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Comment: Re:Dark matter? (Score 1) 181

by Delkster (#36179304) Attached to: 'Homeless' Planets May Be Common In Our Galaxy

You're right, but even if you reduced the mass of the average star to 1/5 in the ballpark calculation, that would still leave a 20:1 mass ratio between the average star and planet. Also, an average of 10 Jupiter masses for a planet is a somewhat generous figure if you compare it to estimated masses of planets known so far, and observational bias probably skews even those figures towards the larger end.

In the end, it might be a small constant factor here or there, and that wouldn't altogether remove the couple of orders of magnitude of difference. Also, not all visible matter is in stars and planets, so the ratio between total mass in planets and total visible mass in the universe would be even lower than the ratio between planets and stars (although I don't know by what kind of a factor), and since the total mass of dark matter is more than the total mass of visible matter, the proportion of dark matter these planets could make up for is again lower.

On the other hand, I guess it might also be that planets are more frequent than we imagine by a large factor.

Comment: Re:Dark matter? (Score 3, Informative) 181

by Delkster (#36178420) Attached to: 'Homeless' Planets May Be Common In Our Galaxy

Apparently it's not very significant since not only are planets smaller than stars, they are smaller by a pretty large factor.

The mass of Jupiter is about 1/1000 solar masses. Let's say the average mass of these independently floating planets is about 10 times that of Jupiter, and that the average star is about the same as our Sun or less. That would make the mass of an average planet about 1/100 of the average star, so you'd still need planets to outnumber stars by a factor of 100 just to equal the mass of stars. Wikipedia says that visible matter makes up for about 17% of the total matter of the universe, so even if the mass of planets equaled that of stars (which, with the very very rough figures above, would mean a planet-to-star ratio of 100, or something pretty large anyway), there would still be plenty of dark matter to explain.

Comment: Re:Pay over the Internet. No paper bills. (Score 1) 371

by Delkster (#35991980) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Do You File Paper Documents At Home?

Very true, many of the everyday routines of paying bills don't require ever handling paper. A slight problem at least here in Finland is that you're technically supposed to keep bills etc. for a number of years (I think five, but am not exactly sure). They might be relevant if you need to prove something regarding your tax deductions, for example, or if you need to show that you've been wrongly billed. Banks usually offer to store electronic bills for a year and a half, so that doesn't fulfill the legal requirements of document retention. (I don't know if the online billing system would otherwise satisfy the legal requirements but that alone means it doesn't.)

I guess you might be able to get an extended retention period by paying the bank extra for the service, but it's sort of ridiculous to design a system to make things more straightforward by moving them from paper to digital, yet leave in shortcomings that make it difficult to fulfill official requirements using that system. I think many people just ignore the problem or are oblivious to the retention requirements, but there's something wrong with the system if the number one solution is to ignore the legislation.

Comment: Re:Then don't publish there (Score 1) 323

by Delkster (#35957376) Attached to: Copyright Law Is Killing Science

indicates that it is not, in fact, a free market

It only indicates that it is not an idealized free market. A free market does not preclude a single party from gaining significant power over the entire market through lobbying and gaming. If you had a free market of infinite size, or with 100% rational far-sighted actors or other such idealizations, perhaps that wouldn't happen, but it does happen in the real world.

I don't know the history of major scientific journals and as such I can't comment on whether they emerged through free market or not. However, the quote from grandparent is not enough to indicate that they didn't.

Comment: Re:Maximal or maximum? (Score 1) 45

by Delkster (#35604600) Attached to: Fruit Flies Hold the Key To Faster Computing

I didn't read the original article with full thought, but I got the impression that the key points were:

1) an efficient distributed algorithm for a self-organizing network where each node behaves independently, with no central control

and

2) even though it doesn't produce the maximum independent set, maybe its method of selecting the nodes for the independent set produces a better (closer to maximum) maximal independent set than a basic algorithm for just any maximal independent set would likely produce?

(I'm particularly not sure about the latter -- I'm not really sure if finding a maximum set was even relevant to their goals, or whether the main point was just to have an efficient distributed algorithm for finding a maximal independent set in an ad-hoc network/graph with minimal inter-node communication.)

Comment: Re:My last cell phone (Score 1) 738

by Delkster (#34854624) Attached to: Jerry Brown Confiscates 48,000 Cell Phones

cell phones are damned expensive.

Cell phones are an excellent way to cut costs.

I'm not really sure what you mean, but, well, dunno. My cell phone is around five years old, and I paid in the order of 160 euros for it. That really isn't big money if you divide it between five years. The monthly bills (calls + a smallish fixed fee only, as I bought the phone with straight money back then) are in the order of 15-20 euros per month.

Of course my phone isn't a mobile internet terminal or something else modern and fancy but if I consider the plain ease of life I get by being able to make a call any time and anywhere, it's a lot of bang for those 200-250 bucks per year. That is not even taking into account that other options such as landlines and payphones (of which both would be needed without a cell phone) also have a cost, and for me they would almost certainly be more expensive than the more convenient option. A lot of people don't even have landlines around here anymore due to the relatively high fixed monthly fees.

Things might be different where you're located.

Comment: Re:In before the Global Warming crowd... (Score 1) 571

by Delkster (#34815152) Attached to: Our Lazy Solar Dynamo — Hello Dalton Minimum?

Where did I deny that warming has occurred?

You didn't literally deny that but you pretty much hinted towards it with your entire previous post. You didn't deny it but you said exactly the kinds of things people tend to say when they want to deny warming or its significance.

The kinds of "arguments" you gave in that post are exactly the kinds that people usually say when they fail to understand the very things I brought up, so while I noticed the potential for trolling, I couldn't really resist in case it was indeed real lack of understanding. From your later post it's evident that you aren't one of those people in lack of understanding. However, there was little indication of that or, indeed, hardly any real argumentation in your earlier one.

It’s a shame you can’t be as objective in your analysis of the warmist position as you seem to be when considering the sceptic position. What would it take to get you to question the consensus?

I'm no climate scientist and can't really judge very technical arguments for or against, although I do have some degree of general understanding of science. Therefore, since you posed the question that way, it would probably take an argument that would win a significant share of scientists on its side, in addition to not being easily shot down, having support from measurements and data from a statistically significant period of time, not having apparent ulterior political motives, and just seeming to make sense.

I don't have to be on the side of consensus, but I do need an actual reason for believing that most of the experts in the field are wrong. It's not impossible but it's, at base, less likely than their being on the right track, so there needs to be something to offset that.

Comment: Re:Not Quite (Score 1) 754

by Delkster (#34814826) Attached to: Apple Pulls VLC Media Player From AppStore

End users of software don't have to comply with the (L)GPL. The license only places restrictions on distribution. The problem is that the App Store terms and services also place restrictions on the software downloaded from the App Store, and any license provided by the authors of the software applies in addition to that. Apple's terms place restrictions that the (L)GPL disallows and thus the two conflict.

(source: http://www.fsf.org/news/blogs/licensing/more-about-the-app-store-gpl-enforcement)

It is, of course, no surprise that Apple would remove a piece of software rather than modify their terms of service to be compatible with the GPL. Apple's terms serve the interests of Apple above all, and the interests of app authors are secondary; even if an app were deemed desirable by itself, a single app isn't significant enough to warrant changes that Apple might consider risky, difficult or otherwise undesirable; and Apple doesn't even like the GPL.

Comment: Re:In before the Global Warming crowd... (Score 1) 571

by Delkster (#34733380) Attached to: Our Lazy Solar Dynamo — Hello Dalton Minimum?

There's so much wrong with your post that I don't even know where to get started, which is a positive sign that you're probably just trolling, but here goes:

The only drastic change I've witnessed recently is the rapid onset of colder winters

I don't know how many cold winters you've seen in your town or even country but that doesn't matter. For me that's been the previous winter and this one; the two winters before that were warm (as far as winters here go) and wet. (Also, the last couple of summers have been pretty warm here and in many other places even if the winters were cold.) But anything in the range of everyday experience counts little when we're discussing phenomena that happen on time scales of at least several decades. Only data and evidence gathered over those decades as well as the preceding decades, centuries and millennia will help there.

Even the word "drastic" gets a slightly different meaning than it would in everyday weather discussion: in everyday life it's "drastic" if you're shivering cold today, but that bears no significance to trends that happen during decades. The last two years don't count either, nor do the two before that, but if you look at actual data globally and from a longer period of time, you can see that the previous decade was statistically warmer than the previous ones.

On the other hand, change that takes place during, say, a couple of decades can be drastic if the same kind of change would usually -- statistically, according to data -- take several decades more or even centuries. The change probably wouldn't feel drastic in your everyday life as it happens but that's not what we're talking about here. These things happen with lag, and large systems change slowly -- a few decades is a rather short period of time in such phenomena.

I don't understand why perfectly smart people so often don't get this.

and our "Global Warming" obsessed government's complete lack of preparedness for them.

Well, the last couple of winters have been a rare occurrence. The very fact that you've noticed them as a "drastic change" pretty much points towards that. If they went on for a couple of decades we'd have data, but right now it's just a rare event. Do you have any actual reason to believe that they aren't?

Preparedness costs. This winter as well as the previous one have been unusually cold and snowy here, and (some) people complain. Some of that may be for a reason, but let's face it: the circumstances have also been rare, and often it just doesn't make economical sense to invest much in preparing for something that's rare and exceptional. Would you want to pay for that preparedness? (It might still make sense to do that, yes, but then you have to at least face the fact that it's probably going to cost more than just letting rare occurrences happen.)

The reason for the absence of preparedness is the advice given by the Global Warming cultists at the Met Office

Cultists of data are rather preferable over cultists of inference from cold last week.

Comment: Re:Why is porn bad? (Score 1) 642

by Delkster (#34611734) Attached to: UK Gov't Wants To Block Internet Porn By Default

To be honest, there's a vast difference between a 10-year-old (or even younger) and an 18-year-old. Vast. I would expect 18-year-olds to have sex and watch porn, or 15- or 16-year olds (amongst each other), but not 10-year-olds.

The bigger question is, is it better to have these controls at the source (or, rather the middleman known as the ISP) or should the parents be responsible for this. I'd vote for the latter, although I can sort of understand the rationale behind the desire to have an opt-in scheme instead because a lot of parents just aren't tech-savvy enough to know how to do it at the client end even if they wanted to. I just don't think it's enough of a justification.

The other obvious concern is that what counts as porn is a rather ambiguous matter an will most likely lead to a lot of non-porn get blocked, even more than in the child porn case which has also caused false positives.

There is nothing so easy but that it becomes difficult when you do it reluctantly. -- Publius Terentius Afer (Terence)

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