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Comment Re:The are on both ends of the scale (Score 1) 152

Why would you never get the best? (S)"he can get too involved in low level design and decisions", sure, but if they're any good at being a manager they won't. Granted, learning to not micromanage can be a real challenge for some (even among those not remotely competent to do so), but if they can avoid it then you get the best of both worlds - they know enough about the field to actually make competent decisions, and enough about managing to let their team do their job.

Comment Re:Slightly more technical (Score 1) 111

I'll admit I'm not even remotely well versed in the details of DNA replication and sequencing techniques, but I imagine a certain degree of error is inevitable - even properly functioning living cells are incapable of 100% accurate DNA replication (quite possibly by "design", but still.)

It seems likely though that the nature of those errors would result in "bad reads"/"noise" in sections of the sequenced genomes, not the wholesale creation of genomes that weren't in the original sample to begin with. That might interfere with the detection of a pathogen (false negatives), but it seems extremely unlikely that the "corrupted" genome would look similar enough to some other pathogen in the screening database to cause it to be mistakenly identified as something else, which is what would be required to generate a false positive.

Comment Re:Slightly more technical (Score 3, Informative) 111

You're ignoring the second half of their suggestion - test for the "detected" viruses that could cause the symptoms. If you had a 2% false positive rate, and 10% of the "viral library" your checking against could cause the symptoms, then you're averaging 2%*10%*700 = 1.4 false positives per patient.

Of course RTFAing tells me that they're expecting no false positives at all thanks to the fact that this technique provides the complete genome of everything detected, as it occurs in the patient. It's not a "yes/no" like most current tests, or even a "70% certainty", it tells you that "this *exact* genome was in the sample", even if it's something that you've never seen before that was just similar enough to stick to one of the "hooks". You then look up the freshly-sequenced genome in your library to figure out what it is. False positives would imply that the replication system somehow managed to spontaneously create recognizable genomes from scratch.

As I read it the methodology is:
1) catch a wide range of "suspicious" viral DNA
2) replicate it so that you can...
3) sequence it all
4) compare sequenced DNA to database to identify pathogens and unknown viruses.

(1) will likely generate a fair amount of false positives, but unlike traditional tests at that point it's just bringing in "suspicious characters" for questioning. (2) and (3) should be pretty much immune to false positives, and (4) will give you a fully "fingerprinted" list of "confirmed-present" viruses, along with a confidence-rated identification of anything with a match in the database.

Comment Re:Doctor what's wrong with me? (Score 4, Informative) 111

I think resistance tends to be considerably more resilient than that in many/most cases. Influenza is actually one of the more volatile viruses we encounter on a regular basis - its actual mutation rate is much slower than something like HIV, but thanks to its incredibly widespread "host base" across the animal kingdom, and the facility with which it can "interbreed" with distant relatives, we are getting constantly barraged by radically new variants on a regular basis, a few of which manage to thrive. There's a reason the flu makes epidemiologists nervous - highly infectious, genetically unstable, and with a proven track record of occasionally spawning extremely lethal variants.

And of course, just for completeness sake, most of the things people commonly label as "the flu" are completely unrelated to influenza in the first place. Just part of the microbial medley passing through us on a regular basis.

Comment Re:It's not just about going to Mars (Score 1) 683

Actually, it's the other way around, Mars is far more appealing than the moon, aside from the distance.

* A Mars day is only very slightly longer than Earth's, within the range than humans can readily adapt to, versus the 655+ hour lunar day. That means no unpleasant 2-week night to deal with, and far less extreme temperature swings. A lunar colony could theoretically be built on a Peak of Eternal Light, but that means being far away from any available water.

* Mars has an atmosphere, so
          - temperature swings are even less extreme due to convection
          - the dust has all been wind-weathered smooth, unlike the razor-sharp lunar dust that is still as jagged as the day it was shattered by meteor impacts
          - aircraft are possible
          - ... but the atmosphere is so thin that even the sometimes very high winds have no force behind them, and it's almost vacuum so far as thermal losses are concerned

* Mars has ample readily-available resources:
          - you've got all the near-pure CO2 atmosphere you could want delivered to your front door - ample feed-stock for growing plants, breathable oxygen, and carbon- and cellulose-based construction materials
          - there's lots of water. Especially at the poles, but there's evidence for vast sub-surface glaciers as well.
And with those two, plus sand, you can build almost everything you need to eventually be self-sustaining.

Comment Re:Surge suppressor (Score 1) 303

Is the surge protector rated at 1GBps?

That higher frequency requires much tighter tolerances on wire lengths and EM interference, so if a cable, surge protector, or any other passive ethernet device wasn't specifically designed with a 1Gbps connection in mind then it probably will degrade the signal, except for individual devices where random manufacturing variance just happened to fall within the higher-speed tolerances.

Comment Re:Evidence of error? (Score 1) 365

Exactly. I was actually assuming a Dyson-shell type arrangement, what makes you think otherwise? The point is that *any* energy consumption on that scale would result in a dramatic increase in IR emissions, and assuming they're harnessing existing stars there would *also* be a dramatic reduction in higher-frequency emissions.

Radio however is a fairly low-energy spectrum, well below IR, so would likely make for a good reference candle to judge actual stellar emissions. (Or be completely blocked assuming conductive Dyson Spheres)

Comment Re:Bigotry Shmigotry (Score 1) 536

That's way beyond passing the Bechdel test (and actually, not all of them do). How much dialog is there in your average "guy movie" exchanged by/with "background characters" . Don't you think it's just a bit strange that with all of that dialog, none of it is between two women in most movies?

Comment Re:Bigotry Shmigotry (Score 1) 536

The problem isn't that the movies don't make money - it's fairly random which movies pass the Bechdel test, and plenty of blockbusters are included. It's simply that there's only a small percentage of movies made that pass it at all.

I'm not asking for ideology - just to stop treating women solely as trophies/eye candy. It doesn't exactly make a whole lot of difference if random supporting characters that have meaningful dialog are women or men.

Comment Re:Bigotry Shmigotry (Score 1) 536

Right, because seeing Hot Super-Heroine #1 exchange a few lines of sweaty, breathless dialog with Hot Super-Heroine #2 about how to take down the Villain currently kicking the team's ass would be a total turn-off for everyone watching the movie. Everyone knows that only the male characters can have conversations that drive the plot. And god forbid they should exchange a couple lines of inane dialog such as exchanged by practically the entire male cast, that would have audiences walking out of theaters across the country!

The problem isn't that nobody wants to see it - mostly nobody would even notice it happening, and the only ones that care are those that notice its glaring absence.

Comment Re:Consider the source (Score 1) 536

Except that storing stuff wouldn't have helped *prevent* the attack, for that you also need ongoing near universal analysis in real time. But granted, that probably comes with the territory.

Of course even that might not have helped - Bush received multiple credible warnings of an impending attack starting almost a year ahead of time and chose to ignore them - either in disbelief or for more nefarious reasons (and either way you have to admit that the fact that he used them as an excuse to go to war with a completely uninvolved country looks pretty bad). No amount of intelligence will help prevention if you choose to ignore it.

And the bigger consideration is that there will *always* be ways to make us safer from Threat A - the real question is what is the price, and how much greater Threat B becomes in the process. The only way to make us completely safe from criminals, terrorists, etc. is to lock everyone in their own a little prison cell from the day they're born. Of course that's a price most people would be unwilling to pay for safety, and leaves us all completely defenseless against corruption of the enforcers. And such corruption would almost certainly be a massive plague, because what incentive would the leaders and enforcers have to NOT exploit their position when the citizenry has no way to object?

Comment Re:Why assume inefficiency? (Score 1) 365

Actually, building a Dyson Shell to harness roughly the entire energy output of a star might not be all that difficult using technology not much more advanced than we have today, and a few thousand years of patience as solar collectors are created. Around our sun a 100% reflective statite (stationary "satellite" supported by photon pressure rather than orbiting) needs to have a mass of less than 0.76 grams per square meter (regardless of distance, since gravity and photon pressure both fall off at the same rate).

Meanwhile single-layer graphene has shown great potential as a solar collector, and has a mass of only 0.37mg/m2, or about 2000 times less than required, and provides 2.3% absorption. Assuming it requires 100 layers to absorb ~90% of the sunlight, we're still only up to 0.037g/m2 - only about 5% of the absorbed energy would need to be reflected instead to support the solar panel's mass, the rest could be harnessed for other uses.

Obviously that would be a major undertaking, but just how big such a structure would need to be would depend entirely on how close to the sun your solar panels could get before they started burning up. Even a sphere the size of the Earth's orbit would have a surface are of 2.8×10^17 km2 (549 million times the Earth's surface area), but have a mass of only about 10^19 kg, roughly 1/7,000 that of the moon, and we could probably make it considerably smaller. And since statites don't orbit, the megastructure could be built piecemeal, without any problems related to intersecting orbits. We could even leave a narrow gap in the sphere along the ecliptic plane so that the planets and any orbital structures would continue to receive unobstructed sunlight.

The Wright Bothers weren't the first to fly. They were just the first not to crash.