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Are You Better At Math Than a 4th (or 10th) Grader?

Gospodin Re:Hard to believe (845 comments)

Perhaps the correct answer is: No, I can't.

more than 2 years ago

350 Years of Science Online

Gospodin Re:You mean they are reacting to... (70 comments)

I would never "depreciate your agitation", sir, and I hope you appreciate my inhibitation of the assassination of your cogitation.

more than 2 years ago

Google Drops Cloud Lawsuit Against US Government

Gospodin Re:speculations (86 comments)

Worst James Bond film of all time. FUD-Raker.

more than 2 years ago

Girl Gamers More Hardcore Than Guys

Gospodin Re:Crazy chicks (284 comments)

I guess you know you're an obsessed gamer couple if you hire a babysitter to come over while you sit around the computer "leveling your alts" (whatever the heck that means - I still play Civilization).

more than 4 years ago

Super-Earths Discovered Orbiting Nearby, Sun-Like Star

Gospodin Re:Yes, nearby (242 comments)

That is an ion engine. My back-of-envelope calculations say that accelerating to .0002c and back to rest requires an Isp of about 5300 if you assume a mass ratio of 10:1. (Which is about as high as you can expect with current technology.) You can do a little better with staging, but not orders-of-magnitude better.

If you can improve your Isp to, say, 50,000, which is well beyond current technology, then you could accelerate to almost 0.002c. Relativistic effects won't be really evident until well over 0.2c (at that speed it's only a 2% time dilation). We're not close to rockets that can attain such speeds.

Improving the mass ratio is even less helpful, btw, since that's a logarithmic factor. An Isp of 50,000 with a mass ratio of 100 still only gets you to 0.004c. I suppose it's conceivable that an interstellar ship that needed almost no structure could have an extremely high mass ratio, but you can see how ridiculously high it has to be to matter.

The only way we're going to send starships at relativistic speeds is to use (i) some form of non-rocket propulsion, like solar sails or those reactionless Casimir-effect thrusters or some other exotic method, (ii) something with a truly enormous Isp. Current ion engine tech tops out at about 30,000 s, and even nuclear pulse tops out at 100,000 s.

more than 4 years ago

ECMAScript Version 5 Approved

Gospodin Re:I can guess why IBM was pushing for IEEE 754r (158 comments)

Will these be accessible from ECMAScript? And will most programmers use them correctly?

If it's an implementation of 754r, then the answer to the first question is yes. As to the second, obviously I can't say.

Exactly, and that is why i think 754r is a stupid hack. Depending on it makes implementations more complicated without solving the problem it is set out to solve: Programmers that haven't done their homework.

With all due respect, 754r is not a stupid hack. It's a well-thought-out way to handle an exact datatype. From your other comment you seem to think having an exact datatype is useful, but perhaps you haven't thought through all the implications of that. (For example: take the exact number "1" and divide it by the exact number "3". What's the result? In 754r, it will be "1.33333" with some number of 3s, and will be flagged as being "rounded" and "inexact". So at least the programmer knows the number is no longer exact. Arbitrary-precision computations don't solve this problem.) 754r may not be perfect, but at least it's an effort to work through all the implications.

That said, including 754r in ECMAScript probably is stupid. It's pretty complicated, and wouldn't see all that much use. If it's really needed, code it up as an add-on library. (And provide ECMAScript with an easier way to handle... add-on libraries. Which I understand they're working on.)

more than 4 years ago

ECMAScript Version 5 Approved

Gospodin Re:I can guess why IBM was pushing for IEEE 754r (158 comments)

First, it won't fix the stupid programmer bug. 754r can't guarantee exactness in every situation. For instance, (large_num+small_num)+small_num == large_num != large_num+(small_num + small_num).

Actually, 754r handles situations like these via exception flags. If large_num + small_num == large_num, then the "inexact" and "rounded" flags will be raised (possibly others, too; I haven't looked at this in a while), which the programmer can use to take some alternate logic. It's certainly true that stupid programmers can use these tools incorrectly (or not use them), but isn't that true of any system? Sufficiently stupid programmers can defeat any countermeasures.

more than 4 years ago

New 'Drake Equation' Selects Between Alien Worlds

Gospodin Re:The answer is... (220 comments)

Whether dolphins are that way I'm not sure, but I think humans have definately [sic] hit a point where our current physical form can adapt to environments easily enough that there is not much natural selection to change us much from an evolutionary standpoint anymore (in essence we've become what the cockroach is: a supremely adaptable organism that can survive almost anywhere).

Considering how much evolution has occurred in humans in the past few hundred thousand years, an eyeblink on evolutionary scales, I think this assertion is far from "definite".

more than 4 years ago

GMail Experiences Serious Outage

Gospodin Re:Wow (408 comments)

That'd be a good name for a superhero: Apocryphal Guy. You always hear about his exploits but never actually see them.

Lemme call up Marvel. I mean, Disney.

more than 4 years ago

Developing World's Parasites, Diseases Enter US

Gospodin Re:The US isn't all first world. (337 comments)

Ever hear of charity? Or family? 'Course not. Silly me. When someone, anyone, gets a hangnail, we need a government representative on hand to administer first aid.

about 5 years ago

Looking For a Link Between Sci-Fi UFOs and UFO Reports

Gospodin Re:Alien Web Profit (202 comments)

The problem with the idea of creatures with lifespans millions of times longer than ours is that they wouldn't have had time to evolve. Or, if they had rapid reproductive cycles (human-scale) but very long lifespans, then (a) you have to wonder how that could have evolved and (b) how come they haven't overpopulated their planet yet? Might make for an interesting science-fiction novel background, but it's not very plausible.

The cyborg idea is a better one. Although for really long life, I think you'd have to ditch the biological component altogether.

about 5 years ago

Science, Technology, Natural History Museums?

Gospodin Re:Chicago Museum of Science and Industry (435 comments)

Speaking of the Air&Space Museum - when you get bored with that, don't forget the new annex out in the 'burbs (can't remember which one - Google it). Another couple hundred aircraft and spacecraft to check out there.

about 5 years ago

Ridley Scott Directing Alien Prequel

Gospodin Re:Who cares about the humans (336 comments)

It is big, black and has acid for blood.

Dude! How can we get Samuel L. Jackson involved? ("I am so m-f'ing sick of these m-f'ing aliens on this m-f'ing spaceship!")

about 5 years ago

David Pogue Wants to Take Back the Beep

Gospodin Re:Take back the seconds (383 comments)

RFK just wants to do an end run around reality. If you live in a utopia in which everyone's values are perfectly aligned, there are no negative externalities, and economic decisions are never necessary because there are no shortages and opportunity costs are always zero, then what he has to say is perfectly valid and interesting. We don't, though. Every one of those things he lists as a "bad thing" that GDP measures is just the result of an unavoidable economic decision. Take ambulances to "clear our roads of carnage". We drive cars. Sometimes they crash, and people are hurt or killed. This is avoidable, but only by eliminating cars. Eliminating cars would cause much more damage, though. So having cars and ambulances is more valuable than having no cars at all. (Having safer cars is also valuable. But safer cars cost more, and figuring out whether the safety is worth the cost is not obvious. RFK can't just decide for everyone.)

So I say to RFK: blah, blah, blah, sing a round of Kum-ba-ya.

about 5 years ago

David Pogue Wants to Take Back the Beep

Gospodin Re:Take back the seconds (383 comments)

The French have a higher standard of living than we do...

Where do you live, Spain?

If you're comparing France to the U.S., then the French standard of living is about 70% of the U.S. That's measured in "purchasing power parity", meaning (roughly) how many hours you have to work to buy a standard basket of goods.

more than 5 years ago

MIT Electric Car May Outperform Rival Gas Models

Gospodin Re:Outperform? (457 comments)

A gallon of gasoline is precisely 33.16 kilowatt-hours.

Not when I combine it with a gallon of anti-gas.

more than 5 years ago

Is IE Usage Share Collapsing?

Gospodin Re:My statistics (575 comments)

FWIW, my stats over the past 6 months (plus 5 days of July):

        Jan     Feb     Mar     Apr     May     Jun     Jul (partial)
IE      82.2    80.7    79.6    77.2    78.1    77.3    75.3
Firefox 11.9    13.4    14.3    15.8    14.0    14.6    15.5
Safari   3.2     3.5     3.7     4.4     4.3     5.2     6.4
Others   2.7     2.4     2.4     2.6     3.6     2.9     2.8

The site is for a financial company and skews toward an older demographic.

more than 5 years ago



Scientists Reprogram Adult Cells in Mice

Gospodin Gospodin writes  |  about 6 years ago

Gospodin writes "From the article: "Scientists have transformed one type of fully developed adult cell directly into another inside a living animal, a startling advance that could lead to cures for a variety of illnesses and sidestep the political and ethical quagmires associated with embryonic stem cell research."

These researchers have cured diabetes in mice by converting common pancreatic cells into insulin-producing ones. The same approach is now being tried with other types of cells. If this proves out, it could end the stem-cell debates, since the whole purpose of stem cell research is to use these cells to produce any other type of cell. This, in turn, could lead to novel types of disease treatment."

Link to Original Source


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