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'Thermoelectrics' Could One Day Power Cars

rasmusbr Re:Not so fast, Thermodynamic laws are pesky thing (151 comments)

The one application that I've heard about that sounds semi-plausible is sandwiching something like this between a solar cell and a liquid cooler. The difference in temperature between the PV cell and the cooler might be enough to yield meaningful amounts power and the waste heat that the cooling system captures could be used for heating.

yesterday
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Google Looked Into Space Elevator, Hoverboards, and Teleportation

rasmusbr Re:City within a Building (98 comments)

Yeah, I suspect that's what happens when there is a speculative bubble in housing, when all you need is a greater fool who you can pass the unit on to at a profit. Just make sure to show it to the buyers on a cool day...

yesterday
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Google Looked Into Space Elevator, Hoverboards, and Teleportation

rasmusbr Re:City within a Building (98 comments)

The first cities which were, curiously, built by hunter-gatherers were effectively a single building that got added to each time a new family moved in. The door of a home was either a hole in the roof or a hole in a wall facing the roof. These sort of cities are still being built today. They're called slums.

Now, before we run off and investigate this exciting idea of having a whole city inside a building, perhaps we should investigate why that idea has been tried and ultimately discarded over and over in countless times and at countless places.

yesterday
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The Best Parking Apps You've Never Heard Of and Why You Haven't

rasmusbr Re:Google is already doing it (163 comments)

Google don't care whether their results are the best for consumers. Their customers are advertisers.

But then Google needs to have a selection of apps that are tolerable enough that you'll use the apps despite the Google ads.

Ad-free apps (often FOSS) might help make the experience as a whole more tolerable, especially for power users, so there's no reason to punish those.

3 days ago
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The Best Parking Apps You've Never Heard Of and Why You Haven't

rasmusbr Google is already doing it (163 comments)

This random sample voting idea is already in use on Google play. It came into effect a few months ago. If you open Google play on your Android device you will see a widget that invites you to vote for one of your recently installed apps.

I don't know how well this could work even if done perfectly. The ultimate measure of the quality and appeal of a product is whether or not you will recommend it to someone explicitly (and not just implicitly by liking it on Facebook or G+ or what not). I doubt Google has a way to measure that. Maybe they're working on it.

3 days ago
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NASA To Send SpaceX Resupply Capsule To ISS Despite Technical Problems

rasmusbr Re:Open the pod bay door HAL (71 comments)

And if I'm not mistaken, this next flight will also be their first attempt to recover the first stage by propulsive landing. Demonstrating such a capability would be a game changer in itself.

My understanding is that they're going to attempt to "land" the first stage on the ocean surface. If it works as intended the stage will hit the water at low speed and it will be perfectly vertical at the time of impact, which would then indicate that they could have landed it on dry land if they had tried.

3 days ago
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Mathematical Proof That the Cosmos Could Have Formed Spontaneously From Nothing

rasmusbr Re:If you make this a proof of God... (590 comments)

Well, in that case that carbon alloy would have to be held together by a mysterious principle previously unknown to us. My understanding is that chemical bonds can only be so strong, at least in the absence of another force pushing the atoms closer together.

If someone found an artifact lightweight enough to hold in your hand, yet strong enough to be invulnerably to anything that we could throw at it, then that would be the most remarkable thing that has ever been recorded. It would take a long time and a lot of testing for people to accept it, but eventually we would have to incorporate it into our world view in one way or another. It would not be a smooth transition however way you choose to make it. Even a supposedly naturalistic explanation such as "hyper advanced space aliens who love Jesus kitsch" would be sufficiently strange that it would give birth to multiple new religions of people who would worship and call upon the aliens. The way I see it you might as well believe in the god of the Bible then.

Besides I've read the Bible and I haven't found anything that proves that the "Lord God" character could not be a space alien. It's a nutty idea, but if there was evidence for it we would have to take that evidence into consideration.

about a week ago
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Mathematical Proof That the Cosmos Could Have Formed Spontaneously From Nothing

rasmusbr Re:If you make this a proof of God... (590 comments)

I suspect it will eventually be shown through logical argument (if it hasn't been already) that it is impossible to construct a coherent system of thought. The general trend in physics and philosophy alike seems to be that we progressively find out that the universe is stranger and nastier than we thought it could be, yet sufficiently nice for us to be able to exist.

The invulnerable Jesus toast would be sufficient for me to go through with the water on head ceremony and to place provisional belief in the idea that the Bible is essentially true. It would then take something equally remarkable to nudge that provisional belief in some other direction.

about a week ago
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Mathematical Proof That the Cosmos Could Have Formed Spontaneously From Nothing

rasmusbr Re:If you make this a proof of God... (590 comments)

Nothing that breaks the rules can be proven as breaking them, from the inside. What if the exception is part of the rules?

That is only true in a strict sense of the word "rules". If say 99.9999% of space obeys a certain set of rules and 0.0001% breaks them then any intelligent being (intelligence being pattern recognition among other things) would stare at the other 0.0001% and wonder.

For example if someone produced an indestructible toast with the face of Jesus, or Mohammed, or Buddha, I and many other atheists would be lining up outside whichever church, mosque or temple we were lead to.

about a week ago
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Mathematical Proof That the Cosmos Could Have Formed Spontaneously From Nothing

rasmusbr Re:If you make this a proof of God... (590 comments)

Let's simplify.

Conway's game of life creatures became sentient.
They discovered they are made of cells.
They said "Look, THE INFINITESIMAL CELL is always created from NOTHING. If things happens FROM NOTHING, there is NO NEED FOR A CREATOR, so THERE IS NO CREATOR, and besides NOBODY ever witnessed something different THAN THE DETERMINISTIC APPLICATION OF RULES. How smart are we?"

So the guy at the PC said to himself "Thank you for nothing, guys" and went making himself coffee.

And the creatures were sensible. After all, if the guy at the PC wanted the creatures to figure it out he could easily have programmed the game with elements that blatantly break the rules of the game. Perhaps he could have made indestructible walls the shape of a guy sitting at a desk with a computer on it. The creatures would eventually have mapped it and marveled at the mysterious pattern.

about a week ago
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Nat Geo Writer: Science Is Running Out of "Great" Things To Discover

rasmusbr Re:Rediculous (290 comments)

Aha, and the nano machines that have evolved inside cells prove that it's a project worth pursuing. You could even start by merely high-jacking existing cellular machinery to do your bidding. Once you get a good grasp of how they work you could try to design new ones, machines that evolution hasn't stumbled on.

about a week ago
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Isolated Tribes Die Shortly After We Meet Them

rasmusbr Re:Prophylactic immunization (351 comments)

Just the titles of some of the footnotes of the paper should give you a good idea...

"The Conquest of the Brazilian Indians"
"The epidemiology of infectious diseases among South American Indians: A call for guidelines for ethical research"
"Massacre of the Brazilian Indians"
"The Defeat of the Brazilian Indians"
"Die If You Must: Brazilian Indians in the Twentieth Century"

It sounds like they'd need body armor and rifles more than they'd need vaccines to protect themselves.

about a week ago
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How much do you spend yearly on mobile apps?

rasmusbr Re:WOWZA! (240 comments)

I for one probably spend close to $50 a year on apps and I also "never" buy apps. Except when I need one and don't want to be bothered by ads. Those one-dollar, two-dollar, or four-dollar purchases add up over the course of a year.

I tend to think of paid apps as lottery tickets. Most end up being uninstalled within a day or two. Some end up being wonderful utilities that I use several times a week.

about a week ago
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Isolated Tribes Die Shortly After We Meet Them

rasmusbr Re:Weren't they already dying? (351 comments)

And yet GP is correct.

On the graphs, there is a line for "pre 0", which is ~5x as high as the "year 0" line.

So, why are we blaming contact for the primary problems, if population fell by 80% (to the year 0 levels) from pre-contact?

Well, those 80% are presumably the ones that died when they came into non-peaceful contact by the less than peaceful Europeans who broke new ground.

about a week ago
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Isolated Tribes Die Shortly After We Meet Them

rasmusbr Re:Weren't they already dying? (351 comments)

The year zero on the graph is the approximate year of peaceful contact.

about a week ago
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Slashdot Asks: Will You Need the Windows XP Black Market?

rasmusbr Re:NO (245 comments)

Good day Cryacin, my name is John. I'm calling from Windows Service Center to talk to you about a problem with your Windows computer.

I beg your pardon sir?

No, I'm calling from Windows Service Center. We often call Windows users who have Windows computers that have been infect...

No, we are not within cannon range of your "ship"!

Sir, are you sitting in front of your Windows computer right now? It is urgent that you solve your malicious software infection urgently. Can you see a key on your keyboard with a Windows icon on it?

*Sound of distant thunder*

*Sound of glass shattering*

*Sound of wall collapsing*

Sir, we need to speed this up. Just Google "team viewer" and install it on your Windo...

*Sound of screams and cutlasses striking against metal*

Sir, I'm going to have to call you ba.....

*Static*

about two weeks ago
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Japan Orders Military To Strike Any New North Korea Missiles

rasmusbr Re:Bad Neighbors (107 comments)

Well, the American left has been remarkably non-violent and anti-authoritarian throughout history, so I guess it could be an artifact of that.

about two weeks ago
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Facebook and Google's Race To Zero

rasmusbr Re:AOL (53 comments)

It is the crappy state of pre-Internet operating systems that is to blame for the sad state of affairs, IMO.

What specifically about Windows/Unix/Linux is holding back decentralization? Power management? Slow wake-up from low power modes?

I always thought the basic problem is that there isn't an always-on (or always ready to wake up) box in most people's homes that developers can target.

about two weeks ago
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How the Internet Is Taking Away America's Religion

rasmusbr Re:Religion (1037 comments)

Religion as in church attendance or answers to surveys about beliefs has been in decline for probably close to a century and AFAIK there is little sign that the internet is accelerating it. Religion can't survive very well on the internet for exactly the reasons that you point out, but that doesn't mean that it can't survive offline. The problems offline are basically that a combination of social, economic, technological and scientific progress is inherently corrosive to the type of religion that we have in the west.

It's easy to forget in this day and age, but the central aspect of Christianity and Islam is and has always been the Santa Claus aspect of it. Just like Santa comes with presents for you at the end of the year if you have been good, God comes with a big present after the end of your life if you have been good. The central aspect of Christianity is that when Jesus comes back, the poorest will become the richest, the sickest will become the healthiest and so on and so fourth. This idea is utterly irresistible to people who expect to live their whole lives in poverty or illness. Now, if you live in a society where people don't starve to death and most illnesses can be treated to some extent Christianity is not going to be nearly as persuasive as it was to people say 150 years ago.

about two weeks ago
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Facebook and Google's Race To Zero

rasmusbr Not crazy, but obvious (53 comments)

"If I told you that Facebook's strategy was to become the next Prodigy or AOL, you'd take me for crazy,"

That's not crazy, that's obvious. You're approximately the millionth pundit on the ball with regards to Facebook's strategy.

about two weeks ago

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