reach Mars months earlier. Less time spent in space means less exposure to radiation. Surviving on the surface of Mars would also be challenging, but it may be possible. Burying a house in the Martian soil will give the residents good protection from radiation. It's possible to grow crops on Mars, but only indoors with heating. There is water on Mars, but it has to be made by melting ice. That all takes energy.

    It will require a nuclear reactor to keep astronauts alive on Mars. Without it, they would freeze to death. Wind power is a non-starter, as the atmosphere is too thin. Solar power is feasible during the day, but could not produce sufficient heat to survive the night. Fossil fuels are unlikely to exist on Mars, and even if they did you could not burn them in the CO2 atmosphere.

  • Sep 15th, 2014 @ 11:21pm

    Trip to Mars

    A manned trip to Mars would take months...

    It would take months with the conventional chemical rockets we use now. It could be reduced to weeks with a nuclear rocket.

    NASA actually built such a rocket, with manned space flight in mind. It was called NERVA. It worked well in ground tests, but it was never put into space. The project was axed due to budget cuts...

    http://www.daviddarling.info/encyclopedia/N/NERVA.html

    I know that a lot of environmentalists get upset every time the word "nuclear" is mentioned, but fact is you'd pretty much need some sort of nuclear reactor to keep humans alive in space, or on the Martian surface. It's one thing to power a small robot (which can endure temperature extremes, and doesn't need air, food or water). It's quite another to operate a life support system.

    If humans made it to the surface of Mars and want to set up a colony, they would need fuel to stay alive for any length of time. Drilling for fossil fuels is not likely to be successful, but if indeed there is oil and natural gas on Mars, it wouldn't be very useful since the atmosphere lacks oxygen to burn it. Wind power on Mars...unfortunately, the thin atmosphere means that a 100 mph wind packs less energy than a one mph wind on Earth. Solar is the only option besides nuclear, but keeping humans alive during the extreme cold Martian night (Antarctic-like temperatures, or worse) will require an awful lot of energy storage. If we can't get that to work in Antarctica, I don't see how we would on Mars.

    Radiation occasionally bathes the surface of Mars, but it comes from solar storms at unpredictable times. Not really a source of energy, and in fact a hazard. Colonists will have to look for uranium or thorium if the colony is to survive long-term independent from supplies from Earth.

    If a crew makes it to Mars, they might survive the cold and radiation, but they might not survive the Greenpeace protesters.

  • Jul 21st, 2014 @ 5:05am

    Journalism on the Internet

    Well, I just did a bunch of research on the Internet, and I learned that "they" are spraying chemtrails from civilian aircraft. The chemtrails consist of tiny nanorobots which we inhale. They flow through your blood stream and get into your brain, then take over. By doing this, "they" control our thoughts.

    Fortunately, I also learned on the Internet that you can buy various devices to protect yourself. There are machines which can blast the nanorobots out of the sky, or filter them out of your blood. Or best of all, you can take over the nanorobots and send a reverse signal so that you can control "them."

    And don't get me started on how you can buy a device to communicate with aliens living right here on earth that you can't see or hear normally because they live in the 8th dimension. Of course, if you can't afford such a device, you could instead visit Sedona, Arizona, where there are numerous wormholes that access to the 8th dimension, not to mention the 5th, 6th and 7th.

    Journalism on the Internet - fair and balanced.

  • Jun 12th, 2014 @ 6:29pm

    plastic beads in soap

    I didn't realize that plastic beads were being put in soap, but that is insane. Certainly, it should be banned worldwide. The supposed benefit of having the beads I would guess is to have them act as an exfoliant. I can't think of any other reason why you'd want it. But there are plenty of other substances that can do the job without screwing up the environment.

    For more than a century, there's been a soap on the market called "Lava" which contains pumice, or powdered volcanic rock:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lava_(soap)

    If you want something milder and don't mind rolling your own soap, this site lists all kinds of natural exfoliant materials, such as crushed almonds, coffee grounds, walnut shells, loofah, oatmeal, poppy seeds, jojoba beads, tapioca etc:

    http://candleandsoap.about.com/od/tipstricks/a/soapexfoliants.htm

  • Apr 22nd, 2014 @ 7:01pm

    IV is financed by Microsoft

    Keep in mind that Intellectual Ventures is basically Microsoft. They finance this patent troll as a means of keeping their competitors legally hampered. IV never sues Microsoft, their bread & butter.

    Fraud and racketeering used to be illegal in America, but now it's the new normal.

    Just keep this in mind next time you are considering buying anything sold by Microsoft, or its subsidiaries (ie Nokia).

  • Mar 10th, 2014 @ 9:22pm

    Property Rights

    Just wait until Big Corp starts lobbying for extending America's business model patents and copyrights to the moon and Mars. Viewing a crater of the moon through a telescope? You need a license! Writing a short story or a song about a mission to Mars? Hah, someone's got a patent on that! Want to flash a "moon" at somebody - heh, it's trademarked! You have to pay for play.

  • Jan 25th, 2014 @ 5:49pm

    Re: Microsoft Research's Open Access

    I wouldn't get too excited about Microsoft Research making their papers publicly available. Maybe I'll be surprised, but I would bet that Microsoft hasn't done any research of significance. Well OK, maybe legal research, like looking for innovative new ways to corrupt patent law and drive start-ups into bankruptcy - they've broken new ground there. It certainly was creative the way they funded the SCO UNIX lawsuits, and continue to fund patent-troll Intellectual Ventures. The amazing methods Microsoft uses to extort license fees from Android vendors ought to win them a Nobel prize.

  • Jan 24th, 2014 @ 6:05pm

    Should Google be a charity?

    I would certainly agree that if Google does business in the UK, then UK courts should have jurisdiction over any of the company's activities there. Google's lawyers were definitely reaching if they thought this tactic would work.

    That having been said, the case against Google seems like utter nonsense. If anyone feels that targeting advertising is a violation of their privacy, then they shouldn't use Google, or Yahoo, or Bing, or most search engines.

    Google makes its money from advertising - that's hardly a secret. Should Google be a charity? If so, then who is going to pay for their servers? Seems like a lot of people have a real sense of entitlement.

    Iif you really demand "the right" to use Google (and even Gmail) and not be subjected to the horrors of targeting advertising, trying turning off cookies and Javascript in your browser - you will no longer see pop-ups and many pages will load faster. Your browsing experience might be less colorful and convenient, but I think you'll survive.

  • Jan 14th, 2014 @ 1:48am

    hog rinds

    Late last month, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office denied an application to register a trademark for "Redskins Hog Rinds," a product wholly unrelated to the Washington football team. The USPTO's reasoning for refusing the trademark is simple: It's offensive.

    I agree entirely with the USPTO - the term "hog rinds" is offensive. As a long time supporter of boar rights, I think it's high time that we banished the racist term hog which has many negative connotations, as does the equally offensive word pig.

  • Jan 13th, 2014 @ 8:48pm

    I'm offended by the term "Microsoft"

    Personally, I'm offended that the term "Microsoft" has received a trademark. Obviously, it refers to penis size and state of the company's founders.

  • Jan 8th, 2014 @ 5:14pm

    They need to become banksters first

    If this group of whistleblowers wants to get an audience with Obama, first they need to get jobs as Wall Street bankers. Then donate a few million dollars for his presidential library. Then they will not only get an audience with the president, they'll own him.

    Rinse and repeat with members of Congress.

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