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Elite Group of Researchers Rule Scientific Publishing

dlenmn How is this news? (123 comments)

I'm surprised the "dominating group" is that large. There aren't a ton of _senior_ scientist out there (i.e. professors or researchers with the funding for graduate students and postdocs), and those are the people whose names appear most frequently. A senior scientist will probably have been doing research for years, have lots of projects going on at once, have many students and postdocs, have a number of collaborators, and the senior scientist's name will go on every paper produced by that group (even if it's as a middle author -- which means next to nothing). New guys will often want to collaborate with the big names, which means the big names get on even more papers. If you're working on your own (i.e. you don't have the funding to hire others), then you won't publish as frequently.

What did you expect? Why is this an issue?

Sincerely,

A graduate student who has been working on a project for two years (and who should be working on a paper)

about 2 months ago
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Radar Changing the Face of Cycling

dlenmn Do flashing turn signals annoy you too? (235 comments)

In all these years, nobody has rear-ended me in the dark. Even if the back lights of my car doesn't blink.

That's not a fair comparison; a car has large taillights, but most bike tail lights are low-power LEDs.

Are you mad when car turn signals blink? Even brake lights turn on and off in an attempted to get people's attention.

Maybe blinking bike lights don't help. Maybe they don't. You raise an interesting question, but your thoughts and anecdotal evidence don't contribute much. There are some actual studies out there, and they seem to indicate that blinking lights are more effective. (This has a number of references.)

Just a thought (unsubstantiated): a blinking light may help differentiate a bike from other vehicles, and that may be useful. if there's just one bike and one car on a street, then that isn't an issue. If a cyclists is on a road with many cars -- all with steady red lights -- then it may be hard to recognize that there's a cyclist in the mix. A blinking light could make it easier to tell that there's a non-car on the road.

about 2 months ago
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Radar Changing the Face of Cycling

dlenmn How exactly would a license help? (235 comments)

Do you really think these idiot cyclists don't know what a red light means? They know; they just don't care. A license would not fix that. (Altho it may make the idiots easier to fine.)

It's not like drivers really know the laws relating to cyclists either, and there are some unexpected laws (example). That said, I'm fine with cyclists having to get a license -- as long as drivers have to pass a rigorous test of laws related to bikes...

about 2 months ago
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Evidence of a Correction To the Speed of Light

dlenmn the force is weak with this one (347 comments)

and oh by the way photons can momentarily turn into other shit on their journeys yet somehow neutrinos can't.

I don't study particle physics, but from what I understand, for photons or neutrinos to "turn into other shit", they need to interact with something -- such as the particles they create, atomic nuclei, etc. Photons interact through electromagnetic forces -- which is the strongest force out there. In contrast, neutrinos interact via the weak force. As you might guess, that force is very weak. That's why neutrinos are so hard to detect.

Since photons interact with "other shit" via a much stronger force than neutrinos, photons are much, much, much more likely to "turn into other shit" than neutrinos are.

So, sorry internet troll, this isn't "cherry picking"; it's science. Deal with it.

about 3 months ago
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Washington Redskins Stripped of Trademarks

dlenmn It's the Native Americans' call (646 comments)

WRT the Black Hawks, I'd say that up to the Sauk, since Black Hawk was their leader at one point.

They wouldn't necessarily object. For example, the Seminoles officially sanction Florida State University's use of their name. Having a sport's team named after you needn't be insulting; since sports teams emphasize hard work and skill, some take the naming as an honor.

However most Native Americans object to "Redskin" -- which I can certainly see as being interpreted as an insult.

SV: Who get's to decide? Native Americans, that's who (not you).

about 3 months ago
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Are the Glory Days of Analog Engineering Over?

dlenmn Hybrid systems (236 comments)

The TV example is a mix of proving his point and a meaningless comparison.

Digital generally has two states: working and not working, and GP is saying that it's often easy for an all digital system to be in the former camp. (Think of an LCD computer display that gets digital inputs; there's almost no noise there.). However, "Digital" TV is really a digital/analog hybrid: you have analog antennas, amplifiers, and filters. Those analog parts are flexible; the digital part is much less so. The analog part can take some noise (snow on an analog TV), but when that noise is passed on to the digital part, things can fall apart. I.e. digital signals are much more sensitive to GIGO (garbage in, garbage out), but that's much less of a problem on an all digital system.

In short, the complicated part is the analog part; if that can give the digital part a good signal, then there are no problems. In other words, it's exactly what the GP said.

about 3 months ago
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Are the Glory Days of Analog Engineering Over?

dlenmn Average values (236 comments)

Yes, but even for quantum processes, you often perform multiple measurements so that you get an _average_ value, and that value need not be quantized. (In other words, states are discrete, but wave functions needn't be.)

So a quantum world is not at odds with an analog world.

about 3 months ago
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US To Charge Chinese Military Employees With Hacking

dlenmn Shocked! Shocked! (225 comments)

I am shocked! Shocked! to learn that the Chinese are hacking us! We would never do such a thing!

about 4 months ago
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SpaceX Files Suit Against US Air Force

dlenmn No (176 comments)

In what way is one company getting the work like a job being split up among many companies? According to the ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers), over 20,000 different companies and universities worked on the Apollo program.

In short, the answer to your question is no.

https://www.asme.org/engineeri...

about 5 months ago
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Skilled Manual Labor Critical To US STEM Dominance

dlenmn Yes to metal shop (367 comments)

Interestingly, I had metal shop in middle school, but not high school. (The middle school building used to be the high school, and the new high school didn't get a metal shop, although it did have other shops.) Whoever decided to let middle schoolers weld was crazy, but in a good way. It should definitely be available in high school.

I'm a physics grad student now, and I've used the student shop here to make custom parts -- in part because the real machinists in the instrument shop have a several month backlog. I guess that's inline with the article's claim. I've got a ton of respect for the machinists here: it requires lots of skill and problem solving abilities; it's not easy to make the crazy stuff we want. In short, their jobs aren't in danger of automation, and apparently there's demand for them. The same cannot be said for communications and journalism majors...

about 5 months ago
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VA Supreme Court: Michael Mann Needn't Turn Over All His Email

dlenmn Is this all "Public Work"? (348 comments)

Hold the phone. You're assuming all of this is public work. There are 12k somethings that haven't been released. What are they? Papers? Emails? Datasets? TFA doesn't say, and you don't know what they are either.

If they're his emails, then they are not public work and should not be released. Full Stop.

If they're papers, then a case can be made that they should be released. That said, all researches have work that isn't for public consumption. I'm a researcher at a public university. Do I have to publish my notebooks? How about every little piece of test code I write? What about works in progress? Some of the "papers" mentioned probably fall into these categories.

Without more information on what hasn't been released, we can't yet draw conclusions .

about 5 months ago
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1GB of Google Drive Storage Now Costs Only $0.02 Per Month

dlenmn Linux client (335 comments)

Now, if only they would make a Linux client. Then, I might use it. Until then, Dropbox all the way!

about 6 months ago
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Mathematicians Are Chronically Lost and Confused

dlenmn Comfort with not knowing (114 comments)

I'm a physics graduate student, and while I'm not quite in the same boat as the mathematicians, I'm familiar with the problem. You spend a lot of time trying and failing to figure out what's going on. You have to be comfortable with not knowing things you want to know. I think that's a really useful ability because you don't demand easily digestible answers for everything. Such answers rarely exist, although many people seek them from short articles and soundbites.

It think it also has larger philosophical implications.. Forgive me for bringing up religion, but most (albeit not an overwhelming majority of) physicists do not believe in any higher power. If you're comfortable with not knowing things, then the answers provided by belief in a higher power doesn't provide additional comfort. You have no need for that hypothesis. (I'm not saying that people like religion simply because it provides easily digestible answers -- although religious groups *cough* young earth creationists *cough* certainly go for that. Many religious Jews spend their lives studying and debating the meaning of the bible; it's anything but easily digestible.)

about 6 months ago
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Adjusting GPAs: A Statistician's Effort To Tackle Grade Inflation

dlenmn Many profs only care about... (264 comments)

research. This teaching stuff just gets in their way, so why not just give them an A?

Not all profs do that, of course. I've been a teaching assistant for good and bad profs. However, many bad profs really do operate that way. I think the real solution is to give profs the option not to teach and to hire reasonably-compensated adjuncts instead. They could be professional teachers, whereas professors are professional researchers and, normally, amatuer teachers.

Of course, that would cost money, so don't hold your breath; universities are too busty blowing their money on other things, like revenue-negative sports teams and facilities. (Only a few universities make money from their sports teams, but almost all universities want to make money that way and think that -- if they spend enough -- they will. Don't hold your breath for that either; at most 50% of teams have a winning record...)

about 7 months ago
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Marc Andreessen On Why Bitcoin Matters (And A Critique)

dlenmn Another problem: unpredictable deflation (332 comments)

Even if no bitcoins are lost, there are still problems. Whenever you have a fixed quantity of something, there's a real danger of deflation; if more and more people start using bitcoin, the demand for bitcoins will go up and up, the price of bitcoins will go up and up, and this provides a strong incentive for current bitcoin holders to simply hoard their bitcoins rather than use them -- further reducing supply and jacking up the price. This is all econ 101 stuff.

Deflation isn't a problem per se, as long as the rate of deflation is (roughly) constant. However, there is no guarantee of a constant rate of deflation with bitcoins; I doubt it would happen.

Deflation may sound like a good thing (yay, my money is getting more valuable!), but try holding a debt with non-constant deflation; the value of that debt will unpredictably go up and up... Uncontrolled deflation has problems just like uncontrolled inflation.

Say what you will about the Federal Reserve, but at least in principle, it's nice having someone trying to keep inflation/deflation in check (or at least at a constant rate).

about 8 months ago
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"Clinical Trials" For Programming Languages?

dlenmn More than just intent (232 comments)

Yes, some languages do things better than others, but there's more to languages than that. A good question is how well the language meets its goals.

http://xkcd.com/1306/

Some languages are simply more clean, have a more consistent syntax, etc. then others. For example, both Fortran 77 and 90 are aimed at numerical computation, but 77 has a weird syntax made for punch cards and other oddities; 90 is just better. (Flame on!)

about 8 months ago
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Polar Vortex Sends Life-Threatening Freeze To US

dlenmn Big deal (684 comments)

Yawn, It all feels the same to me below 0F.

-Madison, WI (-18F during commute)

about 8 months ago
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NSA Trying To Build Quantum Computer

dlenmn Don't hold your breath (221 comments)

It's anything but a buzzword; it's a big research area with many academics working on it from all angles. However, you're right that it's nowhere near ready. As of a couple years ago, people had managed to factor 15 using a quantum computer; there are probably better records now, but it's tricky business.

The issue is that it's hard to make things both act quantum (being in controlled superpositions of more than one state) and be connected to other things. For example, atoms floating in a vacuum can act quantum for a long time, but they're hard to couple together. On the other end of the spectrum, superconducting qubits (made like microchips) are easy to couple together, but they don't act quantum for long.

Progress is being made, but it's a slow process. Short of some unforeseen breakthrough, it'll take a while to get a big quantum computer working, even though a lot of smart people are working on it.

about 9 months ago
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NSA Trying To Build Quantum Computer

dlenmn Re:No shit, this has been going on for ages (221 comments)

Errrr...

This research was funded by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), through Army Research grant...

(I couldn't copy and paste from the pdf, and apparently I can't type either. FWIW, IARPA is the intelligence agencies' equivalent to DARPA, which is probably better known around here.)

about 9 months ago

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