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Science By Democracy Doesn't Work

Rollgunner Feynman summed it up (497 comments)

In his closing comment in his report on the Shuttle Challenger Accident Investigation report:

"For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled."

about two weeks ago

Pope Francis: There Are Limits To Freedom of Expression

Rollgunner Verbal Assault != Free Speech (894 comments)

I'll be the first to agree that Freedom of Speech is a vital element to a free society, but OTOH, speaking one's opinion and engaging in Verbal Assault should be two different things from a legal standpoint.

There are plenty of ways in which speech causes harm, be it verbal abuse, libel or inciting a riot. All of these are legally actionable.

There is (or should be) a difference between rational speech and being intentionally inflammatory.

Intentionally provoking someone is almost always a bad idea, because sooner or later, you *will* get punched in the mouth either literally or metaphorically

about two weeks ago

MIT's Cheetah Robot Runs Untethered

Rollgunner Of course you use force control to run fast. (90 comments)

Starting fast, stopping fast, and turning fast are all facets of the same problem.

Reminds me of the old joke: I'm an excellent driver. I only have three problems : Starting, Stopping and Turning.

about 4 months ago

Dungeons & Dragons' Influence and Legacy

Rollgunner Before Breakfast Club (127 comments)

I don't think I was unique in spending my early teen years (in the late '70s) convinced that nobody had problems like mine or could possibly understand my problems, and that everybody else fit in and I was the only loner in the whole school. I'm pretty sure the only ways you get over things like that is to talk about them or to realize that they're just not true, and both of those require social interaction. For me that came at a gaming table. Suddenly I understood that there were a lot of people just like me with problems like mine (or different, but we all had something) and that there *was* a group for me, too. One day before gaming, sitting at that table while we were chatting about the teenage horror du jour, I had an epiphany: Probably everybody in school felt just the same as I did at that age, regardless of who they were. The same conversation we were having in the local library's basement was also taking place in frilly pink bedrooms, garages, football locker rooms, the art labs and the data processing room. None of us were really different at all, which meant that none of us were really alone. That thought is what helped me get through being a teenager without ending up in juvie or worse.

about 6 months ago

Hair-Raising Technique Detects Drugs, Explosives On Human Body

Rollgunner Breaking Headline : (162 comments)

Air traveler shocked to find out he was carrying illegal drugs !

about 7 months ago

Under the Chassis: A Look At Tesla's Battery Shield

Rollgunner I doubt it. (152 comments)

I don't think any number of technical improvements can fix a problem that only exists in people's heads.

Hysteria, superstition, preconception and failure to understand statistics are the *real* problems that Tesla faces in marketing their product.

about 10 months ago

Should Microsoft Be Required To Extend Support For Windows XP?

Rollgunner Re:No (650 comments)

It might be a sound argument if 27% of the world's cellphones were Nokia 6100s (the estimated percentage of the world's computers still running XP).

about 10 months ago

Should Patients Have the Option To Not Know Their DNA?

Rollgunner Knowledge is Power (157 comments)

If you know that you may be more likely to get cancer, then you can get tested more often and aggressively, increasing the chances that your cancer will be treatable.

I suppose on the other hand, if you worry so much thinking that you might get cancer you could die of a stress-induced heart attack or something.

Generally speaking though, forewarned is forearmed, and if the susceptible are more aggressively screened and treated, then it could well take away a lot of the "cancer is a death sentence" mentality that many people have.

I suppose it'll come down to personal decisions, but I sure wouldn't want to die of a condition that I was genetically predisposed toward, that was treatable and that I never got tested for because I was afraid the answer might be "yes".

about 10 months ago

Book Review: Money: The Unauthorized Biography

Rollgunner Courtesy of the Android Sisters (91 comments)

Sisters : I will use two pieces of paper as an example. Can you see this?
Human : I see one piece of paper, the other's money.
Sisters : Two pieces of paper.
Human : What ?
Sisters : Here are two pieces of paper. Both the same size. Both just paper... Humans are obsessed with money.
Human : Not all humans; Just some of us... Most of us.
Sisters : One piece of paper is worth 500 solar credits, the other is worthless; Not even worth a solar centavo. Do you know why?
Human : Sure! One's a piece of money, the other's a piece of paper!
Sisters : They are both paper !
Human : Yeah... Right.
Sisters : One has been *blessed* by the treasury wizards, the other has not.
Human : That's it?
Sisters : That's it.

In the words of Jerry Dandridge " You have to *believe* for that to work"...

about 10 months ago

Why Darmok Is a Good Star Trek: TNG Episode

Rollgunner Not words... Context. (512 comments)

It was not a matter of collections of sounds, but rather the societal context of those sounds.

"Where's the Beef?" when put into a literal translator will never come up with "this is insufficient", and that is precisely how the aliens communicated. No search of the words "Where" "Is" "The" and "Beef" will ever give you the meaning of the colloquialism. All the translator will do is make you think the person has lost a farm animal.

[back on the planet]

"I made a shelter for us. I think it will protect us from the storms tonight."

[exasperatedly waving arms and pointing at the flimsy shelter] "My cow is missing !"

about 10 months ago

Is Analog the Fix For Cyber Terrorism?

Rollgunner The simple fact is this : (245 comments)

My sister-in law was excitedly showing off her new car to me, and I said that I didn't care for the idea of a remote-start function for cars. "But it's security coded." she said. My response was this:

If a device can be controlled with an electronic signal, that means that the device can be controlled with an electronic signal.

Sometimes that signal will come from where you want it to, but there can be no guarantee that it will not come from somewhere else.

about 10 months ago

How would you use science to innovate upon sports?

Rollgunner Taserball ! (253 comments)

Rig the (American) footballs with tasers inside them such that the longer the game goes, the more frequently they deliver debilitating shocks.

This will not only make for unlimited "funniest video" footage, but will also turn the beginnings of every game into a massively brutal offense-fest as no team will want to have the ball late in the game.

1 year,17 days

Drone-Mounted Laser Weapons Are On the Way

Rollgunner Not Exactly (116 comments)

Seeing as they specifically mention Electro-Optical and Infra-Red guided missiles, It seems that the objective is not to 'blow up' a missile as the linked article suggests, but rather to use a laser to blind the missile's tracking systems, causing it to lose tracking and veer off target or "generate a miss" as they say.

Getting a laser to destroy a missile requires about 100 kW of energy and a few tons of hardware to focus it.

Getting a laser to blind optical sensors requires a $10 Radio Shack gift card.

about a year ago

Neil Gaiman On Why Libraries Are the Gates to the Future

Rollgunner Obligatory Carl Sagan Quote (149 comments)

"Frederick Douglass taught that literacy is the path from slavery to freedom.

There are many kinds of slavery and many kinds of freedom, but reading is still the path."

-Carl Sagan

about a year ago

I'd prefer my money be made of ...

Rollgunner GOLD - Asimov (532 comments)

Gold! Willard was hesitating. Money, when it was a matter of electronic exchange, meant nothing.
There was no feeling of either wealth or poverty above a certain level.
The world was a matter of plastic cards and of slots and all the world transferred, transferred, transferred.
Gold was different. It had a feel. Each piece had a weight. Piled together, it had a gleaming beauty.
It was wealth one could appreciate and experience.

He didn't need the money. He was not so sure he didn't need the gold.

- Isaac Asimov (Gold)

about a year ago

Canadian Scientists Protest Political Sandbagging of Evidence-Based Policy

Rollgunner Obligatory Carl Sagan quote: (216 comments)

"The suppression of uncomfortable ideas may be common in religion or in politics, but it is not the path to knowledge, and there's no place for it in the endeavor of science." - Carl Sagan

about a year ago

Neil deGrasse Tyson Says Private Business Will Not Open the Space Frontier

Rollgunner Re:Private space tech can work if we get behind it (580 comments)

And potentially very profitable. Huge chunks of valuable metals floating around waiting to be mined. .

I seem to recall reading that If there were a mass of gold ingots in low Earth orbit, it would not be economically feasible to send the Space Shuttle up to bring them back to Earth. You'd spend more on training, parts, maintenance and fuel than a cargo hold full of pure bullion could offset. If you had a factory in orbit to use the gold to some purpose, that might be different, but that's putting the cart before the horse.

about a year and a half ago

NASA Appointed Team Set Out Priorities For a Europa Surface Mission

Rollgunner Another important consideration (83 comments)

If it is indeed a 'garden spot' for life, we should be extra careful to not send any wayward seeds with our robotic emissaries.

"Oh, hello deep-dwelling sentient beings. Yeah, sorry about those microbes that got stuck to our probe and seem to be causing your extinction."

O The Embarrassment.

about a year and a half ago

Liberal Saudi Web Forum Founder Sentenced To 600 Lashes and 7 Years In Prison

Rollgunner An Important Distinction (506 comments)

Islam has never killed anyone. Islam has never detonated a suicide bomb. Islam has never called for the downfall of Western Culture. Also, Christianity has never declared a Crusade, rallied against equal rights for homosexuals or called for the killings of doctors who perform abortions.

All these things have been done by *humans* who have decided to hijack an entire religion and twist it in order to accomplish their secular goals.

about a year and a half ago

Ask Slashdot: How Can a Blind Singer 'See' the Choirmaster's Baton?

Rollgunner Solving half the problem (189 comments)

Instead of having a specially-made or retrofitted baton, how about having the area in front of the podium encased in a magnetic field like that of a theremin, such that the baton would provide data on horizontal position by pitch and vertical position by volume. That would give you all the data you need to feed to whatever peripheral signals the musician (come to think of it, an earbud with the output would help for the beginning of the piece, but it might be too distracting for things like tempo changes.

about 2 years ago



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