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Member since: Wed Oct 13, 2004, 05:42 PM
Number of posts: 8,636

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NASA Remembers Cmdr. Neil Armstrong - One Year After His Death

Navy Commander Neil Armstrong deserves to be remembered for his service as a combat, then test pilot, then astronaut, then professor.

Armstrong flew:
  • The X-15 (1960),
  • Gemini 8 (1965),
  • Apollo 11 (1969)

About that 'no warp drives' thing..........

There are some quite serious people willing to debate that with you. Last week's Starship Congress for the Icarus Interstellar Project included talks by Dr. Harold 'Sonny' White, who's working on a laboratory demonstration of warp bubbles and Marc Millis, head of NASA's Breakthrough Propulsion Physics project in the '90s / early '00s.

There were also some interesting talks on SETI. Just as with warp drives, not everyone is willing to be pessimistic about the possibility of contact. One really interesting talk had the long-winded title: Dr. Thomas Hair: Provocative radio transients and base rate bias: A Bayesian argument for conservatism. The abstract for the talk:

Most searches for alien radio transmissions have focused on finding omni-directional or purposefully earth-directed beams of enduring duration. However, most of the interesting signals so far detected have been transient and non-repeatable in nature. These signals could very well be the first data points in an ever-growing data base of such signals used to construct a probabilistic argument for the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence. This paper looks at the effect base rate bias could have on deciding which signals to include in such an archive based upon the likely assumption that our ability to discern natural from artificial signals will be less than perfect.

One of the most interesting transient signals was the Wow! signal detected by SETI researchers using Ohio State University's 'Big Ear' radio telescope. That signal was so intense and bore so many of the characteristics SETI researchers were looking for, that radio astronomer Jerry Ehrman was moved to write 'Wow!' in the margins of the graph paper:

The Wow! signal lasted 72 seconds while the radio telescope scanned across the area of the sky it was coming from.

Problem! It never repeated; despite other searches on the same coordinates. There have been other "transient, non-repeatable" signals detected at radio observatories worldwide. Dr. Hair speculates that the Wow! signal and others may be communications between home systems and colonies, or between home systems and starships.

Icarus Interstellar has Starship Congress coverage as day-long sessions on their YouTube channel. Here is the Day 3 session, with the talks on warp drives and Dr. Hair's SETI talk:

They've promised to break out individual sessions later. I'll post some of those as they become available.

Neil deGrasse Tyson -- The Most Astounding Fact

Rachel Maddow: Sequestration devastates US science, as well as education

Here's a recent post from the Maddowblog: The slow-motion disaster on auto-pilot just keeps getting worse. Here's what she says about sequestration's impact on US science:

Conditions are arguably worse for scientific and medical researchers dependent on grants, and Sam Stein explained in great detail last week how the sequester has become "a cancerous tumor inside the world of science." Stein talked to one scientist at the University of Virginia who said, simply, "We are in deep s**t."

The New York Times reports today that five months into sequestration, "much of the United States government is grounded." At this year's National Space Symposium in Colorado, for example, representatives from France, Germany, and China made the trip -- but no one from NASA could be there because the agency couldn't afford to send anyone.

The Sam Stein article at Huffington Post that Rachel refers to is grim: Sequestration Ushers in a Dark Age for science in America. Stein's article mostly covers impacts to medical research; vital research on treatments for HIV, diabetes, and flu (Which still kills thousands every year) is threatened.

The worst impact is on young people considering a career in science:

The problem, Antonsen said, was not just how the lack of funding would impact graybeards like himself, but also the newcomers to the field. Young scientists who had spent 12 years studying for their PhDs would find the climate inhospitable, and future generations would look elsewhere.

"We used to be able to tell people that there was some kind of job security," he said. "That would be a compensation for not being paid as much. Now, if you are taking a big risk in investing 12 years of your life to learn how to do the science, people will think twice."

Mention 'Obama' and the internet trolls will be on you like a cheap suit. Here's why....

The paid trolls aren't just people sitting in their parents' basements typing on cheap laptops; many of them work in offices with million-dollar computer systems and expensive software 'bots.'

From The Knowledge Movement's Facebook page:

So I posted a thread last night musing why our Rightwing trolls completely ignore the threads we post about their ignorance and crackpottery but swarm any thread remotely praising Obama. Well, below is the answer Jenell Yarbrough-Brinson gave. Something I was totally unaware of but makes a whole lot of sense.

"Because they are using computer bots their Tea party-Pac paid employers provide that scan for 'key' words, terms, and names, like Obama, Obamacare, and hot button issues.

I'm not joking. I worked for a telemarketing outsource company, and while I did not work in the department of that company that provided their clients internet 'trolling' services, they had them. Most commonly are groups of products, companies, the bots would search the internet, consumer websites, and yes, social networks, for key words and terms relating to their clients' (and their competitions') products or services, where ever "comments" features are available, and pop them up on the troll's screen, so they could post some comment, like a positive review for their clients' product, bad one for the competitors, etc. I last worked for that company in 2009, and they had just started really getting into handling politically related clients in quite a few departments. In the department I worked, phones, we were commonly offered the chance to work campaigns, not trolling stuff, but making those annoying phone calls to people to tell them the good stuff about 'our' candidate. I see the mindlessness and repetitiveness of these conservative, Tea-Party right-winger anti Obama anti Democrat trolls, and I've not doubt many if not most are actually paid trolls. That is why you can't get them to engage in actual conversation, they are paid by the posting, and new spots on the web for them to post comments to are constantly popping up on their screens.

Also, one person working that will be sitting there will many different 'identities' up at once, so it can seem a dozen different trolls with different names have hit, when it may be only one, using multiple FB profile accounts."

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