Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?
Slashdot Deals: Cyber Monday Sale! Courses ranging from coding to project management - all eLearning deals 25% off with coupon code "CYBERMONDAY25". ×

Comment Re:More competitors is a good thing (Score 1) 162

You're making a lot of statements that are simply not true, much as we wish they were. Simply wanting this all to be true isn't enough. This is not a political fight or an argument to be won, the physics and economics actually has to be worked out properly, or this will just be another alternative engine fad that comes and goes.

More than half the cost of fueling a gas car is tax. We're still pretty far away from parity, never mind electric cars being cheaper. Right now electric cars are financially supported by the state, while gas cars pay for the roads (more than $1billion/year just in state gas tax in California goes to road maintenance, and that's not enough). When electric cars are robust enough to start paying for road maintenance at the same rate/mile as gas, then we'll be able to make fair comparisons.

The way MPGe is calculated is also not helpful for encouraging real progress. Upstream energy costs are not accounted for, and there is massive dependence on the price of oil, gas and coal in the cost/kWh of electricity. If we're just going to shove the problem of fossil fuel burning off on someone else (i.e. a power plant), we're not actually solving any environmental, economic, or political problems, we're just sticking our head in the ground and imagining that everything is better.

Comment medical information is regulated (Score 1) 96

Ok, this is very simple, and something all the developers here need to know.

If you're reporting medical information in the US, you need all of the processes you use to generate that health information to go through the FDA before you ADVERTISE you can do it (yes, your website is an advertisement). Fitness is fine any time, go crazy with that. Medical information, only after FDA approval. If you think you may be doing something health related, go find a regulatory consultant and find out what you need to do before you get a shut down letter from the FDA!

For Enlis to write up a document essentially kicking 23andme for adhering to the law, after witnessing what happened to 23andme (and now Theranos) is the height of stupidity. 23andme was shut down, and it's executives were headed toward fraud indictments when the heroic efforts of their regulatory team saved them. That's what's coming for Enlis after this article.

It may be a year or two before the FDA gets to them, but this will be a black mark that will be extraordinarily hard for them to escape. They have just screwed themselves and their investors. The FDA-23andme saga has provided the biotech space with crystal clear instructions on what is necessary to report medical info from genetic data, and Enlis just danced right over those regulations. Very, very, stupid for them to post this article.

Comment Re:why the controversy? (Score 1) 203

Yeah, ok, see that one's pretty hard for me to believe. I don't even believe they've tested for that yet.

They're getting a bunch of non-linear mixing and don't know what's coming out or where, or they're getting heating somewhere unusual,l or something like that. One way or another, there are photons coming off that thing as a result of powering up that magnetron.

Comment why the controversy? (Score 1) 203

First, I am a physicist.

Second, why is this controversial? Light (including microwaves) has momentum, and we absolutely use it to move things around. We have been using optical tweezers in labs for a long time. Without including pressure from photons, we wouldn't understand stars.

If you told me that a magnetron and horn antenna produced absolutely no impulse at all, I wouldn't believe you.

This is VERY interesting. How do you maximize thrust? But it's not shaking the foundations of physics.

Comment as a scientist... (Score 1) 248

I'm a scientist, I've benefited greatly from government grants for basic research. I've also worked in the government administering basic and applied research grants. There's a lot of truth to what he's saying.

The economic return of much (not all!) of basic research is near zero.

For those of you who keep pointing out the internet, you need to read this guy's thesis and look at the timeline of internet commercialization. Basic research investment did not lead directly to internet profitability. It took decades of further tinkering with business models before that happened.

Again, a lot of what we do in science does not result in anything resembling a return on investment. Nor should return on investment be the justification for basic research. Defending this idea that science = economic progress is absurd. This is not what science is.

Why do we do science? For commercial gain alone? As a scientist, I find that idea insulting. We "do" science not to invent profitable gadgets, but to advance human knowledge and understanding of the universe. It's the job of economists to study the optimum distribution of resources, and they are scientifically correct to point out the "waste" of basic science. Also, fuck the economists.

IF science has resulted in a lower than expected return on investment in the last couple decades (it has), it is not because we're funding too much science. Scientific advances have failed to lead to expected commercialization because we have not sufficiently supported development and commercialization efforts. There's nothing sinister here. It's just that certain fields have sucked up dominating amounts of tech investment over the last several decades (ahem, internet), and left not quite enough attention for everyone else. Now that the folks who profited from that are turning to other fields, we can all expect to see many more scientifically advanced products.

Comment not so significant... (Score 2) 76

The top 15 pharmaceutical companies and the top 10 medical device companies all spend significantly more than $1b per year on R&D. Google is high profile because it's NOT in pharma or medical devices, but adding $1b per year to the overall industrial expenditure on R&D in these areas is not disruptive. It makes an interesting story to imagine that Google is coming in and stealing all the academics away, but that's not reality.

Comment what's the goal? (Score 1) 99

What's the goal of medical device software?

Currently, you have to prove that your target user can actually use your product without making mistakes. Make things too complicated in any way, and you're required to have a specialist on hand to turn the thing on. You don't decide what "too complicated" is, the FDA does.

The current solutions for maximum usability (hard coded passwords, no changing of passwords) are likely the result of existing regulation, not laziness on the part of medical device makers.

Medical device clinical trials already cost millions of dollars and take years to get through. Add bad actors to this, and you're further raising the bar for introduction of new technology.

Medical device makers should focus on medical utility. Requiring via trials (FDA) that the device makers take responsibility for physical security (i.e. passwords for local access) or cybersecurity will kill off any progress toward electronic integration of medical data.

Comment not the way it works (Score 1) 444

Raise money for a startup company for a while, and you'll see that wealthy people are very often asking each other for money. Many wealthy people are "deal" obsessed. They want access to the hottest investment opportunities, the most impactful philanthropy, they want to be insiders at the newest, trendiest companies... and they want their connections to co-invest with them.

Comment that's a porch? (Score 3, Insightful) 127

Look at those long wood beams... perfect, very pretty, and also expensive! Is there a house behind it? Very little on the porch is covered on their website, and it doesn't show up on any of their "sustainability" materials. Meanwhile, it features in half of the pictures on the competition website.

If they want to point out how they're using local materials and these new techniques, maybe get rid of that massive redwood "porch" that is neither local, inexpensive, nor innovative.

Comment economics is not the study of the human world (Score 1) 375

As the author of TFA points out, there are other academic disciplines that study the role of humans in economics and finance. Economics itself is not the study of the human world, it is a study of markets and distributions of resources. It's the assumption that economics has anything to say about REAL markets and resources that is hubris.

This is like a physicist trying to tell you how to drive your car using vector diagrams and inertia calculations. Just because someone may understand the underlying rules governing a system doesn't mean they understand the system.

We need economics to be approached as a hard science. We also need to keep economists away from policy and management roles unless they've shown a talent for good policy and management.

Comment not everything is easy (Score 1) 269

Not everything is as easy as we'd like, or works out the way it logically "should."

The bottom line is that with all of these "revolutionary" technologies, what should be possible and what can actually get done right now are often very, very different things. When an expert says it's going to take "centuries" to solve a scientific problem, it's because it might take many generations to do the necessary re-formations of the approach, the culture, the interface with other scientific disciplines, and the expectations of the public.

Neuroscientists may not know how to frame their problems, and they may not know how to accept help with that from people outside of medicine. It may be 20 years before mainstream neuroscience gets that far. I'm a nanotechnologist. It took us 10 years to figure out we weren't doing mechanical engineering, another 20 years to figure out how to talk with chemists, and another 10 to start talking effectively again with engineers. Some of this stuff is just slow.

Leveraging always beats prototyping.