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Kepler-186f: Most 'Earth-Like' Alien World Discovered

barlevg Re:Better leave now (181 comments)

Einstein also thought Quantum Mechanics was a pile of shit. See: Clarke's First Law. Coined, almost certainly, with him (or Bohr) in mind.

yesterday
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Kepler-186f: Most 'Earth-Like' Alien World Discovered

barlevg Re:Clarke... (181 comments)

That's what I remember, too. Although that only applies to the "chronology" of 3001. Clarke has explicitly stated that 2001, 2010, 2061 and 3001 all exist in separate but similar universes (read: he was too lazy to worry about continuity issues across novels).

yesterday
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Kepler-186f: Most 'Earth-Like' Alien World Discovered

barlevg Re:Great, now all we need to do... (181 comments)

I worked out this whole interstellar travel problem years ago. Also solves the problem of the negative effects of zero gee in space.

All you need is to have your ship accelerate at a constant rate of one gee, do that for half the trip, then turn the ship around and decelerate at the same speed until you get to your final destination.

The acceleration solves all your artificial gravity woes, and relativity solves all your lifespan worries--by my calculations, a trip to anywhere in the universe using this method would only take about two years for the passenger.

Of course, you need a way to fuel a ship that's accelerating/decelerating at one gee for two years, but that's just an engineering problem.

yesterday
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Kepler-186f: Most 'Earth-Like' Alien World Discovered

barlevg Re:Better leave now (181 comments)

There was the second season Babylon 5 episode, "The Long Dark" in which a Sleeper ship carrying some early human colonists drifts into B5 space. Frankly, I think if your species develops FTL capabilities, the first order of business should really be to "warp" to all those generational/sleeper ships and pick 'em up.

yesterday
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Survey: 56 Percent of US Developers Expect To Become Millionaires

barlevg Re:Expensive habits (447 comments)

Thank you! My experience is in central Ohio, Austin and DC.

yesterday
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Survey: 56 Percent of US Developers Expect To Become Millionaires

barlevg Expensive habits (447 comments)

All the developers I know smoke 2+ packs a day and take weeks off to go to gaming/comic conventions. Maybe if they didn't do that, they could put away a bit more money.

2 days ago
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Mr. Schmidt Goes To Washington: A Look Inside Google's Lobbying Behemoth

barlevg Re:Google was never (114 comments)

Not Google. Google's Washington lobbying office.

4 days ago
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Ask Slashdot: Are You Apocalypse-Useful?

barlevg Just gotta stick with my wife (728 comments)

I'd be pretty useless post-apocalypse, outside of teaching professions (PhD in physics, working as a data scientist, very dependent on computers), but my wife, despite working in IT for a decade, currently works as a production weaver, is an expert knitter, can work a letterpress (and does her own type-setting), knows how to can and makes soap, candles and bread from scratch. Even assuming a Revolution-style apocalypse (no electricity whatsoever), she's got enough useful skills to float the both of us, easy.

5 days ago
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Michael Bloomberg: You Can't Teach a Coal Miner To Code

barlevg Re:Pretty much true (578 comments)

If they could, they wouldn't be working in a coal mine.

PDF Warning. Coal miners make upwards of $80k/year in most of the states listed. That's a lot more than most programmers I know. js.

about a week ago
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New French Law Prohibits After-Hours Work Emails

barlevg Boomerang (477 comments)

My boss has started using this, because he knows that if I see an email come in at 10pm, I will open it on my phone, read it, and then promptly forget about it before I get to work the next morning.

about a week ago
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Scientists/Actress Say They Were 'Tricked' Into Geocentric Universe Movie

barlevg Re:Something which I do not understand (639 comments)

The balloon analogy of course begs the question: what's inside the balloon? Is there actually a "center" of the universe, somehow outside our 3D* hypersurface? I've seen the related question posed a lot by cosmologists asking what's "outside" the universe (see: multiverse), but I'd think "inside" would be the more interesting question.

*I intentionally did not include time in the dimensional count, since it's not a "spatial" dimension, but I'm not sure about how the other seven string theory dimensions factor in. I very intentionally did not go into that branch of physics.

about a week ago
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Scientists/Actress Say They Were 'Tricked' Into Geocentric Universe Movie

barlevg Re:But it is! (639 comments)

The irony is, of course, that this principle derives from Galilean relativity. So the only way to scientifically justify his "Galileo was Wrong" assertion is if Galileo was Right.

about a week ago
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Scientists/Actress Say They Were 'Tricked' Into Geocentric Universe Movie

barlevg Re:Everything is at the center of the universe (639 comments)

The universe isn't infinite in size, but there's no "edge" of the universe. The most common analogy is that the universe is like the surface of an inflating balloon, just extend the 2D surface to three dimensions. So if you were able to go infinitely fast, and you started off in any direction, you'd eventually end up back where you started, the same way if you got on a plane (with a giant-ass fuel tank) and flew off in a straight line in any direction, you'd end up back where you started.

about a week ago
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Nanodot-Based Smartphone Battery Recharges In 30 Seconds

barlevg Re:Very bulky. (227 comments)

Bulky for a cell phone, but perhaps not so much for a laptop?

about two weeks ago
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Sand in the Brain: A Fundamental Theory To Model the Mind

barlevg Re:Sand in our Brain (105 comments)

The pendulum regarding self-organized criticality is beginning to swing back in the other direction: many researchers now believe it's being over-applied, and the "power law" distributions that people see for natural phenomenon that are "evidence" of S.O.C. have been shown to not actually obey power laws (it's really easy to make these kinds of mistakes when you make your graphs on log-log scales). Sorry if that was a bit dense, but the long and short of it is that not everything that is being touted as an example of self-organized criticality likely is. For instance, the Bak–Tang–Wiesenfeld sandpile (Bak being the one from TFA)? Turns out it's a HORRIBLE model for how real sandpiles behave.

A lot of the above really needs citations, but I'm too tired and lazy, sorry. To "back this up," let me just say that I have a Ph.D in physics, specializing in nonlinear dynamics, and the above comes from a graduate-level course I took from a professor who knows her shit.

about two weeks ago
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Should Patients Have the Option To Not Know Their DNA?

barlevg Full Body Scanners (157 comments)

I kind of doubt how useful genome sequencing will be for basic diagnostic medicine. I'm reminded of a scene in House where they're complaining about having to run a full body scan, because any time you scan anyone, you always find a dozen things "wrong" that require following up on, almost all of which are benign.

As a separate issue, considering the fact that the medical profession still can't decide whether fat is good for you or not, I have very low confidence in most assessment that X gene is linked to X condition.

about two weeks ago
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Social Media Becomes the New Front In Mexico's Drug War

barlevg Twitter as well (120 comments)

Just saw a talk about the Narcotweet project. The interesting part about Narcotweet is that it's documenting the emergence of a new kind of "journalism:" the "tweet curator" who aggregates local social media reporting. These people are routinely followed by bigger news media (CNN en Espanol) yet maintain extremely strong ties to the people witnessing these things first-hand. The power of this entire project is that it's a way of getting information from places where the conventional news sources have decided it's too risky / too expensive to send *actual* reporters.

about two weeks ago

Submissions

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Mr. Schmidt Goes to Washington: a Look Inside Google's Lobbying Behemoth

barlevg barlevg writes  |  4 days ago

barlevg (2111272) writes "In May 2012, in the midst of an FTC investigation into Google's search practices, the law school at George Mason University in Northern Virginia hosted a conference attended by congressmen, regulators and staffers. The topic: competition, search and social media. What none of the attendees of the conference knew was that Google was pulling many of the strings behind the event, even going so far as to suggest invited speakers.

This event, as documented in The Washington Post is just a snapshot of the operations of one of the largest and highest spending lobbying entities in DC, a far cry from the one-man shop it started out as nine years ago, from a company "disdainful" of Washington's "pay-to-play" culture."

Link to Original Source
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ZunZuneo: USAID funded "Cuban Twitter" to undermine Communist regime

barlevg barlevg writes  |  about two weeks ago

barlevg (2111272) writes "In a country where the government severely limits access to the world wide web, ZunZeneo, an anonymous SMS-based social network, drew more than 40,000 Cuban users at its peak, the Associated Press reports. On it, people shared news and opinions about music and culture. But what none of its subscribers knew was that the project was secretly funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), though a series of shell corporations and foreign bank accounts, and that its stated goal was “renegotiate the balance of power between the state and society” in the Communist stronghold, hopefully leading to a "Cuban Spring.""
Link to Original Source
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Polar Vortex Likely Decimated Stink Bug Population, Experiment Suggests

barlevg barlevg writes  |  about 2 months ago

barlevg (2111272) writes "Each fall, a team led by Virginia Tech Professor of Entomology Thomas Kuhar gathers brown marmorated stink bugs from around campus and plops them into ventilated and insulated five-gallon buckets designed to simulate the habitats in which the bugs naturally wait out the winter. While previous lab tests have shown the insects capable of surviving chills of -20 C, last month's polar vortex proved too much for the little guys, with only 5% surviving the sustained cold conditions. This suggests that the DC area's population of stink bugs and other overwintering insects should be much lower come spring than in previous years."
Link to Original Source
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Irony is Dead: Tea Party Posts Material from Bioshock Infinite to Facebook Page

barlevg barlevg writes  |  about 4 months ago

barlevg (2111272) writes "The National Liberty Foundation, a Tea Party group, posted to their Facebook page an image featuring George Washington keeping at bay a crowd containing a wide assortment of ethnic groups above a banner reading "It is our holy duty to guard against the foreign hordes." While such images are hardly uncharacteristic of the group's photo stream, this particular image was in fact promotional material from from Irrational Games' BioShock Infinite, set in a dystopian city controlled by warring factions that "strive to keep the city for pure Americans" and worship the founding fathers as deities."
Link to Original Source
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FDA Not Convinced Antibacterial Soaps Stop the Spread of Germs

barlevg barlevg writes  |  about 4 months ago

barlevg (2111272) writes "It's long been a concern that the widespread use of antibacterials soaps is contributing towards the evolution of drug-resistant "superbugs," but as the Washington Post reports, the Food and Drug Administration also does not believe that there is any evidence to support that the antibacterial agents in soaps are any more effective at killing germs than simply washing with soap and water. Under the terms of a proposal under consideration, the FDA will require that manufacturers making such claims will have to show proof. If they fail to do so, they will be required to change their marketing or even stop selling the products altogether.

The Washington Post cites concerns that triclosan interferes with hormone production, but it should be noted that is is based on animal studies, and that at least one human study has shown no effect on hormone levels in adults using toothpaste containing triclosan."

Link to Original Source
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NSA Broke Into Links Between Google, Yahoo Datacenters

barlevg barlevg writes  |  about 6 months ago

barlevg (2111272) writes "The Washington Post reports that, according to documents obtained from Edward Snowden, through their so-called "MUSCULAR" initiative, the National Security Agency has exploited a weakness in the transfers between data centers, which Google and others pay a premium to send over secure fiber optic cables. The leaked documents include a post-it note as part of an internal NSA Powerpoint presentation showing a diagram of Google network traffic, an arrow pointing to the Google front-end server with text reading, "SSL Added and Removed Here" with a smiley face. When shown the sketch by The Post and asked for comment, two engineers with close ties to Google responded with strings of profanity."
Link to Original Source
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White House Fires Employee Over Anonymous Twitter Feed

barlevg barlevg writes  |  about 6 months ago

barlevg (2111272) writes "@NatSecWonk, a Twitter feed posting (often scathing) commentary on the administration's foreign policy and on reporting of national security issues, went dark last week, and its owner, unmasked as Jofi Joseph, a member of the National Security Council and an expert in nonproliferation, was reportedly fired. None of the tweets contained any information of a classified or sensitive nature, so any further action against Joseph seems unlikely."
Link to Original Source
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Overcoming Racism in Cinema... From the Technical Side

barlevg barlevg writes  |  about 5 months ago

barlevg (2111272) writes "Since the birth of film, shooting subjects of darker complexion has been a technical challenge: light meters, film emulsions, tone and color models, and the dynamic range of the film itself were all calibrated for light skin, resulting in dark skin appearing ashy and washed-out. Historically, filmmakers have used workarounds involving "a variety of gels, scrims and filters." But now we live in the age of digital filmmaking, and as film critic Ann Hornaday describes in the Washington Post, and as is showcased in recent films such as "12 Years a Slave," "Mother of George" and "Black Nativity," a collection of innovators have set to work developing techniques in lighting, shooting and post-processing designed to counteract century-old technological biases as old as the medium itself."
Link to Original Source
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Full Screen Mario: Making the Case for Shorter Copyrights

barlevg barlevg writes  |  about 5 months ago

barlevg (2111272) writes "A college student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute spent nine months meticulously remaking Super Mario Bros. based on the latest web standards. His project is open source and the code freely available through Github. The site recently gained widespread media attention, which unfortunately brought it to the attention of Nintendo, which has requested that the site be taken down.

In a column on the Washington Post website, tech blogger Timothy Lee makes the case for how this is a prime example of copyrights hindering innovation and why copyright lengths should be shortened. Among his arguments: copyrights hinder innovation by game designers seeking to build upon such games, and shortening copyright would breathe new life into games who have long since passed into obsolescence."
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Nobel Winners Exemplify Israel's "Brain Drain" Problem

barlevg barlevg writes  |  about 6 months ago

barlevg (2111272) writes "Two of the three scientists sharing this year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry have Israeli citizenship, with Dr. Arieh Warshel having been born and educated in Israel, yet both are based at universities in the United States. These two scientists are perhaps the highest profile examples of a growing problem in the so-called "start-up nation," which is known for its high-tech tech companies and scientific innovation, and yet which loses more researchers to emigration than any other western nation. The problem? Large salary gaps between US and Israeli institutions. As Daniel Hershkowitz, president of Bar-Ilan University put it, "I don't see Israel being able to compete with what they offer in the United States.""
Link to Original Source
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Most Cave Paintings Were Painted By Women

barlevg barlevg writes  |  about 6 months ago

barlevg (2111272) writes "Analyzing hand-prints found in cave sites, an archaeologist from Penn State University has concluded that roughly 75% of all ancient cave art was painted by women. Previously it was thought that neolithic cave paintings were made mostly by men, perhaps to chronicle their kills. But an analysis of the relative lengths of fingers in hand stencils found on cave walls suggests that it was mostly prehistoric women--not men--who created these works."
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Chemical Analysis Separates Cat Poop Coffee from Fakes

barlevg barlevg writes  |  about 7 months ago

barlevg (2111272) writes "Kopi Luwak, or civet coffee, consists of coffee berries that have been partially digested by an Indonesian tree-dwelling cat called the palm civet. The digestive process, coupled with the wild civet's selectivity in eating from the choicest plants, is said to impart an exquisite, exotic flavor. However, its high price (the coffee can retail for as much as $600 per pound) has led to the market being flooded with fake and low-grade products, which may contribute to negative Western impressions of the brew. Now, a team of Japanese scientists have developed a test for separating the real beans from knock-offs by looking at tell-tale signs of the civet's predigestive process in the finished product (abstract here). Says researcher Sastia Prama Putri, "We want to be sure people around the world can try the real Kopi Luwak."

As an aside, animal cruelty is also a concern, as the high demand for Kopi Luwak has led to civets being captured and caged. As civets in captivity have no choice about what they eat, it is likely these caged animals produce an inferior product to their wild counterparts."
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New Brain-to-Brain Interface Allows Human to Control Another's Movements

barlevg barlevg writes  |  about 8 months ago

barlevg (2111272) writes "Earlier this year, researchers at Harvard devised a system by which a human could control a rat's tail using only the person's thoughts. Now a team at the University of Washington have demonstrated that the same principle can be applied to human-to-human control. The Washington Post reports: "First, they placed electronic probes against their heads. Then one man looked at a computer game on a screen and thought about what move he wanted to make. Sure enough, the other man, who was across campus with no view of the screen, almost instantaneously moved his right index finger to make that move. He said it had the sensation of a nervous tic.""
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Study Suggest Violent Video Games May Make Teens Less Violent

barlevg barlevg writes  |  about 8 months ago

barlevg (2111272) writes "A new paper is out in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence which shows no positive correlation between playing violent video games and acts of aggression. The study of 377 children with attention deficit and depressive symptoms in fact showed a slight negative correlation between video game-playing and aggressive behavior such as bullying, which the researchers posit is due to the games awarding some measure of catharsis. The full paper is available online (PDF)."
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NWS to Al Gore: There Is No "Category Six" Hurricane

barlevg barlevg writes  |  about 8 months ago

barlevg (2111272) writes "In a recent interview, former Vice President and environmental activist Al Gore made a bold claim, that man-made global warming was causing hurricanes to be formed of such severity that "they’re adding a 6" to the hurricane scale, going on to say that "The fingerprint of man-made global warming is all over these storms and extreme weather events." In response, the National Weather Service has responded that they have no plans to add a "doomsday Category 6" to their rating scale: "No, we’re not pursuing any such change. I’m also not sure who VP Gore means by 'they,'" also noting that "Category 5 has no ceiling: it includes hurricanes with top sustained winds of 157 mph and higher." Furthermore, a recently leaked United Nations climate assessment claims only “low confidence” of a link between human activity and increased hurricane severity and that this is likely due to increased human settlement in coastal areas and other regions vulnerable to natural disasters."
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Weather Control Conspiracy Theories are Scientifically Lucicrous

barlevg barlevg writes  |  about 8 months ago

barlevg (2111272) writes "The Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang breaks down two popular conspiracy theories: that HAARP is responsible for severe weather and that contrails from commercial airliners are actually "chemtrails" sprayed for nefarious purposes, and explains why each is preposterous to anyone with even an elementary knowledge of meteorology or an iota common sense. The author readily acknowledges that his analysis will do nothing to convince the tinfoil-hat-wearing, vinegar-spraying members of the populace."
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Google continues to translate "undocumented" as "illegal immigrant"

barlevg barlevg writes  |  about 8 months ago

barlevg (2111272) writes "While the New York Times, the Associated Press and others have chosen to discontinue the use of the term "illegal immigrant" in favor of "undocumented" Google Translate continues to translate the Spanish word "indocumentado" as "illegal immigrant." Google's response: "Since the translations are generated by machine, they’re not always perfect, but we're constantly working to improve the quality of our algorithms, and we appreciate this feedback.""
Link to Original Source

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