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Comment: Re:Video or it didn't happen (Score 2) 287

by Electricity Likes Me (#47710013) Attached to: Solar Plant Sets Birds On Fire As They Fly Overhead

We have those ultrasound acoustic weapons - highly directional noise projectors. Presumably the volume of wildlife isn't very high, so you could watch the sky with a camera and then direct some sound which they treat as "fly away from" at any birds which crossed over a safe zone. Most nearby wildlife would quickly figure out where not to go.

Comment: Re:Fusion Has Already Failed (Score 1) 222

by Electricity Likes Me (#47709209) Attached to: If Fusion Is the Answer, We Need To Do It Quickly

Look at ITER: $20B and rising, it will only make 500 MW(th) -- six times less thermal energy than a 1 GW(e) fission reactor -- and it doesn't even include the advanced materials needed to withstand commercial reactor levels of integrated neutron flux.

Well, that's ITER's point now isn't it? We know what is required to make fusion work, we just don't know how long we can sustain a reaction because we do not understand how the large neutron flux will affect the materials in the container and we still have difficulties maintaining the containment. It's an engineering problem now, not something that is clearly impossible.

IMHO, investments in such experiments should be expanded, by both government and industry. Just like getting a man on the moon, We need a JFK'esk commitment to making this work.

ITER is also heavily instrumented and represents the design prototype for power generation. It's successor - DEMO - is expected to be bigger, but cheaper, because the design will be known, the manufacturing for the parts will be understood, and it won't include the scientific instrumentation since it'll be a power generating reactor, not an experiment.

Comment: Re:Exchanges (Score 1) 134

Also have fun waiting 20 minutes for your microtransaction to clear.

The alternative answer is simpler: I simply don't care enough about most content providers to mourn or want to prevent their passing. They shut down, some other group opens up, better luck next time convincing me you aren't completely disposable. This is what newspapers are slowly discovering: the pay walls go up, and then you realize that they basically just report whatever is on someone's blog anyway.

Comment: Re:Isn't this exactly what a spy agency DOES? (Score 3, Interesting) 58

It's a freaking port scan. It is not a denial of service attack. It is not remotely illegal and any private citizen is legally allowed to exactly the same and many researchers do without any need for special permissions.

This article could not possibly be any more pathetically sensationalist.

Comment: Re: So ... (Score 1) 213

by Electricity Likes Me (#47682927) Attached to: How to Maintain Lab Safety While Making Viruses Deadlier

And so we circle back around to the rather thorough explanation given elsewhere in the comments on why you can't even get remotely close to computer simulations of biological systems, let alone infectious agents.

You clearly don't understand the field, its techniques or limitations because you've just dismissed literally every single molecular biology research technique and have just dismissed the vast majority of modern experimental methods.

Comment: Re: So ... (Score 1) 213

by Electricity Likes Me (#47675951) Attached to: How to Maintain Lab Safety While Making Viruses Deadlier

You would also have to completely model host organisms and their immediate environments.

Does this suggest you would be in favor of trying out this virus? Not on yourself of course, but on some other human in a city, as that would be the one and only way to determine how it works inside a human body and spreads?

I am not.

The information gained is valuable enough that it is worth the minor risk involved in gaining it.

The risk is not minor, it is pandemic.

And so once again: you have no idea how biological research works. Like you do realize tissue culture is a thing right? That you grow up viruses in suspensions of cells in a petri dish and study them, or in the case of this research (which is stated, plainly, in both the article and abstract of the paper) they infected mice and ferrets with the virus to study the effects.

Comment: Re:So ... (Score 2) 213

by Electricity Likes Me (#47671111) Attached to: How to Maintain Lab Safety While Making Viruses Deadlier

Go and read the actual abstract. Or look above where I posted it. Because the article buries it under "PANIC", whereas the reasons to do this research are actually pretty obvious. I'll give you a hint: they didn't actually add anything. All they did was re-arrange the existing genome, and do some site-specific mutation tests.

Comment: Re:So ... (Score 5, Interesting) 213

by Electricity Likes Me (#47671063) Attached to: How to Maintain Lab Safety While Making Viruses Deadlier

I mean seriously. Skip the stupid article and actually read the abstract:

Wild birds harbor a large gene pool of influenza A viruses that have the potential to cause influenza pandemics. Foreseeing and understanding this potential is important for effective surveillance. Our phylogenetic and geographic analyses revealed the global prevalence of avian influenza virus genes whose proteins differ only a few amino acids from the 1918 pandemic influenza virus, suggesting that 1918-like pandemic viruses may emerge in the future. To assess this risk, we generated and characterized a virus composed of avian influenza viral segments with high homology to the 1918 virus. This virus exhibited pathogenicity in mice and ferrets higher than that in an authentic avian influenza virus. Further, acquisition of seven amino acid substitutions in the viral polymerases and the hemagglutinin surface glycoprotein conferred respiratory droplet transmission to the 1918-like avian virus in ferrets, demonstrating that contemporary avian influenza viruses with 1918 virus-like proteins may have pandemic potential.

The entire point of this research was to test whether we're at risk of something like the 1918 flu virus reoccurring, since the current avian flu virus is strikingly similar. This strikes me as kind of an important thing to know, since it informs almost every aspect of disease-response planning.

The research was about taking avian flu, performing some fairly likely gene splicing of the type we know can happen during viral replication or incubation, and seeing if the observations of similarity are a problem. Turns out they are. But that also suggests that we might be able to make drugs which target the specific genes which confer the worst effects.

Unless of course we do something really stupid, like letting sensationalist bullshit convince people to go all anti-science.

Comment: Re:So ... (Score 5, Insightful) 213

by Electricity Likes Me (#47671005) Attached to: How to Maintain Lab Safety While Making Viruses Deadlier

Yes that has to be it. It couldn't possibly be because biological research is amazingly difficult, and of the tools we have to study cells (few) we have even fewer to study viruses.

The entire point of gain-of-function studies is that you need to do them in order to confirm a hypothesis about what genes in a virus are actually doing. If you don't do them, you can't know. Knock-out studies aren't enough - you can easily break a certain system, but it doesn't tell you that you actually understand how it functions.

Sensationalist articles like this are incredibly stupid and dangerous to boot. We only have the slim number of effective anti-viral drugs we do because of research like this. How else do you think they figure out which biological pathways are worth targeting to shutdown a virus?

And that's not all: the other side of gain-of-function is of course to try and predict future vectors. Since treating the common flu is usually a losing prospect at the moment, and it takes time to manufacture things, its important to determine if any given species could trivially gain extra functionality which would make it dangerous - since that affects decisions about what strains to grow up for the yearly flu vaccine.

Comment: Re: Why did they pick such a bad buzzword? (Score 1) 98

by Electricity Likes Me (#47669191) Attached to: Gartner: Internet of Things Has Reached Hype Peak

The smart fridge is a product we could totally do and make useful if it wasn't stupid. A grid of load cells under all the storage racks, look down cameras, laser barcode scanner. Face and height recognition to identify users.

You could build a fridge which automatically tracked contents, calorie removal, maybe some electronic noses keyed to food spoilage emissions? UV lamps to self-sterilize when closed....its a space where a lot could be accomplished.

Comment: Why not off Samba shares? (Score 2, Insightful) 112

by Electricity Likes Me (#47660019) Attached to: Xbox One Will Play Media from USB Devices, DLNA Servers

Seriously, what is the major malfunction of device makers that basic, guest share Samba support is never put into these devices? Everyone has it, everyone comprehends it. Just let us access a damn SMB share as a list of files and play things.

No one anywhere, ever, cares about the clusterfuck that is DLNA.

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