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Comment: Re:anti-science pols always Republican (Score 1) 509

by Ambassador Kosh (#46658043) Attached to: The Problem With Congress's Scientific Illiterates

There is plenty of blame to go around. We have republicans killing some projects they object to and democrats kill either and both claim the other is anti-science.

I wish we could run this country on facts and science. There are many policies that are good for the country regardless of it they are liberal or conservative ideas. The problem is that when you point out ideas that could be used someone immediately paints it with liberal or conservative and then they fight it based on that label.

Comment: Re:debating GMOs isn't 'anti-science' (Score 1) 509

by Ambassador Kosh (#46657901) Attached to: The Problem With Congress's Scientific Illiterates

I actually think that ALL food should be labeled. Many organic foods where also modified using radiation or mutagenic compounds. The old style hybridization techniques are at least as dangerous and often more dangerous than genetic engineering. Just because something was done with an antique method of mixing traits between plants does NOT make it safe and free of side effects.

One of the simplest ones I like is BT toxin. BT toxin is classified as organic and safe (which it is). Organic farmers spray it on their crops and that is considered fine. However it also washes off pretty quickly. It is not very good for amphibians and some other aquatic life forms. However when that SAME thing is inserted in corn suddenly it is seen as evil. The one inserted in corn is actually better because it does not just wash off. It is part of the plant and provides much better resistance and BT does nothing to us at all at any remotely reasonable level. Sure if you ate half your body weight of it you would probably die but the same would happen with any other substance including water.

The ONLY problem I have with GMO crops is that most of them are engineered incompetently using gene gun approaches instead of restriction enzyme approaches. The current way most GMOs are done is reckless and leads to errors that are about the same kind of problems you get with hybridization techniques but still better than radiation. If monsanto and others started doing insertion with restriction enzymes or something like CRISPR-cas9 I would have no issues with what they are doing at all.

In the end the companies making GMOs are extremely lazy and that is a GREAT thing. They are not trying to make new proteins for insertion, instead they look for proteins that already exist and do what they want and they tend to only use proteins that we already normally consume from a different organism. Putting a gene that prevent ice crystallization in fish and putting it in tomatoes is a great idea. It doesn't harm you in any way but it allows tomatoes to be grown in colder climates and also for them to survive freak freezes.

If you want to label then label everything. Make a website for every food product that is run by the government that all food producers must fill out before they can sell their product. I want the full DNA sequence of all items along with all other chemicals in the food. If you genetically engineered something I want to know what method you used, what you inserted etc. If you mutated something with radiation I want to know what level of radiation was used, what type etc. Just labeling something as GMO or Organic is idiotic and definitely anti-science. It is just a convenient label for people to use that distilled down a very complex issue to some kind of bullet point. Organic is not safe or unsafe, it depends on what it is and how it was made and the exact same thing is true of GMOs. In the end we are going to use genetic engineering to make this world better and all of these stupid objections are only going to slow things down and increase accidents. There are some real objections to GMOs and also to organic farming but as long as the issues are only looked at in a very shallow way there is no real chance that we will look at the real problems with these techniques and address them.

Comment: This is why I started using MATLAB (Score 2) 391

by Ambassador Kosh (#46607093) Attached to: Toward Better Programming

I used only free software programming for about 10 years and I thought I was pretty efficient at writing code. However, no matter what there where always poor documentation to deal with and strange bugs to track down where libraries just didn't work right.

Once I returned to school I started using MATLAB for some engineering classes and overall I have found it much better to deal with. The documentation is far more complete than any open system I have ever ran into with much better examples. I would never use it for general purpose programming but for engineering work it sure is hard to beat. So many things are built in that are nasty to try to implement in anything else. Things like the global optimization toolbox or the parallel computing toolbox make many things that are hard in other languages much easier to deal with.

MATLAB also takes backwards compatibility very seriously. If something is deprecated it warns and also gives an upgrade path and tells you what you need to change. That is the one thing that has seriously pissed me off about the free languages is backwards compatibility is just tossed out at a whim and you are left with a fairly nasty upgrade to deal with. Even now the vast majority of projects are still running Python 2 compared to Python 3. 10 years from now that will probably still be true.

In the end I care more about just getting work done now, not about any free vs proprietary arguments. I don't care if a language is open or not so long as it is very documented and runs on all the platforms I need it with a history of being well maintained. Modern development tools overall suck. We have javascript libraries that love to break compatibility every few months and people are constantly hoping from one new thing to another without getting any of them to the point where they truly work. We have languages deciding to just drop backwards compatibility. We have other languages that are just really buggy where software written with them tends to crash a lot. Software development needs to become more like engineering and that includes making the tools work better, sure they would not be developed as quickly but you would still get work done faster since the tools would actually work every time all the time.

Comment: Re:Disproved? (Score 4, Informative) 20

It is far more complex than that. There is a lot of doubt about the research but making stem cells is a process that is VERY hard to do even with protocols that we have fully diagnosed. With other techniques for induced pluripotent stem cells the results are usually 1% or less of the cells make the changes you want. Even if the paper had written down EVERYTHING that was done for the STAP cells there is no guarantee that it would work effectively for someone else until the protocol is nailed down better.

It does seem unlikely that the STAP research is correct but it is too soon to say that for sure and there is no way we can walk away from this kind of advance if it is at all possible.

The worst outcome would be if the STAP cells really do exist but was the result of sloppy technique and sloppy experimental documentation while having the paper also involve fraud. Under those conditions nobody else would be able to reproduce it since they would not make the same mistakes and the fraud involved would mean that it would be very hard for others to try similar experiments to figure out what really happened. If all we had was a shoddy experiment that happened to work but not fraud involved then there would be a LOT of work to figure out what really happened. This is why I hate all the cheating in scientific papers, not only does it damage that paper it also damages that entire line of inquiry.

Comment: Re:Good news, needs more science (Score 1) 64

by Ambassador Kosh (#46292641) Attached to: Egg-free Flu Vaccines Provide Faster Pandemic Response

Trust me. No articles are very correct it is just that you are not an expert in the other fields that other articles discuss. Yes this article is wrong but so are the articles on genetic engineering, hard drives, SSD, memory, CPUs, gravity, dark matter and every other subject you could imagine.

Comment: Re:New Level of Ransomware (Score 2) 76

by Ambassador Kosh (#46210009) Attached to: Hackers Penetrate Top Medical Device Makers

What is already happening is these devices are getting hard coded safety envelopes. You would be able to give them commands within that envelope but that would be it. It is not a problem but the medical device companies though they would have to deal with but they seem to be working on the problem pretty efficiently. So you could tell the heart to speed up a little or slow down a little but there would be hard coded controls so that you could not make it stop, run too fast, run too slow, run for very long at an altered setting etc. Insulin pumps etc are doing the same thing.

This is a problem that is taking care of itself fairly quickly. There will not be many vulnerable devices and those will be replaced fairly quickly.

Comment: Re:It is a symptom of the industry and human natur (Score 1) 876

by Ambassador Kosh (#46192769) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Why Are We Still Writing Text-Based Code?

Simulink is a graphical programming language designed for engineers to use. That is pretty much the only audience of it. However, if your problem is very complex, it still becomes a horrible mess to read very very quickly. In the end visual programming just does not work very well. Especially in engineering since all of our stuff is math equations anyways.

Comment: Re:Labview (Score 1) 876

by Ambassador Kosh (#46192745) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Why Are We Still Writing Text-Based Code?

As soon as the differential equations get very complex is becomes massively easier to just write them in code than to use Simulink. I don't think that Simulink is bad in any way just that if you have a complex problem it becomes at least as hard to read as any code is. I have a problem I am working on right now that is about 7 coupled differential equations and probably another 10 regular functions. Doing it in simulink just does not seem like a good idea.

Comment: Re: Abolish software patents (Score 1) 204

by Ambassador Kosh (#45952491) Attached to: Supreme Court Refuses To Hear Newegg Patent Case

I think we would be better if we could do this at a societal level instead of private companies but the system we have is private companies. Many of these ideas actually take close to 10 years to get to market and the FDA is only a small part of that. These new DNA and protein based medications are HARD to make. I don't think the average person has any clue how hard it is to make. If you had an entire swimming pool filled with your raw materials the amount of drug you can get out of that is about the size of a marble.

Worse just getting it is not enough, you also have to purify it, remove all contaminants etc. 2 years is just not enough time to do that.

Comment: Re: Abolish software patents (Score 1) 204

by Ambassador Kosh (#45950225) Attached to: Supreme Court Refuses To Hear Newegg Patent Case

There is nothing for them to compete with. These are the first medicines of their type EVER. The problem is that it is so expensive to develop and make these drugs that if the patent only lasted 2 years it would be 8 years before you where even ready to make it that the patent expired and your competitors would be able to work on making it also but at a tiny fraction of the cost.

Comment: Re: Abolish software patents (Score 0) 204

by Ambassador Kosh (#45947445) Attached to: Supreme Court Refuses To Hear Newegg Patent Case

DNA, protein and nanotech type drugs are so hard to make that from discovery it often takes about 10 years to put them into production. We are at a point right now where we have figured out a way to make something in a lab but not how to make it at an industrial scale. If you lowered patents to 2 years for this stuff you would stop all work on it.

We have also just started using stuff like CRISPR-CAS to do DNA editing on humans. It is likely to take at least 10 years just to get something approved and that does not cover figure out how to actually make it at scale.

I used to think that drugs should have much shorter protections but since actually taking classes in how to make them, how to get them approved etc and how hard they are to make my views have changed. Sure the short molecule drugs that most traditional pharmaceuticals are may be almost trivially easy to make but the newer biotech types ones are HARD. I mean insanely mind mindbogglingly hard. Many of the protein based drugs start with a 10,000L vat and end up at the end with 4 kg of product. Overall to make that 4 kg takes many millions of dollars for each batch and it does not help many people. However if you ever want that technology to improve then the patents on it have to last long enough to justify what it takes to make it.

Comment: Re:First try 2.4 to 2.7 (Score 1) 432

by Ambassador Kosh (#45927917) Attached to: Why Do Projects Continue To Support Old Python Releases?

However if those libraries are already installed on your system it should be fairly easy to update them. For zope 2.x the changes in python product code have been fairly minimal across all versions and the python changes from 1.5 to 2.7 are pretty easy to change also. The only big issue I can see is if the system used zclasses and I thought that could still be installed in a modern zope version, just heavily recommended against. However zclasses are normally fairly easy to rebuild as a pure python product.

Numeric stability is probably not all that important when you're guessing.