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Glut of Postdoc Researchers Stirs Quiet Crisis In Science

Steve525 Only very best survive, and they like it that way! (283 comments)

It's simple math really. As someone above pointed out, a university professor will graduate about 15 PhD's. Since the number of professor positions isn't quickly increasing, most of those PhD's aren't going to become university professors. So they either languish as post-docs or have to find a different job (either in or out of science).

This is good for the universities who can get the cream of the crop as professors. (And considering that getting a PhD in science is no trivial matter in the first place, this is really the cream of the cream of the crop). The bad part is that we've lead a huge number of people down a very challenging path without telling them that their odds of success would have been similar if they chased their dream of becoming a rock star, instead. (OK, maybe not quite, but you get the point).

On top of that, if they are one of the lucky/hardest working/brightest ones who manage to get a university position, they then face a 5-10 trial period before they get tenure, during which 80 hour weeks are the norm as they teach classes, train grad students, get grants, and publish or perish. After tenure, it doesn't get much easier if they want to keep doing research and feed their graduate students.

The easiest way to lower the number of science grad students is probably simply to be honest with them, and let them know this going in, instead of telling kids and young adults how important it is that people go into science. But, if we did that... 1 - the current system would fall apart because grad students (and post-docs) form an extremely valuable class of cheap and highly skilled labor for science research at universities. 2 - The quality of research in general would go down dramatically, as some of the best and brightest possible scientists (i.e., the few who make it, now) would choose other fields.

about 4 months ago

How Much Smaller Can Chips Go?

Steve525 Re:"Extreme Ultraviolet" (362 comments)

because "X-rays" is such an UGLY word....

There's actually some truth to this. Originally it was called soft x-ray projection lithography. The other type of x-ray lithography was a near contact shadow technique using shorter (near 1nm) x-rays. To distinguish the two techniques they changed the name from soft x-ray to EUV.

This was also done for marketing reasons. X-ray lithography had failed (after sinking a lot of $$ into it), while optical lithography had successful moved from visible to UV, to DUV. By calling it EUV it sounds like the next logical step, instead of being associated with the failure that was x-ray lithography.

(Actually, x-ray lithography didn't really truly fail. It does work, but optical surpassed it before it was ready, so it became pointless)

more than 4 years ago

Avoiding GM Foods? Monsanto Says You're Overly Fussy

Steve525 Re:GM (835 comments)

They may be able to buy politicians and hide their GM labels, but consumers are still a force to be reckoned with, and thanks to the internet - more informed than ever.

That's kind of like saying that consumers are underinformed because there are no autism warning labels on vaccines. Anti-vaccine people aren't demonstrating that they're more informed than the rest of us - they're just demonstrating that they don't know WTF they're talking about.

I don't think that's the same. If the label said that GM foods were bad for your health or the environment, then you'd have a point. If all the label says is that the food is GM then it's up to the consumer to decide what that means to him/her. I don't see anything wrong with this. If the consumer wants to vote with his/her wallet to avoid GM foods, then great - companies will respond to the desires of the people by producing less GM food. If people would rather buy GM food, well, then I can't really blame the companies for giving people what they want. (In the absence of evidence of harm to health and environment).

more than 4 years ago

Later School Start For Teenagers Brings Drop In Absenteeism

Steve525 Re:Puritan pferd merde stops it in US (436 comments)

I really think the current schedule has a number of reasons: Sharing the buses between high school, middle school, and elementary school. High school students want to get out early for sports or jobs. Teachers probably also appreciate being done with classes earlier. I don't think Puritan culture has anything to do with it, at this point.

more than 4 years ago

In Israel, Potential Organ Donors Could Jump the Queue

Steve525 Re:Loopholes (582 comments)

...Rich people of all religions seem to do it, but wealthy Jews seem to have a knack for it.

*(With very strong emphasis on "rich and arrogant". One of my closest friends from High School is a practicing Jew and I have no patience for antisemitism.)

Uhm, in your first sentence that I quoted you are, indeed, specifying that people who are Jewish are worse than other groups in this regard. One might consider judging a whole group like that to be prejudiced

I agree with the sentiment that you should get as you give, and that someone shouldn't expect donations if they aren't willing to give them. Dogma be damned. I don't think that Jews as a whole (or even just the wealthy ones) are any worse than other group in this regard.

As far as loopholes go, there is a cultural tradition for Jews to read, discuss, debate, and interpret the meaning of their laws. This can lead to some pretty bizarre practices, but how they follow their religion is up to them.

more than 4 years ago

Accidental Wii Suicide

Steve525 Re:What a Tragedy and No Charges? (1343 comments)

Those cases are always heartbreaking. It's a mistake anyone of us could make. You multiply the large number of kids in child seats times the small likelihood of someone making this mistake and you are going to get a finite number of deaths a year. Most of the time the parents aren't being neglectful, they're just being human.

To some extent one could say the same about this case involving the gun. However, I don't think anything involving a gun (especially in a house with kids around) should ever be as routine as driving a kid around.

more than 4 years ago

Spray-On Liquid Glass

Steve525 Re:All glass is liquid (293 comments)

I suspect that the liquid is not actually silicon dioxide, but is a silicone that cures to silicon dioxide. Such flowable oxides (such as hydrogen silsesquioxane or HSQ) are often used in the semiconductor industry for a convienent planarizing layer.

more than 4 years ago

Light Resonators Used To Move Nano-Sized Objects

Steve525 More info (63 comments)

This is the same basic result as a previous article:


The structure in the current article is a ring resonator in this article. In the previous article the structure was a grating based resonator.

I found an article with better information:


more than 5 years ago

New Optomechanical Crystal Allows Confinement of Light and Sound

Steve525 Re:Not a fundamentally new idea (91 comments)

This is different than acousto-optics. There is no outside force here; all the movement is generated by the light itself. The miniscule amount of force from the light is enough to excite a resonance in the mechanical structure. The structure is both resonant to light and to acoustics. The two resonances are coupled because as the structure moves, the optical resonance shifts a little bit.

It is really cool work, but I haven't figured out what it'll be useful for.

more than 5 years ago

Panasonic's New LED Bulbs Shine For 19 Years

Steve525 Re:But still... (710 comments)

I've had the whole house on CFLs for years now and they light *instantly*.

The standard fixture CFL's (A19 replacements) I've bought have all been pretty good. They start up fast (except in cold weather) with enough light output that I don't mind that it's not 100%. However, I've tried flood light replacements, and they all stink. I might as well light a candle for all the light they output when I turn them on. It takes a good couple minutes before they reach a reasonable light level, and another few minutes before they reach close to the advertised amount of light.

more than 5 years ago

In Defense of the Classic Controller

Steve525 Re:sigh (251 comments)

Use the right tool for the job.

I agree -
2-D Platformers and most classic games -> d-pad, joystick, or keyboard (my preference is joystick, but I'm an old-timer)
3-D Platformers -> modern console (except Wii)
First person shooter -> mouse and keyboard
Real time strategy -> mouse and keyboard
Flight simulator -> joystick and keyboard (unless you spring for a more involved setup)
Driving -> steering wheel and pedals.
Rhythm -> unique controllers - here the controller basically is the game, and the games are differentiated primarily by the controller.
Wii -> Motion controllers like these are still in their infancy. Wii Sports, etc., hints at what's to come.

I second another post that comments that modern console controllers (Wii, not withstanding) are jacks of all trades, masters of none. They work reasonable well for a huge gamete of game types, but I think 3-D platformer is the only game type that I think they are the best choice for.

I also think that for most games, simpler controls are better. Fewer buttons, less complicated maneuvers all allow the game to picked up quickly by a large number of people. Some people really enjoy mastering complicated controls, and that's fine. I just don't think that complicated controls make games fun for the majority of people.

more than 5 years ago

Being Slightly Overweight May Lead To Longer Life

Steve525 Re:Poor perspective. (383 comments)

"They" say being slightly overweight leads to a longer life than "normal" weight. Perhaps the reality is "they've" defined normal a little too low.

There's definitely some truth to that statement. In addition, there's a natural tendency for people to gain weight as they get older. In our youth obsessed culture thin=young=good, which may not actually be true.

I think the real reason having a little extra weight is beneficial is that it helps if you get seriously ill. If you are very sick, you might not be able to eat for weeks. Having that extra storage of energy is essential to fight off the illness and get better.

If you are seriously overweight, the added complications of carrying that weight outweigh (no pun intended) any benefit.

more than 5 years ago

If We Have Free Will, Then So Do Electrons

Steve525 Re:I choose... (610 comments)

Show some evidence even for an effect in the brain which can't possibly be accounted for by everything we currently understand about it, and people might be more willing to believe your ludicrous claims.

Simple. The fact that I (and you, too) am aware of our existence. We can argue about free will, but perhaps more important is the perception of free will, or indeed any will at all.

(Not that I necessarily agree with the grandparent's ludicrous claims, either).

more than 5 years ago

Google Challenging Proposition 8

Steve525 Re:Depends (1475 comments)

I generally agree with you. This is absolutely the fairest solution. However, I think those who oppose gay marriage will then say "Why do I need to give up anything?" I don't agree with them, but that's what you'll hear.

One of the strongest arguments for gay marriage is "who is it hurting?" By causing a change in traditional marriage people can then actually point to something. (People point to something now, but most of those arguments are, quite frankly, bogus).

about 6 years ago

Google Challenging Proposition 8

Steve525 Re:Gays have full rights. (1475 comments)

Jews of course have the right to pray. In a church.

Of course, that does not match their personal preference, but then again having your preferences catered to by the state isn't something you can count on when you are a distinct minority.

Of course, Jews are allowed to pray in a synagogue because we have separation of church and state. But, imagine if we had a state church, and they weren't? My statement would then be just as accurate, and just as wrong.

about 6 years ago

Google Challenging Proposition 8

Steve525 Re:Depends (1475 comments)

Ah, the old polygamy straw man argument.

Legally speaking, all of marriage laws (inheritance, sharing resources, etc.) assume a contract between two people. Can you imagine the legal mess we'd have if marriages were between 3 or me people? Imagine what custody battles, etc. would be like. The courts would be incredible bogged down trying to sort all the issues out. For same sex marriages, all the current laws and precedents are just fine, since the laws pertaining to marriage are already gender neutral. (Well, except for the laws about who can marry who).

Practically speaking, polygamy is unstable. People don't share wives/husbands well. It would be very rare for such unions to last. In the past, polygamy only worked because the women were, in effect, owned by the men. Today, there aren't many people who would choose to enter a union with multiple wives/husbands, as long as we enforce equality. Do you really want to loose 2/3 of your assets (and pay twice the alimony) if you get divorced?

No, I'm sorry, polygamy is a legal mess, and no one (except a few crazies) is asking for it anyway. That's completely different than same sex marriages where there are plenty asking for it, and there are no significant legal issues.

about 6 years ago

Israel, Palestine Wage Web War

Steve525 Re:If only... (951 comments)

I'm a little late to this party, but this was one of the better and more balanced posts I read. I do have some comments, and a question.

Through the 1920's, Jews and Palestinians lived relatively peaceful co-existence in Palestine under British Rule (where the Jewish Population was roughly 10%).
Is that 10% number for all of the Mandate of Palestine, (this would include Jordan), the biblical border of Israel, or within the green line border?

In any case, from the Palestinian point of view, it certainly seams that they were kicked off their land after an influx of Jews. However, what is always ignored in these discussions is that a similar number of Jews were kicked out of Arab countries (and into Israel) following the formation of Israel. A more regional point of view would say that the Jews and Arabs simply separated their populations. The Jews welcomed their brothers, while the Arabs told their brothers to rot until maybe one day the Arabs can take back the land that they were forced out of (and that all Middle Eastern Jews were forced onto). Remember, for nearly 20 years after Israel was formed, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank were under the control of Egypt and Jordan.

But, as you said, the Palestinians were kicked off their land in a war and naturally they want it back. They could care less about the Jews that may have been forced out of Arab countries. They are indeed victims in this. I, however, disagree that Israel is on the wrong side of this. I don't blame the Jews for wanting a safe place, and fighting for Israel. Particularly, after what history has done to them. As you said, the Jews wanted a safe place place to call their own, and that necessitating taking land from someone. Unfortunately for the Palestinians, they were that someone.

Yes, I get your analogy about fighting to take back Missouri if it was taken away. But you know what? The Palestinians aren't the first refuges to occur on this planet, and they won't be the last. Can't we just find a way to make their lives better and move on. If you were to fight for Missouri when you have no realistic chance to win, instead of looking for a better life, I'd think you were idiot.

The Palestinians can either continue to beat their chests, and try to make Israel miserable. (Which will just make themselves even more miserable). Or, they can try to put this behind them and try to create the best future they can for themselves. Yes, Israel doesn't make it easy for them, and they may feel they are entitled to more. However, like it or not, Israel is stronger than them. They'll likely only be able to prosper in the future with Israel's help. Call me crazy, but I think Israel is much more likely to be helpful if they stop calling for Israel's destruction.

about 6 years ago

The Gym Arcade

Steve525 GameBike (143 comments)

This isn't exactly a new idea. I bought a gamebike (http://www.cateyefitness.com/GameBike/) a year ago for this sort of thing. It's an exercise bike which plugs into a PS2. Unfortunately, I don't have a TV for it, yet. So, at the moment it's just serving as an ordinary exercise bike. My impression from the brief time I tried it, is that'll it'll be more fun that just riding an exercise bike, but it isn't a great controller. Part of the problem is that PS2 games aren't made with this bike in mind. Custom games written for it could make it much more fun.

more than 6 years ago

Appropriate Tech, 300mpg Car Top 2008 Innovators

Steve525 Re:Impressive car, but I'd like an extra wheel ple (155 comments)

A two seater really is a non-starter for most people with families. It's not just old-fashioned ideas. Nobody is going to want to split up their family every time they want to drive somewhere. Many people could possibly use an efficient two-seater for solo driving, and then have another car for hauling the family. However, most people would rather have one car that does it all instead of the expense (and the space needs) of two.

more than 6 years ago


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