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Science

How Close Are We, Really, To Nuclear Fusion? 348

StartsWithABang writes: The ultimate dream when it comes to clean, green, safe, abundant energy is nuclear fusion. The same process that powers the core of the Sun could also power everything on Earth millions of times over, if only we could figure out how to reach that breakeven point. Right now, we have three different candidates for doing so: inertial confinement, magnetic confinement, and magnetized target fusion. Recent advances have all three looking promising in various ways, making one wonder why we don't spend more resources towards achieving the holy grail of energy.

Comment At the University of Alberta (Score 2) 251

(...as of about 8-9 years ago) The psych department had its own stats class, taught by a psych professor. You couldn't get an exemption if you had a high-level statistics course under your belt already, they insisted that psych stats were 'special' somehow, and needed to be taught differently.

If by 'special', you mean 'less rigorous' and 'taught by people that literally don't understand the definition of a function', then yes, the classes were special, and failed to prepare the students in any significant way for good statistical analysis.

I'm sure the story is the same at many universities.

Comment Re:Because its not just a NASA facility (Score 3, Informative) 59

Was it ever determined to be incompetence of the Bush administration, or are you just spouting off?

"Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job"

Yes, as a matter of fact. Bush was too incompetent to know his flunky was too incompetent:

the Democratic lawmaker cited several e-mails that he said show Brown's failures. In one, as employees looked for direction and support on the ravaged Gulf Coast, Brown offered to "tweak" the federal response.

Two days after Katrina hit, Marty Bahamonde, one of the only FEMA employees in New Orleans, wrote to Brown that "the situation is past critical" and listed problems including many people near death and food and water running out at the Superdome.

Brown's entire response was: "Thanks for the update. Anything specific I need to do or tweak?" (Copies of e-mails posted by critic -- PDF)

On September 12 Brown resigned, 10 days after President Bush told him, "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job."

And, in case you don't scroll far enough in that article:

Brown took over FEMA in 2003 with little experience in emergency management. He joined the agency in 2001 as legal counsel to his friend, then-FEMA director Joe Allbaugh, who was Bush's 2000 campaign manager. When Allbaugh left FEMA in 2003 Brown assumed the top job.

Before joining the Bush administration, Brown spent a decade as the stewards and judges commissioner of the International Arabian Horse Association.

So, a man without proper experience failed to act and then offered to "tweak" the response, as if it was a minor thing.

So how about you stop thinking of this as a partisan issue. It really does come down to an unqualified crony of Bush failing to act, and Bush acting like it was all going according to plan.

But it is always more convenient to blame your political opponent, even if it is lazy.

Yes, yes it is. Only in this case it's you doing that.

Comment Re:Does flipping one electron now flip the other? (Score 0) 205

Alright, smartass ... I'm going to make up a thought experiment, because I really have no idea how this shit works either.

Say I have locations A and B, each with the end point of two pairs of entangled particles. Say they're 1 light year apart.

At site A, the first particle of the first pair is in a state, but you can't see it. At site B, the second particle of the first pair can be read. Site B knows the state of the first pair, site A doesn't.

If site B flipped their part of the second pair into a known state which told you the state of the first pair, hasn't that information traveled faster than light.

Because surely I can come up with some number of entangled pairs which allows me to send Morse code from site B to site A, no? Eight pairs lets me send a byte?

You may not be able to add information later, but can't you use other ones to relay information.

I never really understand this, but it seems like you can combine more than one entangled pair to construct a scenario in which you can send data faster than the speed of light.

Site B instantly knows the state of your particles in site A, and can then force other particles into states which relay that information back ... if this takes less than two years, isn't it, by definition, faster than light?

(I don't claim this is valid, and I'm not sure it is, I'm just trying to wrap my head around this)

Comment Re:What's the real problem? (Score 1) 193

You know, reading the above I have to say I think your conclusion about open source is complete crap here.

An architect who is designing and building it at the same time, and doing stupid shortcuts and hacks in the process, is going to lead to terrible results no matter your damned platform. The architect designs, the admin and IT people build and maintain. If you design is any good, they can built it. If your design is crap, they'll come back to you.

But architecting and building at the same time usually means you have a bunch of undocumented crap, shortcuts, and things you abandoned but actually are why some of your other stuff works even if you don't realize it.

This has nothing whatsoever to do with open source software or operating systems ... and it has everything to do with bad practices done by people who think they know how to do both things at the same time.

Claiming open source solves these problems is missing the actual problem .. that an architect hacking it together until it works isn't an architect, and the system you end up with is probably un-maintainable because it's full of so many kludges and workarounds as to be garbage. You separate these things so you know you actually have a viable architecture instead of a fluke.

Don't look at the specific examples and blame Windows. Look a the incredibly stupid way it was built and realize you'd be screwed no matter the platform if your "architect" it by throwing pieces at it until it works and then not knowing why it works.

That's the opposite of being an architect. It's being a complete hack with no business calling themselves an architect.

Comment Re: "...need to be prepared..." (Score 0) 373

Two words: storm surge.
It's already displacing people.
Every hear of Katrina? Sandy?
While Katrina hit NOLA, a city more than partially below sea level and protected , making it harder to quantify how much storm surge contributed to the flooding following the collapse of the levees, with Sandy the analysis has already been done: 40%.

40% is the amount of additional damage incurred due to an increased storm surge compared to what would have occurred without that rise in sea levels. Just a few inches extra height equates to many millions of gallons of additional flooding in a storm surge event.

That combined with the fact that 2/3 of the world's population lives near the coast is why it matters, why it will causes mass displacement and trillions in property damage/loss. Not because their homes will be permanently underwater, but because of the storm events and the accompanying storm surge. Eventually people stop trying to rebuild (seen in Katrina and Sandy, who in both cases had also been hit before a few years previously to those events), and move somewhere else. IE, displacement.

Comment Re:"...need to be prepared..." (Score 1) 373

More on the various forms of "we can't stop it".
Of particular interest to you would apparently be the economic one, the idea that we can't stop using fossil fuel, marked with a *.

http://grist.org/climate-energ...
* http://grist.org/climate-energ...
http://grist.org/climate-energ...
http://grist.org/climate-energ...

Comment Re:"...need to be prepared..." (Score 1, Informative) 373

Bingo. Mod up.

the problem with sea level rise that deniers miss (willfully ignore) isn't the (roughly) steady state level of the water (a threat, but a much more long term threat for all but the low lying island peoples).

The much more immediate short term problem is surge, both normal and storm. Particularly storm.
Some places have more surge than others and will experience rising sea levels more quickly.

But everyplace is susceptible to storm surge, and rising seas make storm surge many many times more damaging and dangerous.

Already we've seen this with both Katrina and Sandy in our own country. It's been estimated that Sandy caused nearly 40% more damage that it would have without sea level rise being a factor, contributing to a much larger storm surge. Think about it: you have a massive storm front, hundreds of miles across. Just adding an inch of height to the volume of surge equates to many millions of gallons of extra volume, not to mention extra momentum, able to penetrate far futher inland. And we've seen the seas rise nearly 8 inches in the past 120 years or so. Storm surge risk evaluations, done every ten years, have been increasing. As well as the number of events and severity, and the actual damage caused.

These images describe quite well, what we are already seeing happen:
http://climatecommission.angry...
http://ian.umces.edu/imagelibr...
http://www.ucsusa.org/sites/de...

And it should be the law: If you use the word `paradigm' without knowing what the dictionary says it means, you go to jail. No exceptions. -- David Jones

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