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Comment: Re:It's getting hotter still! (Score 1, Informative) 635

by Stephan Schulz (#47910145) Attached to: Extent of Antarctic Sea Ice Reaches Record Levels
Somehow a quite conservatively formulated claim (subjunctive mode, "some models, 75% chance, 5-7 years, during some month of the summer") magically morphed into the strong claim "Al Gore said in 5 years time the Arctic will be completely ice free". How much did you pay for that perceptional filter? And can you get a refund?

Comment: Re:Bikes lanes are nice (Score 1) 213

by Stephan Schulz (#47867207) Attached to: Surprising Result of NYC Bike Lanes: Faster Traffic for Cars

[...] on the street [bicycles] interfere with traffic.

Just for your information, bicycles are part of the traffic! As for "interference", the appropriate control situation is not one where the cyclists are magically poofed to New Delhi (or the moon), but one where every cyclist is replaced by yet another car...

Comment: Re:Science creates understanding of a real world. (Score 1) 770

by Stephan Schulz (#47856829) Attached to: How Scientific Consensus Has Gotten a Bad Reputation

It is the job of a "scientist" to present claim and data that supports said claim in such a way that it may be consumed by anyone and still stand on its own, only then is there "consensus."

Well, the job of a "scientist" may be to provide soundbites that so-called think tanks can feed to sympathetic reporters and the uninformed public. But it is not the job of a scientist (no quotes) to present his results in a way that "anyone" can consume them. Scientists need to present their results in a way that an interested, fair-minded, and, most of all, sufficiently educated person (i.e. usually another scientist with a similar speciality) can follow the research.

Some complex research can be presented to the general public (although even then not to everybody), but then it's necessarily simplified and no longer iron-clad. It's a sad illusion to assume that modern science can be spoon-fed to a passive audience in a way that said audience can really understand it. If it were that simple, we would not need universities and Ph.D. programs.

Comment: Re:Or we could simply revert to original best prac (Score 1) 643

by Stephan Schulz (#47772465) Attached to: U.S. Senator: All Cops Should Wear Cameras

  • To recognise always that the power of the police to fulfil their functions and duties is dependent on public approval of their existence, actions and behaviour, and on their ability to secure and maintain public respect.
  • ...
  • To recognise always that the extent to which the co-operation of the public can be secured diminishes proportionately the necessity of the use of physical force and compulsion for achieving police objectives.

Isn't that socialism? Or communism? Anyways, that's a wimpy European idea. Proper American heros are more Wyatt Earp, Dirty Harry and Jack Bauer. Civil rights are as quaint as the Geneva Convention. If you're a law-abiding citizen, why would you walk outside your gated community? Or inside after dark? Can't you afford a car? Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius!

Comment: Putting the shoe on the other foot.... (Score 1) 643

by Stephan Schulz (#47772331) Attached to: U.S. Senator: All Cops Should Wear Cameras
I can see the superficial attraction of this, but I think it overreaches. Nobody will work well if under permanent surveillance. On the other hand, why not turn it around? Have the senators wear body cameras during all fund-raisers, committee meetings, and discussions with staff, potential donors, and others.

Comment: Galileoscope (Score 2) 187

by Stephan Schulz (#47740769) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: Cheap But Reasonable Telescopes for Kids?
For a very low-price but useful entry-level telescope, try the Galileoscope. It is an achromatic refractor that has been designed as part of the International Year of Astronomy, and can be had for approximately US$ 50 (or order a box of 6 for US$30 apiece). It comes with an eyepiece that approximates Galileo Galilei's experience, but also with (IIRC) 2 modern eyepieces that are decent enough for the Moon, Jupiter, and Saturn's ring. Also, it uses a standard eyepiece adapter, so it can be further upgraded if required. Some assembly required - this is intended as a teaching opportunity ;-). It's cheap enough that it can just be passed on to another kid or a local school if a better instrument is obtained.

Comment: Re:The real problem is... (Score 1) 552

by Stephan Schulz (#47465421) Attached to: The Last Three Months Were the Hottest Quarter On Record

What "geologic indications" are these, exactly? The last time I checked, the global warming proponents were just checking ice cores for CO2 content in the atmosphere. The melting point of most rocks is well above the hottest temperatures encountered in the atmosphere...

You haven't checked very carefully, then. There are several geological proxies for past temperatures. One example is the Oxygen isotope ratio in calcium carbonate.

Comment: Re:Heartland Institute (Score 1) 552

by Stephan Schulz (#47457967) Attached to: The Last Three Months Were the Hottest Quarter On Record

The Heartland Institute's NIPCC reports use the same research papers cited by the IPCC and shows how the IPCC conveniently skews data and ignores all the data in between.

There is a difference in semantics between "shows" and "claims" that you seem to not be aware of. The so-called NIPCC is a front for Heartland, and consists of a changing but minuscule group of well-known deniers. Their report is a transparent piece of propaganda for everyone who has at least a basic scientific understanding.

Comment: Re: 1800s (Score 4, Informative) 552

by Stephan Schulz (#47457731) Attached to: The Last Three Months Were the Hottest Quarter On Record

I thought the MWP was a full three degrees warmer then the 1990's. Which were warmer then now.

What you think, is, of course, your own problem (although the "a full three degrees warmer" must come from some very creative interpretation of the record). But how do you get the ideas that the 1990's were warmer than it is now? The 1990s were about 0.2 degree C colder than 2013, and this year will most likely be warmer still. There was one exceptional year (1998) that was marginally warmer than 2013. Of course, these short-term trends are heavily influenced by noise, so the significance of these results is low. But that's no reason to make wrong claims.

Comment: Re:Some non-Knuth suggestions (Score 1) 247

by Stephan Schulz (#46837193) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Books for a Comp Sci Graduate Student?
Sipser's book is not bad, but I find it much shallower than any of the editions of Hopcroft[,Motwani], Ullman. Many of his proofs seemed to be more hand-waving. On the other hand, he is somewhat good at building intuition, which is valuable for students not yet used to the domain.

Comment: Some non-Knuth suggestions (Score 4, Interesting) 247

by Stephan Schulz (#46836967) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Books for a Comp Sci Graduate Student?

Comment: Re:Buy a Prius as your next car... (Score 2) 869

Bird deaths are no myth:

CFACT is not a remotely reliable source, nor to they cite any such source. Google Scholar is usually good at finding real research papers on the topic. This is the top hit for 2013, and while it finds some bird mortality due to wind turbines, it estimates the effect to be much lower than that of other anthropogenic risks for birds, even assuming a 10-fold increase in wind turbines.

There is no silver bullet, nor will we ever manage to return the planet to Garden of Eden conditions. But "there is no single perfect solution, therefore let's not do anything" is not a viable approach to life. Perfect solutions to any problem are exceedingly rare, but that does not stop us from improving situations.

Comment: Re:piotr (Score 3, Insightful) 330

by Stephan Schulz (#46321753) Attached to: Japanese Firm Proposes Microwave-Linked Solar Plant On the Moon

On ISS, they get about 0.1 mw from an acre, that is 24.7 mw from km2.

Pedantic remark: There is a slight difference between a mW (milliwatt) and a MW (megawatt), a factor of about a short billion, or 9 (decimal) orders of magnitude.

Even more pedantic: W is upper case (as it's named after James Watt). I'm not aware of any unit using a lower case "w" as the abbreviation. But in general, capitalisation is significant for units.

What the large print giveth, the small print taketh away.