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Comment: Re:uhhh (Score 3, Interesting) 138

by Phronesis (#48976639) Attached to: Deep-Sea Microorganism Hasn't Evolved For Over 2 Billion Years

Just because a fossil looks similar does not mean it hasn't evolved. Most evolution happens on the molecular scale, if you looked at the genomes I guarantee they would be different.

The paper in PNAS discusses this at length. It clearly states that it would be very nice to be able to check DNA, but that defining species in microbes is about phenotypes, not genotypes, and the important thing is that there is no sign of speciation (that is, two separate populations, separated in space, did not diverge.

The morphology-based “concept of hypobradytely does not necessarily imply genomic, biochemical, or physiological identity between modern and fossil taxa," a claim of extreme evolutionary stasis—a lack of speciation over billions of years—would be strengthened not only by discovery of additional fossil communities but by firm evidence of their molecular biology. Although speciation-based evolution occurs at the phenotypic rather than genotypic level of biologicenvironmental interaction, the biomolecules underlying such change are not preserved in the rock record in which such assessment can be based only on indirect proxies and inferences of physiology based on isotopic analyses

However, the article noted, it's possible that this interpretation is wrong and that what they saw was two separate populations that underwent convergent evolution rather than one population that was separated and remained static or that there might have been significant biochemical evolution that did not change the morphology.

Moreover, large-diameter (“giant”) sulfur bacteria of differing phylogenetic lineages can exhibit similar morphologies and patterns of behavior suggesting convergent evolution of morphologic “look-alikes” adapted to a same or similar function. Although it remains to be established whether such morphological “mimicry” is exhibited also by the more narrow 10-m-diameter sulfur bacteria described here—the two modern sulfur bacterial taxa of similar dimensions being aerobes rather than anaerobes like the Duck Creek and Turee Creek fossils—it remains conceivable that the marked similarities between the two mid-Precambrian communities and their modern counterparts could be an example of the so-called Volkswagen Syndrome, a lack of change in organismal form that masks the evolution of internal biochemical machinery

Comment: Re:Professors now make big bucks teaching (Score 1) 94

by Phronesis (#48961245) Attached to: What Happens When the "Sharing Economy" Meets Higher Education

You're exaggerating the salaries: Median salaries for tenured Associate Professors is a bit under $70K. Median salaries for tenured Full Professors is a bit under $100K. Not bad, but not the "$100k-200k" that you describe.

Few universities have pensions these days. They mostly have 403(b) retirement plans, which are basically the same as 401(k)s: Faculty contribute their own money and get matching up to some maximum (usually around 5 to 10 percent). How is that unmatched in the private sector?

Comment: Re:Windows (Score 1) 203

by Phronesis (#48726471) Attached to: Why Aren't We Using SSH For Everything?

The biggest missing solution: - Windows server support. There are some expensive solutions, not sure how well they work.

I've been using the Bitvise sshd server on Windows for about 10 years with no problems. It's free for noncommercial personal use and $100 (plus $20 per year for upgrades) per host for a full license if you're using it for business or commercial purposes. This doesn't seem "expensive" to me, but YMMV of course.

Comment: Re:Sure... (Score 1) 343

Climate models may one day mature to something beyond the basket of hypotheses they are now, but none of them have yet been successful in predicting climate data, except where the null hypothesis also predicted that data.

Wrong. Manabe and Wetherald predicted in the 1960s that greenhouse warming would cause the stratosphere to cool when the troposphere warmed, whereas increasing solar intensity (the null hypothesis) would cause both the stratosphere and the troposphere to warm simultaneously.

The observed temperature trends agree with the greenhouse warming predictions and disagree with the brightening sun predictions.

Subsequent modeling work predicted dozens of ways in which the greenhouse warming and brightening sun would produce different patterns (e.g., greenhouse gases would cause nighttime temperatures to warm more than daytime temperatures, whereas increasing the brightness of the sun with no change in the greenhouse effect would cause days to warm more than nights). And today when we look at the patterns of observed warming, they overwhelmingly agree with the greenhouse warming predictions and disagree with the brightening sun predictions.

Comment: Re:Sure... (Score 1) 343

I don't think I understand what you mean by "air gapping."

Are you saying that employees should not be able to send email to computers located outside the company's headquarters, receive email from computers outside the company's headquarters, and or read their email without physically going to the corporate headquarters (e.g., no checking business email from the road, branch offices, or home)? If that's what you mean by "air gapping" it doesn't sound practical.

Comment: Re:Numbers: How many trees would it take (Score 1) 363

by Phronesis (#48691147) Attached to: Trees vs. Atmospheric Carbon: A Fight That Makes Sense?

I notice they leave out the part where it returns to the atmosphere through tree rot.

You can preserve the wood in dry or anaerobic conditions to prevent rot after the tree is harvested, but that would take extra effort and energy.

However, it's not unreasonable to imagine that in 100 years the energy for doing that sort of thing might be available from renewable or nuclear sources.

Also, if you replant a new tree where the old tree stood, the new tree could absorb the CO2 emitted by the old tree's rot. But you would have to understand that the replacement tree is just preserving the sequestration that the older tree accomplished, not adding any new sequestration if the old tree is allowed to rot. Thus, if we were to go on using fossil fuels there would be a tradeoff between the energy and effort required to preserve old wood and the land required to keep expanding the forests.

Comment: Re:trees are nice. plankton absorb CO2 (Score 1) 363

by Phronesis (#48689393) Attached to: Trees vs. Atmospheric Carbon: A Fight That Makes Sense?

Last I checked, planting a few trees won't affect CO2 levels. Plankton does almost all of the co2 conversion.

Where did you check? According to this paper, far from doing "almost all of the CO2 conversion," plankton does less than half: "the global net primary production from phytoplankton is given as 45–50 Gt C/year. This may be compared with current published estimates for land plants of 45–68 Gt C/year and for coastal vegetation of 1.9 Gt C/year."

Comment: Numbers: How many trees would it take (Score 1) 363

by Phronesis (#48689339) Attached to: Trees vs. Atmospheric Carbon: A Fight That Makes Sense?

The US greenhouse gas emissions are equivalent to about 6 billion metric tons per year of carbon dioxide. Each tree you plant offsets about 1 metric ton of CO2 over its lifetime, so that means we need to plant 6 billion trees every year.

If we figure that the trees would be planted at an average stand density of 200 per acre, that comes to 30 million acres of new forest that we'd have to plant every year, or 47,000 square miles. To put this in perspective, this means covering an area the size of Pennsylvania with new forest every year.

On another note: Some people point to algae or plankton. Globally, land plants remove 45-68 billion tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere every year, compared to 45-50 billion tonnes removed by phytoplankton, so it's not true that plankton remove more carbon than land plants.

Comment: Re:Millions used this... one complained. (Score 1) 218

by Phronesis (#48685955) Attached to: Facebook Apologizes For 'Year In Review' Photos

Complaining in the form of feedback is perfectly acceptable.

Absolutely. Successful businesses generally prefer customers to complain than to have them leave without saying anything. Complaints provide data they can use to improve their service and retain customers. Of course, you can't please everyone, and sometimes you choose not to make changes to please dissatisfied customers because they're too costly or they would displease even more customers, but with the complaints you have more information to make those choices.

There was a good book on this topic many years ago, and it holds up nicely more than 40 years later: A.O. Hirschman, Exit, Voice, and Loyalty

Comment: Re: Just wondering... (Score 1) 416

by Phronesis (#48591483) Attached to: MIT Removes Online Physics Lectures and Courses By Walter Lewin

You just confirmed that it is being used and that it has useful data. Studying it are using it and as you bring up it has been used to prove that his conclusions about twins where wrong. In fact his data proves the exact opposite, that twins separated at birth do not show similar intelligence and school results.

Of course thats not the use he intended but it's still useful.

Huh? Mengele's twin research had nothing to do with intelligence of twins separated at birth. It involved mutilating twins (e.g., injecting chemicals into their eyes to try to change the eye color) or killing and dissecting them.

There was no systematic scientific design. Just sadism pretending to be science. What useful information, intended or unintended, has anyone found in his data?

Comment: Re:Just wondering... (Score 2) 416

by Phronesis (#48577117) Attached to: MIT Removes Online Physics Lectures and Courses By Walter Lewin

Not to Godwin a discussion, but same argument for the research the Nazis did on twins. Some of it is good, useful information. But nobody will touch it because of its source.

ORLY? All the scholarship I have read about the twin research concludes that there was no serious effort at science and that the data that were collected were useless. Do you have any citations to support your assertion that the twin research produced any good scientifically useful data?

Comment: Re:Rap isn't free speech. (Score 2) 436

by Phronesis (#48494051) Attached to: Supreme Court To Decide Whether Rap Lyric Threats Are Free Speech
Reasonable person sounds right to me too. If a reasonable person would interpret something as a threat, that sounds like the right First Amendment criterion. If you can't assume that a jury consists of 12 reasonable people, then the whole Constitution is broken beyond repair and worrying about this little part of it would miss the big picture.

Comment: Re:And this is how perverted our system has gotten (Score 1) 436

by Phronesis (#48493391) Attached to: Supreme Court To Decide Whether Rap Lyric Threats Are Free Speech

The first amendment - like anything written in the Constitution is absolute. It has to be.

If it's absolute, then we have to interpret the second amendment as permitting individuals to possess weapons of mass destruction. If we don't allow the government to restrict me from keeping nuclear bombs, large amounts of nerve gas, and big vats of anthrax in my garage, we've reached the kind of reductio ad absurdum of Constitutional construction that Justice Jackson criticized in his dissent in Terminiello : "There is danger that, if the Court does not temper its doctrinaire logic with a little practical wisdom, it will convert the constitutional Bill of Rights into a suicide pact."

Comment: Re:Rap isn't free speech. (Score 1) 436

by Phronesis (#48493313) Attached to: Supreme Court To Decide Whether Rap Lyric Threats Are Free Speech

The only time when the idea of free speech should be trumped, is when there is intent to cause harm, like yelling bomb or fire in a crowded area, or shining a laser pointer at an air plane or person.

How can you prove that I intend harm when I yell "bomb" in a crowded arena? I might say that it was just a joke or that I was performing a rap that I call, "There's a bomb in this arena."

Consider a kid who calls in a bomb threat to a school and says that he didn't mean harm; he was only pulling what he thought was a harmless prank. Would that be a legitimate excuse, if the jury believes that he only meant it as a harmless prank?

"Mach was the greatest intellectual fraud in the last ten years." "What about X?" "I said `intellectual'." ;login, 9/1990