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Aliens and the Fermi Paradox

MightyDrunken Unfashionable (686 comments)

Current cosmology theories suggest that only 5% of the energy content of the Universe is matter. We assume that dark matter which accounts for 84% of matter is boring stuff that only interacts with gravity. What if we are missing out on most of the Universe because dark matter has its own dark forces meaning that dark matter is as varied as our matter?

In this case most aliens are made of dark matter, we can't see them and they can't see us.

about a month ago
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The Sci-Fi Myth of Robotic Competence

MightyDrunken Laws of Robotic Cars (255 comments)

In order of precedence.

  1. 1. Don't Crash
  2. 2. If crashing is inevitable then crash as safely (slowly) as possible.
  3. 3. Obey the laws of the road.

about 2 months ago
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The Highest-Flying Wind Turbine

MightyDrunken Re:inaccurate (143 comments)

Solar wind dude.

about 4 months ago
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BEST Study Finds Temperature Changes Explained by GHG Emissions and Volcanoes

MightyDrunken Re:[citation needed] (355 comments)

"That's why the south pole is colder than the north pole; it's farther away from the sun in winter than the north pole is in its winter."

The main reason why Antarctica is colder is because Antarctica is land and therefore elevated. Combined with its one mile thick ice sheet it is the highest elevated continent on earth. The lack of land at the Arctic means the ice is less stable and therefore makes it much harder for that amount of ice to accumulate. The difference in sunlight reaching the Earth due to its elliptical orbit is about 7% so not a large factor.

about a year and a half ago
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Permafrost Loss Greater Threat Than Deforestation

MightyDrunken Re:Clathrate gun hypothesis (272 comments)

There have been several shifts from glacial to interglacial climates during that time. My view is that if massive methane releases were a threat now, then we would have seen something similar during one of these times.

Well according to the article, in those 650,000 years the highest CO2 levels were at 380ppm, we are now at 390ppm with no sign of slowing down. The temperature highs in that period were a little higher than now, but not by much. So we would not expect the methane to be released yet but sometime in the future. As we have done so little to slow down our CO2 contributions that time could be pretty soon.

more than 2 years ago
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NASA Says 2010 Tied For Warmest Year On Record

MightyDrunken Re:Lies, damned lies and statistics (554 comments)

Also note that the last IPCC estimate did not include the effect of melting glaciers and ice caps as they felt the predictions were not accurate enough. The next IPCC report is bound to include them so expect that estimate to be dramatically higher than the one before.

more than 3 years ago
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Are 10-11 Hour Programming Days Feasible?

MightyDrunken Re:Dangerous sign here! (997 comments)

Exactly!

First thought is, will adding new features actually be productive? I sense that the problem is probably not a lack of features but either poor selling or a small market. Adding more features will not fix these business problems.

My 2nd thought is that if you are asked to work 10 hours day it has to be for a limited time as it is not sustainable. Therefore you need a good reason and a goal. If this deal is open-ended what is most likely to happen is all this work generates no extra revenue and burnt out workers.

more than 3 years ago
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Minutes I spend on the phone, on a typical day:

MightyDrunken Re:Redundant? (264 comments)

You're not a teenager obviously. :)

more than 3 years ago
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How To Profit From Planetary-Scale Computing

MightyDrunken Re:Limits? (178 comments)

This is the kind of shit that has madmen and economists thinking you can forever grow an economy in a finite world with finite resources

Umm, you can.

Really?

In you compiler example you cannot keep speeding it up - the fastest it can be is instant. You may argue that the economy can be expanded by creating new industries but again with finite people this cannot go to infinity. A 1% growth rate is a doubling in 70 years this cannot go on for more than a few centuries.

What will happen is that growth will slow and keep on slowing.

more than 3 years ago
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Global Warming's Silver Lining For the Arctic Rim

MightyDrunken Re:Snowball Earth (582 comments)

Snowball Earth is an interesting hypothesis and shows us some things about the climate system of Earth - that it is a complex dynamic system with many variables.

The more recent snowball Earth glaciations are thought to have happened as three or four glaciation events with the most recent, the Marinoan, happening about 650 million years ago. At the beginning of these glaciations the CO2 was relatively low for the time and the continents were distributed around the equator.

The mechanism which started the cooling periods is not known, but if they are cold enough the resulting ice can spread down to close to the equator. As ice has a higher albedo, about ~60% compared to the sea which reflects about 6% of incoming light, we get a "positive" feedback where cooling reflects more of the suns energy away from the Earth causing more cooling. This locked the Earth into a frozen period for millions of years. This poses a problem how can the climate system unfreeze now most of the Sun's energy is reflected away?

With much of the Earth frozen, CO2 will build up as there is very little rock weathering as it is all covered by ice and not much photosynthesis either. By the end of the snowball Earth period, CO2 may have risen to 12,000 ppm. The warming effect of the CO2 would have been weaker in this frozen state then it is now, because CO2 traps infrared radiation while most of the sun's light was being reflected in the visible part of the spectrum. This is why the CO2 level had to raise to such a high level to bring us out of this cold phase even though we are presently in a much warmer climate with less CO2. This is physics!

more than 3 years ago
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Humans Will Need Two Earths By 2030

MightyDrunken Re:Well, of course. (738 comments)

So what? Recycling alone handles virtually all of that hypothetical supply problem.

Only if the population does not increase, otherwise new resources will have to be gathered or we have a drop in the amount of our material goods.

The first sentence isn't true. Peak oil is quite consistent with free market theory. And the "tripling" in price of oil is the price signal that will encourage people to seek alternatives to oil.

But what happens in that transistion period when the oil price sky rockets? There are trillions of dollars of resources sunk in the petrochemical infrastructure. It will take at least an equal amount of resources and money to replace that with a new energy resource. For this to happen without problems the infrastructure has to be put in place before the shortage and therefore before the market has naturally responded.

Therefore we should be intelligent and realise what the future is likely to bring upon us and act with plenty of time to spare. However too many talk about the cost and how everything is OK now. Yes things are OK now, but what about 20 years time?

more than 3 years ago
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Humans Will Need Two Earths By 2030

MightyDrunken Re:Shameless self promotion (738 comments)

??

The water estimate is way off if you actually want to grow and produce things. Considering that agriculture is ~70% of our water consumption and industry is ~20% you can see we are not factoring in alot of water in this calculation.

The linked document estimates 350 million cubic meters of fresh water is required. Considering that the USA alone consumes 470 million cubic meters of fresh water you can see that it gives a very false impression of the resource use of the human race.

So in essence the document is interesting but does not show that we have plenty more resources because it does not factor in much of our actual consumption.

more than 3 years ago
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Scientists Find New Target For Alzhiemer's

MightyDrunken Re:I hope (107 comments)

While beta amyloid is like a prion in that the protein is "misfolded" and forms a tangled insoluble protein mass. It is not "contagious" like a prion disease. Beta amyloid is formed after cleavage of the amyloid precursor protein by alpha-, beta- and gamma- secretase.

The current state of knowledge for Alzheimer's is still very hazy, for many years there has been a discussion whether amyloid plaques are the cause of Alzhiemer's or a symptom of some other problem. More pieces of the puzzle are continually being found but what is really happening still remains elusive. An article I read in New Scientist suggested that the plaques themselves may not be the problem. With the real damage being done by the shorter chains which are created when the amyloid precursor protein is first cleaved.

There may be links to prion diseases. This study in mice suggests that non-infectious prions make Alzheimer's worse. While this older story suggests their may be a protective effect. Bleeding edge science can be confusing :)

more than 3 years ago
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Follow Up On Solar Neutrinos and Radioactive Decay

MightyDrunken Re:Wait till the religion fanatics hear this. (183 comments)

I've noted Slashdot has a hell of an establishment bias regarding Dark Matter, so don't be surprised if you've never heard of McGaughs paper.

I don't like dark matter as an explanation for anomolies in galaxy rotation. Nor do I want to believe inflation, which apparently solves many problems with the Big Bang theory. But what I have learned to accept is that there is usually a good reason why the consensus theory is considered more likely. For instance with dark matter it can explain many different problems like galaxy rotation, the mass of galaxies, gamma ray fog in the Universe, formation of structures in the Universe...
Also dark matter ties neatly with particle physics, the most popular extension to the standard model, super symmetry, predicts a plethora of new particles. The neutralino for instance fits the bill as a dark matter candidate very well.

Of course we may be right that dark matter is the wrong explanation, but the more likely truth is the majority of physicists are correct on this issue. Damn inflation, I hate it!

more than 3 years ago
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Genetically Modified Canola Spreads To Wild Plants

MightyDrunken Re:My problem with GM crops (414 comments)

So we have been breeding plants with fish and insects for thousands of years? Yeah...uhh no. If you would read up on the technique involved they are "shotgunning" DNA from different species of all different sorts into plants and then patenting any that show "good traits" the problem is by using the shotgun method you end up with a LOT of "free-rider" DNA that frankly we don't have a clue in hell what will do because it has never been and wasn't created in plants in the first place.

The issue with GM is not where the genes come from. The basic genetic machinery is very similar between species and even domains of life, the genetic material does not possess a certain "fishiness" or "insecteness". What GM is doing is very similar to what viruses have been doing since life began. The only difference is that GM is more targeted to our wishes.

The shotgunnung argument is fairly weak as that is even a greater problem with traditional breeding. Each hybridisation results in many different genetic changes and we choose the ones which show "good traits". In fact the point of GM is the targeted manipulation of genetic material which limits "free rider" DNA.

The reason to be wary of GM is it's power to transform a species attributes. Of course we have many technologies which are powerful and yet we manage quite well. The problem with GM is as OzPeter says, "If a pharma company releases a drug that is later proven to be a bad idea then you can do a recall and destroy all known stocks. With GM crops you can't do this as once it is in the wild it is in the wild.".

In the fullness of time a GM species will be created with the desired characteristics, yet its capability to change its ecosystem will not be fully appreciated. This will result in a costly mistake which will tarnish GM technology. Therefore to prevent this likely scenario we can either:-

  • Do as we do now, test GM organisms for safety. These measures will not prevent all problems, some may be serious.
  • No GM.
  • Have some sort of kill switch built in.
  • Make the species infertile.

None of these solutions are perfect though I would suggest that making a GM species infertile would be the most workable. Unfortunately this would put even more power in the hands of companies like Monsanto and destroy one of the great things about GM. GM’s potential could be greatest in developing countries to make drought and salt resistant crops. Or crops which have a greater nutritional value. If these cannot be propagated then their advantage to the developing world is severely hampered.
Finally whatever you do don't create GM food plants with powerful drugs in you do not want to eat!

more than 3 years ago
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The Rise of Small Nuclear Plants

MightyDrunken Re:This is good. (490 comments)

I'm not defending the GP's post but to describe nuclear power as cheap, at least historically, is not true.

The reason France's electricity is so cheap is because the government sets the price and has subsidised the cost. Recently EDF have been investigated for price fixing because of this.

The real reason why no nuclear power plants have been constructed for decades in many countries is mostly because gas and coal were cheaper. The fact that some considered it to be unsafe was a secondary issue. Now that gas prices are rising and there is growing concern about the environmental effects of coal, nuclear power starts looking competitive again.

about 4 years ago
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Given Truth, the Misinformed Believe Lies More

MightyDrunken Re:This sounds correct (961 comments)

I do agree that the root cause of WW2 was the situation caused by WW1. If the Treaty of Versailles was fair and left Germany territory alone then the situation in Germany would not have been as conducive to Hitler's rise to power.

The question you raise, "how come only Britain and France get to have an Empire?" is very interesting. I guess the difference between Britain's and France's empire building compared to Hitler's was that Britain and France conquered much weaker and culturally distant countries. Germany attacked it's peers who were more able to raise a defense. The differing "World" opinion between Germany's actions and the others is probably hypocritical but it was also obviously foreseeable and therefore unwise on Hilter's part.

about 4 years ago
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Given Truth, the Misinformed Believe Lies More

MightyDrunken Re:This sounds correct (961 comments)

But on the subject of truth and lies, Hitler never started World War II, either. Britain and France had decided that Germany had to be taken down long before the actual Polish invasion. In fact Chamberlain said, in May 1939 "the fate of Poland depends on the final outcome of the war, which will depend on our ability to defeat Germany rather than to aid Poland at the beginning.".

I would not come to the conclusion based on prior events. From 1933 Hitler abolished democracy, re-militarized, tore up the Treaty of Versailles and reintroduced conscription. By 1935 Russia, the UK and others were trying to build pacts with each other because they could see where this was going! In March 1938 Germany annexed Austria then just before your quote of Chamberlain, Germany invaded Czechoslovakia in March 1939.

In my view Hitler had started the road to WW2 probably by 1935 and the invasion of Czechoslovakia and Poland were the final straw. But because of Germany's head start France, UK, Russia and others were not willing to put their unprepared countries on the battlefield.

about 4 years ago
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IBM Supercomputer Cooled With Hot Water

MightyDrunken Drying your hair, grilling a burger (89 comments)

A flight of fancy of mine recently is the idea of using high powered CPUs as heaters. Imagine if every hair dryer and electric grill was part of a massive distributed computing effort. When my girlfriend is drying her hair should could be computing the folding of proteins!

Shame the least likely part is me having a girlfriend. :(

about 4 years ago

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