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Comment: Re:News for nerds (Score 0) 108

by Will.Woodhull (#49550821) Attached to: 7.8 Earthquake Rocks Nepal, Hundreds Dead

I, for one, am waiting for the inevitable discussion that links the Nepal quake to global warming.

At any time now, someone is going to suggest that the quake may have been triggered by tectonic changes as the bedrock under Antarctica and Greenland begins to rebound as the weight of those ice caps is reduced.

Oh. I guess that suggestion was just made. Silly me.

Cue the responses saying why the massive phase change of H2O from solid to liquid could not possibly have any effect on the tectonics underneath. I mean, one is climatology and the other is geology. Entirely separate sciences, so the physics of one cannot possibly affect the other. Right?

Comment: Re:Ehhh What ? (Score 1) 157

Well, except for those times where mathematicians have let their imaginations run wild and developed weird mathematical models which were later found to describe some corner of the universe...

The relationship between mathematics and reality is a complex one, and there is no way to rationally understand the imaginary part. And that statement is true on many more levels than you might at first think.

May the farce be with you.

Comment: Re:Ehhh What ? (Score -1) 157

A law that is violated in my garden every Spring as the seeds germinate, take root, send up leaves, and decrease atmospheric carbon dioxide.

There is something fundamentally wrong about the fundamental "laws" of thermodynamics. Put succinctly, they fail to take into account that these "laws" do not apply to the observer, who is not necessarily decaying into his constituent parts during the process of observation.

Comment: Re:Eh? (Score 1) 63

by Will.Woodhull (#49507605) Attached to: If Earth Never Had Life, Continents Would Be Smaller

Well it is far better not to dunk your cookies but to let them crumble between the hammers and anvils of your teeth. That's what most of the adults do, anyway.

Some species of trees, like Douglas fir, are called "primary soil builders" because their roots break up exposed bedrock. John Denver sang a ditty about the flower that shattered the stone. Yes, Virginia, some life forms actively increase erosion.

Comment: Re:Dark Energy (Score 1) 199

Oh, I agree. Sometimes corrections work out well enough for the engineers to make fancy new things. Physics doesn't have to be right. It only has to be right enough.

As to neutrinos and antimatter and all that subatomic mess. Once it was simple: Bohr atoms and neutrons, protons, electrons, and photons. Then the physicists had to start adding corrective wavicles, like neutrinos, then quarks, then multiple different types of quarks, etc, etc. Now we've got this huge particle accelerator to find even smaller, more powerful, and shorter-lived whatevers to glue everything together. Modern physics is the physics of the absurd.

What is bound to happen is that somebody playing with esoteric maths of fractals or set theory or topology or something else out of left field is going to discover something really simple, like a way to look at things where every quark, every star, every galaxy, and every other part of the physical universe is simply the way the entire universe expresses itself in that particular context. And while the physicists of that day are arguing over how that can be reconciled with classical physics and string theory, some engineer somewhere will look at it and say "ah-hah!" and build a network of star gates. And that engineer will unwittingly midwife an entirely new physics.

But getting back to your point, it is very much important to recognize that something is probably wrong even though it works well enough for the purposes at hand. Otherwise you are accepting some basic premises on blind faith, and that kind of religious belief is indeed blinding one to other possibilities.

Comment: Re:Dark Energy (Score 1) 199

Thank you very much for the Donald Rumsfeld quote. I was trying to remember it the other day and while I had the sense of it right, I was not as succinct as Rumsfeld and my memory kept offering Oppenheimer as the author even though I was sure that wasn't right. So naturally Google was no help.

Sometimes its better to not know something than to know it wrong...

Comment: Re:Dark Energy (Score 1) 199

I'd hardly call things like aether and phlogiston "stepping stones" -- they may have been initially, but they became over theorized and explanatory elements in their own right, and they ultimately led to a lot of wasted theorizing and going down blind alleys looking for explanations for things that weren't perhaps even real problems.

But that is what is happening with dark energy. It is being used as corrective factors to make other parts of physics work out, in much the same way that adding more epicycles was used by pre-Cupernicus astronomers to make the motions of the celestial bodies work out.

The core problem here seems to be that the "laws" of thermodynamics are wrong. There is probably some reformulation of those that would make dark energy and dark matter disappear in the same way Cupernicus made all the epicycles disappear. That reformulation might even make other things easier to deal with, such as the way the evolutionary patterns of life currently violate the concept of entropy.

Comment: Re:Dark Energy (Score 1) 199

I sort of agree with the above, up to a point.

I have a very simple view of physics, which works well enough since I'm not involved in any of its messy internals. It goes like this:

Physics is similar to Calvin Ball, in that you make up the rules as you go along. But unlike Calvin Ball, all but one of the rules is malleable; all but one rule can be changed at any time.

The one absolute, unchangeable rule is that every other rule in physics has to allow every mechanism that any engineer successfully builds to function. In other words, if an engineer constructs something that violates the rules of physics, then physics has to change. This applies to the engineering that goes into constructing experimental equipment. Even equipment as simple as that used in the double slit experiments that caused the physics of light to suddenly become more complicated than it once was.

Engineers rule.

Comment: Re: mode of death (Score 1) 97

by Will.Woodhull (#49453365) Attached to: Being Overweight Reduces Dementia Risk

Personally I'd rather eat a damned bullet than end up like that, at least it would be over quickly.

The problem with that strategy is that it is so damned hard to judge the timing. Dementia usually develops with a huge denial component. And it is so easy these days to be in denial about mental deterioration: it isn't your mind, it is the drugs you have to take for the depression that your doctor tells you is a common side affect of the blood pressure medication you need if you are going to live to old age, and of course there is also that nagging worry about how your son is going to get out of debt after having lost his job yet again, and is your daughter staying sober or is Child Protection Service going to have to take the grandchild away after all? Daily life can offer all kinds of excuses for increased forgetfulness, increased frustration, bursts of anger. Even if a person suspected they were developing dementia, it would be damned hard to tease those symptoms out from the crap most people have to deal with.

You don't want to eat the bullet too soon, not when others you care about need your help, or when maybe the problem is simply that the meds you are taking to improve your health just need to be tuned better to your personal physiology. So it is really easy to wait so long that you no longer have the bullet option.

Demented patients in care facilities wander off all the time. Frequently they are found and returned to the facility, and usually they explain that they were just going down to the corner store of their childhood days and had then gotten lost, or something like that. Some benign tale. But sometimes it is their bodies that are found, where hypothermia and exposure brought a not uncomfortable end of life. And it makes a person wonder-- are those who wander away and die the ones who succeeded in finding what they were looking for?

Comment: Re:Sensors wrong (Score 1) 460

by Will.Woodhull (#49422203) Attached to: Planes Without Pilots

There have also been those incidents where pilot and copilot were incapacitated, and ground controllers had to watch helplessly while the plane kept flying on autopilot until it ran out of fuel and crashed.

Now that newer airliners are basically fly-by-wire designs, the only thing standing in the way of a remote operator safety system is cost. This is now a cost in dollars versus cost in lives problem. The questions should be not whether to do it, but how to do it most effectively and efficiently.

Comment: Re:You don't get how Wall Street works (Score 1) 163

by Will.Woodhull (#49393977) Attached to: Tesla's April Fool's Joke Spoofs Market Algorithms

[Wall Street] certainly works when taking a good company idea and getting investment needed for that company to grow and build more things. It also works pretty well when you want to mitigate risks associated with changes in things like raw material costs or certain business scenarios.

Crowd-sourcing is better.

FOSS is very good.

Before these and similar developments in SOHO bookkeeping and financial planning, capitalism was necessary. But just as Quicken, Peachtree, etc put probably a hundred thousand bookkeeping operations out of business in the last thirty years or so, so too do recent technological developments show the age of the capitalist is drawing to a close. Capital markets work with convenient fictions that we no longer need.

Comment: Re:You don't get how Wall Street works (Score 1) 163

by Will.Woodhull (#49393743) Attached to: Tesla's April Fool's Joke Spoofs Market Algorithms

You are missing the point.

The tremendous success of FOSS-- including its adoption by major corporations like Google, Microsoft, and Ubuntu-- proves that capital markets are not necessary for a vibrant economy. The growing success of crowd-sourced projects are another and more direct challenge to the myths that capital markets are based on. Like a mud and wattle palace of an ancient Middle Eastern empire, capitalism, and capital markets, are crumbling. There has not been a "devine right of kings" for centuries. Soon the myth of the capitalist as the necessary kingpin to a modern economy will also fade away.

You might see that happen during your life time. It seems that basic changes in world views that used to take hundreds of years to change everyone's life are now happening in a couple of decades. Sometimes faster. Just saw a remarkable first hand report of people driving donkey carts in the outback of Timbuktu while using cell phones to broker deals on their goods while still hours away from the market.

The world is changing. Visualize whirled peas.

NOWPRINT. NOWPRINT. Clemclone, back to the shadows again. - The Firesign Theater