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Comment Re:let them start their own (Score 2) 135

This is nice strawman. You make up a nice story how the academics will misuse money from unrelated grants to pay for this and then argue that this is unethical. But of course, there are many other legitimate ways to fund this project and there is no indication whatsoever that this specific project will get funded in a questionable way. And no, where I have worked I have never seen how money from grants has been spent for entirely unrelated projects - and I seriously doubt that any supercomputer has been paid for from misappropriated grant money. When I order something from the grants I have, an admin makes sure that this is actually covered by the original grant application. Even if the admin would let it slip through, there are internal audits which would catch this.

Comment Re:Well, at least someone is willing to say it! (Score 1) 572

Well, the important point is that you learn some generic stuff (shell scripting) and then one can apply this knowledge in many different places. So I just learned a bit of scripting in the past and was able to change my init scripts when I needed to. In the future I will have to look stuff up every time I need to change something - not cool.

Comment Re:Too soon (Score 1) 130

You don't get to assume spherical cows in a vacuum on this one.

One interesting study of radiologists showed they actually fared a bit better than people without that small extra dose of radiation.

You can find "interesting studies" showing that homeopathy work etc... I work with MDs who expose themselves to radiation to help others. I have also worked in a radiotherapy lab in the past. I am not scared of radiation. But I know most of the related literature and the overwhelming consensus is that radiation is harmful at any dose. The idea that LNT is obsolete is a fringe position in the scientific community which almost nobody even takes seriously.

Meanwhile, a rate limited repair mechanism would imply a threshold point where the harm goes way up once above it, or if you prefer, it goes down on the low side.

This is true, but this is a highly contrived scenario. Why would a repair mechanism be rate-limited at such low doses? This is not plausible at all. A repair mechanism might get overwhelmed at high dose, but we talk about extremely lose dose. Think about it a bit more: A rate-limited repair mechanism at extremely low dose would imply that a cell hit by ionizing radiaton somehow decides not to repair a double-strand break because slightly more other cells have been hit than usual and the (body-wide?) repair limit has been reached. Why would something like this evolve? How would the body keep track of this limit? How would an individual cell even know?

Even the simplest model where there is a minimum stimulation to activate the repair mechanism which has a limited capacity would result in three different regions in a graph of exposure vs. risk. That doesn't sound at all linear to me, how about you?

This is not the simplest model. The simplest model is that there is no extra stimulation of repair mechanism at such tiny additional doses and repair is just the regular repair mechanisms (which are already very good). This is the simplest model and directly leads to LNT. Again, it is also the most plausible: Why should there be a additional repair mechanisms already at such tiny additional dose? But even the idea that extra repair is stimulated at low dose means that LNT underestimates dose, only if you assume that repair gets overwhelmed already at very small additional dose leads to the idea that LNT could overestimate dose... Again, it is not plausible at all that a tiny additional dose already overwhelms our repair mechanisms.

As for whether LNT over or under estimates the risk, that would depend on what parts of the complex curve the statistical samples came from.

Exactly, but while it is theoretically possible that non-linear effects exist, there is - so far - no clear evidence for such non-linear effect at extremely low dose. So the simplest theory which has to be preferred by Occam's razor is the linear one. And at moderate dose we know that the effect linear.

Comment Re:Too soon (Score 1) 130

I am not entirely sure what your point is . The first number seems to be a prediction for a large group of affected people and the second the number of cases in a specific subgroup of people, so it does not contradict the first. In fact, the conclusion from the latter study is "We found a significant linear dose response for all leukemia".

Comment Re:Too soon (Score 1) 130

Since we know our cells have some ability to repair radiation damage but that it is rate limited, LNT would actually be an astonishing result.

You seem to believe this. As a physicist, I disagree. Even from very basic arguments it is clear that LNT is natural assumption. The effect is either purely statistical (each hit from ionizing radiation carries a very small independent risk that it is not repaired properly and causes cancer) : Then it must be linear. Or there is some kind of feedback mechanism, i.e. bit more radiation stimulates additional repair. Then it is also approximately linear for very small changes in radiation but maybe indeed be non-linear for slightly higher changes in radiation. The problem with this is: 1. We do not have any clear evidence for this. 2. It would imply that LNT _underestimates_ the risk because repair is not as good for lower doses (where repair is not stimulated) and linearly extrapolating from high doses to low doses therefor underestimates the risk. A non-linear effect which would cause the linear prediction to overestimate the risk would be if the repair mechanisms get overwhelmed at some point, but is absurd to assume that this is the case at such low dose (as many point out, we adapted to some level of radiation).

Comment Re:Too soon (Score 1) 130

The error bars are big enough to cover any conclusion you'd care to make.

Well, effects are small, but it is another study where the data is an agreement with LNT and provides no evidence for any non-linear effect. We also have large scale studies for exposure from CT with similar conclusions. At higher dose, we have the data from atomic bomb survivors which indicates a linear relationship. Finally, we have good understanding about how ionizing radiation causes cancer and this implies a linear relationship even at low dose, and there is not any convincing explanation or evidence for a non-linear effect at such low doses.

Even the summary table shows U.S. workers with more cancer but lass radiation dose than U.K. workers.

That is a meaningless comment. There can be many reasons why there are a different numbers of cancers for U.K. and U.S unrelated to radiation.

Comment Re:Too soon (Score 1) 130

Well, it is the low dose regime, where the effect is believed to be essentially statistical which means that it must be linear (the risk from individual double strand breaks to get cancer accumulates). Of course you can speculate that there is a non-statistical effect because some kind of response mechanism is triggered by radiation which goes beyond simple repair mechanisms which are always active. Such mechanisms exist but there is not much evidence that they play a role at very low doses. It is also obvious that the most natural assumptions about those mechanisms would imply that LNT _underestimates_ the cancer risk at low doses, because additional repair stimulated by radiation would reduce risk with higher dose.

Finally, it is not much me who believes that LNT is still our best guess. It is the scientific consensus, which you can easily confirm by doing a proper literature search. Ofcourse, if you just google you will find a lot of website stating the opposite.

Comment Re:Rubbish.... (Score 1) 313

This is misleading on multiple levels. Germany does not import a huge amount of energy from France. Germany is a net-exporter of energy and has easily enough power generation capacity to sustain itself. It imports from France only at certain times when France has to get rid of its surplus and it is simply cheaper to buy from France than to produce it from coal or gas. The feed-in tariff for renewables certainly increases electricity prices in Germany, but it is only a small part of the total price, so not the sole reason why electricity is more expensive in Germany. Germany also has a very stable grid which costs money to maintain (and I lived in Germany and the US - I know how crappy the grid in the US is in comparison). Also it has to be said that a lot of money was sunk into nuclear energy in the past, but this was paid from general taxes, so not visible in the electricity price. The same could have been done for renewables, but it was an intentional decision to have consumers pay for it directly to promote conservation (which is working by the way: Germany is reducing consumption by a few percent every year).

Comment Re:Too soon (Score 1) 130

The LINEAR part is wrong because intracellular coping mechanisms(DNA repair, mopping up reactive oxygen species(which is one of the damage modes of ionizing radiation)) have a range in which they function optimally. Asssuming a fully linear relationship there could no repair or maintenance done at all which is a ridiculous suggestion.

Why do you think this? A linear relationship at low doses is fully consistent with repair. You are reading the wrong websites.

The NO THRESHOLD part doesn't hold up either as there's no detectable cancer rate curve among radiation worker that correlates to their doses inside the allowed intervals.

Radiation workers receive a very low dose, so obviously the minimal excess risk is hard to detect. But this does not imply it doesn't exist.
But funny: There just appeared a large scale study which claims to show this effect:

If we compare a radiation worker that only does administrative work and accumulates 1mSv to one that works in a hotlab and accumulates 16mSv we should see a 16 times increase in radiation related cancer according to the LNT, but that's not what we see in the real world.

There is a huge risk to get cancer anyway. What is 16 times bigger is the additional excess risk which is extremely small even if it is 16 times bigger.

Honesty is for the most part less profitable than dishonesty. -- Plato