1456: "On the Moon"

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1456: "On the Moon"

Postby Flumble » Fri Dec 05, 2014 11:27 am UTC

Image

Title Text:
Spoiler:
"I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on Venus and returning him safely to--" [an aide frantically whispers in the president's ear for a moment] "... of landing a man on Venus."


Let the Germans land some people on the moon. They can get a moon base up and running even with '40s technology. :)

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Re: 1456: "On the Moon"

Postby Whizbang » Fri Dec 05, 2014 12:00 pm UTC

It's a Venus Flight Trap...

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Re: 1456: "On the Moon"

Postby Rhomphaia » Fri Dec 05, 2014 12:12 pm UTC

What happens on Venus... Stays on Venus.

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Re: 1456: "On the Moon"

Postby orthogon » Fri Dec 05, 2014 12:17 pm UTC

Anyway, we did go to space today! Get in!
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

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Re: 1456: "On the Moon"

Postby rmsgrey » Fri Dec 05, 2014 12:18 pm UTC

#If you believe... They put a man on the Moon. Man on the Moon#

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Re: 1456: "On the Moon"

Postby cellocgw » Fri Dec 05, 2014 1:14 pm UTC

Whitey's on the moon and I can't get a job.
Oh, wait, he's NOT on the moon. I still can't get a job. What next?
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Re: 1456: "On the Moon"

Postby orthogon » Fri Dec 05, 2014 1:53 pm UTC

Also, I say it again, the USA could put a man on Mars next year if y'all would only start using SI units!
(Statute miles, for the love of $DEITY...)
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

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Re: 1456: "On the Moon"

Postby moody7277 » Fri Dec 05, 2014 2:09 pm UTC

orthogon wrote:Also, I say it again, the USA could put a man on Mars next year if y'all would only start using SI units!
(Statute miles, for the love of $DEITY...)


To be fair, 172 million miles* sounds a lot shorter than 277 million kilometers.

*current distance
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Re: 1456: "On the Moon"

Postby orthogon » Fri Dec 05, 2014 2:38 pm UTC

moody7277 wrote:
orthogon wrote:Also, I say it again, the USA could put a man on Mars next year if y'all would only start using SI units!
(Statute miles, for the love of $DEITY...)


To be fair, 172 million miles* sounds a lot shorter than 277 million kilometers.

*current distance

How about 277Gm?
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

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Re: 1456: "On the Moon"

Postby operagost » Fri Dec 05, 2014 2:52 pm UTC

orthogon wrote:Also, I say it again, the USA could put a man on Mars next year if y'all would only start using SI units!
(Statute miles, for the love of $DEITY...)

What's the rest of the world's excuse?

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Re: 1456: "On the Moon"

Postby cryptoengineer » Fri Dec 05, 2014 3:23 pm UTC

I've heard it argued that putting a man on the Moon with 60s technology was a massive stretch for the technology. We were very, very lucky that it worked, and we didn't lose one or more crews. We came very close to doing so a number of times.

Essentially, the Space Race was an aberration, with ideology driving the US and SU to goals which were well beyond anything sensible at the time.

A more 'natural' development of space technology would have us heading to the Moon about now.

ce

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Re: 1456: "On the Moon"

Postby RabbitWho » Fri Dec 05, 2014 3:25 pm UTC

I don't get it.. it's a conspiracy theory joke?

cryptoengineer, I would say that if no one died on that mission it's because everyone did their jobs extremely well, and knowing the risks and the difficulty of it they drank lots and lots of coffee and concentrated very hard.

That swiss cheese idea tells us that a lot of things usually have to go wrong before a plane crashes, but you'd think, even if only one tiny thing had to go wrong for a plane to crash.. and a huge team of people were working on it and drinking lots of coffee.. that planes wouldn't crash.

Drink coffee.

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Re: 1456: "On the Moon"

Postby mathmannix » Fri Dec 05, 2014 3:32 pm UTC

cryptoengineer wrote:I've heard it argued that putting a man on the Moon with 60s technology was a massive stretch for the technology. We were very, very lucky that it worked, and we didn't lose one or more crews. We came very close to doing so a number of times.

Essentially, the Space Race was an aberration, with ideology driving the US and SU to goals which were well beyond anything sensible at the time.


I think we need another cold war to get our space program rebooted! It needs to be against someone else capable of competing with us, though... Japan? China? the EU? Do the Aussies have a space agency?

EDIT: Ok, going by this chart, the only candidates are Russia (done that), UK, China, India, and the EU. China would work best, but India would be interesting.

EDIT EDIT: Isn't the UK part of the EU? I mean, I know you don't use the Euro, but... wouldn't it make sense to share on the space agency?
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Re: 1456: "On the Moon"

Postby keithl » Fri Dec 05, 2014 3:51 pm UTC

This is one I feel strongly about - in a very minoritarian way. I've watched scientists working a remote submersible at the bottom of the Tonga trench, during a volcanic eruption, live - from halfway around the world. That was direct control, and almost like being there.

NASA is working on predictive-adaptive telepresence. The Moon is dead, nothing fast happens there. We can measure and build millimeter-accurate 3D maps of an area and expect everything to stay put, unless it is intentionally (and predictably) moved. We can send robots there, and control them from Earth, with far greater telepresence accuracy than we can on Earth. Where does that lead?

A humanoid robot scaled to gravity - 1/6th length, 1/216 volume, perhaps equal density - will behave mechanically like a person on Earth. A person in a full haptic suit in a work area on Earth, connected by high bandwidth (lasers are good) to that robot with predictive-adaptive simulation, is more-or-less there; perhaps chipping on an unknown rock will have unknown consequences, but everything else will work well at scale, simulating our way around the 2.5 second round trip signal delay.

Robots do not need food or air. Robots do not need to return to Earth. For the same launch mass as an astronaut visiting the Moon and returning to Earth, we can deploy thousands of small robots. For the same cost as the Apollo program, we can deploy a small city of remotely controlled robots and tools and lab instruments, and send a continuous stream of new instruments and repair parts. Which means that you can visit on your own dime, and that anyone with a modicum of skills can have a full time job on the Moon.

Is it "real"? I don't know. Is years of training, a brief visit in a heavy space suit, eating paste, and soaking up cosmic rays "real"? Long term habitation will be in a cave under 20 meters of rock, otherwise the secondaries from cosmic rays will give you a hell of a dose over time. Even if we engaged in the massive remote civil engineering project of building a safe moon base, astronauts on the Moon would be operating surface robots anyway.

I would love to "go to the Moon". The permanent presence of human minds there would bring great scientific and economic benefits to Earth. But I see no need to repeat the stunts of half a century ago. With 21st century technologies, we can actually conquer the Moon, and all mankind can go in person, not by proxy.

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Re: 1456: "On the Moon"

Postby Klear » Fri Dec 05, 2014 5:02 pm UTC

operagost wrote:
orthogon wrote:Also, I say it again, the USA could put a man on Mars next year if y'all would only start using SI units!
(Statute miles, for the love of $DEITY...)

What's the rest of the world's excuse?


Too busy landing on comets.

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Re: 1456: "On the Moon"

Postby orthogon » Fri Dec 05, 2014 5:53 pm UTC

Klear wrote:
operagost wrote:
orthogon wrote:Also, I say it again, the USA could put a man on Mars next year if y'all would only start using SI units!
(Statute miles, for the love of $DEITY...)

What's the rest of the world's excuse?


Too busy landing on comets.

I didn't necessarily say we had an excuse, I was being pro-American. A child of the 70s, I still instinctively look to NASA to pull off the next big thing, even if all the other space agencies are doing just as well, landing on comets and what have you. But my point is that the USA in space is like Oscar Pistorius (before the culpable homicide business), competing with the mainstream guys despite starting with a serious handicap. Actually it's more like competing in the Tour De France but refusing to use a bike. Correcting for the use of SI, the USA is centuries ahead of everyone else.
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

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Re: 1456: "On the Moon"

Postby Gil-Galad » Fri Dec 05, 2014 6:41 pm UTC

keithl wrote:Is it "real"? I don't know. Is years of training, a brief visit in a heavy space suit, eating paste, and soaking up cosmic rays "real"? Long term habitation will be in a cave under 20 meters of rock, otherwise the secondaries from cosmic rays will give you a hell of a dose over time. Even if we engaged in the massive remote civil engineering project of building a safe moon base, astronauts on the Moon would be operating surface robots anyway.

I never understood why everyone wants to send humans to Moon or Mars. Just visiting gains us nothing. Actually working towards a (at least partly) self-sustaining, replicating robotic population would be much more useful.

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Re: 1456: "On the Moon"

Postby da Doctah » Fri Dec 05, 2014 6:48 pm UTC

My attempt at lunar haiku from a couple of years ago:

We came here in peace.
Then we came back five more times.
Then we stopped coming.

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Re: 1456: "On the Moon"

Postby trpmb6 » Fri Dec 05, 2014 6:54 pm UTC

The right thing to do now, while we wait for our propulsion technology to catch up, is to send robots to the moon and mars and set up bases of operation for future generations. At some point we will have to mine the moon for use by future space faring humans, start now and get a stockpile going.

Alas, it always comes down to money and there is no money to be had for this kind of stuff. Everyone is too worried about the social welfare of the poor. Pfft.
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Re: 1456: "On the Moon"

Postby PinkShinyRose » Fri Dec 05, 2014 7:35 pm UTC

orthogon wrote:
Klear wrote:
operagost wrote:
orthogon wrote:Also, I say it again, the USA could put a man on Mars next year if y'all would only start using SI units!
(Statute miles, for the love of $DEITY...)

What's the rest of the world's excuse?


Too busy landing on comets.

I didn't necessarily say we had an excuse, I was being pro-American. A child of the 70s, I still instinctively look to NASA to pull off the next big thing, even if all the other space agencies are doing just as well, landing on comets and what have you. But my point is that the USA in space is like Oscar Pistorius (before the culpable homicide business), competing with the mainstream guys despite starting with a serious handicap. Actually it's more like competing in the Tour De France but refusing to use a bike. Correcting for the use of SI, the USA is centuries ahead of everyone else.

I think this handicap is compensated by the shitload of money they get from their government.

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Re: 1456: "On the Moon"

Postby JaSK » Fri Dec 05, 2014 8:25 pm UTC

everyone, let's pretend trpmb6 and PinkShinyRose are just being sarcastic and not actually mentally retarded so the conversation can continue.

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Re: 1456: "On the Moon"

Postby PinkShinyRose » Fri Dec 05, 2014 9:17 pm UTC

JaSK wrote:everyone, let's pretend trpmb6 and PinkShinyRose are just being sarcastic and not actually mentally retarded so the conversation can continue.

The even more preposterous budgets of several countries armies doesn't change that NASA has a larger budget than the rest of the top 5 funded space agencies combined. And on top of that part of the US space program is actually funded from their armed forces budget. When comparing US space faring achievements to other countries space faring achievements it doesn't make sense to compare the NASA budget to the US army budget.

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Re: 1456: "On the Moon"

Postby KKinnison » Fri Dec 05, 2014 9:59 pm UTC

I don't get the comic. My take is that "Landing on the moon" is something that is impossible. The alt text didn't even help and made it worse

As far as space travel. The US government especially congress, thinks the space program is a waste of money. NASA went from 4% of the US Budget back in the 60s to less then a tenth of a percent now. NASA should really spend more time marketing the space technology to corporations. NASA could go to a coperation and say "Hey if we provide the technical knowledge and ability redirect an asteroid to earth orbit, as well as mining the resources and give you the mineral rights, would you be willing pay for it?"

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Re: 1456: "On the Moon"

Postby azule » Fri Dec 05, 2014 11:25 pm UTC

orthogon wrote:
moody7277 wrote:
orthogon wrote:Also, I say it again, the USA could put a man on Mars next year if y'all would only start using SI units!
(Statute miles, for the love of $DEITY...)


To be fair, 172 million miles* sounds a lot shorter than 277 million kilometers.

*current distance

How about 277Gm?
Agreed.

Down with SI (km), up with ALL the metric units!

2.77e11m is the shortest.
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Re: 1456: "On the Moon"

Postby Flumble » Sat Dec 06, 2014 1:41 am UTC

azule wrote:[quotestack]
Agreed.

Down with SI (km), up with ALL the metric units!

2.77e11m is the shortest.

Indeed, that's (10/e)11 times as small as 277 Gm.

/pedantry

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Re: 1456: "On the Moon"

Postby CocoaNutCakery » Sat Dec 06, 2014 2:34 am UTC

It's one panel. It's just a silly joke. The topic isn't even controversial.

And this thread is already starting to become a five page argument on a slightly related issue that some of us nerds find to be a pressing matter.

Good ol' XKCD threads.

Spoiler:
Countdown to meta-argument...

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Re: 1456: "On the Moon"

Postby RogueCynic » Sat Dec 06, 2014 5:13 am UTC

Keithl:
Robots do not need to return to Earth.



Oh, really? http://xkcd.com/695/

Is it just me or does this comic seem strangely familiar?
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Re: 1456: "On the Moon"

Postby azule » Sat Dec 06, 2014 7:01 am UTC

CocoaNutCakery wrote:It's one panel. It's just a silly joke. The topic isn't even controversial.

And this thread is already starting to become a five page argument on a slightly related issue that some of us nerds find to be a pressing matter.

Good ol' XKCD threads.
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Re: 1456: "On the Moon"

Postby RabbitWho » Sat Dec 06, 2014 10:27 am UTC


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Re: 1456: "On the Moon"

Postby trandyr » Sat Dec 06, 2014 7:13 pm UTC

Can we not argue about which country got there first, and who has the bigger budget, and who can piss further than whom?
After all: "We came in peace for all mankind".

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Re: 1456: "On the Moon"

Postby azule » Sat Dec 06, 2014 10:17 pm UTC

lol! Thanks. I've never had that directed at me.

On topic, if we can put a man on a woman, … why can't we put a man on a woman?

Okay, I'll stop now.
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Re: 1456: "On the Moon"

Postby Coyne » Sun Dec 07, 2014 5:24 am UTC

azule wrote:
orthogon wrote:
moody7277 wrote:
orthogon wrote:Also, I say it again, the USA could put a man on Mars next year if y'all would only start using SI units!
(Statute miles, for the love of $DEITY...)


To be fair, 172 million miles* sounds a lot shorter than 277 million kilometers.

*current distance

How about 277Gm?
Agreed.


2.77e11m is the shortest.


So? That's the nature of exponential notation. After all, 2.77e21Å is just as short (if a bit dopey).

If you want short, why not 1.9 au? It's just as accurate as the others, given the fact that "current distance" is changing all the time.

orthogon wrote:Also, I say it again, the USA could put a man on Mars next year if y'all would only start using SI units!

azule wrote:Down with SI (km), up with ALL the metric units!


While I agree the U. S. should switch to SI units, in the end it comes down to the same thing: The distance between point a and b. Might as well argue whether "green", "verde", "vert", "зеленый", "綠色" and "kijani" really mean the same thing. To conclude: I think you're overselling the advantages of SI...just a tiny bit.
In all fairness...

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Re: 1456: "On the Moon"

Postby azule » Sun Dec 07, 2014 3:17 pm UTC

The short thing was a joke. Mostly aimed at "million km" being a thing. But orthogon beat me to the metric, but I still had to make the joke.

The distance between two things is confusing using inches then feet then miles. Why not have everything be a multiple of the other?
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Re: 1456: "On the Moon"

Postby flicky1991 » Sun Dec 07, 2014 5:11 pm UTC

azule wrote:The distance between two things is confusing using inches then feet then miles. Why not have everything be a multiple of the other?


Well, they are multiples, just not powers of 10... and 10 is essentially an arbitrary number anyway. It makes sense when counting on your fingers, but other than that it's just a number that was picked as a standard. It doesn't make metric any better, and it doesn't make imperial more "confusing".

When it comes to space travel... I'm optimistic. Before this century is over, there will be a human colony on the Moon or on Mars. Maybe, some of the people on this forum will even be involved - after all, plenty of science-y people read xkcd.
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Re: 1456: "On the Moon"

Postby orthogon » Sun Dec 07, 2014 5:22 pm UTC

CocoaNutCakery wrote:It's one panel. It's just a silly joke. The topic isn't even controversial.

And this thread is already starting to become a five page argument on a slightly related issue that some of us nerds find to be a pressing matter.

Good ol' XKCD threads.

Spoiler:
Countdown to meta-argument...

I'm not sure if you're referring to my thing about SI units; if so, I'm only half serious; certainly I'm exaggerating the impact. It's probably not an order of magnitude; it doesn't affect every part of the programme, only the actual calculations, but all the same there must be a measurable increase in the complexity of the software with implications for development and testing time, as well as a non negligible increase in the probability of an error at each stage. If I were running the programme, I'd have everything done in SI, and convert to nautical miles and gallons per fortnight and other non-French "freedom units" at the interface for human input and display only. I wouldn't be surprised if that's what NASA does.

As for the meta argument: this is probably one of the most on-topic threads on this forum! Then again, it's only a page old.

Coyne wrote:
orthogon wrote:Also, I say it again, the USA could put a man on Mars next year if y'all would only start using SI units!

azule wrote:Down with SI (km), up with ALL the metric units!


While I agree the U. S. should switch to SI units, in the end it comes down to the same thing: The distance between point a and b. Might as well argue whether "green", "verde", "vert", "зеленый", "綠色" and "kijani" really mean the same thing. To conclude: I think you're overselling the advantages of SI...just a tiny bit.

Noooo, that's not the point at all. As I say, I agree that I'm exaggerating the advantages, but not that much. It's not just about using the same system as others, or about the arbitrary name and size of the base units. SI is an internally consistent system, in that when you multiply or divide quantities in SI units, the answer you get is already in the appropriate SI unit. Move 2N through 3m? You've done 6J of work. Expend 3W for 2s? Also 6J of work. Conversely, if you move a two pound force through a distance of three feet, that's 6 foot-pounds; is that more or less than you exert by expending 2 horsepower for 3 hours? How many calories?

The other key feature is that there's only one unit for each type of quantity, with prefixes (k,M,m,n etc) that act only as dimensionless multipliers. So 3.2km is just 3200m. How about 3.2 miles? How many feet? yards? inches?

Of course it can all be handled, and admittedly for a computer dividing by 1000 is no easier than dividing by 1760, but the frequent conversions introduce the possibility of error, and all the multipliers are different (there are 1760 yards in a mile, but 2240 pounds in a ton) making it more likely that you'll slip up.

So, yes, you could have a system based on feet, pounds etc, as long as you use feet for everything from the thickness of your silicon wafer up to the distance to the moon, and make your units consistent so that your unit of energy is a foot-pound, etc. Maybe that's what NASA does. I'd be interested to know; come to think of it, it seems like the kind of thing that Randall would do comic about.

Pseudo-edit: some of the points have been made, but what the hell...
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

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Re: 1456: "On the Moon"

Postby ManaUser » Sun Dec 07, 2014 7:55 pm UTC

277Gm

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Re: 1456: "On the Moon"

Postby mikrit » Sun Dec 07, 2014 8:05 pm UTC

orthogon wrote:come to think of it, it seems like the kind of thing that Randall would do comic about.

If he wrote a "What If?" book, then the UK edition would have a special preface titled: "A note on units in the United Kingdom". If you bought the US edition: too bad, you will have to buy the UK edition as well.
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Re: 1456: "On the Moon"

Postby Flumble » Sun Dec 07, 2014 9:39 pm UTC

ManaUser wrote:277Gm

0.277 Tm
What's the point of using an SI-prefix if you don't normalize the value? :roll:

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Re: 1456: "On the Moon"

Postby Klear » Mon Dec 08, 2014 2:17 am UTC

@orthogon

It would seem NASA is using mostly SI units though:
http://www.nasa.gov/offices/oce/functions/standards/isu.html#.VIUJzNLF-1Q

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Re: 1456: "On the Moon"

Postby Coyne » Mon Dec 08, 2014 6:13 am UTC

Klear wrote:@orthogon

It would seem NASA is using mostly SI units though:
http://www.nasa.gov/offices/oce/functions/standards/isu.html#.VIUJzNLF-1Q

They've been trying hard to eliminate all non-SI measures, since they lost a couple of spacecraft due to incorrect conversions. An example is Mars Climate Orbiter, which was lost because the manufacturer provided course adjustments in pound-seconds (a violation of its contract) and control treated it as newton-seconds.

Note that this one wasn't lost because of use of Imperial units; it was lost because one group was using Imperial and the other was using SI. Using two systems is definitely bad. Nasa isn't the only victim of dual-system mistakes: there was also the Gimli Glider...

I'm not arguing that Imperial units should remain. I tried a lame joke about "overselling" SI, but there is merit to using SI--especially to not using dual systems. It's just that...we put a man on the moon using Imperial units. We might have been way out on the bleeding edge...and if we'd only done it once, it could be regarded as an accident. But we did it six times.
In all fairness...


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