Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:Why would anyone be shocked? (Score 3) 206

It's indeed a science

No, it's not a science in the same way that political science is not science. Economics may borrow some scientific methods and use them to study the field but the ultimate aim is to predict what will happen not to understand why (although knowing why may help with predicting) whereas the ultimate goal of science is to understand how and why things work with the ability to predict being a good signal that we got the how and why right.

...put don't take my word for it have a look at how many university science faculties have an economics department. There may be some but I honestly can't think of any.

Comment You have failure backwards (Score 5, Informative) 206

This is not unique to economics. Most scientific fields have problems with replication. Journals are strongly biased toward publishing positive results, and nobody gets tenure for negative results or replication.

Economics is not a scientific field and the fields which seems to have the most problems with this seem to be medical, not scientific ones and "nobody gets tenure for negative results" is simply not true because I did! Indeed it is common in particle physics where we search for evidence of new physics beyond the Standard Model and, with only one exception so far, keep coming up empty handed. As for the most recent Nobel for a "failed" experiment try the one of two days ago: this was awarded to two experiments which failed to show that the Standard Model description of neutrinos was correct.

I think your definition of "failed experiment" needs almost completely reversing. Michelson-Morley was a stunning success: it completely destroyed the luminiferous aether model for light. It was not the result that was expected but that does not make it a failure. The same applies to neutrino oscillations. Not getting a result you expect from an experiment is the thing every scientist hopes for it because means that you have learnt something new about the universe which is why these experiments often win Nobel prizes. If anything is a failed experiment it is those that just end up confirming existing theories because you were hoping you might learn something new and instead just ended up confirming what you already knew.

Comment Different Job Descriptions (Score 1) 92

Speaking as a university professor this is not really correct. As a physicist I can certainly do scientific research but that is not the same as investigating human behaviour since humans, and especially politicians, have been known to lie, hide information, behave irrationally etc. You also run into ethical issues if try to run experiments on them. This is why you do not see many scientists moonlighting as police detectives or, indeed, as journalists.

In addition we are not particularly skilled at writing things down in a way which draws the reader in and captivates their attention. Have you ever read a scientific paper? It's designed to impart a great deal of precise information not entertain and inform the reader.

Comment As a Canadian Particle Physicist (Score 5, Informative) 58

While it is physics beyond the Standard Model it is really easy to incorporate it into the model. In fact it makes the leptons more like the quarks in that they now both have a mixing matrix.

It's fantastic to hear that Art finally won the Nobel though - many of us were wondering how long it would be before he did! It's very well deserved for a discovery which was at least as significant, and far more surprising, than the Higgs.

Comment Same pipes (Score 1) 570

It is completely intellectually dishonest to the point of a LIE to assert that water delivered via a sterile, new, plastic container is the equivalent of what runs through the often old, sometimes lead, sometimes infused with bacteria and sediments stuff tossed through underground lines prone to breakage and then on premise, subject to the neglectful landlord's, and cheap ass developer's habits.

How do you think the tap water got to the company who put it in the bottles? It goes through those exact same pipes.

Comment Re:hu-person-made surely? (Score 4, Interesting) 64

No, that's not it.

Sorry but you are wrong. In old english 'man' meant person without any gender specification because 'wer' meant male human where is where "werewolf" comes from: literally "male person-wolf". However because we started to use the word 'man' to mean male human this interpretation has now been retroactively applied to words which were derived when the meaning was gender neutral.

And for what it's worth, for all of the complaints given about the US, the US is perhaps one of the least male-dominated societies out there.

Seriously? So how many female government leaders have you had? Your congress has under 20% women compared to ~25% for Canada, UK and Australia and 30% for New Zealand. Even Saudia Arabia has a 1% higher proportion of women in its national parliament than the US. In many European countries the ratio is in the upper thirties to forty percent.

Comment hu-person-made surely? (Score 4, Insightful) 64

Not in the politically correct portions of Northern Europe.

Which is ironic since the use of 'man' to mean 'person' in English comes from German where 'man' means 'one' and 'Mann' means man. So man-made actually means 'person-made' not made by a male. So instead of making the language clunky perhaps we should just educate people as to what it really means otherwise next we'll end up having to use 'huperson' instead of 'human'.

Comment Re:Failure modes (Score 1) 147

We use capacitors all over the place and most of the failures of them are demonstrably not from catastrophic discharge.

Large capacitors which store significant amounts of energy or the tiny ones in circuits? Particle physics bubble chamber experiments in the 1960/70s used to have magnets which were pulsed by capacitor when the beam hit them. The stories I've heard older colleagues tell about accidents involving the massive capacitor banks suggest that sudden, catastrophic failures can and do occur. With a small capacitors you get a puff of smoke, with massive capacitor banks you get people blown across rooms and seriously injured.

Comment Not the only fraud... (Score 0) 323

Here, fraud presents itself quite naturally and they can't seem to find it.

Perhaps they are worried that the US government could be charged with fraud too since it seems they passed an act which they said would make it illegal for car manufacturers to make highly polluting cars but which, it appears, does nothing of the sort.

Comment Not at all gracefully (Score 2) 147

Cellphone batteries are already pretty scary when punctured, imagine something holding several times as much energy.

One of the problems with capacitors charging rapidly is that they can also discharge very rapidly too so any failure would not be graceful. However I'm not sure there is much reason to be optimistic yet for these devices. The article mentions that the way they get high voltages is by connecting the capacitors together. This means they connect them in series which will significantly reduce the actual capacitance since capacitors in series add like resistors in parallel.

Comment You do need a clock! (Score 2) 106

You do not need a clock to determine longitude.

Yes you do. Maskelyne's method just uses the moon as a clock and required being able to accurately measure the angular separation between the moon and a bright star near its path to determine the time. Since the moon moves ~0.5 degrees every hour you need to measure the angle to at least this accuracy to get a time. While it worked it required great care measuring the angles, complex tables to convert the angle to a time and a clear view of the night sky. Even with all this extra effort on the one voyage where they were compared directly this method produced an error three times greater than Harrison's clock.

I would also disagree with your open tech argument. Have a look at the 1775 Nautical Almanac. Apart from copyright on the tables you had to have a government license to print them and the calculations on which the tables are based are not given anywhere (although there is some reassurance that the calculations have been checked multiple times). Worse this is a something you had to purchase every year. I don't see how this is any more open than Harrison's clock whose mechanism you could examine and tweak if you though you could do better.

Comment They were built in the 1700's (Score 3, Informative) 106

If the clock could be produced using 1700's machining and metallurgical technology, only then would it prove Harrison's contemporary critics incorrect.

Harrison built his clocks in the 1700's (although apparently Slashdot only just heard about it). They were incredible machines for their time and, after much wrangling with the astronomers of the time (who thought that schemes like making detailed observations of the moons of Jupiter through a telescope on the heaving deck of a ship in the mid-atlantic were better ideas) he won 1700's X-prize equivalent for inventing a machine to accurately measure longitude. You can actually see the clocks he made in the old Royal Greenwich Observatory building in London.

Real Programs don't use shared text. Otherwise, how can they use functions for scratch space after they are finished calling them?