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Gamma-ray Bursts May Explain Fermi's Paradox

gewalker Re:Simple Explanation (235 comments)

You don't have to cheat Einstein to populate the galaxy. Nanotech based Von Neumann machines could easily spread out and cover our galaxy in a million years, the technology is certainly not impossible, indeed it is likely to be developed in the relatively near future should we decide to do so, and the possibility to live indefinitely in mechanical or biological bodies does not seem to be impossible either.

What could we do in a 1000 or 10,000 years. The Fermi Paradox is entirely valid given the assumptions normally made for the prevalence of complex life that would be millions or billions of years ahead of us.

2 days ago

Germany Plans Highway Test Track For Self-Driving Cars

gewalker Re:Still sounds like early flight... (90 comments)

While it may be true that cost savings and the injury and grief associated with accidents is considerable. Few people are willing to pay for it. People want immediate intangible benefits.

Reduced insurance rates, reduced traffic jams including the use of the high-speed auto-drive lane, self-parking cars after drop-off, not having to chauffeur the kids, watching TV while "driving"

These are the reasons people will buy self-driving cars.

3 days ago

The Tech Industry's Legacy: Creating Disposable Employees

gewalker Except for not being true (263 comments)

Sure, there are large layoffs in the tech industry, but big layoffs are not a new thing.

Two of the largest layoffs in US history occurred in 1993. 60K employees at IBM and 50K employees at Sears/KMart.

Big layoffs are a result of other business conditions, including.

An actual need to cut expenses -- bloated, slow-moving companies find themselves in the condition of declining sales, and big losses.

A desire to increase profit margins, often linked to increased stock prices -- CEO's can get lots of bonus compensation in this form

A result of chopping up a company, perhaps resulting from a hostile takeover.

None of these are unique to technology companies.

about two weeks ago

Ted Cruz To Oversee NASA and US Science Programs

gewalker Re:Hahahaha (496 comments)

Of course NASA budget grew during the moon race and fell after that. Since then it increased most under Reagan and Bush 41 and dropped under Nixon, Bush-43 and Obama.

If you look at who controlled Congress, you get a slightly different picture but is is true the NASA budget rise and fall with either party in charge.

Considering how few people vote based on the NASA budget, they are lucky to ever get any budget dollars.

about two weeks ago

Should We Be Content With Our Paltry Space Program?

gewalker Re: Solve problems on Earth first (287 comments)

There is lots of gold in space. One asteroid that NASA has looked at closely (Eros 433) has been estimated to contains trillions of dollars worth of gold at current prices as well as platinum, iron, nickel, etc.

It is usually considered the the bulk of the crustal gold and other heavy minerals were deposited on earth from asteroids during the late heavy bombardment.

Retrieving the gold, etc. from asteroids is certainly difficult and expensive using currently develop tech. but the gold is most certainly out there.

about three weeks ago

Should We Be Content With Our Paltry Space Program?

gewalker Re:As a proportion of the budget... (287 comments)

Maybe looking at percentage of Fed. budget or suchlike is not a good idea at all. How about constant dollars adjusted to 2014 from the Wikipedia article

This single highest year was 1966 spending 43.5 billion USD
By 1970 this had dropped to 23.0 billion
Bottomed out in 1980 at 14.3 billion
2013 was at 17.2 billion

Except for a few peak years at the height of the moon race, NASA budgets have been relatively consistent (usually between 15 and 20 billion 2014 dollars)

about three weeks ago

Ancient Planes and Other Claims Spark Controversy at Indian Science Congress

gewalker Coming soon to another episode of Ancient Aliens (381 comments)

And the ancient planes also had the ability to fly between planets too. Don't think that these claims will stand up to review.

Ancient peoples were just as smart as us, but you need time to build the necessary tech. base in order to make advanced equipment so that you can discover advanced scientific theories and engineering disciplines.

about three weeks ago

Feds Plan For 35 Agencies To Collect, Share, Use Health Records of Americans

gewalker Re:FUD and kneejerk reactions (209 comments)

Of course, you won't find such grants of authority to the federal government within the words of the U.S. Constitution -- what are you some kind of radical terrorist for even trying to do that?

about 1 month ago

High Temperature Superconductivity Record Smashed By Sulfur Hydride

gewalker Re:Oh Carbon (80 comments)

Well -83 C is very close to the sublimation temperature of dry ice (-78 C) -- maybe with a little tweak you can cool your superconducting carbon using another carbon compound already widely used for cooling.

about 1 month ago

Asteroid Impacts May Have Formed Life's Building Blocks

gewalker Re:why is it always comets and asteroids? (46 comments)

IMO, these announcements really don't really contribute anything meaninful. We pretty much know that simple organic molecules can form in a number of ways. Miller-Urey taught us quite a while ago that the basic precusrsor components were easily formed with basic chemistry that exists in nature.

Getting the components to dance together as a living entity is a tremendously more difficult and unsolved problem. According to all we know abiogenisis is very improbable -- even with eons of chemicals doing their thing.

about 2 months ago

Breath Test For Pot Being Developed At WSU

gewalker Re:Antiquated technology (342 comments)

Age 55. I have never consumed alcohol. Never been at fault in an accident. I could not pass the standard field sobriety test ever -- I have a bad left leg that simply prevents it -- do not have much strength in that leg.

My inability to balance on one leg has nothing to do with my ability to drive.

Thanks, I'll gladly recite the alphabet forwards or backwards, let the cop shine a light in my eye, take a blood test, etc. walking the line heel to toe will always be a fail for me though I am perfectly fine as a driver.

If someone has a BAC of .2 but can still walk a line, he has no business on the road. Reactions and more importantly judgment is impaired, without any question -- at least according to the CDC.

about 2 months ago

Breath Test For Pot Being Developed At WSU

gewalker Re:is it really bad in the first place? (342 comments)

Yes, people do not enjoy spending time in person, or wrecking their cars or other consequences. So, while they are still sober, they modify their behavior by planning ahead not to drive drunk, e.g., arranging for designated drivers. Of course, this is not universal.

Once drunk, their inhibitions removed, they do not properly consider penalties associated with drunk driving.

about 2 months ago

Mathematicians Study Effects of Gerrymandering On 2012 Election

gewalker Re: How is that startling? (413 comments)

Your requested evidence

Since you need relatively few fraudulent votes to tip tight elections, how much vote fraud is OK. It is often accepted that Kennedy won over Nixon due to fraud. Likewise for Johnson in Texas. These are old races. How about Gore v Bush in Florida, only a few hundred votes officially -- well within the margin of fraud as documented by many of the examples in the linked article.

The correct amount of fraud is as little as possible. The correct amount of voter suppression is a little as possible. To a certain degree these are conflicting goals. There are some additional methods to help -- such as provisional ballots. Life is not perfect, but voter ID is clearly effective in reducing voter fraud, but it is not necessarily a tool of voter suppression -- and the Supreme Court has supported this.

about 2 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Power Grid So Crummy In So Many Places?

gewalker Re:In Finland (516 comments)

And the US is primarily serviced by either public utilities (usually owned by the city) or by regulated utilities that regulate the utilities including the profit margin, approval of capital projects, and other things. I.e., not any real reason for their to be a different between US and Finland in this regard.

I guess the real difference is a combination of the following:

1) general philosophy of, good enough, great is not required
2) Electric infrastructure is a little older on the average in the US
3) The regulation that exist probably more optimal for cost than service in the US in comparison.

Of course, cost is the reason why overhead lines are used. Contrary to what several posters have mentioned, maintenance cost on underground lines is actually usually higher on underground lines to overhead, but this factor is relatively minor in comparison to the significantly higher capital costs.

about 2 months ago

Two Google Engineers Say Renewables Can't Cure Climate Change

gewalker Re:here we go again (652 comments)

You really need a better economic analysis. You can only do as you say because solar is a small percentage of the grid. If solar was providing say 25% of the total electric kWh, the grid would be saturated with electricity during the solar peaks -- under those conditions, you can barely sell electricity at all -- you, even have to pay to dump the electricity you do produce to the grid -- yes, in the US we have grid conditions where you have to pay to dump the electricity you produce.

When solar collapses around 3-4 pm and people start coming home and cranking up their A/C and other appliances you reach peak electric use after solar has started its collapse. This requires a fast spin up for the non-solar electric sources -- trust me, this will be expensive juice. Government policies like forcing utilities to buy back home-installed solar at retail price just exacerbates the problem as it overemphasizes the economic case for solar -- eventually leading to increased instability in the market.

And then you hit the 2nd week in January where there is essentially no solar or wind for about 10 days straight (you can see events like this in the actually data from the German grid) -- Maybe this is why the Googly guys were saying we can't depend upon renewables for 100% of our energy.

about 2 months ago

Two Google Engineers Say Renewables Can't Cure Climate Change

gewalker Re:No the solution is population control (652 comments)

Ok, you've settled on the population control solution. How do you do this?

1) Repressive government control
2) War, disease, etc.
3) Economic success -- The first world countries fertility rate has already dropped below replacement rate (about 2.2 babies per adult women in her lifetime) -- see the fertility rate by country. I believe the only exception is Israel.

And how do you get economic prosperity? Cheap energy and lots of it. This also helps to enable better health, education, and comfortable living.

about 2 months ago

Attack of the One-Letter Programming Languages

gewalker Useless rant of an article (127 comments)

Although one letter language names have issues for search (as do other generic terms, or other stupid names like .Net), the only useful point is that some programmers like to use less-popular languages and may introduce them into your codebase confusing other developers. Of course you can hire more developers that speak the obscure language in your shop if it is otherwise well-known.

Of course, we already know about that problem. It matters not if the obscure language (for your shop) happens to be R, F#, awk, java, python, etc. with longer and longer names.

For any new language, adoption is a problem. Interesting languages like Eiffel, Smalltalk, etc. never really made the big-time and never will.

Sometimes, you have to choose the obscure language. Javascript being a good example -- as the well started to become dynamic, decent Javascript developers were in very high-demand because there was no real alternative.

about 2 months ago

Officer Not Charged In Michael Brown Shooting

gewalker Re:I'm glad there is rioting. (1128 comments)

Stunning example of a straw man argument there -- equating the shooting apparently innocent people (the Walmart shopper and the 12 year old boy) with the shooting of an apparent thug using lethal force against a cop.

I don't know that Brown is innocent, I just know that the grand jury decided there was not enough evidence to go to trial. We are supposed to accept that verdict unless there is strong reason to suspect the system was corrupt. I just do see that that exists. I would have said the same had the grand very found against Brown and let is go to trial again without rioting. Brown may be guilty and may have committed the perfect crime and get away with so. Personally, if such is true I hope he suffers the severe punishment in the future.

Like a lot of American's -- I thought O.J. was guilty. When the verdict was announced I did not see this as a reason to riot, though I did not feel the verdict was just.

As far as holding police responsible, I whole-heartedly agree. If you can determine the cops or politicians are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, hang-em-high, Finding them guilty by racial association it beyond stupid

There is no perfect system of justice. Mob rule via riots, lynching, vigilantism, etc. is far worse than what we see in Ferguson.

about 2 months ago



Major Data Brokers hacked by ID Theft Service

gewalker gewalker writes  |  about a year ago

gewalker (57809) writes "Have we reached the point where it is time to admit that the ID thieves are winning and will continue to win as long as their incentives are sufficient to make it lucrative for them? According to Krebs On Security a breach in 25 data brokers has been identified including the heavyweights Dun and Bradstreet and LexusNexus. The truly telling quote is

“We could well be witnessing the death of knowledge-based authentication, and it’s as it should be,” Litan said. “The problem is that right now there are no good alternatives that are as easy to implement. There isn’t a good software-based alternative. Everybody in the industry knows that KBA is nearing its end of usefulness, but it’s not like you can instantly roll out biometric identifiers to the entire US population. We’re just not there yet. It’s years away. If ever.”


Microsoft restores transfer rights to Office 2013

gewalker gewalker writes  |  about 2 years ago

gewalker writes "Bowing to significant unfriendly customer feedback regarding its new "no transfer" license for Office 2013, Microsoft recants and allows Office 2013 licenses to be transferred between computers. Actual license language will not be reflected for a few months for shipped products, but Microsoft will allow transfer of license effective immediately. Calls to customer support will be necessary as the activation servers won't be updated for a few months."
Link to Original Source

First evidence of gravity waves

gewalker gewalker writes  |  more than 2 years ago

gewalker writes "This is supposed to be published soon in "The Astrophysical Journal Letters", but in short researchers claim they have detected gravity waves from the husks of 2 stars 3000 light years away. They are losing energy and circling each other faster over time as the gravity waves remove energy from the orbits of the pair. This energy loss agrees with the prediction of general relativity — not a direct observation of gravity waves."
Link to Original Source


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