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Volcano May Have Killed Off New Bioluminescent Cockroach

nukeade Simply not true (108 comments)

This is not the only known case of mimicry by bioluminescence of a land animal, unless fireflies don't count (being that all of the insects in question can fly, they'd better count!). Pennsylvania's state insect is a tricky one, indeed: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photuris_pennsylvanica

It will duplicate the mating blinks of other species of firefly, and consume the attracted "suitors"!

about 2 years ago
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U.S. Election Day In Progress: What's Been Your Experience?

nukeade An Uninformed Opinion is Worse Than No Opinion. (821 comments)

WA - Voted by mail a week ago. Spent two hours thoughtfully reading over the platform and considering the credentials of every candidate from Federal down to Local before making the choices that I could objectively justify.

about 2 years ago
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Favorite U.S. Political Party

nukeade My dream party (503 comments)

I would like an economically moderate but socially liberal party, kind of like if Greens and Libertarians debated for a while and came up with a consensus agreeable to both, as there are niches where I feel that a Libertarian model can work best and niches where a more liberal economic model can minimize the worst aspects of human nature. Can we have that?

about 2 years ago
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Texas Opens Fastest US Highway With 85 MPH Limit

nukeade Re:And there's the ticket. (992 comments)

Ack. Or 33 million. Whatever. I'm a physicist, I don't usually deal with numbers.

more than 2 years ago
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Texas Opens Fastest US Highway With 85 MPH Limit

nukeade And there's the ticket. (992 comments)

From TFA: "The state contract with the toll operator allows the state to collect a $67 million up-front cash payment or a percentage of the toll profits in the future if the speed limit is 80 mph or lower. At 85 mph, the cash payment balloons to $100 million or a higher percentage of toll revenues."

Emphasis mine.

So... was there some "death panel" that placed the value of the additional lives lost on this highway due to the excessive speed at $32 millon?

more than 2 years ago
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Entangled Particles Break Classical Law of Thermodynamics, Say Physicists

nukeade No, I didn't read TFA (222 comments)

I haven't read TFA, but it sounds like they rediscovered the Jarzynski (in)equality.

Basically, if you slam a system with a high free energy into a state with a lower free energy, you actually have a chance to get out more work than you should in equilibrium, offset by a chance of getting less. On average, however, the expected work from the system should agree.

This would appear pathologically in such a small-scale system that is changing states so quickly.

more than 2 years ago
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Mono Abandons Open Source Silverlight

nukeade Re:Netflix (336 comments)

That's an interesting article. I don't entirely agree that the platform is dying, but I do agree that Linux is not ready for the average user right now. Most of all, users just want things to work out of the box, including their favorite apps. No Netflix (Silverlight) and no iTunes is showstopping for some people.

Also--shh! Don't anger the hive mind! ;)

more than 2 years ago
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Mono Abandons Open Source Silverlight

nukeade Re:Netflix (336 comments)

Hah. It's actually not quite like that.

The company was selling a bunch of basically new but wiped laptops that belonged to employees that left on the cheap, so I bought one for myself and installed Ubuntu 12.04 to decide whether I wanted it on my other systems. She saw it and got jealous of the sweet deal I got on the laptop, so I told her she could keep it if she kept it as a Ubuntu machine. I was actually just using her as a guinea pig so that I could blog about the things that are keeping a typical user from switching to Linux on the desktop, and assumed that a free laptop would be enough of a carrot to get her to play along.

more than 2 years ago
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Mono Abandons Open Source Silverlight

nukeade Re:Netflix (336 comments)

That's probably what has to happen, because my friends report that Netflix works fine with newer versions of Windows under VirtualBox.

Ugh, I won two copies of Windows 7 in programming competitions, then gave them away because "why on Earth would I want this?"... now I'm kicking myself.

more than 2 years ago
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Mono Abandons Open Source Silverlight

nukeade Re:Netflix (336 comments)

I actually don't use Netflix myself, but installed a Windows XP VM under VirtualBox on my girlfriend's Ubuntu 12.04 laptop for the sole purpose her using Netflix. The install is fully updated, with no software except for Windows updates and Silverlight installed on the VM.

The odd part is that its behavior is random. Sometimes you'll reboot the VM and it will work just great for a few shows, and sometimes you'll reboot it and get an unhelpful error message that I don't recall exactly right now. "An unexpected error occurred" would be pretty close.

So, it's usable, but just unreliable and annoying. I told her she could keep the laptop if she agreed to switch over to Linux, but I guess it's sufficiently bad (No native iTunes support, PlayOnLinux only works well with iTunes 7, and unreliable Netflix) that she's planning on turning down a free Core i7 laptop at the end of our month-long "convert to Linux" experiment.

more than 2 years ago
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Mono Abandons Open Source Silverlight

nukeade Re:Netflix (336 comments)

Exactly. If it weren't for Netflix, I wouldn't even know what Silverlight is. It doesn't even run reliably on Windows VMs under VirtualBox.

more than 2 years ago
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Low Oxygen Cellular Protein Synthesis Mechanism Discovered

nukeade Re:What percentage of cancers leverage that? (94 comments)

Remarkably, not only is adaptation for low-oxygen conditions visible in the majority of malignancies (the Warburg Effect), but it's so prevalent it's actually considered one of the hallmarks of cancer. The reason this happens is easy to imagine: since the tumor has an extreme growth rate and abnormal vasculature, it may have trouble getting the amount of oxygen tha cells normally need in order to survive. It's likely that if they can actually safely target this pathway, they may have the next blockbuster cancer drug on their hands.

more than 2 years ago
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Massive Methane Release In the Arctic Region

nukeade Re:NOT a positive feedback loop! (264 comments)

You only have to look at the balanced chemical equation to see (which I got wrong, also not a chemist, and you're right about the bicarbonate being soluble!)

CaCO3 + H2O + CO2 = Ca(HCO3)2

This will certainly reduce the acidity of the water, increasing the pH, because carbon dioxide is being removed from the water and is in equilibrium with the carbonic acid ions.

CO2 + H2O = HCO3- + H+

There is a reason, however, that I know just from a thought experiment that this cannot be a positive feedback loop. If it were a positive feed back loop and calcium carbonate reacted with carbon dioxide in the water to increase the acidity of the water, then I could take some limestone, throw it into some water, and over time the limestone would totally dissolve and leave me with a cup of very strong acid. In other words, if this were the case, calcium carbonate in normal water would be unstable. You only have to look at some old quarries to see that this is not the case!

more than 2 years ago
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Massive Methane Release In the Arctic Region

nukeade Re:NOT a positive feedback loop! (264 comments)

Whoops. That was supposed to be:

Calcium Carbonate + Carbon Dioxide < - > Calcium Bicarbonate

HTML!

more than 2 years ago
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Massive Methane Release In the Arctic Region

nukeade NOT a positive feedback loop! (264 comments)

It's actually not a positive feedback loop.

Calcium Carbonate + Carbon Dioxide Calcium Bicarbonate

So, calcium carbonate does *not* react with carbon dioxide to produce calcium bicarbonate and another carbon dioxide. That would violate conservation of mass. The reaction between calcium carbonate and carbon dioxide produces calcium bicarbonate which should precipitate out and increase the pH of the water to more neutral levels!

more than 2 years ago
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Massive Methane Release In the Arctic Region

nukeade Some perspective (264 comments)

So I wondered just how much methane 2 mg/m^2/day is, and here's the breakdown:

2 mg/m^2/day times the area of the Arctic ocean (13,986,000 km^2) is 27,972,000 kg/day, or about 10.2 Tg/year.

10.2 Tg/year can be compared on this chart to other sources. This is not an insignificant amount, but is an order of magnitude less than just the contribution from farm animals.

I'm not a climate scientist, and can't say what this may or may not mean for AGW, but it puts the size of the emission into perspective.

more than 2 years ago
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Florida Thinks Their Students Are Too Stupid To Know the Right Answers

nukeade Re:Not just florida... (663 comments)

Yes, you are technically correct, but that's not how anybody actually does the calculation. The "correct" way to model the sun would in fact be to do some ray tracing from every point on the sun--but that's ridiculous. Nobody is going to notice the 9mm on the edge of the shadow to appreciate your calculation in the first place, and even if they did the same effect could be achieved more efficiently by just softening the edges a bit using some graphics algorithm.

Similarly, it's just ridiculously expensive to treat the sun as a point at a huge distance, subtract the vector from the vector to a point on your model, then project along that vector onto whatever lies behind the model. It's slow and inefficient.

Instead, we just choose a vector for the incident sunlight and do a projection along that vector onto what lies behind the object. This is fast and efficient and how computer graphics are actually done in order to make your game run at reasonable FPS!

So, in an Optics class, both myself and my professor would both be wrong and you would be right. In a computer graphics class, the sun is most definitely a plane light source.

more than 2 years ago
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Florida Thinks Their Students Are Too Stupid To Know the Right Answers

nukeade Re:Not just florida... (663 comments)

I wish I could say that I didn't still bite my tongue. I was at the ACM World Finals and have worked at several start-ups where code or an architecture was handed to me. In the past, when I've voiced concerns about serious flaws (such as: "I don't know what this totally undocumented and comment-free module for a critical medical device is supposed to do, but it's never done what you think it does since the first line is a type mismatch") to supervisors, I've been literally screamed at.

I thought that was over when I finished my PhD: that an advanced degree meant that my concerns would be taken seriously. Last week I asked for a task that it was thought could not be completed by a deadline because I felt that it would make the company look bad if it wasn't. I went and talked to several experienced engineers and came up with an elegant solution, and when I showed it to my supervisor he went flying off the handle because "I made a major change to the architecture without consulting him." In fact, what I'd done was changed a binary large object that was being passed around between some functions into a first-class object in the language for improved compatibility. I even showed him a demo where a malicious BLOB allows an attacker to compromise the system with four lines of code. He was certain that such an attack would never be implemented.

The project was completed on schedule, but unsurprisingly to any experienced software engineer exhibits random behavior when the binary large object is passed between machines in the cloud and would be very easy to exploit should anyone ever discover what's happening.

I can only conclude that everything is the same everywhere, no matter what. I'm actually going to a conference next weekend where I hope to make some connections that lead to me being the one in charge, but will certainly never bother to question anyone's authority here again.

more than 2 years ago
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Florida Thinks Their Students Are Too Stupid To Know the Right Answers

nukeade Re:Not just florida... (663 comments)

Not quite the same, but I've seen college exams where the professor had it wrong, marked me wrong, and would not fix the mistake.

One professor (computer graphics exam) thought the Sun behaved like a point light source on Earth. It does not, it behaves like a plane light source because it is much larger than the Earth and the light arriving from the sun is for all computer graphics purposes arriving with the same vector direction. He would have none of it.

The other was on a quantum information exam, with a question about quantum encryption. Essentially a probability question involving a classical channel and a quantum channel. If he had been correct, then you would have been able to transmit information faster than the speed of light using quantum entanglement. You cannot, and instead you require the extra piece of information from the classical channel.

I've even had college profs knock me down a letter grade out of spite. This happened to me in two CS courses, one where I finished all of his weekly projects on the first day and aced his exams by reverse-engineering the code instead of memorizing what he wanted us to do. In the other, the prof was teaching an object-oriented programming class and couldn't figure out object polymorphism, so I offered to teach it for him because he said he was just going to skip that part of the course. I did a great job, but he didn't like being made to look like the amateur he was.

The grades don't bother me so much as the majority of a class walking out and having a misconception about the world around them or missing out on one of the most critical components of a subject. People pay good money for education and will go out and do important things that are relevant to anyone with what they learn, and that is absolutely important to me. That said, I learned long ago that most adults are actually just children that were given a measure of authority. While I can definitely sympathize with your situation, the approach I take now is never to touch anyone else's claim to authority.

more than 2 years ago

Submissions

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Lawrence Lessig to Speak on Open Science

nukeade nukeade writes  |  more than 2 years ago

nukeade writes "The importance of openness and data sharing in science has come to the spotlight recently with the revelation that many landmark cancer studies cannot be reproduced.
Unfortunately, the culture and reward structure of both industry and academia has disincentivized what would seem to be common sense principles to advancement.
Lawrence Lessig as well as Adrien Treuille of FoldIt fame will share their insights at the third Sage Commons Congress in San Francisco, which is available through a free webcast."

Link to Original Source

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