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Comment: Re:Like on airplanes! (Score 1) 557

Is nitrogen used because it is cheaper than oxygen?

This is not exactly a joke, at least not directly. It is a reference to a blogger called The Food Babe who has offered up some laughable ideas - in this case opining on the health effects of airline travel. She famously complains that : "The air you are breathing on an airplane is recycled from directly outside of your window. That means you are breathing everything that the airplanes gives off and is flying through it’s mixed with nitrogen, sometimes almost at 50%"

For those who don't get the laugh-out-loud moment, it isn't the bit about how the cabin pressurization works, or even the bit about mixing the air with nitrogen.... yes, those are crazy goofy, but if you still are in the dark, give a quick google for the percentage of nitrogen in the atmosphere around you.

Comment: Re:Execute the fastest way possible (Score 1) 557

The egg industry uses little chipper/shredder machines to grind up the unwanted male chicks in less than a second. Although grotesque, it is so quick that they probably experience no pain from the killing itself.

A giant chipper/shredder for humans would do the job humanely, if horrifically. Perhaps this is the best solution - push for a truly humane death penalty that is spectacularly unpalatable. Putting someone under with valium and dropping them into a giant machine that reduces their body to hamburger in less than a second would certainly be "humane".

Comment: Re:An alternative to the death penalty (Score 5, Insightful) 557

Atheism and absence of morality are not synonymous. One need not invoke a deity to have a moral compass. Most publicly vocal atheists in the west are also opposed to the death penalty. At the same time, at least a couple of history's greatest mass murderers were also avowed atheists. It doesn't seem that atheism and opposition to killing are at all correlated, just as belief in any of the major religions is not a good predictor of one's stance on the death penalty.

Troll rejected: erroneous premise.

Comment: Re:An alternative to the death penalty (Score 5, Insightful) 557

Yeah, this is pretty macabre. How about we just avoid killing people?

And no, it isn't because they don't deserve it (although we inevitably execute and imprison innocent people). Most deserve worse than they get. How about let's just go with the simple idea that killing is wrong and strive to avoid it whenever possible? Killing people diminishes us - even if they were evil scumbags who deserved worse. I don't need to look to other cultures for examples and counter-examples of executing people. I don't need a popularity contest about how many other people don't like the death penalty (or the converse). Let's just go with "no killing" because it is right and be done with it.

Comment: Re:Why is it even a discussion? (Score 1) 441

by Cytotoxic (#49467241) Attached to: Republicans Introduce a Bill To Overturn Net Neutrality

What Bing said.

The issue is not open and unfettered internet vs. evil corporate control. It is one set of bureaucrats and corporations against another set of bureaucrats and corporations. Just because they use the words "net neutrality" doesn't mean there is anything neutrality related involved. Remember, the same national politicians got together to give us the Republic-led bipartisan "USA PATRIOT Act", which had absolutely nothing to do with patriotism.

"free and open internet" as we knew it is not an option on the table. The discussion at hand is about how much power Washington will have to pick winners and losers in corporate fights. And who in Washington will wield that power. Oh, and a few new fees and tacked-on unrelated regulations "just because".

Comment: Re:But we know the Standard Model is incomplete (Score 1) 73

by Cytotoxic (#49430419) Attached to: Years After Shutting Down, Tevatron Reveals Properties of Higgs Boson

> pretty sure being right allows us to advance more quickly

Definitely not. The exact opposite is much closer to the truth.

The reason why something like this might be true is related to the Confirmation Bias logical fallacy. Quick classic example:

Take the series of numbers: 2,4,6,8

Figure out what the rules for the series are. If you give me a guess, I'll tell you if it is in the series or not.

So you guess 10.
I say yes.
Then you guess 12.
I say yes.
Yippie, you think. I've figured it out. I'll make one more guess to be sure: How about 14?

Ok, you say, the rule is all the numbers are even.

Nope. The rule is the numbers are positive integers. Because you never tested a number that didn't fit your rule, you never found out where your rule was wrong. Therefore you never made any progress in updating your rules.

So, in the case of the Higgs we found out that our rule is right about the information we've learned about the Higgs so far. In which case we can't make our rule any better. If we had instead found out that some of our predictions were wrong, they'd be hard at work updating their model and coming up with ways to test that new model. That's why progress is faster if you find out that you are wrong. The important bit was finding out how you were wrong, and that you were asking the right questions so that the results point you in the right direction.

Comment: Re:Space X vs ULA (Score 1) 132

by Cytotoxic (#49369881) Attached to: SpaceX's New Combustion Technologies

What did the taxpayers get for the $1 billion per year above and beyond paying for actual launches?

Hmmm.... US military subsidizing nasa contractors that are also military suppliers to the tune of a billion bucks a year. Hmmm.... is that going to pay for rocket stuff.... or perhaps is there some "off the books" work going on?

Comment: Re:Death traps. (Score 1) 451

by Cytotoxic (#49306697) Attached to: Lyft CEO: Self-Driving Cars Aren't the Future

Thanks for sharing.... your ride sounds amazing. Back when I was in high school around 1980 a buddy and I rebuilt and customized a VW Super Beetle. Nothing as far-out as your LPG setup, but still a lot of fun. We had the cylinders bored out for new pistons, put in high-ration rockers and a new crankshaft - we even put dual Webbers on the thing. 8 barrels of carb for a four cylinder, pretty funny.

What a great project. We ended up getting it to dyno out at 135hp, which ain't too shabby for a car designed for more like 45 hp.

I bet your project has given you no end of topics for conversation.

Comment: Re:Death traps. (Score 1) 451

by Cytotoxic (#49300699) Attached to: Lyft CEO: Self-Driving Cars Aren't the Future

Wait, you run propane through a standard carburetor? How does that work? It isn't like LPG can settle in the float bowl. I thought you had to replace the carburetor with a regulator and mixer assembly.

I'd like to see how your setup works.

Oh, and to the point.... you don't really work on modern cars. They rarely need anything beyond fluids and wear items like tires and brakes, but when they do, you end up letting the professionals handle it. I used to do all the work on my cars back in the carburetor and timing light days. Not any more. They have everything packed in there so tight it takes hours just to change the spark plugs on some cars (BMW 328i, I'm looking at you). The computers and sensors are so good that you never really adjust anything anymore. While you give up some of the fun of detuning your Chevelle SS to get that 100rpm idle lub-dub-lub-dub sound, what you get in return is 100k miles with nothing more serious than an oil change out of a little turbo charged 4 cylinder that puts out more horsepower than the biggest muscle cars of the 70's. Not a bad exchange.

Comment: Re:Death traps. (Score 1) 451

by Cytotoxic (#49291263) Attached to: Lyft CEO: Self-Driving Cars Aren't the Future

You can get a fully automated drone for hundreds of dollars, not millions. Not big enough to put a person in, but still fully automated. Google and Amazon are looking to deploy huge fleets of fully automated drone delivery aircraft costing a few thousand each.

We already know that autonomous vehicle technology isn't prohibitively expensive. Nvidia already has their system on the market for carmakers to integrate. It adds thousands, not millions. And depending on how things pan out, you might recoup all of that initial outlay in insurance savings pretty quickly.

Comment: Re:It won't understand situations, it shouldn't ma (Score 1) 451

by Cytotoxic (#49291179) Attached to: Lyft CEO: Self-Driving Cars Aren't the Future

You say that as if this isn't already a solved problem. There are loads of autonomous vehicles already successfully navigating the public roads in general traffic. This technology is so far along that companies like Nvidia have off-the-shelf autonomous car kits on the market, ready for carmakers to integrate into their vehicles.

Your rant sounds like the guy in 1906 saying that travelling faster than 35 mph was impossible as the Stanley Steamer screams past at 120 mph in the background.

Comment: Re:There is actually such a thing as intelligence (Score 1) 451

by Cytotoxic (#49291117) Attached to: Lyft CEO: Self-Driving Cars Aren't the Future

and software doesn't have it.

Really. I can't believe that all these nerds like to pretend that their toys are actually thinking. They're not. And "self driving cars" won't know that they're driving, won't know what a human is, won't know what a horse is, won't know what ANY OF THE THINGS IN THE ENVIRONMENT ARE. They won't recognize when trillion of possible conditions are strange.

You want something totally insentient DRIVING A CAR?

Are you all insentient yourselves?

Yeah, they don't need to know any of that. A robot welding machine doesn't know that it is making a car either. Nor does a MakerBot know that it is making custom knobs for your car radio.

There are literally trillions of living things that are able to successfully navigate their environments without anything approaching sentience. That may be a requirement for discussing the merits of the Star Trek reboot, but for navigating the environment? Not so much. Not that this is an easy problem. It obviously isn't. That's why everyone was so impressed with the DARPA challenge and then the Google car. It is amazing. But it isn't sentience. And it doesn't need to be.

Comment: Re:But will anyone actually buy them? (Score 1) 451

by Cytotoxic (#49291051) Attached to: Lyft CEO: Self-Driving Cars Aren't the Future

If a driverless car was in a similar price band to a normal car I would buy one (assuming safe ofcourse).

I once figured out that a self-driving feature would be worth about $5k/year for me.

If you are the parent of young children, how much is it worth? A car that can take the 4th graders to baseball practice while you work on your second grade girl's homework with her? Pretty valuable. How about a car that can pick up your 12 year old and her friends and take them to Lisa's house for a pool party? Sure, version one won't be allowed on the road without a licensed driver - but what about version 4.0?

And if that's not your cup of tea, what about your 16 year old kid? How much would it be worth to have them being driven by Robo-Morgan Freeman instead of their 16 year old friend who decided to try shotgunning beer for the first time?

Or what about the grandfather who shouldn't be driving any more? We had to go to the state to get my grandfather's license pulled as he progressed into his 80's because he was a menace and a danger to everyone on the road. We paid a cousin to be his driver so he could have some mobility, but he absolutely hated being dependent on someone else and he hated us for taking his autonomy. Self-driving cars take that entire problem off the table.

Yeah, people will definitely buy these things.

Comment: Re:Buggy whip makers said automobiles aren't... (Score 1) 451

by Cytotoxic (#49290963) Attached to: Lyft CEO: Self-Driving Cars Aren't the Future

The "dog and kid at the same time" scenario argues even more for the automated vehicle. Because the sensors on the car can see more and track more than a human can, the car can predict possible collision paths long before a person could and slow the vehicle accordingly. Or sound the horn.

Also, an integrated traffic control system would mean that the car had access to more than just its own sensors. With the potential to feed data between nearby vehicles and enhance the capabilities of the system by aggregating and processing information behind the scenes, your car might know about the playing kids before you even turn on to that street.

There is a long path between here and there - one that we potentially might never walk down - but understanding the true capabilities of automated vehicles requires re-imagining everything about how traffic works.

The intelligence of any discussion diminishes with the square of the number of participants. -- Adam Walinsky