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Comment: Re:Actually, ADM Rogers doesn't "want" that at all (Score 5, Insightful) 406

by Ambassador Kosh (#49121115) Attached to: NSA Director Wants Legal Right To Snoop On Encrypted Data

The problem is secret courts and that they have been caught spying on everyone multiple times already.

If he was arguing that they should be able to get a court order at a NORMAL court not the FISA one and with probably cause have the right to decrypt the data and only the data covered by the search warrant then I would support him.

Comment: Re:Correlation is not Causation (Cliche) (Score 1) 305

by Ambassador Kosh (#49031217) Attached to: Alcohol's Evaporating Health Benefits

I can definitely agree with this.

I know many people, including myself, that don't drink alcohol because it tastes bad. I have tried various kinds of alcohol and in all cases it has tasted worse than other drinks I could get.

There is supposed to be a mutation in a very small percentage of people and it gives alcohol a pretty nasty taste.

I have NO ethical problems with alcohol, I don't mind being around others that are drinking it I just don't like it myself.

Comment: Re:The credibility of science? (Score 3, Informative) 958

by Ambassador Kosh (#48966555) Attached to: Science's Biggest Failure: Everything About Diet and Fitness

He could probably find one for transfats being bad for you though.

However, that is a completely different kind of problems. There are 3 transfats that humans commonly encounter and we have special enzymes to deal with the trans position so we can process it.

The only problem with artificial trans fats is they have the trans bond at a different position and our body does not process it correctly. This ends up causing malformed cholesterols which then aggregate on your artery walls and cause damage. It is not the cholesterol that is bad but misshapen molecules that aggregate.

Any transfat that is not trans in one of the positions that we have an enzyme to handle should not be allowed in food. They are just incompatible with human enzymatic processing and that is the only reason to ban them. There is at least one trans fat in milk and another in beef and those are fine since we have special enzymes to process them.

Comment: Re:It's not the gas... (Score 3, Informative) 239

by Ambassador Kosh (#48953001) Attached to: NFL Asks Columbia University For Help With Deflate-Gate

Air is NOT an ideal gas at ALL. You can't use the ideal gas law and have it work.

However you are in luck though since engineers made tables long ago of air properties at a huge range of temperatures, pressures etc and you can just look up the properties of air. However the properties of the material of the football would have to be tested.

The only time you can use the ideal gas law is with a nearly pure gas at high temperature and no chemical reactions.

It does suck that so much of the stuff we teach people in chemistry is not actually useful.

Comment: Re:Keep kids from computers as long as possible (Score 1) 198

by Ambassador Kosh (#48951997) Attached to: Can Students Have Too Much Tech?

Just because humans evolved with nature does not mean that is the best way for us to learn and grow.

Nature is just how we started. We have the capacity to learn and exceed it. There is no reason to believe that we can't do better than how we learned in the past.

I also don't see music as a critical skill to learn during development.

Comment: Re:This pays credence to my rant about tech (Score 1) 198

by Ambassador Kosh (#48950511) Attached to: Can Students Have Too Much Tech?

I nave not seen any kind of standardized test so far that I thought was a remotely accurate prediction of skill.

Overall humanity has a huge problem with education at this point. We have done the research and we know that memorization does not work for actual learning. However, no amount of research seems to turn into actual changes.

At this point I think we are going to have to just destroy the entire education system from grade school through grad school. They won't change and they live in their own world divorced from reality.

Even when you see a university publish major papers on how ineffective their own memorization based systems are they refuse to change. I have talked with some university professors about this and usually the reasons that are given for keeping the memorization based systems are politics, culture, history etc. None of which have anything to do with education.

The human race is being held back by the education system at this point and since they won't evolve they need to be replaced.

Comment: Re:Lame Lame Lame! (Score 1) 198

by Ambassador Kosh (#48949017) Attached to: Can Students Have Too Much Tech?

The way we teach calculus is based off of rote memorization. You need all the rules to solve the integrals. However, functional analysis is an almost entirely different kind of skill. Functional analysis is based on the theory that underlies calculus but that is usually skipped in order to just teach straight problem solving.

I see skills like functional analysis as more important since you learn what to expect from functions and why. The exact answer a computer can give you but a better understanding of functions will tell you very quickly if you made a major error in setting up the system on a computer, or if there are multiple answer how to determine which is the correct one for your system.

There is just not enough time to teach understanding (since it takes so much experience to gain it) and the memorization of rules for solving integrals and derivatives. Since any cellphone, laptop, tablet, etc can solve integrals and differentials but they can't give you understanding I think we should be spending time on the parts that computers can't do. As a result you can solve more realistic (and FAR harder) problems and you learn far more valuable skills in problem solving.

Comment: Re:I really think it depends (Score 1) 198

by Ambassador Kosh (#48948825) Attached to: Can Students Have Too Much Tech?

I can't even imagine dong that for my subject. It is impressive that you managed to do it and I am thankful I don't have to go down that path.

My Master's thesis will be on chromatography simulations at industrial concentrations with industrial bio-molecules.

Overall I think that computers have helped a lot if used wisely and have enabled entirely new areas of research that are saving hundreds of thousands of lives every year.

They can also definitely be abused but that is a reason to learn how to integrate them effectively that is not a reason to ban them.

Comment: Re:depends on what they use it for (Score 1) 198

by Ambassador Kosh (#48948803) Attached to: Can Students Have Too Much Tech?

Tech to read textbooks is great for engineering texts!

With an ebook you can SEARCH. Trying to find out where a table of values I need to pipe roughness or viscosity relationships vs temperature for a certain chemical is so much easier to do with searching. Most engineering books seem to have about a hundred pages or so of just tables, graphs etc at the end.

Comment: Re:Lame Lame Lame! (Score 1) 198

by Ambassador Kosh (#48948795) Attached to: Can Students Have Too Much Tech?

Not using tech also limits the problems you can solve and the kinds of approaches you can take.

During an exam there is just no way to solve coupled ODEs or god forbid PDEs but there are a few calculators that can solve those kinds of problems now. This means you can give more realistic equations and get more realistic answers instead of dumbing problems down to the point where a human can do them.

At this point there is no real need to solve an integral, a differential, ODE, PDE, coupled system etc by hand Too much time is spent on this skill a computer can do and not spent on WHY you should setup that ODE. What does it mean? What kind of answers should you get? Will the problem have multiple answers? How do you know which one is the correct one?

We need a better understanding of why. Knowing how to setup a problem to the point where a computer can solve it and knowing that it is the right problem to solve is far more important than memorizing derivative rules and applying them. I can teach a computer to solve a derivative I can't teach it to figure out what the right set of equations to model a problem is.

Comment: Re:This pays credence to my rant about tech (Score 4, Informative) 198

by Ambassador Kosh (#48948755) Attached to: Can Students Have Too Much Tech?

At the college level though I see a different kind of problem. Many of the people from 3rd world countries I have encountered do VERY well at rote memorization tasks and can often solve engineering problems that are almost exactly what they have done before but when you step outside of that they quickly run into problems. I find that american and canadian engineers are more likely to rely on a computer to solve the hard math part but they are much better at figuring out how to define the problem and what should be done to solve it.

I am not sure why but most european countries still seem to do rote memorization for many disciplines and base all grades on a single 2 hour exam. It is all pretty silly. Maybe some day education won't be confused with memorization.

Comment: I really think it depends (Score 1) 198

by Ambassador Kosh (#48948707) Attached to: Can Students Have Too Much Tech?

In grade school I can't think of many good uses of constant tech but there should be times specifically for it to learn.

At the college level it depends on the type of courses. I find that a laptop helps a lot in my engineering classes at bother the undergraduate and now at the masters level.

Especially at the masters level it is easy to look up subjects you need to read more on as the professor mentions then so you can read the articles later. After some classes I will have 20 tabs queued up to read.

Some of my classes even expect you to have a laptop with you since the lessons are sometimes done interactively. Recently we have been working on molecular dynamics simulations and looking at the importance of minimizing energy before a simulation, making sure the random starting point is stable, figuring out the free energy of a reaction etc.

There is a huge gaping difference between someone telling you those things are important and you actually doing them and working along with the class. All of our simulations have also required data analysis and visualization of the data and you are expected to quickly be able to parse various strange text formats and do some fairly complex calculations on the data. We normally use python or matlab.

It is also very useful for solving some of the math problems we run into in classes now. Even when an ODE has an analytically solution you don't want to solve it by hand and a computer present allows you to focus on the understanding of the problem and let the computer solve the math part.

Comment: Re:Vital information lacking... (Score 1) 514

Actually there is work on making plants more nutritious.

Golden rice is the biggest example of this. It sure is nice that the EU has worked so hard to spread disinformation about it so that tens of millions can be safe, organic and blind without the vitamin A the rice provides.

A more recent example is a tomato that has a tuna protein put in it to prevent freezing. What this allows is to go tomatoes in climates that can not normally grow tomatoes and also grow them later in the year. This is not directly more nutritious but it is indirectly more nutritious since it means more of the tomatoes are allowed to ripen on the vine. Normally many tomatoes are grown far away and ripened synthetically and currently our synthetic ripening is not very good and does not generate the same nutrition content. The local tomatoes are healthier and more environmentally friendly.

Comment: Re:More ambiguous cruft (Score 2) 514

The more we learn the harder the science gets. Mostly we end up working on harder and harder problems and many things we are doing today is at the very edges of what we can do. We are at the point where we are designing systems based on atomic arrangements. We can even change the types of bonds being formed not just the atomic arrangements.

No amount of testing with ever catching everything and realistically during the development of new technology we are probably going to kill a lot of people. However, at the same time we have developed drugs to regenerate your white blood cells after chemotherapy. The lethality rates of many cancers went from 90% to 5% since most of the deaths where from infections. We have saved a HUGE number of people with that one. Right now there is work being done to target the actual mutations that cause cancer and destroy the cells that have them. We even have drugs that work for that we just can't manufacture them at scale.

It is hard to explain how brutally difficult modern manufacturing is. Imagine having to assembly a few thousand atoms in EXACTLY the right order. If you get one bond wrong the result can be lethal. Even worse these arrangements like to spontaneously hook together and those combinations are almost always lethal. If you have those combinations at greater than .001% that usually means the patient dies. Oh and you need to make on the order of 10^23 of those arrangements for a patient.

We are going to screw this up. There is no doubt about it but we also know that if we stop trying then even more people die.

Comment: Re:More ambiguous cruft (Score 1) 514

GMO is NOT fundamentally different than chemical mutagens and radioactive substances to create crossbreeds or try to get specific traits except that it is MORE dangerous. Traditional ways of selective breeding are MORE dangerous from a genetic perspective than genetic engineering.

Just because they have been used for a long time does not mean that they are not dangerous. People do die from it, we just accept it as a part of life.

Just labeling something as GMO does not give you ANY information at all and is nothing to base a decision on.

What good is a ticket to the good life, if you can't find the entrance?