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How Intel and Micron May Finally Kill the Hard Disk Drive

AdamHaun Re:Ever notice (430 comments)

Ever notice that NAND flash prices per megabyte have plummeted while EEPROM prices per kilobyte have remained high and then wondered how that could be rational?

Kilobyte-quantities of EEPROM are cheap enough that the package is probably a non-trivial part of the cost. The die cost is not the only lower bound on the price of a memory IC.

3 days ago
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A Library For Survival Knowledge

AdamHaun Re:100 year old survival knowledge in PDF files??? (272 comments)

"Electrolytic capacitors leak, electrodes corrode"

none of those are present in a Kindle.

Those were generic examples. A better one for a mobile device might have been that the contacts on the charging port wears out. Based on the rest of your post I'm skeptical that you know anything about the components used to make Kindles, but I didn't design it so I won't speculate further.

I apologize for the LCD/E-Ink confusion. But it doesn't make a difference because neither of them are designed to last for 100 years. According to the company, they expect that "over 90% of E Ink displays will last more than 10 years with typical usage", where "typical usage" is defined as room temperature. Kindles are rated for operation between 0 - 35 C (32 - 95 F), and discussion on Amazon suggests that this is a real limitation. That range is similar to what LCDs can handle. I suspect that both are limited by a chemical breakdown process (which would happen exponentially faster at higher temperatures) but I don't know enough about displays to say for sure.

you cant get more "temperature extreme" than what [Voyager 1] experiences. and it has "electronics" in it.

If you think that a space probe is in any way comparable to a consumer e-reader, then I'm afraid you don't understand anything at all about electronics or engineering. Had you kept reading on Wikipedia, you might have found stuff like this:

The Flight Data Subsystem (FDS) and a single eight-track digital tape recorder (DTR) provide the data handling functions.

The digital control electronics of the Voyagers were based on RCA CD4000 radiation-hardened, silicon-on-sapphire (SOS) custom-made integrated circuit chips, combined with standard transistor-transistor logic (TTL) integrated circuits.

Electrical power is supplied by three MHW-RTG radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs). They are powered by plutonium-238 ... and provided approximately 470 W at 30 volts DC when the spacecraft was launched. Plutonium-238 decays with a half-life of 87.74 years ... Additionally, the thermocouples that convert heat into electricity also degrade, reducing available power below this calculated level. By 7 October 2011 the power generated by Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 had dropped to 267.9 W and 269.2 W respectively, about 57% of the power at launch ... As the electrical power decreases, spacecraft loads must be turned off, eliminating some capabilities.

Voyager-1 was designed from the ground up for reliability in a hostile environment. I can't find a price for the hardware itself, but you can bet it was a more than $100, probably by several zeros. And even so, it's looking like the power supply will fail before it turns 100. A Kindle is nowhere near that level of reliability. It doesn't need it and nobody wants to pay for it.

about a month ago
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Researchers At Brown University Shattered a Quantum Wave Function

AdamHaun Re:Tentative summary (150 comments)

Many thanks to you and blueg3 for providing a better summary. These terrible analogies for quantum mechanics are always more confusing than helpful.

about a month ago
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A Library For Survival Knowledge

AdamHaun Re:100 year old survival knowledge in PDF files??? (272 comments)

If cared for a kindle DX can last 100 years.

On what do you base that statement? Consumer-grade electronic devices are not designed to last that long. Electrolytic capacitors leak, electrodes corrode, copper in IC traces migrates and shorts out, batteries wear out. I don't know about LCDs, but I'm sure they have long-term failure modes too, especially if they're exposed to sunlight. The whole device will be exposed to temperature extremes due to the lack of air conditioning in a survival situation. I'll buy 20-30 years. But 100? No way.

about 1 month ago
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The Odd Effects of Being Struck By Lightning

AdamHaun Re:Who would have guessed (191 comments)

Power is usually described as going in or out.

about 2 months ago
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It's Banned Books Week; I recommend ...

AdamHaun Re:Why is 1984 in this poll? (410 comments)

Yeah, but the poll is about the ALA's Banned Books Week. You would expect totalitarian regimes to ban books; the point of Banned Books Week is that people try to do it in America too.

about 2 months ago
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It's Banned Books Week; I recommend ...

AdamHaun Why is 1984 in this poll? (410 comments)

The American Library Association maintains lists of the most frequently challenged books (i.e. the ones people try to ban). Although 1984 shows up on the list of challenged classics, there is only one challenge listed -- someone in Jackson County, Florida in 1981 thought that it was "pro-communist and contained explicit sexual matter". The first part shows a massive failure of reading comprehension, not actual hostility towards the content. 1984 doesn't show up in the top 100 challenged books lists for 1990-1999 or 2000-2009.

1984 is definitely worth reading, and since its story features a banned book its presence in the poll makes a certain amount of sense. But it's not a great example of a challenged book, and the presence of several other dystopian works makes me wonder what the poll writer was thinking. Book banning in the U.S. is not a top-down government-led project to turn people into sheep for a New World Order. It's a bottom-up process where private citizens (mainly parents) try to "protect" children and teenagers from what they see as objectionable content.

As can be seen from the top 100 and top 10 by year lists, sexual content in books targeted at teenagers is the biggest concern. Most of the challenges are to fictional books, but a few non-fiction sex ed books make the list. The 2011 list even has a book for kids about what happens when their mom gets pregnant! Aside from sex, it seems like drug and alcohol use, offensive language (particularly racial slurs), and "religious viewpoint" (probably criticism of religion/Christianity) are popular reasons for challenging books.

The Handmaid's Tale prominently features all of those subjects, and is an excellent book as well. The first-person narrative really drives home the crushing horror of the setting. If you're looking for some dystopian fiction to read, I highly recommend it.

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Are the Strangest Features of Various Programming Languages?

AdamHaun Re:Infoworld... pass (729 comments)

C's bit fields are a really helpful feature in embedded programming. Unfortunately their implementation is strongly tied to the target CPU architecture. In particular, the endianness of the fields cannot be redefined in code, and bit fields are usually not allowed to cross word boundaries.

about 3 months ago
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The Argument For a Hypersonic Missile Testing Ban

AdamHaun Re:Incredibally stupid argument (322 comments)

1) Never trust a civilian that says "these weapons you want are not very effective or what you need". He is not trained or capable to make that argument.

Why not? Is it impossible for civilians to study military matters? Are you saying that all military historians are quacks? You realize that weapons development and production is done by civilians, right? And that our military and its funding are under civilian control, which is also the case in China and Russia? Are you aware that people (even in the military) always want things that make their own job easier, regardless of the overall cost? And that always giving them what they want is bad management?

You can boil down his argument to what I originally said -"these weapons are good at killing people"

No, you can't. His argument is that hypersonic missiles will not give us enough of an *advantage* in killing people (or destroying equipment, which is arguably a more important use) to justify the cost. Absolute destructive power is meaningless on its own. A weapon only gains value in the context of specific opponents, strategies, and doctrines. In the context of mutually assured destruction, a hypersonic missile is useless.

You're trying to paint Gubrud as some sort of naive hippie who doesn't believe in war, and that's simply not supported by the article at all.

about 3 months ago
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The Argument For a Hypersonic Missile Testing Ban

AdamHaun Re:Incredibally stupid argument (322 comments)

I've not RTFM'd because I try not to let bulletinshit touch my eyeballs, but hypersonic technology certainly has civilian uses.

If you had RTFM'd, you would have noticed that the author specifically mentions civilian uses (including space launches) and proposes limits that would exempt them.

about 3 months ago
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The Argument For a Hypersonic Missile Testing Ban

AdamHaun Re:Incredibally stupid argument (322 comments)

The argument is at heart "Don't develop these weapons because they will be good at killing people and I personally am not smart enough to come up with a civilan use that doesn't kill people".

No, that is not at all a good summary of the article. In particular, Gubrud (the author) addresses civilian hypersonic technology and makes a specific proposal that would allow for it:

It’s not often that one can say an entire technology should be banned because it has no conceivable good use. Hypersonic missiles, however, may present just such a case. Hypersonic air travel seems economically unjustifiable in an era of climate change, high-cost energy, and low-cost video telepresence. But if civilian hypersonic air travel ever did become a reality, it would take the form of a large airplane, not a small missile. Low-cost satellite launches? Hypersonic space planes such as DARPA’s planned XS-1, which would lift rockets to high altitude, might make some sense. But again, to achieve economies of scale, such hypersonic boosters would need to be large, which the hypersonic missiles under military development are not.

To speed its approval, any such moratorium would have to define hypersonic missiles in a way that does not require elimination of already existing cruise missile systems. I would propose a ban on flights of any aerodynamic vehicle of less than, say, 15 meters length or 2 meters diameter, traveling in powered or unpowered flight at speeds in excess of 1 kilometer per second, over a horizontal distance greater than 100 kilometers. Space and ballistic missile launches and reentries could be specifically excepted. The numbers are somewhat arbitrary and could be fine-tuned or adjusted substantially while preserving the intent of the agreement.

Saying that Gubrud wants to ban hypersonic weapons because they're "good at killing people" is a gross mischaracterization. His actual arguments are:

1. The main application of hypersonic missiles is supposedly to attack short-term high-value terrorist targets. But we can already do this successfully by attacking from nearby bases.
2. Another claimed application is to attack key strategic targets within the borders of major military powers.
a. It could be hard to distinguish between a conventional and a nuclear strike. Advocates say this won't be a problem because hypersonic missiles have a distinct attack profile versus, say, conventionally-armed ICBMs. But in practice, there's nothing that prevents a nuclear warhead from going on a hypersonic missile, and nothing that prevents a conventional missile from attacking nuclear targets as part of a nuclear first strike.
b. The idea that a conventional attack on the homeland of a nuclear power won't result in a nuclear counter-attack is questionable to begin with.
c. The existence of very fast attacks makes for hair-trigger standoffs that require rapid (and thus error-prone) decision making. Naval standoffs in particular are mentioned as a risk.
3. Developing hypersonic missiles will force other nations to do so as well.
a. Arms races are extremely expensive.
b. Any military advantage will erode very quickly -- in a few years at best.

To these I would add that 2c) implies that you have to maintain a counterstrike capability, which is a large ongoing defensive cost. We saw this in the nuclear arms race, which led to us having to keep bombers in the air 24/7, ICBM silos on standby, and missile submarines constantly hidden near their targets. Other commenters have also suggested that hypersonic missiles would make great anti-aircraft carrier weapons. Giving other countries more incentive to develop such weapons is not in our interest.

Finally, unlike your ridiculous straw man, Gubrud is quite practical about geopolitical realities:

Hypersonic missiles are a new class of weapon that no country actually needs. Their military advantages are ill-defined, and their capacity to destabilize relations among major powers and contribute to a costly and dangerous strategic arms race is enormous. Even so, the United States can’t expect that just because it proposes a test ban, other nations will line up to renounce hypersonic missiles. What America can reasonably hope is that other nations will see their shared interest in avoiding or slowing a dangerous escalation of the arms race. I am therefore proposing that the United States suspend testing for a while, to show good faith as it seeks agreement on an international ban on hypersonic testing.

If the suspension does not draw a positive response from other countries, the United States can always resume its programs, while still advocating a general moratorium, thereby seizing the moral high ground. That others might not join America there immediately is a poor excuse for not proposing a hypersonic testing ban and calling the others to join. Indeed, if the United States is unwilling to forgo hypersonic testing for a time, others have every reason to be cynical about its real motives and intentions. I’m not sure that I understand those motivations. But I am reasonably certain that hypersonic missiles will not help to make America stronger or more secure, because it is clear, from their programs already in progress, that other nations will not allow the United States to claim a monopoly on hypersonic weaponry.

about 3 months ago
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The Argument For a Hypersonic Missile Testing Ban

AdamHaun Re:Ban on testing would give tech only to cheaters (322 comments)

And then we resume development. Meanwhile, China loses credibility, which makes it harder for them to create treaties and agreements that they actually care about. Nations can't simply flaunt every treaty they sign without consequences. At the very least, they have to be selective.

about 3 months ago
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Project Aims To Build a Fully Open SoC and Dev Board

AdamHaun Re:Where are those chips baked? (47 comments)

But then I wondered -- what actually was the motivation for this all out Open Source SoC?

There have been a few projects like this posted to Slashdot over the years. For some people, it's like climbing Mount Everest -- "because it's there". Some people want to extend the open hardware community down into chip design, possibly encouraging new start-up companies. (lowRISC seems to be in this category.) And some people think the semiconductor industry is a stagnant patent-choked wasteland in need of a Linux-style revolution. (These people are idiots, and do not know anything about hardware manufacturing or the semiconductor industry.)

The big thing I don't understand is why they all want to make chips with high-performance CPUs with tons of modern peripherals. Okay, I do understand -- they want to run Linux on their product. But what's wrong with making an AVR clone? Surely it would be much easier and much cheaper to make an 8- or 16-bit CPU with a few low-end comm peripherals on an older process? Is making a fully open hardware Arduino somehow less of an accomplishment?

Regardless, none of these projects have succeeded yet, because making an SoC is much harder than making software. From easiest to hardest, the main obstacles to making an open IC product are: development skills, design tools, prototyping and manufacturing costs, testing, and logistics. I'm not an expert on the full process, but I can try to give an overview:

* Development skills: Designing high-quality digital integrated circuits, even with an HDL, is not trivial. You need people with EE or CE training, not just basic programming skills. Hardware has non-ideal behavior that must be accounted for in the design. It's also not cheap, so the design needs to (mostly) work the first time. This means you need real expertise, not just random volunteers. lowRISC has some experienced people (although not in IC design?) running it, and they're hiring a couple of EE Ph.Ds right now.

* Design tools: You can edit an HDL with a text editor, but physical design and simulation require nasty, expensive, proprietary software packages from companies like Cadence or Mentor Graphics. These are not cheap, so you won't be running a copy at home. Your work will happen at an organization with money, like a university or corporation. lowRISC is a nonprofit associated with the University of Cambridge, so they can probably negotiate lower rates.

* Prototyping and manufacturing costs: You can prototype an IC design on an FPGA, but large FPGAs are pretty expensive. Again, you'll need money for this, thousands of dollars per FPGA board at least. At some point, you'll want to make real hardware. You might be able to get a few prototype units for tens of thousands of dollars, but for real manufacturing in a modern process you'll need a proper mask set. This will probably be on the order of $500k. Small revisions (metal-only) will cost perhaps a tenth as much. If you need to move transistors around, you'll have to go through the physical design process and pay the full ~$500k again. An important side effect of this is that most design bugs will be fixed in the physical layout, not the HDL. This requires expertise, and you'll need to design for the possibility in advance. After all that, you'll have to spend thousands of dollars per wafer for manufacturing, plus more for testing (see below). lowRISC's nonprofit/academic status will help reduce these costs, and obviously they're getting funding from Cambridge and maybe their founders.

* Testing: Even if your design is perfect (and it never is), you will need to test and qualify the hardware before you can sell it. This is where open IC projects fall flat, because nobody even talks about testing. You'll need to include test features like ATPG in your design, probably using even more expensive design tools. You'll also need to write test cases for functional verification, and generate test patterns for your automated test equipment (ATE). Once you've made the tests, you'll need equipment and personnel to run them. This costs more money. For qualification (making sure the hardware doesn't break the moment it gets out the door), you'll need to make and test (at least) thousands of units, preferably from multiple wafers with process variations. You'll also need to work on test time reduction and yield improvement once you reach production. lowRISC does not mention testing at all. They do say they plan to go from test chip to production silicon in one year, and that they're expecting to "yield around 100-200k good chips per batch [of ~25 wafers]". So maybe they have a plan, or maybe they're paying someone else to handle all the DFT design and testing aspects. (I'm not sure I'd call that "open hardware", though.) Since this is a nonprofit/academic project, their early customers may not expect any real quality assurance.

* Logistics: Once you're shipping units in production, you need to do all the boring (yet vital) business stuff like managing your cash flow, making sure orders ship on time, handling customer complaints, adjusting your price over time, making sure you don't break any laws, etc. This requires a full-time staff, at which point you're not really a community project anymore. lowRISC is already an organization with a staff, so this shouldn't be a huge problem for them.

They have very little information posted so far (not even a feature list), but lowRISC seems to have a few things going for them. They're not begging for money. They can get academic discounts. They're aware that they need serious expertise. And they're only aiming for the moon instead of the Andromeda Galaxy. I'm not holding my breath, but they might have a real chance. I wish them the best of luck.

about 3 months ago
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Project Aims To Build a Fully Open SoC and Dev Board

AdamHaun Re:linux (47 comments)

As a practical matter, a mask set at 40nm costs around $60k

Maybe one mask costs $60k, but a mask set? I think you left off a zero.

about 3 months ago
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Writer: Internet Comments Belong On Personal Blogs, Not News Sites

AdamHaun Re:Jezebel? (299 comments)

Jezebel, as a site, has been known to pander to fairly extreme, militantly feminist views

You're kidding, right?

Jezebel is lightweight. If you want to complain about militant feminism (which is pretty silly to begin with), at least find an better target.

about 3 months ago
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Writer: Internet Comments Belong On Personal Blogs, Not News Sites

AdamHaun Re:Don't allow jpg or gif or ... (299 comments)

Whether you agree with the politics of a particular site or not, the easiest solution is just to not enable posting graphics. If someone wants to make an offensive graphic and host it somewhere, fine. But why would anyone running a controversial site allow posting such?

People like posting funny animated GIFs in the comments. Losing that capability hurts the users. But image-posting isn't the problem.

The real problem on Jezebel (as described in its article but strangely ignored in the NY Mag article and the Slashdot summary) is that Gawker/Kinja allows anyone to create a burner account and post comments, but there's no IP logging or blocking. There is literally no way to block an abusive user from commenting short of manually banning each new burner account after it posts. This is supposedly to allow anonymous "tipsters" to provide information. As a practical matter, it means the Jezebel editors are having to wade through 4chan-style images on a daily basis to keep a clean comment section. Would you like it if your job forced you to look at 4chan? No, you would not. Hence their complaint.

about 3 months ago
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Reversible Type-C USB Connector Ready For Production

AdamHaun Re:One of the most frustrating first-world problem (191 comments)

Look on the bright side - with Type-D they'll figure out how to go reversible and genderless and then we'll be done for good.

Along those lines: the "gendering" (sort of) of USB was deliberate. USB is a master/slave protocol with a host that supplies power and a device that (optionally) consumes it. The cables were designed to prevent people from connecting two hosts together and shorting out their power supplies. The newer USB On-The-Go (OTG) standard allows two hosts to connect using special connectors (micro-AB) to control power switching and a connection protocol for deciding which end is the master, but it's pretty complicated and requires analog voltage measurement. Fun to have on a smart phone, but massive overkill for most devices.

about 3 months ago
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Sexual Harassment Is Common In Scientific Fieldwork

AdamHaun Re:Some people are jerks (362 comments)

First, let me say that I was talking about workplace harassment. I failed to specify that in my comment.

When I say that the organization is the first responder, I don't mean they're the first, last, and only. People can always call the police (or file a lawsuit), and obviously if your organization covers for harassers then that's the next step. But escalating to the courts is expensive, time-consuming, embarrassing, often bad for your career, and nowhere near certain. Even in severe cases, the police often don't take rape seriously. It seems like the best we can do is have a multi-tiered system of shared responsibility.

about 4 months ago
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Sexual Harassment Is Common In Scientific Fieldwork

AdamHaun Re:Some people are jerks (362 comments)

Because I don't see how, if something is already illegal, it also needs to be against "policy". Do all company/university policies have to comb through the entire legal code and duplicate it in policy?

I can think of four reasons:

1. The organization's management is usually the first responder for harassment issues. They're responsible for bringing the people together, they have the authority to set limits on their behavior, they have the ability to monitor and follow up, and they probably know the situation better than law enforcement does. If the harasser needs to be separated from their victim, the easiest way to do that is to fire/expel or relocate them.

2. Not every illegal act can affect your job (or university enrollment). You wouldn't expect to get fired or expelled for speeding, would you? Having a harassment policy makes it clear that harassing your fellow employees/students can get you disciplined or fired.

3. Harassment policies don't just forbid harassment, they also provides rules and procedures for responding to harassment. Illegal or not, wrong or not, the most common response to harassment complaints is to sweep them under the rug to avoid disturbing the status quo. Even well-intentioned managers don't necessarily know how to handle a complaint without training.

4. Having a strong and effective harassment policy with backing from management affects workplace culture. The default attitude in a lot of places is that making other people uncomfortable for fun is no big deal, even if they repeatedly ask you to stop. A harassment policy says otherwise, encouraging victims to report instead of keeping quiet or leaving.

about 4 months ago

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The Museum of Slashdot Ignorance

AdamHaun AdamHaun writes  |  about a year and a half ago

This post will hold links to the most aggressively ignorant comments I run across. It's just a petty way of venting my frustration.

Comments may be modified for formatting or to include context, but all quoted text is from the original threads.

What Would Have Happened If Philae Were Nuclear Powered?
Re:Philae will wake again

The team fully expects Philae to get more light early next year. [link]

Yes and they fully expected it to work in the first place. I can no longer tolerate missions that fail on such basic functions, it shows a lack of understanding.

Latin America Exhausts IPv4 Addresses
Re:Y2K

Y2K was never a legitimate problem. Computers have no problem going from Dec 31st, 1999 to Jan 1st 2000. The only problems are constructs of human representation of time, like seeing "1/1/00". Is that 1900 or 2000!? We have no clue! But we do, actually, just like we knew '99' meant "1999" and not "1899". It was sensationalist bullshit that only caused headaches in the tech industry because stupid people were making a big stink out of it, so we had to go around slapping "Y2K Ready" stickers on everything to assure them the world wouldn't end. The *real* legitimate problem with time will occur in 2038, and we've already made the solution to that. Computers that are old enough to suffer that problem will hopefully not be maintaining some necessary piece of infrastructure.

The Sci-Fi Myth of Robotic Competence
Re:Things are a lot more complicated

For example, suppose there is a car full of 5 kids stuck on a railroad track. Should your robotic car push the kids off the track, endangering it's own two occupants? Or should the car back away and let a third car, on the other side containing just one person attempt to move the trapped car? These are all questions real life people have to solve - and the owner of the car should have some say in what value the car places on their own life.

If robots are ever remotely competent enough to realize any of these situations, they will never get into these situations to begin with. A robot approching a railroad track would scan for the train then roll across with enough momentum to make it to the other side should the engine fail. Do not sacrifice a roder to save two -- follow the rule of "tough shit" and let engineers do a post mortem. Seriously, the people are stuck on the track for a reason -- some engineering or manufacturing flaw, or being lazy about car mainetnance. They are guiltier for their own situation than someone else who happens along. How dare there be a simple-minded numerical analysis. This is why I am opposed to the law busses must stop to check for a train. Has anyonr bothered to check if a bis stopping, then stalling as it pulled ahead, increased the rate of hits rather than decrease it? Ironically, this exact law is the bill in question in "I'm just a bill". People pass a law and damned be any outcomes change analysis.

[Naivete, judgemental sociopathy, assumption of expert ignorance, and spelling errors aside, the Schoolhouse Rock segment "I'm Just a Bill" describes a federal law that was never passed.]

Peanut Allergy Treatment Trial In UK "A Success"
Re:Standard practice...

Correct. But I suspect the hurdle here was to isolate the allergenic factor and administering it correctly. It is not as simple as splitting a peanut in 70 parts: you have to find the right protein, isolate it and dose it. It can be a bitch to do. The results prove that the protein was the right one and that the doses were ok. Finally, the treatment does not work with any substance: there are things that will remain lethal whatever happens as our immune system just cannot catch them. So that is another good news.

No you don't. You could just use ground peanuts.

Physicists Discover Geometry Underlying Particle Physics
Nobody reads the classics (+2, Informative/Interesting)

"Physicists have discovered a jewel-like geometric object that dramatically simplifies calculations of particle interactions and challenges the notion that space and time are fundamental components of reality. 'This is completely new and very much simpler than anything that has been done before,' said Andrew Hodges, a mathematical physicist at Oxford University who has been following the work. The revelation that particle interactions, the most basic events in nature, may be consequences of geometry significantly advances a decades-long effort to reformulate quantum field theory, the body of laws describing elementary particles and their interactions. Interactions that were previously calculated with mathematical formulas thousands of terms long can now be described by computing the volume of the corresponding jewel-like "amplituhedron," which yields an equivalent one-term expression."

These things come up every so often and it always makes me facepalm in a RTFM moment. It is as if none of these advanced physics and mathematics people have ever read or understood why mathematics and physics was invented in the first place. The Greeks invented it to study forms, geometric at first, learning quickly that so much of our human perception is illusion based on these forms. Only later did abstraction of these forms come to be through a great many expressive number systems that have never stopped increasing in complexity to think that analytical quantitative thought has become bloated and inefficient compared to its forgotten origins.

Another excellent example is ignorance on Descartes. Mathematicians and physicists use Cartesian coordinate systems so frequently but have completely neglected the rest of the work by the man that invented it. Temporal relativity, the atomic idea of time later 'pioneered' by Planck, and time itself as merely a manifestation of the flow of consciousness within it can all be attributed to Descartes, but all that Oxford cares of him is his pretty graphs.

If people so high would have taken the time to learn why these thoughts and tools came to be instead merely how to use them, human understanding could be centuries more advanced. Instead we have to reinvent and rediscover ancient issues over and over with new tools designed to solve different problems in ways that require different efficiencies.

Researchers Develop the Most Detailed Map of Gravitational Variations Ever
Don't know their science (+2, Informative)

From the article: That means a 100kg person weighs 700g more near the North Pole, where gravity is 9.83ms-2, than at Peru's Nevado Huascaran summit, where gravity is 9.76ms-2.

They are implying that mass is a function of gravity. Everybody who has had the most basic fundamentals of physics knows that mass doesn't change, only weight(measured in newtons)

Ocean Plastics Host Surprising Microbial Array
Credibility

"A surprising suite of microbial species colonizes plastic waste floating in the ocean, according to a new study. The bacteria appeared to burrow pits into the plastic. One possible explanation is that bacteria eat into the polymers, weakening the pieces enough to cause them to break down more quickly and eventually sink to the sea floor. While the microbes could speed the plastic's decay, they might also cause their own ecological problems, the researchers say."

And if anyone needed a reason that people don't take eco-nuts seriously, here it is. Here we have a nice sign that some crappy thing we're doing to the environment might be mitigated in some small way by Mother Nature, and the response is what? Not "great! let's spend time working on other problems!" it's "oh noes, we think there are just other problems we haven't discovered yet". Just be happy, once, that something is a good thing without always trying to find the lining of doom and gloom and people might not just treat you like the gloomy harbingers you are.

Another Study Confirms Hands-Free Texting While Driving Is Unsafe
Re:No shit

All of the [automobile crash safety] technologies you mention would increase rather than decrease accident rates. Something like anti-lock brakes would decrease it.

What??? In what insane, backwards form of reality do you exist, where airbags and crash-testing cause accidents???

I live in actual reality. In actual reality people modify their behaviors based on risk. Airbags, seat belts, crumple zones, more resilient car frames, etc. do nothing to prevent accidents. They make accidents safer. When accidents are safer people are more willing to risk them. When people are more willing to risk them, they act in ways that cause more of them. It's likewise true for technologies like ABS that do help avoid accidents, but at least there the riskier behavior is offset by the technology.

Linus Torvalds Promises Profanity Over Linux 3.10-rc5
Well...

Everyone has to have a hobby, right? Seriously though, who the hell cares if the RC is bigger than the one before it, or whether the changes are scattered everywhere? If there were any number of concerns that needed to be addressed before the next release then it wasn't ready to go in the first place. Just test the hell out of everything, make sure nothing is broken, and make sure that each change was necessary and correct. In short calm your tits and keep coding.

India's ICBM Will Carry Multiple Nuclear Warheads
bad idea?

Oh boy, 4 nukes that you only have to shoot down one time because they're all on the same missile. What a great tactical advantage...for the enemy. Sounds like a cost-saving measure to me, not an amazing advanced weapon.

Scientists Recover Wooly Mammoth Blood
Half life of DNA is 521 years...

The half life of all DNA is 521 years [nature.com]. What kind of 2-bit "scientists" are these that think they can clone an animal that died 10,000 years ago?

[The Nature link doesn't even support his statement.]

Google and NASA Snap Up D-Wave Quantum Computer
Re:Awesome (+3, Insightful)

"Quantum computer", "Google, NASA", "Artificial Intelligence", "Lab" Man, there's nothing in this story that doesn't sound awesome.

Except what they obviously intend to use it for - large scale decryption of SSL traffic so the data can be mined by Google (for profit) and the Government (to oppress).

[Paranoia aside, the article is about an adiabatic quantum computer, which cannot be used to break encryption.]

Mystery Meteorite May Not Be From Mercury After All
How did they come to that anyhow?

Seriously, why would they think they have any idea at all where it came from? Space is massive. There are chucks of rocks flying all over the place left over from the formation of our solar system. Not to mention other systems. We are blasted every single day with tons of space rocks. I am sure that there is a pretty high chance that none of it is coming from a planet but is rather coming from the millions of asteroids flying about. What, do they say, hey! this planet is also kinda that color, it must be from there since nothing else could possibly be that color also?

Modelling Reveals Likely Spread of New H7N9 Avian Flu
What happened to the last pandemic?

With all the crying wolf lately it's a wonder we still see these articles. What happened to SARS, did all five victims of the "pandemic" die without passing it on? H1N1 caused some sniffles. Donald Rumsfeld made a killing with his quack medicine while GSK fleeced the Brits out of a healthy chunk of their health budget during the swine flu hoax. Every year there's a new fake pandemic. Almost makes you hope the promised pandemic finally arrives to take out the idiots who keep pump-and-dumping their antiviral stocks.

Global Warming Shifts the Earth's Poles
All Just a SWAG

This about like predicting the direction an elephant is walking by calculating the effect of the mass of it's tail swishing back and forth on the overall mass of its body. Really, any calculations they attempt would be swamped by the chaotic nature of the earth. Just imagine all the variables they would have to account for. Now, multiply that by a few billion and you would still be clueless. They can write down all the numbers and formulas they want but it's still all nothing but a Scientific Wild Ass Guess. A guess with a built in bias to boot.

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