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Comment: Re:Earthquakes? (Score 2) 191

by Roger W Moore (#47515341) Attached to: China Plans Particle Colliders That Would Dwarf CERN's LHC
Remember that the accelerator is in a tunnel usually through rock. Unless there is a fault line through the ring - which would be really stupid - the accelerator will be shaken and will need realignment but the damage should not be enormous. They have very successful accelerators in Japan.

Comment: Suboptimal Design (Score 5, Interesting) 191

by Roger W Moore (#47515311) Attached to: China Plans Particle Colliders That Would Dwarf CERN's LHC

In reality, the Chinese project is definitely not make-work if they plan to do actual research.

True but a circular design for a electron-positron collider is far from the most efficient. At the energies needed to create the Higgs the energy loss caused by bending the electrons around in a ring means that the ring has to be far longer in circumference than a 'one-shot' linear collider would need to be. Worse if we find something even more exciting like Supersymmetry in our next run of the LHC starting this coming March you will never be able to increase the energy of a circular e-p machine to study it whereas with a linear collider you can extend it.

A circular machine only makes sense with heavier particles like protons but I question whether the cost savings of a single tunnel for both an e-p machine and a future proton machine will outweigh the massive increase in the cost of the magnets and accelerating cavities for the e-p machine.

Comment: Re:Not Quite the Same (Score 1) 63

by Roger W Moore (#47487837) Attached to: The New Science of Evolutionary Forecasting

I'm thinking this is also about what we consider "alike" or "the same"

Sort of but I'm thinking that it is more about the process vs. result. Convergent evolution is about the end results: there appear to be only a certain number of basic eye designs which work and so evolution tends to converge on one of these solutions no matter where it starts. This result is talking about the fact that given the same starting point and the same environment identical organisms will evolve in the same way i.e. there are not just stable solutions which you arrive at but stable paths along which you travel to get there.

Anyway this is definitely the most interesting bioscience result I've seen in a while so I'll have to quiz my biological colleagues about it when I get the chance!

Comment: Not Quite the Same (Score 4, Informative) 63

by Roger W Moore (#47483413) Attached to: The New Science of Evolutionary Forecasting
It does not appear to be quite the same thing as convergent evolution (but I'm a physicist not a biologist!). My understanding of covergent evolutions is that it is when two wildly different evolutionary paths end up with the same solution to a problem e.g. an octopus eye and a human eye are functionally very similar even though our last common ancestor certainly had nothing like it.

This is rather the claim that evolution is reproducible in the short term i.e. if you put the same strain of bacteria in the same conditions they will evolve in the exact same way and not find different evolutionary paths to the same goal. This means that evolution becomes predictable and you can then predict with some degree of accuracy how a virus, bacteria or cell will evolve. This has obvious applications for disease control and perhaps cancer too.

Comment: Still not a license to lie (Score 1) 389

by Roger W Moore (#47483249) Attached to: Verizon's Accidental Mea Culpa

Throttling netflix at the peer reduces load on those trunks without affecting other services.

I understood that, or at least guessed that this was the reason. However when you are restricting the connection like that yourself you cannot go and claim that it is the fault of the other party. Either you need to admit that the limiting factor is your own internal network or you need to spend some of the large amount of cash that is flowing in from your subscribers to upgrade that network to handle it instead of using it to see whether you can break the record for executive bonuses.

Comment: Re:Battler (Score 1) 288

by Roger W Moore (#47480885) Attached to: Australia Repeals Carbon Tax

Here in Australia, we are part of Asia.

I'm in no way condoning the OP since I have no idea of the problems Australia faces but your rebuttal argument here is a primary school level one. The bad behaviour of a government in an adjacent continent (geographically Australia is not part of Asia, it's a continent by itself) does not give every nearby government a license to misbehave and even if it did Europe is also adjacent to Asia and by your logic is in the same situation. Besides if you are going to pick an Asian government to compare yourself to why not North Korea? Using your argument this would suggest it is ok to use famine as a carbon reduction strategy.

The moral of this is that if you are going to make an unpopular decision for reasons that you believe are important stand up and be honest about your reasoning. People might disagree but at least we can have an honest debate about the real points. Indeed I thought that open and frank speaking was a well known and widely admired Australian trait?

Comment: Re:The crackpot cosmology "theory" Du Jour (Score 1) 214

by Roger W Moore (#47474799) Attached to: Cosmologists Show Negative Mass Could Exist In Our Universe
This is not a fantasy it is a useful result. Previously it was thought that negative mass was fundamentally incompatible with GR i.e. you could not have negative mass in our universe according to one of our most fundamental theories. This result, if confirmed, suggests that actually you can have negative mass in a way that is compatible with GR.

It is important to note that this does NOT mean that negative mass exists, only that, so far as we know, it could exist. All it means is that it is now another possible tool in the theorists arsenal to explain experimental observations without rewriting GR. However if I were to apply Occam's Razor to this discovery then I would argue that if something is allowed by GR we would expect it to be possible to produce because otherwise you need some additional mechanism beyond GR to prevent it from existing. Hence the simpler model is one where negative mass can exist...not that this means that it does. We are talking theoretical possibilities here, not experimental observations.

Comment: Re:n/t (Score 1) 278

by Roger W Moore (#47472935) Attached to: The debate over climate change is..

They are not "wrong" at all, since that concept doesn't apply.

Yes they are wrong and it is easy to prove: just accelerate an electron to a high speed and the prediction of Newton will vary widely from that of Einstein. Hence Newton's laws are wrong as a fundamental model of the universe. As you say the aim of science is to come up with a mathematical model that predicts the behaviour of a system and under those precise criteria Newton is wrong and his model was most definitely proven wrong.

Comment: Scientific Laws can be Wrong (Score 1) 278

by Roger W Moore (#47472915) Attached to: The debate over climate change is..

Scientific laws are never right or wrong. That implies an absolute truth.

The absolute truth that scientific laws are trying to describe is "what will happen if we do X". In this sense they absolutely can be wrong. Newton's laws most definitely DO NOT work 100% even in the realm to which they are applied. They work 99.99...% which is usually "good enough" for most things but not always e.g. GR corrections to GPS satellite clocks, police radar guns etc.

However if you used relativity it would always be right for any situation we have managed to encounter or create. The only reason not to do so is that the maths is more complex hence we use laws we know to be wrong as approximations to our best understanding of the truth. Indeed we do this a lot in physics the only difference is that at one point we did not realize that Newton's laws were an approximation.

Ultimately it remains to be seen whether any scientific law we come up with can actually be "right" and I suspect that we will never really know even if we do come up with a perfect model to describe the universe. But we definitely can know when we come up with a wrong one.

Comment: Re:Braben and Bell (Score 1) 285

by Roger W Moore (#47409681) Attached to: The World's Best Living Programmers

8 galaxies and 255 stars aren't so impressive if you consider it was generated by procedural generation.

Except that at the time almost nobody was doing this and they actually used the built in BBC Micro random number generator which is why it took so long to get the game ported to other platforms!

What was really impressive was one of the sequels, Frontier: Elite. This game was really ahead of its time, as it contained not just star systems, but real planets you could land on, seamlessly, with cities, some vegetation, atmosphere, clouds...

...and bugs! I'll agree that it was as ambitious as Elite but it was full of often serious bugs where Elite was not. In addition to that there were some serious design issues such as your relative speed indicator switching to the planet you were trying to land on when you were far too close to the planet to be able to slow down. This resulted in having to approach at a snail's pace to ensure that you did not just add a crater to the existing surface features!

Comment: Braben and Bell (Score 1) 285

by Roger W Moore (#47408143) Attached to: The World's Best Living Programmers

Who's the best game programmer?

Easy: Braben and Bell who wrote 'Elite'. This game was so far ahead of its time it was simply unbelievable. It was one of (if not the) first true 3D game and contained 8 galaxies of 255 stars on a machine with 32kB of memory. It also introduced true "sandbox" gameplay. It might not stand up to today's standards and the sequels, while great games, were nowhere near as revolutionary, although it remains to be seen how Elite: Dangerous turns out - I have my fingers crossed!

So, no matter how you spin it, there is no way that you can deny that they were true Elite programmers! ;-)

The confusion of a staff member is measured by the length of his memos. -- New York Times, Jan. 20, 1981