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Comment: No surprise at all. (Score 2) 200

by NerveGas (#38315636) Attached to: Rats Feel Each Other's Pain

Anyone who has rats can tell you that they're a whole lot more intelligent and advanced than the stereotype of rats would indicate.

But in more scientific terms, looking at other mammals, we find that... surprise, surprise... their brains are a lot like ours, and they have very similar capabilities, including emotions and feelings, as ours. They do not have them to the same extent as ours, but they do have them. Those are backed up by psychological observations, by anatomical/structural investigations, and by brain scans.

Comment: If I'm not mistaken... (Score 1) 302

by NerveGas (#38283724) Attached to: Russian Scientists Say They'll Clone a Mammoth Within 5 Years

... I've been hearing this sort of claim for at least a decade. At first I got excited, but now, I take the position of "Wake me up if it ever happens."

Seeing how much people will pay to hunt certain exotic species already, I imagine that you could make terrific money owning your own private mammoth preserve.

Comment: Re:Proper branch testing (Score 2) 58

by NerveGas (#38163824) Attached to: Min7 Micromouse Robot Solves Maze In 3.921 Seconds

That was something that surprised me, too... for example, he says that it ran with a known bug in the routine for traversing diagonal lines, but that this particular maze design (or maybe just that particular run) didn't "tickle" the bug.

In some areas, he takes a rather simplistic approach to handling problems - in a good way. For instance, he says that turning fast makes the mouse lose traction and slide, his answer to that is just to start the turn sooner if the mouse is moving fast.

Comment: Not so surprising... (Score 4, Insightful) 78

by NerveGas (#37148662) Attached to: Study Shows Dogs Can Sniff Out Lung Cancer

One of my dogs has, over the past six years, demonstrated an absolute 100% track record in sniffing out whether women are pregnant. He's never given a single false positive, or a false negative. It's not something I've trained, he does it on his own. And to make it even more impressive, at the point when he gave the earliest signal on one woman, we later found out (through the doctor's ultrasound and dates) that it was just three days after conception. As for cancer, they've been known to accurately sniff it out for years now.

The canine nose is an amazing thing. But that's not the entire story, the amount of their brain that they dedicate to processing smell is huge compared to humans. In terms of the percentage of brain dedicated, they use something like 10-30 times more of their brain for smelling than we do. Smell is, quite literally, their primary sense, in the same way that sight is ours. The saying that "Dogs don't smell a cake, they smell each ingredient" is, quite literally, correct. In using dogs for scent detection, the biggest challenge is usually just our ability to isolate the desired scent to present to the dog, doing the rest is easy for the dog.

The real oddity here is not that dogs have good noses... a ton of animals do. Humans are actually the oddity. There seems to be a negative correlation between intelligence and smelling ability, perhaps because having lots of rational thought takes enough brain space that smelling gets pushed aside. Whatever the reason, looking at primates, as you go up in intelligence, smelling ability goes downhill. We shouldn't be so amazed that dogs can do what they do, but saddened that we can't do the same.

Comment: In a way, they are a fad that will come to an end. (Score 1) 643

by NerveGas (#35671456) Attached to: MS Global Strategy Chief: Tablets Are a Fad

Look at the current Android-based tablets. What are they? Essentially, they're an Android phone, with a bigger screen, and missing the cell radio. Everything else is virtually identical. If you have a tablet and a cell phone, you're duplicating virtually all of the hardware and software, and that doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me.

Sooner or later, someone will go ahead and take the next logical step... they'll put the cell radio in a tablet, and merge the two. Sure, you'd have to use a bluetooth headset, but that's alright. Then, they won't be "tablets" anymore, they'll be "phones". The tablet fad will have run out. :-)

Seriously. If my Archos 101 had a cell radio and a GPS receiver... my Droid 2 would be gone tomorrow.

Comment: Re:The solution isn't to tax more... (Score 1) 1306

by NerveGas (#35628044) Attached to: US Contemplating 'Vehicle Miles Traveled' Tax

I can't. Do you know why? Because there is virtually no aspect of our lives that ISN'T subsidized by the government in one way or another.

Maybe if we didn't blow such huge amounts of money on every asinine project that a congressman can tack on to a bill as pork, we'd have money to spend on roads.