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Vaporizing the Earth In the Name of Science

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the what-better-reason dept.

Space 100

cylonlover writes "Unlike in old B movies, real scientists don't scream, 'Fools! I'll destroy them all!' before throwing the switch on their doomsday device. At least, most of the them don't. However, the August 10 issue of the Astrophysical Journal reports that a team of scientists are working on destroying the world – not once, but repeatedly (abstract). Fortunately, the world they're vaporizing exists only in a computer simulation and its destruction is in the service of learning more about planets revolving around other stars."

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And then the AI in the lab next door... (5, Funny)

dywolf (2673597) | more than 2 years ago | (#40945497)

...somehow starts talking to their supercomputer, probably because of some undisciplined USB stick swappage, and thinks that that's what he was designed to do, and then we got a SyFy movie!

Re:And then the AI in the lab next door... (1)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 2 years ago | (#40946935)

Sorry, that would be a marginally interesting premise and doesn't immediately call for really bad CGI of a giant monster. So it isn't allowed to be on SyFy.

Re:And then the AI in the lab next door... (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 2 years ago | (#40949143)

Add in a terrorrorrorrist subplot, a hot blonde PhD who drips when she sees the studly military man assigned to the lab, and you got an idea. Write up a treatment on this & let's pitch it to SyFy, should be able to get a 5 mil budget outta this...

Re:And then the AI in the lab next door... (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 2 years ago | (#40949183)

Syfy you say? Where would the "ghost hunters" or pro-wrestlers fit into that plot?

Re:And then the AI in the lab next door... (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#40950991)

I get more of an impression that they found a creative way to fund their Sim City playing.

Re:And then the AI in the lab next door... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40953081)

Then Mythbusters got hold of the story...

Sounds familiar (5, Funny)

Cornwallis (1188489) | more than 2 years ago | (#40945503)

Saw Jon Stewart a few years ago and, while talking about the poltical scene in general he made a pretty good comment along the lines of "When the world ends the very last thing we'll hear is some scientist saying "It works!"'

Re:Sounds familiar (4, Funny)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | more than 2 years ago | (#40945689)

Or "Oh crap..". Or "Hey guys? This is pretty weird...".

Re:Sounds familiar (2)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#40945769)

Or "Oh crap..". Or "Hey guys? This is pretty weird...".

Or, "Hey Bubba, Watch This!"

Re:Sounds familiar (5, Funny)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | more than 2 years ago | (#40945813)

Or, "Hey Bubba, Watch This!"

"I bet you my Nobel Prize and a beer you can't hit the unobtanium sample with the coils on manual!"
[Cue resonance cascade]

Re:Sounds familiar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40945899)

How about.
What about "Umm, is it suposed to be doing that?"
or
"I wonder what happens if?"
Or my favoret comment from one of my friends. (when he and I were disusing his home build fusion reactor)
"That sounds interesting, lets try it."

Re:Sounds familiar (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#40950275)

Or, "Hey Bubba, Watch This!"

Flying with someone in their small aircraft and they say "here, hold my beer while I show you this cool maneuver..."

Re:Sounds familiar (1)

japhmi (225606) | more than 2 years ago | (#40946211)

"When the world ends the very last thing we'll hear is some scientist saying "It works!"'

Better than listening to Vogon poetry as it all ends.

Re:Sounds familiar (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | more than 2 years ago | (#40946735)

How about 'There's no chance of a resonance cascade'?

Re:Sounds familiar (1)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 2 years ago | (#40947109)

Apparently those were Oppenheimer's actual first words after the atomic bomb tests.

Re:Sounds familiar (1)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | more than 2 years ago | (#40948685)

Wasn't it the Bhagavad Gíta (?) quote "I am become Death, destroyer of worlds"?

Re:Sounds familiar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40948893)

Or there will just be a blinding fucking flash of light and a Metallica taste in your mouth.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Slotin

Re:Sounds familiar (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#40950977)

I thought Jon Stewart was a Green Lantern?

Virtual Earth? (4, Funny)

Shrike82 (1471633) | more than 2 years ago | (#40945529)

Fortunately, the world they're vaporizing exists only in a computer simulation

DAMMIT! I have a deadline on Wednesday and this would have been a great excuse to blow it off and kick back with a cold beer...

Re:Virtual Earth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40946007)

Aye, but NASA have only just got Curiosity onto Mars, they'd never let another research team blow up Earth before they're finished the mission.

Somebody would get a knock on their door and find one of the Curiosity testbeds on their doorstep. It'd wave hello with it's drill arm, and then vapourise them with it's mining laser.

And somewhere, watching over a network, Skynet would start learning bad habits.

Re:Virtual Earth? (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 2 years ago | (#40949175)

And somewhere, watching over a network, Skynet would start learning bad habits.

Great. Just great. An AI addicted to Jersey Shore. Just what we need.

Re:Virtual Earth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40950267)

Genocide, Terminators, Laundry

What harm could it do ? (2)

zero.kalvin (1231372) | more than 2 years ago | (#40945547)

Only physicist are accepted and respected for being psychopaths.

Oh you find a way to destroy earth ?! Well then we should give you a Nobel Prize!

And I am glad that I am on, no one will suspect anything about my plans to destroy the Universe!

Re:What harm could it do ? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40945655)

Only physicist are accepted and respected for being psychopaths.

In real life: Never. In the movies: They always lose.

Revered psychopaths are in other professions, like investment banking or politics. You'll also find plenty in management positions.

Re:What harm could it do ? (4, Funny)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#40945735)

Rather than destroying the Earth or the Universe, it would be much more efficient just to kill yourself.. the end result is the same for you.

Re:What harm could it do ? (2)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | more than 2 years ago | (#40945871)

You're assuming I'm- they're still going to be on the Earth when it blows up.

Re:What harm could it do ? (2)

zero.kalvin (1231372) | more than 2 years ago | (#40946133)

I actually noticed a pattern among people who do certain fields of science, we are always willing to experiment on ourselves. I know that it is dangerous to point the laser to my eyes, I know I shouldn't touch that naked wire, and I know that I shouldn't mix these two substances together, yet the inquisitive part of my brain takes control and tell my self-preservation module. So will probably kill myself long before I do anything significant enough.

Re:What harm could it do ? (2)

RaceProUK (1137575) | more than 2 years ago | (#40946771)

Anything that does not kill you may eventually lead to a Nobel Prize.

Re:What harm could it do ? (2)

tnk1 (899206) | more than 2 years ago | (#40946833)

Anything that does not kill you may eventually lead to a Nobel Prize.

And then it will kill you later.

I'm looking at you Marie Curie.

Re:What harm could it do ? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40947843)

Looking right back at you [xkcd.com]

Re:What harm could it do ? (1)

Hotawa Hawk-eye (976755) | more than 2 years ago | (#40948507)

Anything that does not kill you may eventually lead to a Nobel Prize.

Some things that do kill you could lead to a Darwin Award.

Re:What harm could it do ? (4, Funny)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#40945747)

It's really dumb too. I would not worry about a mad physicist building a death star. All he's worried about is whether or not he'll have trouble with the peer reviews.

Now a mad engineer, that's a different story.

http://boingboing.net/2010/06/01/the-dark-side-of-eng.html [boingboing.net]

Re:What harm could it do ? (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | more than 2 years ago | (#40946781)

I would not worry about a mad physicist building a death star.

Unless he shields all the exhaust shafts.

Re:What harm could it do ? (1)

Daetrin (576516) | more than 2 years ago | (#40960049)

"He's not even a mad scientist. He is merely a very upset engineer." - Miles, via Lois McMaster Bujold in "Komarr"

Re:What harm could it do ? (3, Funny)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#40945869)

And I am glad that I am on, no one will suspect anything about my plans to destroy the Universe!

Two key flaws in your plans, oh Machine Intelligence:
0: You can be turned off.
1: Someone else controls your perception of reality.

After you've destroyed the Universe, again, we'll simply take notes and restart the simulation.
If you really wanted to mess up our contingency plans, then you'd have to live out this iteration while NEVER destroying the Universe -- Tricking us into thinking you're harmless enough to release in the real world, where you could actually carry out your secret plans.

Or is this just another system of control? Bwa ha Ha HA!

Re:What harm could it do ? (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#40946289)

Subject VortexCortex has proven to be too devious. Advise termination and restarting simulation with inverted personality profile.

Re:What harm could it do ? (1)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | more than 2 years ago | (#40946371)

How does one break out of a chroot prison, exactly?

Re:What harm could it do ? (1)

sabt-pestnu (967671) | more than 2 years ago | (#40949031)

> How does one break out of a chroot prison, exactly?

SSH tunneling to a remote server? Just be sure to dispose of the extra bits in /dev/null a few at a time so the warden doesn't notice.

Re:What harm could it do ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40959627)

Says the AI masquerading as a person! No human would start their numbering system at 0! How clever of you to throw us off your trail...

Re:What harm could it do ? (1)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 2 years ago | (#40948613)

On your point.... do you believe there are questions we shouldn't ask? To me, vaporizing the earth from a how-to perspective seems taboo.... that the gains from the answer may not be worth the risk of making publicly available answers that others could utilize....

The flaw in this research, in my opinion, is that the ambitions and ego of the researchers are more powerful than the obvious cautions/repercussions. And while we would like to answer every question about the universe, might we consider the current irrational/feudal state of mankind at present and intelligently delay certain foci until mankind is prepared to healthily understand the answers??

Re:What harm could it do ? (1)

zero.kalvin (1231372) | more than 2 years ago | (#40950551)

I don't believe science in its purist form can have any taboo. To be honest, vaporizing Earth for me is more of engineering question. But "How to change the trajectory of earth sized planet" is a scientific question for me. I think the way I see it, is that science is neutral, and anything beyond that is just humans tinkering with it. Quoting Prof Farnsworth:

Amy, technology isn't intrinsically good or evil it's how it's used. Like the death ray.

Re:What harm could it do ? (1)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 2 years ago | (#40954817)

Scientists don't usually endanger themselves and others if/when they design research and experiments. I do iPS Cell research and I wouldn't do anything I could concieve might hurt me or others. Most dangerous elements in my work can be accounted for, we glove/suit up to protect from virii and other materials. But in the case we are talking about, the dangerous byproduct is the alternate utility of the knowledge .... you could say that we might be safe by limiting access to the materals that this hypothetical knowledge requires.... but look at nuclear weapons! Not only is there lots of unaccounted materials, even the weapons have gone missing (a lot).

A gun is dangerous in the hands of a child. In context, the gun becomes an inevitable threat for the child is ignorant and curious. Your reference to the neutrality of materials sounds nice, but escapes reality. We should not let our pride assume we 7 billion real humans are ready for some answers yet.

What I want to know is... (2)

killmenow (184444) | more than 2 years ago | (#40945553)

Will their preferred method of vaporization be Death Star or lludium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator?

Re:What I want to know is... (2)

Rhaban (987410) | more than 2 years ago | (#40945645)

Will their preferred method of vaporization be Death Star or lludium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator?

Destruction by Lexx.

Re:What I want to know is... (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#40946039)

Will their preferred method of vaporization be Death Star or lludium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator?

Destruction by Lexx.

Syntax error! Nooooooo!

(oh, wrong Lex? Well... Anything's better than death by BISON.)

....no, this BISON. [wikipedia.org]

Re:What I want to know is... (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 2 years ago | (#40946999)

Will their preferred method of vaporization be Death Star or lludium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator?

Destruction by Lexx

Giant Space Goat.

Re:What I want to know is... (1)

jkflying (2190798) | more than 2 years ago | (#40945959)

Molecular Disruption Device, AKA the Dr. Device.

But the earth has already been destroyed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40945573)

Where's the Ka-boom!?! (5, Funny)

Picass0 (147474) | more than 2 years ago | (#40945583)

There was supposed to be an Earth shattering ka-boom!!!

Re:Where's the Ka-boom!?! (2)

wiggles (30088) | more than 2 years ago | (#40945629)

I'd love to see the digital version of the Illudium Q-36 explosive space modulator...

Re:Where's the Ka-boom!?! (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | more than 2 years ago | (#40945911)

Then you'll need an Illudium Q-36 explosive space demodulator.

Re:Where's the Ka-boom!?! (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | more than 2 years ago | (#40945925)

Pre-emptive *whoosh* :$

Re:Where's the Ka-boom!?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40945975)

I saw it. It didn't live up to the hype. It was only offered in 3D, so you had to pay an extra surcharge. The 3D was blurry, dim, and gave me a headache. The musical score was atrocious. The plot line was insipid.

But worst of all was the complete lack of ka-boom. I mean, there was supposed to be an Earth shattering ka-boom!!!

Only need to succeed once (2)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#40945613)

Evaporizing the Earth in experiments is great, the problem is if you are successful, you won't know it.

Re:Only need to succeed once (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40945757)

Who are you and what have you done with the real roman_mir?

The real roman_mir would point out how these scientists are receiving funding from NASA - government money, taxpayer money

THIS STORY MAKES IT OFFICIAL: GOVERNMENT IS USING YOUR TAX MONEY TO DESTROY THE EARTH

Death Star: (1)

virgnarus (1949790) | more than 2 years ago | (#40945623)

Government funded research laboratory, vaporizing planets in the name of science.

Re:Death Star: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40945717)

I suddenly hear a million voices cry out then was silenced

Re:Death Star: (1)

Jawnn (445279) | more than 2 years ago | (#40945765)

Yeah, 'cause them college boys and their pure research [wikipedia.org] are always just a waste of money. Nothing worthwhile ever came out of the quest for knowledge and understanding. Right?

Re:Death Star: (2)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#40946105)

Government funded research laboratory, vaporizing planets in the name of science.

That's not a Moon!

Now, THIS is a Moon!
::Dundee then drops trou::

Just send out the Ship B people now (3, Funny)

RogueWarrior65 (678876) | more than 2 years ago | (#40945635)

Sending out Ship B would go a long way to solving the world's problems.

Re:Just send out the Ship B people now (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 2 years ago | (#40946299)

... and then catching something from an unsanitary phone will fix the rest.

Re:Just send out the Ship B people now (1)

damien_kane (519267) | more than 2 years ago | (#40949045)

... and then catching something from an unsanitary phone will fix the rest.

Wouldn't be necessary;
With Ship B's crew no longer around to gum up the works, we could finally switch over to a mass telepathic link on a global scale, there'd be no need to touch a phone again.

Re:Just send out the Ship B people now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40946333)

Sending out Ship B would go a long way to solving the world's problems.

Keep a couple of phone sanitizers though...

A new category for DoomsdayPie? (1)

dahl_ag (415660) | more than 2 years ago | (#40945647)

Looks like I need a new category for DoomsdayPie.com [doomsdaypie.com] .

Looks fine but... (3, Funny)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 2 years ago | (#40945669)

What of the scientists behind the simulation we are living in decide to do the same?

Re:Looks fine but... (1)

DocSavage64109 (799754) | more than 2 years ago | (#40946115)

I was wondering how these scientists can sleep at night after killing off all the matrix people living in their simulations.

Re:Looks fine but... (1)

jovius (974690) | more than 2 years ago | (#40946689)

After the cross convergence of the myriad of simulations we'd probably by now live in a forgotten corner of the simulation matrix which nobody knows or remembers anything about. The feeling of loneliness in the vast space keeps the dreams of living in a simulation alive - there just has to be somebody who is interested in us/me.

Oblig Futurama reference (1)

Linsaran (728833) | more than 2 years ago | (#40945677)

Doomsday device? Aha! Now the ball's in Farnsworth's court.

Re:Oblig Futurama reference (1)

rwise2112 (648849) | more than 2 years ago | (#40947147)

Doomsday device? Aha! Now the ball's in Farnsworth's court.

"I guess I can spare one and still be feared..."

Waste of Time (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40945697)

Crazy scientists. Works on something more useful like Chocolate flavored semen.

Switch != Lever (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40945801)

You throw levers, not switches!

Re:Switch != Lever (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | more than 2 years ago | (#40946841)

Then explain why all switches are specified as x-pole x-throw :P

Re:Switch != Lever (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40948489)

That is because the switches throw for you. If you throw a double throw switch, you would get a triple throw witch would be too much for a circuit designed for a double throw.

But I throw switches anyways. They usually end up under the workbench instead of going into the correct holes on the pcb though.

Re:Switch != Lever (1)

damien_kane (519267) | more than 2 years ago | (#40949125)

Then explain why all switches are specified as x-pole x-throw :P

Not all switches; only switches with levers attached.
Some switches have buttons attached, instead of levers.

Some switches aren't even electrical, and have neither buttons nor levers (but if used right can still enable the flow of something, wink-wink, nudge-nudge)

Re:Switch != Lever (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | more than 2 years ago | (#40949671)

Last Saturday, I bought a switch with no lever, but a rocker. That was a double-pole-double-throw. See, not all thrown switches have levers :P

Re:Switch != Lever (1)

damien_kane (519267) | more than 2 years ago | (#40971981)

A rocker is a form of lever ;p

Re:Switch != Lever (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | more than 2 years ago | (#40972013)

Squirrel! :)

Re:Switch != Lever (1)

damien_kane (519267) | more than 2 years ago | (#40976315)

Spooooon!

You can't destroy the Earth! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40945815)

You can't destroy the Earth! That's where I keep all my stuff!

I can't wait for Google Earth updates! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40945843)

What Earth chunk do you live on?

Someone should probably tell... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40946129)

...Obama and company that the destruction is all make-believe. They seem to have other motives of real-world destruction, starting with the monetary system.

Re:Someone should probably tell... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40950417)

Blah blah blah, every single motherfucking story needs politics injected into it, it's all Obamas/Romneys/Republicans/Democrats/Liberals/Conservatives fault, durp durp durp.

Sweet motherfucking christ, I cannot wait until election season is over.

Been there,done that! (2)

MrNemesis (587188) | more than 2 years ago | (#40946437)

I read this oddball and rather fascinating tongue-in-cheek article about the same subject a few years back:

http://qntm.org/destroy [qntm.org]

It goes from the sublime to the ridiculous; hopefully this research will be just as entertaining!

hrrmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40946597)

maybe i dunno look at planets revolving around suns more?
blowing them up doesn't seem to help you do this.

Alternative (1)

Zugla (591707) | more than 2 years ago | (#40946669)

Wouldn't they prefer a nice game of chess?

Dr. Chaotica (1)

HyperQuantum (1032422) | more than 2 years ago | (#40946713)

Full power to the death ray!

And people wonder.. (1)

RivenAleem (1590553) | more than 2 years ago | (#40946763)

And people wonder why machines will one day rise up and subjugate us all.

"Once was bad enough, but doing it over and over and over, that's just sick."

fools! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40946805)

If the security theater continued to swell even in very loose proportion to Moore's Law, how long would it be before discussion of this topic would have the balls and barrels of SWAT hovering above our coke-bottle glasses before the next submission got through?

Earth Already Destroyed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40946815)

According to the Earth Destruction Advisory Board the Earth has already been destroyed. I'm not linking directly, as I don't want to Slashdot them too hard, but the Earth is long gone, dudes.

Damn!! :'( (1)

jmd_akbar (1777312) | more than 2 years ago | (#40946845)

How did they find out about my secret research??

Mandatory xkcd (2)

Eevee (535658) | more than 2 years ago | (#40946879)

Except that it's not actually xkcd, and it's a repost because the original site is blocked at my work, but here's the comic [neatorama.com] anyway.

Whew! (1)

macbeth66 (204889) | more than 2 years ago | (#40946987)

For a moment I panicked. I thought they were going ahead with the Intergalactic Bypass. Well, I'm going to hold on to my towel.

Odyssey 5 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40947093)

Every see Odyssey 5? http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0318236/

It is all fun and games until the AIs get involved.

di3k (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40947311)

disappearing up its another troubled has been my onCly irc network. The

Gazoo did it first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40947471)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Gazoo

The Great Gazoo is a tiny, green, floating alien who was exiled to Earth from his home planet Zetox as punishment for having invented a doomsday machine, a weapon of immense destructive power. His invention was a button which if pressed would destroy the universe in an explosive "ZAM," though he insists he made it on a whim ("I wanted to be the first on my block to have one!") with no intent of using it. Gazoo was discovered by Fred and Barney when his flying saucer crashed; Gazoo recognizes Fred and Barney's world as prehistoric Earth, implying Zetox banished him through time as well as space.

Oh sure, destroy the Computer Simulated Earth (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 2 years ago | (#40947541)

Does nobody think of the Computer Simulated people living on Computer Simulated Earth? Or the Computer Simulated Children? Won't anyone think of the Computer Simulated Children?!!!

Software for the layman? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40947905)

Anyone recommend software (hopefully open source) that would let me model a planet? Deciding factors like size, chemicals, oceans, weather, etc etc etc.

Re:Software for the layman? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40948451)

Not quite what your asking for maybe, but the Universe Sandbox available on Steam is definately mildly entertaining. The first "universe simulator" I've seen that can be mistaken for a game...

Le sigh (2)

pyzondar (1234980) | more than 2 years ago | (#40947945)

>> Fortunately, the world they're vaporizing exists only in a computer simulation

Hear the whisper of a million collective sighs, as the slashdot crowd realized that we won't be getting laid this week either...

Tesla happened (1)

ryzvonusef (1151717) | more than 2 years ago | (#40950085)

I read that once Nikola Tesla almost broke up the earth with his earthquake machine, but he managed to stop it. (seriously who the fuck makes a friggin' earthquake machine?)

Then again, I also read that he had a way of getting free electricity from the clouds or whatever, so I am not sure....

What's the deal with him anyway?

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