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US Scientists Predict Long Battle Against Ebola

Tenebrousedge Always something new (119 comments)

ex africa semper aliquid novi

"Always from Africa comes something new." Pliny.

Que haya no navedad

"May no new thing arise." Traditional Spanish benediction.

3 days ago

Do Dark Matter and Dark Energy Cast Doubt On the Big Bang?

Tenebrousedge In this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics! (225 comments)

Dyson spheres would glow in the infrared and therefore be pretty obvious. This is because they still have to radiate the heat produced by the star they enclose - otherwise their internal temperature would perpetually increase.

Isn't that purely supposition?

No, it's pretty well tested. Just because you don't understand something does not mean that no one does. Compare to geometry: you might not know how to construct a given shape, but you can probably say something about its properties given a few conditions that it must satisfy.

For example, we know that relativity is an extremely accurate description of the geometry of spacetime. We have proved mathematically that energy must be conserved, in addition to observational evidence. That gives us the conditions that a Dyson Sphere must satisfy: it must exist in a universe with the same physics. However, even setting aside that requirement -- if your technology can break the laws of thermodynamics, why would you need a Dyson Sphere?

The next time you feel compelled to argue that your ignorance is as good as someone else's knowledge, may I suggest in lieu of posting here that you start a television or political career?

about a month ago

Chromebooks Are Outselling iPads In Schools

Tenebrousedge Chromebooks (225 comments)

Chromebooks work fine offline too. You do have to change a setting in Google Docs to enable offline use, and perhaps Gmail also suffers from this flaw, but it is trivially possible. It is not the default, which is frankly bizarre, but I bought mine to be a backup web development machine, so it's running debian in a chroot.

I'd love a $99 netbook. My current one is getting up in years, but it's great for tossing into a messenger bag; it fits the ultra-mobile lifestyle very well. $99 is cheap enough to be disposable; I am sure they would sell like hotcakes. I wasn't able to find any information about them on a cursory search, do you have a link that you could share?

about 2 months ago

Verizon's Accidental Mea Culpa

Tenebrousedge Individual Rights are Granted by Societies (390 comments)

Individuals, and individual rights, are like single atoms. They only exist in the abstract sense. The real world is entirely dominated by groups and collective actions.

You're a confused anarchist. The problem with non-coercive government is that all government is coercive. Government is primarily a set of restrictions on the use of force, or alternately the monopoly on that use of force. Getting rid of a government, or disarming it, merely allows anyone with a larger arsenal to set up their own government -- anarchy is an unstable system. We all have a right to violence, because it cannot be taken from us except in extreme situations. Remember, the Code of Hammurabi was instituted, " that the strong might not harm the weak." Coercive government is a necessary evil, and it will remain necessary so long as men are capable of harming their fellows, for that is its justification and primary purpose.

Rights are not inherent, except in some abstract sense. In the real world, your rights are what the men with guns say they are. You may feel fortunate that the world has had a long, bloody time to work out semi-cooperative frameworks to restrain our darker impulses. Individual rights are an important conceptual counterbalance to the overwhelming powers of the collective, but they are no justification for anarchy, economic or otherwise. The "free market" is an ideal, even a good one, but in most cases removing government interference makes markets less free, more subject to collusion and fraud. In some cases, where the service is required to be universal, or when the barriers to entry would be insurmountable, it makes sense for the government to assume these functions directly. Govenment can also be thought of as the natural monopoly of natural monopolies, in that sense.

Slavery is a word that has a specific meaning; your definition is specious. You just fundamentally don't like being told what to do. To some degree this idealism is admirable. For the true individualist, I can recommend (from long personal experience) the Alaskan wilderness; you can get land for free still up there, provided you build upon it. Whatever romantic images your mind conjures upon thinking of Alaska are all true; I can't stand the weather, personally, but it's as close to a pure state of nature as you will ever find. If you'd like to enjoy the benefits of society, however, you have to play by the rules. "Slavery" isn't an option -- it's mandatory.

about a month ago

Climate Change Skeptic Group Must Pay Damages To UVA, Michael Mann

Tenebrousedge Inconvenient (497 comments)

Your post paints an overly simplistic view.

No, it does not. It is not a view, it is fact. When the Earth's atmosphere has a higher partial pressure of CO2 it retains more heat. That is the essential point under consideration, and the exact value of the partial pressure is irrelevant and was not mentioned. We're not talking about the political issues, or the history of the planet, only cold hard measurable facts about [a] the relationship between irradiance and re-radiation, and [b] the absorption spectrum of CO2.

However, on the separate subject you have noted, while we are indeed two orders of magnitude away from the highest CO2 levels, and the highest rates of emission, the previous atmospheric changes happened over the course of millions of years and are usually associated with mass extinctions. We've already been doing pretty well on the mass extinction front; this may not be a good time to rock the boat.

If, as I have been told, conservatives are against change, can we maybe try to not pollute every square inch of the planet? I'm from rural Alaska, and it's getting a bit melty up there. It's not a place that I really enjoy living, but the glaciers were fairly pretty, and have you seen what permafrost does when it melts? Clearly this isn't a problem where you live, but please let's not pretend that it isn't an issue elsewhere. Pollution of any sort is ugly.

about 2 months ago

What Came First, Black Holes Or Galaxies?

Tenebrousedge Why do ACs think they're smarter than Einstein? (76 comments)

What brought out the cranks today?

Anyone who can claim that General Relativity is wrong has not understood it. It is incomplete, but it is not wrong, and certainly not to the point where black holes would be 'disallowed'. We're pretty good so far at determining what fundamental forces operate in the universe, and there simply is no property of matter which would prevent it from reaching the densities required for black hole formation. We have observed extremely massive dense objects far exceeding that threshold. Whether or not singularities exist in some sort of real way is another question. The internal structure of black holes is also fairly academic. That black holes exist is, as has been said, a direct consequence of General Relativity, which has been shown to be an extremely accurate description of the geometry of the universe, at all scales we have been able to observe, from the sub-atomic to the intergalactic. In order for black holes (or a phenomenon with identical properties) not to exist, you have to both explain the observation of these dense, massive objects, and simultaneously describe why objects cannot be that dense, or more precisely why spacetime cannot be curved such that it forms an event horizon.

ACs: if you do not have a working knowledge of relativity then please don't trouble yourselves to respond to this comment. Your theory has to have greater explanatory power if you want to replace relativity, and if you don't know what it says, well, you're not likely to have a useful opinion on the matter.

about 2 months ago

Swedish Farmers Have Doubts About Climatologists and Climate Change

Tenebrousedge Re: People living in the polar regions (567 comments)

Yes, images taken in the IR spectrum in Earth's atmosphere are fairly blurry. For the same subject, at the same resolution, the IR image will have far less detail. The atmosphere is opaque to IR, or "optically thick" if you prefer. There is a narrow band called the Infrared window which is less absorbed, it is marked in blue in this image.

Previously, yes, I had been claiming that you were ignorant. Now I'm claiming you're devoted to upholding a single mistaken datapoint against freshman-level physics. Claiming that outgoing radiation is not absorbed by the atmosphere certainly takes care of that pesky greenhouse effect. It's entirely contradicted by reality, but you two don't seem to be well acquainted anyway. Sarcasm aside, if you'd like to continue this, you have my email.

about 2 months ago

Swedish Farmers Have Doubts About Climatologists and Climate Change

Tenebrousedge Re: People living in the polar regions (567 comments)

I believe it's commonly accepted that we are still on the upward side of the current interglacial period. To say that IR is re-emitted often is not an exaggeration, the mean free path of an IR photon varies with the exact partial pressure but is generally in the low tens of meters as far as I know; I haven't bothered to calculate it myself. I found an anti-AGW site which claimed 65 meters for the atmosphere as a whole. The sky is blue because scattering is strongly dependent on wavelength, with blue light being scattered much more than red or IR. A cursory search didn't provide me with any high resolution IR images of Earth from space; I would appreciate if you could find me some.

At this level of explanation, any inconsistency is most likely due to one's own lack of understanding.

about 3 months ago

Swedish Farmers Have Doubts About Climatologists and Climate Change

Tenebrousedge Re: People living in the polar regions (567 comments)

I would be amazed if any sign there were older than 1897. However, yes, you are correct that that is when the warming trend started -- somewhat earlier than the rest of the globe. You're implying that this stands in opposition to AGW. Let's review:

The foundation of AGW is based on the physical properties of CO2, specifically its absorption spectrum. This is measurable both under laboratory conditions and via satellite. Theoretically you could measure it yourself. Sunlight shines on Earth, and Earth re-radiates this same energy at a lower wavelength. This is described by the Stefan-Boltzmann Law. You can trivially calculate that, based on the incident solar irradiation and Earth's albedo, the planet should be about -18 degrees C. The effect of the atmosphere is to slow radiation leaving the Earth (the atmosphere is mostly transparent to incoming solar radiation). Outgoing radiation is absorbed and re-emitted often before it reaches space.

The lower atmosphere is already pretty much opaque to outgoing radiation; increased CO2 does not block more radiation than would otherwise be blocked. There was a point where it was theorized that no warming could occur because of this. However, it was determined that the effect of an increased partial pressure of CO2 was to extend the CO2-rich region further into space. That this increases the heat energy on the planet's surface should be obvious. The direct effect of a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere is extremely easy to calculate, again using Stefan-Boltzmann, and it comes out to 3.7 W/m^2, which is usually considered to be equivalent to 1 degree C.

Unless you can find a new way to radiate energy to space, or unless everything we know about radiation is wrong, then the Earth must experience at least that degree of warming for a doubling of atmospheric CO2. Anything further than that is a matter for study and scientific debate, and of course the effects in different places. However, given that warming must be happening, the ability of scientists to say whether specific incidents are or are not related is more plausible.

I am glad you visited Alaska. I lived there for about 25 years, in the middle of the Chugach Mountains. There was some degree of glaciation on all of the surrounding peaks. Being in an isolated town meant that going anywhere else meant traveling across a great deal of the land. The glaciers have been melting my entire life, but the warming accelerated in the late 1990s; retreat measured in meters or tens of meters per year is very noticeable. This is very easily explained as an effect of AGW. Some other plausible explanation would be quite welcome; anything that would give me the hope of some day having the Alaska of my memory back. Unfortunately there is a great deal of science that speaks against the possibility.

about 3 months ago

Swedish Farmers Have Doubts About Climatologists and Climate Change

Tenebrousedge Re:People living in the polar regions (567 comments)

What a bizarre claim. Glaciers in Alaska are melting like they want to quit the party early. There are glacier overlooks constructed where you can no longer see the glacier in question. Fairbanks has had a 50% increase in frost-free days over a century, and overall the rate of warming in the Arctic is roughly double the rest of the world. Temperatures have risen about 4 degrees F overall, and winter temps are up 6 degrees. Arctic sea ice has been shrinking steadily. Snowfall is up a little due to increased evaporation but not enough to counter the glacial melting. Sea ice that has protected settlements for centuries or milennia has vanished and forced the relocation of several villages.

The glacial melting is dramatic. Some of the melting has been attributed to other factors than climate change, specifically that of the Columbia Glacier. The majority of glaciers in the world are in retreat, but the warming effects are most visible in the Arctic.

The landscape is visibly changing. By the time I am old it will be unrecognizable. Cassandra, you have my sympathies.

about 3 months ago

Trio of Big Black Holes Spotted In Galaxy Smashup

Tenebrousedge FTL == Fucked Time Line (74 comments)

The speed of light is a hard constraint, akin to the "clock rate" of the universe. It is the greatest possible change in spatial coordinates for a given unit of time. Thinking of it in terms of a speed or speed limit is less useful: it's a fundamental property of the universe. One consequence of this is that photons do not experience time in any meaningful sense between emission and absorption. Another more relevant consequence is that if any event (e.g. a spacecraft) does exceed the rate of event propagation (i.e. c) then you can construct a reference frame in which that event is observed to be propagating backwards in time. The speed of light and causality are fundamentally linked. If you want a universe in which FTL exists, you want a universe in which effects can precede their causes.

There is room for Einstein to be wrong. However, Relativity (and by extension causality) has been confirmed on every scale that we have been able to observe so far, from the sub-atomic to the intergalactic. Beyond that there is some gray area, but you'll note that we do not experience the universe at either extreme; whether or not Relativity applies to sub-sub-atomic particles, it certainly applies to us. It is an accurate description of the geometry of the universe at human time and distance scales, and at human energy levels, and at scales and energy levels far beyond what humans can harness. In order for what you want to be true, Einstein would have to be wrong -- not wrong in the sense that Newton was wrong, but wrong in the sense that the Flat Earth Society is wrong. And at that point we may as well give up science; if causality isn't true then empiricism takes a pretty hard knock.

You and Thanshin should quit spamming this thread with examples of human ignorance and rectify some of your own. Your argument is not very far removed from saying, "But we don't know everything about gravity! Maybe in the future things will fall up!". It's not entirely ludicrous to suggest that events can propagate through spacetime faster than events can propagate through spacetime, or that spacetime can be warped such that the shortest path between two points is less than the "true" distance, but it's at least 99% ludicrous, and championing the narrowest of possibilities while being ignorant of the (well-tested) established theory is not very rational. The geometry of spacetime is very strange and unintuitive, but if you're going to argue that it could be different then you should probably know how it works first.

about 3 months ago

Google Building a Domain Registration Service

Tenebrousedge And then shut down (69 comments)

I really hope no one ever considers buying Wix. Their sites are slow, entirely js-based, and generally ugly. But, I repeat myself.

Google is unlikely to make more than one foray into that business sector. However, you forget that while they have made a number of acquisitions over the years, they don't have the best track record for continuing to operate either those services or their own.

Oracle seems more the type to get into a market and gobble competitors. Microsoft is the type to "partner" with a company and gut them financially. Google is more interested in tech acquisition, and to that degree they probably prefer it if the company isn't making money -- it's cheaper that way. The purchase of Motorola Mobility is an argument one way or the other, but I'm not sure which.

about 3 months ago

NOAA: Earth Smashed A Record For Heat In May 2014, Effects To Worsen

Tenebrousedge Volcanism vs Human Emissions (547 comments)

Humanity is emitting about one Yellowstone Supervolcano per year, or two Pinatubos per day.

Even assuming that the CO2 is natural, the forcing would still be a problem. The idea that the natural CO2 cycle is little-studied is lunatic. Aside from laboratory experiments on CO2 absorption spectra measuring the "global scale CO2 cycle" is practically the entirety of climate science.

about 3 months ago

Supreme Court Upholds Most EPA Rules On Greenhouse Gases

Tenebrousedge Re:Headline is backwards (109 comments)

The term is character set. The site itself is served as UTF-8, but the posts are interpreted as iso-8859-1 (more or less equivalent to ASCII). UTF-8 uses a variable-length encoding to represent characters, and iso-8859-1 is single-byte. While it is uncommon these days, it's hardly non-standard.

“Fortunately — for those of us who have bothered to learn a little HTML — entities work just fine.”

I'm not suggesting you become a web developer, but maybe learning something instead of complaining would be time better spent. That said, I do have more or less the same complaint as the reason for my sig. That and, well, you know...

about 3 months ago

Satellite Swarm Spots North Pole Drift

Tenebrousedge There's more than one North Pole (80 comments)

There is more than one North Pole. For one, there is North Pole, Alaska (which isn't even above the Arctic Circle!). More seriously, we have the magnetic north pole, where the compasses point to, and then the point where the Earth's rotational axis meets the Earth's surface. It's not quite accurate to say that the rotational axis moves relative to the Earth's surface, although the planet does wobble on its axis. However, we usually express that in terms of which point on the celestial sphere the Earth appears to rotate around, which changes every few thousand years. The point of which that rotation (known as the precession of the equinoxes) appears to rotate around is the ecliptic north pole, which can also be expressed as the point directly perpendicular to the plane of Earth's rotation around the Sun.

Out of all of them, North Pole, AK, is the worst. The others are harder to visit though.

about 3 months ago

Endorphins Make Tanning Addictive

Tenebrousedge Vitamin D (51 comments)

The effectiveness of vitamin D as a cancer treatment is highly debatable, and anyone claiming otherwise (for or against) is mistaken or selling something. Not all UV radiation has the same effect on your skin. Tanning beds are tuned to make you tan; they are not particularly effective for vitamin D production.

You should avoid tanning. I am sure no one who has had skin cancer would recommend the experience. You're presenting a false dichotomy. Even if vitamin D were effective as a cancer remedy, it does not follow that tanning is a good way to get vitamin D. How much sun or dietary components you need to fulfill your body's needs for vitamin D is also difficult to estimate, and depend significantly on latitude, but there is little evidence to suggest that the amount of sun exposure required would produce or maintain changes of skin tone.

For what it's worth, I'm from Alaska and pretty used to taking vitamin D supplements throughout the winter. That and heavy drinking. I prefer living in the tropics and maintaining a natural tan. My mother was taken in by the vitamin D crowd when my father developed cancer, not to the point of rejecting traditional medicine, however. It is easy to find biased sources of information promoting many natural remedies; it is harder to find good studies. Like they say, "You know what they call alternative medicine that works? Medicine." If you're inclined to dispute any of the above please cite reputable studies. If, for any given remedy, one can't demonstrate a significant effect with a large group of people and a well-controlled study, it's a pretty useless remedy.

about 3 months ago

The Supreme Court Doesn't Understand Software

Tenebrousedge Re:You may have learned calculation, but not math. (263 comments)

Yes, you can prove it. That is the whole point. Every true statement in math is based on a set of chosen axioms. Numbers follow each other in sequence because we have defined them to. Addition and logic work because we have chosen axioms that allow them to be true statements. You can choose other axioms, in which case you will be able to construct different tautologies or theorems.

Mathematics has no correspondence to anything in the real world. You can use it to model the real world, using numbers to represent bottlecaps, and using arithmetical methods to describe moving piles of them around. However, to borrow a phrase, "mathematics is more than just a physics of bottlecaps." Numbers aren't even that important a lot of math. Mathematics must be the same everywhere by definition. The difference between Euclidean Geometry and Non-Euclidean geometry is an example of what happens when we change our definitions. See also Peano arithmetic vs more complicated systems. It's not like we're discovering new truths about the universe when we're proving theorems. To some degree it's all wanking, just playing around in a constructed system Poets, plumbers, and engineers may have varying views of the universe; to a mathematician reality is just a special case.

about 3 months ago

The Supreme Court Doesn't Understand Software

Tenebrousedge Re:Real Things Are Not Algorithms (263 comments)

The court does not define reality; if they have defined mathematical concepts to be real they are in error. I did not claim fire to be patentable, and did not address the subject of "it has been done before," nor do I consider that to be a good argument. Double entry bookkeeping, if it can be expressed as an algorithm, would not be patentable, but I do not believe that to be the case. You could make provably true statements about DEB, but I don't think you could reduce it to a logical tautology. The same would not be true of a data compression algorithm.

Any other questions?

about 3 months ago

The Supreme Court Doesn't Understand Software

Tenebrousedge Real Things Are Not Algorithms (263 comments)

Are you seriously asking what an abstract concept is?

It's something that doesn't exist in the real world. If the justices could not come up with a definition, they're disturbingly ignorant. Mathematics is entirely dependent on your choice of axioms. You can accept Euclid's fifth postulate, and discover a composite truth of Euclidean geometry, or reject it and describe some aspect of non-Euclidean geometry. Both are equally valid (though not at the same time) and both describe the real world to some degree. They are however solely logical concepts which do not exist in any real sense. Empirical facts, (e.g. "fire burns things") are true based on observations about the real world, and are only true to the limits of our observational abilities. Mathematical truths are true regardless of observations; they are true in all possible universes, whether those universes include observers.

To quote Phillip K. Dick, "reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." Math is not real. Asserting ownership rights over a non-real concept is a popular delusion, but one which should not be tolerated. The cynic in me would suggest that the reason for the Court's confusion in these matters is that they are making an analogy to the concept of justice, which is also both abstract and widely sold.

about 3 months ago



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