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Comment Charon Relay? (Score 1) 78

Sorry guys, Charon already looks too big to be a mass relay. Mass relays are about 15km in size, here as far as I can tell Charon is about half the size of pluto or 600km. It is also too round. It also doesn't seem to be blue enough. I hate to break it to you but our dreams of interstellar travel are going to have to wait a few more years.

Comment I don't get the pricing? (Score 4, Interesting) 71

A penny a month per gigabyte... that's $10/month per terabyte... that is already what Dropbox charges for "fast" storage. So what gives? Why would I pay $10/month for a terabyte of slow storage when I can get the same amount of storage for the same price in a regular, fast format with Dropbox?

Comment Re:So how are they dealing with the overheating? (Score 1) 32

True overclocking is now more complicated than it used to be. These days, the BIOS in many laptop will cap the overclock frequency to a maximum set by the manufacturer. So, there is an additional barrier there---to really have a chance at frying your system, you will need to go through installing a hacked BIOS, which requires MSDOS mode install and comes with all sorts of stern warnings that will scare off a lot of amateurs who have a higher change at frying their systems. And then you have to also increase the voltage inside of Intel XTU.

I really don't think you can fry your system with AfterBurner alone anymore.

Comment Re:Why not open source wolfram alpha? (Score 1) 210

Mathematica itself is unique. Nothing combines the power of symbolic calculus with numerical computation in the same way. Your algorithms guy would probably be SOL without it, so don't diminish the uniqueness and power of that software. Nothing else comes close.

That having been said, Mathematica was already pretty much fully written as of 1991---I know because I used it. It was among the first to have exectuables for both Windows and Linux. And it worked fabulously. I wrote scientific articles using it as early as 1996 (and many people even earlier than myself).

Now, what you say about check cashing is valid---because, truth be told, Mathematica hasn't changed that much since 1991---it just has fancier graphics and more wrapper functions built around the core functionality, but the language and the structure of it is essentially the same. So yes, Wolfram has been resting on his laurels pretty much since 1995 or so and thinking himself some sort of prophet with his automaton science ravings.

It's not unknown for some great scientists to do inspired things in their youth and then proceed to fuck things up for the rest of their life. Newton was into alchemy and wanted to find Atlantis. Fred Hoyle figured out how stars cook the elements and then proceeded to support the now-defunct static model of the universe, where matter is created out of nowhere and quasar are shot out of nearby galaxies.

Comment Re:How detached from reality is astrophysics? (Score 1) 52

Oh please. There is such a thing as overly inflated news reports science. In each field in astrophysics for example, there are dozens to hundreds of people working on a given topic. They regularly compete each year for an (at least in the US) increasingly drying-up pool of funds. The success rate in grant proposal review panels is something like 10-20% or worse. As a result, they need to gain "mindshare" by being the first/most famous of the bunch to arrive at a result. Because of this, there is an arms race of who can gain the media's attention and "sex up" their research so as to gain their 15 minutes of fame and rise above the crowd, thus increasing their chance at getting funded for their next mission. Witness the faster-than-light neutrinos debacle as another example. You might say "this is how science works," but the people at BICEP2 and the faster-than-light neutrino people should have know better than to make such a big announcement so prematurely. The press aren't technically competent so scientists need to self-police about what makes it to the top of the CNN science segment. The point is, for every self-aggrandizing scientific team, there are dozens that work hard, reviewing their results, testing over and over again, publishing in tough, reputable, but non-sexy journals, and these kinds of researchers doing important work rarely get the limelight that they reserved, as compared to the self-aggrandizing types who at the slightest hint of a controversial/world-changing results ring up the New York TImes.

Comment Re:They should be getting jobs at univeristies (Score 1) 283

You are forgetting something. Most of the increase in tuition over the past decades has gone to hire new administrators. There are deans of this, deans of that, VP of this, VP of that, each making something like 150-200K+ Meanwhile, professors everywhere except the top elite private universities have low stagnating salaries, because in the words of a university president, "I can get faculty anywhere," i.e. the problem discussed in this article.

Comment Re:Where are the links? (Score 0) 425

Hey everyone, frnic is right---don't downmod on account of his French. The photoshopped pictures aren't actually anywhere on Apple's website; they are from rumor mills and third party sites.

As usual, the most insightful and informative comment is at the bottom where it won't be seen; the most sensationalist and factually inaccurate comments are at the top modded to +5.

Comment Re:Tenure-hunting discourages risk (Score 1) 203

Peer review is fine. The problem is that there isn't enough reviewer guidance, nor are there enough pots for money for "high risk, high reward" situations. Government agencies are too afraid of "wasting" their money. These things can easily be remedied by having changes at the administrative level such that money is set aside for risky projects. Peer review can then go on the same way with revised criteria.

Also remember, for every story like the miracle cancer medicine that couldn't get funded for years but then became a runaway success, there are say 10-100 rejected projects that wouldn't have gone anywhere. What if there isn't any objective way to tell apart that 1-10% from the failures? Should we fund all of them? I don't think so as there is still much to be gained from "incremental" science.

Comment Minimum mass (Score 1) 89

5.4 solar masses is m sin i, where i is the inclination of the orbit to the plane of the sky. Therefore, the mass could well be greater than 5.4 solar masses, and so it could be a neptune or in rare cases of close to face-on inclination have even higher mass.

This is a limitation of the radial velocity method, which was used in this detection; with transits (where you watch the star dim as the planet passes in front of it) you already know the inclination---it's 90 degrees to a high accuracy. So you know the mass once you have a transit and a radial velocity.

Comment Re:I seem to remember... (Score 5, Insightful) 275

What happened to all the penguins---are they no longer on Slashdot anymore? How about these reasons to like Dropbox over MS, Google, and the others:

- Linux client
- Follows symlinks
- Automatic infinite version history (for a fee)
- LAN syncing for faster speed
- Bandwidth controls
- Automatic full resolution photo uploading from mobile
- Sync that just works

It's not all about the price ya know. Some of us like quality too. I currently have 24GB of free storage through Dropbox which I got through a special promotion. It has always worked flawlessly and never let me down.

If we could sell our experiences for what they cost us, we would all be millionaires. -- Abigail Van Buren