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A Look At Orion's Launch Abort System

Capt.Albatross Re:Would this kind of system have saved Challenger (43 comments)

Thanks for your informative post. In addition, there is an issue that I was unaware of until I read it in the original article here: "...Challenger's external fuel tank disintegrated, throwing the orbiter into the local airflow at forces way above design tolerances. It ripped apart, claiming the lives of seven astronauts."

Implying that even if Challenger could have been separated cleanly and undamaged from the exploding tank, it would not have survived. A stronger, and therefore heavier or smaller orbiter, does not seem to be feasible, given the extent to which the shuttle design was already stretching the envelope.

That's why we are back to capsules, I guess.

2 days ago
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Researchers Scrambling To Build Ebola-Fighting Robots

Capt.Albatross Solved Problem (87 comments)

"We are trying to identify the technologies that can help human workers minimize their contact with Ebola." said Taskin Padir, an assistant professor of robotics engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

That technology exists: protective clothing, properly used, and sanitary waste disposal. If you can't get that, you won't be able to get robots. If you have it but cannot organize its correct use, there is an effective solution, but it doesn't involve robotics.

3 days ago
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First Demonstration of Artificial Intelligence On a Quantum Computer

Capt.Albatross Re:There is no "working AI" at this time (98 comments)

This new definition of AI is several steps down from what Minski, McCarthy and company were aiming for. While this work is the direct descendent of theirs, and is often significant and sometimes impressive in its own right, there is an odor of self-congratulatory aggrandizement about the current usage.

In which case, there must have been an "odor of self-congratulatory aggrandizement" about Minsky (I haven't studied AI in general since 1998, but at least I know how to spell his name) because the guys working on it now are a lot nearer to what he was aiming for when he started out.

Only if he claims to have achieved those original goals.

4 days ago
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First Demonstration of Artificial Intelligence On a Quantum Computer

Capt.Albatross Re:There is no "working AI" at this time (98 comments)

This new definition of AI is several steps down from what Minski, McCarthy and company were aiming for. While this work is the direct descendent of theirs, and is often significant and sometimes impressive in its own right, there is an odor of self-congratulatory aggrandizement about the current usage.

about a week ago
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Scientists Seen As Competent But Not Trusted By Americans

Capt.Albatross Warmth == Trustworthiness? (460 comments)

All the results presented in the linked article show measures of perceived warmth, not trustworthiness. The author of the article clearly thinks a measure of warmth is also a measure of trustworthiness, but makes no attempt to justify making that highly dubious association, nor states whether she got it from the researcher (given the tone of the article and the title of the paper, I suspect she did.)

about three weeks ago
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How Scientific Consensus Has Gotten a Bad Reputation

Capt.Albatross Re:Science creates understanding of a real world. (770 comments)

A request for information is hardly a form of denial. You can continue to reply with snotty childish retorts or you can help educate those who would like to know more.

To anyone with a mature theory of mind, your position is clearly intended to indicate doubt, and your claim of open-minded curiosity is a pretense, as is made obvious by your self-confessed lack of effort to correct your ignorance, and your bogus dismissal of valid sources. You are apparently not only a denier, but a passive-aggressive one.

about a month and a half ago
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How Scientific Consensus Has Gotten a Bad Reputation

Capt.Albatross Re:Science creates understanding of a real world. (770 comments)

True as that may be, people who are absolutely nuts tend to use the perpetual openness of science as an excuse to inject irrelevant, arbitrary insanity into discussions of fact.

You seem to be missing the point of TFA. Science doesn't need you to discuss it - it stands on it's own. If you have to discuss/debate it you have moved well out of the realm of science and into politics. There is no exception to that and frankly it's disgusting you claim affinity for scientific knowledge and understanding and can't grasp such a basic concept.

You seem to be confusing science with religion - that is where you find the 'truth' written down once and for all. Where do you think science comes from? A bible-like collection of textbooks? In reality, science starts in uncertainty and reaches a consensus only if and only if the evidence is strong. In the case of global warming, that is what has happened.

about a month and a half ago
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How Scientific Consensus Has Gotten a Bad Reputation

Capt.Albatross Re:Science creates understanding of a real world. (770 comments)

I've never considered myself a "denier", and yet every time I ask someone to point to the evidence, I hear that slur tossed out. I've only briefly attempted to search for evidence online, and had virtually no success except to find things like the 97% consensus page at NASA's site. So, if anyone here has better sources, I'm all "ears".

So by your own admission, you either haven't tried very hard to inform yourself, or you are too prejudiced to accept valid information. The latter certainly counts as denial. The former - claiming that there is little evidence on the basis of only "briefly attempt[ing] to search for evidence online" - is also a form of denial.

about a month and a half ago
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Statistics Losing Ground To CS, Losing Image Among Students

Capt.Albatross Re:Statistics as standalone field (115 comments)

As a result [a] pure statistician is not very useful - generic analysis can be performed by software, in-depth analysis requires specific knowledge.

In-depth analysis requires a real understanding of statistics as well as of the domain. CS knowledge, at least as commonly taught, is not a substitute for for the statistics requirement.

This is not unlike complaining that assembly coding is dying. Well, yes, we now have less need to code everything that way because we have better tools.

This is not a valid analogy. HLLs automated some of the rote, mechanical aspects of implementing algorithms. They do not automate away the need for a higher-level understanding of what you are doing.

about 2 months ago
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Google Wants To Test Driverless Cars In a Simulation

Capt.Albatross Re:so what is the problem? (173 comments)

You don't need to ask for permission to test your car with simulations.

Agreed. Google is being misleading in its arguments, which raises the question of whether it is being dumb or acting dumb. I have my opinion as to which it is, but neither inspires confidence in Google's judgement and motives, and confidence is of the essence when it comes to getting self-driving cars accepted.

Simulations can only test for what the simulation programmers have accounted for.

And they are also based on assumptions about the response of the cars' sensors to the real world.

about a month ago
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Wiring Programmers To Prevent Buggy Code

Capt.Albatross Re:Premise flawed? (116 comments)

Furthermore, good programmers often anticipate problems that lesser ones are oblivious to. On account of this, the former may show higher signs of stress (which is actually concentration) early, while the latter don't realize things are going wrong until they see tests failing in ways they don't understand, and only then will the stress levels reflect actual competence.

Two areas where this is particularly prevalent are concurrency and security - though often, in the case of security, the problems are not found until after deployment.

about 2 months ago
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Critics To FTC: Why Do You Hate In-App Purchasing Freedom?

Capt.Albatross Re:Because The Children (171 comments)

In the 21st century, people are screaming for the government to regulate their lives in order to protect them, to provide "security", and to "make people feel safe". It's the fag end of the smoldering socialist experiment.

It has nothing to do with socialism. There are a lot of self-described conservatives in favor of restrictive and intrusive regulation in the name of security.

about 3 months ago
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'Optical Fiber' Made Out of Thin Air

Capt.Albatross Re:I read the list of applications (115 comments)

The paper makes it clear that this is about remote sensing, and more about getting the response back from the remote location than getting the probe beam to it.

The list of other potential uses seems to have been added by the linked article's author, who does not seem to have asked himself why, if you are sending guide beams to the destination, can't you just modulate them?

The word 'weapon' does not appear in the paper, and the researchers do not seem to have attempted to guide powerful beams by this method. Given that the guide beams can create this channel, perhaps attempting to send an equally or more powerful beam through that channel would dissipate it.

about 2 months ago
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Experiment Shows People Exposed To East German Socialism Cheat More

Capt.Albatross Re:Wrong Control Variable? (619 comments)

From the last paragraph of the article:
"The study reveals nothing about the nature of the link between socialism and dishonesty. It might be a function of the relative poverty of East Germans, for example."

In other words, the study failed to control for the value each participant placed on the monetary gain from cheating, rendering it of little value.

Nevertheless, this conclusion didn't dissuade the Economist from ignoring it in the very next sentence:
"All the same, when it comes to ethics, a capitalist upbringing appears to trump a socialist one."

about 3 months ago
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New Toyota Helps You Yell At the Kids

Capt.Albatross Pandering to Idiots (205 comments)

It is the mirror that attracted my attention. Someone who cannot keep his attention on the road while he is driving shouldn't be driving, let alone raising kids.

 

about 3 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Future-Proof Jobs?

Capt.Albatross Creativity is Useless Without Knowledge (509 comments)

It is far from clear that studying the arts in college will improve your creativity, let alone whether it will do so to a greater extent than some other field. On the other hand, studying can definitely expand your knowledge, and the right sort of knowledge will allow you to apply your creativity. For example, an understanding of technology will not necessarily guarantee a lifetime job in engineering, but if we assume that technology will be important in the foreseeable future, then that knowledge will, in general (and other things being equal), put you in a better position than someone whose education consisted of watching and discussing old movies.

Two rules of thumb (and nothing more): study things that are important, and not too narrowly (at least to start with.)

about 3 months ago
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Brazil Nut Effect Explains Mystery of the Boulder-Strewn Surfaces of Asteroids

Capt.Albatross Non-Explanation (58 comments)

The apparent discrepancy of the total volume of large boulders being greater than that of the visible craters they have supposedly come from is not resolved by the BNE. In the paper, this paradox is only mentioned in passing, and no definite resolution is offered. No-one seems to have ruled out the possibility that there are additional craters beneath the rubble, or that the excess includes remnants of the impactors. Perhaps there is an assumption that, absent the BNE, the boulders formed by early impacts should now be buried.
     

about 3 months ago
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Meet Carla Shroder's New Favorite GUI-Textmode Hybrid Shell, Xiki

Capt.Albatross Re:Not convinced (176 comments)

I believe the tradeoff of CLI is between working more efficiently (by typing commands and not having to use your mouse too often to interrupt your flow)
and a steeper learning curve (learn commands and their params, config file locations and their syntax etc.).

For me, the primary benefit of a CLI, when presented by a decent shell, is the flexibility and power of being able to write and run tiny programs whenever it helps.

A CLI not backed by a decent shell is miserable, as was demonstrated by ms-dos.

about 4 months ago
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The Higgs Boson Should Have Crushed the Universe

Capt.Albatross Re:Observations and measurements disagree (188 comments)

See, this is what I thought as well. The Higgs was well predicted and made sense in the standard model, and our measurements at the LHC seem to back up what physicists were speculating. On the other hand, BICEP2 is a much newer result and there's considerable controversy about whether it's a real result or a mistake.

So why would you automatically jump to the conclusion that the HIGGS was the problem?

The last paragraph of the Royal Astronomical Society press release seems to be agreeing with you, suggesting that an error in the BICEP2 result (or, rather, its interpretation) is the most likely explanation:

        "If BICEP2 is shown to be correct, it tells us that there has to be interesting new particle physics beyond the standard model" Hogan said.

IIRC, the BICEP2 result, if interpreted as resulting from inflation, indicates a surprisingly strong inflation event. The above quote suggests that inflation with the strength suggested by other measurements (e.g. the level of inhomogeneity in the CMB?) would not create this problem.

about 4 months ago
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Mozilla Working On a New Website Comment System

Capt.Albatross This Could be Fun... (142 comments)

"The most ambitious aim of the project is to create a feature that would efficiently highlight the most relevant and pertinent reader comments on an article, perhaps through word-recognition software."

The object of the game is to get a complete load of bollocks accepted as the most relevant and pertinent reader comment on as many articles as possible. Extra points for the front page and headline articles.

about 4 months ago

Submissions

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Death Valley's Sailing Stones Caught in the Act

Capt.Albatross Capt.Albatross writes  |  about 2 months ago

Capt.Albatross (1301561) writes "The flat surface of the Racetrack Playa in Death Valley is littered with rocks, some weighing hundreds of kilograms, each at the end of a track indicating that it has somehow slid across the surface. The mechanism behind this has been the subject of much speculation but little evidence, until a trio of scientists caught them in action with cameras and GPS."
Link to Original Source
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A Map of Publicly-Funded Creationism Teaching

Capt.Albatross Capt.Albatross writes  |  about 9 months ago

Capt.Albatross (1301561) writes "At Slate, Chris Kirk presents a map of schools in the USA that both receive public funding and teach creationism. It also shows public schools in those states where they are allowed to teach creationism (without necessarily implying that creationism is taught in all public schools of those states). There is a brief discussion of the regulations in those states where this occurs, but the amounts involved are not discussed.
 "
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A Diagnosis for Healthcare.gov

Capt.Albatross Capt.Albatross writes  |  about a year ago

Capt.Albatross (1301561) writes "At Slate, David Auerbach reports on Thursday's hearing concerning the healthcare.gov debacle. It was "a spectacle of tech illiteracy and buck-passing", he says, which may not elicit much surprise around here. He is particularly scornful of the contractors' obsession with checking off milestones rather than with delivering something that works, their willingness to call something 'done' before having tested it, and their apparent obliviousness to how incompetent this shows them to be."
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Twitter Buzz as an Election Predictor

Capt.Albatross Capt.Albatross writes  |  about a year ago

Capt.Albatross (1301561) writes "A study presented at the American Sociological Association's annual meeting suggests that simply comparing the frequency with which the candidates' names are mentioned in tweets can predict the result of elections almost as well as conventional polls, even without considering the sentiment (for or against the named candidate) of the messages. Furthermore, the correlation seems strongest in close elections.

Additional commentary can be found at the Wall Street Journal and from Indiana University."
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Thorium Fuel has Proliferation Risk

Capt.Albatross Capt.Albatross writes  |  about 2 years ago

Capt.Albatross (1301561) writes "Thorium has attracted interest as a potentially safer fuel for nuclear power generation. In part, this has been because of the absence of a route to nuclear weapons, but a group of British scientists have identified a path that leads to uranium-233 via protactinium-233 from irradiated thorium. The protactinium separation could possibly be done with standard lab equipment, which would allow it to be done covertly, and deliver the minimum of U233 required for a weapon in less than a year.

The full article is in Nature, paywalled."

Link to Original Source
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Promoting Arithmetic and Algebra by Example

Capt.Albatross Capt.Albatross writes  |  about 2 years ago

Capt.Albatross (1301561) writes "A couple of months ago, the New York Times published political scientist Andrew Hacker's opinion that teaching algebra is harmful. Today, it has followed up with an article that is clearly intended to indicate the usefulness of basic mathematics by suggesting useful exercises in a variety of 'real-world' topics. While the starter questions in each topic involve formula evaluation rather than symbolic manipulation, the follow-up questions invite readers to delve more deeply.

The value of mathematics education has been a recurring issue in Slashdot."
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Is Algebra Necessary? -- New York Times

Capt.Albatross Capt.Albatross writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Capt.Albatross (1301561) writes "Andrew Hacker, a professor of Political Science at the City University of New York and author of 'Higher Education? How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids — and What We Can Do About It', attempts to answer this question in the negative in today's New York Times Sunday Review [registration may be required].

His primary claim is that mathematics requirements are prematurely and unreasonably limiting the level of education available to otherwise capable students ."
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Righthaven Redux... With a Difference

Capt.Albatross Capt.Albatross writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Capt.Albatross (1301561) writes "At Boing Boing, Rob Beschizza reports that, in an act of delicious irony, Swiss ISP Ort Cloud [sic] has acquired Righthaven's domain name and has relaunched Righthaven.com as a web hosting service diametrically opposed to the practices of its original owner, a notorious but ultimately unsuccessful copyright troll. The new owners, in partnership with first amendment lawyer Marc Randazza (who was instrumental in the original Rigthhaven's demise), promise "infrajuridsictional infrastructure" — uptime that would require international cooperation to bring down. "Frivolous plaintiffs will find little comfort here" says Ort Cloud's Stefan Thalberg.

The domain name became available in a court-ordered auction of Righthaven LLC's assets, to pay its creditors."

Link to Original Source
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To Learn, Test Yourself

Capt.Albatross Capt.Albatross writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Capt.Albatross (1301561) writes "The New York Times summarizes a paper published online by Science:

Taking a test is not just a passive mechanism for assessing how much people know, according to new research. It actually helps people learn, and it works better than a number of other studying techniques.

"

Link to Original Source

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