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How Do We Know the Timeline of the Universe?

stjobe Re:We Really Don't (151 comments)

So, the problem with his pointing out the lack of "testing, reproduction of results" in prehistoric history tales is ... that it isn't good sales?

And that's your scientific objection? To his scientific objection?

No, that's my non-scientific objection to his anti-science rant. A plea against ignorance and the wilful discrediting of a lot of hard-earned science, if you will.

This guy put it a lot better than I ever could; in short, calling these hypotheses "guessing" is ignorant as well as insulting, both to the scientists in the field and to everyone's general level of intelligence.

2 days ago
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How Do We Know the Timeline of the Universe?

stjobe Re:We Really Don't (151 comments)

LOL. Hypothesis is just a fancy way to say "here's my guess". Whether put forward by Joe Schmoe or Johnatan P. Schmoe, PhD it means the same thing.

It really doesn't.

A hypothesis has to make sense, has to be based on observation and/or our best current knowledge of the subject matter. Ideally it is testable somehow, even if only mathematically or theoretically.

A guess doesn't have to have any of those constraints. "Aliens did it" is a guess, but it's not a hypothesis.

2 days ago
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How Do We Know the Timeline of the Universe?

stjobe Re:We Really Don't (151 comments)

Early Universe ideas? Not fact. Not "well-known". Guesses.

That's... really selling science - and the scientific method - way short.

It's not "guesses", it's hypotheses, which are by their nature our best explanations of something given our current understanding of how those things work.

Calling these "guesses" reduces all the science that's actually going on and puts it on the same level as Joe Schmoe's wild-ass guessing on subjects he's not familiar with.

There is a world of difference between Joe guessing what happened in the early days of the universe and a scientist that has devoted several years of his life studying the matter putting forth a hypothesis of what happened.

Please don't paint these as the same thing, it's just doing the anti-science folk a service, and the rest of us a disservice.

2 days ago
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Rare Astronomical Event Will See Triple Moon Shadows On Jupiter

stjobe Re:"Stargazers..." (53 comments)

Thank you Captain Obvious.

Although you should perhaps note that the term "stargazer" is often used as a description of "an observational astronomer, particularly an amateur".

4 days ago
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Analysis Suggests Solar System Contains Massive Trans-Neptunian Objects

stjobe Re:Fastest Probe? [Re:Exciting stuff] (170 comments)

Yep. 300,000 1-megaton yield nukes at 1 metric ton each.

The proposed design had a departure mass of 400,000 tons, with a 50,000 ton payload.

about two weeks ago
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Analysis Suggests Solar System Contains Massive Trans-Neptunian Objects

stjobe Re:Fastest Probe? [Re:Exciting stuff] (170 comments)

I wonder what the fastest possible chemically-propelled-rocket probe is? If the probe was made small and compact to do little more than take photos and spectrographic analysis, how fast could the bugger be made to travel using existing rocket tech?

While not chemically-propelled, Freeman Dyson calculated while working on the Orion project that one of those magnificent bastards could achieve 3.3% of the speed of light (0.03c, 10,000 km/s, or roughly 22 million kph - give or take a few hundred thousand mph - by firing a shaped-charge nuclear bomb behind it every three seconds for ten days straight.

At that speed, Alpha Centauri is just 133 years away, and these ETNOs are really not much farther than down the road to the chemist.

It's a shame that project never came to anything but a few chemical proof-of-concept scale tests.

about two weeks ago
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Analysis Suggests Solar System Contains Massive Trans-Neptunian Objects

stjobe Re:Yuggoth (170 comments)

"Why choose the lesser of two evils? Vote Cthulhu for President 2016"

about two weeks ago
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Analysis Suggests Solar System Contains Massive Trans-Neptunian Objects

stjobe Re:Probe (170 comments)

You recall correctly; Pluto hasn't even made it half a lap around the sun since we discovered it.

It was discovered in 1906, 108 years ago, and it's orbital period is 247.68 years.

about two weeks ago
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An Open Letter To Everyone Tricked Into Fearing AI

stjobe Re:"AI" vs Strong AI (227 comments)

computers are already capable of "hypersonic flight" - they can process information FAR faster and more accurately than any human

Only true for a subset of "process information" - those that lend themselves to computerized calculations (i.e. math).

Humans are rather faster and more accurate than computers at just about any other task.

Also, saying that "all that's missing is sentience" is missing the point that it is exactly this sentience that is the hard (and rather badly defined or even understood) part. We just don't have a clue what sentience is, so there's no way we can even begin to emulate or implement it artificially.

about two weeks ago
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An Open Letter To Everyone Tricked Into Fearing AI

stjobe Re:"Forget about the risk that machines pose to us (227 comments)

it's not like we have to build AI from the ground up. we have a prototype already. it's called the brain. your brain is just a meat processor. it's a system of cells, interconnections, chemicals, and electric pulses. all of that can be modeled in software, and run a million times faster, run itself in parallel, interface with other electronic systems in vastly superior ways, nearly limitless, perfect storage, and so on.

A couple of things:

Our understanding of how the brain works is less than perfect, to put it politely.

More to the point, we have basically no idea what consciousness actually is, how it works, or what makes it appear.

Further, we have a very tenuous grasp of what intelligence is in the first place - we can't even agree on a single definition of it.

So worrying about mankind developing self-conscious artificial intelligences might make for a good sci-fi story, but it makes for a rather lousy news story. We're just nowhere near close to having anything even remotely resembling human intelligence.

If we don't even know what human intelligence is, how could we possibly make artificial copies of it?

Hard AI currently looks for all intents and purposes impossible, and soft AI is just not a threat.

about two weeks ago
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Why We're Not Going To See Sub-orbital Airliners

stjobe Re:huh? (300 comments)

The US banned it because it was European and because the domestic Boeing 2707 never even got to the prototype stage.

Both France/UK (Concorde) and Russia (Tu-144) had actual flying production aircraft but the US couldn't even get a prototype airborne.

That's the sad truth about the US SST program and why (in part) the Concorde never really made it big - what's the use of a very, very expensive airliner whose only redeeming feature is that it's very, very fast if it isn't allowed to go faster than a regular wide-body passenger jet except over international waters?

about three weeks ago
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2014: Hottest Year On Record

stjobe Re: noooo (560 comments)

We need these to store it. For 100.000 years.

Sure. If we're stupid.

If we're smart, we start using thorium reactors instead (so we don't add any more waste than necessary), and build some breeder/burner reactors to reduce the current waste handling to manageable amounts/time spans.

Yeah, nuclear energy research has moved on from the 60's, even though we still use reactor designs from back then. We should really, really stop doing that.

about three weeks ago
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Happy Public Domain Day: Works That Copyright Extension Stole From Us In 2015

stjobe Re: It is sad... (328 comments)

More's the pity. It seems to work rather well in those countries that do have it.

Although, to be fair, those are social democratic countries, not ultra-capitalist like the U.S.

about three weeks ago
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Happy Public Domain Day: Works That Copyright Extension Stole From Us In 2015

stjobe Re:And that's still too long (328 comments)

Twenty years sounds fair to me.

Twenty years from creation (copyright is currently defined as starting at creation) is way too short. I'm about to publish a trilogy of novels, and I started on the first one in 2001. By your standards, six years of profiting from my works should be enough. That's laughable.

You wrote the first one in 2001 and sat on it for 13 years, then complain that 20 years would be too short?

Twenty years from first publication might be reasonable

20 years from publication is about twice as long as is reasonable. Most novels make the vast majority of their sales in their first year, after that it just peters out to nothing over a number of years. It's a rare novel indeed that still makes sales after ten years, let alone twenty.

On the one hand, you have individuals creating works, and on the other hand, you have big corporations creating works.

That one is easy - disallow corporations from owning copyrights. There's no sane reason why copyrights should be allowed to be transferred from the creator anyway - and a corporation is not an entity that can create things anyway.

Either way, a flat twenty years is absurd.

No, what's absurd is the current situation of life+95, with renewals allowed every time that term is in danger of coming to an end.

Copyright is supposed to be a restriction of our right to copy the works of others so that the other can profit from it for a short while - thereby giving the other an incentive to create. But giving up our right to copy forever was never the intention of the deal.

It's high time to renege on a deal that's been perverted by one side into something that no longer even resembles the original intent.

about three weeks ago
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NASA Video Shows What It's Like To Reenter the Earth's Atmosphere

stjobe Re:Re-entry is done wrong (75 comments)

They are "doing it right", there's just no way to do it the way you seem to think it should be done because of the speeds involved and the physics of orbiting.

Low Earth Orbit is only achievable with a speed of roughly 7.8 km/s (17,450 mph, 28,080 kph). Compare that to our regular "smooth controlled flight just like regular flight", with airliners topping roughly 600 mph (1,000 kph), and the fastest air-breathing manned aircraft ever made (the magnificent SR-71) only approaching 2,200 mph (3,500 kph).

The mechanics of orbiting says that to keep a stable orbit you keep a stable speed; if you increase speed you go to a higher orbit, and if you decrease speed you go to a lower orbit. So to get out of orbit we need to slow down.

So you're starting re-entry from a speed roughly ten times faster than a M-16 bullet - at these speeds any interaction with any kind of atmosphere is going to create "major high temperatures", but the physics say that you can't slow down without lowering your orbit and hence entering the atmosphere.

So we're in a bit of a bind here; we're orbiting at 28,000 kph, and we need to slow down to about a tenth of that to even have a chance of "smooth controlled flight" - but as soon as we slow down, our orbit lowers and we hit atmosphere, creating "major high temperatures" because of our speeds.

It should also be noted that it took the better part (70-90% or so) of our launchpad mass to get us up to this speed, and we simply do not have enough fuel to do much of any brake thrusting - the Tsiolkovsky rocket equation is a harsh mistress indeed.

So you see, it's not really that they're "doing it wrong", it's that you don't understand the problem. To be up there in the first place means you have to go really, really fast, and that means re-entry cannot be done "slowly, [...] gliding down gracefully", because as soon as you start to slow down your orbit decays and you start re-entry.

about a month ago
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Small Bank In Kansas Creates the Bank Account of the Future

stjobe Re:Unless it has support for Bitcoin... (156 comments)

Not every bank. Unlike the US, banks in other parts of the world aren't in the dark ages. Sending and receiving money via your bank account can be done instantly, even from your smart phone (no Apple Pay or NFC software required, just email or whatever other system you choose to use from the various options the banks offer).

When I (living in an EU country) need to transfer money to someone, I
* start up my bank's app (for me, it's an Android app, but it's available for iPhone as well) and log in
* ask the person for their bank account number (or pick it from a list of previous transfers)
* enter the amount
* press "send" and validate with my electronic ID.

It takes all of ten seconds, and there's no fee involved. The money usually shows up in the receiver's account immediately.

When I get a bill, I use the same app to OCR it (using my phone's camera), pick an account to debit, and store it to be processed on a date I choose. Takes about ten seconds per bill, then I send them all at once to the bank with one security validation.

I haven't been at a physical bank location in seven years, and the only reason I went there then was to get a mortgage. I haven't been to a physical bank location to pay bills this century.

So yeah. If this is news for Americans, you really do live in the dark ages of banking.

about a month and a half ago
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Judge Rules Drug Maker Cannot Halt Sales of Alzheimer's Medicine

stjobe Re:Can you say... (266 comments)

you are effectively requiring someone to act against his will and work for the company without being able to quit--which is akin to slavery.

Isn't that the whole idea behind capitalism in the first place? Make people act against their will and work for a company without being able to quit? Sure, you can quit working for a specific company, but it's a bit harder to quit working for any company.

There's some delicious irony in forcing the company owners into the same shoes as their employees - I approve of your idea :)

about a month and a half ago
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Excuse Me While I Kiss This Guy: The Science of Misheard Song Lyrics

stjobe Re:My personal favorite of the past few years... (244 comments)

Not sure I'm 100% committed to this rock'n'roll lifestyle:

"I wanna rock'n'roll all night,
and part of every day"
  - KISS

about a month and a half ago

Submissions

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Author raises $1m to self-publish webcomic book

stjobe stjobe writes  |  more than 2 years ago

stjobe (78285) writes "A runaway success for Kickstarter and Order of the Stick author Rich Burlew; not only did he raise more than 2000% of his goal, he broke a few records in the process:

"Author and illustrator Rich Burlew launched The Order of the Stick online in 2003. Following the comic fantasy adventures of a collection of stick figures in a role-playing game world as they struggle with enemies and the rules of the game, much of the story is available online for free, but Burlew also began self-publishing parts of it in paper format in 2005. When the costs of keeping it in print proved too high, Burlew turned to Kickstarter following repeated demands from readers, launching a project in January to raise the $57,750 he needed to rerelease the books in print.

Yesterday, he closed his fundraising project with 14,952 backers and $1,254,120 raised, making The Order of the Stick Kickstarter's most funded project by a single person ever and the most funded creative work the site has ever seen.""

Link to Original Source
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Schlock Mercenary turns 10

stjobe stjobe writes  |  more than 4 years ago

stjobe (78285) writes "Every day now for the last 10 years there's been an new comic up over at Schlock Mercenary. The artist, Howard Tayler, compares it to some other things that's been happening over the last 10 years:

It is older than half of my children.
It is older than my car.
Depending on how you count, it's the longest I've ever held the same job.
I've spent almost a quarter of my life on this.
I've spent more than half my married life on this.
I've drawn 3653 strips, for a total of around 15,000 panels.
There are another 20 strips you still haven't seen (plus a kajillion or so I still haven't drawn.)
I've used enough kneaded eraser that the 'waste lump' of stuff that is too dirty to erase with is twice the size of my fist, and I've thrown away at least twice that much.
I've gone through about 10,000 sheets of legal sized paper.
I've gone through about 500 pens. Each of those set me back around $2.50.
In all that time I've only used five different mechanical pencils. I still have the first one, the second one, and the fifth one.

"
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stjobe stjobe writes  |  more than 7 years ago

stjobe (78285) writes "Sydney Morning Herald reports:

Australian and US scientists successfully launched a supersonic scramjet engine at an Outback test range Friday, as they work on a device that could revolutionise air travel.
The researchers said a rocket carrying the scramjet reached speeds of mach 10 — ten times the speed of sound — after blasting off at the Woomera range in South Australia Friday.
They said it reached an altitude of 530 kilometres (330 miles) before the scramjet was successfully deployed following re-entry to the Earth's atmosphere.
Australia's Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) said it was believed to be the first time a scramjet had been ignited within the Earth's atmosphere.

Google news has many other sources as well."

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