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Comment: False Summary - Haigh Agrees with Knuth's Thesis (Score 5, Informative) 141

Which is: there are no good technical histories of computer science.

Read TFA - he spends the majority of the article explaining in detail why Knuth is right - that there are indeed no good technical histories of computer science, and little prospect of any.

Where Haigh takes issue with Knuth is in arguing that the histories of computers and software, which are not technical histories, are nonetheless valuable in their own right, and thus Knuth's dismay at their publication is misplaced. But he otherwise agrees with Knuth has to say.

Comment: Re:Mockery is pointless...Research is essential.. (Score 2) 183

by careysub (#48675637) Attached to: Bill Gates Sponsoring Palladium-Based LENR Technology

I see a lot of "fool and his money" posts and it's nonsense or pseudoscience. And I see a lot of posts on "Fusion being 20, 30, or even 40 years away" from posters when stories on hot fusion are posted here.

So given the lack of progress in hot fusion after billions have been spent and decades wasted,...

Thermonuclear fusion has made progress - the evidence so far is that the tokamak system can be scaled up to commercial plant size. It is the only fusion technology to currently be in the running to do this. So there is progress. Unfortunately even if current plans pan out as expected it will be the most expensive energy in the world, exceeding the cost of every means of energy production currently in use (and some of them will be getting still cheaper in the mean time).

if a low cost fusion alternative can be found then it should be researched. After all what do you have to lose?


But given that the payoff for a relatively minor amount of funding is so massive, harsh criticism for research into the phenomenon is counterproductive. It should in fact be encouraged by anyone who considers themselves a person who supports clean energy.

Nothing wrong with investing effort in long-shot ideas, and questionable 'anomalies'. That definitely should go on. But there is a huge difference between legitimate scientific research, which requires well designed experiments with high quality controls, openness, peer review, providing the means to reproduce results, etc. and these claimed "trade secret" scams that share none of the traits of legitimate research, but are trolling for 'investors'.

Not all people working in this field are evident scamsters. There scores of researchers working in this area for decades - with no convincing results to show for it. The fact that there seems to be a mutual exclusion between well designed experiments and positive results suggest that this is a social phenomenon of marginal researchers finding something to do, not a scientific one.

Final point: we are still just looking for convincing evidence that some low energy reaction phenomenon actually exists. There is no reason to suppose that even if it does, we are looking at a promising new source of energy. That is a pitch line for someone selling snake oil.

Comment: Re:the real mystery (to me) (Score 5, Informative) 37

by careysub (#48672453) Attached to: 300 Million Year Old Fossil Fish Likely Had Color Vision

... I'm hard pressed to believe that there is an advantage for colorblindness that would have been selected for in the earliest mammals.

There didn't have to be an advantage for partial colorblindness (they were never totally colorblind), there just doesn't have to be any penalty for the trait to be lost. Same with the inability of some mammals to synthesize vitamin C, no particular advantage to losing it, but with a vitamin C rich diet there was no penalty either and so it could get lost over time. Color vision only works in bright light. Mammals spent a lot of their early evolutionary history as nocturnal creatures, and so could lose this trait without penalty. In fact it appears there were multiple function S cone loss events in the mammalian line, not just one (genomics gives us powerful insights into this today). The article does point out though that "the fact that these gene mutations have spread throughout the populations allows the possibility that the loss of S cones may in some way enhance visual fitness". It is entirely possible that processing of images in dim light could be better optimized through evolution with the loss of the unneeded bright-light color vision baggage.

Comment: Re:um.... (Score 5, Informative) 156

by careysub (#48646693) Attached to: Can Rep. John Culberson Save NASA's Space Exploration Program?

Go to a modern well funded post office some time. They're incredibly efficient.


perhaps you live on a different world as I, but "efficient" businesses do not lose 1.9B USD every three months.

unfortunately, history has shown for at least 2500 hundred years that government bureaucracies always devolve into political quagmires, where empire building and ass-kissing trump sound business practices.

If you had actually bothered to read the article you linked to, you would have noticed that Congress is preventing them from taking cost savings measures the USPS wishes to implement. Congress controls the prices they can charge. Congress mandates six day deliveries. Congress prevents them instituting their own health insurance plan (which an organization the size of the USPS can easily do). Congress mandates pre-paying health and pension benefits many decades into the future (the only case of this occurring in the U.S. government, and also all but unknown in the private sector).

And then there all the Constitutionally-derived mandates for keeping unprofitable rural branch offices open, and delivering mail to every household everywhere, every mail-day. Things no private business will do.

When Congress's package of restrictions and controls essentially requires an organization to run a deficit, efficiency alone cannot turn the situation around.

Comment: Re:Why not push toward collapse? (Score 5, Informative) 435

by careysub (#48619477) Attached to: In Breakthrough, US and Cuba To Resume Diplomatic Relations

Let's look at an "evil government" index to determine the "evilness" of Cuba among authoritarian regimes. A good one is the Democracy Index put out by the Conservative economics journal "The Economist".

Cuba ranks at 124, which puts it in the top 20% of authoritarian regimes, so 80% of them are "more evil". We certainly don't do any business with those 80% do we? Near the bottom of that list is our old friend Saudi Arabia, a regime we absolutely should not support right? Others in the "evil 80%" are Nigeria, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Tunisia, China, Qatar, Oman, Vietnam, and the UAE. No way we do we have diplomatic relations, do any business, or offer any support to any of those guys!

Of course six of these Evil Nations have oil, which makes everything good, correct? Well, it turns out that Cuba has useful offshore oil as well, so geology automatically promotes them to Tolerable Oil Nation, even if their much higher democracy ranking does not.

Comment: Re:mistakes were made (Score 1) 465

by careysub (#48589553) Attached to: Peru Indignant After Greenpeace Damages Ancient Nazca Site

Rather that being a display of "good intentions" the message appears to me to be just an ad for Greenpeace. It is one thing to promote a message, and then take credit/blame for it - this just looks like advertising pure and simple.

Even to many who generally support the same causes as Greenpeace, they are often full of self-importance and recklessness. A very flawed messenger.

Comment: Re: Oh it's asteroids now? (Score 2) 135

by careysub (#48575109) Attached to: Rosetta Results: Comets "Did Not Bring Water To Earth"

Because Earth has very unusual moon. Some good models exist to explain how it came it existence, and how the present system evolved, and can explain the isotope and elemental composition data we have for the Moon, and explain all currently discernible features of the system rather well. But they start with a massive planetoid collision on the early Earth that lofted enough material (combined from Earth and the impactor) to create that little twin planet of the Earth called Moon. Available evidence favors this model much more strongly than any contenders, and this collision event would have driven off the volatiles. It is a very difficult conclusion to escape from, and requires later acquisition of material.

Seems far-fetched? "Fetch distance" is not generally a useful tool to judge a theories plausibiity.

Comment: Re:the evils of Political Correctness (Score 2) 201

by careysub (#48544691) Attached to: James Watson's Nobel Medal Sells For $4.1 Million

You are probably right about the confirmation bias. But one should be able to make that argument without hounding someone out of a profession. That is more-or-less what happened here.

No, it isn't. Watson proved himself incapable, after a good 39 years as Chancellor of the Cold Harbor Laboratory, a publicly funded scientific research institution, to continue to successfully function in that position. Like it or not, carrying out such a prominent, highly-paid job puts demands on a person to act and speak responsibly, with the object of maintaining the image of the institution who trusts him to represent it.

A programmer who can no longer the job he is paid to perform gets fired.

A scientist who can no longer the job he is paid to perform gets fired.

A Chancellor who who can no longer the job he is paid to perform, well, he becomes Chancellor Emeritus with a $375,000 salary.

NB: The claim that it is up to everyone else to debunk Watson is incorrect. As a man of science he had the responsibility of being able to support his assertion.

Sorry, affirmative action for influential wealthy white men does not wash. Nothing unfair here.

Comment: Re:No More Ramen (Score 1) 201

by careysub (#48544645) Attached to: James Watson's Nobel Medal Sells For $4.1 Million

And in the words of the article he "draws a $375,000 base salary as chancellor emeritus" which according to this calculator puts him in the top 2% of Americans. This is assuming that he had no other academic income which we do not know to be the case. Heck, The Double Helix is available right now in five different formats, and so must being in some income.

Efforts to pain Watson as beleaguered and impoverished are bizarre to say the least.

Imagination is more important than knowledge. -- Albert Einstein