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Science By Democracy Doesn't Work

tulcod Re:A question for all the"deniers". (494 comments)

Since this seems to be an honest question, let me attempt to give an honest answer.

I am not a climate change "denier" per se, but if I see a news item about this or that climate change report, I will raise my eyebrows. Not so much because of the report, but because of the way the results are /presented/: for example, a common reasoning is "more CO2 means more infra red absorption, and we've seen an increase in CO2, and we are also helping cause that increase, ergo we should get rid of all cars today."

Although somewhat exaggerated, many climate change news articles have a hint of this kind of a presentation. And although I like to believe the actual reports themselves are all objective and scientific, they are often presented in a non-scientific style (if only in the introduction/conclusion), which, for me, reduces the scientific value.

Why? Because I did not do the research. I did not uniformly select measurement locations, I did not record the data, I did not process the statistics. So all I have to base my judgement on is the presentation, and honestly, climate change is one of those sciences that screws up in this respect every once in a while (psychology, sociology and artificial intelligence are three more such sciences).

So no, I am not convinced that us driving around in cars causes the world to flood. Nor am I convinced that Wiles' 1994 proof of Fermat's Last Theorem is correct.

That does not take away the fact that I know of many other reasons that I would like to see CO2 emissions decrease - if indirect reasons. E.g., it would stabilize the economy and make us independent of weird nations like the Arabic oil states. And we would no longer need to worry about the amount of oil we should save for later use. And it would probably positively affect the air quality in cities if we'd switch to e.g. electric vehicles (and perhaps reduce noise). And /maybe/ there is also some value in all the climate change stories, but to me this is secondary since I cannot assess the value of it.

about a week ago

Graphene May Top Kevlar As a Bullet-Stopping Material

tulcod Graphene: easy to use, hard to produce (129 comments)

Essentially, right now it is really really difficult to work with graphene on an industrial scale.

If you want to work with it in the lab, you get yourself some graphite (essentially pencil lead), some scotch tape, some solvents and you're done. It is dirt cheap and, given a good microscope and a steady hand, not too difficult to work with.

But of course this is no way to work with it on any larger scale. You want to be able to produce a certain amount of it, reliably and precisely. No flaws in the graphene crystal. No multi-layer graphene (which in fact is one of the toughest things to avoid).

This is all really difficult right now.

The situation was similar for transistors, if you recall: the first solid-state transistor was invented in 1947 (by 1956 Nobel prize winners John Bardeen, Walter Brattain and William Shockley), but it took until the 1960s for ICs to take off (Jack Kilby, 2000 Nobel prize winner, is usually pointed out as the culprit). It took until 2004 (!) for the first single-layer graphene to be isolated (by 2010 Nobel prize winners Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov). So expect the first industrial application of graphene somewhere around the end of this decade, and some patent wars around 2019-2025, and then a Nobel prize for the inventor of whatever industrial process we will be using, around 2040.

about 2 months ago

Enzymes Make Electricity From Jet Fuel Without Ignition

tulcod Re:Efficiency (78 comments)

That is not how fundamental engineering works.

What do you think the first solid-state transistor looked like? A neat P-N junction on a silicon wafer, produced by one of those fancy ASML fab machines in Korea? Do you think the first solid-state transistor was capable of speeds anything like what we expect today? Do you think it was "efficient" for any meaning of that word?

The first solid-state transistor was a piece of plastic jammed into a block of germanium. It was dirty, crooked, difficult to make, and generally a pain in the ass.

But it was a proof of concept. It took a lot of additional engineering to make it usable in actual electronics. And then a lot more to make it smaller. And then a lot more to make it scalable. And then years and years and years and years of research brought us to what we know today as a transistor.

But the first transistor was just an impractical oversized proof of concept.

The research in this article is important. It shows that what was always theoretically an option is actually possible in practice. Scalability, efficiency, effort to produce - none of that matters at this stage. Obviously that would all be interesting next steps, but this shows that the principle works. And that is damn interesting.

about 3 months ago

Elon Musk Warns Against Unleashing Artificial Intelligence "Demon"

tulcod AI as our only defense against AI (583 comments)

If you regulate AI, and try to limit its influence, all that's going to happen is that hobbyists and/or terrorists will work it out on their own eventually, and /that/ could be dangerous.

If you want to protect yourself against the dangers of AI, setup some AI that you *know* will protect you, because it is designed as such.

If any superhuman AI is possible, then it *will* happen, and if it can be evil, then you better have a plan to defend yourself. Since we supposed the evil AI to be superhuman, we can't defend ourselves.

So we better start building something that will.

about 3 months ago

Speed Cameras In Chicago Earn $50M Less Than Expected

tulcod Re:Easy to solve - calibrate them to overestimate (398 comments)

That's quite an accusation you're making there. Do you have any kind of reliable source backing up this claim, other than someone else claiming the same thing on some gaming forum you like to visit for your monthly dose of conspiracy theories?

In other words, [citation needed] biatch.

about 3 months ago

Statisticians Uncover What Makes For a Stable Marriage

tulcod Re:Couples where one partner says, "Well yeah but" (447 comments)

Well sure, but
- does the one partner saying "Well yeah, but correlation doesn't equal causation" cause the death of the spouse, or
- does the death of the spouse cause the partner to say "Well yeah, but correlation doesn't equal causation", or
- is there a third explanatory factor causing both the partner to say "Well yeah, but correlation doesn't equal causation" and the death of the spouse?

about 4 months ago

Astronomers Find Star-Within-a-Star, 40 Years After First Theorized

tulcod Wait, these are for real? (72 comments)

IANAA, but this sounds like an extremely unstable setup. What am I take make of this?

- Is the research reliable?

- How can such a thing be stable? Is there any particular process that keeps one star inside the other?

- What even /is/ such a body? If you were to travel from the outside to the midpoint of the body, would you encounter two barriers of destructing heat, with some emptiness (I'd like to say "vacuum" but of course space is not exactly a vacuum) in between?
Or is it actually just something entirely unlike what you would imagine when someone says "star within a star"?

about 4 months ago

It's Dumb To Tell Kids They're Smart

tulcod Classic Khan pseudoscience (243 comments)

Your brain doesn't "grow" when you exercise it. It develops.

And to dispel another myth: your brain cells die and divide like in any other organ. But "growth" is definitely the wrong word here.

These kinds of mistakes are why you don't use Khan academy, and the old-fashioned sources are just more precise.

But congratulations on figuring out yet another key to life, allowing you to tell other people exactly how to live theirs - after all, that's really the only purpose of science, isn't it?

about 5 months ago

Rosetta Achieves Orbit Around Comet

tulcod Doesn't an orbit require gravity? (54 comments)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but based on the little I learned from KSP, I don't think anything can reasonably get an orbit around a comet due to its lack of mass.

about 6 months ago

Teaching College Is No Longer a Middle Class Job

tulcod Re:Not to be snarky (538 comments)

I've had it with these references to the "IT wonders". You can't base your life plan on the successes of four (!) individuals.

about 7 months ago

New Car Can Lean Into Curves, Literally

tulcod Re:Poorly Designed Roadways Addressed By This (243 comments)

Less sensation of control loss is not a good thing. If the road was built badly (ie. opposite banking) then the driver should be aware of that, instead of thinking that he has control while in fact he doesn't.

This technology is a gimmick not unlike the pneumatics famous from the 80s (?) cars.

about 8 months ago

Efforts To Turn Elephants Into Woolly Mammoths Are Already Underway

tulcod Times sure are changing (147 comments)

When Intel buys or invents some kind of a new chip process, everyone applauds. When engineers use 3D printing to save a crippled boy's life, everyone celebrates technology. Stick an arduino in a tumor and people scream in ecstasy.

But when the item of cloning comes in the news, suddenly people back away and ask what it's all good for. Because us humans are not allowed to mess with that.

Come on people. We invested thousands of years trying to understand the tricks of physics and evolution. We have now got to a stage where we can apply these tricks ourselves and see what we can make of the world.

Will it turn out for the better? Absolutely nobody knows. But telling scientists not to mess with this takes us back to the middle ages, where scientific incentives were influenced heavily by religious and cultural beliefs.

Let us show ourselves that we no longer need that. This is the time to end that society of religion and culture. Messing with life, and bringing back the extinct, those are exactly the kind of things that go against all rules of religion that we have adhered to for the past x thousands years. Humans are the new god on planet earth (and beyond?).

about 8 months ago

Grace Hopper, UNIVAC, and the First Programming Language

tulcod Re:Offtopic: on the speed of electricity (137 comments)

I have always thought of the travel of electricity as the flow of the electromagnetic waves.

Then how does DC electricity "travel" from your phone charger to your phone? (again, there are no electromagnetic waves, even though there may be fields. a wave is a changing field.)

about 8 months ago

Grace Hopper, UNIVAC, and the First Programming Language

tulcod Re:Offtopic: on the speed of electricity (137 comments)

How do you think electrons repel each other?

Electromagnetic fields, which do not "travel" in any reasonable sense.

The speed of light thing is actually more complicated if you involve relativity and quantum field theory and stuff, which is why I used the word "roughly" to protect myself exactly from people who pretend to know physics. If I had said "exactly at the speed of light", some theoretical physicist would have made some remark about this or that field theory or standard model solution or whatever kind of physics that I don't quite understand.

about 8 months ago

Grace Hopper, UNIVAC, and the First Programming Language

tulcod Re:Offtopic: on the speed of electricity (137 comments)

(on top of that, there are no electromagnetic waves travelling along a wire conducting DC current)

about 8 months ago

Grace Hopper, UNIVAC, and the First Programming Language

tulcod Offtopic: on the speed of electricity (137 comments)

a short length of wire [...] sized to represent the distance electricity would travel in a nanosecond.

You cannot see such a piece of wire. Electrons drift at a speed in the order of 0.0002m/s, giving you a wire length in the order of 10^-13 meters.

Electromagnetic waves "travel" roughly at the speed of light. But when someone talks about the travel of electricity, the thing that people think about is the flow of electrons, not the electromagnetic waves.

about 8 months ago

Can Web-Based Protests Be a Force for Change?

tulcod Protests are a display of effort (76 comments)

One thing that definitely plays a role in this discussion is that in big street protests, a lot of people have to come out of their house and basically waste their day for this one cause. This in itself shows how strongly they feel about certain issues.

This is much more difficult in the case of internet protests: we all know how little facebook likes mean.

If you want to make web-based protests work, you will somehow have to incorporate an element of effort, which - since the only tissue we have online is that of information - is going to have to have some intellectual ingredient. Indeed, the many discussions we are having on this very website can be seen as minor protests.

about 10 months ago

93 Harvard Faculty Members Call On the University To Divest From Fossil Fuels

tulcod Re:What does it mean to divest? (214 comments)

Harvard has a sick amount of money, and they *can* afford to miss some of it. If they "lose" money by not investing in oil, they will still be able to fund many students' tuition fees (because Harvard is not /just/ a school for the rich, although arguably you need to be in higher income classes to be admitted in the first place).

If Harvard "loses" money or otherwise does not have the budget they projected, nothing changes.

about 10 months ago



Dutch party votes for internet filtering

tulcod tulcod writes  |  more than 3 years ago

tulcod (1056476) writes "The Dutch government has accidentally passed a law on net neutrality, enabling ISPs to filter internet traffic based on "ideological motives". The PvdA (labor party) accidentally voted for this exception to the Telecomwet (telecommunications law), which, on its own, does not allow such filtering. PvdA intends to repair their mistake."
Link to Original Source

AMD to receive first DisplayPort certification

tulcod tulcod writes  |  more than 6 years ago

tulcod (1056476) writes "AMD has received the first DisplayPort certification for their Radeon HD 3400, 3600 and 3800 products, as well as the new 780G motherboard chipset, which includes a Radeon HD 3200 IGP.
"AMD has been a driving force in the development of DisplayPort," said Bill Lempesis, Executive Director, VESA. "The ATI Radeon HD 3000 series of graphics cards are the first source devices to achieve DisplayPort certification.""

Link to Original Source

Pidgin 2.2.0 Released

tulcod tulcod writes  |  more than 7 years ago

tulcod (1056476) writes "Pidgin 2.2.0 contains the results of several major Google Summer of Code branches bringing some new, extraordinary features. We have a new protocol, MySpaceIM, a bunch of new features for an existing protocol, XMPP, and nifty new certificate management to make sure your IM server is who it says it is."
Link to Original Source

Is copyright a good thing?

tulcod tulcod writes  |  more than 7 years ago

tulcod (1056476) writes "Recently, someone at my school, a man who's about 60 years old, told me his opinion (in person) about copyrights. He clearly thinks copyrighting is a bad thing. I doubt he's part of the scene (and it seems implausible he has ever downloaded, for example, music), but there are probably a lot of people agreeing with him. I don't really know what to think of it. Obviously, pretty much all of us have ever "stolen" media. But I think it's implausible any of us did that with objective goals. So is the old man at school correct? Is copyright a bad thing for everyone?"


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