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Comment: Slashdot reports on an obscure mice experiment... (Score 1) 109

by Wdi (#49310429) Attached to: New Alzheimer's Treatment Fully Restores Memory Function For Mice

while there is right now a really promising result from Biogen, in clinical trials on humans:

THAT is news. Not some un-vetted academic work, interesting as it might be, which will need at least 10 more years of experimentation before human trials, if this approach does not die before (at least 98% probability, but of course I wish the researchers luck).

I think Slashdot needs more expertise in selecting science stories.

Comment: Most posts here are completely besides the point (Score 1) 132

by Wdi (#49253513) Attached to: New Molecular 3D Printer Can Create Billions of Compounds

Yes, it is mildly interesting. But professionals do not even agree whether it is a significant new tech at all. And if is is, it is most certainly not for production of compounds in measurable quantity (e.g. more than a few mg at most). The only agreement is that the researcher is known for good marketing and a big ego.

Here are links to interesting discussions by people who actually know what they are posting about:

Comment: Reality is the absolute opposite (Score 1) 303

by Wdi (#48820679) Attached to: There's a Problem In the Silk Road Trial: the Jury Doesn't Get the Internet

In US jury trials, there are almost never any jurors really knowledgeable about the topic of the trial, if the topic is of any complexity. These candidate experts are reliably weeded by by peremptory challenges during the jury selection by the side with the weaker arguments.

This is a perennial problem with US patent trials with regular international repercussions: Every other civilized nation lets expert judges decide these trials, the US uses farmer jurors from certain Eastern Texas districts who are quick to slap foreign, un-American companies with ridiculous judgements.

Comment: and once more the US system is incompatible... (Score 1) 250

by Wdi (#48651267) Attached to: The Magic of Pallets

with what the rest of the world uses, because they insist on custom non-metric sizes. Just like paper. There are many more Euro pallets in use than US-sized ones.

Though in this case, the US size may actually win in the long term, because standard containers are designed to accomodate US pallets optimally. The Euro variant does not fit as well. There is a slightly wider Euro container variant designed to play nicely with Euro pallets, but with ever increasing ocean-crossing container shipping, these are on the way out.

One problem of the smallest variant of the US pallet (35 × 45.5 inch Milspec, 40 × 48 standard type) is that is does not fit trough standard European doors (which are 850 mm - Euro pallets are 800 mm, US mil pallets are 889 mm on the smallest side, standard type even larger).

Comment: Experimental evidence says that is unlikely (Score 1) 120

by Wdi (#48001275) Attached to: Physicists Find Clue as To Why the DNA Double Helix Twists To the Right

There are now over half a dozen carbon-containing meteorites where a (small) excess of L-amino acids was found, and none where the opposite enantiomer was found to be in excess. Since these meteorites where never in contact with the earth's biosphere (the samples were of course not scraped from the surface), the chance of an evolution of isolated systems into a random chiral direction is already pretty slim.

Comment: What a terrible article.... (Score 4, Insightful) 143

by Wdi (#47718899) Attached to: How Argonne National Lab Will Make Electric Cars Cheaper

The weight of lithium is pretty irrelevant. There are no currently existing battery technologies where Li is more than 10% of the total weight of the battery, and standard battery types are significantly below that. If the active ion weight were the prime factor, there would be more interest in beryllium batteries (just 30% more weight vs. twice the charge per ion).

Comment: Hardly viable... (Score 4, Insightful) 151

by Wdi (#47447235) Attached to: Scotland Could Become Home To Britain's First Spaceport

Most of the commercial launches want equatorial orbits, and for that you want to launch as near to the equator as possible. As far as polar orbits for research satellites are concerned there is already the Kiruna site, which is fully equipped and at a better location for monitoring polar orbits. Polar orbits for secret missions? Countries involved in this will want to launch from their own turf. And space tourism? Does not exist yet.

Comment: Bullshit - don't believe marketing materials (Score 4, Informative) 195

by Wdi (#46821521) Attached to: How Apple's Billion Dollar Sapphire Bet Will Pay Off

Sapphire is *not* the second hardest material known. Yes, it's written in the linked article, but it is also definitely wrong. It is hard, and it is harder than glass. That is all there is. Besides diamond. many other materials, such as some forms of boronnitride, rhenium and osmium borides, and a collection of carbon/boron/nitrogen mixed compounds are all far harder than sapphire.

Comment: Not surprising, and acknowledged by chemists (Score 2) 153

To those posters claiming that these are sensationalistic numbers, or fake statistics:

This problem is well known among professional chemists, and there have been a string of high-profile accidents in recent years (and very expensive settlements for involved universities as a result).

The ACS (American Chemical Society) has instituted a task force to guide academia in establishing a better safety culture..

See for example

The goal of Computer Science is to build something that will last at least until we've finished building it.