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Comment: Re:Won't save most of the 4000 lives (Score 1) 611

by Will.Woodhull (#49706461) Attached to: The Economic Consequences of Self-Driving Trucks

I agree: automating truck driving will not decrease truck-car crashes very much since most of those are caused by the car driver.

I don't see much of a future for drone trucks, though. Instead I think the role of the truck driver will change, with less emphasis on managing the controls and more on the strategies involved. Such as selecting between alternate routes when road conditions up ahead have changed, supervising loading and unloading, monitoring the truck's performance and intervening when something-- tire pressure, fuel consumption, exhaust quality, etc-- are approaching nominal limits. The automation will function more like an airplane's autopilot, but the driver will still be needed for the executive functions.

For instance, it will be a long time before a fully automated truck will be smart enough to slow down to conserve fuel a hundred miles from a congested urban area, so that it will avoid rush hour traffic and still make delivery on time.

Drivers may be able to spend time relaxing with their feet up on the dash, but they won't become superfluous. It is more likely that their employers will assign them additional duties to fill any slack time on the roads. Like perhaps a long distance trucker able to earn bonuses for any cold-calling marketing successes he might have, or for participating in his company's astroturfing campaigns on Slashdot... :-)

Comment: Re: News for nerds (Score 1) 844

by Will.Woodhull (#49688833) Attached to: Religious Affiliation Shrinking In the US

Yeah, its OSU that I intended to write. The image I had in my head was of the fields just across the river from town, and I was too focused on making my point succinctly to notice I was screwing up the name.

Beaver - Duck, Duck - Beaver... I've spent years in both Corvallis and Eugene and I still get them mixed up. If they'd only play real football rather than that simplistic American football it would maybe be easier to differentiate between them.

Comment: Re: News for nerds (Score 1) 844

by Will.Woodhull (#49684007) Attached to: Religious Affiliation Shrinking In the US

I see what you attempted to do there. Let's get back on track:

Please show me how anything similar to religious/spiritual principles can be derived from Newton's laws, the periodic table, or any of the other findings of science. Please provide an example of using the findings of science, or the scientific method, to answer an ethical or moral problem.

Comment: Re: News for nerds (Score 1) 844

by Will.Woodhull (#49683781) Attached to: Religious Affiliation Shrinking In the US

Newton's "Law of Universal Gravitation" fails at the extremes, does it not? It cannot be used in a region some close distance from a black hole (can we still say event horizon?), nor does it have any application within a black hole, and yet there are definitely black holes in the universe. It also fails at the other extreme, in the realm of "quantum foam", Casimir-Polder forces, and the like.

But more importantly, you are profoundly right that all of science is only about the "how". You have to look elsewhere when it comes to questions of "why". Or to the only truly important question: "What the f*ck should I do now?" Those are matters of ethics or morals, that science cannot answer. And persons who attempt to steer their lives based on an absolute belief in science as the pinnacle of human thought are going to fail it.

I am a tool user. I know that you need to use the right tool for the job. And a true believers' absolute faith in science is not only an attempt to drive a nail with a screwdriver, but is an invitation to a sleazebag salesman to sell that chump a cordless electric hammer and a complete set of left-handed monkey wrenches for those tough "What should I do?" problems.

Comment: Re: News for nerds (Score 2) 844

by Will.Woodhull (#49681995) Attached to: Religious Affiliation Shrinking In the US

The problem I have with GMO is that its safety is based on the assumption that ecosystems are built according to the taxonomy of biology: species, genus, family, and so on. We now know that this is a very simplistic way of looking at the dynamic system of relationships that is an ecosystem. A forest ecosystem is defined more by the interrelationships between the great trees, the soil microbes, the fish in its rivers, and the fisher birds that deliver nutrients to the hillsides than by which particular species is filling this niche on this hillside. Ecosystems involving farmland may look simple by comparison, but they are actually more complex, and much more brittle. It becomes difficult to even establish their boundaries since run-off may be influencing more than one watershed.

GMO research needs to demonstrate that the change in the genes in the ecosystem are not going to damage the ecosystem. So far there is no serious attempt to do that: the most that is being done is to assure that genetic drift, the movement of modified genes between species, is not too bad. But the GMO was done to significantly alter some attribute of the crop, so how does that affect the ecosystem as a whole? If this new sugar beet is more drought tolerant, then the subsoil becomes less moist toward the end of the hot season, and what affect will that have on the soil microbes, and available nutrients?

That kind of research is not getting much attention. Mostly because it is so damned obvious that if you start talking about ecosystems, then the problems with monoculture become glaringly obvious, and without monoculture there is no profit in GMO development. And profit is what drives Monsanto. Without obvious profit, there would be no great push to get GMO adopted. Its development would be slow, conducted by agricultural colleges like University of Oregon, under more appropriate systems of checks and crosschecks than Monsanto's profit driven approach.

Comment: Re: News for nerds (Score 4, Insightful) 844

by Will.Woodhull (#49681491) Attached to: Religious Affiliation Shrinking In the US

Belief systems and the practice of science are as unrelated as music and athletics. There are plenty of excellent scientists that are devout believers in various religions. There are more who follow personal spiritual paths that are separate from any organized religion.

There is the unfortunate phenomenon of belief in Science, but that is not science. That is just another belief system, where pseudo-scientists believe that things science once discovered are somehow imbued with an eternal truth. The true practitioner of science knows that: firstly, every single scientific "law" might be overturned at any time by some new discovery that displays reality from a new and different point of view; and secondly, that Science as Religion is totally useless when it comes to guidance with any of the important decisions every one of us must make.

That second part is of direct concern to me, and to many other people. These decisions include whether to tell the truth or lie, whether to work for the common good or grab whatever you can get, whether honor and honesty are more important to the person than status and finding an easy way toward personal goals. Persons who believe in science have substituted Newton's laws and the periodic table for religious/spiritual principles, which just doesn't work. It seemingly gives them a framework that allows them freedom from the encumbrances of morals or ethics. But those encumbrances are part of being human, and without them these persons are just shits.

Comment: Re:At the same time (Score 1) 323

The discussion has switched from operating system to language. WRT operating system, DOS was never used on any of the 6502 machines. Apple developed its own. I believe Commodore did as well. Radio Shack could have used DOS since it was an 8088 processor, but mostly, maybe always, used the CP/M system instead.

I did not know that the BASIC language was licensed by Apple and Commodore from Microsoft. It must have been easier to port from 8080 assembly to 6502 assembly than to develop from Kemeny and Kurz' minicomputer original.

I cut my teeth on Applesoft BASIC, but I used only the integer subset; the floating point was too demanding, although now I don't recall why. Whether it ran too slowly, was too resource intensive, or-- probably-- was too hard to program and debug. I did some home accounting/budgeting, but did it all in pennies rather than dollars, and avoided division operations.

Since the Apple ][+ was the native computer of the original VisiCalc, its 6502 base code and its proprietary DOS were responsible for moving the PC from hobby toy to business computer. For an accounting firm to be able to do some of its spreadsheets in house is what triggered business' interest in PCs. This was a couple of years before the IBM PC even existed.

You are right on the timeline of IMBM-DOS, and I was misremembering. IBM PCs first arrived around 1982 as I recall, with IBM originally planning a single one time production run of 250,000 that would, they thought, completely flood the hobbyist market. Then Visicalc came along, then Lotus 1-2-3 for the IBM, and then IBM foolishly lost control of the market they had created by getting caught up in internal power struggles, while all the IBM clones came along. I believe the Compaq came out in 1984, along with a bunch of lesser machines. They went with MS-DOS as IBM would not sell its DOS to hardware competitors. However I was working with MS-DOS v3.1 as the newest and best in 1987 on a Novell network, and in my recollection v3.0 had come out only a year before that. But again, I might be misremembering. 'Twas a long time ago, in CPU years.

Comment: Re:At the same time (Score 2) 323

This is one of the few Gates myths with some truth behind it. He published GW-BASIC ("GW" for "gee whizz") some time in the 1980s. It was a major breakthrough: an interpreted language that could be used to develop and run custom applications on the small-office-home-office computers of the day, but which had several features of compiled languages. It was brilliant. It is still brilliant, its just that these days Javascript, PHP, Perl, and the like do what used to be done in BASIC, and much more.

The world would be a lot different if Gates had continued to focus on software development, instead of turning away from that to become last century's greatest marketeer and hypester.

Comment: Re:At the same time (Score 1) 323

I'd need to see some citations about that.

I have good memories of those days. I had an Apple ][+ in 1980. It ran the firmware "OS" that Woz had written in 6502 Assembler (hard copy of that was part of the documentation and helped me learn enough Assembler that I thought I was hot stuff) and it ran Applesoft BASIC as an interpreted language. I believe Wozniak and Jobs developed Applesoft BASIC themselves. I know it was not from Microsoft. It was 6502, and Microsoft was all 8080.

The Commodore, like the Apple ][, was a 6502 machine. Neither of these had anything to do with Microsoft, which was only working with the 8080 instruction set.

Radioshack's TRS-80, affectionately known as the "Trash-Eighty" for its frustrating keyboard failures, might have been able to use some variant of IBM DOS, but it was usually set up with CP/M.

Microsoft's DOS was not much of a player until around 1990. It was the no-cost alternative to IBM-DOS (marginally better but harder to find) and DR-DOS (much better but also not so easy to find).

Comment: Re:At the same time (Score 2) 323

You have that backwards.

The OS/2 development effort funded Microsoft Windows development through contracts prior to Win3.0. If IBM corporate headquarters had pulled its head out of its ass and stopped the infighting between the PC division and the big iron divisions, Microsoft would still be a pipsqueak minor player. But Gates took advantage of IBM's management infighting, wriggled free of earlier contract clauses like a toddler escaping from the constraining hug of its nanny, tweaked what was basically an in-house interface model for the OS/2 prototype into a "cooperative multitasker" running on top of 16 bit DOS (no true pre-emptive multitasking possible), and birthed the Win3.0 monstrosity. The rest of the story, up to WinNT, was Gates' expertise as a marketeer and hypester extraodinaire.

It did not help at all that IBM was relying on Intel to make the 80286 chip truly capable of multitasking. That again was a fault of IBM management, who were not listening to its own engineers since they were management, in talks with Intel management, and thus they knew better.

Gates was right on when he described the 80286 as "brain dead", but that came later.

Comment: Re:This again? (Score 1) 480

by Will.Woodhull (#49598925) Attached to: New Test Supports NASA's Controversial EM Drive

Your logic is sound for an eight year old. More mature logic has to deal with the fact that the drive does appear to work.

Try looking up Casimir-Polder force on wikipedia, for another example of quantum level physics producing classical level forces. Oh, I just did that for you.

While in a classical sense these phenomena appear to involve breakage in conservation of momentum, that apparent loss of momentum might well be explained through some aspect of quantum foam behavior. Can energy waves be transferred through quantum foam? Why would that not act like any other medium?

I'm guessing that as we learn more about manipulating quantum events like this drive and Casimir plates, we will get a better understanding of dark energy. But what do I know. I'm much more into woo-woo metaphysics than classical physics or quantum mechanics.

Comment: Re:Not a theory! (Score 2) 129

by Will.Woodhull (#49569457) Attached to: Holographic Principle Could Apply To Our Universe

So how come if I say "The Theory of creationism" on Slashdot I'll get crucified?

You'll not get crucified as such-- any more, that is only a Christian church punishment. Slashdot has never crucified anyone and physics and bandwidth limitations being what they are, Slashdot will never be able to crucify anyone. Your post will likely be ridiculed, modded down, and mostly ignored. You'll need to go elsewhere for the cross and nails.

The thing is, the "theory of creationism" is an inherently bad theory since it does not lead to hypotheses that can be tested with the scientific method. OTOH, The theory of evolution has produced innumerable hypotheses, some of which were proven wrong while others were shown to be correct, and each of these tests has been fed back into the theory to improve its accuracy of its predictions.

This does not negate the CS Lewis quote from your sig line:

"You cannot find out which view is the right one by science in the ordinary sense." - C.S. Lewis on Intelligent Design

Lewis is stating that science is limited to questions of how things work, and cannot be used to address other questions, such as why they work, what purpose does the universe serve, where is the ultimate meaning. For persons who go through life with their eyes open, these are the wonderfully important questions, but they are not amenable to the scientific method.

Comment: Re:News for nerds (Score 1) 114

by Will.Woodhull (#49558061) Attached to: 7.8 Earthquake Rocks Nepal, Hundreds Dead

The location of an ice sheet is a constant downward pressure on the bedrock that supports it.

As it melts, that mass goes out to sea. If it is a large ice sheet, the underlying tectonic plate rebounds as the pressure is relieved. Stresses at the boundaries of all plates change.

However, you are right, I was just poking fun at the "everything is because of climate change" mentality. Heck, it will be at least another 30 months before enough of Greenland's and Antarctica's ice has melted away to trigger anything bigger than a Richter 3 event. Except of course in Oklahoma, where those high pressure, deep enemas of dirty brine are giving Mother Earth the belly grumbles.

"Pascal is Pascal is Pascal is dog meat." -- M. Devine and P. Larson, Computer Science 340