Why Standard Deviation Should Be Retired From Scientific Use
The celebrated Heisenberg uncertainty principle in quantum theory is based on statistical statements about the coupled standard deviations of position and momentum measurements (for example), not the mean deviation. The mean deviations are assumed to be zero since the means of the position and momentum distributions are exactly known for theoretical work. What matters are the fluctuations about the mean. In fairness, Taleb does allow physicists to keep using STD. But, quantum mechanics aside, it seems characterizing fluctuations about the mean, rather than fluctuations of the mean, is often an important measure depending on the nature of the investigation. Retiring the standard deviation seems a bit hasty.
I'll keep my castle secure primarily with ...
We should make the distinction between bound electrons (in a pointy stick) and free electrons (electricity). With pointy sticks, electrostatics is a player, but I'm guessing it is primarily the inertia of the massive nuclei and Pauli exclusion that are really doing damage (and breaking bonds in your skin). With electricity, it is electrodynamics, not electrostatics, which is the culprit. You may be thinking of electrostatic discharge, which isn't usually what people mean by "electricity", but, as most of us on /. know, can still be quite effective for security (and should be in the poll). Ok, sorry. Just mod me both "making crap up" and Pedantic 2+3i.
To What Age Do You Expect To Live?
What the heck ever happened to the interview with Aubrey de Grey?
To answer the poll: I expect to live until I'm turned into gray goo.
Or did you mean. . . de Grey goo? [sound of horses neighing]
Opting Out Increases Spam?
The submitter, J.L. Tympanum, is clearly some old timer's sockpuppet (low UID, only 3 unmodded non sequitur comments in 5 years, 2 quirky submissions including this one).
Colbert Wins Space Station Name Contest
NASA has a long history of naming missions and modules after rather arbitrary, but dignified sounding, things. For example, the arts (Apollo Theater, Orson Welles' Mercury theater company, etc.) as well as pseudo-scientific things like signs of the zodiac and crypto-geographic places and cryptozoological creatures. Not to mention South American countries featured in drug-oriented movies, science fiction space ships, and even abstract contestants on a game show. "Colbert" seems pretty consistent with this non sequitur trend.
If We Have Free Will, Then So Do Electrons
"In a whimsical abuse of pedigree leading to much undeserved press, two guys who apparently understand neither philosophy nor quantum mechanics mathematically connect two of those fields' major questions in a non-peer reviewed arXiv article and simultaneously solve humanity's deepest ontological questions using a translucent haze of logic."
Who Poses the Greatest Threat To Your Privacy?
Based on the wording of the poll, I assumed the "you" in the question to be "me" and the "you/r" in the answers to be the pollster. Now that I understand the wording better, I want to make it perfectly clear I do not regard the slashdot staff to be the biggest threat to my privacy.
Physics Experiments To Inspire Undergraduates?
Here are a doublet of papers for an undergraduate laboratory demonstrating Bell's Inequality and and entangled photons. The whole apparatus (detailed in the second paper) is estimated to cost USD 15k circa 2002, so the optical elements have probably come down in price since then.
1. Entangled photons, nonlocality, and Bell inequalities in the undergraduate
laboratory. [American Journal of Physics 70, 903 (2002)], Dietrich Dehlinger, MW Mitchell. http://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/0205171/
2. Entangled photon apparatus for the undergraduate laboratory. [American Journal of
Physics 70, 898 (2002)], Dietrich Dehlinger, MW Mitchell. http://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/0205172/
A Quantitative Study of How Memes Spread
I'm not sure why so much is being made of this '25 Random Things About Me' note on facebook. It is just a variation on an old parlor game that never really "came and went". Some people want to play, others don't. Yes, there are meme-y elements to virtually everything in a culture, but would an invitation to a kegger, superbowl party, LAN party, or a poker game be given such careful meme-y analysis? I'm not saying someone shouldn't analyze those things in this framework, but it seems this '25 Random Things About Me' note is being treated as a wild fad (some kind of canonical meme flash and burn) although it is really no different than some people at a large BBQ deciding to play poker while others play frisbee.
A Quantitative Study of How Memes Spread
Be advised you are following the same meme cliche cycle by complaining about it. For every annoying decaying, witless in-joke past its glory days, there's someone who has a tired argument to remind us how annoying, witless, and cliche the in-joke really is. And similarly, there's someone like me who will boorishly complain about the complaining about it. And so on. Culture's one big recursive clicheplex. I don't think we can help it.
Cuba Launches Own Linux Variation
How did microsoft get around the embargo?
They aren't a company, man. They're their own frickn' weather system. They just need the coriolis force the tell them which way to spin.
The First Moon Map, and Not By Galileo
The paper rotation idea is interesting, but before assuming the moon itself rotated with respect to the earth, wouldn't it just be easier to assume he sketched it at a different time of night at, at a different latitude, and/or different season then used "towards the ground as I'm looking at it" as down in the sketch? The moon's apparent orientation wrt one's line of sight on earth depends on all those things. Perhaps knowing where he sketched it and at what time of year, one could then figure out what time of night he did his work.
Miscalculation Invalidates LHC Safety Assurances
The probability of creating a voracious black hole at the LHC is about the same as creating a voracious 1972 Cadillac at the LHC. Indeed, it is about as probable as creating a voracious black hole next to your head right now out of the vacuum. Such doomsday ideas were utterly fabricated nonsense forged in the minds of highly fringe and misguided people. The core ideas of your paper are interesting, but your work is better applied to things that really matter, not the pseudoscience of doomsday at supercolliders. Using the doomsday mania to sex up your work is fear mongering and borders on the unethical. Getting HIV from a handshake, however insanely unlikely, is a billion times more probable than destroying the earth from collisions at the LHC, but you don't seem to have used this example. Why not? Perhaps because it would be unethical to spread such nonsense?
We're In Danger of Losing Our Memories
Archive.org is a good idea, but may be causing complacency. The problem is simple: a) they don't keep everything, and b) a lot of people seem to believe they do. That's an archival train wreck waiting to happen. They dynamically change the archive time window even for single sites, and even completely eliminate sites without notice. Besides, long after a site has been archived, a new system admin can block all archive requests (essentially forcing the removal of all archived versions of a site as if it didn't ever exist).
Are My Ideas Being Stolen? If So, What Then?
At a public university, the "customer" the university is servicing is not the student, but the state. A student is more an employee to the state than a customer of the university. Even for the ordinary student attending school without any special scholarships and who is not doing any explicit research under any state or federal grants, anywhere between 50-80% of the tuition to keep you in school is payed by taxpayers. That means your education is not for your benefit, but rather the state's. That's why most of the output you produce while in school legally belongs to "the system." The university's intellectual property policy usually reflects this. I think students tend to think of their public education as being mostly their own thing, so forget that they are ultimately accountable to the public. However unfair this may seem, it is pretty much the same anywhere in life. The professors, staff, and administrators are also under the same rules. In addition, in most non-academic private industries the rules are even more strict about whose ideas belong to whom and under under what conditions. All that said, there is a proper legal means for the university to partly own your ideas while still giving you formal credit. People can't just up and plagiarize or steal your ideas and claim them as their own novel work. If you suspect this is happening, you should raise bloody hell. There is a chain of ethical accountability that is maintained in an academic settings. Universities are better than most places in giving credit where credit is due because individualism is generally respected (this does frequently break down, though). This is in contrast to the private industry which doesn't honor that individualism so much.
At local midnight on the last day of the 2008 ...
Last year I was flying over the Congo, this year I'm at home posting on slashdot. Weird. Go figure.
Banned Words List Carries Its First Emoticon
and try to reduce your cesium footprint. I know I'll do my part. Happy New Year.
Majel Roddenberry Dies At 76
Everyone mourns in different ways. Laugh, cry, tell jokes, be quiet, scream out, whatever you are compelled to do. However, I don't suggest judging the mourning styles of others.
Why Most Published Research Findings Are False
Science in general isn't about "publishing what is right" but rather creating a network of accountability in the form of methods, ideas, data, procedures, etc. so others can try and reproduce and critique the results. Even if the published results are shown to be incorrect by other studies, this does not mean the system is broken. The scientific process is an iterative, self correcting, one. However, if after many years and many studies, a particular field fails to converge on an accepted baseline conclusions, there is a good chance something is wrong (you may even be doing pseudoscience).
Any Suggestions For a Meaningful Geeky Wedding Band?
A charmonium ring would be pretty geeky and certainly impress the heck out of her. As the ground state of a charm and anticharm quark bound state, it is also amongst the most expensive materials on the planet, costing perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of person-years to produce mere zeptomoles of the stuff. It not only has a nice moniker with the word "charm" in it, it is also a humble reminder we were once all part of a seething mass of quark-gluon plasma. Never mind the copious radiation that will be emitted as a ring-sized clump of the stuff rapidly decays on her finger. Ok, I'll shut up now. Iridium is definitely a good call.
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