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Comment: Re:WIFI-Enabled Vital Organs?!?! (Score 1) 183

by Alef (#47875929) Attached to: In France, a Second Patient Receives Permanent Artificial Heart

Well, I'm of the opinion that having good intentions shouldn't exempt someone from reasonable criticism. Besides, this is a technology site, so what's the problem of discussing how appropriate certain technological choices are? It's not like people are saying this company should be shut down or their product banned.

Furthermore (and this is actually a bit of an honest question), how much of a fucking breakthrough is this really? Have they actually done something unique, or are they just the first ones courageous (or overconfident?) enough to actually go through trying to replacing someone's heart completely? What's fundamentally different from other implants, such as ventricular assist devices, other than the application?

Comment: Re:A working heart is not much (Score 4, Insightful) 183

by Alef (#47864027) Attached to: In France, a Second Patient Receives Permanent Artificial Heart

So what is your point, really? Abandon all health care?

You do realise that there are a lot of people with excellent cognitive abilities dying of heart failure every day, and that many could have lived decades of high quality life had their hearts been healthy, right?

Comment: Re:WIFI-Enabled Vital Organs?!?! (Score 1) 183

by Alef (#47863909) Attached to: In France, a Second Patient Receives Permanent Artificial Heart

True. On the other hand, when designing something as critical as a heart, you'd better have extremely thorough quality assurance and testing to make as sure as humanly possible that faults are discovered before you make someone's life depend on it.

While I agree that requiring open heart surgery to reach the firmware probably is taking it too far, I wouldn't like to have an artificial heart installed, where the developers have had the luxury of thinking they can always fix problems later. The assumption should be that once you have connected someone's life to it, the firmware will not change.

Comment: Re:WIFI-Enabled Vital Organs?!?! (Score 1) 183

by Alef (#47863599) Attached to: In France, a Second Patient Receives Permanent Artificial Heart

I'll put it another way: Do you want to tell the patients that you didn't think the software keeping them alive through, so they'll need to have a firmware update?

Really, a heart is one freaking ancient invention. It's not something that needs new features every two months.

Unless it is to close security holes, of course. Oh, wait...

Earth

Cause of Global Warming 'Hiatus' Found Deep In the Atlantic 465

Posted by samzenpus
from the biggest-heatsink dept.
vinces99 writes with news about a study that may account for a slowdown in air temperature rises. Following rapid warming in the late 20th century, this century has so far seen surprisingly little increase in the average temperature at the Earth's surface. More than a dozen theories have now been proposed for the so-called global warming hiatus, ranging from air pollution to volcanoes to sunspots. New research from the University of Washington shows the heat absent from the surface is plunging deep in the north and south Atlantic Ocean, and is part of a naturally occurring cycle. The study is published in Science. Subsurface ocean warming explains why global average air temperatures have flatlined since 1999, despite greenhouse gases trapping more solar heat at the Earth's surface. "Every week there's a new explanation of the hiatus," said corresponding author Ka-Kit Tung, a UW professor of applied mathematics and adjunct faculty member in atmospheric sciences. "Many of the earlier papers had necessarily focused on symptoms at the surface of the Earth, where we see many different and related phenomena. We looked at observations in the ocean to try to find the underlying cause." What they found is that a slow-moving current in the Atlantic, which carries heat between the two poles, sped up earlier this century to draw heat down almost a mile (1,500 meters). Most previous studies focused on shorter-term variability or particles that could block incoming sunlight, but they could not explain the massive amount of heat missing for more than a decade.

Comment: Re:Oh good lord. (Score 1) 225

by Alef (#47658079) Attached to: Do Dark Matter and Dark Energy Cast Doubt On the Big Bang?

"Use" means to convert it to a different form

...and to extract work while doing so. No? Which means converting it to some form where it has higher entropy.

Look, it seems like you are more or less just making stuff up based on your rather incomplete understanding of thermodynamics, which is why recommended you to actually read up on the subject. Setting aside the rather dubious claim that a perfectly isolated system can even exist, what you are describing is exactly how you could define a perpetual motion machine of the second kind: an isolated system that performs work using energy from a single heat reservoir, without transferring heat to an external cooler reservoir. Such a machine cannot exist, because it violates the second law of thermodynamics, which states that the entropy of an isolated(!) system never decreases. The system tends towards thermal equilibrium, where all the energy is converted to a uniform distribution of heat.

If you had bothered to look any of this up, you would have already known this, instead of speaking out of your ass based on what you think a perpetual motion machine is and why it must be impossible.

The key flaw in your reasoning is that you seem to think of energy as something that's equivalent regardless of its form. It is not so. In fact, whenever we use energy to perform some work, it actually isn't the energy in itself that we are using, but its state of being far from equilibrium. Its "order", for the lack of a better word. The energy is just a carrier. And when we are using heat energy, we are actually not using the heat in itself, but exploiting the temperature differential between the heat reservoir and a cooler reservoir. That's why all heat producing power plants need cooling water, and the reason jet engines get higher efficiency when flown through cooler air at high altitude (even if it's thinner). Conversely, it explains why a refrigerator requires external energy even though it is removing energy from its interior, and why a heat pump can have more than 100% heating efficiency whereas distributed heating can never reach 100%.

One physicist who have written a lot about these things is Ilya Prigogine, if you are interested to read more, although I'm sure you could find many others.

Comment: Re:Oh good lord. (Score 1) 225

by Alef (#47651123) Attached to: Do Dark Matter and Dark Energy Cast Doubt On the Big Bang?

I think you should ask yourself what it actually means to "use" energy. What purpose can energy have that does not involve irreversibly transforming it to heat?

Or to put it another way: If you have a system that takes in a lot of useful energy, and it does not transform this energy to heat (which inevitably would be radiated as black-body radiation as the system's temperature increases), then you are either: 1) wasting energy, by not exploiting all the work it could have performed before releasing it, or 2) just storing it without actually using it (although the process of storing it would involve performing some work as well).

If, on the other hand, you have managed to build a magical system that can perform useful work without extracting it from the energy you are continually collecting, but can "reuse" energy like a perpetual motion machine, then why the fsck are you collecting more? You don't need it!

Honestly, though, I really think you should pick up a physics text book that covers thermodynamics if you want to understand these things. From your responses (assuming you're not just trolling) it's evident that if you ever read one, you either didn't understand it, or you've forgotten some pretty basic principles and need to refresh. Now the argument sounds more like "I don't really know, therefore aliens can do it. Easy peasy."

Comment: Re:Oh good lord. (Score 1) 225

by Alef (#47643887) Attached to: Do Dark Matter and Dark Energy Cast Doubt On the Big Bang?

Heat is a waste product, efficient energy use doesn't necessitate heat.

Not sure if I'm feeding a troll now, but, yes it does. "Using" energy specifically means transforming it such that the entropy increases. The energy doesn't disappear, you can only change its form. And the form where it has the highest entropy (i.e. where you have extracted all useful work), is heat.

All a Dyson sphere does is exploiting the energy difference between its interior and its exterior. All the energy passes through it; the sphere just maximises the entropy as it passes through, in order to perform as much useful work as possible. If it emits anything other than pure black-body radiation, that means it has inefficiencies.

Comment: Re:Better than zombie drivers (Score 1) 190

by Alef (#47577377) Attached to: UK To Allow Driverless Cars By January
Better for whom? I'm saying is that we agree that it probably would be safer, at least from some average utilitarian perspective. The point you are still missing is that for me as a driver, and most other potential buyers of these cars, it is pretty much pointless to ever switch it automatic drive if we have to be 100% alert all the time and be prepared to intervene to avoid the risk of being charged with manslaughter at any random moment. If whatever happens is on me, and the car company doesn't trust their own car enough to accept liability for what it does, then it sure as f*ck is going to be me who is behind the wheel. And this is how lots of people will reason, whether the car is actually a better driver than them or not. People may be overestimating themselves, but when it's their neck that's on the line, lots of them are going to want to be in charge. That's just psychology. So for these fully automatic cars to be widely adopted, for the benefit of us all IMHO, I think it is crucial that the legal systems ensures that the passengers are not held liable for whatever flaws the car has.

Comment: Re:Better than zombie drivers (Score 1) 190

by Alef (#47572991) Attached to: UK To Allow Driverless Cars By January

You are missing the point. The point is that unless the liability is with the car manufacturer, you're basically a riding scapegoat for whatever might go wrong, and realistically with a minimal ability to actually do anything about a sudden situation. If you're smart you wouldn't want that as a car owner.

So it isn't a question of whether the driver-less cars can drive more safely or not; I'm sure they can. It's a question of who's in charge of the car. Is the car maker ready to accept responsibility for what the car maker has programmed it to do? If they're not confident enough to do that, then why would I let it drive for me, instead of just driving myself?

Comment: Re:Do you have any hands-on experience ? (Score 1) 667

by Alef (#47499515) Attached to: Russian Government Edits Wikipedia On Flight MH17
Aren't you underestimating the capacity of people to fuck up? The US accidentally shot down Iran Air Flight 655 in 1988 despite Mode III IFF squawks, so it wouldn't be the first time that happened. Maybe they figured it was imposing, or whatever. I tend to go for Hanlon's razor in cases like this.

Comment: Re:complex application example (Score 1) 161

by Alef (#47499421) Attached to: Linux Needs Resource Management For Complex Workloads

Of course it's technically possible to transmit packets with essentially 0% loss, and I'm sure there are set-ups that would work under the right circumstances. That's not the point. The point is that each and every component involved, from hardware through firmware to software, is designed under the premiss that it is okay to drop a packet at any time for any reason, or to duplicate or reorder packets. Even if you get it to work, the replacement of any single component, or the triggering of some corner case you haven't tested for (some hardware counter wrapping around or whatever imaginable), might suddenly blow everything up. It's just an insanely fragile system, and you need to have complete and total control of the implementation of every involved component, not just their specifications, in order to ensure that your system meets your spec.

Either switch protocol, or implement something on top of UDP that adds the reliability. There is no other sane way.

Comment: Re:complex application example (Score 1) 161

by Alef (#47493563) Attached to: Linux Needs Resource Management For Complex Workloads

Honestly - why are people trying to do things that need guarantees with python?

Oh, you got that far at least? What I wonder is, why are people trying to do things that need guarantees using UDP with no back-communication, no redundancy built in to the protocol, and not even detection of lost packets? External requirement my ass, why do you accept a contract under those conditions? The correct thing to say is "this is broken, and it's not going to work". If they still want the turd polished, it should be under very clear conditions of not accepting responsibility for the end result, and they should be known and understood by all decision makers at the customer. And even so I would be wary.

Otherwise, you're in a prime position for getting hit by the blame when shit hits the fan, either because it doesn't work, or because you didn't tell them that in the first place, since you are supposed to be the expert.

Comment: Microsoft's Tick Tock (Score 1) 681

I suppose this is the next Tick in Microsoft's equivalent of Intel's Tick Tock development model. In Microsoft's case, they get redesign hubris with every other version, then spend the following version back-tracking and undoing all the things they did wrong.

Much like Windows 7 pretty much was a fix-up of Vista, Windows 9 appears to be a "corrected" Windows 8.

Lisp Users: Due to the holiday next Monday, there will be no garbage collection.

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