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The Star That Exploded At the Dawn of Time

stevelinton Re:Why can't hydrogen cool? (55 comments)

Basically the conditions (temperature, density, amount of ionizing radiation around) thought to apply, the gas would be made up of atoms that tend to simply bounce off one another when they collide. This doesn't change the total energy in random motion of the cloud, ie the temperature.

More complex atoms or molecules can interact in more complicated ways when they collide, so that part of the energy ends up as vibration in a molecule, or extra energy of an electron in an excited state. These vibrating molecules or excited atoms then relax back to their ground state releasing a photon and so actually cooling the cloud.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Do 4G World Phones Exist?

stevelinton 4G only in big cities (259 comments)

There's no 4G outside Edinburgh & Glasgow at the moment I believe, but there is good 3G covering pretty much all the Universities and their surroundings and good wifi in the university buildings. If she's coming to St Andrews (statistically likely) there is definitely no 4G.

about 2 months ago
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The Rise and Fall of Supersymmetry

stevelinton Re:is there an xkcd comic for this? (138 comments)

. For one thing, string theory will probably need to be scrapped.

Not because of this. Supersymmetry and string theory address different problems and are more or less independent.

about 6 months ago
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A Glimpse of a Truly Elastic Cloud

stevelinton Re:A real server OS. (201 comments)

They're called blades

about a year and a half ago
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British Skylon Engine Passes Its Tests

stevelinton Re:250 million just to design it. No prototype (172 comments)

I wonder if the engines could be useful even without the plane?

Strap a bunch of them, some disposable LH2 tanks and a parachute onto the side of a Falcon and drop them when you hit Mach 5. Should improve the mass ration no end.

about 2 years ago
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NASA Discovers Most Distant Galaxy In Known Universe

stevelinton Re:Ummm, (105 comments)

Assuming the astronomers are right, the way it happened is this:

About 420 million years after the Big Bang, this clump of gas formed into a small galaxy and emited a lot of light. At that time, about 1 billion light years away, and moving away at close to the speed of light was another clump of gas.

13 billion years later according to clocks on that other clump of gas, the light "overhauls" the other clump of gas, and is seen by Hubble.

There are other points of view that assign different numbers to some bits of this, but they all agree on the actual facts.

about 2 years ago
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Brainstorming Ways To Protect NYC From Real Storms

stevelinton Spindizzies (203 comments)

James Blish had the solution in his "Cities in Flight" books fifty years ago. Fit a suitable number of spindizzies and fly New York off into the galaxy to look for work.

about 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: How To Fight Copyright Violations With DMCA?

stevelinton Re:That's the way the cookie crumbles (455 comments)

You tube however is in your country. Can you get seek an injunction on them to takedown the video based on the fact you can prove the other side is perjuring itself.

about 2 years ago
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Election Tech: In Canada, They Actually Count the Votes

stevelinton Re:Proportional representation (500 comments)

PR works well where this is a substantial centre party (eg Germany) and badly where there isn't (eg Israel). Most systems also have a lower cutoff, so you have to get 5 or 10% of the vote before you get any seats, which excludes the real loonies.

about 2 years ago
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Florida Researchers Create Shortest Light Pulse Ever Recorded

stevelinton Re:How do they measure this? (76 comments)

It is EASY to create the world's shortest laser pulse: emit a single photon. It is monochromatic, coherent (so it meets the laser defninition), and has the shortest possible pulse. .

No, by cleverly combining multiple photons of different frequencies you can produce a pulse that concentrates its energy in a shorter timespan. Calling it a laser pulse is actually stretching a point a bit, it is triggered by laser light, but the pulse itself is not monochromatic.

about 2 years ago
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How Technology Might Avert an Apocalypse

stevelinton True, but obvious (201 comments)

It's true, of course, that there are many more apparent imminent catastrophes (AICs) than actual catastrophes, especially as we are still here to argue about it.
Some AICs arise from incomplete understanding, some from politically motivated woolly thinking and will go away if ignored. Some are real risks and we just get lucky. Others are partially mitigated by actions taken in response to the apparent threat (Y2K for instance). Some may be fully genuine threats averted by prompt action. Nuclear war between NATO and Warsaw pact in the 60s or 70s might be argued to fall into this category. CND and others successfully undermined the notion of "winnable nuclear war" and made sure that no Western politicians would risk nuclear war.

However, NONE OF THIS MEANS THAT THE NEXT ONE WILL NOT BE REAL. Probably it won't, but we can't just assume it isn't a real threat because the last one wasn't. We have to study each plausible threat, do our best to estimate the risk and where the risk appears significant, do what we can to mitigate it. The universe does not owe us continued existence, let alone continued civilization.

about 2 years ago
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How To Line a Thermonuclear Reactor

stevelinton Re:Beryllium, that's inconvenience (184 comments)

Quantities needed are tiny. It's a surface coating on a few square meters of first wall per gigawatt scale power plant. Not a problem.

about 2 years ago
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Quantum Experiment Shows Effect Before Cause

stevelinton Re:Time delay - info from the future? (465 comments)

No, Victor's machine makes a random choice of whether to entangle or not and makes it AFTER Alice & Bob make their measurements.

more than 2 years ago
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Google Earns $2 Per Handset; Apple, $575

stevelinton Re:0 bars (366 comments)

I'm talking 10 years out, as I have said a couple of times. I doubt there will be zero bars anywhere in Europe or North America except perhaps national parks by then. Anyway, the JS could probably support most of your work locally and resync when it gets a chance.

Plugging hardware in is the equivalent of installing an app. Standardized interfaces and pre-approved standardized products. My guess is that compiling and installing software IN 5-10 YEARS will feel like installing a PCI card or DIMMs now -- not impossible, or unheard of, but a bit scary, voids your warranty and not something most people do.

more than 2 years ago
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Google Earns $2 Per Handset; Apple, $575

stevelinton Re:My 10" laptop fits in a handbag (366 comments)

Software development will form just as negligible a part of the personal computing market in 10 years as it does now.

That said, my best guess: the IDE will be running partly in Javascript on your browser and partly on a server. Installing software on the thing you hold
will be about as strange as installing hardware on it is now. Not unheard of, but old-fashioned and unusual.

more than 2 years ago
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Google Earns $2 Per Handset; Apple, $575

stevelinton Re:My 10" laptop fits in a handbag (366 comments)

It's my understanding that any device for creating, as opposed to a device primarily for viewing, will require some sort of "special training or experience."

This is often true, but the handful of exceptions have been HUGE hits -- mobile phone cameras with facebook integration, for instance. The content created is mostly not very interesting to anyone except the creator and a few friends, of course, but that's hardly new.

There will always be niche markets. My personal guess is that in ten years they will basically all be presented as peripherals for your phone/tablet. They may, in fact, be many times more powerful, and essentially take over when you are using them, but the experience will be a continuation of the "smartphone" experience, in the sense that your preferences/identity/data/etc. will all be the same.

more than 2 years ago
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Google Earns $2 Per Handset; Apple, $575

stevelinton Re:Mobile broadband is still expensive (366 comments)

Two things. One is that I doubt many people do software development on the bus. The things I want to do on the bus work fine on the tablet -- read some papers, check my mail (as of last network connection) , play a game to while away the journey.

The other is that we are looking a few years ahead here. We're talking about companies positioning themselves for how they see the market in 2-5 years, not how they see it now.

more than 2 years ago
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Google Earns $2 Per Handset; Apple, $575

stevelinton Re:"defining the post-PC computing paradigm" (366 comments)

There are two things a tablet can do that a desktop, or even a laptop won't do:

1. Weigh less than 1kg and fit in a handbag or large pocket
2. Be usable (at least for some purposes) by random members of the public with no special training or experience.

To most (not all, and probably not you) users, these trump the things a desktop PC can do that a tablet can't.

more than 2 years ago
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Google Earns $2 Per Handset; Apple, $575

stevelinton Re:"defining the post-PC computing paradigm" (366 comments)

Me too.

And I'm supposed to do serious work and study on a tablet? hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

Why not exactly? I was thinking about this now -- my iPad has more pixels of screen (albeit a bit smaller) than my MacBookPro. It can talk to a bluetooth keyboard and to an external monitor. I don't know about an external mouse, I never had occasion to try. My MBP has a lot more CPU power and a development environment, and much more storage, but I can perfectly well connect the iPad to a server for that sort of thing. Why should I carry it around with me, or even have it cluttering up my office. I have a decent SSH client on it.

There are still reasons, of course. The iPad is a much more closed environment -- there is software I want to run (with GUI so I want to run it locally) that apple might not approve of. On the other hand more and more software is running in Javascript in a browser (and/or on the server side), so this is likely to be less of a restriction. I can see the laptop and desktop effectively disappearing. You put your phone/pad down on or near your desk and the keyboard and screen(s) on your desk are now extensions of your phone/pad environment. There might well be a CPU in the back of the screen, so that things run faster at your desk, and storage in the room or building to provide a fast cache of your cloud storage, but as far as the user is concerned, it's phone/pad all the way.

more than 2 years ago
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Using Pulsars For Spacecraft Navigation

stevelinton Re:Prior art (77 comments)

True, but there are lots of ways to work. For instance send a few probes out in different directions at (say) 1% of lightspeed with decent telescopes.

After a few decades the probes (which can locate themselves using pulsars) can get a fantastic parallax baseline to pin down the 3D location of anything within a few hundred lightyears very accurately indeed. Then you can use pulsars to steer the next generation (faster) probe through the target solar system.

more than 2 years ago

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