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Mathematics Great Alexander Grothendieck Dies At 86

HuguesT Re:Fields medal is like a Nobel prize. (49 comments)

Most *people* do that. If only it were limited to academics, life would be easy. But no. Taxi drivers, assistants, hairdressers, dentists, you name it.

about two weeks ago
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Why Scientists Think Completely Unclassifiable and Undiscovered Life Forms Exist

HuguesT Re:Discover life? (221 comments)

We have built machinery that can be used to replicate the same machinery (e.g. 3D printers), but not by themselves. This is hugely difficult: even making simple plastics is hard work and requires lots of resources.

about three weeks ago
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Why Scientists Think Completely Unclassifiable and Undiscovered Life Forms Exist

HuguesT Re:Discover life? (221 comments)

Not by itself. Enough said.

about three weeks ago
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Space Tourism Isn't Worth Dying For

HuguesT Going to space is not a question of entrepreneurs (594 comments)

Many people on this thread mention the parallel between aviation progress in the first half of the 20th century and what is happening now with SpaceX, Virgin galactic, and so on.

The difference is essential though. In the beginning of the 20th century we simply did not know enough about fluid dynamics to make aerodynamic flight happen easily. This is still a tough field (turbulence, etc) however we have made huge progress. We can model it relatively well, we essentially know now how to simulate it, etc. The basic equations (Navier Stokes) have been known for a long time, and thank to a huge theoretical, computational and practical effort, we now have cheap, save, available, commercial flight for everyone.

In the case of space dynamics, things are actually fairly simple. We have known about minimum orbital speed, escape velocity, and so on since Newton. We've made measurable progress with chemical rocket engines since then 1950s, but the principles were known at the time. We know how much energy we need to expend to reach space. We know how to navigate space, We know how to do it.

We actually know that we *cannot* do it cheaply at present. What we need to reach a new level is a lot of basic research in materials to build space elevators, better ion drives, perhaps nuclear engines in the future. At the moment we cannot send humans effectively beyond low Earth orbit, and again, this is not cheap. It is not so much a question of entrepreneurship, it is a question of long-term, constant investments. As in several decades.

about three weeks ago
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Space Tourism Isn't Worth Dying For

HuguesT Re:Nether is your weekend in Las Vegas (594 comments)

This is hugely misinformed. In the 19th century people built flying gliders and even a few prototype planes in their backyard. They did not need equivalent 19th century billionaire to bail them out, and very few of them died. This is because the physics of flying is easy and safe, once understood.

Now we already know that the physics of space travel is difficult and dangerous. We've been there. People have died. We have no easy solution. No amount of starry-eyed entrepreneurship is going to change that.

about three weeks ago
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Space Tourism Isn't Worth Dying For

HuguesT Re:Fuck you Wired (594 comments)

Known physics, the actual economy, and dwindling resources are not on our side.

Actually, the price of travelling by boat has basically increased over time. This is due to the fact that boating is mostly for pleasure. Who crosses the Atlantic by boat nowadays ? Not the poor.

In the case of Virgin Galactic, starry-eyed people believe that some day everyone will get to travel in one of these hypersonic planes, but I don't see that happening. The reason is that it is much much cheaper and immensely less dangerous to fly economy with any carrier. Basically the longest flight is something like London-UK to Auckland-NZ. That currently takes about 30h. Of course it would be nice to do it in 2h but this is not essential. The Concorde did not make supersonic flight happen for the masses. It was only for the very rich / super busy and would have stayed that way forever had the Concorde continued to be exploited.

Concurrently, really going to space (i.e. > 100km altitude, reaching orbital velocity) is going to stay hugely expensive using chemical rockets. There is basically no known technique that can make that cheap and safe, until we build a space elevator. Going to the Moon is essentially pointless: nothing of value to do there, and I'm not sure we will manage to send people to Mars within this century. This is hugely hard, barring some unexpected advances in thrust technology.

about three weeks ago
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Space Tourism Isn't Worth Dying For

HuguesT Re:Some people like to differ on this topic! (594 comments)

This needs to be said a lot more often, however you need a mix of small / large companies. Small companies have very little visibility and cannot invest the millions or billions of dollars needed for some projects.

about three weeks ago
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Elon Musk Warns Against Unleashing Artificial Intelligence "Demon"

HuguesT Re:Makes sense to me (583 comments)

The only sensible remark here.

about a month ago
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Getting Lost In the Scientific Woods Is Good For You

HuguesT Re:Obvious (51 comments)

Most people think that scientist are strange people who have amassed a huge amount of very precise facts about an extremely specific field, some of which might be useful (facts or fields), but most of which are useless to the common people. The prototype is the scientist lady in the TV series "Bones". Scientists are assimilated to dorks who have not only not an ounce of creativity in them but also no social skills.

In reality scientists need to be extremely creative in their work, and need to have the humility to accept that they know or understand only a tiny amount of the world that is around us. It is very easy and quick to tread into the complete unknown. We cannot at present even reconcile the most established theories we have about the way the world works (relativity and quantum mechanics).

about a month ago
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Getting Lost In the Scientific Woods Is Good For You

HuguesT Re:The hardest part.. (51 comments)

No, that is easy. Most paths in science have never even been tried.

What is hard is to find a path that leads to somewhere. Then just as hard it getting the somewhere you discovered to be accepted by the scientific community. Think plaque tectonics, relativity, quantum mechanics, even something as fundamental as cosmology, and so on.

about a month ago
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OEM Windows 7 License Sales End This Friday

HuguesT Re:Time to "stock up" from NewEgg ... (242 comments)

First you need a friend with an Apple computer and OSX 10.6.8 or later installed. Then you can download the 10.8, 10.9 and 10.10 version of OSX for free on the Mac App Store. If you do not own Apple hardware but want to try these OSes anyway in a VM for instance, it can get a little involved but is generally doable.

about a month ago
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What Will It Take To Make Automated Vehicles Legal In the US?

HuguesT Re:For Starters (320 comments)

Contrary to a somewhat popular opinion among car hotheads, the least reliable component on any car is usually the driver. While on the road, drive safe. If you want to have fun with your car besides enjoying the scenery, go racing.

about 1 month ago
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What Will It Take To Make Automated Vehicles Legal In the US?

HuguesT Re:Driverless Trains are Here (320 comments)

Underground/Subway/Metro or some other specific lines with zero interconnection running as a loop, yes. They are all akin to a long, horizontal elevator, with lots and lots of sensors and other feedback systems built into the track. They make a lot of sense because they carry a lot of passengers over short to medium length lines over the very same tracks all the time. The longest automated network is the Vancouver skytrain, which is about 70km long.

General-purpose train lines, with something unlike single-purpose engines running on open tracks with interconnection ? The page does not list any. It is still too difficult for automated systems.

about 1 month ago
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How Sony, Intel, and Unix Made Apple's Mac a PC Competitor

HuguesT Re:It helps to actually use the thing. (296 comments)

Nearly all of the development tools of Linux are available on OSX via ports, brew or simply compiling oneself. Even fairly advanced stuff like valgrind. There is no shortage of cross platform GUI toolkit like Qt.

In what way is OSX crippled as a dev box ?

about a month ago
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How Sony, Intel, and Unix Made Apple's Mac a PC Competitor

HuguesT Re:It helps to actually use the thing. (296 comments)

Since OSX 10.4 or so, it has been relatively easy to install OSX on any PC. So if one is curious and wants to try the ecosystem, one can do it at a very low cost, that of one already existing, partitioned PC, or a virtual machine. This does require some technical skills, for sure. In recent years it has become easier, not harder, to do so.

This usually is a fairly smart move on Apple's part. This test will usually convince people who try it that they can trust Apple to be their provider for their next laptop purchase. In this department, their approach truly shines.

about a month ago
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Scanning Embryos For Super-Intelligent Kids Is On the Horizon

HuguesT I don't think so (366 comments)

From an ideal standpoint it looks as if super-intelligent kids is something every parent would want. However there are some drawbacks. First, IQ is only a rough measure of intelligence, there are many factors involved and success in life is not immediately linked to IQ. See Unabomber, etc. Also super intelligent kids may not be that easy to handle. They typically hate school and may actually do poorly in school. They demand much more attention from parents (more activities, more time with them, etc). There is plenty of evidence that IQ is also linked to the environment kids grow in, so simply selecting the gene stuff and thinking this may be enough will not work. Intelligence is also linked to curiosity and independence and so perhaps to more risky behaviours. Finally there is a correlation with very high IQ and some severe forms of mental illness.

All in all, there is a cluster of reasons why the average IQ of the population is 100. High intelligence is not always that comfortable. Think of Sir Winston Churchill, hero of the battle of England, most effective Prime Minister in a time of war, Nobel prize winner in litterature. He had severe depression all his life (his "black dog"). I agree we should raise the general IQ though, cautiously.

about a month and a half ago
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Independent Researchers Test Rossi's Alleged Cold Fusion Device For 32 Days

HuguesT Re:Hoax (986 comments)

Bill Gates claimed to be doing that that (among others) and he is not finding it easy.

about a month and a half ago
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Independent Researchers Test Rossi's Alleged Cold Fusion Device For 32 Days

HuguesT Re:Einstein's Nobel was for Photo-electric effect (986 comments)

John Bardeen has won two Nobel prizes in physics. The first for the discovery of the transistor, and the second for the BCS theory of superconductivity. Read the page, it is highly entertaining. Bardeen was very unassuming but clearly a genius as well.

about a month and a half ago

Submissions

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French supreme court neutralizes 3-strikes law

HuguesT HuguesT writes  |  more than 5 years ago

HuguesT (84078) writes "The Conseil Constitutionel, the French equivalent to the US Supreme Court, ruled today that a mere "authority" cannot cut Internet access to Internet subscribers within the frame of the new HADOPI law recently voted by French parliament. In the new law, after a warning by email and another by registered mail, French Internet subscribers could have had their access cut off for a duration ranging between 2 months and one year, without possibility of defence or due process of law, if they were accused of illegally sharing copyrighted material. They could only appeal of the decision before a court of law. The CC "sages" or wise men, ruled that this was unconstitutional on two grounds: the presumption of innocence and freedom of communication and expression. Now the laws has basically no point. The French communication minister, Christine Albanel, has vowed to return to parliament with a new law still implementing the 3 strikes in a new, as yet unknown way. For the time being, strike one for democracy and freedom!"
Link to Original Source
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Gates foundation deathly side-effects

HuguesT HuguesT writes  |  more than 6 years ago

HuguesT (84078) writes "An long and detailed article from the L.A. Times points out severe, unintended side effects of the health policies of the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation. This foundation has given away almost 2 billions US$ to the fight against AIDS, TB and Malaria worldwide. Thanks in no small measure to this effort, the death toll from AIDS in most of Africa are finally levelling off. However, the money from the foundation is earmarked to the fight against these three diseases, to the detriment of global health. Sick people can also be hungry and not able to ingest healing drugs. Doctors in these countries prefer to be well paid working against AIDS than poorly working against all the other health problems, which creates a brain drain. Numerous children also suffer from diarrhea or asphyxia due to lack of basic care. The paradox is that countries where the foundation has invested most have seen their mortality rate increase, whereas it has improved in countries where the foundation was least involved."
Link to Original Source

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