* Posts by HelpfulJohn

360 posts • joined 31 Aug 2012


Hooray, space boffins have finally got InSight lander's heat probe back into Martian ground again

HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

Re: The next time,

There are milliards of that second type of "robot" (or "worker") available. They are called "humans" and are dirt-cheap to manufacture but terribly fragile and not generally suited to working in the Martian environment, they would need a boatload of PPE.

As an already manufactured example of the tool under discussion, I would be perfectly happy to spend the remainder of my life tootling around Mars in a bus with some spare parts, power cells, bottles of windscreen-washer fluids, cloths and tool-kits to fix, upgrade and generally pet all of the rovers, stations and possibly orbiters (do that bit first, before landing so a lift-off and second landing is avoided) that litter place.

I would not be happy to do the same on Venus. The Cytherean landers are not going to be in any shape to be repaired. That would also be true of those that "landed" on Jupiter and Saturn, though Huygens may be still usable.

Mars would be fun for a guy with a toolkit and some spares.

HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

Re: First rule

The very, very first rule should have been: power the robot with nukes and drill with a laser until you get near the deployment range, then use a real metal thingy.

Sure, a laser will heat the ground up a bit but that heat pulse would dies away after a week or so.

No robot sent further away from Sol than Earth orbit should be relying on solar panels, that is just stupid. Especially in a seasonal, dust-laden rock like Mars.

And everything that relies on light should have windscreen wipers.

Astroboffins peering back in time with Hubble find stars may have been flickering into life even earlier than thought

HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

Re: seems backwards

"How come the earliest start are labeled PIII and not PI?"

We thought all stars were like Sol and friends, the ones near us that we can take spectroscopy of quite easily. About a century ago, we found out that stars in Globular Clusters and the cores of what were then called "Spiral Nebulae" are systematically different from Sol-type stars so we then had "Population One" stars like Sol, Rigel, Sirius and the others in the spiral arms of what came to be seen as galaxies and "Population Two" stars that were identifiably different.

At the time, we had no idea what the reason for the differences was all we knew was that the stars near Sol and in the spiral arms of those Nebulae were of one sort and the stars in cores and clusters were of another.

As our Sol is *our* star and as its kind were discovered first, calling them Pop. I seemed sensible. The other lot, core and cluster stars were a *second* Population of stars.

It made sense at the time. It still sort of does. And, no, there will never be a need for a "Pop. Minus Five" when really, really new stars are born in milliards of years from now with exceedingly metal-rich bodies. Those will still just be Population I, like Sol.

So, Pop I: new, young, metal-rich stars, mostly in spiral arms. Pop II : older, metal-poor starts in galactic cores and Globular Clusters. Pop III: primordial stars, almost all hydrogen, helium and a smear of lithium; we have no idea where those will show up, not yet. Theoretically, Pop IV stars: born in the really promordial murk from fluctuations in the opaque chaos before the universe went transparent, not really "stars", more like very large bombs. Pop. IV stars would be extremely metal-poor, too and would help to seed the cosmos with heavier elements when they blew up. They might also produce shockwaves in the medium to initiate the condensation of galaxies, galactic super-massive singularities and Pop III stars.

Pop IV stars are, of course, simply my conjecture, there is no actual Science behind them.

There could be Pop. V stars; stars made from stuff that existed before protons, that fuelled a Civilisation in the very first instants after the Cosmic Expansion and that created ripples in spacetime which allowed for galactic superclusters to form but those are truly SF.

HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

Re: Telescope nomenclature

"You mean, like the JWST, which will sit at the Earth-Sun L2 Lagrange point?"

No, it won't. JWST is yet another example of "power too cheap to metre", flying personal vehicles, household robotic servants, Lunar bases, cities in orbit and a whole raft of other stuff that will never happen.

It's vaporware. Sure, there might be a practical model of it sitting in a hangar somewhere but it is going to fly right after the thirteenth human walks on the Moon.

Astroboffins agog after spotting the first repeating fast radio burst that pings every 16 days from another galaxy

HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

Re: Re. Ts, scientists

In a couple of S.F. stories, autonomous probes pass by the Earth. Some of those report home. I sometimes wondered whether the "WOW!" signal was our antenna passing through the beam of one of those.

If it was, depending on the location of the probe and its relationship to Earth and its homeworld we might have been extremely lucky to get even a few seconds of signal. As Earth, Home and Probe are all moving in three-space, it is not astonishing that the signal was never captured gain.

Astronomers did look for other signals coming from where "WOW!" seemed to originate from but heard nothing. Perhaps they should have searched the antipodean point, too?

Britain has no idea how close it came to ATMs flooding the streets with free money thanks to some crap code, 1970s style

HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

"... Very Fast Train - very pragmatic naming in Australia, I always joked it would be replaced by the FFT, I'll leave you to work that out!). ..."

Well, in UKland, where every iteration is uglier, more expensive, more cheaply made, includes less seasoning in the packet, less noodles and fewer, smaller, less tasty biscuits all made with more artificial everythings, and is definitely always going to be slower, I would guess it stands for "Fairly Fast Train".

The iteration after that would be something like SST for "Slightly Slower Train".

HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

"From memory, they were wiping out cars at level crossings every month or 2."

And this is why I would prefer overhead monorails. How they are powered is irrelevant but no part of the moving train should ever be lower than the top surface of a double-decker bus or tall lorry. That way, the advert with the little blonde girl on the level crossing would never need to be made.

Of course, we have far too much invested in dual ails on the floor to ever consider swapping over. Even UKland's new High Speed Train is grounded and lethal.

It didn't have to be.

HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

Re: Experienced tester.

"...And end-users don't need to try to get creative, they just fuck systems up and don't even know how or why"

Oh. So you've met my sister?

You cannae break the laws of physics, cap'n... Boffins call BS on 'impossible' black hole, fear readings were botched

HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

Re: Honest mistake? That's the sort of thing the peer reviewers are there for!

"... Indeed, any putative errors sufficiently obvious to be *easily* picked up during a few hours of a peer reviewer's time would be more likely to have been spotted by the authors' during the months of actual manuscript writing.. ..."

This may not be universally so. When I was a programmer, I used to have my wife, a total non-programmer, look over the code. She found things that I missed. 0 instead of O or vice versa and suchlike idiocies. It is entirely possible that a dispassionate, uninvolved third party might do the same with scientific papers.

It's the many-eyes principle. With many eyes, many bugs are shallow, or the guy looking over your shoulder can sometimes spot what you are too close to see.

HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

Re: Time for a kicking

Okay, so PR as part of the scientific process is crud, awful, drek and useless.

So what do we do instead?

Popular vote? Review by the contributors to sci.physics newsgroup? Just publish everything and let people try to make all of it work in the hope that the dafter ideas [like the Plutonium Atom Universe, inhaling bleach to cure the 'flu and phlogiston] die off eventually?

PR may be dreadful but what do you suggest could be better? Review by local magistrates and TV personalities?

HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

Re: And this!

This uber-rich uber-elite creation scenario is also why magic powers, psychic powers and communing with gods, demons or djinn to gain are all bunkum, too.

Even if we only consider telekinesis, anyone with it would excel, become rich and famous and get lots of chances to breed. Within a few generations, every human would be his offspring and would have super-powers.

The same works for any magic. The genetic advantage given by possessing such a tool would be overwhelming. Keeping it secret would be impossible.

With this in mind, we know magic, psychic powers and favours from super-beings are not real.

And never have been.

I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Black hole quasar tsunamis moving at 46 million miles per hour

HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

Re: Certainly not intelligent life.

"... I came across an article reporting that the Milky Way is twice as thick as previously measured, ..."

Would that be because of a certain election victory some four years back?

HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

Sol going dark?

I think that were old Sol to make itself over as a compacted object we would be unlikely to ever see anything like darkness. The released energies resulting from the infall would be so bright that they would probably vaporise the planet.

Indeed, https://what-if.xkcd.com/73/ probably applies. https://what-if.xkcd.com/49/ would never have a chance to happen.

HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

" ... ( can) we make electrickery to sell to alieans ..."

Yes. Once we get there, then manage to build a windmill several million light-years wide.

I'll leave the calculation of when that would be as a test for the student.

Remember to show all working and to use proper Vulture units.

Extra points for an ASCII image of the windmill's design.

The mysterious giant blobs of gas around our galaxy's black hole are actually massive merger stars being shredded

HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

Re: And I quote...

If you have hardware that can exceed light-speed but no similar radio you simply include passenger drones, homing pigeons with small message pouches, in the probe's design. That way, she can report home, get updates, fixes and mission alterations and generally behave as though she's operating close to Home Base.

In reality, as there is no such thing as "faster than light" [except for electrons flying through water and such like peculiarities] the entire mission is moot.

It's a pity. I'd love to watch a time-lapse of SagA*'s local dances.

BOFH: The case of the Boss's hidden USB inkjet printer

HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

I've been told that this procedure is sometimes quite ineffective when dealing with humans.

HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

Re: Feels like X-mas

I am mildly active all the time.

Mostly my first two fingers and either thumb.

I'm mildly radioactive, too, for reasons of existing in this cosmos. I once watched the whizzies coming off of me and exciting a cloud chamber in the Science Museum. A lovely illustration of the universality of matter.

BOFH: Will the last one out switch off the printer?

HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

Re: Methane Explosion

Once, when my gorgeous, wise and lovely wife was in hospital, I found the hospital "restaurant" and made the usually gross error of entering it. For the first and only time I found something that was not only edible but was bloody marvellous.

Pork crackling. I don't know how they managed it but their version of it on that occasion was superb. So much so that I went back for thirds.

I was still sad about my lady but I also got rather well fed, too.

Weirdly, they didn't serve it with the sludges given to the patients.

HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

Re: Mmmm

" I'm sure I've got all the bits."

Really? Isn't that what supermarkets are for?

HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

Re: acurate

Off-licences and supermarkets.

I think the rule about "two per customer" includes two boxes of 24 cans not just 2 cans. If so, and if we're allowed to shop for "essentials" [such as another 2 boxes] once per day, "beer o'clock" is just about all day, every day.

It's party time at the coronapocalypse. Have fun and enjoy virtual, contact-free hugs.

HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

Re: I'd have gone for Risk!!

"... of ..." or "... by ..."?

It makes a difference. I'm not entirely sure which is worse but one of them may be.

NASA mulls restoring Saturn V to service as SLS delays and costs mount

HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

Re: A Sight to Behold

1/4/2024? Is that before or after "Moonfall"?

HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

Re: I've read that story

Perhaps you are thinking of "Fallen Angels" by Mr. Niven and a host of other guys?


It's fairly good but it does have a boatload of insider jokes, fan references and other stuff peculiar to the SF fandom scene. It also has some extremely annoying patches of unfinishedness, bits brought up, made significant then dropped.

Also, no spoiler, that novel didn't use an S5. I suspect that by the time it was written even an SF novel couldn't extend our suspension of disbelief sufficiently for us to accept that one of those would ever fly. That would be rather like getting Concorde back in the skies. Not even magical super-tech could manage it.

Hello, support? What do I click if I want some cash?

HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

"Deep fried Mars bars are not a staple here in Scotland. I have NEVER been in a chippy which offers them,"

There's at least one in Devon [England] that does.

Good luck pitching a tent on exoplanet WASP-76b, the bloody raindrops here are made out of molten iron

HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

Re: Puzzled!


Why "... something pretty major ..."?

Uranus is a looong way out, Sol's influence isn't overwhelmingly huge, perhaps the largest pool of collapsing, whirling stuff in the original cloud out there just happened to be rotating "sideways" and no reat force happened to be around to stop it doing so?

Random chance, a small eddy compressing into a larger on simply because it was the only "force" of any consequence in the vicinity. Uranus's moons would have followed it, of course, as they. too, would have condensed out of the tipped primordial whirly.

And why have no other planets "fallen over" like Uranus? Well, techincally they have, just to a smaller degree. Non of their rotational axes are exactly orthogonal to the Sun's equatorial plane, which is assumed to have been the plane of rotation of the original disc. Uranus is just the outlier.

No magic, no Giant Impactor, no mysterious series of not-so-giant Impactors needed, just simple physics doing its thing.

A soft-merging of two condensation sites co-orbiting explains the Moon and Triton, too. The System is huge, it's been around for a colossal amount of time, it has *room* for things like these. "Giant Impactors" are idiotic.

HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

Re: Raining molten iron?

Really? Why bother when *cold* iron is freely floating around in small chunks pretty much ubiquitously?

Ram-mining gas giants for HE3 and other volatiles, I can see a use for as it would be much easier and more profitable. Ram-mining for iron is wasteful.

Microsoft picks up Your Phone – unless you're an Apple fan – in a fresh Windows 10 build

HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

Re: Converted

" ... on the occasions I need it for software that still insists on Windows."

WINE, CrossOver from Https://www..codeweavers.com or a few others can run Windosed softwares without running a VM or a full Win-OS.

I use CrossOver for the wife's DoSsy games on her MacBook. They run fine though the keys are differently described. They have a Windosed software compatibilty list. They also do a Linux version.

I don't own shares, nor do I work for them, I'm just trying to be helpful.

HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

Re: Unless....

Uhhhn ... something I've been doing since Win 3.1 and Apple Original OS Something: mung the password/userid a little in case it gets intercepted then email it to yourself. Safe, secure, fast, totally platform-agnostic, totally *OS*-agnostic, utterly portable and compliant with the concept of saving it for later in case you ever forget it.

Who *cares* whether your kit talks to each other? Email just works.

It has, incidentally, worked for more than passwords, too.

In case you want to flee this wretched Earth, 139 minor planets were spotted at the outer reaches of our Solar System. Just an FYI...

HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

Re: Detection

Big, big bomb time? [Why do I have a vision of a girl saying this?]

Perhaps light off a really *huge* Tsar Bomba-style girl out in the distant Lagrange zone with hundreds of telescopes and probes looking all over the sky to catch light bounced off anything out there in the darkness? Due to signal-lag we would need to keep them running al day, every day for four years so we could map the Oort Cloud.

Maybe even use up our nuclear stockpile to do stereo imaging with many light sources?

We'd need cameras on Luna's Farside [sneaky!], in Earth's Trojans and in some other nice places, too, to capture as much data as possible. Maybe even to do interferometry.

Essentially, we'd be doing strobe photography of the System. Cool, yes?

Broken lab equipment led boffins to solve a 58-year-old physics problem by mistake

HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

Re: Curiosity is a wonderful thing

"Pure research often yields the biggest innovations ..."

The two examples I like are coherent light and an obscure inter-departmental document handling system at a particle physics lab. Neither were intended to generate profits however ... DVD's, CD's, Blu-Ray, Lasik, Google and YouTube.

Scientific research *always* pays off. Sometimes peripherally, sometimes massively.

Unlike those two, research on transistors and microcircuits were *intended* to bring profits. They sort of did. A little.

HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

Re: Not really

With their teams of dozens, scores and thousands working on every little project, even the design of icons in a Ribbon, Microsoft may be finding that distributed wrecking is easy, distributed *learning* less so.

Committees are alleys down which good ideas are dragged and strangled. They are the only known life-form with many stomachs, many mouths and no brains.

Brexit Britain changes its mind, says non, nein, no to Europe's unified patent court – potentially sealing its fate

HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

Re: For a contrasting view...

" ... one granted in the last decade that is actually novel, non-obvious, for patentable subject matter and earned a profit for the inventor."

Rounded corners on portable telephone handsets.

HelpfulJohn Bronze badge


"... our aims of becoming an independent self-governing nation"

Uh, what?

Is UKland not still part of the United Nations thingy? Is it not on the U.N. Security Council? Does UKland not belong to I.M.F., I.T.U., W.H.O. and about a thousand other organisations that "tell us what to do"?

Brexit was not only stupid, wasteful, idiotic, daft and against the one single trend that is universal in Human history it seems that it was also a half-hearted and farcical joke.

Is it too late to tell Yurp that we're sorry, we made a mistake and we'd like some hugs, now?

After 16 years of hype, graphene finally delivers on its promise – with a cosmetic face mask

HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

Re: Graphene

Robots doing my housework [while also making cups of tea], my own flying car, power too cheap to meter, fusion power, Moon-bases ... a whole host of things are *always* "thirty to fifty years from now".

Add graphene to the long and depressing list.

No joy for all you Rover McRoverface fans: NASA's next Mars bot is christened Perseverance

HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

Re: Perseverence Devs Engineer AI To Perfection

Wasn't them rovers USAlien? So, USAlien tables. That makes them about fifty square metres in real money if tables for one, larger if tables for a party.

We must really get a standard measuring rod for these things. Something all countries can agree on, like, perhaps a "Systeme Internationale" or something. It would be ever so handy.

Lights, camera, camera, camera, action: iPhone, iPad, Watch, chip biz in new iPhone, iPad, Watch, chip shocker

HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

Re: Not even parity

Just to annoy the President, his Senate, the House and the combined armed forces in theatre Apple could give a fairly good solar-chargeable wifi-enabled laptop to every person in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan and possibly Russia. They could install free, unmetered, unlimited-access, absolutely anonymous and secure wi-fi all over those countries [well, maybe not all of Russia, that's a tremendously huge place but they could certainly serve some cities]. They could enable access to the world's libraries containing every book from those hammered into rocks in Ur to today's newspapers, uncensored, uncensorable. [That would piss-off the world's publishing industry but it would be *funny* and the tech-companies are big enough to weather the ensuing huffing and pouting.]

With some help from Microsoft and Google, maybe a couple of others, they could rebuild some of the infrastructure for "free" [free at point of use] including supplying fresh water for washing, drinking and crops.

They could drag an Arctic iceberg ... ah, but by this paragraph all of the "practical", "pragmatic", "Big Boy" "Players" have ceased to read. Utterly unable to see the Big Picture, convinced that their tiny, myopic vision of Capitalism is how the cosmos works, they would dismiss all of the foregoing as Skiffy, nerdy, geeky robots-and-rockets BukRojahs stuff.

And it's sure and certain that the bosses at Apple aren't going to nearly bankrupt their company, even temporarily, even if there would be a truly gigantic profit boost a couple of years down the road, just to make me happy. :)

Which is a shame. They could do so very much good with their funds.

But they won't.

HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

Re: Peak tech

" ... nobody is coming up with anything new ..."

Vambrace instead of watch. Larger volume, more sensors, more processors, storage and battery. Flexible, roll-out screen with a stiffener on one side, or both. Charged by the user's movements, like those self-winding watches or like Dyson radios with their winders or by the user's heat or solar flux or even from the mains.

Back-pack power-cells to power H.U.D.-like display and sensor helmets. Packs to be little thicker than a semi-bulky jersey. Chargeable by the Sun, body motions and mains.

Non-Newtonian "impact-resistant" armour, basically custard as a cloth. Tune it so it allows for running but resists knives and bullets.

Chemical based data storage, essentially D.N.A. but probably using different molecules so it can be state-switched either optically or electronically, whichever is cheaper. Storing data on the molecular scale in light-sensitive, colour-changing glass ["crystal storage"] could be another choice.

Micro-bearing soled shoes to make personal transport [walking] easier. Sort of like skates but with a contained pad of bearings instead of wheels. Make the bearings magnetic or electro-resistive and you might even be able to use them in vehicles or power them by way of the back-packs.

Firefly lighting. Rechargeable luciferin-like pods, strips, walls and other lamps. Luciferin itself is not the only light-emitting chemical.

Magnetic fluid doors. Magnetic fluid wall screens; if the particles are coloured and small enough they could display motion, if not small enough they could still show selections of advertisements or scenery.

F.T.L. Starships.

Okay, maybe that last one is a little out of my price-range and maybe it is also not entirely within Apple's technological grasp this year but they have the money to search for them.

Speaking of funds: Apple, Google, Microsoft, the Mormon Church or a score of other buggers could put a research village on the Lunar Farside, complete with multi-kilometre sized radio and optical scopes. They could build cities, manufacturing plants and farms in Earth, Moon and Mercury orbit that could scale stuff down to the benighted poor trapped on the homeworld. By 2050 or so, there could be *hundreds* of fully operational stations out there. By 2100, it could be in the thousands, including vast cities made from those otherwise useless rocks in the Asteroid Belt.

By 2200, there could be City-Farms in the Oort Cloud. By 2300, some of them would be starting to feel a little crowded so they might just cut loose from distant Sol to drift into the nearby Cometary Zone of Proxima or Barnard.

And that is how we get a Human Galaxy.

None of the above is fantasy or even Science Fiction, it is all doable today or at the very least *startable*.

Nobody coming up with anything new? Bullshit. It is myopic, blind, vision-free managers pissing on the innovators, dreamers and visionaries when they *do* bring up the bright, entirely possible, cheap and extremely profitable futures that could be had for a small effort that are killing invention, stifling their own futures and throttling The Dream Of Stars.

Not all of those managers are corporate. Many are politicians or priests. The cost of them is the same.

We could have the stars.

We won't. Not ever.

London's top cop dismisses 'highly inaccurate or ill informed' facial-recognition critics, possibly ironically

HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

Re: How do we combat this?

It's a little off-topic but I've always wanted to know this: what the Hell would the SNiPpers do were they to win?

What is their Grand Design if they ever get "independence"? [Noting that, at least recently, their plan for pseudo-independence included distant overlordship by the E.U. from Strasbourg, a place even less "Scottish" than London.]

What are they *for* once Scotland is "free" from the oppressive yoke of the Southerners?

Would they, having achieved their manifesto's one singular aim, vanish quietly into the night, instantly ceding power to the next most popular Party?

Do they *have* a contingency plan for "victory" or are they only interested in grabbing and retaining power, profits and privileges for themselves by ensuring the continuation of the Union which they can forever demonise?

I'd love to ask their leaders but I'm fairly sure the questions would be ignored.

How many times do we have to tell you? A Tesla isn't a self-driving car, say investigators after Apple man's fatal crash

HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

Re: Tesla never said it's driverless

"If that delays the accumulation of untold wealth by autonomous vehicle mongers a bit, I suppose that's unfortunate. But it really does seem to be necessary."

Hmmm, lose seventy people or so per day, every day or add ten bux to the cost of a twenty-thousand bux car by installing a seat-belt, noting that the additional cost will decrease shareholders' dividends by 0.000000001 cents this year. "Oh, that's a real dilemma," say the Auto-makers, "I guess we'll just have to fight the legislation ... no matter how much that costs."

Tobacco and cancers. Every safety device ever suggested for trains, aeroplanes and automobiles. Many other instances.

Corporations are not charities. Absent compelling legal structures with massive penalties for non-compliance, they will never make anything safer.

Unless doing so makes it cheaper to make yet more profitable to sell.

The only way to make a car's "autopilot" safe would be to jail the entire Board, including such as Mr. Musk, *automatically* for first degree murder the instant one kills a user. Make the penalties for non-compliance *hurt*.

Had we done this with cars when first they arrived, there would be no need for RoadPeace. [ https://www.roadpeace.org/ ].

'I give fusion power a higher chance of succeeding than quantum computing' says the R in the RSA crypto-algorithm

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Re: Que sera, sera

1: " ... the cat was neither dead nor alive; after being alternately poisoned and not poisoned for over a century, it had become greatly pissed off, miffed, irked and annoyed and it was simply missing."

2: "... when they opened the box, they found neither an alive cat nor a dead cat but a highly confused dog."

3: " ... this experiment, when first performed in the distant Galactic Supercluster, resulted in the superposition of two entire cats. Cats, of course, having much mass this then became a matter of blast radius."

HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

Re: Forgotten what?

"There are people out there doing God's work."

Well .......... *someone* has to.

HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

Re: Glib rejoinder

I'm in Free-UKland, it is February (just barely) and the local fusion reactor is keeping the room's temperature marginally above Absolute Zero.

The heating element that uses electrical energy made from stored fusion energies (fossilized plant and animal stuff mostly) - the desktop PC unit - contributes a share to the room's "warmth", too.

For you to be "toasty warm" you must be in daylight and on the bottom end of the planet. Yes?

Aww, a cute mini-moon is orbiting Earth right now. But like all good things, it too will abandon us at some point

HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

Re: In the near future? a question

"... how does a mass in interplanetary space (or interstellar for that matter) get permanenty captured ..."

Jupiter's moon, Io has one answer to that.

Tidal heating and momentum swapping during the flyby. Sort of like what is causing the Moon to fall upwards, away from the Earth but in reverse mode. Angular momentum can be transferred into or from the primary object's rotation, kinetic energy converted into heat.

It would take a large number of close approaches to drain the momentum and angular momentum from a passing rock but the physics isn't magic. The result may be magical and full of wonderment but the process is just the cosmos doing its thing.

Like a rainbow.

HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

Re: I idly wonder about the challenge of landing this on earth ?


Bradford City Council [in Exile]: We'll bid 34 billion if you drop it on Bradford.

HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

Re: I idly wonder about the challenge of landing this on earth ?

Hmm, that may depend on *where* one dumped it.

HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

Re: Hold on a mo...

As the post above stated, they *do* worship a rock that *did* survive entry [ *NOT* "re-entry" as it probably didn't start its life as a part of Earth] so it's possible this one might.

It depends on what it's made of and how we land it. Dropping it vertically, like a rock, would be best as this would give it least time to interact destructively with the airs of Earth and most opportunity to merge interactively with the less squishy bit. It wouldn't do much regional damage even so but it might damage the core of a city if it fell from its apogee.

The problem with that is The Rocket Equation. It takes effort to cancel orbital motions, as much effort as it takes to set them up and even a little rock weighs many tons. Effort means fuel and fuel must be lifted from Earth's surface to the moon.

Sending in the U.S. Armed Forces is probably cheaper.

HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

Re: Wouldn't it be great

Does the Ceres-Vesta "Dawn" probe have a museum-quality twin sitting around spare? Could we power her up, plonk her on a rocket and zap her to this new moon of ours?

Hell, I'd volunteer to go on a Soyuz or ESA re-supply rocket without a return ticket, just for the "wheeeee" of it. I'm sure I can be remotely piloted by real geologists, chemists and other actual Scientists so I could do valuable work.

Anyone at NASA, ESA, JAXA or the Indian one reading this?

HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

Re: Science Alert!

"And yes, the Moon is slowly moving away from the Earth. "

Well, the Moon isn't one, she's more of a companion planet or, considering the I.A.U.'s recent unfair demotion of Pluto and the asinine "reasoning" behind that, a companion Dwarf Planet. Luna, the Moon, isn't "round", she's more ovoid [allegedly due to the gravity of a nearby object] and she sort of, kind of, slightly hasn't exactly totally cleared her orbit of large lumps. We now that latter because we live on one of the uncleared bits - well, many of us do, some of the time.

As Luna, the Moon, isn't "really" a moon, one should not expect her to behave as the other, littler [compared to their hosts] ones do.

Of course, the Earth is a slightly lumpy oblate near-spheroid that hasn't cleared her orbit [see the article for details] so the Earth isn't a planet, either. It's debatable that any object save Venus [maybe Mercury, too] *is* a planet.

HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

"But could it be slung the other way and come down on someone's head ?"

Yes, technically it can. But ...

The Earth is *tiny* and the rest of the universe is damned *huge* so hitting the tiny, tiny Earth is far more unlikely than hitting the rest of the universe or even the littly bit of it that our Sun looks after.

True, millions of tons of dust, detritus, small rocks and bigger boulders *do* hit the Earth each and every year and every so often a quite large to bloody enormous one will find us but those things [apart from the QLTBE-types] do pretty much no harm at all.

A small, car-sized brick won't do much, either even should it suddenly decide to cuddle up to our little planet. Odds are it would break up to provide a few fireballs and pretty falling "stars" that would be seen over some Russian village.

They are *always* seen over Russia, which is probably all to the good.

Voyager 1 fires thrusters last used in 1980 – and they worked!

HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

Re: how much gold, platinum ... present in asteroids is still completely unknown

That settling thingy would also happen on the real planets. The big ones, Jupiter and Saturn. Probably on Uranus and Neptune, too, though heavy metals would be rarer out there both because of the distance from the centre of the pile and because the real planets would scarf up much of everything around them.

Jupiter, far from having a core that is metallic hydrogen or a giant diamond [wouldn't it be some other allotrope of carbon at those temperatures and pressures?] might be a massive, bubbly fission reactor filled with all sorts of radioactive ickyness.

The Big Red Spot as a gigantic nuclear-powered hot-spot?



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