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Comment Re:Litigious Much (Score 2) 739

You could also say "The big bang theory began with the Belgian Army", because he was also in that.

Which would only be relevant if people were complaining that the Belgian Army was an enemy of science. However given that at the moment they seem to be deployed on the streets of Brussels trying to keep religious fanatics from killing people I don't think this is something we need to worry about.

Comment Re: ...and the Science would have been Better (Score 1) 93

Did I claim that it meant that anywhere? In the simplest possible way it is wrong because the physics involved is at a minimum 13.8 billion years old since it has at least existed since the Big Bang. While you might regard this as pedantic in science details matter especially when communicating it. It's one thing to sacrifice accuracy for simplicity when communicating with the public but doing it unnecessarily like this is just sloppy and unscientific...and sadly something this writer who shamelessly self-promotes on Slashdot does far too often.

Comment ...and the Science would have been Better (Score 0) 93

Plus had that been the case we would not have a stupid title referring to "4.5 billion year old physics" which "StartsWithABang" would have known if he had any decent knowledge of physics, is a silly thing to say because the laws of physics are invariant with time. This is actually an incredibly fundamental point of physics since this symmetry with respect to time gives us conservation of energy.

Comment Marketing not greatness of product (Score 2) 248

If NeXTSTEP was so great, then why didn't it become as popular as Windows?

The success of something does not depend solely on how good it is. How well it is marketed plays a huge role as well. I will freely admit that Bill Gates is a world class genius when it comes to marketing software. When it comes to writing well designed, easy to use software his ability is far more modest.

History is littered with examples where marketing has triumphed over technical greatness e.g. VHS vs. Betamax, the Sony mini-disc, the incandescent light bulb (invented by others marketed by Edison), Acorn Computers (who developed ARM in the late 1980's) etc. It's very common for better products to lose to better marketing - Just look at the film industry the Oscar for best picture is not handed out to the highest grossing film every year is it? So by all means admire Windows for the way it was marketed but if you are going to claim it is an excellent product you need to provide more evidence than just the volume of sales.

Comment Channel Bonding (Score 1) 91

Until then, everyone will be capped at 1gig per device.

That's not actually correct. Thanks to channel bonding I have a Synology Disk array which has 4 Gbps connection all using inexpensive consumer grade hardware. Channel bonding 1Gb is far cheaper than 10Gb ethernet although with the new 10Gbase-T format this too is now becoming more affordable.

Comment Summary wrong: Uber is NOT being sued (Score 1) 210

Actually that was my immediate reaction but while I know we are not expected to read the article I did at least think that the submitter should. The taxi owners have NOT filed a law suit against Uber as the first line of the summary says, they have filed a law suit against NYC (as the title says) over them allowing Uber to operate. This seems to have some merit.

If you are going to create an artificial monopoly and charge people a lot of money to take part in it then they do have a grievance if you suddenly let others take part without paying the same fee. Of course if they had not created an artificial monopoly in the first place, or at least kept the costs to take part reasonable and the service quality high, then this would not have been an issue.

Comment Re:A lot simpler: Energy (Score 1) 378

If you have enough energy to accelerate something up to 90+% the speed of light radiation is not much of an issue because for far less energy you can create a extremely strong magnetic field which will deflect the hard to block charged, hadronic particles and for photons you can shield. The time to accelerate is something I'd not thought - at 1g it's a month to 10% the speed of light so for a gamma factor of 10 your estimate seems reasonable. You could cut this down by accelerating at 2-3 g but this would be hard on the crew and still mean a significant amount of time would be spent accelerating and decelerating.

However the biggest problem is still the generation of sufficient energy and the ability to use it for propulsion. However this is at least possible without violating any of the fundamental laws of physics as we know them which FTL is not and even then this is really only an issue for interstellar distances. Within the solar system the problem really is just energy generation.

Comment Single species ok: faces all human (Score 1) 103

Maybe if you averaged the song of many birds of the same species you could get some kind of recognizable song out.

Exactly - but that is what they are doing for faces. They are not averaging human, ape, bird, spider, insect etc. faces but the faces of a single species: humans. So by analogy it is perfectly reasonable to specify the same species of bird and then adjust the frequencies to match (since size variation will affect the frequency) and then add an appropriate delay so they all start the same part of the tune at the same time. This is exactly what the OP did with the images and I would agree that with the same approach adapted for audio there is probably a good chance that you'll get a recognizable song too.

Comment A lot simpler: Energy (Score 1) 378

Options for humans traveling outside of our solar system are what?

Actually it is a lot simpler than that: we just needs lots of energy. If you can give a mass an energy equivalent to about 10 times its own mass then the trip to Proxima Centauri takes about 5 months ship time. So really all we need is a way to generate, and use in propulsion, huge amounts of energy (for perspective the total world energy generated per year at the moment is enough to do this to one 80kg person without any space craft). If we can do that, which is by no means trivial, then all the other problems of space travel go away. The only one left is that the trip will still take years in Earth's time frame but that is a problem which the early explorers successfully dealt with.

Comment Not random: Faces Aligned and Similarly Sized (Score 4, Informative) 103

Combinging 50 sounds which sound like a bird might not sound very birdlike. You might end up with some kind of white noise.

Probably true but I bet if you took images of human faces which were not already aligned and not all zoomed to a similar size then that too would generate noise. The only reason the averaging works is because people naturally take photos with the face the right way up and zoomed to a similar size. I bet if you were allowed to do the same alignment and scaling for bird song you could average the now aligned audio to get something like birdsong.

This is why this result is so obvious and not at all what it says. These are not random face-like images but ones with the same alignment and comparable zoom factor. If I did the same for any shape I would get the same result: the details of the shape would blur but the basic shape would remain the same because they are all aligned and have similar sizes. Someone should nominate this for an ignobel prize.

Comment Cherenkov radiation (Score 1) 152

neutrinos merely go faster than light when that light goes through a non-vacuum medium, like beta radiation that makes a nuclear reactor glow blue in the swimming pool.

The blue glow is Cherenkov radiation which is caused by electrons from beta decay of fission products travelling through the water faster than the speed of light in water. However only charged particles cause Cherenkov light and neutrinos, being neutral, will not cause this effect and pass through matter almost entirely unaffected unless they have extremely high energies and even then they interact via the weak force and not electromagnetism.

Comment Some corrections (Score 2) 152

For everything above quantum, the maximum speed is the speed of light.

No, for everything which can transmit information the fastest speed is the speed of light. If we find anything which can transmit information faster than light then time travel is immediately possible. You will know if this ever happens because the physicist who discovers it will get extremely rich winning lotteries.

If we send out a steady stream of entangled particles...we can send information quicker than the speed of light.

No - as witnessed by the the fact that we still rely on government grants to fund us and not winning the lottery. Quantum entanglement does not allow any information to be sent. It is like shining a very powerful laser pointer on the surface of the moon. The person on earth doing this could move the laser fast enough that it would appear that the bright dot on the moon's surface moved faster than light BUT the information flow is from the person on the earth to the moon and NOT from one point on the moon to another so there is no problem with relativity.

Quantum entanglement is the same sort of thing. You cannot use it to transmit any information faster than light. However unlike the laser on the moon it is very hard to come up with a believable explanation for the phenomenon which does not involve faster than light communication even if it will be impossible to use to transmit information.

Comment No such thing (Score 1) 152

So tachyons or neutrinos are "below quantum"? If so, what does it mean to be below quantum?

There is no such thing as "below quantum". Tachyons don't exist (or at least we have zero experimental evidence that they do) and neutrinos are most decidedly quantum in nature since they are extremely well described by quantum field theory.

Comment Not quite correct: placebo effect (Score 1) 287

The point of a placebo is that it has no benefit.

That's actually not quite correct. The point of the double blind study with placebos is precisely because the placebo does have an effect. People given a placebo which does nothing to improve their condition, will tend to feel better and are more likely to recover. Hence the need for a double blind study to ensure that drugs do actually treat the condition and any improvement is not due to the psychological effect of a patient's positive thinking.

This is also undoubtedly why people believe in homeopathy. If you take something which you think treats your condition you tend to feel better and are even more likely to get better even though what you are taking does nothing for you physically.

You can tell the ideals of a nation by its advertisements. -- Norman Douglas