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Comment: Re:This again? (Score 1) 467

by Bruce Perens (#49598949) Attached to: New Test Supports NASA's Controversial EM Drive

OK, I will try to restate in my baby talk since I don't remember this correctly.

Given that you are accelerating, the appearance to you is that you are doing so linearly, and time dilation is happening to you. It could appear to you that you reach your destination in a very short time, much shorter than light would allow. To the outside observer, however, time passes at a different rate and you never achieve light speed.

Comment: Where we need to get to call this real (Score 1) 467

by Bruce Perens (#49596461) Attached to: New Test Supports NASA's Controversial EM Drive

Before we call this real, we need to put one on some object in orbit, leave it in continuous operation, and use it to raise the orbit by a measurable amount large enough that there would not be argument regarding where it came from. The Space Station would be just fine. It has power for experiments that is probably sufficient and it has a continuing problem of needing to raise its orbit.

And believe me, if this raises the orbit of the Space Station they aren't going to want to disconnect it after the experiment. We spend a tremendous amount of money to get additional Delta-V to that thing, and it comes down if we don't.

Comment: Re:Try again... 4? (Score 1) 224

by jfengel (#49595835) Attached to: Grooveshark Shuts Down

Pandora makes it pretty clear that music at least costs attention. It has a *lot* of ads, both audio and on the screen. They tell you that you can make the ads go away, for a price.

People still don't quite connect that attention is being used as money, and they do still think of things as "free" even when they're paying in attention. But of all the ad-supported mechanisms I've seen, Pandora most specifically seems to make clear that you're paying one way or another.

Comment: Re:39/100 is the new passing grade. (Score 1) 173

That's a really good summary of the situation.

I do think that there's one more important factor. The flip side of reproducibility is utility. The whole reason that we care about reproducibility is that it means that we can put things to use. We demand falsifiability because if it can't be put to the test, then it's not so much "wrong" as "worthless", i.e. Not Even Wrong. If it can be reproduced but never is, what did it matter in the first place?

That's not the same kind of epistemological issue that falsifiability is, but it's a bit more immediate. If this research isn't being put to use, why are we bothering doing it at all? Wouldn't our time and money be better spent on other things?

It seems as if a lot of these studies weren't worth having done. Not just because they couldn't be reproduced, but because nobody wanted to. It's the sociology of science, the dynamics of funding and defining a new field. It's a field full of questions that we want answers to, but the questions themselves are ill-posed because we don't have a solid theory in which to ask them. We're going to have to grope towards an answer, and that's going to mean a lot of missteps.

I wish we had better answers, but it does seem to me as if this hints at a need for the field to clean itself up. Rather than performing so many disconnected studies, maybe we need to stop pushing for papers that nobody apparently has an use for even if they were valid. I know that's easier said than done; it hints at completely revamping the way funding is done. But the money is being spent, and it appears that much of it is not being spent well.

Comment: Re:to drive (Score 1) 279

by jfengel (#49586937) Attached to: New Study Suggests Flying Is Greener Than Driving

Averages are clearer when the correct number of significant figures is used. It's not meaningful to give four significant figures for an average that's supposed to stand in for a wide range of values. At best it's really just an order of magnitude.

And while I don't doubt the number, it does imply that they're not careful with their methodology, which makes it harder to put a lot of weight on it. It would have been better with just one or two digits of precision, or (if they wanted to spend the extra space on it) with a description of the range.

Comment: Re: Elon Musk (Score 1) 108

by Bruce Perens (#49582987) Attached to: Russian Cargo Spacehip Declared Lost

Obviously I am missing something, then. Please fill me in on your better information sources. Email to bruce at perens dot com if you don't want to put them on Slashdot.

It's time to start planning another trip to Lompoc. The Motel 6 was sort of yukky last time. Maybe I'll try something else. There was an official visitor observation site that I found and got into last time, but that was for the Delta, and it was on Pad 4 if I remember correctly. This one is all the way on the other side of the base on Pad 7 or 8, isn't it? There are some farm roads that might be good observation sites if they are open.

Comment: Re:Well... (Score 1) 108

by Bruce Perens (#49582029) Attached to: Russian Cargo Spacehip Declared Lost

I am not confident that the world will remain a hospitable place for life until we are ready by your standard.

Getting the resources and people there is very close to being within our technical capability. The task ourselves, if we perform it, will take care of the remaining gaps.

Creating a self-sustaining colony outside of the Earth's environment is going to need a lot of work, but it is not work that can ever be achieved on this earth. We have to actually put people in space to achieve this. Our best experience so far is with submarines. Academic research has so far yielded only farcial frauds like Biosphere II.

Testing can show the presense of bugs, but not their absence. -- Dijkstra

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