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Comment Panspermia - ducking the question. (Score 1) 100

All panspermia discussions strive to avoid being seen to duck the difficult question : how did life first originate anywhere? Even if you prove beyond doubt that Sol organisms are derived form (e.g.) Van Maaanen's Star organisms, as are Banardians and ... you still have the problem of finding out how originated the first time.

While OOL (Origin Of Life) is by no means a settled question on Earth, we do at least have good evidence of what happened here. Otherwise, being able to determine that life originated in a cluster which got destroyed 3 billion years ago by a GRB is unlikely to leave much tangible evidence.

If it can happen anywhere, it could happen repeatedly. And so multiple civilisations is my bet, and they just learned to keep quiet around the Primitives.

Everyone is dead, or elsewhere remains on the list of possibilities.

Comment Re:Mankind and aliens will prefer orbital colonies (Score 1) 100

They could simulate normal life perfectly inside orbital colonies.

By the time you've reached that point, the number of people living in orbital colonies wouls mean that they are the norm, and it is people who live at the bottom of a (gravitational) hole who would be considered dumb, crippled dwarfs.

Comment Re:From TFA: bit-exact or not? (Score 1) 167

Given that CPU and memory get less expensive over time,


Certainly that has happened in the past (I too remember paying £200 extra for the 4MB version of a computer instead of the 1MB version) ; there are processes in the production pipeline that should keep the trend downwards for a decade or so.

Beyond that ... much thinner ice. And looking into the immediate future (speaking as a geologist, say doubling our species' age to ~100,000 years ... well, you'll need sub-gluon storage, and a hard drive failure could locally cause heat-death of the visible universe.

Comment Re:I've had this as a plug-in. (Score 1) 166

That a GPU is sitting unused in a desktop application is one of the safest assumptions you can make in the current computing work

Is it? I don't even know if I've got a GPU - why should I? I do know that when I try running a seismic-visualisation tool, it crawls like a dog run over by a series of artics. but I still don't know if I've got a GPU. [Checks details] "Intel GMA 650," whatever the fuck that means.

Comment Re:Autism claims appear to have been lawsuit fraud (Score 1) 96

Jeebus, check your facts. Wakefield, as is normal for a doctor, didn't have a PhD, but a bachelorship in surgery and medicine. He did have a fellowship of the royal college of surgeons, but that's not an academic qualification.

What happened to Wakefield - for his fraud and ethical lapses - was that he was struck off the medical register, and so was no longer able to practice medicine in the UK.

I'm not entirely sure that there is any procedure by which an earned PhD can be removed from someone. Honorary doctorates on the other hand, can be retracted, and have been. but that's not the case here.

Sure, Wakefield was - and presumably remains - a sleazebag and is practising medicine in the USA as I understand things. But to the best of my knowledge he retains his PhD. I would be very surprised if the RCS had allowed him to remain a fellow, and it's possible that his proposer and seconder could have had a bollocking over not spotting that he was an unprincipled bounder and a cad and an unfit mother. But with 13 years between joining and going into the fraud business, they're probably not really deserving of blame.

Comment Re:Lots of experts, infact (Score 1) 138

Where in the Bible does it state that the Universe is six thousand years old?

The methodology that Archbishop Ussher adopted was to tally up the ages of the various patriarchs listed in the Old Testament, then tie them to the historical record at about the Babylonian captivity and more recent events.

They may have been working from ridiculous premises, with ludicrously limited data sources, but they were actually perfectly serious scholars.

Comment Re:Alcohol-free Whiskey (Score 1) 67

So they could set up a container with two chambers separated by an RO filter and an air chamber, put it out in space, and let the vacuum of space draw out the non-alcohol whiskey.

You would need a semi-permeable membrane which passed everything except (ethyl) alcohol. In particular, the higher alcohols and poly-alcohols which are major components of the flavours of whiskeys (real ones, or Japanese ones). That is actually a pretty severe requirement, because most semi-permeable membranes achieve their separating effects by physical mechanisms, frequently passing molecules of only a set range of sizes. That's not a lot of use if you want to pass, say, propan-2-ol but not pass ethanol.

Carrying out low-temperature distillation with the abundant vacuum of space and good fractionation would be simpler, if for some incomprehensible reason you wanted to produce (ethyl) alcohol-free whiskey. But to be honest, I suspect it'd taste pretty bowfing (Scottish for "vomit-inducing").

Comment Re:Unfortunately (Score 1) 467

What makes you think that your American solution would be acceptable in Europe?

(Oh, and as the actual news reporting points out, while two off-duty US marines were involved, there were at least as many civilians involved in tackling the gunman too. Of the two classes of people, I'd posit that it took more balls for the non-military personnel to go to the attack, precisely because they aren't trained how to kill people with their todgers and a rubber band.)

God doesn't play dice. -- Albert Einstein