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Comment Re:Risk Tolerance not that High (Score 1) 95

That is surprising since claims regarding the failings of our schools are so prevalent in media and society as a whole.

I agree - it's the same here in Canada - but I would attribute that to attempts to improve the system using new techniques which have never been proven to work better than the system they replaced. Worse the reason given for using the new system is that the previous system is "old and archaic". You do not replace something simply because it is old, you replace it when you have something better.

Many of the new teaching techniques I have seen work not because of their brilliance - indeed many are half-baked ideas - but because the person who came up with them is clearly enthusiastic about the approach and communicates that to their students when using the technique. To really show the worth of a new teaching technique it needs to be used by someone who is not particularly keen about it (but neither hostile to it). The reason that we keep seeing all these different approaches which then get withdrawn and/or derided is because this is the hurdle they almost all fail: they do not work with a less motivated tecaher

Comment Re:Exaggeration is not Necessary (Score 1) 223

The rise will stop. There is a finite amount of water on the planet that can end up in the oceans.

True but the sea could rise quite a bit before we get to that if you have a look at the sea level over the past 500 million years. Interestingly it seems that we live in a time of surprisingly low sea levels. A 200 metre sea rise would affect quite a few people.

Comment Re:Risk Tolerance not that High (Score 1) 95

Depends on the possible side effects and depends on the most likely outcome using conventional medicine.

Well since we already have an educational model that works (or at least used to) to some degree and we are looking at ways to improve it the medical equivalent would be having a condition which medical science can already manage to a varying degree of success and then replacing that with a new treatment which has never been tried on anyone before (so nobody knows the side effects) but which the doctors think will work better than the old treatment and they can give you a glitzy presentation from the company pushing the new treatment which contains lots of hyperbole about how wonderful it might be but no actual data which would stand up to scientific review to support that.

That pretty much sums up what happens when a publisher rep comes into my office with a $200+ text book to push on the students which comes with a quiz system, ebook version etc. etc. and lots of buzz words. The very distinct impression is that they have lots of evidence that this technology will improve their bottom line and a lot less reliable data about whether it improves education.

Comment Risk Tolerance not that High (Score 4, Insightful) 95

The education industry could learn a lot from the angel / VC funding industry. You only need 1-10% successes to make the 90-99% failures worth it as long as the success are sufficiently scale-able.

Try telling that to the students who have had an appalling low standard of education because of the 90-99% failure rate of all the new things they had tried on them. Education involves humans and so experimenting with it is somewhere in between the venture capital model you mention and medical science. Nobody would accept a 90-99% failure rate for medical innovations which get as far as being tried on patients!

Clearly education is not life-critical as medicine can be but, unlike medicine, there is really no way to determine whether a new technique is effective other than to try it on students. So while education is more risk tolerant than medicine it is nowhere near as risk tolerant as VC industry funding.

Comment Bad assumptions (Score 2) 233

The data should always be king--not the math--inconsistencies should point the finger at the math and theories, not the other way around.

Except when the data are "bad". The most recent example of this was the Opera experiment's claim to have observed faster that light neutrinos. That's what their data least until someone found that their GPS cable was loose.

Experimental science is never that cut and dried. The data may always be right given the experiment performed but, as the Opera case shows, that may not be the experiment which you think you had performed. The result is that there is always a tension when theory and data contradict: is it because the theory is wrong or is it because of an invalid assumption when interpreting the data?

No, new theories do not have to look mathematically connected to the math of old theories--this is the root problem--assuming that the old theories are *proven* and *correct*.

Here you have taken a position which contradicts your earlier one. We believe old theories *because* they are consistent with the data we have so far. Hence, by logical extension, any new theory must also be consistent with that same data otherwise we would point to that data and say "see it disagrees with data and so it must be wrong!". Within the precision of existing data any new theory *must* have identical predictions, i.e. an identical mathematical form, to the previous theory under the conditions where the old theory has already been tested and confirmed. It can only vary under situations where the old theory has not yet been tested.

Comment How tech aware are the Police? (Score 2) 112

Do you really think they are going to share your network retard? Clearly any user on the WiFi network will have their own IP address.

Even if they have a separate IP address the question is will the ISP records indicate that it was assigned to your router? If they do how confident are you that the police will be aware of the distinction between the public and private IP addresses and understand that the activity had nothing to do with you? In fact, even if they are aware of the difference, they may still want to investigate you in case it was you connecting to the public side of your WiFi so the activity was not directly linked back to you.

Comment Wrong Incentive (Score 1) 112

I would offer specific billing credit for bandwidth lent out for public access; that way, subscribers would be incentivized to actually improve public access to their routers.

All that will do is incentivize users to connect to the free public wifi instead of their own network when they do not need the bandwidth or even run simple scripts to generate public traffic while they use their own network for everything else.

Comment Re:Primitive Terraforming (Score 1) 127

Well if the only machine you have is the production server and it gets into trouble do you tell your users to stop running their programs and hope it does not crash or do you try to patch the system to try and fix the problem? If you only have one production server an no access to any machines unfortunately those are your choices.

If you stop users running their programs then nobody gets anything done and your server might crash anyway. However if you successfully patch the problem and then you might be able to use that knowledge to fix other servers if you ever get access to any.

Comment Primitive Terraforming (Score 1) 127

How about we invest in getting off this planet and learning to live/survive in space? Bet it is cheaper, easier to accomplish, and better for everyone.

Think of this as primitive terraforming: adjusting our own climate should be a far easier thing to do than creating such a climate from scratch on a barren rock. If we are going to survive off-Earth then we will need to be able to do this since living in underground tin cans is not really going to attract many colonists and is extremely expensive and very hard to achieve with current technology.

Comment Forget Carbon: Natural Change Happens (Score 2, Insightful) 127

Actually I think there is a very strong argument for developing the capability to geo-engineer the climate which goes beyond any man-made climate change. There is overwhelming evidence that the Earth's climate changes radically over time, and possibly quite short times. Ignoring the debate over how much of the current climate change is man-made vs. natural it seems a very good idea to develop technology which will let us control the Earth's climate either to undo any damage we have caused ourselves or, if nothing else, to prevent the next ice age...with 6+ billions mouths to feed any significant climate change regardless of type or cause will be bad.

Comment Plenty of Closer Ties (Score 2) 282

two countries couldn't have closer economic, social and military ties than the US and Canada.

There are plenty of examples of countries with far closer ties: members of the EU; England, Scotland and Wales; the counties in the former Soviet Union etc. Indeed I would argue that Canada has closer ties with the UK than the US: we share a monarch, style of government and social morals the later of which is very different from the US in that we have national healthcare, functioning social welfare etc. Of those you list I'd say that only our economic ties are closer to the US than the UK.

Comment ...but only Special Relativity (Score 4, Interesting) 136

Unfortunately I'm not at all sure that he actually got it right though because I think he has forgotten about General Relativity. He treats the entire universe as if it were a single object at rest in the CMB frame. However it isn't: it consists of many constituent components all with their own individual rest frames.

As we look further away from us galaxies are travelling closer and closer to the speed of light and so appear "slowed down" by time dilation due to the expansion of space itself which you need general relativity to account for. All that travelling close to the speed of light should do is shift which galaxies are slowed by time dilation and which are in almost the same frame and so not slowed. Hence you would see effectively exactly what we see now but it will be different galaxies which are in view because you are in a different inertial frame.

Hence I am not at all sure that he got it right. Certainly I'd like to hear it from a cosmologist before I believe it since GR is far more complex than SR and it is easy to get stung applying SR to a situation which requires GR and hence my cautiousness about whether he is wrong since I'm not a cosmologist. This would far from the first thing that he has got wrong...but it would be the first truly spectacular failure.

Comment Don't Forget Atmospheric Neutrinos! (Score 3, Interesting) 27

As of right now, the only confirmed neutrino sources we have that aren't artificial are the sun and SN 1987A

Don't forget atmospheric neutrinos. These are created in the showers produced when cosmic rays strike the upper atmosphere. Since they pass through the planet you detect them from all over the globe. The Earth itself is also a natural source of neutrinos from radioactive decay and there are some experiments, such as SNO+, that are looking for these 'geo-neutrinos'.

There is never time to do it right, but always time to do it over.