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Comment: Re:Why dont they screen doctors before they come b (Score 1) 348

by Reziac (#48231147) Attached to: NY Doctor Recently Back From West Africa Tests Positive For Ebola

If the choices boil down to "wall them off and let them die" or "spread the epidemic far and wide" -- yeah, I know which one I'd choose.

So far it appears that the more treatment is attempted, the worse it gets, because the caregivers are at such risk, and some will need treatment in turn... rinse and repeat until there are no caregivers left.

Quarantine may not be kind to the victims, but spreading it around so everyone can share isn't kind to anyone.

Comment: Re:Why dont they screen doctors before they come b (Score 1) 348

by Reziac (#48231011) Attached to: NY Doctor Recently Back From West Africa Tests Positive For Ebola

And if an individual's immune response is slow or poor, there may not BE any antibodies until too late for the test to catch.

The obvious solution is a 4 week quarantine (to make sure every case is discovered -- a few may incubate beyond the usual) everyone who's been in West Africa.

This isn't "denying a citizen entry"; it's delaying it due to sheer common sense.

Better, tho, would be to quarantine the affected parts of West Africa as best we can; let people in, but don't let them back out. Because what we're doing now is pretty much guaranteeing ebola's spread.

Comment: Re:Research in this area is probably a good thing. (Score 1) 145

by Reziac (#48230997) Attached to: Incapacitating Chemical Agents: Coming Soon To Local Law Enforcement?

You could also quickly and easily negate any sort of protest... including protests against using chemical restraint on the public.

Who are the "bad guys" is generally dependent on what laws you have and who enforces them. YOUR side won't always be in charge.

Comment: Re:A tragedy, but stretching the bounds of relevan (Score 1) 145

by Reziac (#48230977) Attached to: Incapacitating Chemical Agents: Coming Soon To Local Law Enforcement?

My first thought was -- what if it hits a kid or small adult? I'd guess their dosage assumes a roughly 150 pound adult, because that way it'll stop the "more dangerous" persons. I guess anyone under the presumed body mass had better not get hit, eh?

Comment: Re:Falsifiability (Score 2) 216

by Artifakt (#48230233) Attached to: High Speed Evolution

In Biology, there's the concept of Stochastic Mutation. It's most commonly attributed to viruses, for example HIV is a known stochastic mutator. In these cases, some (not all, just some), types of cell mutations occur, where there's no selection pressure - the virus changes its protein coat in one of several ways (4 for HIV), and type B is just as likely to mutate back to type A or into Type C or D, as to stick where its at. In equilibrium, none of the protein coats is preferred by natural selection, and there's no pressure for one type to come to dominate. HIV also undergoes non-stochastic mutations, just like (we think) everything else with a genetic code does, and stochastic mutation has been studied for many other viruses and probably happens in more complex species.

          That's the point - evolution is essentially a two part theory, a synthesis of Mendel's genetics including mutation, and Darwin's natural selection. Cases where all the organisms subject to selection pressure are identical, are not evolution*, and cases where the organisms are not identical but there's no selection pressure applied are not evolution either, and so there really are at least two categories of biological change which are not evolutionary. It's just that 'cases where there's no selection pressure' pretty much discribes some sort of paradise where nothing dies or is limited in how often it reproduces, so there are not a whole lot of known examples of that, especially over a long term, and it would be pretty expensive to create such an environment over a short term.

* If you had some organisms, and they have 0% chance of mutating in the particular way that responds to that particular selection pressure, then you could say that they are identical in that respect. Imagine for example a bunch of Leopards suddenly introduced to an environment where there are abundant fish in deep subsurface pools which can only be reached through narrow fissures. There's really no selection pressure sufficient for those Leopards to start adapting into creatures that can squeeze through six inch wide cracks and use their gills to dive deep enough to catch those tasty fish. All the Leopards are effectively identical, in that they are identically unsuited to take advantage of the new factor in their environment, tasty deep dwelling cave fish. However, I get a feeling you would reject generalizing that sort of example into one of the cases such as you are asking for, so let's just stick to Stochastic Mutation

Comment: Re:Falsifiability (Score 1) 216

by Artifakt (#48230061) Attached to: High Speed Evolution

Darwin himself was careful to specify what he was arguing for - His first book was, after all "On the Origin of Species", not "On the Origin of Life". His theory is about how existing life divides into distinct groups, and (in a modern version of his phrasings), why species are 'distinguishabe sets with fuzzy boundries', and doesn't really touch on where the first life forms came from, one way or another. We could start from some assumed single primative life form, or imagine a world where there was somehow only one very complex life form, say existing as millions of identical clones, and speciation would still occur, and the mix of species, once formed, would still change over time, according to the theory.

Darwin made predictions which were testable, and could have been falsified - for just one, there's a prediction that the genetic code (unknown at the time), wouldn't allow unlimited blending of traits (Mendel published the first proof of this as a general fact, and Crick and Watson's work in actually discovering the code confirmed it was the sort of coding that didn't allow blendable traits). One problem I see with the "anti-evolutionists", is they keep talking like 'testability' means we have to have two copies of Earth and run the great experiment twice, or there's no testability at all, when a little real familiarity with Darwin's work reveals lots of testable predictions of the same sorts we see in many other works of science. It's sort of like how early critics of Special Relativity dismissed the 1919 solar eclipse test as not sufficient by itself, and people who wanted to reject Relativity on any and all grounds turned that into its not being a test at all in popular discussions. I suspect there's real debate needed about just what the limits of the Theory of Evolution's predictions are, but those debates need to be among people who know what the theory does or doesn't predict, what testability itself means, and other fundamental ideas.

Comment: Re:Falsifiability (Score 3, Insightful) 216

by Artifakt (#48229885) Attached to: High Speed Evolution

It's not quite that simple, but you could probably simplify it to a few basic steps, like:
Is there a coding mechanism for heredity? - Yes, the genetic code.
Is there a way to generate new code? - Yes, mutation.
Does that code allow unlimited blending? - No, if it did the two sexes would completely blur together, among many other lesser examples.
Is there selection for fitness? - Yes, not everything gets to reproduce as much as it attempts to, and at least some of that is attributable to being "unfit".

Basically, people can point to examples where limited blurring may occur, or being taken out of the gene pool may have nothing to do with fitness (all dinosaurs are equally unfit to survive a 5 mile wide asteroid strike), or many other such factors, but they aren't really offering any effective criticism of evolution unless they want to claim things like selection or mutation never happen.

This is also why what Darwin did was science. His publication made several testable predictions - that there would be a genetic code, that the code could be altered on occasion, and that it would not allow unlimited blending of traits.

Comment: Re:One thing missing (Score 1) 55

by JanneM (#48228025) Attached to: Stem Cells Grown From Patient's Arm Used To Replace Retina

So is the answer "No" she cannot see? And where did you get the safety and viability quote from?

Japanese media reported about this earlier this year when they decided to try this and were looking for volunteer patients, as well as now when they want ahead with it. It was made very clear from the start that this was a procedure to test if the cells would survive and not cause any unwanted side effects.

Kind of the same as with the man who got some feeling back in his legs after a stem cell treatment in Poland the other day. They did not expect to see significant improvement (and the other three patients had much less or no effect at all), but just to confirm that it was possible and didn't make things worse.

Comment: Re:Nothing really new (Score 1) 661

by JanneM (#48228015) Attached to: Automation Coming To Restaurants, But Not Because of Minimum Wage Hikes

The streets are very safe, and cash is accepted everywhere. A credit card, on the other hand, needs approval, has a yearly cost, and adds a charge to each transaction. People do use cards here - most people pay public transport with a card, and you can use those on vending machines and the like too - but credit cards specifically haven't really caught on.

COMPASS [for the CDC-6000 series] is the sort of assembler one expects from a corporation whose president codes in octal. -- J.N. Gray