×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Comments

top

93 Harvard Faculty Members Call On the University To Divest From Fossil Fuels

PeterM from Berkeley Grade inflation at Harvard or other Ivy Leagues (214 comments)

Let me play Devil's Advocate on grade inflation at Harvard and other Ivy Leagues. Harvard is so selective that only the best of the best have a hope of getting in. So why would you handicap the best of the best with respect to community colleges and give them bad GPAs? They are *all* A-class students, right? So why not give them all A's?

Second: what's so inherently wrong with the idea of learning without pressure? Who might be more qualified than the best of the best to do that? I.e., those who can get into the Ivies? This also reduces the incentive to cheat, and might create a collaborative environment rather than a cut throat one.

Were I a Harvard professor, I might do this: everyone gets A's and B's at worst, but rank people within the class and never share that internal ranking out of the class. That way, students get REAL feedback, know where they stand relative to each other, and have some incentive, but if they screw up relatively to the other awesome people in there, they don't get branded with a B or a C (or worse). I'd also focus in delivering frank and very critical assessments to these students to help the best become better. But the externally seen grades? Yeah, I'd inflate 'em.

As to "lack of quality", when you have such a grade of material incoming, I doubt that most anyone else will notice a 'lack of quality' in the product. Being lucky enough to be born smart is just such an advantage it's really hard to screw that up.

--PeterM

5 days ago
top

The Billionaires Privatizing American Science

PeterM from Berkeley Don't be too sure of yourself. (279 comments)

What if the Billionaire WANTS a certain answer and lets the scientist know it, so that the "data" can be published for a huge return on investment for the billionaire? Tobacco industry did this.

Or maybe billionaire just has an answer he emotionally wants to hear and funds science to get that instead of sensible science? If Jenny McCarthy had billions what sort of research d'you think she might fund?

Or what if billionaire wants research on life extending treatments for him and him alone and screw publishing?

I don't see any compelling reason billionare science would be any better than publicly funded science. I'd rather everyone own the results, too, than a billionaire.

I mean, one thing a billionare is VERY good at is hoarding good things (money) for themselves AREN'T THEY.

--PeterM

about 1 month ago
top

Measles Outbreak In NYC

PeterM from Berkeley You want dead babies? I got one for you (747 comments)

My co-worker's child died of whooping cough. She was too young to be vaccinated, not even three months.

It's not really a tolerable prospect when it is REAL, is it?

Instead of having babies die, how about we make it PAINFUL to not be vaccinated?

No visits to doctors because you might spread disease, no health care coverage because you haven't done the MINIMUM to protect yourself?

Should society even allow anti-vaxxers to have parental rights at all?

--PM

about a month ago
top

Measles Outbreak In NYC

PeterM from Berkeley You're dead wrong. (747 comments)

Vaccines offer ~90% protection. So even if you're vaccinated, there's a ~10% chance you'll GET THE DISEASE if you're exposed.

When the vast majority of people are vaccinated, diseases don't spread, and the 10% of people who are vaccinated but for which the vaccine didn't work don't end up being exposed.

Vaccinated or not, someone unvaccinated is a personal threat to you and your children!

I get it that you can't ostracize your wife, but don't bring HER or YOUR KIDS anywhere near me or mine!

--PeterM

about a month ago
top

Measles Outbreak In NYC

PeterM from Berkeley Yes, some people can't get vaccines (747 comments)

Sir,

    Yes, some people cannot get shots. My co-worker's child died of whooping cough. (Yes, in the US, the third world of the first world!)
She was too young to get shots, not yet 3 months.

--PeterM

about a month ago
top

Top U.S. Scientific Misconduct Official Quits In Frustration With Bureaucracy

PeterM from Berkeley Re:Kind of echoes my experience as well... (172 comments)

Reforms are being put in place, though are being partially ignored.

For example, in our Gov't organization, we are on a 'contribution based' system. In theory, low performers get pay decreases and if not remedied, get fired. In theory, high performers get raises.

In practice, it seems that high performers get raises and the only pay decreases handed out are due to inflation: (I know of only one outright pay cut) outright cuts rarely happen and no one is ever fired. This is argueably a misadminstration of how our system is supposed to work. But at least underperformers don't get automatic raises.

As to how money is managed, in our organization you (yearly) estimate how much money you need, and you either get it or part of it and adjust your schedule/goals accordingly. If you end up with extra money, or aren't using the money you have, you give it back and management finds another use for it. Management doesn't seem to keep a FIRM memory of what happened before: if you under-spent last year you can STILL get your FULL budget request if you argue for it effectively and your objective aligns with organizational goals. No one gets budget automatically.

Budgeting's actually pretty enlightened, not the automatic stupidity you describe.

--PM

about a month ago
top

Environmentalists Propose $50 Billion Buyout of Coal Industry - To Shut It Down

PeterM from Berkeley How about insulation and whatnot? (712 comments)

Just curious, if you improved the insulation on your house, how much would that save you, potentially? Did you try that and how well did it work?

I think I invested a couple thousand on insulation for my roof and it cut my winter heating and summer cooling by 30% and the whole house just *feels* more comfortable. I think I made the investment back in two years--heating done with natural gas, cooling done with electricity.

--PeterM

about a month ago
top

The Mammoth Cometh: Revive & Restore Tackles De-Extinction

PeterM from Berkeley Bad genetic diversity, flaws in resurrected genome (168 comments)

I can't see this working out well. Probably only a small number of individuals could be resurrected, simply because of lack of good DNA samples, and I bet a lot of errors would be introduced in de-extinction given current tech.

Genetic diversity, therefore, in the de-extinct species would be incredibly poor and any second generation would likely be rather sickly and not resistant to diseases. Either that or a continuous and very difficult (impossible?) genetic engineering effort would have to be involved in restoring genetic diversity to the species.

Second, all of a species isn't exactly captured in just the DNA. DNA only gets expressed properly in the right cellular environment, it's a 'chicken and egg' problem. If you don't have a chicken egg, how do you raise a chicken with just the DNA and some other egg? Your other egg may not provide the right environment for correct genetic expression and you may end up with some sort of chimera of dubious viability and authenticity. Incompatible mitochondria are an obvious issue.

Third, given the first two, your de-extinct species is likely to simply go extinct again unless you correct the environmental issues that led to the first extinction. And given the rate at which we're screwing up the planet, is that really realistic?

I think it'd actually be better to devote resources to discovering and preserving as much as possible of DNA and related structures for future de-extinction attempts when technology is better and we've learned better planetary management.

--PeterM

about a month and a half ago
top

Water Filtration With a Tree Branch

PeterM from Berkeley It's " 99.9% of bacteria" not 99% (205 comments)

Bacteria filtration is awesome for the wood filters.
Also, one has to be very careful not to let the wood dry out, because drying out damages the ability of the wood to pull water through, and if dried wood DOES let water through, it isn't filtered.

--PM

about a month and a half ago
top

Leonard Nimoy: Smoking Is Illogical

PeterM from Berkeley It's not just when you die, it's life quality (401 comments)

The problem with smoking is it doesn't just shorten your life, it can make your life miserable.

Imagine how horrific it is to be SICK all the time, gasping for breath, always wondering if tomorrow will be your last and almost hoping so because living with a with pain, sickness and a struggle for breath is just so awful.

Smoking not only causes you to die, it causes you to die horribly in a lot of cases.

--PM

about 2 months ago
top

Environmental Report Raises Pressure On Obama To Approve Keystone Pipeline

PeterM from Berkeley The impact of trucking/training is worse (301 comments)

than a pipeline. Not only does it cost more energy to ship oil via trains and trucks, the risk of accident seems much higher per barrel moved.

And right now, it's being trained and trucked around.

--PM

about 2 months ago
top

Environmental Report Raises Pressure On Obama To Approve Keystone Pipeline

PeterM from Berkeley So what if it is exported, that's cash for us (301 comments)

Seems to me that you should sell domestically produced items wherever it makes the most profit, as a general rule. (Yes, there are exceptions.)

Just make sure that it isn't just a few fat cats, but Canada and the US's general populace, who wins out on the higher revenues.

--PM

about 2 months ago
top

Senator Makes NASA Complete $350 Million Testing Tower That It Will Never Use

PeterM from Berkeley *all* Government contracts can be terminated..... (342 comments)

At least any I've come across. Yes, the Gov't has to pay for work already performed, but it's a recognized fact that one Congress can't bind future ones to financial deals, and money to finish a particular contract may never arrive.

So by and large, as someone else pointed out, the Government has a clause in contracts allowing it to terminate the contract for convenience.

--PM

about 2 months ago
top

If I Had a Hammer

PeterM from Berkeley How come you're not being paid 2x as much? (732 comments)

Dear PhD AI worker,

    How come you're not being paid 2x what you are now? Yes, 2x. Productivity of the worker has gone up 2x in real terms since 1973. Yet your pay is less than that, even YOURS, Dr. AI worker.

    Suppose most jobs are automated, and the few remaining jobs have many highly qualified people who need that job. What happens to the price of labor? Market forces push wages down--people underbid you just to work. THAT is why your pay doesn't match your productivity. And the trend is accentuating.

Those high paid high level creative jobs you like to imagine? They ONLY exist if there is market for them, i.e., if the 1% (or whoever controls the resources) decides to allocate resources for them.

  And they're not, hence the depressed wages ACROSS THE BOARD. I've got a PhD too, doing creative non-automatable work, and I SURE WOULD like to be getting paid 2x as much. But I'm not, and it's flatly because the rest of the labor market is depressed.

    I'd sure love to keep doing creative non-automatable work, but I can only do that if it pays, which in turn depends on how many creative non-automatable jobs the 1% wants to devote resources for. And guess what: the 1% is apparently deciding that research and technology investment needs to drop because it is a "cost". Government investment is declining too. So capital (the 1%) thrives on productivity increases and everyone who must labor, is, frankly, slowly starving to death.

    At least in the USA.

--PM

   

about 3 months ago
top

If I Had a Hammer

PeterM from Berkeley All that stuff you think people will move into? (732 comments)

Those jobs will ONLY exist if people who control the resources want them done. Suppose 1% of the people control the resources. How many hairdressers do the 1% need? With 99% of the people competing for the jobs that the 1% still needs done, how much d'you think with that much labor offered, labor will be worth?

--PM

about 3 months ago
top

Ford Exec: 'We Know Everyone Who Breaks the Law' Thanks To Our GPS In Your Car

PeterM from Berkeley Don't count on keeping a car (599 comments)

I had the same plan, keep my car until it was dead. Problem was, the death of my car happened a lot sooner than I envisioned.

Someone on the freeway was inattentive and slammed into me during a traffic slowdown. Result? Car totalled (and very minor damage to me, which I guess is kudos for Toyota.)

I don't think my new "used" car has a GPS in it, but one might've got snuck in without me knowing.

Good luck keeping your car "forever".

--PeterM

about 3 months ago
top

The Internet's Network Efficiencies Are Destroying the Middle Class

PeterM from Berkeley Don't forget about robotic soldiers (674 comments)

Whose heads will roll? If the elite control all the most powerful means of destruction (robot planes, etc.) as well as the means of production, then the masses' heads will roll, not those of the elite.

Consider Detroit. What we see there is the disenfranchised class reverting to subsistence farming. Is that the wave of the future? The elite controlling all technology and everyone else growing their own food because they have no way of getting any money?

Is the future of technology (in the US anyway) the complete domination of the elite and everyone else living in 3rd world conditions?

--PM

about 3 months ago
top

Cheerios To Go GMO-Free

PeterM from Berkeley Re:Jumping genes between species? Very interesting (419 comments)

Yes, by pointing out that link I didn't mean to support one side or the other, I thought it was interesting in its own right.

I think GMOs probably ought to be the product of government nonprofit research which becomes public domain, that would remove some of the more significant objections and reduce the pressure to market something that is actually risky.

--PeterM

about 3 months ago
top

Cheerios To Go GMO-Free

PeterM from Berkeley Jumping genes between species? Very interesting (419 comments)

Hello,

    Please moderate up the parent post. The link is to a story which discusses how genes have moved between species via vectors such as ticks and viruses.

--PM

about 3 months ago
top

Scientific Data Disappears At Alarming Rate, 80% Lost In Two Decades

PeterM from Berkeley I beg to differ.... We archive "forever" (189 comments)

Hello,

    Our mindset at my research institution is very different. We generate a certain amount of data per year (several terabytes), but the cost of storage decreases so fast we just copy old data onto new media and never delete ANYTHING.

      In fact, we consider the cost of actually figuring out what data to delete to be higher than simply buying more storage.

    I would not call it "well-indexed" however.

    Our backup strategy is tailored to the nature of our data. Most of our data is simulation results. We back up "lightweight" data and analyzed results, input files, and log files. "Heavyweight" data we do not back up, since we consider the cost of reproducing this data (given the input files and the log files) modified by the low probability of actually ever needing it to be lower than the cost of backing it up. This results in our backup requirement to be maybe 5% of our "live" data archive.

    If it gets to the point where we can't afford the storage anymore, we'll delete the "heavyweight" data ourselves to reduce the data footprint.

--PeterM

about 4 months ago

Submissions

top

Magnetic monopoles observed as emergent property

PeterM from Berkeley PeterM from Berkeley writes  |  more than 4 years ago

PeterM from Berkeley writes " This brief from Science Daily reports the claimed detection of magnetic monopoles an emergent property in a crystalline lattice of Dysprosium Titanate at temperatures between .6K and 2K. According to the article, these magnetic monopoles interact similarly to electrically charged particles. These are not isolated magnetic monopoles in the same sense that electrons are isolated, mobile charges: instead these monopoles appear at the end of tubes of magnetic flux called "Dirac strings". These were theorized in 1931 by Dirac, but have only just now been observed."
top

First ever application of string theory

PeterM from Berkeley PeterM from Berkeley writes  |  more than 4 years ago

PeterM from Berkeley writes "Scientists are claiming to have made the first practical application of string theory to the problem of high temperature superconductivity, a physical phenomenon no one has previously been able to explain. This brief from Science Daily presents an overview of an article published in Science. String theory has come under fire for producing no testable predictions. This would represent a first application of string theory to a practical problem and one where other theories have provided no explanation."

Journals

Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...