Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


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:White balance and contrast in camera. (Score 1) 222

by Baloroth (#49154193) Attached to: Is That Dress White and Gold Or Blue and Black?

Yeah, and that's kinda the whole point: everyone who looks at the photo is automatically (and completely subconsciously, without realizing it) applying color-correction to the dress, based on the brain's similar experiences with color-correcting and the visual clues in the picture. What makes the picture interesting is that it's so close to the edge between white/gold and blue/black that different people can perceive it differently, even on the exact same screen. Actually, I've seen it both ways, though I believe the picture that I saw as white/gold was ever so slightly lightened (based on a totally not scientific color picking of the blue areas). The picture was also a smaller version, which may have made the difference. The point is, the picture is a fascinating example of how what humans really perceive is not what they're actually seeing, but a heavily interpreted version based on context and various visual clues. In fact, humans would be effectively blind without that processing (imagine face blindness, but for everything you see).

Comment: Re:Dazzlers (Score 5, Insightful) 318

I'm missing something here - is it OK if it blinds soldiers so long as the *intent* is not to blind soldiers?

Yes? Obviously? I mean, a pistol fired right next to the face can blind you as well (or deafen you if fired next to the ear, possibly permanently). That's not banned, because the point of the pistol is to kill people with bullets, not cripple them. In fact, virtually any weapon (and most tools, such as tanks, planes, etc.) can cause all kinds of debilitating damage if used in the wrong way or if someone ends up in the wrong situation, even if they're not designed to do that. Hell, a pair of binoculars can cause permanent blindness if you look at the sun through them. Can cause blindness isn't a good reason to ban anything.

Comment: Re:Yes, it's a conflict of interest. (Score 5, Interesting) 438

by Baloroth (#49103683) Attached to: How One Climate-Change Skeptic Has Profited From Corporate Interests

That's why there is a little thing called "peer review". If his observations are incorrect then a peer review will discover it.

A common misconception. Peer review does not verify that the data is correct, that the methodology in the paper is followed, or in general that the results are reliable. It looks at the methods outlined in the paper and tries to spot obvious flaws or oversights, as well as any major problems with the structure of the paper. It can't detect fraud, cherry-picking data, or a host of other problems. Some "scientists" have gotten away for years with made up data or other fraud. And of course the quality of the peer review (or even if it is peer reviewed, in some cases) depends heavily on the journal that publishes it. Anyone can make the "Journal of American Climate Study" or some other professional sounding name and publish total garbage.

If his experiments can't be reproduced then the paper will be discredited (along with his career)

This has pretty much already happened. He's published papers with deeply flawed methodology that has misrepresented the work of other scientists, espouses a scientific viewpoint (that solar variation causes most observed climate changes) that has been shown wrong years ago, and has failed to disclose the source of his funding, a fairly major ethical violation.

Comment: Re:Russian steep price (Score 2) 100

by Baloroth (#49103145) Attached to: ISS Crew Install Cables For 2017 Arrival of Commercial Capsules

By definition the private sector has to be more expensive at achieving a goal than the public one.

Not at all. The public sector tends not to care about costs, since they take the money more or less by force (implied force, if nothing else), and they have little to no threat of competition to force overheads to remain low. And of course one government providing a service for money to another government also has the motive of profit, making this situation more or less the worst of all possible worlds. In a theoretical optimum world, public sector would be by definition cheaper. Unfortunately, we live in the real world, which isn't always quite so nice (a tiny snag that many political philosophers/economists/et al often overlook).

In this case, for example, SpaceX is attempting to lower costs through a practical reusable design, whereas the Space Shuttle (in practice) ended up raising them considerably, despite being reusable, due to a number of ridiculous design constraints enforced on it by various government interests.

Comment: Re:if by "much higher efficiency" you mean 40% vs (Score 1) 257

by Baloroth (#49062047) Attached to: Tesla Factory Racing To Retool For New Models

If you're gonna factor in transmission line losses and charging loss, then you also have to factor in idling and drivetrain losses, which brings the fuel efficiency of an ICE down to about 15%. Not counting the energy required to actually make the fuel in the first place (which is also not zero). More importantly, though, electric cars are source-neutral: they don't give a shit if their electricity comes from coal, nuclear, or solar.

Comment: Re:I'm I the only one (Score 2, Informative) 365

by Baloroth (#49055729) Attached to: Smoking Is Even Deadlier Than Previously Thought

that finds it odd that we allow companies to sell a substance who's sole purpose is to be addictive?

If you think the sole purpose of nicotine is to be addictive, you are sorely misinformed. People don't start smoking because it's addictive: they start smoking because it's enjoyable.

Comment: Re:What do you expect? (Score 1) 252

by Baloroth (#49014583) Attached to: AP Test's Recursion Examples: An Exercise In Awkwardness

This included recursion, and we used the only reasonable example one can give a high school student. The Fibonacci series. I assume that everyone has coded this by the time they 18.

Which is why it's a terrible horrible no good choice for a test question. If they've already seen it, they know what it does, so you're not testing them to see if they understand the code conceptually, you're testing to see if they've seen a Fibonacci generator before.

Comment: Re: You should be aware that (Score 2) 690

by Baloroth (#49014399) Attached to: Free-As-In-Beer Electricity In Greece?

Europe is composed of socialist countries and has been for about 60 years or so for the ones that weren't communist and the rest became socialist when the communist regime fell.

Believe it or not, governments are not black-and-white either/or systems. A government can have socialist systems without being primarily socialist. In the case of Europe, the means of production are still privately owned, mostly by rich capitalists or other individuals (shareholders) who have no direct connection to the government. That's the textbook definition of capitalism. To be socialist, the means of production would have to be mostly socialized (e.g. owned by a common group of some kind, such as the government, "the people", a central authority, etc), which they are not, in any of those governments. Not even remotely so.

Comment: Re:AI. It's like 3D TV. We don't have it. (Score 1) 129

by Baloroth (#49012229) Attached to: Replacing the Turing Test

Intelligence does not require "consciousness", any more than it requires a soul. Consciousness is a nebulous concept that has not even been defined in any objective falsifiable way. Intelligence is the ability to formulate an effective solution to novel problems. That is something that can tested and quantifie

Ah, so evolution is intelligent then? Because that's exactly what evolution does.

Intelligence is a property of behavior.

No, it is associated with a property of behavior. Something can behave intelligently without being intelligent. For example, insects often form extremely complex and intricate structures (in some cases optimally designed structures). They're decidedly not intelligent, however, as their behavior is strictly governed by instinct. Extremely complex instincts that appear at first glance to be intelligence, but only instinct. The same applies to computers, which of course is the entire crux of the problem with testing for AI. The difference between actual intelligence and sophisticated pre-programmed responses is only apparent when you involve more subtle tests, and those tests can in turn be overcome simply with more sophisticated programming (requiring more sophisticated tests, and so on and so forth).

Comment: Re:Double Irish (Score 1) 825

by Baloroth (#48953741) Attached to: Obama Proposes One-Time Tax On $2 Trillion US Companies Hold Overseas

No other country has this odd view, instead, money earned abroad is taxed abroad.

The problem is that quite often the money earned abroad isn't actually being taxed at all (or at an extremely low rate). Things like the Double Irish actually prevent anyone from taxing them (or taxing a small portion of the total income), using various legal loopholes, even if the income would normally be taxable. So you can have goods produced in one country, sold in another, and never be taxed anywhere (and in fact the company may well take a deduction on business expenses from production, or other such nonsense). That's the problem here: companies are using loopholes to earn money in countries and not pay taxes on it at all. It's legalized tax evasion.

Dual US/British citizen and earning money in Britain? Great, you'll be paying both UK and US income tax on that!

If and only if the British taxes are less than the taxes you'd be paying in the US, and then only up to the difference. Or you can take a $97,000 dollar exclusion on foreign income (so if you make less than that, you pay nothing). Really, the whole system is only intended to make sure that rich people and corporations that have the money and resources to take advantage of loopholes still pay what they owe (doesn't always work, of course, but thats the intent). Slashdot ought to be all over that.

Comment: Re:Some potential, but hardly for a genuine leap (Score 4, Interesting) 282

by Baloroth (#48949567) Attached to: NASA Looking At Nuclear Thermal Rockets To Explore the Solar System

No other mode of transportation has to carry its own reaction mass and throw it away. Not bicycles, cars, trains, ships, submarines, or airplanes.

Quite right. Because no other form of transportation takes place in a vacuum. Unless you know of some radical new physics, standard reaction-mass engines will be necessary for spaceflight for... well, forever, so, I'm not sure exactly what your point is. And yes, they've worked on the idea before with NERVA. We have, believe it or not, made a few technological and engineering breakthroughs since then (mind you: NERVA worked. It worked very well. It was canceled for political reasons, not practical ones).

Comment: Re:Shame on them (Score 1) 181

by Baloroth (#48944443) Attached to: Mathematicians Uncomfortable With Ties To NSA, But Not Pulling Back

Don't say that he's hypocritical, Say rather that he's apolitical. "once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down? That's not my department," says Wernher von Braun.

--Tom Lehrer, "Wernher von Braun"

Ding ding ding ding! We've got a winner here! One Godwin'ed Slashdot thread! (ok, I'm not actually sure you won, but I didn't see anything up above).

Comment: Re:Well... (Score 5, Insightful) 236

by Baloroth (#48915277) Attached to: White House Drone Incident Exposes Key Security Gap

The goal of these kinds of security measures isn't to prevent people with malicious intent from breaking them. That is, obviously, impossible. It is to make sure people without malicious intent don't engage in activities which are indistinguishable from malicious activity. That in turn means that if you see people engaging in apparent malicious activity, you can safely assume they are, and operate accordingly (i.e. shoot them, arrest them, etc.)

Comment: Re:Pay up and quit whining (Score 1) 431

by Baloroth (#48895241) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Where Can You Get a Good 3-Button Mouse Today?

You might be able to: my Logitech Mx518 (at least with the software I have installed) doesn't seem to allow rebinding the two primary buttons, though, so it's not a sure thing. The OP can do what you suggest, or just ask around (on Reddit, user reviews, even send a message to Logitech).

The less time planning, the more time programming.