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Russia May Be Planning National Space Station To Replace ISS

werepants Re:Maybe repurpose it a little... (225 comments)

Something made for interplanetary travel like that would need far more radiation shielding, which basically must drive most of the rest of the spacecraft architecture. The ISS is in one of the most benign orbits out there (not dealing with the Van Allen belts, yet still enjoying the protection of Earth's magnetosphere). As soon as it got beyond LEO, a single solar flare could be enough to give all the inhabitants a lethal dose of radiation.

Believe it or not, there are some fairly smart people working at NASA. And in the aerospace industry in general. Maybe rather than assuming that the people who do this professionally are ignorant, it would be better to assume that there's something they know that you don't.

yesterday
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Russia May Be Planning National Space Station To Replace ISS

werepants Re:What do you mean "may be"? (225 comments)

The ISS will be a 20 year old international experiment at that point, yes the US and Russian halves of the ISS share a common "atmosphere" but mechanically they're completely separate space stations capable of detaching at any time.

False. The US portion of the ISS cannot survive without the Russian parts, and vice versa. This was intentional, to ensure interdependence and continued cooperation.

yesterday
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Interviews: Ask Malcolm Gladwell a Question

werepants Increasing automation (108 comments)

We've got dramatic and sudden changes forecasted in the use of automation in various industries. The trucking industry alone could change in a few short years with the advent of self-driving vehicles, leaving millions out of work. What kind of social impact do you foresee with these developments - do you think this kind of automation will be a fundamentally different kind of technological advance than our society has previously dealt with?

4 days ago
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Interviews: Ask Malcolm Gladwell a Question

werepants Recent religious topics (108 comments)

I imagine that the different circles you run in might have dramatically different responses to the religious emphasis in your recent work. What kind of reactions (wanted and unwanted) have you gotten from your recent move towards Christianity?

4 days ago
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Interviews: Ask Malcolm Gladwell a Question

werepants How (108 comments)

You have made a career out of writing books that popularize scientific findings - it seems like this is a task fraught with potential dangers, in terms of representing something that your readers misinterpret and misapply, or perhaps taking a published study and drawing an unwarranted conclusion yourself that attracts the ire of the original researchers. Certainly, much science journalism lately can be criticized for sensationalizing scientific results in the pursuit of better headlines, sometimes at the cost of being deliberately misleading. Can you expound a bit on the issues you've run into as a purveyor of scientific results, and explain how you balance the need for a faithful presentation of the source material with the desire to find something relatable and compelling enough to write a book about?

4 days ago
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Debunking a Viral Internet Post About Breastfeeding Racism

werepants Re:Most people don't object to public breast feedi (350 comments)

This article, from an evolutionary psychologist, entirely demonstrates my point. Breasts have evolved to be the way that they are because of sexual selection.

http://www.theguardian.com/sci...

The point is that you select a mate based on what will best help your own genes to propagate. Males will be inclined to look for a woman that is 1: sexually mature (has breasts and wider hips than waist) 2: able to carry and deliver a child and feed the child until it is able to eat something besides breastmilk.

If you don't satisfy those minimal criteria, your genes aren't getting passed on. So by the only measure that matters in evolution, you haven't reproduced. The artificial methods you've suggested (bottles, etc) didn't exist during the vast majority of human history. They have nothing to do with it.

Now, we know that the features we've discussed are not actually reliable indicators of fitness (large-chested women can have trouble breastfeeding, and small-chested women can produce plenty of milk) but they key in to those things that a male will be biologically inclined to look at when choosing a mate. The reason that sex in advertising is so pernicious is because it taps into deep, instinctual biological impulses we have.

From the article: "The sex appeal of rounded female buttocks and plump breasts is both universal and unique to the human primate" - this is cited in more depth there, but the point is that you are arguing against human nature. Again, the answer is not to pretend that sexual body parts aren't what they are. It is to stop this weird culture of sexual obsession combined with prudery, accept that sex is just a part of life like any other, and be adults about the whole thing.

about a week ago
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Debunking a Viral Internet Post About Breastfeeding Racism

werepants Re:Most people don't object to public breast feedi (350 comments)

Feeding a child is only about 9 months removed from having sex. You can't have (typically, biologically speaking) one without the other. So I'm saying it is inherently associated with reproduction. It isn't a stretch to say that men would be biologically predisposed to "sexualize" breasts because of an instinct to look for a partner that could feed a child (not that it matters in reality, I'm well aware that cup size has little to do with milk production).

I guess the question would be this - is there any body part that is rightly considered "sexual"? If you don't believe so, we'll have to agree to disagree.

about a week ago
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Debunking a Viral Internet Post About Breastfeeding Racism

werepants Re:Most people don't object to public breast feedi (350 comments)

Wait, what? Something that has sexual characteristics can also perform other functions. I'm not sure what analogy you're trying to get at with the bathroom thing... I don't get offended when someone urinates in the restroom, and I don't get offended when someone breastfeeds in public or wherever. Those are both non-sexual behaviors with body parts that also have sexual functionality. I would probably find it inappropriate if someone was using those body parts to arouse themselves in public.

The point is, a body part that has a non-sexual function can still very well be an inherent part of the sexual process. So I'm saying that just because breastfeeding is not directly sexual, doesn't mean that breasts don't have an inherent sexual aspect due to our biology. And I would argue that they do, for a large variety of reasons - not least because when we are referring to the "sex" of a person we really mean whether they possess the physical features associated with being male or the physical features associated with being a woman. Anything on that short list of physical indicators is rightly called a sexual organ.

I'm not saying that breastfeeding in public is sexual. I'm just saying it is fine to accept the sexual aspects of breasts while simultaneously affirming the utility in child rearing. It isn't either/or.

about a week ago
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Debunking a Viral Internet Post About Breastfeeding Racism

werepants Re:Most people don't object to public breast feedi (350 comments)

Sexual selection is often about the features that suggest an individual is about being able to provide, care for, and protect offspring. Large breasts and a narrow waist both suggest capability in this area. Just like broad shoulders and height suggest so for a man.

The thing is, feeding a baby is an inherent part of the reproduction of the species, just as intercourse is. Breasts are the only organ that is exclusively related to reproduction - they serve literally no other purpose, and are an active hindrance in many other ways.

You haven't addressed that contention, so all the examples of other traits considered don't really impact my argument.

about a week ago
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Debunking a Viral Internet Post About Breastfeeding Racism

werepants Re:Most people don't object to public breast feedi (350 comments)

Breasts have no purpose except attracting a mate, and feeding offspring, both of which are closely related to sexual activity. It's like saying that people shouldn't associate penises with sex, because they are used for other things too. I agree that many cultures are too uptight about teh boobs, but I don't think that is because they have wrongfully associated breasts with sex. I think it's because sex is still taboo in many places, and also because females are treated as sex objects more than men are.

We don't need a campaign of public breastfeeding or more nudity to solve the problem, we just need more gender equality and general comfort with sexuality. I agree with you that advertising is way over the line and a big contributor to the problem though.

Lastly, an otherwise pretty decent post was ruined when you decided to get holier-than-thou on anybody who ever eats a burger. People who might otherwise listen to you will stop as soon as you get pretentious and judgmental about perfectly normal eating habits.

about two weeks ago
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Comet Probe Philae Unanchored But Stable — And Sending Back Images

werepants Re:Couldn't they have used an RTG? China syndrome (132 comments)

I presume that reason is water weight, in the case of steam turbines, and the lack of free atmosphere to work with in the case of stirling engines.

A Stirling engine doesn't require an atmosphere - all the gases are sealed inside and they are "external combustion" engines - just apply a heat source to one side, allow the other side to radiate heat, and away you go.

about two weeks ago
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What Happens When Nobody Proofreads an Academic Paper

werepants Re:MS Office Incompatibility (170 comments)

Is there an Internet Law that says "Whatever the real cause of the problem, there is always someone who will blame Microsoft"?

Welcome to slashdot. You must be new here.

about two weeks ago
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President Obama Backs Regulation of Broadband As a Utility

werepants Re:Obama (704 comments)

I'm not saying it is perfect - I'm saying that the model successfully ushered in the information age and built us the foundation of all modern technology. Which is no small achievement. You'll remember that the original contention was that a heavily regulated monopoly will never produce innovation - and Bell Labs demonstrably proves that about as false as anything could.

Fundamentally, I'm a believer in the free market, and the capabilities of industry, and the benefits of thoughtful regulation. When it comes to innovation, I think Bell Labs really was the best of both worlds - maybe it didn't lead to the cheapest service, but it was a hell of a lot more reliable than modern internet or cell service, and it's not as though the current telcos are any better when it comes to prices or customer service.

about two weeks ago
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How To End Online Harassment

werepants Re:The right to offend ... (827 comments)

I don't disagree with what you say, but we have an obvious problem here - I'd say the majority of recent political campaigning is explicitly designed to incite hatred of the other team. There's some evidence to suggest it has had violent consequences as well, depending on how you lean on the Gabrielle Giffords shooting.

about two weeks ago
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President Obama Backs Regulation of Broadband As a Utility

werepants Re:Obama (704 comments)

So, on balance, do you think you would get more innovation out of a hyper-behemoth regulated monopoly that had cash to spare, or would you rather have a bunch of non-regulated companies that had to compete to create new things?

That's the question, isn't it? I guess the only answer that really makes sense is "it depends". I wish that people would take more account of how the Bell Labs model actually worked pretty damn well - imagine if we did take a similar approach to many existing monopolies, and demanded that because of their tremendous power they had to submit to oversight, had to constrain profits to certain levels, and had to license/sell developments at a reasonable cost. I think this is a "third way" besides breaking them up into tiny chunks that can actually be more beneficial. The thing is, competition is great because it introduces pressure to keep prices low and creates an incentive to come up with a clever competitive advantage, but there's also an inherent duplication of effort in competition that you avoid with a monopoly.

The issue is, something like this could be a best-of-both-worlds approach, but it does things that would piss off the left (protect a big powerful corporation) and piss off the right more (give the government lots of power over that corporation). So chances of it actually happening much? Very low. I for one am optimistic that we could see a good outcome from this telecom change though.

about two weeks ago
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President Obama Backs Regulation of Broadband As a Utility

werepants Re:Obama (704 comments)

Regulation is very important in many industries, including telecommunications. But it is almost never synonymous with innovation.

You seem to forget all the innovation that happened while Ma Bell was both a monopoly AND heavily regulated. During that period, they invented little things like the diode, transistor, cellular phone networks, UNIX, C... The regulation meant that Bell Labs was highly accountable and had to be very civic-minded with all their pursuits to justify their protected monopoly status. That's a heck of a counterexample to your assertion.

about two weeks ago
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President Obama Backs Regulation of Broadband As a Utility

werepants Re:Obama (704 comments)

While the utilities have been regulated they have had almost zero innovation.

Not sure which utilities you're looking at. The arguably most innovative organization that has ever existed was Bell Labs - that single research institution invented almost all the major enabling technologies of the information age. It was a monopoly with extreme government oversight, and it seems to have been a winning model. Since Ma Bell was broken up, Bell Labs is a shadow of its former self.

about two weeks ago
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President Obama Backs Regulation of Broadband As a Utility

werepants Re:Obama (704 comments)

You mean, while the government failed to regulate by not breaking up monopolies they have had almost zero innovation.

The Internet didn't happen because the government suddenly set telcos free; the Internet happened because the government stopped allowing telcos to prevent it!

So, you and GP are both mostly wrong, in opposite ways. Bell Labs, which is supremely relevant here (having invented/built most of the infrastructure that the internet relies on) was at its most successful when it was attached to a monopoly. The relationship was something like this: It didn't make sense for telephone service to be split up between multiple companies because of inefficiency, but the one company that was granted a monopoly (Ma Bell) had to deal with constant government oversight and continually justify their privileged position by demonstrating how it worked for the good of the public. So a lot of developments came out of Bell Labs, and pushed the entire state of technology forward, efficiently and cost-effectively.

Moral of the story? This seems to suggest that a powerful corporation that is closely watched by governmental regulators can give us the best of both worlds - the efficiency and pragmatism of industry with the public mission and accountability of government. Unfortunately, we seem to have that backwards lately, where we are getting the greed and shortsightedness of business with the inefficiency and complexity of government.

about two weeks ago
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Positive Ebola Test In Second Texas Health Worker

werepants Re:Just tell me (463 comments)

It sounds like protective equipment was nonstandard and a bit haphazard, and the healthcare workers were improvising their own improvements. For instance, apparently some of the workers were using tape around the cuffs of sleeves, pants, etc, which seems like it provides a better seal, but in reality the most dangerous point in offering care is in removing your protective gear. Adding tape makes it harder to remove equipment without touching the outside of it, so that is one current suspicion for how these workers got infected.

The solution is standardized, proven equipment and well-trained personnel, along with a culture of rigorously following best practice, 100% of the time. A slip up in any of these areas could lead to infection. I do think it's a problem that we've got mainly private, for-profit institutions entrusted with this, because all of these things are costly from a business perspective and so there's a strong incentive to do the minimum you can get away with.

about a month ago
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AnandTech's Intro To Semiconductor Tech

werepants Re:A Harder Read than Advertised (21 comments)

I suppose it isn't really an "intro" then, but you always have to presume some level of knowledge in your audience - do they understand what processors are? Computers? Electrons? You can't cover everything.

Semiconductors are really where materials science meets electronics. Understanding whether something is a conductor or an insulator is 7th grade science - it does seem self-explanatory to me that a semiconductor is something that is "partially" conductive. As far as electron orbitals, that's where the material science is, and I don't think there's any good way to get around the fact that some basic chemistry knowledge is super helpful here. Including the chemistry topics can be confusing for some, but can really bring together some big-picture concepts for people that are familiar with it.

From reading the article, I'm happy he presented the band-gap paradigm, because that is new to me and interesting, but I think there's an easier way to think about it. Conductivity is about having electrons that are free to move around. Silicon is important here because it is situated in the middle of its row on the periodic table - Na, Mg, Al to the left, P, S, Cl, Ar to the right. Basically, elements on the far left want to give away an electron to form a strong bond, elements on the right (excluding the nobles) want to take an electron to form a strong bond, and silicon finds itself in a region where it could as easily give an electron as take one, and it isn't likely to form those strong bonds based on electron trades. This means that it is possible to vary the conductivity of it via electric fields and chemistry, and get some electrons to jump around the way you want them to.

Anyhow, it sounds like this is an intro to semiconductors, with the presumption that the reader has a background in a science or engineering-related field. If you want a good intro all around, Electronics for Earthlings by Amdahl is actually a pretty fun (if a little bit frenetic) intro that provides some really useful analogies.

about a month ago

Submissions

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$99 iPad rival NoteSlate

werepants werepants writes  |  more than 3 years ago

werepants (1912634) writes "NoteSlate — a digital drawing pad, or at least the idea of one — is burning a hole in the blogosphere. A few weeks ago, descriptions and mockups appeared online at NoteSlate.com. Since then, hundreds of technology news and gossip sites around the globe have written about it in at least half a dozen languages, heralding the imminent arrival of a $99 e-ink digital tablet that mimics the simplicity of old-fashioned pen and paper."
Link to Original Source

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