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350-Year-Old Newton's Puzzle Solved By 16-Year-Old

wdsci Re:Military (414 comments)

For one thing, the military doesn't automatically classify anything that is relevant to them. But also, the problem of projectile motion with air resistance was already solvable by computer simulation, and it will continue to be solved by computer simulation. This result doesn't change that, it's just some interesting physics.

more than 2 years ago
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The Laws of Physics Trump Traffic Laws

wdsci Re:This is an April Fool joke (378 comments)

The joke is not necessarily the incident itself, but the fact that he wrote it up in the format of a scientific paper. Obviously the physics involved here is far too trivial to form the basis of a real paper; on any other day you'd get laughed out of physics for submitting something like that to arXiv. But for April 1 submissions, the rules are relaxed a bit.

Now, it's true that I haven't seen any other references to this happening, other than the arXiv submission, so I don't know that the incident really happened. But it seems perfectly plausible that something like that wouldn't be documented anywhere else online. So everything seems consistent with it being a real event, as far as I've seen.

more than 2 years ago
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Losing the Public Debate On Global Warming

wdsci Re:Hansen Must Go (1181 comments)

I definitely agree, with the caveat that generally speaking, it's not quite fair to call consensus a non-scientific argument. Of course it's always best to look at the original data and logically evaluate the analysis yourself, but not everyone has the time (or the experience, or the education) to do that for every study. The next best thing is trusting the 95% of other people in the field who agree (or disagree) with it. Consensus is a necessary piece of how science is done.

more than 2 years ago
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Losing the Public Debate On Global Warming

wdsci Re:Hansen Must Go (1181 comments)

EAU is one of, if not the most important centers of global warming research. So it's not like we are talking about some small unimportant scientists in eastern Zaire, these guys are important in the global warming world.

Sure, but that doesn't matter to my point. Regardless of how important they are, it's still not justified to judge the entire climate change research community based on the actions of a few of them.

And of course they are pushing an agenda. All good scientists do. But in order to make the transition from "personal agenda" to "established science" they have to convince a lot of other people, who aren't going to accept the idea so easily, and who are definitely going to call BS if the original researchers are making stuff up or if their conclusions don't follow from the evidence. (At least, that's the idea; it doesn't always work perfectly but it's not bad.) This is the entire reason that peer review and reproducibility are so important in science.

more than 2 years ago
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Losing the Public Debate On Global Warming

wdsci Re:Hansen Must Go (1181 comments)

If there's anything we learned from the climategate emails, it's that a lot of the scientists working on this problem are not working in good faith.

No, we learned that a few of the scientists working on this problem are not working in good faith. Maybe. As I recall, the official investigation concluded that they had not done anything actually fraudulent, but I don't really know the details on that... still, it was just a small portion of the global climate change research community. Even if their work couldn't be trusted, it wouldn't invalidate everything that everyone else in the field has done.

more than 2 years ago
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Defending Your Cellphone Against Malware

wdsci Re:Presumably (157 comments)

Only because Google doesn't control what Android users can put on their phones, at least not as tightly as Apple does. If you get an iPhone, it still needs to be defended against malware, but Apple does most of the work for you. That's the advantage you get for the developers giving up some of their independence.

Also, popularity may play a role. Some metrics have Android as the most popular smartphone OS, which makes it the most enticing target for malware authors. Same reason Windows is the most virus-prone desktop OS. (Well, one of the reasons, anyway)

about 2 years ago
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Czech Nationwide Census Shows Jump In Jedi Knights

wdsci Re:This is why I don't believe in compulsory votin (321 comments)

Some of us don't vote because we consider it politically irresponsible to make a choice that we don't believe in. If I dislike (or like) all candidates in an election equally, not voting is a (even the) proper choice. The point: before you brush people off for "not participating" in government, make sure they really are being lazy rather than consciously abstaining.

about 3 years ago
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Can Relativity Explain Faster Than Light Particles?

wdsci Re:You can't go c but you can go faster (315 comments)

Yes, there are measurements which indicate that photons have zero mass, and that at least certain kinds of neutrinos have nonzero mass. They are certainly not the same particle, and there's no way the neutrinos could be less massive than photons - even if photons do have a nonzero mass, we've measured that it has to be many orders of magnitude smaller than the known mass differences between different kinds of neutrinos.

Incidentally, "speed of light" c does not necessarily mean the speed of /light/ (photons) - see this for example. c is just a particular universal constant. It happens that massless particles, like photons (as far as we can tell), travel at this speed. Unfortunately we are stuck with the name "speed of light" from the days before relativity, when people didn't know that this speed was significant in any manner other than being the speed of light. The results from OPERA seemed to indicate that the neutrinos were traveling faster than c, so even if the photon did have a significant mass (and thus light did not actually travel at the "speed of light"), the results would still be just as surprising as they are.

more than 3 years ago
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Can Relativity Explain Faster Than Light Particles?

wdsci Re:"Speed" (315 comments)

No, speed is still distance/time (or rather, velocity is displacement/time). That's just a definition, it's not going to change. The effect of gravity is to distort spacetime so that measuring distance and time along any particular path is not so easy anymore.

more than 3 years ago
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LHC Gets Android App

wdsci Re:I'm confused.... (53 comments)

I met one of the people involved in the project a few months ago, and from what he said (IIRC) it sounds like it is mostly about marketing and education. They're trying to increase public awareness of and interest in what the LHC does and why it's important, and they figure that giving people a way to easily interact with the experiment (even if it is kind of a one-way interaction) will help pique their interest. In other words, it's a PR tool.

Then again, I'm not directly involved, so I could be wrong...

more than 3 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: P2P Liability On a Shared Connection?

wdsci Re:Plausable deniability. (346 comments)

That's not a universal experience, though. I've run a Tor exit node for a few years with an exit policy that only allows about a dozen commonly used ports, and I haven't gotten a single complaint. I'd be very surprised if I'm the only one with this kind of experience. So I wouldn't say "if you want to stay out of trouble, do NOT run Tor exit nodes;" I think my experience shows that you can drastically cut down on your chances of getting in trouble by putting some thought into the configuration, without shutting the node down entirely. (FWIW, I run it on a VPS, not on my own equipment) That being said, the idea of running a Tor node as an excuse to cover illegal downloading that you know the source of seems sketchy. Personally, I wouldn't do it in the OP's case. I just wanted to make the case that running a Tor node is not 100% guaranteed to bring the wrath of the *AA down on you.

more than 3 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: Math Curriculum To Understand General Relativity?

wdsci Reposted to Physics Stack Exchange (358 comments)

I reposted your question to Physics Stack Exchange so you can get input from an additional group of people, several of whom have actually studied GR. (Disclaimer: it's not my website, but I'm a frequent contributor) Of course, most of the prerequisites I would think of have already been mentioned here (Newtonian mechanics, electromagnetism, special relativity, linear algebra, multivariable calculus, differential equations, differential geometry), but on PSE you won't have to filter out a bunch of irrelevant comments ;-)

For what it's worth, the main "thrust" of GR is encapsulated in two equations, which you can find here among other places: the geodesic equation and the Einstein field equations. You can use those to guide your progress: once you know enough to understand what they mean, you've successfully learned the basics of GR.

more than 3 years ago
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LHC Data Continues To Disagree With Supersymmetry

wdsci Re:What is with this... (196 comments)

But particle physics in particular seems to have vanished up its own asshole in the last couple of decades Every problem seems to be solved by inventing a new particle which will show up if only we spend ten times as much on the next machine.

As a particle physicist, I fully endorse this ;-)

more than 3 years ago
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Facebook Data Collection Under Fire Again

wdsci Is this the government's job, though? (49 comments)

Honestly, I'm more concerned about the government of Schleswig-Holstein having the authority to control what links its citizens put on their web page this precisely than I am about Facebook collecting the data that it does.

Of course, I'm in the US, not in Germany, so I guess it's not really my fight...

more than 3 years ago
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5.8 Earthquake Hits East Coast of the US

wdsci Re:Pennsylvania (614 comments)

I'm at Penn State, and what I've gathered from hearing people talk about it is that those on the upper floors of buildings felt it, but people walking around outside generally didn't. It seems like that might be the case throughout much of northern PA and further north.

more than 3 years ago
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5.8 Earthquake Hits East Coast of the US

wdsci Re:Oblig XKCD (614 comments)

The first thing that went through my head when I felt the shaking was that comic. (Sadly, an XKCD reader's first instinct is not to find shelter.)

more than 3 years ago
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Ubisoft Considers Always-Connected DRM "A Success"

wdsci Re:It works! (224 comments)

I don't know about "perfect" - after all, if you never create the game in the first place, it will be literally impossible for anyone to pirate it. Plus, you can't beat the production budget of a game that doesn't exist.

more than 3 years ago
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Google Deleting Private Profiles

wdsci Re:Consciously opt out? (312 comments)

Presumably you opt out of Google+ by not opting into it - just don't sign up.

more than 3 years ago
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Indication of Neutrino Transformation Observed

wdsci Re:More Information (128 comments)

The 1.5 is a mathematical expectation value: if they could run this experiment a large number of times, there would be 1.5 events detected on average. Of course, all the physicists involved know that they are not actually going to see exactly 1.5 events. Still, it's more informative to write 1.5 than 1-2.

As far as the 99.3%, I'm not familiar with the specific statistical techniques involved, but if you look at the paper they do provide references that (I assume) explain how that 99.3% value can be obtained.

more than 3 years ago
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Indication of Neutrino Transformation Observed

wdsci Re:proof (128 comments)

Wish I could mod you +1 informative for being the most actually informative comment in this thread and the only one that explains the actual physical significance.

more than 3 years ago

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