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Comment: Re:Interesting (Score 1) 178

by RDW (#49615305) Attached to: Why Scientists Love 'Lord of the Rings'

Because Tolkein was a Christian I would have thought that the humanist scientists would hate him and his books. I am sure that Bill Nye and Neil Degrasse Tyson hate him.

"Three very large persons sitting round a very large fire of beech-logs. They were toasting mutton on long spits of wood, and licking the gravy off their fingers. There was a fine toothsome smell. Also there was a barrel of good drink at hand, and they were drinking out of jugs. But they were trolls. Obviously trolls. Even Bilbo, in spite of his sheltered life, could see that: from the great heavy faces of them, and their size, and the shape of their legs, not to mention their language, which was not drawing-room fashion at all, at all."

Comment: Re:Shakespeare (Score 1) 178

by RDW (#49615227) Attached to: Why Scientists Love 'Lord of the Rings'

You may want to read Norse mythology some time.
Parts of it may seem strangely familiar.

Especially this bit, from Voluspa:

There was Motsognir | the mightiest made
Of all the dwarfs, | and Durin next;
Many a likeness | of men they made,
The dwarfs in the earth, | as Durin said.

Nyi and Nithi, | Northri and Suthri,
Austri and Vestri, | Althjof, Dvalin,
Nar and Nain, | Niping, Dain,
Bifur, Bofur, | Bombur, Nori,
An and Onar, | Ai, Mjothvitnir.

Vigg and Gandalf | Vindalf, Thrain,
Thekk and Thorin, | Thror, Vit and Lit,
Nyr and Nyrath,-- | now have I told--
Regin and Rathsvith-- | the list aright.

Fili, Kili, | Fundin, Nali,
Heptifili, | Hannar, Sviur,
Frar, Hornbori, | Fraeg and Loni,
Aurvang, Jari, | Eikinskjaldi*.

The race of the dwarfs | in Dvalin's throng
Down to Lofar | the list must I tell;
The rocks they left, | and through wet lands
They sought a home | in the fields of sand.

There were Draupnir | and Dolgthrasir,
Hor, Haugspori, | Hlevang, Gloin,
Dori, Ori, | Duf, Andvari,
Skirfir, Virfir, | Skafith, Ai.



Comment: Re:ROTFL! (Score 2) 148

by RDW (#49557175) Attached to: Random Generator Parodies Vapid Startup Websites

At least now perhaps we can put to rest some of these awful trends in web design.

These guys have designed a really absurd parody site that mocks many of these design elements (I especially love the ridiculous horizontal scroll bar):


It's a bit too silly to be believable (e.g., what are they actually supposed to be selling?!) but it'll still probably fool a fair number of people.

Comment: Re:RTFA (Score 2) 182

by RDW (#49535035) Attached to: Chinese Scientists Claim To Have Genetically Modified Human Embryos

Wrong. They only tested 54 of the embryo's afterward. 28/54 is a 51.8% success rate.

Only if you ignore the 15/86 = 17.4% of the original series that didn't survive the process.

The off-target mutations in the remaining 26 embryos was not only expected, it was predicted about 16 years ago, when we first started experimenting with retroviral splicing vectors.

Microinjection with CRISPR/Cas9 constructs is a completely different technology to using retroviral vectors. The result is 'unexpected' because the off-target event frequency was apparently much lower when CRISPR was previously used to edit genes in mouse embryos or differentiated human cells. It's currently unclear if this result is due to some property of human embryos in general, or just of the non-viable 'tripronuclear' embryos used in this study.

Comment: Re:Lies, not statistics (Score 1) 293

by RDW (#49503985) Attached to: Norway Will Switch Off FM Radio In 2017

We get the same nonsense in the UK, where they've set a '50% digital' listening threshold for analogue switch-off. Right now DAB accounts for under a quarter of radio listening, but they can boost that to over 1/3 by throwing in the other digital platforms. I don't really see the point of buying a DAB set for my home use - there are half a dozen devices around the house that already do a better job of it via IP or Freeview DTV (which carries the national radio channels).

I do have a pocket DAB radio, which drains batteries at an alarming rate and, while small by DAB standards, is much bulkier than the FM equivalent. It generally stays at home while I actually use the FM tuner in my (much smaller) mp3 player, or an IP radio app on my phone.

The powers that be have also decided that the UK will stick with the antiquated original DAB system rather than DAB+, so we have a lot of poor quality low bitrate broadcasts (often worse than FM). In 2015, it's a bit like decreeing that LPs will be phased out in favour of MiniDisc. Of course quality and 'choice' isn't the Government's real concern - they just want to shut off FM so they can sell off the radio spectrum to the highest bidder from the mobile phone/data industry.

Comment: Re:What? Why discriminate? (Score 1) 700

by RDW (#49481023) Attached to: 'We the People' Petition To Revoke Scientology's Tax Exempt Status

Hardly a fair comparison. Scholarly editions of major religious texts are not secret, and their prices reflect their academic market (Reader's pass for the British Library or Library of Congress - free of charge). The Vatican doesn't ask for $380,000 just to read the standard version of the Book of Revelation. Even Lucasfilm only wants $90 for the Star Wars saga on Blu-ray, including the apocryphal prequels (though to be fair, the original master tapes of the Holiday Special are as closely guarded as OT IX and X).

Comment: Re:What? Why discriminate? (Score 5, Insightful) 700

by RDW (#49478017) Attached to: 'We the People' Petition To Revoke Scientology's Tax Exempt Status

The question, I believe, is whether the CoS really is a belief organization, or a financial scam.

Cost of reading the most sacred beliefs of all major religions: free online, or $10 for the paperback. Jedi may also need to invest in the DVDs.

Cost of reading the most sacred beliefs of CoS: $380,000 (2006 pricing: http://www.xenu.net/archive/pr... ). Discounts available by signing a billion year contract and working full time in return for food.

Comment: Space Cadets (Score 4, Insightful) 169

by RDW (#49269397) Attached to: A Mars One Finalist Speaks Out On the "Dangerously Flawed" Project

Reports emerged that the contract with the TV production company Endemol - which Mars One claimed could bring in up to $6 billion in revenue - was no longer in place and that the companies had gone their separate ways.

Interesting that they originally partnered with Endemol, who previously produced this:

'Space Cadets': http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S...

"The series described itself as the most elaborate hoax perpetrated in television history...A group of twelve contestants (who answered an advert looking for "thrill seekers") were selected to become the first British televised space tourists, including going to Russia to train as cosmonauts at the "Space Tourist Agency of Russia" (STAR) military base, with the series culminating in a group of four embarking on a five-day space mission in low Earth orbit...However, the show was in fact an elaborate practical joke...Unknown to the "space cadets", they were not in Russia at all...and the "space trip" was entirely fake, complete with a wooden "shuttle" and actor "pilots".

In the last episode, I recall the presenter joking that the next series would be called 'Mission to Mars'...

Comment: Re:terminal? (Score 1) 698

by RDW (#49130843) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Terminally Ill - What Wisdom Should I Pass On To My Geek Daughter?

Though I imagine that the original poster has exhausted all his standard treatment options, it might also be worth mentioning the sort of 'precision medicine' that major cancer centres like Sloan-Kettering are now starting to do. The idea is to take a sample of the tumour and sequence all the genes in which mutations might make the cancer responsive to some specific treatment (perhaps a drug that would not normally be considered for that type of tumour). This can now be done very rapidly. If one of the genes comes up as positive for an 'actionable' mutation, then in some circumstances the patient may be offered a treatment that is intended to exploit the damaged gene to target the tumour (e.g., as part of a new type of clinical trial that runs across cancers of different types where individual cases happen to have mutations in the same gene). Further details, including contact information, are here:


My best wishes to the poster and his family at this very difficult time.

"Oh what wouldn't I give to be spat at in the face..." -- a prisoner in "Life of Brian"