×

Announcing: Slashdot Deals - Explore geek apps, games, gadgets and more. (what is this?)

Thank you!

We are sorry to see you leave - Beta is different and we value the time you took to try it out. Before you decide to go, please take a look at some value-adds for Beta and learn more about it. Thank you for reading Slashdot, and for making the site better!

Comments

top

Apparent Islamic Terrorism Strikes Sydney

JoshuaZ Re:Should Allah be translated to God? (865 comments)

That's almost the exact opposite argument than you made in your post. You really don't seem to have a coherent point here. Apparently Christians who speak Arabic are perfectly ok using the same word. If they thought that the words had different meanings then they'd try to use different words in Arabic. The fact that they don't shows that your entire claim doesn't work. You seem to be confused about whether "Allah" is a proper noun or a generic. Like the word "God" in English it is both.

2 days ago
top

Apparent Islamic Terrorism Strikes Sydney

JoshuaZ Re:Should Allah be translated to God? (865 comments)

That's true in general for speaking in common contexts among Orthodox Jews. But even then, Orthodox people will simply sometimes say "God" in English or whatever the equivalent is in that language. And that's aside from the many less religious Jews who don't strongly have that taboo.

3 days ago
top

Apparent Islamic Terrorism Strikes Sydney

JoshuaZ Re:Should Allah be translated to God? (865 comments)

Does it impact your opinion at all to learn that Jews and Christians when speaking Arabic use the word "Allah" to talk about their deity?

3 days ago
top

Apparent Islamic Terrorism Strikes Sydney

JoshuaZ Re:Muslims? (865 comments)

I don't know what "hate site" means in general, but that's at minimum a source that has very much already decided on their bottom line http://lesswrong.com/lw/js/the_bottom_line/, which means one shoudl already take it pretty skeptically. But that list isn't very helpful for a simple reason that it just shows that there are a lot of Islamic terrorist events which isn't terribly helpful: we already know that. The question being asked is how common are they compared to terrorist events motivated by other ideologies or religious traditions.

3 days ago
top

Apparent Islamic Terrorism Strikes Sydney

JoshuaZ Re:Muslims? (865 comments)

Getting data on these issues is complicated. If one restricts to the US, then about 10% of all terrorist attacks are Islamic. See http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2013/05/muslims-only-carried-out-2-5-percent-of-terrorist-attacks-on-u-s-soil-between-1970-and-2012.html. But not only is this restricted to the US, it uses a very broad notion of what counts as terrorism. If one weighs in the US by total deaths, then Islamic terrorism swamps everything else primarily due to 9/11. Worldwide, about 70% of all terrorist attacks are by Sunni Muslims but this varies from year to year. See for example the 2011 report NCTC report http://fas.org/irp/threat/nctc2011.pdf. Again, definitional issues can move this number up or down by a lot.

3 days ago
top

Romanian Officials Say Russia Finances European Fracking Protests

JoshuaZ One should be careful on the logic here (155 comments)

Keep in mind that just because Russia/Putin doesn't want fracking, it isn't a reason by itself to think tha fracking is a good thing.

about two weeks ago
top

First Man To Walk In Space Reveals How Mission Nearly Ended In Disaster

JoshuaZ Neat interview (122 comments)

The interview is neat, but this isn't anything being "revealed"- all these details were already known. You'll see them mentioned in many books discussing early space flight. They are I think mentioned for example in Buzz Aldrin's "Men from Earth".

about 2 months ago
top

Researcher Fired At NSF After Government Questions Her Role As 1980s Activist

JoshuaZ Most disturbing bit (499 comments)

In her 11 August response, Barr questioned whether the special agent who conducted the investigation “can be an impartial evaluator of academic scientists, or anyone with liberal political beliefs.” As evidence, she points to a posting on a blog maintained by the agent, a veteran who served in Iraq, and his family. The item is a copy of a popular Internet meme about an incident that supposedly took place in an introductory college biology course. According to the story, a “typical liberal college professor and avowed atheist” declares his intent to prove that there is no God by giving the creator 15 minutes to strike him from the podium. A few minutes before the deadline, a Marine “just released from active duty and newly registered” walks up to the professor and knocks him out with one punch. When the professor recovers and asks for an explanation, the Marine replies, “God was busy. He sent me.”

This makes it look really like this was a single agent who was unhappy with the left-wing views she had. At minimum, it is wildly inappropriate for a government agent in such a position to have that sort of thing on their blog (aside from it being just stupid). That goes together with the statement in the article:

Attorney Joseph Kaplan, of the Washington, D.C., firm Passman & Kaplan, says that, in his experience, the most common reasons for a finding of unsuitability are lying about one’s educational background, one’s employment history, or one’s criminal record. “If OPM determines that the person has misled or provided false information,” he says, “they can be declared unfit for federal service.”

Kaplan says he’s never heard of anyone being drummed out for political activity that occurred decades ago. At the same time, he says, the government’s decision is based not on anything Barr did during the 1980s but on how she explained those activities to federal investigators after coming to work at NSF.

Together this paints a potential picture of a specific agent going after someone they didn't like due to their political views and a bureaucracy going into overdrive to protect that decision. On the other hand, it isn't like she had no connections to the third organization- she knew two of the people who were convicted of the murder and by her own description kept up a correspondence with one of them while he was in prison. But keeping up correspondence with someone in prison is not evidence by itself of any problem, and there's really been no evidence presented that she lied or attempted to mislead in any way.

The article notes that this may be due to more general post-Snowded reactions which are making these sorts of things more common. In that case, this is exactly the wrong response.

about 3 months ago
top

Metamaterial Superconductor Hints At New Era of High Temperature Superconductors

JoshuaZ Re:0.15 degree from a 3.7 kelvin... that's "cool" (39 comments)

This is extremely preliminary. It is likely that later work will be able to increase it further. And even an increase in a few degrees centigrade would have practical impacts. Moreover, the ability to make metamaterials of this sort may lead to superconductors with different ranges wherein they engage in magnetic quenching https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superconducting_magnet#Magnet_quench which is important for safe and practical use of superconductors even today. It isn't uncommon for a bad quenching event to damage a particle accelerator. A particular bad example happened to the LHC back in 2008 dealing serious damage to the accelerator http://astroengine.com/2008/10/18/lhc-quench-ripped-magnets-from-concrete-floor/. Yes, this isn't immediately practical but it looks like there's a lot of potential.

about 4 months ago
top

Astronomers Discover Earth-Sized Diamond

JoshuaZ Just don't tell De Beers (112 comments)

Considering that the high price of diamonds is a combination of the De Beers monopoly together with their massive PR campaigns to a) make people use diamonds as formal symbols of affection and b) to make people unwilling to sell them second-hand once they've been owned, they should be worried. On the other hand, this is 900 light years away, so maybe they'll just lobby against any research into FTL travel.

about 6 months ago
top

The NSA Is Recording Every Cell Phone Call In the Bahamas

JoshuaZ Re:Legally speaking... (205 comments)

Anyone at NSA who is participating in this is committing an act of war against a sovereign nation without any declaration of war.

Under what theory of international law? This behavior is clearly bad and is the sort of thing a country has a right to be pissed off about, but there's no coherent, conventional theory that makes this an act of war. The situation is bad enough without exaggerating.

about 7 months ago
top

Supermassive Black Hole At the Centre of Galaxy May Be Wormhole In Disguise

JoshuaZ Re:Why it matters (293 comments)

Ah, so it would look like a hypothetical thing that we've never seen. Well that helps.

Yes it does- we have models of what that should look like.

Why should we expect that wormhole entrances are common?

If the apparent black holes in galactic centers are really wormholes then by the Copernican principle there exits should be about as evenly distributed as their entrances- we shouldn't expect some part of the universe to have a large number of exists.

about 7 months ago
top

Supermassive Black Hole At the Centre of Galaxy May Be Wormhole In Disguise

JoshuaZ Re:Why it matters (293 comments)

Why? Is there one nearby that we can observe with our extremely primitive and limited technology? Would we know it if we saw it?

Yes, we would know if we saw it. Essentially it would look very close to a white hole http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_hole. And we should expect that if wormhole entrances are common then by the Copernican principle we should see some exits near us. This is one of the major reasons to doubt this sort of thing. As to your question about other universes- GR is not really happy with wormholes going from universes to universes- no one has been able to get the math to work out in a reasonable fashion- there's a line between speculation that's decent science and complete science fiction, and right now wormholes fall into the first but wormholes that go to other universes fall strongly into the second. That could change in the future but right now that doesn't look at all remotely likely.

about 7 months ago
top

Supermassive Black Hole At the Centre of Galaxy May Be Wormhole In Disguise

JoshuaZ Re:Why it matters (293 comments)

The main way we've detect Sag A* is its massive radiation profile. That's a completely distinct issue from the issue of mass. But even the mass thing is a problem saying maybe it is filled with some sort of pseudo-matter is even more speculative than speculating it might be wormhole. And even if that is the case, the gamma and x-rays would still fry anything that got near.

about 7 months ago
top

Supermassive Black Hole At the Centre of Galaxy May Be Wormhole In Disguise

JoshuaZ Why it matters (293 comments)

Given the intense environment around Sag A*, even if it turns out to be a wormhole it will be utterly non-traversable. However, there are hypotheses that wormholes to be stabilized require using negative matter http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negative_mass. At least, that's the most plausible mechanism suggested- so this would be inadvertent evidence that negative matter exists, which would be a really big deal. There's also speculation that a cosmic string could do something similar- note that a cosmic string is topological defect in space time http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmic_string- these are not the strings from string theory although many forms of string theory would predict that such objects would exist. And of course, if wormholes exist in nature there's some small chance we can either make our own o find much smaller ones and put them to use. Unfortunately, there's a lot of dust and other debris between where we are and Sag A*, so even GRAVITY may have trouble getting enough resolution to figure this out.

about 7 months ago
top

LHCb Confirms Existence of Exotic Hadrons

JoshuaZ Implications for the Standard Model (99 comments)

Can someone who knows more about this subject explain what if any the implications this result has for the Standard Model?

about 8 months ago
top

P vs. NP Problem Linked To the Quantum Nature of the Universe

JoshuaZ Scott Aaronson's take (199 comments)

Scott Aaaronson is a highly respected quantum computing expert at MIT. His initial reaction at comment# 89 at http://www.scottaaronson.com/b... is that "The abstract of that thing looked so nonsensical that I didn’t make it through to the actual paper. If anyone has and wants to explain it here, that’s fine." Given that I wouldn't take this too seriously.

about 8 months ago
top

Will Living On Mars Drive Us Crazy?

JoshuaZ Submarines? (150 comments)

Aside from the number of people being smaller, this does't seem that different from a tour of duty on a nuclear submarine. Three months is normal for that. Having little time to shower is a minor stress which could easily apply to almost any military duty, and submarines are again in that category. Moreover, submarine showers are disgusting. At least with a Mars mission you won't have the constant movement and shaking. And they don't get the regular email contact because they are underwater. http://www.cracked.com/article_20871_6-things-movies-dont-show-you-about-life-submarine.html discusses some of the many unpleasant things about subs. It seems like the people who are worried about the "human factors" are massively overestimating what conditions human minds can actually cope with, and it seems they also aren't doing a good job looking at counterexamples to their worries. This shouldn't be that surprising though: Robert Zubrin in his excellent book "Case for Mars" argued that a large part of the medical and psychological research to see if humans could handle a trip to Mars was more excuses for grant funding than serious concerns.

about 8 months ago

Submissions

top

Astronomers find star that doesn't fit

JoshuaZ JoshuaZ writes  |  more than 3 years ago

JoshuaZ writes "Astronomers have found an unusual small star. SDSS J102915+172927 is a small faint star with very little of any elements other than hydrogen or helium. The star's composition is surprising since standard theories of star formation require heavier elements in small stars in order to allow the stars to be heavy enough to come together. Possibly the most unusual aspect of this star is the complete non-detection of lithium which would be expected in a star of this size. The only elements created shortly after the Big Bang were lithium, hydrogen and helium, and the star should have lithium levels much higher since they should correspond closely with the levels believed to have been formed shortly after the Big Bang. The actual paper can be found at http://www.eso.org/public/archives/releases/sciencepapers/eso1132/eso1132.pdf."
Link to Original Source
top

Man arrested in New York for photography

JoshuaZ JoshuaZ writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Joshua Zelinsky writes "A man in New York City was arrested for photographing subway trains. A police officer confronted the man and when the man attempted to explain to the officer that what he was doing was legal the officer arrested him. The man was charged with three separate crimes including one count of disorderly conduct for speaking to the officer in an "unreasonable voice." So far, two of the three charges have been dropped but the third is pending."
Link to Original Source
top

ISPs in Great Britain censoring Wikipedia

JoshuaZ JoshuaZ writes  |  about 6 years ago

Joshua Zelinsky writes "Wikipedia is being . censored by a variety of ISPs in Great Britian. The activity was first noticed when it appeared that almost all edits from Great Britain were coming through only a handful of IP addresses. This created serious problems in preventing vandalism from Great Britain. It then emerged that this was due to the system being used by ISPs to censor Wikipedia. At present it is not known in full which pages are being censored. However, at least one page which is being censored is a page is Virgin Killer about an album from a German heavy metal band which has a naked young girl on the cover. Individuals in Great Britain attempting to access the page report that they are simply getting error messages and not even being told that the page is being censored. Some commentators have already started referring to the Great Firewall of Britain."
Link to Original Source
top

Obama's cell phone records accessed

JoshuaZ JoshuaZ writes  |  about 6 years ago

Joshua Zelinsky writes "According to Obama's transition team, his cell phone was accessed by unauthorized Verizon employees. Verizon has alerted the Secret Service but there is currently no criminal investigation. Verizon has stated that employees who inappropriately accessed the records will be subject to disciplinary action. This is not the first unauthorized access of politically relevant people. Recently, the Plumber's state government records were accessed by a contractor without permission."
Link to Original Source
top

Researchers find spam response rate by spamming

JoshuaZ JoshuaZ writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Joshua Zelinsky writes "Researchers estimated the successful response rates to spam by sending out millions of spam messages using the Storm botnet. They received 28 responses out of 350 million messages sent out and estimate that approximately one of every 12,500,000 spam emails generates a sale. Most disturbingly even with this low response rate the researchers estimate that a spammer will still make an easy profit."
Link to Original Source
top

Corp plagiarizes Wikipedia, threatens reporters

JoshuaZ JoshuaZ writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Joshua Zelinsky writes "A Polish company, 4fun.tv, has plagiarized from the Polish Wikipedia by using content without attribution. When Wikinews inquired about the apparent plagiarism, the company first claimed that they had taken the text from an old encyclopedia that was in the public domain that Wikipedia must have taken it from also. When this was shown to be false, the company's representative threatened the reporter saying that "he found the reporter's picture on the Internet and asked how the person would feel if this picture was to appear on billboards or press releases that advertised the TV station""
Link to Original Source

Journals

JoshuaZ has no journal entries.

Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?