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Comment: My father is a retired corporate pilot . . . (Score 1) 100

by walterbyrd (#47928719) Attached to: A DC-10 Passenger Plane Is Perfect At Fighting Wildfires

According to him, the rear engine placed in the middle of tail fin is a bad design. The engine vibration puts too much stress on that fin. The metal weakens after a while. Compare this design to the design of the 727.

I think, some time ago, this design was causing problems.

Comment: Hmmm. (Score 0) 71

by jd (#47921793) Attached to: Astronomers Find Star-Within-a-Star, 40 Years After First Theorized

If Kip Thorne can win a year's worth of Playboys for his bet that Cygnus X1 was a Black Hole, when current theory from Professor Hawking says Black Holes don't really exist, then can Professor Thorne please give me a year's subscription to the porno of my choice due to the non-existent bet that this wasn't such a star?

+ - You can't patent movies or music. So why are there software patents?->

Submitted by walterbyrd
walterbyrd (182728) writes "To many computer programmers, software patents look a lot like movie or music patents. A computer program is a sequence of abstract mathematical operations. The Supreme Court has long said that by themselves such mental steps are not patentable. And just as musical innovations didn't become patentable once musicians started recording music electronically, so software patent opponents don't think sequences of mathematical steps shouldn't become patentable just because a computer happens to be doing the calculations.

Of course, others disagree with this way of looking at it. Patent attorneys have had a lot of luck re-casting software patents as patents on machines that happen to run a particular type of computer program."

Link to Original Source

Comment: Bangs head against wall (Score 2) 213

by John Allsup (#47915841) Attached to: Schizophrenia Is Not a Single Disease

Bipolar Disorder, Psychosis and Schizophrenia for Dummies who know a little physics etc.

Life is generally in a good position when it has potential (like gravitational potential in the case of high ground) and the capacity to use it in a controlled fashion. That means balancing in a position that would otherwise be considered an unstable equilibrium in the sense of dynamical systems theory. Our bodies are at their most efficient when well balanced (just watch a good dancer to see this in action) and our brains are at their best when similarly balanced. If something disturbs the equilibrium, this disturbance and the required correction can be used to understand the disturbance. This is how stimulation affects us.

Now consider a simple example of a balancing physical object, but with no control mechanism: a spinning top. This has three states--spinning upright (when the gravitational potential is near its maximum), wobbling (when the gravitational potential is slightly lower, in which case it behaves erratically and gives up its energy randomly until...) finally we have the fallen over state. This is what medical people term depression. The simple solution is to get upright and balanced again, but this is hard in our modern overly complex society, and the result of trying to get up is often a lot of wobbling, which gets diagnosed as things like mania, psychosis and schizophrenia depending on how exactly this wobbling manifests itself. The key is to get balanced before you get pushed over, and that is hard when the medical mental health people seem to have the idea that you fix a wobbling spinning top by knocking it over and gluing it to the floor.

Trying to understand mental health in a 'sum of the parts' way is just dumb, but it is the obsession of the medical fraternity, and is to the extent that it is politically very difficult to suggest otherwise. How our genetic code creates us is an approach that misses the point that without the environmental context in which that genetic code develops, it won't develop, so you need to understand the environment as well (and that means understanding the entire world in complete detail, which is rather a long way the other side of impossible).

Viewed as an equilbrium seeking system, 'mental illnesses' like mania and schizophrenia are just seen as things like oscillations and resonant modes that are being excited by either an appropriate drive, or are resonating within the equilibrium seeking system. The biological stuff is just an implementation detail in much the way that transistors on a chip are implementation details of your python program that you are running that you can safely ignore in most cases. Medication is basically trying to solve a software problem by randomly pumping noise into the processor. A computer will crash instantly if you do this, but humans are rather more robust, and can survive for a long time in an unbalanced state. They are, however, rather unproductive in this state and won't tend to find life enjoyable. But they can survive for a long time, but can become desperate to get out of such states.

+ - MIT's robotic cheetah no longer needs a leash->

Submitted by walterbyrd
walterbyrd (182728) writes "MIT's big-cat-inspired robot has gotten some serious upgrades as researchers continue to improve its skills. It's come a long way since its first treadmill test, during which it was tethered up. It can now run free, and a new algorithm allows it to bound in a peppy manner while navigating the terrain of a grass lawn."
Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:Poor comparison... (Score 4, Informative) 59

by jdschulteis (#47911967) Attached to: New Data Center Protects Against Solar Storm and Nuclear EMPs

A "Carrington-level" event nowadays would most likely be much less disruptive, as back then all the early radio and spark gap stuff was well under 50 MHz, which is where almost all of the natural noise winds up in the spectrum. Ever notice, for example you can hear your shaver motor on an AM radio but not an FM one. This is not due to AM vs. FM, (well, it is a little) but mostly due to the fact that AM is about 1 MHz and FM is about 100 MHz, well above the "static line" around 50 MHz.

It would take a much stronger signal than back then to cause the same level of disruption. Not saying that can't happen, but modern radio communications are quite a bit more robust than they were back over 100 years ago.

The concern is not so much about the disruption of radio communications, but the power grid. Our society might not survive a massive, long-term (months or even years) blackout (a huge number of transformers might be destroyed all at once by the induced EMF).

Comment: According to Spock . . . (Score 3, Interesting) 887

by walterbyrd (#47899743) Attached to: Why Atheists Need Captain Kirk

> “If this is your God, he’s not very impressive. He has so many psychological problems; he’s so insecure. He demands worship every seven days. He goes out and creates faulty humans and then blames them for his own mistakes. He’s a pretty poor excuse for a Supreme Being.” — Spock, The God Thing, by Gene Roddenberry

This quote was recently making the rounds on Facebook. It’s taken from a newly discovered script, what The Complete Star Trek Library is calling “Gene Roddenberry’s Last Star Trek Novel.” Roddenberry was an ardent atheist and it appears he was constantly working his critique of religion into the series. The God Thing is a testimony to Roddenberry’s atheistic aims.

Comment: Re:Maybe first you can stop pigeon-holing people.. (Score 3, Insightful) 887

by walterbyrd (#47899255) Attached to: Why Atheists Need Captain Kirk

> It's like when atheists are dumb enough to treat all Christians alike, or Muslims, ...

No it's not like that at all.

When you join an organization that espouses certain values, then you must agree with those values. Otherwise why would you join?

For example, if somebody joins the KKK, it would hardly be wrong to think that person is a racist. And if somebody joined NAMBLA, then it is fair to believe that person believes it is okay to molest children.

Atheists have no set ideology. For that matter, theists may not either - unless they belong to some organization that has some specified sort of ideology.

But if you are Christian, Muslim, whatever; then you are claiming that you ascribe to those values.

Comment: Re:Atheism offers no values - you have to add them (Score 0) 887

by walterbyrd (#47899223) Attached to: Why Atheists Need Captain Kirk

> And of course the excesses of the church pale into insignificance compared with the horrors of Stalin and Mao

Which is "the church?" All religions? Christianity? Catholicism?

Let's remember the Nazis were very Christian, and the holocaust would not have happened without Christianity.

Christianity was also used to justify slavery, and witch burning, among other things.

I have read that throughout Islamic history, about 270 million people were killed for the cause of Islam.

Furthermore, Stalin, and Mao; were not motivated by any sort atheist ideology. If there is such a thing as "atheist ideology."

Comment: Re:Great idea! Let's alienate Science even more! (Score 3, Insightful) 887

by walterbyrd (#47899187) Attached to: Why Atheists Need Captain Kirk

> The problem is even atheists still feel a need to believe in *something*


> with varying details of what they consider "good".

By that you mean: bigotry, misogyny, blood sacrifice, slavery, and war. Also severe punishment for free speech, not worshiping as told. And of course, must give loads of money to those humans who claim to have a direct connection to "god." Finally, do not use reason, do not think critically, just accept everything on faith - that is the ultimate good.

Comment: Why is science to blame for the holocaust? (Score 1) 887

by walterbyrd (#47899147) Attached to: Why Atheists Need Captain Kirk

From the article:

> "To which one might reply: Science is all those things. Between holocausts!"

My understanding is: without religion, there would have been no holocaust.

German Christians hated Jews. Hitler was a product of his strongly Christian upbringing. At the time, in Germany, Jew hatred was taught in public schools.

Why on earth would you blame science, and not religion, for the holocaust?


The Future According To Stanislaw Lem 195

Posted by Soulskill
from the drugs-and-nanotech dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Paris Review has an article about SF author Stanislaw Lem, explaining Lem's outlook on the future and his expectations for technological advancement. Lem tended toward a view that technology would infect and eventually supplant biological evolution. But he also suggested an interesting explanation for why we haven't detected alien civilizations: "Perhaps ... they are so taken up with perfecting their own organisms that they've abandoned space exploration entirely. According to a similar hypothesis, such beings are invisible because technological ease has resulted in a 'Second Stone Age' of 'universal illiteracy and idleness.' When everyone's needs are perfectly met, it 'would be hard, indeed, to find one individual who would choose as his life's work the signaling, on a cosmic scale, of how he was getting along.' Rather than constructing Dyson Spheres, Lem suggests, advanced civilizations are more likely to spend their time getting high.""

"And do you think (fop that I am) that I could be the Scarlet Pumpernickel?" -- Looney Tunes, The Scarlet Pumpernickel (1950, Chuck Jones)