Slashdot stories can be listened to in audio form via an RSS feed, as read by our own robotic overlord.


Forgot your password?

Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!

  • View

  • Discuss

  • Share

We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).


Comment: Re:Better revolution in beekeeping (Score 1) 129

by PeterM from Berkeley (#49133761) Attached to: Inventors Revolutionize Beekeeping

Frankly, I'd rather have tougher, more resistant bees.

  Monocultures aren't that great an idea, but they're unfortunately common. A big almond orchard wouldn't provide year-round food for the amount of honey bees required to pollinate it. Better to have mobile hives that can be taken where the bees can forage, and pollinate the crops.

Yes, that's tough on bees. But its less disruptive to breed better bees than to rework all the orchards to provide year-round food for stationary hives.


Comment: Better revolution in beekeeping (Score 1) 129

by PeterM from Berkeley (#49132919) Attached to: Inventors Revolutionize Beekeeping

Would be breeding a better bee. One that is more resistant to mites, insecticides, wax moths, etc., and that isn't so susceptible to CCD.

And also perhaps more efficient at pollenization. For example, the mason bee is supposedly a more efficient pollenizer than honeybees and will work in bad weather.

These guys generally won't sting either.


Comment: How about direct government support? (Score 3, Insightful) 243

by PeterM from Berkeley (#49132557) Attached to: The Peculiar Economics of Developing New Antibiotics

I don't have a billion bucks lying around to TRY to produce an antibiotic with! I doubt I could get someone to invest a billion in something that is probably more than 50% likely to fail to get $2B.

Who would go for this prize when there are actual WINNING investments to put $1B into?

The lack of new antibiotics is a perfect example of market failure. They're not particularly profitable, and if they WERE, as someone pointed out, ($1000 per pill) people would only take 5 of their 10 pills until they were feeling better and sell the last 5 on the black market.

No, the market is NOT the solution here. Direct government support of antibiotic development is what is needed. Sure, pick the best developers, but governnent funds the development, and then the PUBLIC reaps the benefit of a PUBLICLY owned antibiotic, which does NOT have to be fed to animals in order to generate enough volume to make a profit for the company that invested to develop it!


Comment: How do you get 1Tbs in 100MHz of BW? (Score 1) 71

Would someone please explain how you get 1Tbps of data through just 100MHz of bandwidth?

I just found a (not very credible) reference on the Internet that claimed that the amount of data you could transfer would be limited by your available spectrum frequency bandwidth. I.e., if you'd have the same data transfer capability if you could use 0 to 100MHz as if you could use
1GHz to 1.1GHz.

So how do you get more than 100Mbit through 100MHz of bandwidth?

Comment: Not just heat but also stress (Score 2) 279

Chips that run hotter also have more thermal gradient, which can put mechanical stress on the various delicate layers of the chip. Being able to run hotter means you can support more of a thermal gradient to ambient, and thus support more heat flow and thus more computations/sec. However, at some point you're going to cause mechanical failure of the chip, especially if the stresses cycle.

So not only termperature tolerance, but also coefficient of thermal expansion and strength of all the various materials is going to count when it comes to longevity.


Comment: Re:Unclassified vs. declassified (Score 1) 86

by PeterM from Berkeley (#49110569) Attached to: US State Department Can't Get Rid of Email Hackers

No, unclassified information is NOT necessarily public. There is a lot of stuff US government agencies don't reveal that isn't "classified" as Secret, Top Secret, Confidential or other. Like for example, Privacy Act information (government employees SSNs are one) is NOT public and is NOT classified.

Comment: Evidence based, reasoned arguments don't work (Score 4, Insightful) 675

Except on people who are willing to listen to reason and accept evidence. Like for example, take the anti-vaccine crowd.

You show them studies that say that the risk of the vaccine is really tiny and there's no correlation of receiving vaccines with autism. They whip out Jenny McCarthy and other anecdotal evidence, and postulate vast conspiracies by Big Pharma to perpetuate the fantastically profitable vaccine industry even though vaccines are unbelievably dangerous. Fact is, Big Pharma makes its money on Viagra and pills for chronic diseases, not really on vaccines.

If someone wants to believe something, your reasoned arguments and evidence based defense of your facts will never persuade them otherwise. Instead, they just end up believing even harder in what you challenged them on.


Comment: Re:Is aggression really survival+ for tech. societ (Score 3, Insightful) 532

by PeterM from Berkeley (#49097619) Attached to: Stephen Hawking: Biggest Human Failing Is Aggression

I agree, the scenerio I propose of peaceful cooperation and conglomeration is utterly boring. War is so much more dramatic.

However, consider the history of the world since WWII. Lots of little conflicts, no big ones. The costs of the big powers going to war is just too high for everyone (rational) to bear. So instead we trade, more or less peacefully.

How much more so in space? It's very hard to defend a planet and easy to destroy one, or at least render it uninhabitable, for a space-faring civilization. Act aggressively and face terrible retaliation, where anything that could possibly be won via aggression would be less valuable than what would certainly be lost.


Comment: Re:Is aggression really survival+ for tech. societ (Score 3, Insightful) 532

by PeterM from Berkeley (#49096727) Attached to: Stephen Hawking: Biggest Human Failing Is Aggression

You have this zero sum mindset. Why does one have to come out on top?

How about, two space faring species meet, trade technology, form a conglomerate socieity which is greater than either of them would be alone, culturally richer, with every individual in both societies better off?

Why have conflict when there is so much to gain by cooperation?

And what makes you think that the aggressive culture will survive to get into space in the first place? The only target for their aggression is going to be themselves, and they're going to have some NASTY weaponry available.


Comment: Re:Greed kills. (Score 1) 532

by PeterM from Berkeley (#49096659) Attached to: Stephen Hawking: Biggest Human Failing Is Aggression

I think there is a lot of merit in what you say, but it's not perfectly true. It's profitable to make weapons of mass destruction, true, but at least in the US, when they were first made, they were made because of a pretty rational fear of a real adversary. To large extent it's perpetuated now by greed and corruption, but there's residual fear and some real persistent external threat, and a lot of inertia.

Greed and corruption are the main factors holding Africa in the dark ages, you've nailed it there.

Comment: Yes, "aggression" is not well-defined. (Score 5, Insightful) 532

by PeterM from Berkeley (#49096605) Attached to: Stephen Hawking: Biggest Human Failing Is Aggression

I think Hawking meant humanity's willingness to use violence and/or deadly force to get what one wants instead of reason and persuasion.

"Aggressive in his battle to conquer cancer..." is far different from "aggressively hitting people because he enjoys other people's pain".

I think energy and determination to achieve a pro-social goal are separable from a willingness to harm or otherwise screw over other people to get what you selfisly want. And I think we can have the former without the latter.


Comment: Is aggression really survival+ for tech. society? (Score 5, Insightful) 532

by PeterM from Berkeley (#49096411) Attached to: Stephen Hawking: Biggest Human Failing Is Aggression

Why do you think that "anyone out there that we encounter is very likely to be even more aggressive" than humans? D'you realize that a remarkable thing about people is not how aggressive people are, but rather how well people actually get along? Pretty much only colony insects are as capable of getting along as we are. It is not aggressiveness that makes humans globally dominant.

When technology has advanced to the point where an INDIVIDUAL has the power to bring down the entire planetary civilization (and I'd argue that we are at that point right now), low aggression seems like a rather key survival trait. I'd argue that a civilization that has survived longer than us is probably FAR less aggressive, FAR more willing to take the long view, and FAR more willing to work out cooperative everyone-wins solutions rather than indulging in exploitative zero-sum behavior.


Comment: Could be a very effective treatment (Score 2) 96

If you can cause the protein to be generated in the blood, why not also treat cells on the brain side of the blood-brain barrier as well to produce the protein and so protect the brain?

If you can do that, you can halt transmission to new people, and halt progression of the disease on both sides of the blood-brain barrier, it's about as close to a cure as could be achieved without actually destroying all the quiescent viruses.

Heck, it might actually cause less damage to the host than destroying all the quiescent viruses--the host cells are still sort of functional, but if you killed them all, their functions would fail completely.

See for example the antiviral treatment in research, which causes infected cells to die:

A worry with this treatment is that many nerve cells are infected with herpesvirus in some people, and simply taking these cells out may result in far more damage than desired. Better to leave infected cells intact and enforce dormancy, which protects hosts and prevents spread.



Comment: There's a larger issue than vaccination? (Score 1) 136

I mean, seriously, is there a larger issue than vaccination? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think disease has the potential of killing a lot more Americans than a foreign invasion does even if we cut our defense spending 90%.

We lose between 3k and 60k of people every year to the flu, and the flu is considered a "mild" contagious illness. Imagine if we had polio, measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis, diptheria, tetanus, and that supreme horror of horrors, smallpox, back in full force.

Is there *really* a larger issue than vaccination, other than perhaps maintaining good sanitation? (Which protects us from cholera and a lot of other waterborne diseases.)


Genius is ten percent inspiration and fifty percent capital gains.