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Comment Classics not so great (Score 1) 451

I've had very hit or miss experiences with old (very old) books on math and physics. I'm dangerously close to graduating with an undergrad degree in math and physics, so I wasn't entirely unprepared to tackle such books (I hope).

On one hand, I picked up Newton's Principia, and frankly I found it incomprehensible. From what I understand, his mathematical notation is entirely different from what we use today, and a lot of his reasoning is hidden in impenetrable text or absurd geometric diagrams. If you wanted to learn classical mechanics, there are several more modern books that would serve you better.

On the other hand, I've read some things by Euler and a few 19th century mathematical papers, and I found them clear and readable. Euler apparently popularized a lot of mathematical notation, so I suspect works subsequent to him would be a lot easier for a modern reader to understand.

Comment Re:News for nerds? (Score 1) 1322

You've hit on my pet peeve here. I HATE it when people tell stories that unilaterally paint teachers as villains. All I get out of your post is a smug polemic against some teacher you had a grudge against AS A CHILD.

I think it's true that most public school curricula don't serve advanced students well. I've had a lot of experience with that; I'd been repeatedly identified as "highly gifted" as a kid, and that repeatedly resulted in absolutely nothing happening. None of my teachers were adequately prepared to instruct me. I got into petty confrontations like that with my teachers all the time, and I can say with hindsight that I instigated every single one. It's true, they didn't know how to handle me because I was "gifted", but I also tried my hardest to be an annoying little shit.

This is a complicated issue. Sometimes there's really an incompetent teacher, and sometimes there's an ignorant parent or spoiled student raising a shitstorm. Often, it's both.

Comment Re:Poppycock (Score 1) 236

I call shenanigans. All I see are some ill-defined pseudo-mathematical terms casually being tossed around. This is exactly the kind of hand-wavey, pop-sci explanation that appeals to string theory enthusiasts. I'm not saying Palmer's ideas are without merit (and conversely I'm not saying they have merit), but just because an explanation is appealing it doesn't make it scientific.

Comment Re:And (Score 5, Insightful) 194

The minute you try to make scientific research into a commodity like this, you will kill all scientific research. Do you think 19th century physicists had iPhones in mind when they were creating rudimentary batteries and experimenting with electromagnetism? Do you think Maxwell only published his famous paper so he could enable the creation of hybrid cars? Could anyone have predicted digital computers? Hell, could the inventors of digital computers have predicted modern desktops?

Comment Re:reminds me when Copernicus (Score 1) 4

This certainly is science: it's a model that fits well with the data we have and makes falsifiable predictions. It's true there's a lot here we don't understand very well, but that's exactly what these scientists are trying to address. Sure it may turn out that this model is wrong, but there's not enough data right now to say conclusively that it isn't (however, there may be, as scientists continue to make better and better observations to test this model and others).

Submission + - Evidence for Dodecahedral Universe ( 4

FiniteSum writes: The mysterious absence of certain frequencies in cosmic background radiation may be explained by the exotic geometry of the universe. A recent study (abstract) investigated the predictions of several geometries and found the best match to be the Poincare dodecahedral space, which is constructed by gluing opposite faces of a regular dodecahedron onto each other. As space curves back in on itself, a particle experiences gravitational forces from the same body in up to twelve different directions. These effects may also explain dark matter. (More on the Poincare dodecahedral space here.)

An Early Look At DC Universe Online 60

Joystiq got the opportunity to spend some time playing an early version of Sony's DC Universe Online . Though the MMO won't be released for perhaps a year, the developers seem to have created a solid foundation for an entertaining and innovative game. GameDaily is running an interview with Marv Wolfman, a comic veteran who recently joined the DCUO team. From Joystiq: "DCUO is very much an action MMO, with few game mechanics decided by the roll of the algorithmic dice. The game controls much like most third-person action titles, with standard light and heavy (charge-sensitive) attacks, a jump action and an interact button (notably, used to pick up cars). Super moves are mapped to the same four face buttons (when using the PS3 gamepad; a keyboard and mouse will be compatible with the console version, too) and are activated using L2 and R2 toggles. In total, up to eight super moves are easily accessible at any given time. Our character could fire ice balls and freezing rays at opponents, melee them with blocks of ice, or conveniently freeze them inside larger blocks, for example. A simple targeting mode (accessed by holding R1) locks the game camera onto an opponent for focused attacks. ... DC Universe Online isn't trying to strictly clone today's success models. SOE is making genuine efforts to build what could be the best superhero game ever conceived, and we're excited to watch it grow."

Urine Passes NASA Taste Test 404

Ponca City, We love you writes "Astronauts flying aboard space shuttle Endeavour are delivering a device to the International Space Station that may leave you wondering if NASA is taking recycling too far. Among the ship's cargo is a water regeneration system that distills, filters, ionizes, and oxidizes wastewater — including urine — into fresh water for drinking or, as one astronaut puts it, 'will make yesterday's coffee into today's coffee.' The US space agency spent $250M for the water recycling equipment but with the space shuttles due to retire in two years, NASA needed to make sure the station crew would have a good supply of fresh water. The Environmental Control and Life Support Systems uses a purification process called vapor compression distillation: urine is boiled until the water in it turns to steam. In space, there's an additional challenge: steam doesn't rise, so the entire distillation system is spun to create artificial gravity to separate the steam from the brine. The water has been thoroughly tested on Earth, including blind taste tests that pitted recycled urine with similarly treated tap water. 'Some people may think it's downright disgusting, but if it's done correctly, you process water that's purer than what you drink here on Earth,' said Endeavour astronaut Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper."

It was kinda like stuffing the wrong card in a computer, when you're stickin' those artificial stimulants in your arm. -- Dion, noted computer scientist