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Comment Re:GPS is just an aid (Score 1) 76

I've stayed in hotels where i don't know the local street layout. Keeping track of the position of the Sun or Moon when you go out to a restaurant or cafe is one simple way of telling which direction to go back home. Though this only works for short trips. Streets are usually numbered away from downtown. so if the street numbers are going downwards, you are heading into town. Streets that branch in an angle less than 90 degrees also point towards downtown. Satellite dishes point towards South. Moss usually grows on the North side of trees.

Comment Re: Cool! (Score 1) 251

The ones I first worked out on my own were that all whole numbers were the result of the sum of a single set of only primes raised to powers (2^3 + 5 + 11^2) or the *product* of a single set of primes raised to powers (2 * 3^2 * 7). Then some teacher told me there was no chain rule for integration, and I found the chain rule essentially a mental mathematics strategy for solving complex derivatives, so I took the next 40 minutes to analyze several integration exercises and produced integration by parts (which we learned about a week later--what a waste of time). Simple stuff.

My favorite one was physics tensile problems. I *hated* tensile problems. To solve a tensile problem, we had to carry out a seven-step algorithm in which we'd break down each angle into its horizontal and vertical component vectors, then solve the right triangle for each, and combine the solution's horizontal and vertical vectors, solving for the hypotenuse.

In that picture, consider T1 and T2 as the length of those sides (they're the tension on each rope or whatnot they represent). M is the hanging mass. As it turns out, you can get a triangle by placing a line of length M between the top left point (where angle Theta is) and the bottom right vertex (where T2 meets the vertical wall); or by moving T2 *without rotating it* such that any of its vertexes connects to any of T1's vertexes, and then connecting the remaining two with a line of length M. I recognized this largely by mathematical result.

Pick a set. You'll either end up with two sides and an angle or two angles and a side. You can now glance at this diagram, apply the Law of Cosines, and solve it in one step. When I showed my physics teacher, he said he didn't see any mathematical reason that would work, although it *did* work on every problem we tried. Should have asked the Asian chick who took every form of math there was when she went to college; my teacher was largely a materials science type of guy.

Obviously, this one's my favorite because it's a *much* simpler way to tackle an irritatingly tedious problem *and* my academic superiors could never understand why it worked. That means I didn't waste my time figuring out some mathematical trick I could have found by flipping a dozen pages ahead in the book. As far as I know, this is a known technique, but *very* few sources mention using either the law of sines or the law of cosines to solve tension triangles.

This is why math was always fun for me. I reflected a lot on how it all fit together.

Comment Re:Excess (Score 1) 269

Building a solar facility isn't a no-op. It's not like you can say, "We built a house there and put sheds and structures all over the place, and tromp all over it with machines and boots; but nobody paved it, so we didn't destroy the ecological habitat." You definitely do not want ecological habitat thriving among your solar panels and concentrating reflectors.

Comment Re:Excess (Score 1) 269

Most of what I said is platform-agnostic. We happen to not put solar thermal dishes on roofs, but they still take up a lot of space and are still comparable to rooftop solar: rooftop solar still capitalizes on already-used land, and so doesn't have to be as efficient. It's the other drawbacks that come into play, which are the same if you're doing PV panels, burning coal, or running a nuclear ABWR; each technology and each particular mode of deployment has its own strengths and weaknesses in terms of start-up cost, fueling costs, land area usage, waste, and maintenance.

You said power generation at point of use frees us from infrastructure needs. Whether that's solar PV, solar-thermal, geothermal, gas line, or nuclear, the counter-argument I gave applies. Granted, you can get a lot more power out of a nuclear generator strapped to your roof; but then you need a whole nuclear generation management facility on your roof, and on the next roof, and the next, and they all waste nuclear fuel because they have to overgenerate some of the time AND HAVE NO INFRASTRUCTURE TO SHARE POWER.

Transit of any electricity--nuclear, solar, faerie labor--incurs the same losses. That doesn't change either.

All in all, you just responded to a concrete argument of "you're making shit up and arguing against that" with "Uh. Well. Your mom."

Comment Re:Cool! (Score 1) 251

More to the point, I know how people are capable of catching a ball. Have you ever wondered why you can just look at something, see it moving, step to where it's going to be, and grab it? How about throwing a rock and hitting it, even though the impact point is 20 feet away and it'll take a second to get there, with both objects moving? Don't you need some serious algebra to work that out?

I not only know why, but I know how to leverage the same facilities to do other things. Hell, I know why a few weeks of therapy is more than twice as effective as drugs at long-term curing of severe depression. I know why Ben Pridmore can memorize the order of 27 decks of cards in 3 minutes. I know why I was always better at math than my classmates.

You, on the other hand, seem to be focused on small outcomes. Someone explains an efficient process of planning and architecture to you and you go, "... oh. The pieces all make sense. I knew all this shit already!", even though you didn't. You knew about the pieces, but not about how to assemble them, or how to leverage them to accomplish things well beyond what you'd have thought your level of skill could accomplish. It's a common behavior in human thought processes; people are often not introspective, reflective, or creative.

Now tell me what creativity is.

Comment Re:"Curved" space (Score 1) 251

We're talking about the fabric of space-time being curved. That means your 3D space is essentially a hyperplane perpendicular to a particular point on a fourth spatial axis. The word "curved" obviously both does and doesn't have the same meaning.

If you flex a 2D plane and draw a straight line across it, you get a curve because the plane is curved. This is trivially demonstrated by drawing a straight line on a sphere. What you just described is, essentially, a 3D space being curved in the same way, and then some bloke tries to travel across it in a straight line, and finds it takes the least energy to follow a curved path.

(At least I think that's what you just described; I pinned a few things and just tried to visualize 4D space and see where things would naturally go if pushed. Humans should not visualize 4D space. Even if you could do it, you'd never be able to describe it; we use language to indicate experiences, and can't understand language if the words aren't pinned to experiences we've had.)

Comment Re:Cool! (Score 1) 251

I pay attention to how the inside of my head works. Extreme introspection. I'm kind of obsessed with knowledge, learning, and optimization, so it's become a sort of nervous tick.

The brain is an intuitive tool: you can pick it up and use it to reasonable effect without learning how. As with most intuitive tools, you can use it to *great* effect if you have better understanding of technique. This is why some people have shitty handwriting, and others are scribbling out professional-grade calligraphy just by using a slant pen: continuous cycles of practicing, of examining the results, and of recognizing and deliberately correcting your mistakes leads to picking up a slant pen and writing a thousand-dollar wedding invitation.

I'm the guy who learned to make wedding invitations while everyone else was learning to write barely-legible cursive.

The systems simulator is just my own constant tool: whenever I approach a problem, I simulate it. If I'm playing a video game, I'm looking at the sprites on the screen in terms of their direction and speed of travel, and accounting for any known behaviors: I see where things *will* be *simultaneously*, instead of just their current position, direction, speed, and maybe path. I instantly know if things will intersect. The same goes for real-world physics, although that domain is more complex *and* has variables I can't always measure, as well as many I don't often interact with and can't readily project. I do the same in economics, loosely correlating changes with the pressures they put on other changes and shifting the whole system at once. I manipulate data structures in my head when coding, essentially emulating an abstract representation of a computer processor.

Some of those are more or less abstract, and more or less accurate. I'm *very* good with video games--no surprise there. Real-world physics has the stated problems: don't know all variables, haven't observed every aspect in great detail; I can catch a ball for the same reason you can, but I can't fire a sniper rifle because I need a *lot* of time to (poorly) simulate wind resistance against a bullet. Economics is actually a pretty simple system, as long as you're dealing with billions of people and not dozens. Computer programs are like economics: analyzing the *whole* program is hard, and you have to do it in pieces with propagating effects--this is generally a good strategy.

Einstein was a scientist, yet he acted like a philosopher: he sat, thought, made a bunch of shit up, and somehow turned out right. He wasn't pulling experiments in a research lab; people are so amazed by Einstein partly because nearly everything he declared as truth--stuff he was *right* about--was impossible to test in his time. We're only now getting the equipment and the opportunity to vaguely identify that Einstein *might* have been correct, and that evidence exists which is fully explained by his theories, but not necessarily which would lead us to synthesize those same theories without a nudge in the right direction. Where do you think he got it from?

Comment Re:Cool! (Score -1, Offtopic) 251

This isn't hard. Don't say stupid shit.

I suspect Einstein had a version of my own internal simulator, one he put to use more effectively than I. Given a strong grasp of physics in that era, he could have readily generated new theories based on a few seconds of examining a behavior in his head--a behavior which would be perfectly in line with reality, even if he didn't understand it--and start working out the mechanics. All he'd have to do is keep his mouth shut until he had a solid model, and then note any flaws or limitations to avoid being outright wrong.

Einstein declared quantum physics a load of horse shit. Given a strong grasp of modern theory, I bet he'd emit a ton of useful conjecture--most of which would be right. I know my own simulators work faster-than-realtime and with perfect accuracy on physics (real and video game, only to the extent I have contact experience) and economics; Einstein's stream of groundbreaking theories shows he was never shy about running the system in his head and explaining how it works, and he was *very* good at it.

I wish I could simulate other people better. I can do it pretty well, but not well enough to implement strong social control. I *have* been able to injure people by determining their psychological weaknesses and attacking them with a few well-placed words, but it's nothing like some of my prior acquaintances could do, gaining the favor of literally anyone they spoke with. I've got some of the theory; I may have to go out into... public, I guess... and just chew through people at bars and book shops, talking to random strangers until I can consistently draw friends. It seems like a huge waste of time; nobody's goal-focused, and they idly chatter without a point.

Comment Re:Cool! (Score 2) 251

Finding them means we can start developing better instruments. Primordial gravity waves are our best shot at understanding the inflationary epoch and understanding the Big Bang itself. This is one of physic's greatest triumphs.

And, of course, it confirms once again that Einstein remains one of the titans of human thought.

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