Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?

Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!

  • View

  • Discuss

  • Share

We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).


Comment: Re: And GOD said (Score 1) 115

by mark-t (#49503327) Attached to: The Origin of the First Light In the Universe

... free will without any downsides

If you seriously think about that for even a moment you should realize how inherently self-contradictory that notion is. If there are no down-sides, then in reality, you aren't really free to do anything that is bad for you in the first place, so you don't actually have the capacity to actually act on your so-called free will, defeating the entire point of having any alleged free-will in the first place.

Comment: Re: And GOD said (Score 4, Insightful) 115

by mark-t (#49501211) Attached to: The Origin of the First Light In the Universe
If God were to stop it, and supposedly he could, it would mean that he would have to override the consequences of what are supposedly freely willed human decisions, making the very point of giving us free will in the first place moot.

As you say.... you can't have it both ways. Either we are free willed or not...

Comment: Re:vs. a Falcon 9 (Score 1) 58

by Bruce Perens (#49501071) Attached to: Rocket Lab Unveils "Electric" Rocket Engine

They can carry about 110kg to LEO, compared to the Falcon 9's 13150kg. That's 0.84% of the payload capacity. A launch is estimated to cost $4 900 000, compared to the Falcon 9's $61 200 000. That's 8.01%. That means cost per mass to orbit is nearly an order of magnitude worse.

Yes, this is a really small rocket. If you are a government or some other entity that needs to put something small in orbit right away, the USD$5 Million price might not deter you, even though you could potentially launch a lot of small satellites on a Falcon 9 for less.

And it's a missile affordable by most small countries, if your payload can handle the re-entry on its own. Uh-oh. :-)

Comment: Re:What if... (Score 1) 115

by mark-t (#49500383) Attached to: The Origin of the First Light In the Universe

I'm not sure why you were flagged as a troll, because most of those are actually pretty good questions. Ultimately, however, most of those questions cannot reasonably be answered at this time because no experiments have been designed to address them, either because nobody knows how to design experiments that could practially address such questions, or else simply because of our own incomplete understanding of the universe.

It is, however, a far cry to suggest that simply because we do not yet (or will ever) know everything there is to know about the universe is somehow sufficient to probabilistically suggest that the things that we *do* believe that we know about it at any one time are actually entirely wrong... which I suppose someone may have interpreted your post as, and why it may have been flagged as a troll. To be fair, there are plenty of things that we don't even know about the universe that we actually *CAN* observe, while trying to conjecture about aspects of the universe that we have absolutely no technological means to objectively observe (nor based on our current understanding, are we ever likely to) can only be the subject of conjecture, and not science.

Long story short, you aren't liable to find any scientifically sustainable answers to those questions here, and because of how short a period of time that humans ordinarily live compared to the age of the cosmos, you are probably also not likely to find such answers to them in your lifetime. So while you can ask those questions, you shouldn't be surprised when you don't receive helpful answers.

Comment: Re:I guess he crossed the wrong people (Score 1) 296

by fermion (#49498205) Attached to: Columbia University Doctors Ask For Dr. Mehmet Oz's Dismissal
Most guilty people will immediately try to become the victim. Ignore the fact that I convince gullible people to buy junk that at best is useless and at worst will harm them. Ignore the fact that I use my medical degree to trick people. Look at the big bad corporation over here that wants to attack me. Ignore the fact that I am in the arms of a big bad corporation that airs my tv show and wants rating no matter what.

My problem with Dr. Oz is not that he appears to be a unethical charletan that will prostitute himself to any snake oil salesman who asks. My problem is, n the few shows I have seen, is that he actively is teaching his audience bad science. This is not surprising as doctors are not scientists. For instance, there was one show on fat where his depiction of fat was completely inaccurate. The demonstration was there to be visually exciting, but at the expense of any real science. I can imagine the people who saw it going to their doctor and arguing a point, thinking Dr. Oz is right, and their doctor is wrong.

It is entertainment. I agree that persons who are fundamentally entertainers and not seriously committed to medicine should probably not be the medical staff.


John Gruber On Third-party Apple Watch Apps: They Suck and Are Really Slow 124

Posted by timothy
from the tell-us-how-you-really-feel dept.
An anonymous reader writes During this week's episode of John Gruber's podcast, The Talk Show, Gruber sat down with Joanna Stern of the Wall Street Journal to talk all things Apple Watch. About two hours and 9 minutes into the podcast, both Gruber and Stern began lamenting the poor performance they saw with third-party Apple Watch apps. 'It makes me question whether there should be third party apps for it at all yet,' Gruber noted. The pair also took umbrage with what they perceived to be a poor design choice for the Apple Watch app screen, with both noting that the app icons were far too small to be practical.

Gyrocopter Pilot Appears In Court; Judge Bans Him From D.C. 263

Posted by timothy
from the but-what-if-air-&-space-gets-the-copter? dept.
mpicpp writes The Florida mail carrier accused of landing a gyrocopter outside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday was charged in federal court Thursday and has been barred from returning to the District of Columbia or flying any aircraft, officials said. Douglas Hughes, 61, was charged with violating aircraft registration requirements, a felony, and violating national defense airspace, a misdemeanor. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to three years in prison for the felony and one year in prison for the airspace violation. U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson also barred Hughes from the District of Columbia, except for court appearances, and said he must stay away from the Capitol, White House and nearby areas while he is there. He will also have to hand over his passport.

Comment: Re:Is the math not towing the groupthink? (Score 1) 180

by drooling-dog (#49495301) Attached to: Social Science Journal 'Bans' Use of p-values

The math works fine; the problem is choosing the appropriate method. My hunch is that the biggest mistake in the use of stats in the social sciences is failing to correct p-values for multiple comparisons. That is, if you're hypothesis is limited to predicting an association between two variables, then p-values are just fine. But if you sent out a questionnaire with 20 questions on it and compute all 190 pairwise correlations between them, you'll get around 9 or 10 "significant" (p 0.05) but meaningless associations just by chance. You can't (or shouldn't) cherry-pick these and write them up like they mean anything. Yet many people do just this, often not realizing how the hypotheses were selected (it can sometimes be subtle, or buried in the history of the project).

Comment: Re:Even more obligatory (Score 1) 180

by drooling-dog (#49495153) Attached to: Social Science Journal 'Bans' Use of p-values

A useful exercise (if you can use basic statistics software) that illustrates this is to generate a bunch (say, 10 or 20) of series of random numbers and then compute the matrix of correlations (or t-values, if you prefer) between all of them. You'll find that roughly 5% of the correlations are "significant" at the p.05 level, even though the series are really random and independent. It's a trivial result and just what you'd expect by chance, but it does drive the point home that you can't rely on p-values alone if you're testing multiple hypotheses. In the latter case there are corrected measures available that take this into account.

Comment: Wow.... just wow. (Score 1) 587

Their conclusion.... "An all girls environment is reasonably necessary for the school to improve the self-confidence of girls in their academic abilities" is flawed... while there may be some statistical evidence that students in segregated education perform better academically than those in schools where the genders are together, they are completely mistaking correlation as causation. Demographically, there is a very strong correlation between family income and the school that one attends in the first place, and somehow they completely overlook that this might in any way be a contributing factor to improved academic performance rather than the academic environment itself. I don't argue that the academic environment may contribute to a small extent, but I'd bet its significance comes in at a distant second place compared to the environment in which the child was actually raised. I don't know of any study that shows that sexually segregated education performs statistically any better than conventional public education except to the extent that the people who usually go to those kinds of schools usually have a higher income and can in turn often afford a higher quality of education in the first place.

Microsoft's Role As Accuser In the Antitrust Suit Against Google 191

Posted by samzenpus
from the on-the-other-side dept. writes Danny Hakim reports at the NYT that as European antitrust regulators formally accuse Google of abusing its dominance, Microsoft is relishing playing a behind-the-scenes role of scold instead of victim. Microsoft has founded or funded a cottage industry of splinter groups to go after Google. The most prominent, the Initiative for a Competitive Online Marketplace, or Icomp, has waged a relentless public relations campaign promoting grievances against Google. It conducted a study that suggested changes made by Google to appease regulators were largely window dressing. "Microsoft is doing its best to create problems for Google," says Manfred Weber, the chairman of the European People's Party, the center-right party that is the largest voting bloc in the European Parliament. "It's interesting. Ten years ago Microsoft was a big and strong company. Now they are the underdog."

According to Hakim, Microsoft and Google are the Cain and Abel of American technology, locked in the kind of struggle that often takes place when a new giant threatens an older one. Microsoft was frustrated after American regulators at the Federal Trade Commission didn't act on a similar antitrust investigation against Google in 2013, calling it a "missed opportunity." It has taken the fight to the state level, along with a number of other opponents of Google. Microsoft alleges that Google's anti-competitive practices include stopping Bing from indexing content on Google-owned YouTube; blocking Microsoft Windows smartphones from "operating properly" with YouTube; blocking access to content owned by book publishers; and limiting the flow of ad campaign information back to advertisers, making it more expensive to run ads with rivals. "Over the past year, a growing number of advertisers, publishers, and consumers have expressed to us their concerns about the search market in Europe," says Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel. "They've urged us to share our knowledge of the search market with competition officials."

Comment: Re:You Can See (Score 1) 110

Microminiature accelerometers are really cheap and very very light, and you don't have to wait for them to spin up or deal with their mechanical issues. I doubt you will see a gyro used as a sensor any longer.

Similarly, computers make good active stabilization possible and steering your engine to stabilize is a lot lighter than having to add a big rotating mass.

Theory is gray, but the golden tree of life is green. -- Goethe