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Aircraft Carriers In Space

izomiac Re:Hopelessly outdated concepts (409 comments)

Humans, if present at all, will be aboard missile-laden motherships only, directing the battle strategy which will be carried out by automation.

I suspect the capital ships will be dancing around each other at great range, so the commanders will likely be in human-occupied fighters a little closer to the action. Of course, AI-controlled missiles and drones will be doing the bulk of the damage.

about 2 years ago
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Aircraft Carriers In Space

izomiac Re:drones (409 comments)

I think the "7 minutes of terror" have shown us that humans will likely play a role in space combat. IMHO human intelligence working with AI will be a deciding factor in any conflict. When dealing with enemies light-minutes (or even light-seconds) away, your commanders need to be closer. Hence fighters. That said, humans can't cope with the acceleration nor reaction times needed for direct combat, so I'd expect them to stay back a bit.

about 2 years ago
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Aircraft Carriers In Space

izomiac Re:A good site for extrapolating from current scie (409 comments)

Unless you have a perfect optical cloak, you will always disrupt the pattern of stars behind you. So, I'd imagine military spacecraft would quickly sweep the 'sky' with several telescopes, making detection a probabilistic function given distance.

about 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: Hacking Urban Noise?

izomiac Re:Mass (474 comments)

Although there are dozens of vendors selling what sound like promising solutions, there is only one solution that really works: more mass.

Although it may not be practical, I've often wondered if the opposite approach would work a little better. Have a hermetically sealed space between two layers of wall and a pump on the outside that creates a near vacuum. No matter between the walls means no sound conduction between them, although sound might travel along the edges of the space. This approach might work better for windows, albeit you'd want to check their pressure tolerances before attempting it.

about 2 years ago
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Medicare Bills Rise As Records Turn Electronic

izomiac Re:Fee for Service is the problem (294 comments)

All payment systems have perverse incentives. Fee-for-service encourages doctors to err on the side of doing procedures. Capitation (per patient) encourage cherry picking the healthiest patients (and moves financial risk from the insurance company to the doctor, which is asinine). Bundled payments (per diagnosis) encourage over-diagnosing (and treating) patients as well as cherry picking. Flat salaries encourage doctors to see fewer patients (and we already have a doctor shortage).

America is all-ears if you have a better idea than these. Very few doctors outright game the system, but humans tend to repeat what they're rewarded for. There's a lot of professional opinion and borderline cases in medicine, and the way one errs is usually consistent with the way one gets paid.

more than 2 years ago
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GoDaddy Goes Down, Anonymous Claims Responsibility

izomiac Re:You think this is a Game? (483 comments)

This is a crime and it's unfortunate for GoDaddy's customers. That said, I see two errors in your judgement that made this possible:

First, you chose to associate with GoDaddy, which is a calculated risk at best given how they earned the internet's ire with their SOPA position, and they weren't terribly reputable to being with.

Second, your primary and secondary DNS servers have a common point of failure. That's rather common, heck I do it for my own websites, but I'm not dependent upon them for anything critically important, thus I can afford to be lazy.

more than 2 years ago
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The UK's New Minister For Magic

izomiac Re:Unfortunate lumping (526 comments)

Here's the actual evidence on the three you mentioned:

  • Arnica - Never been shown to have any effect, it performed worse than placebo in the last study (statistically insignificant of course)
  • Cinnamon - It does have a statistically significant effect. It's clinically irrelevant though, as it improves Hgb A1C by a mere 0.04 - 0.14. Plus, given how close the range is to zero, there's a 3.5% probability that the results occurred due to random chance (less than 5% is the cut-off, but that's very weak data -- in fact, it'd fail a traditional two-tailed test for inequality).
  • Epimedium - A controversial Chinese study showed a slight benefit in bone density for post-menopausal women. Not the right kind of "bone" I suppose...

The thing about herbals and their ilk is that it's all hogwash except the speaker's favorite. To be fair, some herbs have slight effects, but far too little to make them anything more than a placebo. Doubly so since the manufacture of supplements isn't regulated, so you frequently don't get what's on the label. St. John's Wort is a good example. It's been shown to have a small antidepressant effect. However, the various herbal formulations vary from a small dose of the active ingredient (not enough to do anything, except maybe interfere with warfarin levels due to how sensitive they are), to none at all. Therefore, it's not recommended to actually treat depression. OTOH, it doesn't hurt anything in otherwise healthy people, so many doctors are fine with their patients taking it, perhaps even pleased with the placebo effect.

BTW, if pharmaceuticals thought that herbals worked they'd isolate the active ingredient, patent the process, and sell it for an obscene mark-up. The cost to manufacture the drug has almost no effect on its price, but a cheap to manufacture drug is more profitable (Profit = Price - Cost). Either pharmaceuticals don't want to make money, or their teams of drug researchers don't think herbals and the like work. Which is more likely?

more than 2 years ago
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The UK's New Minister For Magic

izomiac Re:The real lesson (526 comments)

How is homeopathy recognized as valid? The US doesn't require non-medicines to adhere to FDA regulations. Homeopathy isn't special in this regard, candy is likewise exempted. Of course, that's also why homeopathic placebos must print disclaimers that they don't treat any disease (a far cry from "recognize[ing] homeopathy as valid").

As an interesting historic note, the FDA originally wanted to subject dietary supplements to the same efficacy requirement as medications. This was extremely unpopular as people realized their favorite vitamins, homeopathic remedies, and sports performance supplements would be taken off the market, so they didn't make that a requirement. To my knowledge, these products are legally considered "food" rather than "medicine".

more than 2 years ago
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Bill Clinton Backs 100 Year Starship

izomiac Re:Methinks people don't appreciate the scales her (299 comments)

I agree that they're putting the cart before the horse. We shouldn't worry much about interstellar travel until we've colonized the solar system. Besides, our own solar system is pretty interesting and surprisingly unknown.

That said, relativity isn't a concept that comes readily to most people. Interstellar distances are quite vast, but not insurmountable. If we had the technology, one could travel to the Andromeda Galaxy in a mere 28 years. There's no reason to return either, unless you want to be a Cro-Magnon and live in a zoo, so it's a one-way trip to start a colony.

more than 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: Protecting Data From a Carrington Event?

izomiac Use Probability (386 comments)

First, calculate how much money a loss of source code would set you back (e.g. if it means bankruptcy then that's your retained earnings). Next, multiple that number by the combined probability of all catastrophes that would wipe out your data but not kill you or your ability/desire to conduct business. The product is the number of dollars you should spend worrying about it.

Honestly, that number is probably almost zero. If there's a massive loss of data for everybody then our economy is going to collapse and most companies will cease to exist (perhaps many governments as well). We'd probably also lose all the infrastructure necessary to develop and sell games. The government and large companies in vital industries should absolutely care about this, but small companies probably shouldn't.

more than 2 years ago
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Pills With Digestible Microchips Approved By US Drug Agency

izomiac Re:Am I the only one that finds this creepy? (163 comments)

Most people do not take medication 100% of the time. We're human and it's easy to forget. But, when the doctor asks, it's difficult to quantify and embarrassing to admit. You're free to disregard your doctor's advice, but most people would prefer their doctor have accurate information before giving that advice.

For example, if you don't take your diabetes medication regularly, your blood sugar won't be well regulated. With this technology, it becomes obvious that it's a compliance issue rather than an insulin resistance issue. You now know it's a problem, and your doctor will suggest ways to remember to take your medicine rather than increasing the dose (potentially very dangerous).

For controlled medications, it becomes easier to tell if someone is selling their painkillers on the street. Differentiating drug abuse from under-treated pain also becomes easier. ("You ran out early, I see you took 8 pills at a time and blew through your supply in a week." VS "You ran out early, I see that you've been taking them every 3 hours, so we need to switch to a longer acting form.")

more than 2 years ago
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Why Amazon Wants To Pay Sales Tax

izomiac Re:would i rather (647 comments)

Think about an isolated hunter gatherer society. They spend all of their time trying to survive.

Huh? Modern (e.g. 1950s) hunter-gatherers, living in lands unsuitable for agriculture, spent around 20 hours per week gathering food. How else would they have had time to develop art, culture & language while colonizing the globe? Agriculture was a huge step down, requiring ~100 hours a week until very recently. Quality of life suffered dramatically, but farming supports far greater populations, so it became dominate through military might (and drunkenness). Here, and here are some interesting articles on the topic.

more than 2 years ago
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Android Forums Hacked: 1 Million User Credentials Stolen

izomiac Original Source (93 comments)

Here is the original source, with more information and less sensationalism. They aren't sure if any user information was downloaded, but are treating this as a full breach. To their credit, they at least hashed the passwords, and chose to inform their userbase rather than sit on it until they figured out if any user data was actually stolen or not.

more than 2 years ago
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Full-Body Airport Scanners Downsizing For Doctors/Dentists

izomiac Re:"completely safe" (221 comments)

DNA repair mechanisms are well known, and taught in any introductory-level genetics course. The BRCA system is very well studied due to its clinical significance. The lowest yearly dose of radiation that has been shown to have an effect is 100 mSv, which is four orders of magnitude higher than we're talking about.

Radiation safety authorities have a long reputation of overreacting to low level radiation sources. For example, items that went into a radioactive area, and have measurable lingering radiation, were once (and perhaps still are) classified as radioactive waste. Even if such items were just as or even less radioactive than they were before being exposed. I can't entirely blame them, the radiation poisoning after WWII in Japan was an unexpected tragedy that we hope to prevent in the future, but we know a lot more about radiation now.

That said, linear no-threshold models would predict that everyone should show symptoms of radiation poisoning around 80 years of age, and people in high altitudes long before that. It's not a defensible hypothesis, having no supporting experimental evidence or physiologic rationale. Safety estimates are very conservative, so that's why they assume zero DNA repair, but that's not being realistic. The linear models are a simplification that breakdown at the extremes.

Of course, setting the exact lower threshold is quite difficult, since the population varies tremendously, plus it's somewhat trivial to differentiate between zero and essentially zero. The only time it becomes relevant is when you multiply very small, incorrect numbers (i.e. probability of causing cancer at trivial radiation doses) by very big numbers (i.e. millions of people) and get a number greater than zero.

You can visualize it like blood loss. If a person loses 2 liters of blood, they'll show certain symptoms. If they lose 3, the symptoms are a lot worse, and they'll probably die if they lose 5 or 6. You could likely construct a no threshold linear relationship out of this. But, obviously it breaks down when you say that you'd expect one person to die from blood loss for every 5,000 paper cuts.

more than 2 years ago
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Full-Body Airport Scanners Downsizing For Doctors/Dentists

izomiac Re:"completely safe" (221 comments)

A single X-ray exposes you to 1 to 20 microsieverts. For comparison, this is the extra radiation exposure equivalent to living in a concrete building for a week to three months. The average person is exposed to 10 uSv per day.

Any ionizing radiation exposure causes mutations in DNA. Specifically, it ionizes it and causes strange structures to form, like thymine-thymine dimers. Fortunately, we have DNA repair mechanisms that fix such problems. One such mechanism is homology directed repair, which uses the homologous strand of DNA to accurately repair defects in the other strand. (This is the system disabled by the BRCA mutation.) These repair mechanisms obviously have a limit to how quickly they can repair DNA, but that limit can easily handle mundane sources of radiation.

In other words, unless someone gets a ludicrous number of X-rays (e.g. occupational exposure), then modern machines should be harmless (if properly configured). You can think of DNA as RAID1 with additional parity. Unless there's a significant exposure (i.e. 100,000 uSv per year is the lowest level linked to cancer) then your DNA can recover perfectly. So, giving millions of people a single x-ray is not equivalent to giving a single person millions of x-rays, and likely wouldn't cause a single extra case of cancer.

more than 2 years ago
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Full-Body Airport Scanners Downsizing For Doctors/Dentists

izomiac Medical Utility? (221 comments)

I'm a little curious about the medical uses for the technology. Terahertz EM radiation should have similar wavelengths to Ultrasound, which only penetrates a few inches and lacks resolution. It's very useful, don't get me wrong, but no replacement for X-rays, CT, or MRI (click for images of kidney stones using each modality). Plus, ultrasound is becoming even less reliable due to the obesity epidemic, as it can't penetrate a foot of fat very well. Per Wikipedia THz can penetrate low-water tissue several millimeters, which is similar to visible light seen by the unaided eye.

Dermatologists and Dentists may find it useful, but I'm having trouble seeing the application into other medical fields. (Someone can chime in if there's something, I haven't been keeping up on it.) IMHO, it's premature to consider installing these in the clinic. Before that happens there needs to be some unique and significant benefit, which outweighs the risks, and is cost effective. Until then, keep it in the research labs where portability and miniaturization is less of an issue. We don't need technology in the clinic for technology's sake, it just drives up costs and increases wait times.

more than 2 years ago
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Ten Cops Can't Recover Police Chief's Son's iPhone

izomiac Re:That's the police for you (277 comments)

Hence why I said lives in cities. NYC has 8.2M people, then it's 3.8M, 2.7M, 2.1M, and 1.5M for the top five cities in the US. There's a long tail, but the population of the US is about 400M, which indicates the vast majority do not live in any of the major cities.

Now, people often say they live in [closest city] for simplicity sake, so it's easy to assume everyone lives in a city. Overall population density has also increased , which makes the US census's "urban" classification kinda useless. So I said "city" to express a concept of places with a population density so high as include dozens or hundreds of people within GPS's margin of error.

For some paper napkin math, the US has an average (and roughly median) population density of 88 people per square mile, with most states around 50 - 300. High-balling that with 500 people per square mile (top five states), that's one person per 55,757 square feet. Most people cluster into families, with an average household size of 2.5, so that's a 373 ft x 373 ft area. Worst case GPS accuracy is within 2000 square feet 95% of the time.

more than 2 years ago
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Ten Cops Can't Recover Police Chief's Son's iPhone

izomiac Re:That's the police for you (277 comments)

I can't speak for the rest of the world, but the vast majority of Americans don't live in cities. In a rural, or likely even suburban setting the phone's location is probably precise enough to identify a single-family dwelling. For apartments, the police could ask the tenants: "Have you seen anyone with a new [phone model] lately?" or "Who works at [other place the phone has been]?". They have alternatives to ransacking 120 apartments.

Not that this is likely to matter much outside of NYC. I live in a downtown apartment in a major US city and my phone easily pinpoints my location to one half of my small apartment, as-are the wonders of WiFi triangulation.

about 2 years ago
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Verizon To Kill All Unlimited Data Plans

izomiac Re:Wow, really? (331 comments)

"Unlimited" has a simple meaning -- not limited. Selling a limited plan as unlimited is fraud. Your work internet analogy, while being a decent tragedy of the commons, doesn't really apply since employees aren't buying/promised limitless service. A better analogy (IMHO) would be getting cut-off without refund at an all-you-can-eat buffet, which is sacrilege in the US. Setting limits is fine, e.g. 2 GB or 12 plates of food, but if you sell something without limits then you have to hope you set the price where you make money on average, despite the occasional heavy consumer.

more than 2 years ago
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Russian Superjet 100 Crashes During Demo Flight, Killing All Aboard

izomiac Re:Probably lost the sale, too! (339 comments)

Exploration has always been an affair of the state. The civilizations that maximized short-term gains and didn't "waste" money adventuring were conquered or died out. Human migration is a defining aspect of our species.

more than 2 years ago

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