* Posts by DJO

1375 posts • joined 28 Sep 2011


Skyrora fires up second stage of XL rocket

DJO Silver badge

Interesting choice of name

Let's hope version 5 of XL doesn't end as a fireball.

But as long as Steve Zodiac is at the controls, it's bound to be fine.

Rocket Lab to search for signs of life in the clouds of Venus

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Phosphine? Probably not.

Here's the original paper announcing the possible detection of phosphine at Venus

Greaves et al. 2020 - https://arxiv.org/pdf/2009.06593.pdf

Here's a later paper suggesting it was actually sulphur dioxide which has an absorption line at 1.123058mm which is not too distant from a phosphine absorption line at 1.123053mm.

Lincowski et al.2021 - https://arxiv.org/pdf/2101.09837.pdf

How about Glycine?

Manna et al. 2020 - https://arxiv.org/abs/2010.06211

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Darwin was not all that rich and the name of the ship "HMS Beagle" should give a clue that it was not a private mission.

Darwin then was a 22 year old student who happened to have the required qualifications for the mission and could cover his own minor expenses over the trip.

We're so used to seeing pictures of Darwin as an old man with his splendid beard we forget he did his formative work as a clean shaven youth.

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Re: I hope they are consulting with NASA

There's a region in the atmosphere where the pressure and temperature are approximately the same as on the surface of the Earth. Up there the sulphuric acid is a minor problem, plenty of critters on earth thrive in absurdly acidic conditions.

Microbiomes in extremely acidic environments: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1369527417302230

At some point somebody will send a balloon to lurk high in the atmosphere and do the science from there. Covering the probe with Teflon would be more than adequate to protect it from the sulphuric acid.

Slowing a probe down enough to prevent the balloon from being torn to shreds is rather tricky but not impossible.

Mozilla finds 18 of 25 popular reproductive health apps share your data

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It might not go quite the way they expect.

A survey of male republicans asked the question "if there was an election today how would you vote?" gave surprising results, overall there was 8% swing to the Dems which is roughly inline with normal swings however men who are parents had a 28% swing to the Dems.

It seems they are not so happy about their daughters losing the right to determine their own sexual health.

If the same kind of swing is replicated across all the USA (unlikely but we can hope), the Republicans are dead in the water. So expect some backpedaling when it finally dawns on the GOP that crushing Roe vs Wade is not the humongous vote winner they thought it would be.

Ryugu asteroid: It came from the outer solar system, say scientists

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Re: "Asteroids like it (C-type asteroids) could well have been one of the sources of Earth's water"

And Europa has more than twice as much. There's a lot of water in the outer solar system.


Report slams UK plan to become 'science superpower' by 2030

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That looks like a fraction of the original proposals from 2018 and is still just another proposal - Come back when it actually exists.

It's taken them 4 years to cut the proposals to about 30% of the original and in that time they've not actually planted a single tree, what makes you think this new proposal has any possibility of being implemented?

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It's not a new Tory tactic, it's been just about their only tactic for years: Make a big announcement, get lots of favourable coverage from their poodles at the Daily Mail, Telegraph etc. Throw a few million at a tame "consultant" who is probably a family member of someone who's owed a favour, then with the "report" saying it can't be done they'll just quietly forget the whole thing. Anyone remember the £2B "Great Northern Forest" £13m to a consultant and then nothing.

You'll also notice that big finance plans are more often than not the money they want the private sector to pony up when the private sector has no intention or incentive to do so. Like the Forest mentioned above, they only mentioned a few days after the announcement that they wanted the private sector to pay the £2B, fat chance.

Remember the humanoid Tesla robot? It's ready for September reveal, says Musk

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Re: Teslas

But how many of the non-Tesla cars are EVs or hybrids? It can be tricky to tell from a distance.

Where I work we've put some public facing charge points up and while Tesla is probably the single most common manufacturer we see represented, they are by far outnumbered by non-Teslas and the ratio is shifting away from Tesla every month. Most of the increase is at the less luxurious end of the market with Nissans, light commercials and similar sized cars although the Jags are becoming more common.

The market penetration depends on charging facilities, anyone who can afford £50k+ for a car will probably live in a house with off-road parking so can install a charger but a large proportion of people on lower incomes do not have anywhere to place a charger so we need far more public chargers.

DJO Silver badge

Re: Tesla shares

Tesla are no longer alone in the luxury end of the EV market, for example the Jaguar I-Pace base model is a bit dearer than the basic Tesla, but the top of the range Jags are a lot cheaper than the top of the range Teslas.

Can't see Tesla maintaining the proportion of the market they've enjoyed over the last few years.

As for the robot, if connected to a computer through a power and control umbilical then no real problem, but a self powered autonomous humanoid robot that will run for more than 30 minutes on a charge, no chance for at least 10 years.

Claims of AI sentience branded 'pure clickbait'

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Re: Definition

...Sentience or Consciousness...

Fair point but we're just discussing "intelligence".

Once we have a fully working AI we can start to worry about sentience or consciousness but until then there's not really a lot of point as we have little idea of how a true AI would be manifest.

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Re: Definition

This is always the problem when discussing AI and it's properties and implications, at some point you have to hand it all over to philosophers to try to sort something out. Empirically a waste of time because philosophers never agree on anything.

"Understanding" is indeed a complex concept but I'd say one aspect is the ability to take some knowledge and apply it differently but consistent with the principles behind that bit of knowledge.

An example could be deriving the formula of the volume of a sphere from the formula for the area of a circle, without understanding what circles and spheres are, such a derivation would be impossible.

..."artificial intelligence" is effectively an oxymoron...

Wouldn't argue with that, it's too late now but I'd much prefer the term "Machine Intelligence" precisely to avoid the conflation with human intelligence which is not a viable or sensible goal for research.

Intelligences moulded for the task rather than emulating the general purpose intelligence humans have would seem a more probable path.

DJO Silver badge

Re: Definition

You don't need to "understand what kinetic energy is" to be able to apply and manipulate it.

That is wrong in almost every aspect and detail.

Yes you can answer a physics exam question using rote acquired learning but if you wanted to apply the same to a real world situation if you don't understand it then there is no chance.

I think you are getting fixated on "understanding" being a comprehension of the underlying methodology of how an intelligence be it real or artificial works. That does not matter in the slightest, it's all "black boxes".

For an intelligent system to work with and manipulate a subject it must understand that subject otherwise it's no more intelligent than ELIZA.

An important point here, at the moment "AI" does not exist, there are plenty of machine learning systems but they do not exhibit intelligence and there are certainly no emergent properties that would suggest true intelligence. Part of that is the current computer architectures are unsuitable for AI and never will be, a new paradigm is needed and there is a lot of work being done in that direction.

..not a useful concept as regards making distinctions between "real" and artificial intelligence...

I never said it was, I draw no distinction between meatsack intelligence and silicon intelligence, both of them have the same requirement to understand something before they can fully utilize it in anything more sophisticated than the most basic way.

DJO Silver badge

Re: Definition

Understanding the underlying process is not important, understanding what is being discussed is critical otherwise it's just rote learning.

For example it's easy to say e = ½mv² but if you don't understand what kinetic energy is or how to apply the knowledge then it's meaningless.

There have been a number of really good lectures about various aspects of AI available online from the Royal Institution Friday Discourses, they do a lot more than Christmas Lectures for kids you know.

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Re: Definition

I never said it was the only criterion, just one of several that have to be considered together before a system can be considered "intelligent" but it is an important one for without understanding there cannot be intelligence.

...able to understand how you picked out your sister's face in a jostling crowd...

Maybe, maybe not but that is a complete strawman argument, the issue is understanding what a "sister" is. I think you've taken a different interpretation of "understanding" in this context.

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Re: Definition

...Sentience means having the capacity to experience feelings and emotions...

Another important factor is understanding, an "AI" can spew out reams of conversations but it does not have any underlying understanding of the subject, it's just following (admittedly complex) rules.

Here's a talk by Vint Cerf at the Royal Institution which may be useful:


Strike days should serve as 'wake-up call' to BT's top brass, says union

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Re: Maths

Increasing wages will put more money into the local economy stimulating local businesses and adding to employment options.

This is Economics 101.

Pull jet fuel from thin air? We can do that, say scientists

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...there is no feasible prospect of battery- or hydrogen-powered aircraft any time soon...

Actually for short haul flights electric propulsion does work but for long haul, not a chance.

85% of flights are short haul.

Plainly "Short haul" covers a wide range of flights even if only half are short enough to be electrified that's a significant proportion of flights.

Once suitable craft are produced all sub 100km flights, city to city or island hoppers can and should be electric.

Toyota's truck brand Hino admits faking and fudging emissions data for 20 years

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Re: Establish a system to preserve certification test records

Yes, it all hinges on verifiable acknowledgement so a verbal contact is enforceable if there was a trusted third party witness, a plain text email is fine if it can be proven to have been received and the same with electronic signatures alluded to in a message below.

That's why in some cases a fax an be considered a legal document.

DJO Silver badge

Re: Establish a system to preserve certification test records

...quirk of law that a signature on a fax carries legal weight...

A fax always sends a receipt to acknowledge the recipient has received the fax. Email can be configured to send a receipt but seldom is and even then is easy to spoof.

It's the receipt of delivery that's important for legal documents.

New Outlook feature: It freezes up when dealing with tables in emails

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Yeah right, like that makes any difference to 95% of users.

Here we are "tech savvy" and know what to look for.

We are the exception!

The overwhelming majority of "users of email" don't have a clue.

DJO Silver badge

how secure the world would be it we just supported text emails

As long as URLs are plain text, not particularly secure at all.

You can tell users not to click on a link and definitely never copy a link to a browser. You can tell them again, it won't make a blind bit of difference, often it just needs one careless user.

US regulators set the stage for small, local nuclear power stations

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Re: Follow the money, do the math

You want to follow the money?

There are 3 companies in the US working on SMRs, two of them were given grants of $50m to develop their wares, the third company (NuScale) did not get $50m, no, they were given $1.6 billion.

Draw any conclusions you want.

Anti-piracy messaging may just encourage more piracy

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Re: The "poor" victims of piracy

Unless the session artist is almost as famous as the lead artist and has a better agent it'll be a (very small) flat fee every time.

SpaceX upgrades Starlink to reflect less light, can't launch without its Starship

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Re: So this will replace

Don't be misled by Pink Floyd, the far side of the moon is not dark, at new moon the back is pointing directly at the sun and with an orbital velocity in excess of 1km/second long exposures are not a option. (If you add the velocity of the Earth in too you have a total moon velocity varying between 29 and 31 km/s which makes target locking non trivial.)

There's a lot of crud hitting the moon all the time, while space telescopes can also be hit by space crud, they are not sitting on a dirty great rock distorting spacetime and attracting extra space crud.

While the moon has some advantages the disadvantages are far greater. Nice Big space scopes like JWST are the way to go.

DJO Silver badge

Re: So this will replace

And still does not address the problems caused for telescopes not operating in visible light. Radio telescopes are rendered almost useless when these things are in their field of view. When a receiver designed to pick up signals in the picowatt range suddenly gets a signal 14 or 15 orders of magnitude more powerful, the results are not pretty.

Perhaps the constellation companies should pay for a space based radio telescope that won't be affected by their satellites. As an alternative to switching off the satellite transmitters when over a radio telescope, it would probably work out to be the cheapest mitigation strategy.

Homes in London under threat as datacenters pull in all the power

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Re: Not near wind farms

There are plenty of circumstances where low grade heat is useful all year round, the most obvious is public swimming pools which cost a fortune to keep warm but there's many more such as industrial laundries who always need plenty of hot water.

BOFH: Selling the boss on a crypto startup

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Oh yes but software likes to be helpful so next time you start up it downloads the dictionary for you.

Misguided call for a 7-Zip boycott brings attention to FOSS archiving tools

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Re: I like 7Zip.

This is nothing new, to quote A.R. Moxon:

“Historians have a word for Germans who joined the Nazi party, not because they hated Jews, but out of a hope for restored patriotism, or a sense of economic anxiety, or a hope to preserve their religious values, or dislike of their opponents, or raw political opportunism, or convenience, or ignorance, or greed.

That word is "Nazi." Nobody cares about their motives anymore.”

Same applies now, but not doing everything ordinary Russians can (which admittedly is not much) they are complicit in the crimes of their government

Meta proposes doing away with leap seconds

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Still too granular, a picosecond scale adjustment applied each minute if required would give a much smoother correction.

EDIT: Hang on a bit, isn't that pretty much the "smearing" Zuck want's.

I feel dirty now.

Oracle to hike support fees in line with inflation

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That's nice.

Obviously they will be increasing the salary for all their staff and contractors by the same amount.

OK, I have no evidence they will but Shirley they wouldn't want to be though of a hypocrites or exploitative would they?

Mars helicopter to take a breather, recharge batteries

DJO Silver badge

Really I should have said "bigger panel" instead of "extra panel".

Any gubbins to remove dust would add mass and as the idea is to increases panel efficiency the logical place to save that mass would be to make the panel (and the cleaning gubbins) smaller.

Having said that I've come up with something that "might" work - Have a loop of clear plastic film going over and under the panel and some electrostatic device to put a repelling charge on the plastic film. When the dust has built up the loop rotates taking the dust with it so there's a clean cover over the panel and at the other end the electrostatic thing cleans the film ready for the next time.

Problems: Longevity (at sub zero temperatures) and resistance to scratching of the plastic film.

Weigh of film, rollers, motors and electrostatic gubbins.

Difficulty of mounting the panel because clearance is required for the film.

Dust collecting under the panel.

Dust getting between the film and panel and scratching everything.

All in all it's probably more trouble than it's worth and the same probably applies to any scheme to keep panels clean in an alien environment.

This is why we need a manned expedition to Mars, we need somebody up there with a broom to keep the solar panels clean.

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A wiper, a fan, a tip and (dis)charge and any of a dozen ideas to move dust all fail at the same step:

There is no conceivable system that would work better or weigh less than just having an extra panel instead of some silly mechanical gubbins.

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... Experience on this planet shows that tilting the solar panel leads to less dust...

Because the rain washes the dust off, precious little rain on Mars.

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This is because unlike earth dust it has not been subject to water so it has sharper edges than Earth dust which tends to be rounded.

If that wasn't bad enough the dust particles are small, very small, averaging about 5 microns, for comparison Johnson's Baby Powder averages at over 25 microns.

Dust that small will ingress everywhere. Small particles means a large surface area in which to collect a static charge which makes the dust electrostatically rather sticky.

It takes an exascale supercomputer to drive carbon capture

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Of the worst kind.

There have been dozens of CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage) projects started all over the world and not a single one has worked, not one, not even a little bit.

Spend the same money on reducing emissions by perhaps installing insulation or promoting heat pumps or maybe invest in combined heat and power, there are hundreds of things that do work to reduce CO2, so far CCS is most definitely not one of them and shows little chance of ever being one.

Is the $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope worth the price tag?

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Re: A minor oversight...

There is of course a fallacy in that rule. It depend on how the question is worded, so change

"Is the $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope worth the price tag?"


"Is the $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope a waste of money?"

then the Answer "No" is opposite in meaning to the original question.

Actually this is non-trivial, survey companies have found they can manipulate "opinion" by the wording of the questions, the same question stated in 2 different ways may get a 20% difference in responses.

DJO Silver badge

Re: No way is the JWST worth 10 Billion.

20,000 engineers and programmers and miscellaneous scientists worked on the JWST, that's 20,000 families with more income than they might have otherwise expected, that's 20,00 people with a really good bit of experience on their CVs which may lead to more lucrative employment.

Alternatively many but not all would be out of work for some time being a drain on society and would not have as good employment prospects. (And less tax would be raised)

I know some of you will be clutching at your pearls and fainting while mouthing "but, but, but that's socialism". Well tough shit, yes using government money for big science and to stimulate the economy is a good use of taxpayers money, you not only get a worthwhile project but a load of employment opportunities.

CP/M's open-source status clarified after 21 years

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Or rank in order would be more informative than a simple 1 of 4.

James Webb Space Telescope looks closer to home with Jupiter snaps

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Angular values can be tricky to visualise, it needs something big and circular that's known to lot's of people and isn't too big.

I considered the London Eye Ferris wheel thingy - from the axis to the rim 30 milliarcseconds would be represented by 0.004 millimetres of the rim or 0.00000285714 linguine.

I think the Register Standards Soviet needs some smaller units.


Copper shortage keeps green energy, tech ventures grounded

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Another story in another place:

"Copper price at lowest level since 2020 as fears over global economy grow"


Might be a good time to stockpile copper if you have a few £million and a warehouse standing idle.

These centrifugal moon towers could be key to life off-planet

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Re: Not practical

On Mars there's nice deep canyons which would shield most of the incident radiation. That would seem a good location to colonize.

Twitter sues Musk: He can't just 'change his mind, trash the company, walk away'

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Re: Serves them right

For once I'm rooting for the lawyers to clean up and leave both parties with nothing.

Behold: The first images snapped by the James Webb Space Telescope

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Re: Planetary pedantry

Maybe if I was to point out that both Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett made exactly the same point I'd get fewer down votes :-)

DJO Silver badge

Re: Planetary pedantry

...There's only one solar system...

That's just your opinion.

Assuming there are other inhabited planets around other stars then it's almost inevitable that those inhabitants will refer to their sun in their language as "The Sun" and the planet they are on will be "World" or "Ground" or "Home" or "Earth" or some similar designation.

This is only the case for original homes, colony worlds would obviously have different names.

First-ever James Webb Space Telescope image revealed

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Re: An honest, possibly dumb question

...Could that money not be better spent on finding real solutions for then increasingly sticky situation...

When making the mirrors they needed an incredibly accurate measuring system which unfortunately didn't exist so they had to design some new tools and techniques.

Those are now being used to make laser eye surgery more accurate and safer.

That alone may or may not justify the $10b but there are often serendipitous advances made with cutting edge engineering projects.

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Re: Goody!

The replacement is already being worked on, it's the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope scheduled to launch no later than May 2027. So probably around 2030.

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Things can only get better

Try to recall the first pictures from Hubble after the mirror was fixed and the images Hubble took a year or so later, the difference in detail was astonishing.

We can expect the same with JWST, this picture is a pale teaser of what you can expect over the next few years.

Also they'll get rid of the starburst effect, it's caused by the arms supporting the secondary mirror.

DJO Silver badge

Re: Larger still

...chances of life existing outside our solar system: 100%...

Seeing how quickly simple life emerged on Earth, pretty much as soon as it was cool and wet enough for simple organisms such as algae and PE teachers to thrive, they did.

The change from pond scum to multi-celled took a very long time and that step is less certain so while the galaxy is probably teeming with life, there's probably very little we could recognize as intelligent.

Also there's stellar environments to consider, out here in the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm it's pretty quiet, closer to the core star are a lot closer together meaning planetary orbits can and will be disturbed by passing stars, this is catastrophic for most life forms so probably less than half of the galaxy can sustain planets with life long enough to develop beyond pond scum..



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