Last week, you asked questions of Vermont Senate candidate Jeremy Hansen, running on an unusual platform: Hansen pledges to take advantage of modern communications if elected, and (with exceptions he outlines in his answers) vote based on the opinion of his district's voters on a per-issue basis. Read below Hansen's answers about such a system could work; he addresses concerns about security, practicality, morality, and more. "Before I start with the answers," he writes in introduction, "I want to clear a few things up. I am running as an independent for a Vermont Senate seat, not the U.S. Senate, so questions about classified and similar material do not (for the most part) apply. Also, for everyone's reference, there are 44,000 registered voters in Vermont's Washington County Senate district. Many of the concerns about managing input from very large populations are not as applicable here." Read on for more.
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Last week you got a chance to ask the team behind Space Command about their project and all things sci-fi. Marc Zicree, Doug Drexler, David Raiklen, and Neil Johnson were nice enough to put down the blasters and answer a handful of your best questions. David even answered one of his own! Read below to see what they had to say.
Marc Zicree, Doug Drexler, David Raiklen, and Neil Johnson are the guys behind the fastest funded film project ever on Kickstarter, Space Command. The project will feature a number of Star Trek vets behind the camera and a number of Trek actors are also involved, including Armin Shimerman, George Takei, Ethan Phillips and Robert Picardo. The team has graciously agreed to take some time from trying to make a crowd-funded movie, building spaceships, and exploring alien worlds to answer your questions. Ask as many as you like but please confine your questions to one per post.
We mentioned yesterday Jeremy Hansen's run for the Vermont Senate. There are a lot of political races currently active in the U.S.; what makes Hansen's interesting (besides his background in computer science) is his pledge to use modern communication technology to provide a taste of direct representation within a representative democracy. He makes a claim not many candidates (and probably even fewer elected officials) ever will: "A representative should be elected who would work strictly as an advisor and make all policy and voting decisions based on the will of his or her constituents, regardless of personal opinion." To that end, Hansen says that if he's elected, he'll employ "an accessible online voting platform to allow discussion and voting on bills" for his constituents. He's agreed to answer questions about how such a system could work, and the nature of democracy in today's ultra-connected world, in which distance and communication delays are much smaller than they were even 20 years ago, never mind 200. So ask Hansen whatever questions you'd like about his plans and philosophy; as always, ask as many questions as you please, but please separate them into separate posts, lest ye be modded down.
You recently got the chance to ask a group of MIT researchers questions about fusion power, and they've now finished writing some incredibly detailed answers. They discuss the things we've learned about fusion in the past decade, how long it's likely to take for fusion to power your home, the biggest problems fusion researchers are working to solve, and why it's important to continue funding fusion projects. They also delve into the specifics of tokamak operation, like dealing with disruption events and the limitations on reactor size, and provide some insight into fusion as a career. Hit the link below for a wealth of information about fusion.
kodiaktau writes "Salary.com profiles 14 questions that interviewers may or may not ask during the interview process such as the standards of age, gender and sexual orientation. They also profile several lesser known illegal or border line questions like height/weight, military background, country of origin and family status. With the recent flap over companies asking potential employees for passwords during the interview process it is important to know and review your legal rights before entering the interview. Have you been confronted with borderline or illegal interview questions in the past? How have you responded to those questions?"
Nuclear fusion power is the process of fusing light nuclei together to release energy, and ultimately, to put electricity on the grid. Today, we have six researchers from MIT's Plasma Science and Fusion Center here to answer your questions about fusion power, tokamaks, and public support and funding in the U.S. for this research. The Obama Administration's budget request for fiscal year 2013 is paying for the U.S. share of ITER construction out of the domestic program, starting with the closure of the MIT fusion lab. The interviewees are ready to answer technical and policy questions, so don't be shy! And, as always, please break unrelated questions into separate posts. Read on for information about the researchers who will answer your questions.
A few weeks back, you asked gaming-world academic and game designer Ian Bogost questions from the business, philosophical, and aesthetic sides of gaming; below, find his responses. Thanks, Ian!
You asked Carl Malamud about his experiences and hopes in the gargantuan project he's undertaken to prod the U.S. government into scanning archived documents, and to make public access (rather than availability only through special dispensation) the default for newly created, timely government data. (Malamud points out that if you have comments on what the government should be focusing on preserving, and how they should go about it, the National Archives would like to read them.) Below find answers with a mix of heartening and disheartening information about how the vast project is progressing.
If you've ever tried to look up public records online, you may have run into byzantine sign-up procedures, proprietary formats, charges just to view what are ostensibly public documents, and generally the sense that you're in a snooty library with closed stacks. Carl Malamud of Public.Resource.Org has for years been forging a path through the grey goo of U.S. government data, helping to publicize the need for accessible digital archives — not just awkward, fee-per-page access. (Mother Jones calls him a "badass.") Malamud has (with help) been making it easier to get to the huge swathes of data in government sources like PACER, EDGAR, and the U.S. Patent Office. He's got a new initiative now to establish a "Federal Scanning Commission," the task of which would be to assess the scope and outcomes of a large-scale effort to actually digitize and make available online as much as practical of the vast holdings of the U.S. government. ("If we were able to put a man on the moon, why can't we launch the Library of Congress into cyberspace?") Ask Malamud below questions about his plans and challenges in disseminating public information. (But please, post unrelated questions separately, lest ye be modded down.)
Ian Bogost is a professor of game theory at Georgia Tech, a game designer, a prolific writer, an entrepreneur, and a bit of a prankster. These roles which sometimes overlap, notably in his surprise success satirical Facebook game Cow Clicker, which you can think of as the Anti-Zynga. Wired has a fresh article up about Bogost (which cleverly embeds a sort of micro version of Cow Clicker). It also mentions another game — my favorite of his projects — that should be on the mind of every TSA employee, the 2009 release Jetset. Ask Ian about clicking cows, being an academic provocateur as well as a participant in the world of gaming, and breaking into the world of social gaming. (Please break unrelated questions into multiple comments.)
A few weeks ago you asked security guru Moxie Marlinspike about all manner of security issues, being searched at the border, and how to come up with a good online name. He's graciously answered a number of your inquiries which you will find below.
Greg Leyh is an electrical engineer who has spent most of his career working around particle accelerators and high-voltage machinery. Recently Leyh has been working on The Lightning Foundry, a project to see if humans can replicate the voltage economy effect of lightning. With the help of a Kickstarter campaign and a pair of 10-story Tesla Coil towers he hopes to generate man-made lightning. Greg has agreed to take some time away from his lightning machines and answer your questions. Ask as many as you like but please confine your questions to one per post.
As a security researcher, Moxie Marlinspike has played a big role in explaining what can go wrong in using Certificate Authorities to authenticate SSL traffic, an issue that's been top of mind this year thanks to compromised and faked certificates. On that front, he's lately come up with a system designed to circumvent CAs entirely, which means bypassing compromised (or invidious) authorities, rather than trying to patch the CA system. Another line of research, but not the only one, is mobile security and privacy; his Whisper Monitor Android firewall, released earlier this year, gives Android users notifications (and fine-grained permissions) when apps — including location-tracking or malware apps — want to make outbound connections. Possibly related: Moxie can also speak first-hand about what new border-search policies mean for travelers, having had his laptop and phones seized on returning to the U.S. from a trip. (And by the way, he's also an accomplished sailor and film-maker.) Moxie's agreed to answer your questions. Ask as many questions as you'd like, but please, be kind of rewind^wask don't ask unrelated questions in the same post.
You asked Phil Plait, aka The Bad Astronomer, questions on topics ranging from debunking superstition to extraterrestrial life to funding space exploration; read on below for his answers. Thanks for taking part, Phil!