Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:The /. title is bullshit (Score 1) 479 479

Yes, I agree it is highly suspicious that the predictions are down in the noise level in any test conditions that can be reasonably obtainable in an existing laboratory. That is one of the reasons I am so highly skeptical of there being any actual effect. One thing is certain, if there is an effect then it is so small it is very difficult to measure when the device is powered with a 700 watt magnetron. Basically, they produced enough lift to levitate a snowflake. Also, please remember that the first results from China were orders of magnitude greater than what was measured here so we also know that those first results were completely bogus.

The /. title is still BS. Results that warrant further investigation (which is a boiler-plate phrase used in a vast number of research papers) is very different from results that confirm an effect. It is usually very bad from to not include such a phrase because by omitting it you make it more difficult to get further research funding.

Comment The /. title is bullshit (Score 5, Informative) 479 479

Here is the first page of the actual paper, including the abstract which says:

Our test campaign can not confirm or refute the claims of the EMDrive but intends to independently assess possible side-effects in the measurement methods used so far.

So the /. title says pretty much the exact opposite of what the actual paper says.

I am still extremely skeptical that there is any actual effect. They powered their device with a 700 watt magnatron and measured plus or minus 20 micro-newtons of thrust. To put this in perspective, one Newton is roughly the weight of an apple near the surface of the Earth. If the thrust scales linearally with input power then you would need 50,000 x 700 Watts = 35 Megawatts to levitate a single apple. Of course the inventor claims that the thrust to power ratio is highly non-linear so at these higher power levels you would get a lot more thrust. I have not seen any sensible theoretical model that explains why this would be so.

If you are using hundreds of watts to produce a handful of micro-newtons then it is extremely likely there is no actual effect and what is being measured is just some form of noise. This is especially true when the so-called effect violates a primary law of physics.

Comment Re:The Majority Still Has Follow the Constitution (Score 1) 1083 1083

And again, I reiterate what I said earlier. Where do rights come from?

If they come from God, well, the religions practiced by virtually all people worldwide have consistently said throughout their history that such a marriage is not a marriage.

Religions are human-made institutions and thus, unlike God, are fallible. Your confusion of human-made institutions with God is the epitome of hubris. If you believe believe basic human rights came from God then why do you think humans running religions have a right to take them away?

This was the basic point the Founding Fathers were making when using the terms "Nature's God" and "their Creator" in the Declaration of Independence:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

So what you are saying, that human-made religious institutions can take away inalienable rights bestowed by a Creator or by Nature's God, is the exact opposite of what the Founding Fathers said in their Declaration if Independence.

Comment Snowden had started getting props ... (Score 4, Insightful) 222 222

Snowden was starting to get some very begrudging props for his role in the limited NSA reforms passed by the US Congress. This laughably ridiculous and unsubstantiated attack on him was deployed to help keep Snowden trapped in the traitor role.

The real danger here is that if the powers that be keep destroying their own credibility like this, eventually they will start to lose control and then all Hell will break loose. They seem to be reacting emotionally, not rationally and they seem to be losing touch with reality. It reminds me of the craziness of the last days of the Nixon White House. Only this time the problem goes much deeper. It is no longer a single person and the tight knit group surrounding him. The insanity has metastasized.

Comment Wanderlust (Score 2) 637 637

I was living on Cape Cod near the beach with a good view of Martha's Vineyard which was three or four miles away. Sometimes (very rarely) we would see a deer either swimming towards the island or getting out of the ocean from the direction of the island.

Whatever urge the deer had to swim across miles of ocean was probably not beneficial for survival of the individual so why would they do that? I concluded that although it was bad for survival of the individual, it was terrific for survival of the species since they would tend to not be locked into a specific geographical location and could migrate across significant barriers.

I think many humans have this same built-in wanderlust. In this sense many animals, including humans, have adapted to deal with climate change. I have even wondered if our inclination to warfare was beneficial because it caused the creative peace-loving types to spread out away from the crowds. I think the real problem is that we are not genetically prepared for a finite Earth. If the Earth were infinite then I think many of the grave challenges we face which threaten our species would not exist.

Comment Re:Clean room implementation? (Score 2) 223 223

If I'm reading this right, Google incorporated Oracle's Standard Library wholesale, instead of re-implementing the Standard Library from scratch.

You are not reading it right. The standard library was re-implemented using the same API. That's why the government's stance would destroy the software industry as we know it because a complete re-implementation would still be covered by the copyright of the original implementation. This is exactly copyrighting an idea instead of a particular expression of an idea.

My guess is that the reason for this idiotic position is to intentionally kill off Linux and all independent software development in order to stop terrorism.

Comment The Oxford Electric Bell (Score 1) 403 403

The Wikipedia explains:

The Oxford Electric Bell or Clarendon Dry Pile is an experimental electric bell that was set up in 1840 and which has run almost continuously ever since, apart from occasional short interruptions caused by high humidity.

[...] The Oxford Electric Bell does not demonstrate perpetual motion. The bell will eventually stop when the dry piles have distributed their charges equally if the clapper does not wear out first.

Comment Re:Of course, there's this (Score 2) 176 176

On one hand, oil is HEAVILY TAXED from the consumer ...

Which is ostensibly a use tax on roads and transportation infrastructure.

Would you prefer a more Socialist approach to funding transportation and have people who walk, or bicycle, or drive less, or use a more fuel efficient vehicle subsidize people who get the most direct benefit from the roads and bridges? Or would you prefer to let our transportation infrastructure crumble?

In addition, since exhaust from motor vehicles is a large contributor to air pollution, a tax on gasoline can be seen as compensation for the external costs of burning fossil fuels. Laissez-faire free markets are notoriously bad at dealing with externalities fairly or efficiently. The lack of a gasoline tax or too low of a gasoline tax would be in effect a huge subsidy for fossil fuels.

An example of the tremendous economic inefficiencies of subsidies through insufficient taxing of externalities was the near total destruction of light rail in the United States. The fuel tax for commercial buses did not adequately reflect the advantage given to buses over rail due to the road infrastructure provided by the government. This led to the downfall and destruction of most of the light rail in the United States even though it is extremely more efficient than using buses.

Comment Re:This again? (Score 1) 480 480

All observed phenomena obey the laws of physics. By definition.

Bullshit. All correctly observed phenomena obey the laws of physics. Funny thing is that the vast majority of observations that apparently violate the laws of physics turn out to be incorrect.

The current case is a good example. NASA used 100 watts and measured a force of 50 microNewtons. You would need a force 20,000 times larger than that to levitate an apple. Unless you increase the efficiency of the effect by many orders of magnitude then, even if it exists at all, it has no practical application.

In these sorts of situations where experimentalists measure a very very small effect (the measurement made in China, which was not in a vacuum, was over 100 times larger) and there is no reasonable theoretical explanation for the effect and the effect contradicts the established laws of physics then the explanation is almost always experimental error.

Comment Re:This is not a photon drive (Score 1) 480 480

Those conjectures are based on the author's explanations of the mechanism, which we already know to be largely bunk.

Bzzt. Wrong. Those conjectures were from from Paul March who is "an engineer at NASA Eagleworks". None of the authors are named March.

Compared to the actual momentum imparted by 1kW worth of photons, which is what current physics suggests would be the only source of momentum, the amount of force measured is much more significant. Hence, fairly efficient by comparison.

It is true that the small force that was measured was much greater than the even smaller force of a photon drive (hence my post and the quote therein) but it was still very small compared to the energy that was used and was orders of magnitude smaller (per kilowatt) than what March said would be needed for a practical device.

The NASA tests measured the same force in both vacuum and non-vacuum environments. Any results from China are suspect since falsification is much more rampant there.

I agree that the result from China should not be trusted. On the other hand, the NASA results measured a significantly smaller force per kilowatt than what was measured in China. The article implies the NASA experiments measured 50 microNewtons with a 100 watt input. Or 2 Megawatts per Newton. So you would need 2 Megawatts of power to levitate an apple:

The simulation for the 100 Watts input power (as used in the latest tests at NASA) predicted only ~50 microNewtons (in agreement with the experiments) [...]

I trust the extrapolations of the computer model even less than I trust the experimental results from China. I think it is overly optimistic to pin one's hopes of a viable method of propulsion on a measurement of a force of 50 microNewtons from a device that is putting out 100 watts. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. I see no signs of such evidence here. I think the laws of physics as we know them still hold and they experimentalists made a mistake, just like with Pons and Fleischmann (even though their claims did not violate basic laws of physics like these so-called results do).

Any program which runs right is obsolete.