13 August 2013

Asteroid mining comes a step closer

Some folk at Strathclyde University have just posted an interesting paper to arXiv. Entitled ‘Easily Retrievable Objects among the NEO Population’, it identifies no fewer than 12 small asteroids in near Earth orbits that could be ‘retrieved’ using more or less our present level of rocket technology. I put scare quotes around the word retrieved because (for fairly obvious reasons) their idea of retrieval does not involve attempting to get these objects to the Earth’s surface. Rather, they propose that these objects could be nudged out of their present orbits so that they end up at one of the Earth–Sun Lagrangian points.

Doubtless the folk at Planetary Resources (a company set to to begin mining asteroids as soon as possible) will be examining this list with some interest: some of these objects could be ideal test cases for them.

12 August 2013

ReactOS … watch this space

For years I have been a reluctant user of various Windows operating systems – initially because I couldn’t afford an Apple machine and later because I am tied in to Windows by software that can’t easily be used on other operating systems. I have tried emigrating to Linux once or twice. but I have not enjoyed the experience of running Windows programs under Wine. So the emergence of the ReactOS project is welcome news for me.

According to their website:
ReactOS® is a free open source operating system based on the best design principles found in the Windows NT® architecture (Windows versions such as Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows Server 2012 are built on Windows NT architecture). Written completely from scratch, ReactOS is not a Linux based system, and shares none of the UNIX architecture.
The main goal of the ReactOS® project is to provide an operating system which is binary compatible with Windows. This will allow your Windows® applications and drivers to run as they would on your Windows system. Additionally, the look and feel of the Windows operating system is used, such that people accustomed to the familiar user interface of Windows® would find using ReactOS straightforward. The ultimate goal of ReactOS® is to allow you to use it as alternative to Windows® without the need to change software you are used to.
ReactOS 0.3.15 is still in alpha stage, meaning it is not feature-complete and is recommended only for evaluation and testing purposes.

It looks as if I’ll have to wait a bit longer for a replacement for Windows, but this is definitely a step in the right direction.