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Has Voyager 1 escaped the Sun yet? Yes, but also no, say boffins

This post has been deleted by its author

Boffin

old git alert

FORTRAN - check

ALGOL - check

Assembler - lots and lots of weird CPUs (so check)

US Citizen - nope

Damn - guess NASA won't be calling me then...

Was contacted last year to see if I wanted to work on some CORAL code (no thanks). It's amazing how much of this old stuff is still kicking around.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: old git alert

Coral-66? Arrgggghhhhhhhhhhh No Thanks.

Are you sure you ain't my doppleganger? I seem to check most of the same boxes as you.

These young whippersnappers with their X86... They don't know what reall Programming is like.

Load them front panels baby!

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It shouldn't take any looking up to know how to spell "kHz".

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Re: old git alert @AC

Nothing wrong with Coral-66! Used to write extensions to our chip design software in it.

I'd love to work on something like that - take a while to work round the innards (I'm guessing theres a lot of clever shit in there) but is there really a requirement for US residency? Seems a bit dumb requiring you to work in the US of something nearly out of the fucking solar system.

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Re: old git alert @AC

Coral66 is still being used. The Tornado's use it internally for sure. Now I have to shoot you.....

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This post has been deleted by its author

"Potential applicants will need to do their own research into exactly which CPU's assembly language they need to be fluent in, because El Reg couldn't be bothered to look that information up, and include it in the article."

Potential applicants would be proactive enough to do the research themselves, and not wait for El Reg to do their homework for them. Sigh.

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Re: old git alert

CORAL-66? Sorry, no can do.

Now, if you wanted some PO-CORAL doing I might be able to dredge my memoriies (NOT).

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Pint

@1980s-coder

"...which CPU's assembly language they need to be fluent in..."

If you understand a) what was written, b) the technology of the time as used in space vehicles, and c) what the hardware designers would have HAD to do, then you'd already know that it must be a custom design built from the ground up using gates.

http://history.nasa.gov/computers/Ch6-2.html

You're not hired.

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@1980s_coder

I seem to recall (I'll need to look it up) but both Voyagers used three computers, one of which was the GE-18bit TTL (the same as on the Viking probes) The other two were custom jobs based on that chipset. I think it's fair to say, that even if you knew the assembly language there will be many custom instructions to learn.

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This post has been deleted by its author

This post has been deleted by its author

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Devil

Re: @1980s_coder

Before you do, take the 1990's style blink tags off your web page. It's horrible.

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Re: @1980s_coder

As talented a programmer as you may be, your website is proof positive that humanity needs web designers.

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Re: @1980s_coder

You think BASIC and FORTH are obscure? You think VAX is "vintage".

Get off my lawn.

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Pint

Re: @1980s_coder

AB "...based on that chipset."

Using the phrase 'chipset' in this context is a stretch.

Not strictly wrong, but will mislead the noobies. They won't assume it's built up from low level gates.

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Silver badge

"If you think of the magnetic field as a rubber band stretched around a beach ball...

Got you

that band is being deflected around the heliopause"

What?

Today with other usless analogies, "If you think of atoms as a golf ball orbiting a tennis ball, nuclear reactions are caused by the fusion of multiple nuclei into a single atomic mass." Or "If you think of engines as giant popping bang-bangs, the play off between torque and power demonstrates why trucks tend to have high displacement, low RPM engines."

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PK
Alien

it's aliens...

So did someone put these rubber bands round to stop us leaving? It might explain why Voyager has tried to leave a few times now. Will it be pinged back in towards the sun at some point?

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Re: it's aliens...

"So did someone put these rubber bands round to stop us leaving"

It was intergalactic postmen littering our solar system.

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Analogies

one of my pet peeves, useless analogies. Although there are analogies, that have an almost Zen-like quality about them.

Which makes me think: is there something like a digital analogy?

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@AndyS

I'd actually loaded that passage onto my clipboard and was going to ridicule it but not only did you get there first, you did a much, much better job that I would have.

Very nice!

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Anonymous Coward

Re:

Hah, thanks for that. I similarly struggled to follow the analogy all the way through.

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Yeah, a better analogy would be a pond surrounded by a marsh.

Trying to pinpoint exactly where water gave way to firm dry land is impossible.

Best you can do is say, "Over there is dry land, over there is water, and in between is neither."

Right now Voyager is somewhere in between, probably closer to dry land than water.

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Childcatcher

Outer Limits

Boffins have debated whether Voyager 1 has left the Solar System for a few years now...

This is what happens when you move the solar system limits from Pluto to some other locale: it just confuses everyone! Actually, I was not able to easily find a definition as to what the solar system is, much less what its boundaries are, on the IAU's web site (they really have a crappy web site, especially when it comes to search functions). As far as I can tell, they have defined what a planet in the solar system is without defining what constitutes the solar system itself.

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Re: Outer Limits

In reality, they are making it up as they go along. It is all they can do.

They don't know where the boundary is, Voyager is the first man made object to reach that distance, what we are hearing is the 'debate'.

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Re: the "solar system"

IIRC, it's the region where the Sun's influence (solar wind, magnetic fields, etc) dominates over the interstellar void.

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Re: the "solar system"

Seems like a pointless discussion, really. When does summer become autumn?

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Re: the "solar system"

Seems like a pointless discussion, really. When does summer become autumn?

True but we're a species that likes compartmentalising everything.

That's why there are indeed various definitions - albeit questionable ones - of when summer ends and autumn begins.

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Re: the "solar system"

Where they taking bets on this sort of thing in the 70's?

Beyond that, just a 'river becomes the sea' question.

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Re: Outer Limits

[insert over-used slogan about voyage, destination here] - the more you know, the more you realize what you don't know - but that's what keeps it interesting!

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@Anonymous Coward 101 Re: the "solar system"

"When does summer become autumn?"

On the autumnal equinox. Seasons change on the equinoxes and solstices.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Outer Limits

The boundary was never Pluto cos that sometimes comes closer to the Sun than Neptune.

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Re: @Anonymous Coward 101 the "solar system"

@ turtle

What you wrote is true; officially so in the Land of Under. Have an upvote.

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Re: the "solar system"

@Desperately

"Beyond that, just a 'river becomes the sea' question."

So Voyager is in the estuary?

(And the rubber band is a tidal boom?)

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Re: Outer Limits

Well we're still discovering objects orbiting the Sun. The far reaches of our solar system are largely unknown as of yet. Unfortunately Voyager will not be able to provide us with answers for much longer either. The nuclear battery in it will only output enough power to transmit for a couple more decades. In that time the craft will not be able to traverse the distance to the theorized Oort cloud either.

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Anonymous Coward

"More pristine parts of interstellar space apparently lie ahead"

Does Voyager 1 get to piss it's name in the stars, like you would in untouched virgin snow?

It only seems fair.

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Joke

Voyagers' 250 Khz General Electric 18-bit TTL CPUs, complete with single register accumulator and bit-serial access to 2096-word plated-wire RAM.

So when is Microsoft pushing Windows 10 on to that platform?

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PK

Apologies, just noticed you beat me to this joke

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LOL

Sounds like a dream job until you consider how much legacy code there must be. You'd have trouble getting any of the tooling to work. But surely they don't update code on the probe anymore? I guess they just have to simulate or emulate it somehow so any new commands can be verified before being sent.

I'm hoping it just suddenly disappears mid-trans ......

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"So when is Microsoft pushing Windows 10 on to that platform?"

Accounting for the quite slow communications bitrate, it won't get the win 10 install before it drifts into the next solar system. By that stage, the intelligent life there will be getting ready to communicate with us.

Then they'll notice Voyager, take one look at windows 10, and they'll launch an intergalactic war instead.

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Anonymous Coward

"You'd have trouble getting any of the tooling to work."

Tooling! I don't need no stink'n tooling!

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So it's escaped but not escaped.

It's Schrodingers space probe.

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That's what happens when you can't observe it any more.

Only a matter of time before someone starts worshipping 'Vger' as a new deity.

Cant see it? - check

Lots of people get excited when referring to it and look skywards with reverence? - check

All the whales dead? - getting there.

We're doomed.

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Clarification needed

Do you mean worshipping Voyager here or there (like this maybe)?

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Happy

Many thanks

Dear Mr. Zottarelli,

Thank you for your 55 years of work in helping to find out just how small we are, and how big and wonderful the universe is.

And having a cool name.

Have a wonderful retirement (though I sense consulting fees in your future...)

Sincerely,

Science/Space buffs everywhere.

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replacement

So this 80 year old guy has been working for almost a couple of decades into retirement age and a "replacement" was only brought in 1 year ago (linked article)

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Re: replacement

It's America not Europe, hence why you see old people working in supermarkets shuffling around, they can't necessarily afford to retire.

Don't worry though it's coming this way, under the guise of choice and that old people love working until they die. The thought they may want to put their feet up and drink tea is now just seen as an expense to the tax payer...

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Re: replacement

"It's America not Europe, hence why you see old people working in supermarkets shuffling around, they can't necessarily afford to retire."

Generally true, but US aerospace industry workers like those in this article can usually retire early and well. I'm surrounded by coworkers bailing from the company at ages 55 to 60. If they stick around beyond 65, then they've either done poorly by their finances or just like the job.

One guy, our wiring materials expert, was 83 when he retired for his 6th and final (?) time last year. His finances were fine, though he liked the extra income of being a very veteran contractor - his billing rate meant his morning coffee break probably earned him more than I got in a day. Very cool stories from him: stuff from the Korean War, early development of ballistic missiles, and even the coloring of warhead wiring (Hollywood, surprisingly, always gets the wire colors wrong when wiring need to be snipped to save the city and love interest from nuclear annihilation.) And he was here because he liked the job. Staying at home drove him stir crazy, and being in close quarters with his wife of 65 years drove them both crazy. So, he kept working. Heck, while I worked with him, two of his eldest kids retired (early, before 60) from law enforcement jobs.

I'm willing to bet anyone repeatedly patted on the back for being the "last original Voyager engineer" and having irreplaceable knowledge of its software was similar. He could've retired, but stuck around because he liked the job (and could bill at insane rates).

"So this 80 year old guy has been working for almost a couple of decades into retirement age and a "replacement" was only brought in 1 year ago (linked article)"

That's a good point, and all too common. My retiring coworkers tend to be leaving with no replacements in line for them, not until the last minute. I understand why: it's expensive to support a replacement doing the same job at the same time that a highly-paid veteran is still on staff. But it's a perpetual train wreck as the replacements stumble for lack of education from the pensioners they're replacing.

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