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Mathematicians Use Mossberg 500 Pump-Action Shotgun To Calculate Pi

Baloroth Re:Only in America... (307 comments)

I hate to break it to you, but the ancient term "America" refers to the whole continent, Canada included.

Nope - that would be "North America."

Hey, if you're going to be a pedant...

Ok, since we're being pedantic: technically, "America" refers to the entire landmass (made up of the continents of North and South America and associated islands). Still includes Canada, though.

about a week ago
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Mathematicians Use Mossberg 500 Pump-Action Shotgun To Calculate Pi

Baloroth Re:um.... (307 comments)

Relevant SMBC.

about a week ago
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Nat Geo Writer: Science Is Running Out of "Great" Things To Discover

Baloroth Re:Level of public funding ? (292 comments)

It's a fundamentally flawed hypothesis, because by definition we don't know what we haven't discovered yet. I might even go so far as to say the knowledge we haven't acquired is greater than the knowledge we have. This has been true historically, it is probably true now, and it might well remain true for... well, actually, forever, though it's impossible to know.

about two weeks ago
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Under the Chassis: A Look At Tesla's Battery Shield

Baloroth Re:Was it really Tesla's problem? (152 comments)

Sure, except that in every reported case of battery fires in a Tesla, the user has walked away from the crash (even when the crash took place at 100 mph or so). The cars already have the highest safety rating possible in tests. Expecting a safety margin is one thing, and Tesla has shown they more than fulfill that. Expecting to be invincible is quite another, and that's what a lot of people (or, at least the media) seem to be expecting, and that's incredibly stupid.

This battery shield is a PR move, quite simply. Not a bad one, and it might marginally improve safety, but I suspect only extremely marginally so, and it's certainly not worth it as a safety measure alone.

about two weeks ago
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Google: Teach Girls Coding, Get $2,500; Teach Boys, Get $0

Baloroth Re:It would be inequal to provide equal rewards (673 comments)

There's also a complete inequality in girls graduating high school, enrolling in college, and graduating college.

Yes there is. There are considerably more women in college than men. Has been for decades, now. Higher graduation rates, too (roughly 5% higher for women). I suspect that is the exact opposite inequality from what you meant, but there definitely is an inequality there.

It should be noted I'm not complaining about that inequality. I don't know for sure why it exists, but I suspect it has to do with boys being encouraged during high school (and to some extent college as well) to pursue sports and "manly" activities rather than their studies, which leaves them less prepared for higher education. I could be wrong, though.

about two weeks ago
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Australia Declares Homeopathy Nonsense, Urges Doctors to Inform Patients

Baloroth Re:Homeopathy Works (408 comments)

Don't you think modern medicine should have just as much of a chance of tapping into the placebo effect as anything else?

Yes, but it also has a greater chance than homeopathy of tapping into side effects (not that I'm defending homeopathy in any way). It also has a greater chance of tapping into real effects than the placebo effect: that is, in fact, most of the point of double-blind studies (you give half the group the placebo, half the group the proposed treatment, don't tell them or the doctors who observe the results which is which, and see if the medicine is more effective than the placebo).

about two weeks ago
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AMD Unveils the Liquid-Cooled, Dual-GPU Radeon R9 295X2 At $1,500

Baloroth Re:here's how stupid this is (146 comments)

Only to still replace it with air cooling further down the line.

Honest question: how would you build a consumer system that doesn't rely on air cooling eventually? Even if you use phase change, you still need to dump that heat somewhere, so unless you use evaporative cooling or have access to a practically infinite heat sink such as a river or geothermal exchange system (both of which are completely impractical for consumer level equipment), air cooling is literally the only option. Hell, even most (and by most I mean practically all) air conditioning systems use air cooling, ultimately. Probably 99% of all cooling systems everywhere end up using air.

about two weeks ago
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Why Are We Made of Matter?

Baloroth Re:Matter-Antimatter Explosions (393 comments)

I am not a physicist, but since light is a particle and a wave it would seem that light being matter would break down anti matter over time?

Like I said it's just what I would think and I could be insanely stupid and wrong lol

Nah, light isn't matter at all (a particle, yes, but not matter). More precisely: every particle has an equivalent antiparticle with exactly opposite charge (or other properties). For example, electrons are charged leptons with lepton number +1 and electric charge -1 (in units of electron-charge). The antielectron (positron) has lepton number -1, and electric charge +1. Conservation laws require that lepton number and charge be conserved, so the positron and electron can annihilate each other. The proton and the positron, however, cannot (as the proton is a baryon, not a lepton, and both have charge +1, so such an annihilation would violate 3 conservation laws). However, photons have no charge or lepton number, and thus conservation dictates that they cannot annihilate with electrons. Interestingly enough, they can annihilate with each other (photons are their own antiparticle).

This conservation is the entire reason matter-antimatter asymmetry is a problem in physics: every process we know of that produces electrons should also produce antielectrons. It's worth noting that the universe as a whole is not conservative (the expansion of space violates energy conservation, for example), so it isn't necessarily surprising to find an asymmetry, we'd just like to know by what process this comes about (of course, this is hard to do, as every process we can initiate does obey conservation laws: asymmetry may well only happen in some universe-level process, so we may not be able to study it directly).

about two weeks ago
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DARPA Embraces Nature With Establishment of Biological Technologies Office

Baloroth Re:I'm confused... (40 comments)

According to TFA, neither (well, not that they're announcing, anyways). They're supposedly looking into advanced prosthetics, biological manufacturing techniques, disease tracking, stopping harmful genetic engineering, stuff like that. I'd imagine a defense against bio/chemical weapons would also be of interest. Although, given it's DARPA, I wouldn't be at all surprised if they did look into bioengineered super-soldiers, just to see if it's possible.

about two weeks ago
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Typo Keyboard For iPhone Faces Sales Ban

Baloroth Re:patented keyboard technology? (205 comments)

Really? Because I'm pretty fucking sure they did, in fact, do exactly that. Samsung vs Apple involved patent USD504899, which claims "the ornamental design for an electronic device, substantially as shown and described", to wit a rectangular cuboid with rounded corners. So, yes, Apple did sue Samsung over rounded corners (although the jury did find Samsung did not infringe, that does not change the fact that Apple did in fact sue Samsung over a thin rectangular design with rounded corners.)

about three weeks ago
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Why Darmok Is a Good Star Trek: TNG Episode

Baloroth Re:Bullshit Made Up Language (512 comments)

But the meaning of the word "toilet" does not (generally) depend on the whole sentence nor on the context of the sentence. "You're such a Samantha", however, does, especially since Samantha doesn't literally mean anything besides the name itself. Samantha does not mean "bitch/slut/etc., except in this context (toilet, on the other hand, retains its meaning even entirely outside any other context). As another example, one could easily translate the phrase "a New York minute" to another language, but conveying what it actually means would require using completely different words (in fact, the literal translation would be entirely different from the idiomatic meaning). A computer which tried to translate the phrase would have zero concept that it's an idiom (unless explicitly told so), and would simply translate the sentence as it was, which would create an intelligible translation, but would not convey the desired concept at all.

You could argue that single-word (such as "Samantha") could intelligently be translated by the universal translator successfully, even when used in such an idiomatic construct. But a sentence which depends entirely on the context ("Darmok at Blahblah" might well refer to an entirely different Darmok, or not even to a person at all) is vastly harder, if not impossible, to translate.

about three weeks ago
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Facebook Buying Oculus VR For $2 Billion

Baloroth Re:Grab the popcorn! (535 comments)

Wait, you think whiny slashdotters are an economic force?

Notch has already canceled his plans to bring Minecraft to the Rift. Given that the entire success of the Rift so far has been from the community (literally: the Rift was crowd-funded and would not exist today if it wasn't for the community), and I have yet to see a single person in the community comments on a number of sites who doesn't dislike this move, I'm guessing the blowback is going to be pretty massive.

I myself have already gone from debating whether I should pick up the dev kit version 2 to play around with or wait for the consumer version, to not planning on buying it ever, and I'm not the only one.

about a month ago
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Last Week's Announcement About Gravitational Waves and Inflation May Be Wrong

Baloroth Re:Jumping the gun (194 comments)

Over the last... long while now scientists have developed a bad habit of getting really excited and presenting findings as concrete, only to get shot down. Besides, doesn't an experiment have to be repeated for the results to be confirmed? Regardless, if the alternate interpretation proves true, I find it no less significant.

It's customary in science to present your findings exactly as they are, with the statistical certainty associated with the findings. They never said their results were confirmed or "concrete", they said their findings confirmed several other theories and that they were highly certain of the results given the known sources of error and the model they were using. You can always come up with other theories that would also fit the observational data: heck, half the point of publishing your data is so the scientific community can look at it and see if you did something wrong, or if there are other interpretations that fit the data better.

about a month ago
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Navy Database Tracks Civilians' Parking Tickets, Fender-Benders

Baloroth Re:Relevant (96 comments)

Decidedly not relevant. The NCIS (which is what actually collects said data, not the Navy proper) is a civilian organization (according to their website, 98% of their agents are civilians, and 90% of the agency overall is civilian) which is specifically authorized by Congress to engage in law enforcement. Law enforcement is, in fact, it's whole reason for existence. Posse Commitus does not apply.

about a month ago
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They're Reading Your Mail: Microsoft's ToS, Windows 8 Leak, and Snooping

Baloroth Re:Personal criminal liability applies (206 comments)

I'm neither a lawyer nor intimately familiar with the details of this particular case, but I'm a bit confused how EU law would apply to a US based company running a US-based service (such as an outlook.com email address), regardless of the nationality of the person who signed up for said service.

about a month ago
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How Did Bill Nye Become the Science Guy?

Baloroth Re:His debate (220 comments)

But they don't believe in evolution, they believe in theistic evolution, that is, evolution guided by god, which is not really evolution. One of the fundamental aspects of evolution is that it does not require a guider, just chemistry, statistics, and time.

No, they don't (well, some of them do, I can't really speak for all of them). God doesn't have to guide evolution: why would he? He's an omnipotent omniscient being in Catholic theology: he is completely capable of creating the universe with a set of physical laws that will result in evolution following the path he wants it to without intervening directly in it later.

It sounds like you are describing a god whose existence is indistinguishable from it's non-existense. How would you ever tell if that god exists? Why should anyone believe in it if you can't tell?

Scientifically, yes: the universe with a god is indistinguishable from one without one (well, aside from the fact that the universe does actually exist, but that's a long argument I won't engage in here). That makes sense: science deals with the natural, not the supernatural. In fact, even if God did regularly directly intervene in the physical world, there still would be no scientific proof he exists: science would attribute it either as a natural process if it happened regularly (even if it didn't fully understand why) just as it does with all regular processes we see in the world, or a statistical anomaly also caused by natural processes (albeit unknown ones) if it happened irregularly. That's because that is all science can do: to ask it to talk about supernatural beings is like asking your eyes what noise tastes like. That is simply not how it works. Science looks for natural processes governing nature. It literally cannot see supernatural events. All it would say is "some effect we cannot yet fully explain."

about a month ago
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Gmail Goes HTTPS Only For All Connections

Baloroth Re:What version? Also, Google Talk is pretty dead. (141 comments)

I just checked, TLS 1.2 when supported, but they will fall back to 1.0 if the browser doesn't support newer 1.1/1.2. Didn't see if they'll fall back to SSL or not (or if it falls back to 1.1 at all).

about 1 month ago
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Jesse Jackson To Take On Silicon Valley's Lack of Diversity

Baloroth Re:Fuck that guy. (397 comments)

hire unqualified people just because they are black or latino

If minority candidates aren't qualified then the problem is unfairly tough and racially biased requirements. Get your mind right.

Or minorities aren't following the education or career paths to become qualified even under reasonable requirements. This could be because of cultural bias among the minority group or bias against the minority group in the education system.

I'm not even sure what "unfairly tough and racially biased requirements" means (aside from the obvious "you must be white to apply", which seems... well, unlikely): if some people are qualified (no matter their race), than it doesn't seem to be unfairly tough... unless you're implying minorities are incapable of meeting those requirements.

about a month ago
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Malware Attack Infected 25,000 Linux/UNIX Servers

Baloroth Re:You know *nothing* about security (220 comments)

4) Passwords are short, intended to be remembered and typed. Asymmetric keys are long, meant to be transported as files (or certificate blobs). The former is vastly easier to brute force (an extremely strong password might take weeks on typical commodity hardware but most would only take minutes)

This bit is false, an extremely strong password still cannot be brute forced (once you get over ~10 characters long, even an Amazon E3 instance starts taking unrealistic times to brute force it). Most password cracking, even GPU powered, relies on passwords being either short or sufficiently non-random.

about a month ago
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Russian Army Spetsnaz Units Arrested Operating In Ukraine

Baloroth Re:We need a US base in the Ukraine (623 comments)

Sure, we technically don't have to intervene. Unless we want the entire world to know that assurances of protection given in exchange for giving up their nuclear weapons are worth slightly less than the paper they're written on. Which means every country in the world will (and ought, if they intend to remain safe) seek nuclear weapons to prevent this kind of aggression in the future. You sure that humanity won't start using nuclear weapons if 90%+ of countries have them? Because I'm definitely not sure about that.

about a month ago

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