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Comment Gizmodo Is Talking Out of Its Posterior (Score 1) 258

No we do not have to update the number of stars in the Universe, and no they did not "discover the Universe has 20 times as many galaxies as we thought".

This discovery is actually detecting young, numerous galaxies that we believed were there but could not see. In fact, it is simply confirming the accuracy of the existing Lambda-CDM model.

When galaxies first formed there were very numerous small galaxies that merged into fewer more massive galaxies that we can easily see (since they are brighter and closer, being more recent in time). We knew those ancient small galaxies were out there, waiting to be detected. A nice discovery, but no new revelation is involved at all.

Comment There is No Sasquatch - The Evidence is Clear (Score 4, Insightful) 173

Although the catch phrase "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" is often repeated, it is fundamentally nonsense - unless elaborately qualified.

If you thoroughly search a room looking for a suspect, and do not find him or her, you know they are not in the space searched. Absence of evidence can obviously be extremely strong evidence of absence if you have effective tools to look for the evidence.

We now have the equivalent situation with respect to "Sasquatch".

With the advent of environmental DNA (eDNA) monitoring, a technology that has been available now for nearly 20 years, it is possible to survey the animals present in an environment, without ever seeing them, by detecting the traces of DNA they inevitably leave behind. When you consider forensic DNA analysis, analyzing the traces of DNA left on most any object you interact with, the technique is almost 30 years old. No one has ever detected the DNA of an unknown non-human primate in North America.

All of the Sasquatch "evidence" - footprints, disturbed areas, supposed feeding or gathering spots, claimed coprolites, etc. would be loaded with Sasquatch DNA if it was real. Nope, no Sasquatch DNA anywhere. At this point we can close the book on the theory that there is, or has ever been, a Sasquatch.

Comment The Question Is... (Score 1) 250

At what point do you suppose that that crazy, crazy idea of offering better value for the dollar, and a better pricing model, to actually compete for customers will dawn on these industry geniuses? Telling customers who are dropping your service "Your stupid. You aren't saving money but don't know it" when the customer can plainly see that they are saving money is not likely to ever help your business.

What we see though is the universal behavior of business accustomed to monopoly power, and to extracting profit though rents (no not the apartment kind). They abuse power to soak their customers, who then seek any relief available.* And the reaction to that is... never to cut back on the abuse, it is always something else - getting more monopoly supporting laws passed, whining at the customer, plain old denial of reality, etc.

*Unfortunately changing the laws is not a relief available to the individual, and it is extremely difficult to overcome industry influence on lawmakers for collective relief.

Comment Missing the Key Part To Make Sense (Score 1) 75

The summary should have included the next paragraph of the article to make any sense:

And yet, like Newcomen, their innovations are so much more useful to the people who actually have copious amounts of raw material to work from. And so Magic Pony is acquired by Twitter, SwiftKey is acquired by Microsoft – and Lawrence himself gets hired by Amazon from the University of Sheffield, where he was based until three weeks ago.

Or else the poster should have just written a terse summary and not just cut and paste paragraphs. Yeah I know, this is slash-dot...

Comment The Music Industry Has Always Complained... (Score 4, Insightful) 125

About is profits, and about the latest music distribution technology - this goes back to the days when the music industry made money by selling sheet music, and faced the threat of wax cylinders, player piano rolls, then radio play, etc.

Back in the 1990s, when profits were at a (then) all time high, due to people replacing their LP and cassette collections with CDs, the industry was complaining about piracy and got a tax on blank CDs imposed, a straight up subsidy for a highly profitable industry based on zero evidence.

There has never been a new music distribution technology that was not claimed to be a threat to the industry's profits. Another eternal verity - every profit peak is taken to be the "natural" profit level that only despicable piracy could be responsible for eroding.

Actually it is worse than that. The growth rate ramping up to the peak is claimed to be the "natural" state of the industry and year-after-year perpetual profit growth is "normal" and any reduction is due to those nefarious pirates. (And now direct music sales! The horror! Musicians selling music direct to fans! This must not be allowed to grow!)

But an industry whose revenue is due entirely to controlling access to the creativity of other people is like that.

Comment Re:Nope (Score 3, Interesting) 284

Googling "Sault's Law" turns up no obvious references to this "law". This actually sounds a lot like Creationist propaganda, which frequently claims that evolution cannot create greater complexity, when in fact evolution - including artificial genetic algorithms - have no problem doing this.

Comment Re:Look harder (Score 2) 213

In that case, doesn't the CMB radiation represent a frame of reference, kind of like the (discredited) Ether idea?

Yes, it is called the Hubble flow comoving frame. Since we are moving relative to the comoving frame this creates a dipole pattern on the Cosmic Microwave Background due to Doppler shift. For the Solar System (moving within the Milky Way galaxy) it is 369 km/sec in the direction of the boundary between the constellations Leo and Crater.

Comment Re:Travelling at 20% of the speed of light (Score 3, Informative) 218

I love the whole "it's only 20 years if you travel at 20% of the speed of light!" part. It makes it sound so close. But you're not going to snap your fingers and jump right to 20% of the speed of light from one second to the next. That's 6,114,064.6 standard Earth g-forces! You'd be much better off having a slow, steady acceleration all the way there and a slow, steady acceleration all the way back. Unless I did the math wrong, you'd need to maintain about 0.38 m/s^2 (yeah, I rounded - I'm not the one sending the craft) the entire trip. ...

The interstellar space probe concept mission they are referencing is this one by Philip Lubin. The scheme has the 70 gigawatt launching lasers accelerating a tiny wafer thin probe to 20% c in 10 minutes, which is about 10,000 gees. A tiny wafer thin structure can handle that. And no, there is no slowing down. These things fly through the target system at 0.20 c, and keep on going.

Comment Perhaps This Will Get Habex Funded (Score 5, Informative) 218

Those relativistic postage stamp sized probes are a dream at present. Long before we could develop the technology for this, or get funding, we will study this planet with the advanced space-based instruments with capabilities far beyond anything now existing. No probe will be sent until we reach the limit of what we can do within our own solar system - nothing is faster than analyzing the light that already gets here, and even the most extravagant telescopic system will be cheaper than the probe project and all its supporting infrastructure.

That leads us to consider the HABEX Mission a pretty cool project under development using the huge and really cool looking Starshade vehicle to provide a coronagraph for a telescope in a separate vehicle thousands of kilometers away. Having a nearby target like this gives leverage with Congress to appropriate the funds.

Comment Re:i'd like a water proof phone (Score 2) 385

I for one would like an iPhone that's totally wa ter proof headphone jack: bluetooth lightning port : inductive charging

would be completely water proof with no external buttons -- how is that a bad thing exactly?

Because a lot of people dont want to keep getting adapters to make things work. Personally I prefer having the option to use BT or wired headphones. Yes, keeping it waterproof would be nice. But I would prefer to have the 3.5 headphone jack.

Quite so. I have yet to drop any cell phone in the water, or to want to make a phone call while swimming. But I use the 3.5 mm constantly, every day.

Nobody is demanding Apple drop the headphone jack, and almost nobody is demanding a thinner phone (look at the cases people use that make it fatter).

I predict that with iPhone sales down, this will NOT goose a new surge in buying, and that the jack will back e'er long.

Comment Re:This list sucks ass (Score 1) 282

Quoting IEA EEMR 2014 "In 2011, energy savings from continued improvement in the energy efficiency of 11 IEA member countries equalled 1 337 million tonnes of oil-equivalent (Mtoe). This level exceeded the total final consumption (TFC) from any single fuel source in these countries, and was larger than the total 2011 TFC for the European Union from all energy sources combined. Energy efficiency savings in 11 IEA member countries were effectively displacing a continentâ(TM)s energy demand"

On clean energy it isn't production stupid it is storage an issue completely ignored by the author.

Regarding energy efficiency, you are +5 here. This is absolutely bang-on.

But you are off-base about storage. Storage has a role, but it is a minor one. The major solution for managing clean energy production is transport. On a continent-wide scale problems with regional variation largely disappear. Using a proven technology that has been in use for more than 80 years - high voltage DC transmission lines - electricity can be shipped from San Diego to Portland, Maine with only an 8% loss (800 KV line).

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