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Comment: Re:The same as ever: Android (Score 1) 192

by lgw (#49553039) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Are the Most Stable Smartphones These Days?

Most of the stuff you highlight can be handled by a feature phone, though, except reading books. I use my 6-year-old Android, doesn't seem to crash or need to reboot unless the battery is on empty (and shocking the battery still works pretty well after 6 years - will go 12+ hours between charges). You don't need anything fancy - what you want is something stable.

I'm really struggling with what to get next - the screen on my phone has been cracked for a couple of years now, so I should probably replace it one of these days. But now it's all these damn giant phones that don't fit in my pockets, don't have replaceable batteries - what ever happened to cell phones getting smaller?

When someone sends me a text or an email, there's no "he said - she said" disputes over what was said. Try doing that with your home phone.

If you have that problem often enough to care, you need better friends, not a better phone!

Comment: Re:Kludgy Mess Requires Kludgier Foundation (Score 1) 36

by lgw (#49552163) Attached to: Mystery of the Coldest Spot In the CMB Solved

Inflation was cooked up to explain most of that after the fact, though, so it's unsurprising that it does. The fundamental problem with inflation is that too much is tunable. Penrose's cyclic cosmology explains all the same stuff, and at least has the decency to make some bizarre (and very likely false) predictions outside of the early universe.

Theories of the very early universe that require new fields that there's a way to detect today are interesting. Certainly there are ideas to explain dark energy as an extension of inflation that fit that bill. But theories that propose a bunch of cool new physics that all conveniently vanished early on are a bit sketchy, at least until we can somehow make an equivalent of WMAP for the neutrino background radiation, and observe the very early universe directly. I hope I live to see that!

Comment: Re:me dumb (Score 1) 148

by lgw (#49552095) Attached to: Wormholes Untangle a Black Hole Paradox

If you can avoid traveling in normal space-time, then you've just potentially solved the problem entirely.

That doesn't help in the least. It doesn't matter how you travel: two events, separated in space, that happen "at the same time" in my frame of reference don't do so in another. If I depart A and arrive at B "instantly" in some reference frame, then I have travelled backwards in time from another. There's no getting around that: we live in a relativistic universe.

Comment: Re: me dumb (Score 1) 148

by lgw (#49552071) Attached to: Wormholes Untangle a Black Hole Paradox

You seem to think the QM guys cooked up this really weird story while particularly high one night, then went looking for a way to make it fit the universe. It's the observations themselves that bring the weirdness. Sure, the universe at these scales far from human experience doesn't fit with our intuitions, but that shouldn't surprise, as our intuitions are based entirely on human experience. Sure the math is intricate, far from simple or elegant, but there's no actual reason to believe the universe is simple and elegant, other than it would be nice if it were so.

Is this all some complex expression of some simpler, underlying truth that we just haven't found yet? Certainly everyone working in the field hopes so! But the horrible, crufty Standard Model just keeps making accurate predictions, and all the clever ideas of physicists to create a simpler underlying model that could explain everything we measure keep failing to do so.

Comment: Re:me dumb (Score 1) 148

by lgw (#49551993) Attached to: Wormholes Untangle a Black Hole Paradox

It seems like you're missing a key concept here: "simultaneous" depends on reference frame. If two events separated in space, A and B, happen at the same time in my reference frame, there's a reference frame in which A happens before B, and a reference frame in which B happens before A. There's no one true order of events.

This causes no paradoxes in relativity, precisely because you can't send information, or cause an action, faster than the speed of light. The propagation delay between A and B ensures cause precedes effect in every reference frame, and the order of events can't quite shift enough to overcome that propagation delay.

But moving FTL breaks all that. If I move "instantly" in my reference frame, then there's a frame in which I move back in time, and a frame in which I jump forward in time. I don't move back in time in my own reference frame, sure, but I really do in another. And if you're moving quickly relative to me, I can use that to relay a message from you to your past self - either by a series of accelerations between the frames, or by using a friend in your reference frame who can teleport as well.

If I want to visit my own past self, I would need to teleport some significant distance, accelerate up to relativistic speed, again teleport a significant distance, then accelerate again to match location and speed with my former self - elaborate, but possible. Or, if I could travel a great distance, say 1 billion light years, "instantly", then I don't need much acceleration at all, just the difference in velocity the Earth achieves in 6 months as it makes half an orbit would do it.

Comment: $13K is the Only Obstacle (Score 0) 249

by bill_mcgonigle (#49550645) Attached to: Tesla To Announce Battery-Based Energy Storage For Homes

I'm poised to install a $4K backup generator in the next few months. I don't live in a region where I can force my neighbors to pay for my tech goodies, and the $9K difference doesn't get paid for on any kind of time horizon that outpaces even a basic interest rate.

The generator also has a near-infinite runtime, in the case of a bad storm. However, it needs more maintenance, so if there were price-parity I might opt for the battery.

Give it another five years and that just might be feasible - good for Musk for getting this ball rolling, and kudos to the early adopters who take it in the pocket to promote the technology.

Comment: Re:One of many potential causes (Score 1) 85

by Rei (#49550329) Attached to: Bees Prefer Nectar Laced With Neonicotinoids

Yep. It's wierd because the symptoms can correspond with many different causes. For example, the climate change thing makes sense because bees can be tricked into thinking it's spring and start foraging or even swarming in the middle of winter when they really should stay in the winter cluster. The occasional warm day is good for them to be able to get out and void themselves, but longer periods of significantly fluctuating weather can be bad.

But it also matches other problems. Diseased or dying hives often lead to "desperate" swarming where bees start abandoning the hive to try to establish a new, safe place. Most of these swarms, however, will die. The behavior could be seen as a general "exteme stress" behavior. It could also be seen as a neurological disorder from pesticide exposure.

In short, it could match almost any possible cause. And probably is a result of many of them.

Comment: Re:The study was flawed (Score 3, Informative) 85

by Rei (#49550295) Attached to: Bees Prefer Nectar Laced With Neonicotinoids

I think it's important to ask questions because there's been literally "dozens" of different things "definitively linked" with CCD. The public likes to seize on neonicotinoids, but they're probably one of the least supported of these many different "definitively linked" reasons. Whole countries have gone so far as to outright ban neonicotinoids, with no effect on CCD. France, for example, banned them. The next year they largely switched to blaming the condition on Asian Hornets when the decline rates didn't decrease.

The problem is that when you ban a certain pesticide, people start using others. And going from neonicotinoids to organophosphates is a massive step backwards in terms of general safety, not just to pollinators, but especially to more complex animals as well. But the biggest problem with the neonicotinoid theory is that neonicotinoids are only used in a small fraction of the areas where CCD exists. Bees can only fly several kilometers from the hive, they're not going cross-country and picking up every pesticide in every farmer's arsenal. It even exists among people who are in places where no pesticides at all are used.

It's easy for the general public to latch onto a particular cause. But once you learn more about beekeeping you realize how incredibly much out there is that can utterly f* up a hive. And which have in history regularly collapsed bee populations, far worse than the collapses we have today. Trachael mites once nearly obliterated beekeeping in Europe, saved mainly by the development of the Buckfast bee. Check out this very inexhaustive list of bee pests and diseases. There's even some really counterintuitive effects in that small levels of some pesticides can actually increase hive survival rates, in that they're deadlier to bee pests like mites than to the bees themselves.

The public also tends to totally understand colony collapse disorder in the first place. Normal winter colony death levels are about 15% in most locations (though where I am it's higher). CCD raised the US average to about 30% at its peak. This is painful and expensive to beekeepers, but it has literally no impact on the ability to sustain bee populations. A new beehive can be started with just a queen and a handful of workers. Hives can be made to produce queens en masse through proper management. Hence people can mail order starter hives, and there's never going to be a threat to the ability to produce these starter hives - a single hive can make many dozens per year. Even normal hives not managed for breeding starter hives will naturally produce several swarms every year; beekeepers try to discourage and/or catch these swarms.

In all likelihood, neonicotinoids are one among many different stressors to bees in the modern era that causes CCD. Modern bees are much more "stressed" than bees in the past. We've created an environment where new bee pests and diseases have spread far and wide to bees that never would have encountered them in the wild. We raise them on corn syrup and sugar water in the winter (good for reducing dysintery and increasing honey yields, but robbing them of certain vitamins and minerals). We transport them on flatbed trucks hundreds or thousands of kilometers (these are animals that get confused if you move their hive a couple meters; their ability to navigate by sight is poor, they're best navigating by the sun and dead reckoning). And countless varieties of poisons, even unintentional ones, affect them every day of their lives. There's so many factors now that weaken hives that any "new" factor to an area can push them over the edge.

Comment: Re:The study was flawed (Score 1) 85

by Rei (#49550221) Attached to: Bees Prefer Nectar Laced With Neonicotinoids

I'd really like to read the paper but unfortunately it's down. But for example, do the neonicotinoids add a UV signature to the liquid not present in the sugar water? That would have little to no influence in the case of flowers in nature (where they're not looking at the nectar, and there's all sorts of other chemicals in the nectar). What other chemicals are in the neonicotinoid solution (they're rarely pure, they usually have all sorts of other chemicals to increase their effect)? What's their cleaning and handling procedure for preparing and filling the sample containers? I want to know how they controlled these experiments against factors that humans can't detect but bees absolutely can.

Just the very act of hooking electrodes up to bee neurons I'd have concerns about. Is there any induced electric field involved, or even rubbing against the bee hairs? Bees transfer information to one another via dances, such as the waggle dance. Bees build up an electrostatic charge on their body, and a waggling bee imposes an electrostatic force on the antennae and hairs of all adjacent bees, causing them to feel dance over a short distance. Their stereoscopic sense of the dance lets them know the direction, and that combined with the time allows them to work out a direction to a food source relative to the (moving) direction of the sun. It functions like transferring a memory from one be to another. There's also "negation" behaviors, by other bees who don't like the information giving out; they have a different frequency buzz to say "don't go there", and sometimes different bees may even fight with each other over what's good and what's bad information.

Also note that the linked articles refer to a second study published simultaneously which showed no effect on honeybees next to rapeseed fields sprayed with neonicotinoids versus an altogether unsprayed field. Which is pretty remarkable, because you expect almost *any* pesticide next to your hive to have a profoundly negative effect on it.

Comment: Re:The study was flawed (Score 1) 85

by Rei (#49550205) Attached to: Bees Prefer Nectar Laced With Neonicotinoids

I'm sorry, but calling flagging a "troll" because they misread an article is beyond the pale. None of their behavior was "trollish". Saying that a study is flawed is in no way shape or form engaging in "fraudulent research", aka, deliberately falsifying data to push an agenda.

The Nature article appears to be down. But I have to caution, studying bee behavior is very difficult. Many of our senses, bees lack or have only at low resolution. But they have a number of senses that we don't. They see UV. They see polarized light. They sense electric fields. They're sensitive to a lot of chemicals that we cannot detect. And so forth. It's very, very easy to accidentally give bees signals, which will alter their behavior, that you didn't realize you were giving. I'd like how they attempted to control for all of this, but unfortunately that's not possible now.

Comment: Re:Personal Anecdote (Score 1) 76

by Cyberax (#49550135) Attached to: Amazon's Profits Are Floating On a Cloud (Computing)
Starcluster is a piece of garbage. It should not even work on t1.micros - they simply don't have enough RAM or storage to run anything decent.

The rest of your message also makes no sense - even if Starcluster nodes can't be shutdown using Starcluster's own management, then simply go to the Amazon console and shutdown them.

...though his invention worked superbly -- his theory was a crock of sewage from beginning to end. -- Vernor Vinge, "The Peace War"