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Comment Re:Gamble? (Score 2) 138

Yeah, the key is to make planes fast and cheap. No system in existence can deal with a few tens of thousands of planes attacking a target at once. If military planes can be made to follow Moore's law of sorts then that is far better than stealth. The problem is we are taking the opposite track. Every next generation of planes is more fancy but also much more expensive than the previous one.

Comment Re:Is this some luddite anti-tech site? (Score 5, Informative) 91

These are no jetpacks, no matter what the media labels them as.
First, they are turboprops. There are no jets. In other words, it is a slightly shrunk down versions of a personal helicopter with all that implies for maneuverability and speed.
Second, they are not "...packs". These devices are huge. The cool thing about jetpacks is that they would be devices you could carry with you and they would be the size and weight of a normal bag but then you strap it to your back and you can fly. And when you fly, these devices would not stick out much from your back, thus allowing you to clear very narrow gaps between buildings and so on.
There is a reason why bicycles are not generally considered cool but skateboards are. You need to park one but not the other.
Finally, these devices are totally useless for their intended purpose. If the building is in trouble (e.g. on fire) then these will not help you put the fire out. To search, survey, or monitoring you are better off with much small drones. They can hang in the air much longer, they provide clear picture and they can navigate much tighter spaces than this monster, plus they have no operator to endanger. If the building is not in trouble but you have e,g, a medical emergency on the top floor then you are better off with an elevator. Part of the reason people are smirking is because this is clearly someone in Dubai buying himself a bunch of toys with public money. Corruption is not sexy.

Comment Re:Maybe Scott just wasn't listening that hard... (Score 1) 163

I have seen a preview they did here locally. First, this is an awesome movie. It is not claustrophobic like Gravity. It moves fast and is fun. Imagine McGuyver in Space. It is just about as fun and certainly more realistic. Sure, there are things that rub you the wrong way after the movie but nothing that irked me instantly. When they say this movie is accurate, they mean that you do buy into the McGuyvering while it is going on. Even a PhD like me can enjoy this movie.
Unlike for instance the recent Maze Runner where the entire premise of some enzyme which cannot be made via biotech but can be made by the body is plain ridiculous. This movie may not be totally accurate but it is on another level.

Comment Re:How many coin toss heads in a row is natural? (Score 2) 191

I think the limiting factor is going to be financial. Nobody will be building single purpose science facilities at a cost which is a significant fraction of the GDP. My guess is that something on the scale of $10-20B is imaginable (i.e. something like the failed SSC) but much bigger is not. Now, couple this with the fact that CERN was only able to sell their expansion due to the hunt for Higgs. This was not some nebulous cancellation of perturbative corrections but a very real prize which could then for years validate the technical prowess of a entity like EU. So unless there is something truly fundamental, firmly expected and magically marketable to politicians beyond CERN LHC scale, then it is unlikely to happen.
Frankly, it is just as well. If I were a politician, I would allocate any new funding for identifying ways to reach higher energy scales cheaper. We need to shrink things like the ATLAS experiment down to lab-on-chip level. We need hard drives which can fit all data from CERN for a year on one platter. Give it a few hundred years of progress, shrink technology as much as possible, then scale up as need be.

Comment Re:Sunk cost fallacy (Score 1) 485

Technically that is not true. To repay the debts, the Greeks would have to divert something like 20% of government spending towards repayment. So if they cut half the spending from budget then they could be solvent even accounting for the resulting shrinking in the economy and the debt payments.
Technically, the Greeks can repay the debt, it just requires a good chunk of the country to starve to death in the process. And I mean literally because government spending is about half of their economy (a bit more actually).

Comment Re:poor training for industry jobs (Score 2) 283

One problem is that the industry today is ruled by Wall Street and has very short term outlook. We know for a fact that most industrial giants have closed their research labs or shrunk them greatly. Just for kicks, which industry will subcontract a CERN collider or a Hubble telescope? We are also seeing this in biomed. Industrial firms were in no rush to develop Ebola cures because they could not see the profit. Now the government is giving tons of money to the few promising leads trying to play catch up and we are losing lives in the process. Similarly, and more ominously, companies are not investing in new antibiotics and we are seeing major antibiotic resistant strains arise and threaten medieval-style misery. I suppose we will dump money at the problem when the first few millions die from some new pandemic caused by a relative of a previously benign bug. In short, bringing in industry to manage science is a terrible idea and there is tons of examples right here right now.
National labs could certainly be diversified in their mission to facilitate transition of academic minds into industry. The problem is... where are those industry jobs?
Putting everyone on GSA scale is a great and overdue idea. You will have to boost grant funding to prevent existing research projects from grinding to a halt but after that boost you could maintain that level steady. NIH already has some salary guidelines but they do need to be boosted.

In any event, the real problem is the lack of funding and hence jobs, whether in the industry or in academia. Personally, I feel that the solution is to acknowledge that we have too many graduates at every level and to then dramatically increase academic standards so that only very few could get a PhD and this degree would be seen (as it once was) as a major accomplishment that truly sets one apart from their peers. I think that if we simply produced ten times less PhDs then we would have none of the issues with postdoc glut. In hard sciences, we should eliminate Master's degrees because right now you get it if you are a failure and cannot get a PhD. The degree might have its uses in Engineering though. We need to cut the number of bachelor degrees until salaries for tech work start to go up. We also need to reorient scientific labs to employ technicians, rather than students or postdocs. That way labor will get a market price and will not be tied to a degree. Bachelor students will once again know that there is an industry job waiting if they can get a degree. PhD students will then be apprentices who will know up front that they aim for academic freedom but their odds are like the odds of winning the Olympics. And if PhD students fail to get a degree then they will still have a bachelor to fall back on.
Most importantly, we need to dramatically increase salaries for middle and high school teachers of science and math and simultaneously increase hiring prerequisites. This is where we need to channel the current glut. The brightest people on the sidelines need to be channeled into getting our society as a whole up to speed.

Comment Re:Reinvent this, reinvent that. It's all still sh (Score 1) 266

I dunno. I kind of agree with him [shudder]. FPS is sorely missing new ideas and his link to Minecraft is the most promising observation in years. I have always said that I may not be the best shooter but I am a good designer. Give me the ability to design my own weapons in-game and I will win a lot. But we are not talking about mech type building. We are talking fine-grained physics with metalworking, advanced chemistry and other real world complexity. This level of gaming is still beyond what computers can do but minecraft-type building would be a great step in that direction. I really want to see a game where you spend a month building, testing and refining your designs and five minutes in the actual battle. I am sure Romero will find a way to screw up but he sure is talking a good vision.

Comment Re:The big picture (Score 1) 312

One could make a more practical argument too. For most cases MAD will be smaller than standard deviation. So reporting so many standard deviations of difference is often a way to overestimate your error bars. Or in other words to report a more conservative estimate. If MAD or SEM is the appropriate way to estimate errors - oh well, that just means your reported result (significant difference) is even stronger. Of course you will usually use a test and not rely on error bars to estimate significance but on a visual graph, when you plot huge error bars and your results are still worlds apart - it is a good way to be extra conservative.

Comment Resolution (Score 1) 271

At one point I got curious about what resolution would have to be before it no longer pays off. So I went to a retailer and looked at 1080p monitors of various sizes from a distance at which I usually look at a screen (36" or so). I found that I can tel pixels for screens larger than about 25" class. So I looked up specs and it seems that my eyes are OK at 100 ppi but not below. So for my screen preference (36"x64") that translates to 3600x6400 resolution. As soon as eyefinity can drive 3 4K monitors at 60 fps from a single card ( I will upgrade my computer, buy 3 UltraHD monitors and never have to upgrade again since my eyes are only going to get worse.

Comment Re:Short version (Score 2) 233

I did a five year postdoc. The money is not bad. Above poverty level. If all you do is go to lab, go home to sleep and go to the lab then this is plenty. If you you do _anything_ besides the above two then you are doing it wrong. I put in 100 hours per week for five years with no breaks or holidays and I have a good reputation and a faculty job now. I would have been happy with the former alone.

Comment Short version (Score 3, Insightful) 233

Long article to say: postdoc is a lot of work for low pay and iffy career prospects.

Well duh.

On the flip side, if you are doing it, chances are "a lot of work" is a plus not a minus. As Aldous Huxley said: "An intellectual is a person who's found one thing that's more interesting than sex." Yes, the pay is low but you get to use someone else's money to fund your research. If you want to worry about science and not administrative issues then postdoc days are the golden days.


Steve Jobs Video Kills Apple Patent In Germany 100

An anonymous reader writes "Today the Federal Patent Court of Germany shot down an Apple photo gallery bounce-back patent over which Cupertino was/is suing Samsung and Motorola. A panel of five judges found the patent invalid because the relevant patent application was filed only in June 2007 but Steve Jobs already demoed the feature in January 2007 (video). While this wouldn't matter in the U.S., it's a reason for a patent to be invalidated in Europe. For different reasons someone thought the iPhone presentation was a mistake. It now turns out that when Steve Jobs said "Boy have we patented it!" his company forgot that public disclosure, even by an inventor, must not take place before a European patent application is filed. But Apple can still sue companies over the Android photo gallery: in addition to this patent it owns a utility model, a special German intellectual property right that has a shorter term (10 years) and a six-month grace period, which is just enough to make sure that history-making Steve Jobs video won't count as prior art."

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