Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?
What's the story with these ads on Slashdot? Check out our new blog post to find out. ×

Submission + - Ada and Her Legacy

nightcats writes: Nature has an extensive piece on the legacy of the "enchantress of abstraction," the extraordinary Victorian-era computer pioneer Ada Lovelace, daughter of the poet Lord Byron. Her monograph on the Babbage machine was described by Babbage himself as a creation of...

“that Enchantress who has thrown her magical spell around the most abstract of Sciences and has grasped it with a force that few masculine intellects (in our own country at least) could have exerted over it”

Ada's remarkable merging of intellect and intuition — her capacity to analyze and capture the conceptual and functional foundations of the Babbage machine — is summarized with a historical context which reveals the precocious modernity of her scientific mind:

By 1841 Lovelace was developing a concept of “Poetical Science”, in which scientific logic would be driven by imagination, “the Discovering faculty, pre-eminently. It is that which penetrates into the unseen worlds around us, the worlds of Science.” She saw mathematics metaphysically, as “the language of the unseen relations between things”; but added that to apply it, “we must be able to fully appreciate, to feel, to seize, the unseen, the unconscious”. She also saw that Babbage's mathematics needed more imaginative presentation.

Comment Re:Poor example (Score 1) 436

Too many drivers here apparently believe yield means ride the bumper of the car ahead so nobody can sneak in. The side streets might not be able to move until the lead car sacrifices itself to a collision or midnight. Meanwhile, the drivers on the side street believe that stopping once when they were 8 cars back was enough so they will tailgate a car that is yielded to so they can also go. For whatever reason, drivers take the stop sign (a little) more seriously so they use those.

You can just imagine the carnage a roundabout might cause given how "well" drivers here handle yielding.

Comment Re: Poor example (Score 1) 436

There is a school zone near my neighborhood where you cannot see if the lights are flashing or not if you enter it from a side road. You will still be ticketed if the light you had no chance to see was flashing. And yes, sometimes they fail to disable the light for school holidays. In other cases they deliberately leave them enabled to accommodate extracurricular activities. So unless or until the county starts officially publishing when the zones will be active, automated cars and people using that side street are out of luck.

Comment Re:Work-life balance (Score 1) 447

Pretty much. There are a lot of other things that also kind of fall into that category for me—salary, for example. I'm not likely to jump ship for a higher salary (in the absence of other reasons to leave a company), but if you stop paying me a salary, I'm not likely to stick around. :-D

Comment Re:Speed isn't Everything (Score 1) 141

The tax money is/was a loan to get the operation bootstrapped. It's a sunk cost. Tax money is not paying any operational costs at all, so the municipal broadband is on a level playing field with Comcast that got a monopoly for many years to bootstrap it and AT&t which got billions in federal funding (and years of monopoly status) to bootstrap it's broadband offerings.

So no, it REALLY, REALLY (i'm for real about this) is a price vs. performance decision. If the others want to compete, they might want to correct the things that routinely get them at the top of the most hated companies in America list.

I never claimed the states have a functional democracy. Then there's that whole constitutional thing that limits what sorts of laws can exist.

ATM = At The Moment.

Comment Re:Speed isn't Everything (Score 2) 141

They also offer 50Mbps symmetric to residential customers. They are currently cash positive, just not yet paying down the principal. So for the resident, it comes down to price vs. performance like any other consumer decision.

Significantly, Comcast and AT&T seem to believe municipal broadband is a real threat since they are willing to spend bucketloads of money trying to kill it.

I believe in a functioning constitutional democracy. Where such exists, I support it. The U.S. federal version seems to be dysfunctional ATM. The tail tends to wag the dog.

Comment Re:What About Nutrition? (Score 1) 114

Centralizing agriculture far away and transporting pesticides and fertilizers to that site and then transporting the produce, sometimes half-way across the globe, represents a huge waste of energy, with the pollution that goes along with that.

Well... maybe. I've heard differing analyses on this. It's counterintuitive, but there are economies of scale associated with mass production. Trains are incredibly efficient, and so are the massive container ships: the square-cube law means you're moving more stuff and less vehicle. Local produce carried in the back of a pickup truck can burn as much fuel in 50 miles as a thousand miles in a freighter. There are similar economies of scale on the inputs: dragging fertilizer to a thousand local farms will be less efficient than one tanker full of it.

That's far from the whole story, of course. Local foods can take better advantage of local conditions (including less pesticides), can be better varieties since there's less shipping, are often mixed-use rather than monocultures. I know a local farmer who uses no fuel whatsoever on his farm... though a fair bit of energy is used hauling his produce from the country to the city, around 50 miles.

I do prefer to eat local when I can, but the fuel advantages aren't nearly as overwhelming as it might seem.

Comment Re:As they say (Score 1) 177

Mostly that if it actually did kill a lot of people, the corporation would take a lot of heat for it. The corporations do frequently try to push the limits on that, and the punishment for that isn't nearly severe enough. But they do actually take considerable steps to avoid having it happen accidentally, and it's really not in their best interest to do it deliberately.

The biggest problem is in ground beef. If you add one infected animal to the hopper, you can make millions of pounds of meat dangerous. That's expensive.

Note that I'm not a fan of industrial meat production, and I avoid it. That has more to do with concern for animal welfare during their lives, and with flavor: if an animal is going to die for my dinner I want it to taste less bland than the meat you get at grocery stores and most restaurants. Plus, a few environmental issues. And yeah, safety is a bit of a concern... but they do want to avoid killing people. Bad for business.

Comment Re:hacking (Score 1) 101

As long as people in general tend to not realize the implications of not changing the default password, it is not an invitation to the puiblic. Not setting a password at all or telling everyone the password on the login screen or in the SSIS is an invitation to the public.

People SHOULD change the default password but often don't realize it. Just like people SHOULD respect private property but don't always.

If builders built buildings the way programmers wrote programs, then the first woodpecker to come along would destroy civilization.