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Asteroid Impacts Bigger Risk Than Thought

EngineeringStudent This is the tail - it means more (141 comments)

We don't have enough history to gauge what actually has happened over time, so we have to estimate.
We approximate by finding big rocks or chemistry on earth, looking at craters on the moon, or this.

In all these cases we are using the small but frequent to infer the distribution of big but hugely problematic events. Our best answer the question about the likelihood of a killer impact is grossly changed if this tail is changed.

Think about it like floods. We ask how likely a 10,000 year flood is going to happen next year. We have ~100 years of rainfall data. We fit it to a distribution that is appropriate and then use those fit parameters to make a best guess. If our rain gauge was only measuring half the rain, we might under-estimate the actual risk by a factor of 10x or 20x.

There is good correlation between "killer impacts" and location of the sun in the galaxy (yes it moves around). We are starting to enter a higher risk region (transition to edge of arm) and perhaps the fundamental distribution is changing. In that case the history of craters on the moon or other might not be meaningful indicator of the near future.

Considering this I think good tracking is not a bad idea and should be thought out well and properly considered.

yesterday
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I expect to retire ...

EngineeringStudent Modern American (323 comments)

I'm currently on track to work myself to death. And the national debt has my kids also working their entire lives with nothing to show as well.

What is the difference between this and slavery? It is not going to get better, and I can't seem to get out of it.

5 days ago
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Intel and SGI Test Full-Immersion Cooling For Servers

EngineeringStudent Re:I wonder... (102 comments)

The refrigerant in most air conditioner systems boils at about 45 F. The ability to transfer heat to the outside world depends on the compressor power - not on what the boiling temperature is. Because of the temperature and chemical compatibility with systems that run R-134a, there are going to be a lot of hardware cost reductions, multi-source suppliers, and existing infrastructure to support that technology. That boiling point yields a better technology ecosystem.

about two weeks ago
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The Problem With Congress's Scientific Illiterates

EngineeringStudent Re:Idiocracy (509 comments)

You are upside down. If in 1776 there were to be ~300 million people living in the United States of America, but the population of the planet had not changed, it would require ~1/3 of the world population at the time to relocate.

Americans may have a poor reputation, but you are demonstrating that the non-Americans of the world prefer to jump to conclusions before they understand what another person meant.

China is demonstrating its desire to be the ruler of the world. It may succeed. There are enough idiots in charge in places where it counts - folks with money myoptia who can be bought or bullied - that a single dominant power over the world may arise. Every "king of the hill" is a tree planted by the last "king" - this is a pattern in humanity that is thousands of years old. This is a good lesson for new "kings" and old - nobody lives on the top of that hill forever.

about three weeks ago
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How Many People Does It Take To Colonize Another Star System?

EngineeringStudent Re:How many Earthworms? (392 comments)

Time and circumstance. If one of those things gets radiation poisoning or is killed by a meteor - that part of the gene pool is lost. Only if you can guarantee 100% survival do you pull a Noah and pack species in by twos.

about three weeks ago
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How Many People Does It Take To Colonize Another Star System?

EngineeringStudent Easily done (392 comments)

All you must do to ensure this is guarantee that the generation before arrival is able to be impregnated with human children, and bear healthy young. Then you could have a repository of ... ahem ... genetic material from as many people as desired. In fact you could continue allowing insemination after planetfall - and effectively carry the genetic diversity of hundreds of thousands of unique donors, with a minimal crew.

Now about protecting the integrity of the .. genetic material. That might require sterner engineering.

about three weeks ago
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The Problem With Congress's Scientific Illiterates

EngineeringStudent Idiocracy (509 comments)

In business, if a manager doesn't know their product, their market, the employees and the job - they are junk.
In politics, they are elected.

I think there is a problem of scope. When the constitution and balance of power were created the "leader to citizen ratio" was likely hugely less adverse. Who in the 13 colonies would have imagined the number of people in the USA would equal 1/3rd of the planet's population. In 1776 there were 800 million living humans. Right now there are 350 million Americans. I don't think the government "balances" were built to work as well with that many people.

This has likely been going on for some time. The refreshing thought is that as soon as a different system becomes even a little more efficient, it will start outpacing the US in terms of real innovation, real economics, and great decisions by leaders. It is not a question of "if" something better is going to come along and show the un-bright folks what they are - it is only a question of when and how.

about three weeks ago
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$30K Worth of Multimeters Must Be Destroyed Because They're Yellow

EngineeringStudent Idea for Sparkfun (653 comments)

Maybe Sparkfun can ask Fluke for an event-based waiver in an open-letter. This gives Fluke the option to show themselves as a "good guy" in a very public way and not waste good tools or resources of a decent company.

It is an moment of humility to ask a question.
It is a lifetime of shame not to ask.

about a month ago
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What If the Next Presidential Limo Was a Tesla?

EngineeringStudent Re:Not EMP resistant (330 comments)

Did you read your own article? Try page 113 where it says:
"An EMP attack will certainly, immediately disable a portion of the 130 million cars and 90 million trucks in operation in the United States. Vehicles disabled while operating on the road can be expected to cause accidents. With modern traffic patterns, even a small number of disabled vehicles or accidents can cause debilitating traffic jams."

What about page 115 with "The ultimate result of EMP expoure could be triggered crashes that damage many more vehicles than are damaged by eMP, the consequent loss of life, and multiple injuries.

EMP has little to know impact on vehicles.

http://www.empcommission.org/d...

Stop, and I repeat STOP! getting you information form survivalist shows and movies. It's almost always wrong.

about a month ago
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What If the Next Presidential Limo Was a Tesla?

EngineeringStudent Not EMP resistant (330 comments)

If there was WWIII then el gran fromage would be powerless and unprotected where he was the moment it hit.
If there was the right, wrong time of solar storm, then el heffe might be getting an unintended suntan while waiting for combustion engine vehicles.

There might be a security issue.

And he doesn't own stock in Tesla, so he isn't going to be buying one.

about a month ago
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Computing a Winner, Fusion a Loser In US Science Budget

EngineeringStudent Subsidizing the NSA (196 comments)

I wonder how much the explosion in computing budget, something not precedented by any actual increase in opportunity in the market or the technology ecosystem, is driven by a desire to enable NSA data-collection, something that our "freedom loving" president aggressively supports.

The only recent "big" thing is big data, like Hadoop/Couch/non-RDBMS.

What is the DOE going to do with all that budget? They are going to buy big computers, and do thing with them.
Is in investment in big data going to have a higher chance of payoffs for those folks who are spying on grandma? I don't see why not.

Are they spying on grandma? Of course they are. Of course they are. They can't not spy on grandma. When they say "they have protections" and "rule of law" they might, possibly, be talking about yesterday or today - but they have the data for tomorrow. They have no right and no substance when they talk about what might not be done to the data tomorrow. Like all weapons too horrible to use - it is only too horrible to use until it isn't.

The IRS would never target political parties, or religious groups, right? the NSA arguments come from the same source and report to the same powers.

about a month and a half ago
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Visual Effects Artists Use MPAA's Own Words Against It

EngineeringStudent Wow. I wonder if that works for STEM employment. (131 comments)

Engineering jobs are offshored (and subsidized) much more extensively than visual effects artists. The number of engineers in the world dwarfs the number of visual effects artists by at least 1000x to 1. Offshore STEM work is subsidized by foreign governments. I wonder if this can lead to tariffs on works thus derived overseas. iPad tariff, anyone?

about 2 months ago
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'Google Buses' Are Bad For Cities, Says New York MTA Official

EngineeringStudent Not an exceptionally authoritative, Mr. MTA. (606 comments)

1) Without a measure of goodness there is no way to determine "best", "worst" or even "better" or "worse".
2) The previous can be reversed to determine actual measure of goodness given a valuation of "best" or such.

It sounds like MTA director is about revenue, so good for him. He is not, however, qualified to make good decisions for startups in Silicon Valley. If he was, then he would be making Billions at Facebook instead of Pennies in civil service.

Perhaps he could investigate the root causes that drive the decisions, things like huge costs, poor infrastructure, and a low-quality work environment - and address those to get the start-ups back into downtown/old-town/urban restoration.

about 2 months ago
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Why Is Dropbox Back On the Chinese Market?

EngineeringStudent Slower? Honeytrap (46 comments)

So it runs slower, and its open. This sounds like a honeypot server. Is there end-to-end encryption or is this an invitation built to enhance informed oppression?

about 2 months ago
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EFF Reports GHCQ and NSA Keeping Tabs On Wikileaks Visitors and Reporters

EngineeringStudent They do this for a number of sites (82 comments)

They don't like wikileaks, or its peers. They also track things like visits to cryptome. They look for risk by people who go to sites that teach the substance of the anarchists cookbook. There are "finger-prints" or eigenvectors of site visitation that they associate with higher and lower risk. If you visit sites a,b, and c, then you are just a harmless teenager making a prank. If you visit sites a, b, not-c, and d, then you might be a threat.

You aren't suprised that the evil empire doesn't like that Snowden aired its laundry, are you? This is the entirely expectable reactive reaction to attempt to "close the barn door". These folks have not read "Godel, Escher, Bach" and understood that the system of themselves is a "sufficiently complex one" and there are axiomatic holes. Either they have to refute the fundamentals of the fundamentals of mathematics - things that drive why 1+1 actually equals 2, or they have to deny they are sufficiently complex, or they have to have a non-lawyers approach to the problem. Their boss and his appointees are lawyers - they can't step outside that box, so they can't actually plug the holes, but they can make a plausible case before a jury of technical idiots that the holes are closed. Sad. Expectable.

A better question is the cadence of the next disclosure. There is a cyclicity to the phenomena. They haven't asked why, because they haven't spent much time looking at cyclicity.

And yet these folks are given trillions of dollars and tasked with the responsibility of keeping the world a good place and making it a better, healthier, more life-full place. Irony. That right there, is irony.

about 2 months ago
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A Mathematical Proof Too Long To Check

EngineeringStudent the beginning, not the end (189 comments)

it is the beginning of AI-science, not the end of human science.

Science requires testable, provable, repeatable. If a human cannot understand the proof then he cannot participate in the science. This is likely to be referred to as an "early" version of machine-exclusive science.

about 2 months ago
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3 Reasons To Hate Mass Surveillance; 3 Ways To Fight It

EngineeringStudent Re:TMN (120 comments)

Nothing is random. Humans are crap at random. Makes me wonder why we think we are intelligent. We are good clocks - that makes our thought mechanistic.

We are consistent. So the "get someone elses version of normal and play it yourself" is really a good way to hide. When tested against computers which make okay random, or some advanced/expensive stuff that makes actual random this approach makes us look nearly exactly like a real human.

Instead of looking like a needle in a haystack - and needles look nothing like hay - it either makes our activity look like a piece of hay in a haystack, or turns the haystack into a needlestack. Either way - isolating an individual is exceptionally harder.

about 2 months ago
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Star Trek Economics

EngineeringStudent that is a long article (888 comments)

I read through about 75% of it. It is not a great read. It takes a lot of time to get to a little meat.

It relies on "social pressure" to stop conspicuous spending. Lets see that work for real in womens shoes and I might believe it possible. Otherwise there is a substantial bit of anthropology that the author is hand-waving his way past.

Reproductively speaking, the minimum cost of reproduction is much smaller for the male than the female. For the female the time-cost is 40 weeks, while for the male it can be around 4 minutes. That is a 100,000 to one ratio. Although females have oestrus cycle times that are 9x less frequent than optimal cycle-times for males, this does not establish a reproductive cost equality.

This high asymmetry in cost drives different general normative behaviors.Game theory says that when the costs are so asymmetric, and so much larger, then you will see radically different optimal strategies. For women they have a huge vested interest in maximizing the input the man gives - they are selective in partners, and selective in frequency. This also drives a strange phenomena of "Costly but worthless gifts facilitating courtship". (link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pm...)

The most archaic, currently used, globally useful, non-worthless gift that can be given is not gold, diamonds, cash, or camels - it is footwear. If any commodity is hard-wired into female brains through the selective processes of 10,000+ years of recorded history of civilization it is a candidate such as this.

If your "social pressure" to stop "conspicuous spending" can actually apply to womens footwear, then it has substance. Don't just stop sales, show that the desire has been resolved. It has not been resolved in Europe - this means that the fundamental forces are still extensively at work in that culture. It also means that the Star Trek economy, while worth considering, is still a work of fiction.

Best regards.

about 2 months ago
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3 Reasons To Hate Mass Surveillance; 3 Ways To Fight It

EngineeringStudent Re:TMN (120 comments)

It worked in the 1960's, but it is unlikely to work now.

They can detect the "random" activity, and isolate it. You are not making the right fog, and they have ways to see through it.

A better way would be some protocol that works like bitcoins to share someone elses anonymized queries, and makes you look exactly like them for a little while, then switches it up. They might "poison the well" but if even a medium sample of people is using the method, it will make a fog that makes automated clustering and classification substantially less meaningful. Something that randomly clicks into google ads might also interfere with classification, by fogging the google classification of you. The two "bucketings" are both read by NSA, but google doesn't get to read what the NSA does, and at least publicly has an interest in appearing to resist being informative for things like targeted executions of American citizens without due process of law.

about 2 months ago

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