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Comment: What this means (Score 5, Informative) 433

by Fuseboy (#45663889) Attached to: Simulations Back Up Theory That Universe Is a Hologram

Someone clever was working out the maximum entropy of a black hole, and found that (unexpectedly) it was proportional to the surface area of the event horizon, not its volume. After some more thought, other clever people found that the full state of every particle that falls into a black hole remains encoded as oscillations and deformations of its surface area.

This leads to the realization that the despite the fact that a black hole's event horizon is seemingly much simpler than a full-dimensional portion of a universe, it's theoretically possible that it's just as rich a simulation. Perhaps the "real" representation of the universe is actually just a rippling membrane, and the 3D view we see around us is just an alternate interpretation. This is where the word "hologram" comes in - it's only an analogy (because flattish holograms seem to encode 3D data).

Now, the word "real" is misleading - neither representation is 'more true', it's just that the fewer-dimensional representation might be a lot simpler. A comparable situation is the way the earth goes around the sun, or the sun goes around the earth. A stationary sun makes models of the planetary orbits a heck of a lot simpler, but a stationary earth makes it a lot easier to give directions to your party.

All of this was theoretical until this recent finding. The researches created two mathematical models of the universe - one of them ten-dimensional (similar to some forms of modern theories of our universe, though the article points out their model was simpler). The other model was a one-dimensional universe filled with ideal springs. These models were identical, in the same way as the 3D universe and the event horizon - they're alternate ways of calculating the same thing.

The researchers discovered that simulations in both of these universe models have the same output - in other words, they do seem to be different ways of describing the same universe.

Comment: Culture of Paranoia (Score 1) 114

by Fuseboy (#35443972) Attached to: Book Review: Social Engineering: The Art of Human Hacking

It will be interesting to see what effect this has on customer service generally. Is it possible to have sensible, non-theatrical security procedures that are preliminary and don't interfere with an essentially friendly relationship? Or will the attitude of security consciousness turn into a strange form of paranoid bureaucracy that colors everything?

Comment: Core Competency (Score 2) 30

by Fuseboy (#34985528) Attached to: Computer Incident Response and Product Security

This shouldn't be surprising - an organization's purpose is to do what it does, to quote somebody or other. TJX is making money off transactions; security is only incidental, and responding to unusual events runs counter to the grain of an optimized organization. The 911 call center, on the other hand, is helping people as a matter of course. (Just see how well they do when they start trying to make money off the transactions! j/k)

Comment: Re:Dark matter vs black holes (Score 2) 174

by Fuseboy (#34907682) Attached to: Milky Way May Have Dark Matter Satellite Galaxies

That doesn't sound quite right - because of the inverse-squared falloff of gravity, once you're a certain distance away, black holes and stars aren't much different in how material orbits around them.

One difference is that that black holes often spew high-energy x-rays as infalling matter is crushed, whereas dark matter is - well - dark.

Comment: Re:OH COME ON (Score 1) 171

by Fuseboy (#33715342) Attached to: Methane Survey Reveals Mars Is Far From 'Dead'

Sometimes I think this whole notion of extraordinary has more to do with our imagination and cultural background than anything scientific. I mean, wouldn't it be absolutely mind-boggling if we kept encountering massive energy-rich zones (e.g. geologically/chemically active planets) that were completely devoid of microbial life? If/when we find life elsewhere, of course it's going to be extremely significant, but does that make it unlikely?

Comment: You can't handle the truth (Score 2, Interesting) 539

by Fuseboy (#33451896) Attached to: Facebook Post Juror Gets Fined, Removed, Assigned Homework

Given recent articles about snap decisions (apparently deciding if you think a gal's hot, or your emotional reaction to a web site both take a fraction of a second), perhaps all this woman was doing was revealing an uncomfortable truth about the justice system. Could it be that jurors reach their decision in the first few minutes (or less) and everything that follows just loads them up with ammunition to form their rationalizations?

Comment: Trial by fire (Score 3, Interesting) 219

by Fuseboy (#33397940) Attached to: Paul Allen Files Patent Suit Against Apple, Google, Yahoo, Others

I think this is a great idea. I hope he wins, and internet search and ecommerce are shut down en masse by injunction. Whee! Then we could have a nice look at this business of patents and how we feel about them.

I wonder, is there such a thing as an inverse class action - by which I mean, could a whole raft of internet companies join the defending side as a show of solidarity, claiming that if the current defendants are violating, then they are too?

Comment: Shame and the Herd (Score 1) 602

by Fuseboy (#33392500) Attached to: FCC Fights To Maintain Indecency Policy

On the surface, it seems strange that nudity and sex are more taboo than violence and gore, despite the fact that we generally don't really mind if people are nude and having sex (in private), but we don't especially want people violently hurt anywhere (even in private). But I think this is the cause.

If a child sees nudity/sex on TV, it can bring up shameful mixed feelings for the parents, because we keep this side of ourselves hidden from children. Yep, mommy and daddy do that, but god forbid we talk about it. So we're all harboring this shameful secret. We're drawn to it, but we don't like the uncomfortable conversations it invites. "Yes, for God's sake we admit it, we're having sex.. but please don't tell our kids."

Violence, on the other hand, is something that most people have no trouble feeling unadulterated (hah!) condemnation for - so if our kids see it, we can point at it and go "That's bad!" without the confusing, mixed feelings.

Secondly, I think there are people frightened about losing the idea of a common definition of 'obscenity'. It takes courage to accept that someone's nasty fetish is actually perfectly harmless, and the revulsion has to do with your preferences. I mean, what's next? Are my kids going to start doing this? It'll be everywhere! Soon we'll be walking past rows of Poo Weekly in the 7/11. It's a lot easier to stand in a herd and point at the scapegoat. To those who are comfortable with their positions in the herd, this is an important tool. Witness how often politicians are discredited by sexual indiscretions.

This place just isn't big enough for all of us. We've got to find a way off this planet.