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Experts Decry Randomized Ebola Treatment Trials As Unethical, Impractical

Ambassador Kosh Re:ZMapp (193 comments)

One issue I can think of is there is selective pressure on viruses for them to become less lethal over time since killing the host is counter productive. You can't compare now to the past for death rates since as the virus spreads and mutate the pressure is to become less lethal.

If you want to compare the effectiveness of a drug on a virus you need to compare in the same population and random is really the only way to do it since you need to make sure that the mutations you are dealing with are in your test and control populations.

I wish we did not have to do it this way since a lot of people die as a result. I wish we knew more about how our bodies really worked so we did not have to do this. However we don't. We are learning quickly but we are not there yet. If we don't do random drug testing then more people will die in the end and the process will take far longer.

about a week ago
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Living On a Carbon Budget: The End of Recreation As We Know It?

Ambassador Kosh Re:Conservation and smart practices (652 comments)

The number one investment you can make is in insulation. Most homes throw away over half of all the heat they generate or have to cool FAR too much because of heat let in during the summer. You should not even think of doing PV work until you have done the insulation work. Insulation pays back faster and does not have the same kinds of damage issues as PV does.

The second investment would be in more efficient devices. Most furnaces are fairly bad and most electric devices in the house are pretty bad. Why run your AC more in the summer because your refrigerator is doing more to create heat than it should?

PV is the last step I would take not the first. First insulate the hell out of the house, then make devices more efficient. Depending on climate an attic fan is a great investment to clear out the extremely hot air in the summer. PV mostly just looks flashy but that is about all it is.

about two weeks ago
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Downtown Project Suicides Shock High Tech Community

Ambassador Kosh Re:What's the point ? (185 comments)

I left on my own. I started to hate the physics degree i was working on and wanted to do something else.

about two weeks ago
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Downtown Project Suicides Shock High Tech Community

Ambassador Kosh Re:What's the point ? (185 comments)

I went to an instate school and applied for many grants and also ended up with some loans. Shortly after I started school my business partner died and I was left running a business by myself that I really had no idea how to run. I managed to be a full time student and keep the business running. The work I put in to do that was insane and I had no breaks beyond about 1 to 2 days in a row for 3 years.

I did not do ANY parties when I went back to school. I pretty much just studied, went to class and worked. I was just about at the poverty line income wise but I made it work by not spending money on many things that other people do like cable tv, expensive cell phone plans, eating out etc.

I also decided not to have a girl friend or get entangled in any social issues. My life as stressful enough without adding more. I was also smart in that I did not have any children.

So after doing all of that so far the financial rewards have been very low and I have another 4 to 6 years of very hard work ahead of me before I am done. My coworkers at the biotech company think that this will all pay off hugely once I am done and from everything I can see they are right but I have definitely worked hard and sacrificed for close to 10 years by the time I am done.

about two weeks ago
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Downtown Project Suicides Shock High Tech Community

Ambassador Kosh Re:What's the point ? (185 comments)

Well my professors do think I am the most likely person they have ever had as a student to be a mad engineer. So while you don't have to be insane to do what I do is certainly helps.

What I have done so far will save tens of thousands of lives ever year and the stuff I am working on now will save millions. However, I have not used conventional problem solving techniques. I combine engineering with computer programming in a way that seems natural to me but those I have worked with and my professors say is not remotely normal or natural but it does work.

The program I am starting in Germany so far seems unique in the world. The entire program is based on writing practical computer simulations for engineering applications. It seems like an obvious degree to exist but the skill set seems so insanely rare that it just does not happen. I am the only person doing this degree in biotech that I know of.

about two weeks ago
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Downtown Project Suicides Shock High Tech Community

Ambassador Kosh Re:What's the point ? (185 comments)

I don't believe that most people have zero chances.

During the senior design project most teams just slacked off and put in the minimal work required to get a grade. One of the companies I knew was currently hiring and in the exact field the project was in. If that team had done a good job they would have all gotten VERY nice job offers. Only one other team got offers at all and while it was not amazing it was a good offer and the team had done a very good job on their project. They saved a company that makes cheese about $10M a year just by optimizing the drying operation. It was not hard, it just took a fair bit of careful attention to details. All the math and engineering involved was stuff we could already easily do.

What I find is that life has countless opportunities but most people don't recognize that an opportunity is possible and they put no effort into doing well. If everything you do is minimum possible to get by why should someone go out of their way to hire you over anyone else that applies for the job?

about two weeks ago
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Downtown Project Suicides Shock High Tech Community

Ambassador Kosh Re:What's the point ? (185 comments)

I wish that we truly understood suicide so we could help these people.

There is a lot of stigma attached to suicide and that makes it hard to do a truly objective view of it. I don't like this whole blame the victim mentality that we have about it or saying we are better off without that person or that they are weak willed etc. I want to know the actual biochemistry of it, what neural structures are present that allow suicide to be done. What actually causes these structural and chemical changes? What can we do to help these people etc?

about two weeks ago
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Downtown Project Suicides Shock High Tech Community

Ambassador Kosh Re:What's the point ? (185 comments)

Overall I would say that just trying again tends to help.

My first time in college I did okay but not great. When I went back I was very focused. I knew what I wanted out of the degree and chose it for a very specific purpose. I chose all my classes to further my goals and I worked extremely hard on my classes instead of partying. That work has paid off to an insane degree.

I never intended to go to graduate school. However for my final undergrad project I solved a problem that was considered impossible in biotech using all the skills I had gained as a programmer and also a lot of very hard work. As a result I was asked to go to Germany for a Master's degree and PhD and have continued to work with the biotech company I did my project with.

I will admit that the 80 hour weeks during the project where not very fun or 60 or so hour weeks for the past 3 years with no breaks was not very fun either. However I had a very specific goal in mind and I knew what I was sacrificing for and now it looks like it will pay off better than I had ever imagined.

The world is just too interesting to kill yourself. Heck I want to make myself immortal so that once I am done learning on this planet I can head out and learn things elsewhere. If I could get nearly all engineering and science degrees I would.

about two weeks ago
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Downtown Project Suicides Shock High Tech Community

Ambassador Kosh Re:What's the point ? (185 comments)

I just don't understand this idea.

Why would you have only one chance? Why would your life from that point forward just suck forever? I left college before I got a degree the first time and started doing database development. The company never did well but also was not horrible and managed to survive overall. However I got bored of it and decided to go back to school.

I just graduated with a degree in chemical and biological engineering, solving a problem for a major biotech company, I am now in Germany about to starts a Master's degree and PhD and some of the experts I know expect I will start at the mid to high six figure range when I get out. That is also if I don't choose to go the startup way where I could make massively more than that.

This was after just doing database development for about 10 years and deciding to go back to school. Sure I was the older person in the class but nobody cared and nobody seems to care now and my experience has been very helpful.

This idea that you only have one chance should be taken out back and shot the way it deserves. You have as many chances as you want and you can always try again.

about two weeks ago
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Bioethicist At National Institutes of Health: "Why I Hope To Die At 75"

Ambassador Kosh Screw this viewpoint (478 comments)

We have isolated proteins that regenerate heart tissue, we know some of the proteins we need to make to clean up the plaque that causes alzheimers and we ever have cures for many other diseases. The biggest problem we have is one of production since some of these proteins are just very hard to make. I have made some advances in the field that will save a few tens of thousands of people ever year right now and I am starting more advanced education to help save millions.

I don't like the idea of living with a failing body but that choice is only temporary. There is really no reason we can't keep you in near perfect shape until an accident gets you. We are also getting better at neural interfacing. I full expect to rid myself of all biological components except my brain and put it in a robot body until we develop the technology to upgrade the brain also.

There are too many interesting problems in the world to want to die.

about a month ago
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How Our Botched Understanding of "Science" Ruins Everything

Ambassador Kosh Re:Science vs Faith (795 comments)

Lead has very high density and very little hardness.

There are nano polymers which are VERY hard and have density just slightly higher than air.

about a month ago
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What To Expect With Windows 9

Ambassador Kosh Re:Ah well (545 comments)

What I find strange is my MATLAB simulation run about 15% faster in Windows 8.1 vs Windows 7 on the same machine. Now Windows 8.1 runs at almost the exact same speed as MATLAB does under Linux. I don't know about all the other stuff MS did to windows but they did manager to make it faster and unlike Linux I get longer battery life under windows and it still hibernates correctly.

On linux after I installed the intel thermald and p-state stuff according to the directions I found from intel the linux side did get MUCH better battery life than I had been getting before but still worse than windows.

about a month ago
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Can Our Computers Continue To Get Smaller and More Powerful?

Ambassador Kosh Re:Does it matter? (151 comments)

In my case though these calculations will save millions of lives and improve the qualify of life for many millions more. Even the most powerful super computers in the world would take years to solve many of these problems and we keep finding more to solve. We approximate solutions because that is still better than we had before and it is the best we can do for now.

With more computing power we can save more lives.

about 2 months ago
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Can Our Computers Continue To Get Smaller and More Powerful?

Ambassador Kosh Re:Does it matter? (151 comments)

If I had a computer that was a million times faster than my current computer I could still use something even faster. Even at a billion times faster I could still use more power. We are at the stage where we can use computer simulations to help bring drugs to market. The computational power needed is HUGE but it is also helping bring drugs (including CURES) to market that would have never been possible otherwise. There are even potential cancer cures that will NOT make it to market ANY other way.

The average person may not need more computing power but as a species we desperately need insanely more computing power than we have now.

about 2 months ago
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Silicon Valley Doesn't Have an Attitude Problem, OK?

Ambassador Kosh Re:Wonder how Elon Musk (262 comments)

Very powerful computers though are useful. Right now it takes nearly 10 years and a billion dollars to bring a new drug to market. A lot of work is just figuring out how the heck to make a drug at an industrial level since you can't just scale up lab techniques. With large computer systems we are just now learning how to figure out these settings without doing experiments. This kind of computing power is being used to save thousands of lives every year and our technology is growing very rapidly but it is very processing intensive.

I know it does not make the news and you don't see much in the way of articles about it. Figuring out how to make a cancer drug just does not have the same kind of buzz as cat videos. However, don't forget that we are doing useful stuff also and even though it takes a while to see the results you will see them.

about 2 months ago
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Researchers Find "Achilles Heel" of Drug Resistant Bacteria

Ambassador Kosh Re:Easier (106 comments)

It is complex but antibacterial soaps do make the problem worse.

The first line of defense your body has against foreign bacteria is not your immune system it is your own bacteria. When you wipe out them you create vulnerabilities in the system. Most antibiotic strains of bacteria don't survive very well compared to the non-antibiotic strains if no antibiotics are present. The same is true for many other resistance.

What this means is don't take things to an extreme. After you go to the bathroom you should wash your hands and if you get a cut you should clean it and seal it. However the constant usage of stuff like purell and putting it all over you in a bad idea. It also means that you should not take antibiotics unless you actually need them since they do wipe out a lot of your necessary bacteria also and can upset the balance of bacterial species within you. Basically we keep all those bacteria in check by making sure they are all in controlled numbers and use the balance between each of them to keep them in check. Your body is actually pretty darn good at this and even if you upset the system it will still usually repair it just fine.

In the end the message is don't take this stuff to extremes.

about 4 months ago
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EU May Allow Members Home Rule On GMO Foods

Ambassador Kosh Re:The science behind GMOs show they are safe. (272 comments)

You should look at something called iGEM. Genetic engineering is really not that hard to do. I have done it in a competition and my team did very well. Teams have been genetically engineering all kinds of useful things to make the world a better place. Everything from sensor systems that require no power and glow if they detect dangerous substances in the water to bacteria that can biodegrade plastics. A German team even genetically engineered some plants to clean up pharmaceuticals in the water supply.

What it comes down to is that all genes are basically compatible across species (more or less). We can take color proteins from sea creatures and put them in flowers or bacteria or mammals and they work fine. We can take human protein coding sequences and place them in other things to grow those proteins for us. It is pretty impressive. Genetic engineering is pretty much like legos. It is really not that hard to do.

about 4 months ago
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EU May Allow Members Home Rule On GMO Foods

Ambassador Kosh Re:Deceptive advertising (272 comments)

Just labeling something as GMO or not doesn't tell you anything. If the labels where actually useful and applied to all foods I could support them. However the labeling laws that keep being proposed for GMO don't do any of that. How do you know if the GMO plant you are eating is genetically engineering with something you don't want vs things like adding higher omega-3 or a more complete protein mixture? It is a useless label.

What we need is a national database of ALL food that has the full specs on every food item. Organic, GMO etc should all have their full DNA sequence, proteins etc on file. I oppose just labeling GMO with a GMO label because it is just a method to spread fear. Some of the pro labeling activists I have talked to even admitted that. They did not want organic foods subjected to the same level of scrutiny. They wanted a GMO label to kill GMO foods because they thought they where bad for the planet. They had NO scientific evidence to back any of those claims up, they just "knew" it.

I am tired of this fake science stuff I am seeing on this planet. It is holding back the species and it is very dangerous.

about 4 months ago
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EU May Allow Members Home Rule On GMO Foods

Ambassador Kosh Re:I actually read the article... (272 comments)

What you are allergic to is a specific protein sequence. That sequence can arrise form cross breeding, mutations or GMO. What we actually need to do is have a full assay of the product including the DNA sequences of all the items involved. We know what sequence(s) give rise to peanut allergies. What you would do is check off in some cell phone app that you are allergic to peanuts. When you go to the store you would just scan any item and it would say if it is safe or not regardless of what it looks like.

We already have foods that have peanuts in them that are not obvious and if you don't pay attention to the allergy information you may not notice it. A bigger problem is we only call out warnings for a few allergens in food even though we know of hundreds. A unified system would make this easier for everyone. It also means if we identify new food allergens we can update ALL existing foods with that information.

You would be safer than you are now, more informed than you are now and could make better decisions.

about 4 months ago
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EU May Allow Members Home Rule On GMO Foods

Ambassador Kosh Re:I actually read the article... (272 comments)

Even with organic farming the VAST majority of seeds are bought. A company creates the new organic strain using cross breading, radiation and/or chemical mutation and then sends those seeds out. They end up in the wild exactly as quickly as the GMO versions do since they use the EXACT SAME PROCESS.

about 4 months ago

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