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Australia Declares Homeopathy Nonsense, Urges Doctors to Inform Patients

AlecC Re:Not going to work... (408 comments)

Presumably chemicals in our drugs are often extracted from nature. why wouldn't the same chemicals in their natural form have the same potential to work?

True - but nothing to do with homeopathy. You are describing herbal medicine which certainly certainly works sometimes - though there are dangers from unknown potencies and interactions with other medicines. Homeopathic medicines are based on something that causes the symptoms they are intended to cure - but diluted so far that not a single atom of the original substance remains. It is sort of an analogy with inoculation - by giving someone a killed or weakened version of a dangerous virus, you protect against the full-blown version of the virus. But we know what is happening in this case - we are pre-loading the immune system. The mechanisms by which we prepare wakened virus are well understood. Homeopathy has a theory that, by means unknown, dilution beyond non-existence somehow infuses the water with a potency to counteract symptoms similar to those caused by the diluted substance. Unfortunately,there is no theoretical or (importantly) experimental backing for this.

about a week ago
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Australia Declares Homeopathy Nonsense, Urges Doctors to Inform Patients

AlecC Re:Homeopathy doesn't work that way (408 comments)

But most people who buy and use homeopathic medicines, as opposed to homeopathic practitioners, believe it does. They feel unwell, look for a medicine to make the unwellness go away, and pick a homeopathic remedy off the drugstore shelf. People are buying homeopathic treatments as if they fitted into the standard medical treatment model.

about a week ago
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Contact Lenses With Infrared Vision?

AlecC Contact lens is hype (99 comments)

I think they contact lens reference is just hype. The system needs to be powered, and what is essentially an electronic signal, caused by changing conductivity between two layers of graphene, converted to an image the eye can see. I cannot see that being done inside a contact lens: it will always require some kind of a viewer, such as binoculars or a sight. However, it could be much less bulky, and draw much less power, than current IR systems - which would probably make it much cheaper. So I could see it making night vision binoculars for a few hundred dollars weighing a tenth as much as current models, and possibly more capable. Likewise other classes of IR receptor. These are reasonable possibilities. But contact lenses are sheer headline grabbing.

about two weeks ago
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U.S. Court: Chinese Search Engine's Censorship Is 'Free Speech'

AlecC Re:The Founding Fathers are crying.. (284 comments)

That is the poster's words, distorting (IMO) the courts ruling. The court said that Baidu's actions are allowed by Free Speech. It is a matter of interpretation whether that is censorship or editorial choice. The censorship is not in offering a biased search engine in Baidu, but in blocking alternatives such as Google. And that censorship occurs only in China.

about three weeks ago
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U.S. Court: Chinese Search Engine's Censorship Is 'Free Speech'

AlecC Re:The Founding Fathers are crying.. (284 comments)

What contract do you have with them whose breach is fraudulent? What have you paid for that is not supplied?

about three weeks ago
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U.S. Court: Chinese Search Engine's Censorship Is 'Free Speech'

AlecC Re: 14th Amendment (284 comments)

Why? The free market applies. If you don't like the goods one merchant supplies, find another. It is not as if search engines are state licensed or limited. It seems to me that by your logic, you can sue any publisher who decides not to publish your crappy book on the ground of inhibiting your free speech.

about three weeks ago
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Inside Boeing's New Self-Destructing Smartphone

AlecC Re:tamper-proof coating? (162 comments)

I don't think it is anything physical. It is just that it will automatically execute "sudo rm -rf /" when it detects any tampering, which will be done by more than one unspecified mechanism. And, of course, use a destructive form of rm.

about a month and a half ago
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Do We Really Have a Shortage of STEM Workers?

AlecC Explain the Acronym. please (491 comments)

What does STEM stand for? My first cache his is "Scanning Transmission Electron Microscope", which doesn't fit. I guess the first two are Science and Technology. But it would help if people didn't introduce unexplained acronyms. (Maybe it is a common US one - but this is, I hope, an international forum).

about 2 months ago
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How To Make 96,000lbs of WWII Machinery Into High-Tech Research Platform

AlecC Re:Jodrell Bank (150 comments)

Not engine parts - the main bearings that carry the dish are gun turret bearings from battleships. Since they are so central to the structure, I doubt they have been replaced.

I like their pigeon prevention mechanisms as well - two nests of peregrine falcons, one in each support.

about 3 months ago
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How Asimov's Three Laws Ran Out of Steam

AlecC "The Robot Did It" is no excuse. (153 comments)

We just need to be clearer where we allocate blame. If I launch a robot, and the robot kills someone, the responsibility for that killing is mine. If I did so carelessly or recklessly, because the robot was badly programmed, then I am guilty of manslaughter or murder as the courts may decide. Bad programming is no more an excuse than bad aim. A robot that I launch is as much my responsibility as a bullet that I launch, or a stone axehead that I wield.

So the three laws, present or absent, are a problem for the launcher of the robot weapon. We don't need complex international laws about AI, we just need a wholehearted implementation of "You broke it, you pay for it".

Which is just as well, because by and large attempts to ban "immoral" weapons have failed. The only fairly successful instance is chemical warfare, which has succeeded because chemical weapons are actually rotten weapons, far too likely to misfire or backfire. Whatever rules are made, automated weapon systems will come in. In fact, they have: what is the significant difference between a mine which explodes when it detects a man, tank or ship, and a gun which fires when it detects a man, tank or ship?

about 4 months ago
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The Status of the Fukushima Clean-Up

AlecC Re:Please explain to a dum-dum... (136 comments)

They didn't. The malfunctions have all been in containment and cleanup systems. All Japanese nuclear reactors were closed down after the tsunami, and only two, a long way from Fukushima, have restarted - against considerable protest. None of the reactors at that site will ever run again.

about 4 months ago
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Death to the Trapezoid... Next USB Connector Will Be Reversible

AlecC Re:Nitpick (408 comments)

This is to replace the Type A, the one at the Master end, usually on your PC. Of course, with "On The Go" and Power Delivery, which is master and which slave will become less obvious.

about 4 months ago
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Death to the Trapezoid... Next USB Connector Will Be Reversible

AlecC Re:Small Connectors (408 comments)

True, but it is still getting the speed from one balanced pair each way compared to Ethernet's four. Yes, it has a USB 1/2 interface hung on the side, but a stand alone interface it is pretty efficient. The legacy interface is what puts the conductor count up.

about 4 months ago
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Death to the Trapezoid... Next USB Connector Will Be Reversible

AlecC Re:Small Connectors (408 comments)

In part, Ethernet uses 4 balanced pairs to get 10 Gbit/s, so only 2.5 Gbit/s per pair; USB3 gets 4 Gbit/s over one balanced pair so is achieving more data per pair. Then again, USB2 has lower cost targets because it is intended to be on many low-cost devices (keyboards, cheap memory sticks etc) leading to many endpoints whereas generally there are only two Ethernet endpoints per computer (on on the computer, on on the switch it is connected to) so a higher per endpoint cost is supportable. Ethernet is single minded: do one job well. USB is trying to be all things to all men: a cheap low cost interface for mice and keyboards, while also supporting high performance disks. If you want an interface the only does high speed transfers to an expensive device at the other end, you could probably do much better.

about 4 months ago
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The Desktop Is Dead, Long Live the Desktop!

AlecC Separate markets (453 comments)

The desktop/laptop PC market has always been two separate markets. One it the office, workplace, market. The other is the internet access market.

The standard PC was made for the office market. Both the office productivity market using the standard wordprocessor/spreadsheet/presentation apps, and all the various kinds of design and simulation software used by umpteen varieties of designer.

The standard PC was also sold for the internet access market - mainly web browsing and email, because initially it was the only device that could do it. But it wasn't actually optimised for these uses - is just did them because it was a good general purpose device. You could say that it was mis-sold for these uses: it was over complex for the simple uses people needed. When smartphones and tablets came along, they were actually designed to do the job these users wanted. Naturally they captures the market.

The PC market peaked at about 180 million devices. I reckon that was about 30 million work devices ("Sit forward" devices, as I think of them) and 150 million net access devices ("sit back" devices), The 30 million sit-forward market is still there, and growing at a reasonable rate. The 150 million "sit back" market is evaporating fast as people who want that switch to purpose-built devices.

Who is buying your product? Look at how they are sitting. If they are sitting forward, stay with the PC: you are selling to a steady segment of the market. If they are sitting back (or trying to), jump ship, because that is what your customers are doing.

about 4 months ago
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Study Linking GM Maize To Rat Tumors Is Retracted

AlecC Re:The US isn't always wrong. (341 comments)

In this case, I really don't think it is anti-American but anti-GM. There is a very widespread fear of GM. Which, as it happens, I disagree with. But, right or wrong, people are afraid of GM and shouting at their politicians about it.

about 5 months ago
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Study Linking GM Maize To Rat Tumors Is Retracted

AlecC Re:maize?? (341 comments)

Maize is the term used in the UK, where corn means, usually, wheat - sometimes barley.

Many dictionaries say that "corn" means the local most common grain crop, and therefore each grain type needs another name for use where it is not the most common.

about 5 months ago
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With Burning Teslas In the News Ford Recalls Almost 140,000 Escapes

AlecC Re:Happily parked? (293 comments)

There was certainly a case of it some years ago in the UK. A spate of a single model (a Ford again, IIRC) bursting into flames while quietly parked at a particular motorway service station. The particular model was a favourite with sales reps, who would drive from London with pedal to the metal, then stop at this particular station for a break. A plastic fuel pipe ran above a bit of the engine which got very hot under this form of heavy usage. with essentially no cool-down mileage after the high speed run. Round about the time the rep was finishing his coffee, the plastic melted and poured fuel onto the overheated engine. Whoof!

So it can happen. Maybe this scenario, or one like it, has replayed.

about 5 months ago
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Building a (Virtual) Roman Emperor's Villa

AlecC Hardly new (50 comments)

I have to say that this is hardly new: people have been modelling archaeological reconstructions for quite a few years now. This may be larger than many, but it is hardly /. novel. Not that I am suggesting that it is not worth doing, or that the professor has not done well. But it is news for archaeological students and educators, not computer geeks.

about 5 months ago
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EFF Says Mark Shuttleworth Is Wrong About Trademark

AlecC Re:frivolous (103 comments)

"One day" might be very soon, if leaks from the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations are correct. I had been, in a vague sort of way, in favour of this. But if the price is extending IP periods, I go the other way.

about 5 months ago

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