×

Announcing: Slashdot Deals - Explore geek apps, games, gadgets and more. (what is this?)

Thank you!

We are sorry to see you leave - Beta is different and we value the time you took to try it out. Before you decide to go, please take a look at some value-adds for Beta and learn more about it. Thank you for reading Slashdot, and for making the site better!

Comments

top

Berkeley Lab Builds World Record Tabletop-Size Particle Accelerator

the gnat Re:What about efficiency? (90 comments)

Anyone know what the efficiencies are on these sorts of "tabletop" laser particle accelerators versus say a linac? I'm curious as to whether it'd make an effective "tabletop" spallation neutron source

I don't know about efficiency, but the problem with the tabletop synchrotrons (which accelerate electrons, but X-rays are the primary product) is that their X-ray flux is much lower than the football-field-sized rings, which means they're not as useful for molecular imaging applications. My guess would be that the same problem would apply to a tabletop neutron source.

about two weeks ago
top

Physicist Kip Thorne On the Physics of "Interstellar"

the gnat Re:"Physics" (289 comments)

I'd even say there has been very little fundamentally new stuff for the last 100 years.

Depends on what area of technology, and what you consider "new" as opposed to a "technical refinement" or "manufacturing advance". Does the transistor count, or is that just an incremental improvement on vacuum tubes? The physics required to build, say, an iPhone were mostly understood by the 1920s, and I don't think there was any theoretical work suggesting that it was impossible. On the other hand, the concept of ubiquitous handheld multi-functional computing and communication devices connected by a global network containing nearly all human knowledge required levels of technology that couldn't even be guessed at.

If you consider the life sciences instead, our background knowledge is as far beyond 1920s biology as the iPhone is beyond the telegraph, and revolutionary discoveries and technical advances are still being made.

about three weeks ago
top

Canada's Ebola Vaccine Nets Millions For Tiny US Biotech Firm

the gnat Re:Recognize the crisis in US Big Pharma... (70 comments)

Free market indeed, it's funny when the market is far freer in a politically communist nation

China has a huge number of trade barriers, including price caps on pharmaceuticals. The other half of the "free(er) market" you're describing is a failure to enforce IP rights (or, possibly, failure by companies to file the relevant patent applications in China, but that seems unlikely), so that pharma companies are having to compete with generic products that would be illegal in the US. You can applaud this if you like, but it's not generally considered a good environment for inventing new drugs.

about three weeks ago
top

Canada's Ebola Vaccine Nets Millions For Tiny US Biotech Firm

the gnat Re:50 MILLION DOLLARS! (70 comments)

Of course an experimental ebola vaccine wasn't worth that much in 2010 since the Africans needing it then didn't have lots of cash to pay for it.

Also: it's experimental, which by definition means that someone has to invest a lot of time and money figuring out if it actually works. Drug companies license experimental therapies like this all the time. Nine times out of ten (probably more), they're buying something that turns out to be worthless. When they actually get hold of something that really works, of course it looks like a steal in retrospect, but there's no way to predict that in advance. (Although I do sometimes wonder why academic IP holders don't push for profit-sharing agreements more often.)

about three weeks ago
top

Manslaughter Conviction Overturned For Scientists Who Didn't Predict Earthquake

the gnat Re:What about 'mainstream economists'? (139 comments)

So, basically, we should criminally prosecute anyone whose views disagree with your political biases?

about a month and a half ago
top

New Particle Collider Is One Foot Long

the gnat Re:Not exactly (161 comments)

Yes, that is actually before the US entered WWII and long before the invention of the cyclotron.

Huh? The cyclotron was invented in 1932. Obviously a relatively primitive instrument (it would easily fit on my kitchen table), but the underlying design is still in use.

about a month and a half ago
top

Gates Donates $500M+ To Fight Malaria and Other Diseases

the gnat Re:How long will it take slashdot to spin this? (106 comments)

All he does is pushing corporate interests

What corporate interests are involved in curing malaria? The entire reason that Bill Gates is subsidizing these efforts is that there isn't much financial incentive for Big Pharma to develop drugs for diseases that primarily afflict people in Third World nations.

about a month and a half ago
top

Gates Donates $500M+ To Fight Malaria and Other Diseases

the gnat Re:The World is Overcrowded (106 comments)

this is natures way of making sure the world doesn't get overcrowded. It's a sad fact but people NEED to die.

Then how do you explain the fact that some of the countries with the highest life expectancies, and almost no severe endemic diseases, are also the ones with the slowest-growing (or even shrinking) populations?

about a month and a half ago
top

Gates Donates $500M+ To Fight Malaria and Other Diseases

the gnat Re:How long will it take slashdot to spin this? (106 comments)

Reduce the rate of people, and especially children, dying and there will just be a lot more dying a generation down the road when they exceed what they can feed/house/employ/etc. again.

Actually, this has it almost exactly backwards: reducing infant mortality has been a major cause of stabilizing population growth. Increasing prosperity also helps a great deal, and there's a strong argument that malaria is a huge economic drain.

If you are messing with a complex system and do not understand its inner workings, you are on the road to hell. Or maybe he just does not care.

Or maybe he doesn't share your misanthropic view of humanity, and your insistence that "those people" need to stop breeding before they can enjoy the comforts of Western civilization?

about a month and a half ago
top

Pope Francis Declares Evolution and Big Bang Theory Are Right

the gnat Re:So What? (669 comments)

But isn't this the same reason that evangelicals have traditionally distrusted Catholicism, and one of the main selling points of fundamentalist Christianity? Catholicism is pretty much the exemplar of organized religion: doctrine is determined by the church hierarchy rather than the text of the Bible, which of course has been prone to all kinds of abuse, and the dependency on church membership for salvation gives the institution immense secular power. With fundamentalism, on the other hand, all that matters is accepting Jesus as lord and savior, and following the text of the Bible, which has been static for many centuries (ignoring the translation issue for now) and isn't prone to tampering by present-day authorities. (My understanding was that this is one of the same attractions of Islamic law elsewhere in the world.) Given the history of the Catholic church in medieval Europe, I can see why this would be attractive to the spiritually-minded (which I am definitely not).

about 2 months ago
top

Antares Rocket Explodes On Launch

the gnat Re:Send them to China or India for training (443 comments)

The Chinese launch failure was especially disastrous because it crashed in a populated (civilian) area. At least most of the launch failures haven't been fatal (Challenger being the obvious exception).

about 2 months ago
top

Antares Rocket Explodes On Launch

the gnat Re: That's the part that "counts" (groan) (443 comments)

The whole "commercial" launch thing is a misnomer. It's business as usual, except that this time NASA does less micromanagement, and there are some new faces at the table. That's all.

And the contracts won't be cost-plus, meaning the contractors don't have a blank check and projects will actually have to stay on budget. There may be legitimate arguments why this is a bad idea for a national space program (personally, I disagree), but it does represent a rather large change from the way launches were done in the past.

about 2 months ago
top

High Speed Evolution

the gnat Re:Falsifiability (282 comments)

What is the case in which you would -not- call a biological change "evolution", and how is that different from the mere criteria for "reproduction"?

To start with, any time the change was brought about by deliberate, external intervention. For example, Bt-expressing corn, or glyphosphate-resistant crops, are obvious examples of "intelligent design" in the literal, non-pseudoscientific sense. We know this because "we" (i.e. humans) made these modifications ourselves, by a known and reproducible mechanism. I would argue that conventional breeding isn't really "evolution" either, although it relies on more natural phenomena rather than direct genome manipulation.

The fact that these biological changes are genuinely intelligent design does not prove the general case, however, because we've only had the technology for direct genetic manipulation for a few decades, and only know about selective breeding for a few millennia. For other biological changes, we assume evolution, because the directly observed mechanisms by which evolution operates rely on processes that we know have been possible for hundreds of millions of years (if not billions). If you want us to start considering intelligent design, you need to demonstrate a mechanism that predates human civilization.

about 2 months ago
top

High Speed Evolution

the gnat Re:Falsifiability (282 comments)

we have not actually observed it happening

Um, wrong.

about 2 months ago
top

Canada Will Ship 800 Doses of Experimental Ebola Drug to WHO

the gnat Re:WHO owns the property rights? (102 comments)

Just shows what big pharma actually does for the money they get. Not much it seems.

Why would Big Pharma waste time trying to cure Ebola? It's a disease that affects a relatively tiny number of people in (mostly, until the past month) Third World nations. It is only notable due to the terrifyingly (and unusual) high mortality rate, but there is absolutely no financial incentive to go after it right now.

about 2 months ago
top

How English Beat German As the Language of Science

the gnat Re:German illegal? (323 comments)

everyone bowing down before Obama

Uh, who is bowing before Obama? A large fraction of the Democratic legislators running for re-election this year are actively avoiding mentioning his name.

about 2 months ago
top

How English Beat German As the Language of Science

the gnat Re:German illegal? (323 comments)

I remember in 2012 when there was a Congressional hearing to decide if Muslims should be illegal.

The links you provided do not support this description. Moreover, the way our system of government works, any moron congressman with an agenda can hold hearings to discuss his bedwetting problems. That doesn't necessarily make it representative of popular sentiment, and it certainly doesn't make it official government policy.

about 2 months ago
top

Pro-Democracy Websites In Hong Kong Targeted With and Serving Malware

the gnat Re:Clearly Western Interference (44 comments)

please give me citation of a country where Democracy brought freedom to the masses.

I think most of the citizens of former Warsaw Pact nations would agree that they're freer now that they can elect their own leaders instead of being de-facto provinces of Greater Russia.

about 2 months ago
top

2014 Nobel Peace Prize Awarded To Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzay

the gnat Re: Because she had a big impact on peace on earth (144 comments)

few lately meet the original criteria of fostering peace and reducing war,

I think it's been very broad for the last 50 years, and what they also now recognize is nonviolent resistance to tyranny. That's why MLK and Lech Walesa won the prize (among others), and I have a hard time thinking of anyone more deserving.

about 2 months ago
top

Co-Founder of PayPal Peter Thiel: Society Is Hostile To Science and Technology

the gnat Re:A bit of a straw-man (238 comments)

On the other hand, implementation of technology has become a corporate thing.

Unlike 100 years ago, when anyone with a trowel and some perseverance could grow iPhones in their home garden, and communications satellites were built by village artisans.

Or we could go back in time to, say, the 1940s, when the development of computers and rockets was being driven by one of the ugliest wars in history. Not to say that it wasn't necessary, but do you really think that would be an improvement over Apple and SpaceX?

about 2 months ago

Submissions

the gnat hasn't submitted any stories.

Journals

the gnat has no journal entries.

Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?