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Fake Engine Noise Is the Auto Industry's Dirty Little Secret

werepants Re:Don't see the problem (790 comments)

Real life particle accelerators don't sound like a whole lot... there's the sound of the vacuum pumps and the hum of the cooling systems, but electromagnets themselves are pretty damn quiet for the most part. There unfortunately aren't many cool sci-fi sound effects associated with them.

However - the one at LBNL makes the pac-man "waka waka" noise when you click the button to open up the beam.

3 days ago
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Virgin Galactic To Launch 2,400 Comm. Satellites To Offer Ubiquitous Broadband

werepants Re:The next Teledesic/Iridium/Etc. (123 comments)

Teledesic and Iridium have run into problems in the past, but at least the Iridium network is currently up and running after some corporate shuffling, (satellite phones exist thanks to this) and the Iridium 2 constellation will begin deploying within the year.

about two weeks ago
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Ted Cruz To Oversee NASA and US Science Programs

werepants Re:Panic way over-blown (496 comments)

What's wrong with the Rod From God idea anyway?

At least part of the problem is that these things are essentially impossible to defend against. ICBMs, MIRVs, etc, are very hard to defend against, but in principle you could intercept every warhead with a missile or laser, and nullify an attack. Once you mechanically destroy a warhead, much of the threat is gone. With a kinetic weapon dropped from overhead, you have less time to detect and counteract the weapon, and even then, you are only going to stop it with something of equal or greater magnitude of energy. How do you stop a massive tungsten rod moving at 17,000 MPH or more? You could try to nuke it, if you are willing to set one off above your head. The best you could probably do is nudge the trajectory towards unpopulated areas, but you still have to detect, launch something, and close with this weapon before it impacts - which would probably be only a few minutes.

about two weeks ago
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Ancient Viruses Altered Human Brains

werepants From the Enderverse (110 comments)

Reminds me of the virus that was found in the sequels to Ender's Game - there was an alien species that was completely dependent on the virus for survival, to the point that they believed it might have been directly responsible for their intelligence. Also, it brings to mind something like a biological version of the virus in Snow Crash, the concept that you could upload information to human minds that would instantly change the social structure as a whole.

Once again, life imitates art.

about two weeks ago
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Education Debate: Which Is More Important - Grit, Or Intelligence?

werepants Re:Of course grit and openness garner higher grade (249 comments)

Here's the thing: this is a discussion that needs to happen, because the truth is that all sorts of things that are part of success in any school experience (getting homework in on time, understanding directions exactly, handling conflict and disputes well with the teacher or other students) are really measures of conscientiousness, not intelligence. This is also appropriate, because these same skills will help you be successful in life.

The problem is, nobody really talks about (or understands) what school is for. The prevailing idea is this very shallow concept that it is about filling your head with factual knowledge. That is an almost useless pursuit now that the answer to just about any question is trivially easy to find.

The truth is, it is about developing juveniles into successful adults, and this involves social skills, intellectual pursuits, and character development. There's also the unavoidable truth that school is a high-efficiency means to keep children contained and relatively safe, freeing parents up for work. If we don't recognize that, and have hard conversations about which elements to emphasize and why, we'll continue getting this haphazard approach that ends up working fairly well, but mostly by accident. In some ways I think we haven't had any coordinated rationale for our schooling practice since the early 1800's, when simple literacy was the big objective.

about two weeks ago
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Education Debate: Which Is More Important - Grit, Or Intelligence?

werepants Re:depends... (249 comments)

This is a good point. A lot of where grades come from is about being conscientious - turning things in on time, listening to directions, etc. However, I think it is arguable that this is a good thing, because in the work world, and life in general, being conscientious is going to do more for you than being intelligent, up to a certain point.

That is, a serious deficiency in conscientiousness is one of the fastest ways I know of to get fired from almost any kind of job, whereas people with below average intelligence can still be very successful in lots of professions if they are diligent.

about two weeks ago
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Education Debate: Which Is More Important - Grit, Or Intelligence?

werepants Re:Girls and Grit (249 comments)

You haven't spent much time around today's students, have you? Out of the few hundred students I taught during my short teaching career, I encountered lots of girls that worked their asses off academically, and only one or two boys.

about two weeks ago
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SpaceX Rocket Launch Succeeds, But Landing Test Doesn't

werepants Re: A bit off topic (213 comments)

Don't know what I'm doing replying to an AC - but weight distribution is not at all separate from aerodynamics. Look up center of pressure some time and center of mass - the location of these is what determines whether you can get stable flight. Hint: put heavy shit forward, put air resistance towards the rear.

If you don't believe me, try throwing a dart without extra weight in the tip.

about two weeks ago
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Scientist Says Potential Signs of Ancient Life in Mars Rover Photos

werepants Re:Time for some leaps and not baby steps (142 comments)

Actually, that was Sojourner, which I did mention. You are right that I messed up though - I said it was after Spirit and Opportunity, but Sojourner was first as you correctly stated.

about two weeks ago
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WSJ Refused To Publish Lawrence Krauss' Response To "Science Proves Religion"

werepants Re:This Again (556 comments)

Absent reliable, rigorous science, just admit that you do not know. That's what I'm saying.

By your standard, half of the accomplishments in the hard sciences would be thrown out. We don't 'know' that the Higgs exists, we look at heaps of indirect data and see a signature that agrees with a theoretical prediction within a certain statistical margin. If we have the results of a longitudinal study, including medical records, surveys, clinical observations, and all the rest from psychology, I assert that we know something more than we did before. It is ignorant to claim that all of that data can't be put to any meaningful use. Hell, look at what Nate Silver pulled off with recent polling (if politics isn't a giant psychology experiment, I don't know what is) to see the predictive capacity of self-reporting.

At any rate, your personal vendetta against all social science is uninteresting, so unless you have something else to add to the conversation we can agree to disagree and I'll sign off.

about three weeks ago
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WSJ Refused To Publish Lawrence Krauss' Response To "Science Proves Religion"

werepants Re:This Again (556 comments)

This dialogue, and the forked one, has gotten far off into the weeds. I am not particularly a champion of social sciences, although I think there are many, many useful studies based on good data, and those are a far better basis for our understanding of human psychology than random opinions, gotten from nowhere at all.

Either way, the original point was a fairly modest one - that religion can make people happier, and healthier. Not that it always does, but that on average it skews outcomes slightly that way. Even if you reject the data entirely, the point still stands - religion offers people direct and indirect benefits, which is why they engage in it. That isn't to say it is "true", or "right", or that everybody ought to participate in it, just to say that for those people who experience a notable improvement of life from it (certainly a nonzero number), it is in fact the rational choice for them to continue their involvement.

about three weeks ago
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Scientist Says Potential Signs of Ancient Life in Mars Rover Photos

werepants Re:Time for some leaps and not baby steps (142 comments)

The followup to Curiosity currently in the works is a sample return mission. The long absence after Viking is a bit strange and I'm not sure what the explanation is, but I think the Mars rovers were a bit of a fluke, actually. This wasn't some big, orchestrated "find life on Mars" initiative. At the time of Spirit and Opportunity getting developed it was more like NASA was hurting from a couple of high profile failures and needed something doable enough that it was almost a sure thing, and compelling enough to capture the public imagination. Hence, a pair of cute little robots that could send back nice pictures and look for water along the way.

The whole rover architecture is only obvious in hindsight - sure it has benefits, but before Spirit and Opportunity there was really only one successful science mission using a wheeled platform, which was a Soviet deal where they landed something and drove it to get a distance record, and collected minimal science. If you look at things in that light, you have the initial rover mission that has something attainable for that architecture (try to find evidence of water visually and using spectral analysis instruments) and pretty safe (small, cheap, enough so that you can afford an entire redundant rover). Then, you find that things worked really damn well, so you work your way up to Sojourner, which was also a remarkable success, although they have still been hampered by low mass budget and solar panel degradation. Then, develop a whole new architecture for a pretty massive platform, Curiosity, which can afford a lot more instrumentation and really explore some things in depth, get rid of the solar panel problem, and get into the kind of mass category you would need for something like sample return.

So yes, in hindsight, knowing that rovers are really badass on Mars, you could have skipped a step or two and jumped straight to sample return. However, not knowing whether it would work (and not having this grand vision from the beginning that seems so obvious now), this iterative process has worked pretty well I think.

As well, the first people they sent to the moon were geologists, and the principal investigators for Mars missions have been geologists, because all there really is to look at are rocks. Plus, if you want to find signs of something that has been there before, you again would want something between a paleontologist and a geologist (the fields are closely related), and not a chemist or biologist, except for niche cases. Geology is really all about detective work, trying to piece together the past, which is exactly the discipline you want here.

about three weeks ago
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WSJ Refused To Publish Lawrence Krauss' Response To "Science Proves Religion"

werepants Re:This Again (556 comments)

Scientific consensus in this case is closer to the side that religion DOES have an effect. The thing is, it isn't that controversial - it is a small, positive, but reliable effect. There are studies that disagree with it, but on the whole, it consistently shows up.

And as you yourself say, even if studies are sensationalized in the media and twisted to nefarious purposes (which isn't unique to the social sciences, btw), their findings can still be perfectly valid.

And, in case it you find it relevant, my background is in physics, which is about as much on the 'hard' side as you are going to find. However, I work as an engineer, where we frequently have to get by with answers that are incomplete. The question is when data is good enough to do something useful with, and it turns out that that threshold is much lower than having a perfect and rigorous understanding.

about three weeks ago
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WSJ Refused To Publish Lawrence Krauss' Response To "Science Proves Religion"

werepants Re:This Again (556 comments)

It seems you're quite determined to hang onto your preferred soft science studies. I'm more consistent in that I reject even ones that would seem to be favorable to me (like the one that concluded atheists were somehow more intelligent than theists).

You reject the most authoritative body of knowledge that exists on the subject, and trust your personal opinion more than the data collected by experts that have devoted their lives to the subject. I'm not talking a tiny and favorable subset of studies - the effect is well established.

Here's the thing - I don't know what field you are in, but in the fields I am somewhat knowledgeable about, it is painfully obvious how uninformed the common person is, yet many of them act as though the experts in my field are idiots. Being a non-expert in psychology, I try to trust that the experts there know more than I do, and that even if there are truly some ignorant people in the mix, the aggregate tends to produce useful results. It certainly seems to be a better path than assuming that my uninformed, non-expert opinions are correct.

about three weeks ago
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WSJ Refused To Publish Lawrence Krauss' Response To "Science Proves Religion"

werepants Re:This Again (556 comments)

It is one thing to say that social sciences aren't rigorous, but you are actually saying that no studies can be used here whatsoever so we can do no better than opinion. I disagree. I prefer to use data to inform my conclusions rather than baseless conjecture.

And note: This doesn't mean that religion is true, or that anything supernatural exists. It just means that it has some sort of effect that can improve health and/or happiness. What is so bad about that? At this point it seems as though you are just determined to maintain your belief that following a religion is always irrational.

about three weeks ago
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WSJ Refused To Publish Lawrence Krauss' Response To "Science Proves Religion"

werepants Re:This Again (556 comments)

According to your empirical test, few people would choose that religion. It made me do things I didn't like (never a fan of going to church) and feel guilty for doing things that probably aren't wrong in any objective sense (who cares if I covet your car/house/wife as long as I don't go any farther?)

Sounds like you left that religion because of your experience, and I think you were justified in doing so if you didn't find it helpful. Some people find that the sense of external moral authority helps them to maintain better life habits. As for your example of coveting, there's a good case to be made that it is an undesirable habit, just because to covet means that you are not content with the things you possess in your own life, and therefore unhappy, at least about something. I've found personally that making intentional attempts to be less covetous improves my quality of life.

Again, not because following their religion makes you necessarily happy, but because it's true.

How do you decide if a religion is true, or if the god in question exists? By seeing the impact it has on your life. If every teaching sounds irrelevant or nonsensical, if you don't get into a supportive community, if all the practices and guidelines are truly repellent to someone, that person will leave. The only reason I continue to associate myself with a religion (at least consciously) is that I find that it helps me to ask meaningful questions about my own life, and that I enjoy belonging to a community united in a common purpose of helping one another and improving life for the less fortunate. I honestly don't much care whether the stories it is based around are fictional or literal, because the meaning they have for me is symbolic so it wouldn't change either way.

I suppose I disagree on your main point. The fundamental "sell" of any religion I've been exposed to is that it's actually true.

Some religions are like that, certainly, and I have myself left a tradition that had that approach. It isn't at all characteristic of religion as a whole, though, much less Christianity. The things that most people find objectionable about Christianity are actually objections to fundamentalist evangelicalism, which showed up around the early 1900s and brought with it bizarre beliefs about raptures (not in the Bible, only indirectly inferred by bad theologians) and most of the really distasteful things you've noted are a results of that theology. Early Christianity was characterized by a totally novel commitment to helping the poor, a disregard for elite religious status, and the assertion of the value and equality of all people.

I'd like to optimize my long term happiness. Most religions have a theory on what happens after you die (including atheism, which would just say nothing happens), and most have a theory on how what you do now affects that. I'd think the actual truth of those claims is very important. If I have to be a Christian or be pitched into a lake of fire for all eternity, then surely I'd do that. If I have to be a Muslim, or have to go to hell forever, surely I'd be a Muslim. Only if neither is true would I really be free to just pick whichever makes my life better, or choose none.

Here's the thing: we can't ever really know what will happen after we die, and so no matter what you choose it is a gamble. Of course, I think it is probably similar to sleeping, or the time before I was born, because those are the closest experiences I have for comparison. Jews thought something very similar, and Christians probably did as well before theology got all fucked up. That said, if you are choosing principles to live your life by, finding ones that makes your long-term happiness better is a pretty good way to go. First of all, your life will be better. Second of all, if there is something that happens in the afterlife, a religion that has trustworthy principles for life would presumably be more trustworthy about death as well.

I like this quote, frequently used by atheists, but I think it applies to my argument just as well:
“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.” - attributed to Marcus Aurelius

about three weeks ago
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WSJ Refused To Publish Lawrence Krauss' Response To "Science Proves Religion"

werepants Re:This Again (556 comments)

What "truth" are you talking about? Because there's only one discipline where it can be proven, and that is in formal mathematics.

In physics, the next most formal, we make massive assumptions and consider particles found using statistical arguments - not so very different from the statistical arguments that social scientists use. Our most sensible and intuitive models are demonstrably incorrect at the corners (classical mechanics vs relativity and quantum mechanics) and any reasoning person who understands the implications of either of these newer revisions to mechanics will tell you they are completely ridiculous, and don't match what any person has ever experienced of the world. We have indirect theories based on indirect evidence of indirect evidence in physics, and anybody who has the attitude that "science knows the truth" has a very juvenile understanding of how these things are actually done.

All that we really have are models, descriptions of how reality works that seem to have some level of consistency and predictive capacity. We approximate reality with theoretical constructs, and that is all that science can ever really accomplish. And, what's more, that is all it needs to accomplish, because everything our civilization depends on was built using these good-enough models.

So, here's the thing. You're basically arguing that it is pointless to do social science, because the level of rigor can't realistically ever approach that of more formal disciplines. Which means that, regardless of the evidence I provide, you won't concede the point. One of us here is committed to an ideal regardless of what the evidence might say. Sounds like "magical" thinking to me.

about three weeks ago
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The Fire Phone Debacle and What It Means For Amazon's Future

werepants Re:"Growth is slowing" (155 comments)

Wait, what? Second derivative of the growth curve would be the rate of change in the rate of change of growth... maybe you mean the second derivative of revenue? First derivative being growth (better be positive more often than not) and second derivative being change in growth (hopefully positive, but whatever).

about three weeks ago
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WSJ Refused To Publish Lawrence Krauss' Response To "Science Proves Religion"

werepants Re:This Again (556 comments)

The studies are about as rigorous as it is possible to be with questions like this - that is, not very rigorous by the standards of the "hard sciences", but as good as it gets by medical and social science standards:

http://greatist.com/happiness/...
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/hea...
http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/he...

I can supply plenty of more links, but I think it is clear from these and prior ones that this effect is well established in the literature. There's lots of speculation about the causes (community, stronger moral inhibitions against harmful behavior like smoking, ???) but the relationship is fairly consistent - religion does seem to correlate with favorable outcomes. For that matter, the fact that every major civilization has developed a religious tradition means that either humans are naturally prone to creating religions, or the civilizations with religion dominated the ones without, or some blend of the two. That in and of itself should make us question the impulse to dismiss it unilaterally.

about three weeks ago
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WSJ Refused To Publish Lawrence Krauss' Response To "Science Proves Religion"

werepants Re:This Again (556 comments)

Whether social sciences are legitimate is an entirely different diatribe. Certainly, there are potential problems with self-reporting, but as long as you are aware of them and fully disclose how the data is obtained, they are far from useless. Or should we just ignore all sorts of important questions about society because we can't perfectly control the experiment as we can with simpler sciences like physics?

Either way, self-reported mental health is absolutely pertinent here. If a certain lifestyle makes people self-report as happier and healthier, obviously it is having some effect on their lives, even if only the way they perceive themselves. And honestly, essentially the ONLY way to evaluate mental health at scale is by self reporting - do you really think observation or MRI would be more effective, much less practical? Even clinical diagnosis relies heavily on self reporting.

about three weeks 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."
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