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Comment: Re:I also measure distance (Score 3, Interesting) 166

Even though they measure the same thing, the Becquerel is a very, very small unit. If somebody was talking about the risk of a dam breaking, and used the cubic centimeter for measuring the volume of water behind that dam, perhaps with a note that a single cc of water can killl a person if they choke on it just right as a justification, wouldn't you still prefer a unit such as gallons, or cubic feet or cubic meters, Wouldn't that be better in helping asses the real consequences of a dam failure even though we are measuring the same thing? Or wouldn't it be better to give information on just how many acres downstream would be flooded and how many people live on that floodplain, even though that's all a very different kind of measurement? There are plenty of cases where either a similar measurement that uses units more in keeping with the situation or a measurement of something different may either or both be better.
          Using SI units is a good thing overall, but what if those units are many orders of magnitude outside of the thing they were designed to measure and there's a non-SI unit that isn't? Or, what's the point in preferring Km./liters over miles/gallon if we are talking about how much fuel it took to send Voyager 1 outside the heliopause? Neither one is very useful when we are not exactly sure just where the edge of the solar system is, or how to measure it, and Voyager will keep on coasting many light years farther in the end, if its trajectory even has an end in the lifetime of the universe.
            I see using becquerels in this case as similar to someone being opposed to a government project, so they give how much it costs in the currency of some nation currently undergoing hyperinflation, so the project costs a bajillion, bajillion, Saganillion Elbonian Smerdlaps, That's not the same thing as writing about the US economy for a European audience and converting to Euros, or writing about the European economy for Japan and converting to Yen. Even though we know a conversion rate for the uints, and it's fixed as of a given date,,using some units for currency could still be an attempt to make the numbers sound so large they prejudice the average reader more than they inform. You should look at what level of information the average person reading an article from that particular source will have in deciding whether a difference of units is simply a difference or if there's some intent to mislead - and since you asked it as in what way X is :bad?", hopefully we can agree attempts to mislead are bad.

+ - Letter to Congress: Ending U.S. Dependency on Russia for Access to Space 1

Submitted by Bruce Perens
Bruce Perens (3872) writes "I've sent a letter to my district's senators and member of congress this evening, regarding how we should achieve a swifter end to U.S. dependency on the Russians for access to space. Please read my letter, below. If you like it, please join me and send something similar to your own representatives. Find them here and here. — Bruce

Dear Congressperson Lee,

The U.S. is dependent on the Russians for present and future access to space. Only Soyuz can bring astronauts to and from the Space Station. The space vehicles being built by United Launch Alliance are designed around a Russian engine. NASA's own design for a crewed rocket is in its infancy and will not be useful for a decade, if it ever flies.

Mr. Putin has become much too bold because of other nations dependence. The recent loss of Malaysia Air MH17 and all aboard is one consequence.

Ending our dependency on Russia for access to space, sooner than we previously planned, has become critical. SpaceX has announced the crewed version of their Dragon spaceship. They have had multiple successful flights and returns to Earth of the un-crewed Dragon and their Falcon 9 rocket, which are without unfortunate foreign dependencies. SpaceX is pursuing development using private funds. The U.S. should now support and accelerate that development.

SpaceX has, after only a decade of development, demonstrated many advances over existing and planned paths to space. Recently they have twice successfully brought the first stage of their Falcon 9 rocket back to the ocean surface at a speed that would allow safe landing on ground. They have demonstrated many times the safe takeoff, flight to significant altitude, ground landing and re-flight of two similar test rockets. In October they plan the touchdown of their rocket's first stage on a barge at sea, and its recovery and re-use after a full flight to space. Should their plan for a reusable first-stage, second, and crew vehicle be achieved, it could result in a reduction in the cost of access to space to perhaps 1/100 of the current "astronomical" price. This would open a new frontier to economical access in a way not witnessed by our nation since the transcontinental railroad. The U.S. should now support this effort and reap its tremendous economic rewards.

This plan is not without risk, and like all space research there will be failures, delays, and eventually lost life. However, the many successes of SpaceX argue for our increased support now, and the potential of tremendous benefit to our nation and the world.

Please write back to me.

Many Thanks

Bruce Perens"

Comment: Re:Bigger Colliders (Score 1) 216

by Artifakt (#47516069) Attached to: China Plans Particle Colliders That Would Dwarf CERN's LHC

Inside a typical accellerator, the vacuum is typically about one-millionth of an atmosphere. At an alltitude of roughly 100 km., the air density is about 1/2,200,000 the density at the surface. That's obviously good enough,, but at that altitude drag still brings orbiting objects down to earth quite quickly. The quick rule of thumb is to have something up there long enough to be useful, minimum orbital altitude is about 300 Km. So yeah, vacuum is the least of your obstacles - you'll have more than you'll ever need.

+ - U.K. Cabinet Office Adopts ODF as Exclusive Standard for Sharable Documents->

Submitted by Andy Updegrove
Andy Updegrove (956488) writes "The U.K. Cabinet Office accomplished today what the Commonwealth of Massachusetts set out (unsuccessfully) to achieve ten years ago: it formally required compliance with the Open Document Format (ODF) by software to be purchased in the future across all government bodies. Compliance with any of the existing versions of OOXML, the competing document format championed by Microsoft, is neither required nor relevant. The announcement was made today by The Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude. Henceforth, ODF compliance will be required for documents intended to be shared or subject to collaboration. PDF/A or HTML compliance will be required for viewable government documents. The decision follows a long process that invited, and received, very extensive public input – over 500 comments in all."
Link to Original Source

+ - UK to use Open Document Format for government documents->

Submitted by sfcrazy
sfcrazy (1542989) writes "UK has decided to use ‘open standards’ for sharing and viewing government documents. The announcement was made by the Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude. One of the primary objectives of this move is to create a level playing field for suppliers of all sizes. The move must put some pressure on Google to offer full support for ODF in Chrome, Android and Google Docs."
Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:From TFA (Score 2) 112

by Artifakt (#47498473) Attached to: Domain Registry of America Suspended By ICANN

It's not needless to say, unfortunately:

(Start of facts) Right now, there's a dispute developing in New York state, over whether McDonalds should have their contracts with franchisees set up so if those franchisees are caught violating state labor laws McDonalds will terminate their franchise rights. Some of the violations at issue include what are definitely felonies (i.e. extortion, threats of death or physical injury). Others are sometimes just misdemeanors (theft of wages, if under a certain amount), but are still criminal. This is an example where a very large employer isn't treating certain areas of criminality as criminal at all. McDonalds has their contracts written to address those crimes they want to include, and these sections are not on the parent corp's lists.

  That much is fact (i'm expecting somebody to try to pick that section apart, before I even offer the my opinion section, so I'm trying to make that line very clear). As opinion, things such as that need to be in contracts because we let corporations form under limited liability rules, and if they are willing to keep doing business with known criminal franchisees who are also incorporated, those multiple corporate veils make it fantastically more difficult to fix. I don't think limited liability ought to extend to cases where somebody hired a hit man to kill a union organizer, and that's proved, but we can't look into whether anybody in particular knew, or passed money about or did other favors to make the hit happen. In the non-corporate world, if you're continuing to associate with a bunch of people you know are felons, and the courts have proved are felons, exchanging money with them and contracting with them is plenty of grounds for an investigation, but this looks like it comes with a clause saying 'unless that trail passes into another corporation'. To fix this, just one of the steps is we evidently do need to get corporations to say explicitly that all relevant criminal conduct will not be tolerated, or at least the New York state prosecutor's office is of that opinion.

Comment: Re:Not Quite the Same (Score 1) 63

by Artifakt (#47487803) Attached to: The New Science of Evolutionary Forecasting

I'm thinking this is also about what we consider "alike" or "the same" Just a few days ago, I came across a report of a new (to me) member of the Burgess shale fossils, a relative of Anomalocaris. Basically, Anomalocaris was a two meter long killer shrimp with spiky grabbers and rasping plate teeth. It was the biggest thing in the ocean, the equivalent of a whale compared to the typial creatures of the time. This particular relative was a very large sized ( for the era) filter feeder, believed to be evolved from the Anomalocaris parent line about 25 million years later. If we agree that a 2 meter long swimmer that was fifty times the mass of just about everything else was the rough equivalent of a whale, it looks like that 'whale' eventually gave rise to several varieties of both predatory and filter feeding descendants. The question is, "What does "same" mean in this context?" - Anomalocaris must have been a living nightmare, like a T-Rex or a Great White, to the creatures of its era, but it would be a prey species in the modern seas. Hell, typical tuna would probably take them down routinely, let alone modern sharks. So does it make sense to say we now know of two cases where predatory whale-likes evolved into more varieties of whale-likes and some of those became filter feeders? Can we predict that large predators in the seas will give rise to large filter feeders in general? Is there, in fact. a lesson to be drawn in such cases? Or are humans, so good at seeing patterns we often see them where they don't exist, doing that thing we do sometimes?

Comment: Re:Evolution (Score 1) 253

by Bruce Perens (#47485313) Attached to: New Treatment Stops Type II Diabetes


You make it sound like starving people are getting fat too.

If they are becoming obese, the particular individual has a surplus of caloric intake, if only for this year or month. This is not to say that they have proper nutrition. So I am not at all clear that the fact that there is obesity in the third world is confounding evidence.

The bogosity meter just pegged.