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Comment: Re:So what? (Score 1) 318

by cyn1c77 (#46793331) Attached to: VA Supreme Court: Michael Mann Needn't Turn Over All His Email

What seems to be missing from this article: Mark Steyn, a conservative talk show host, called Mann a fraud. So, Mann is suing Steyn for defamation. As his defense, Steyn is trying to prove that the data was manipulated and cherry picked. Therefore, proving that Steyn's comments were justified. So, Steyn requested the data under the FIOA, since Mann's work was publicly funded.

But Mann - the scientist who warns us that global warming is real and dangerous based on a computer model - refuses to give out the computer code and data that he used to form his assertions. To me, this doesn't sound very scientific or very honest.

This highlights one of the problems with current science.

Early on (1960's) scientist used to include their code at the end of their paper, for all to evaluate. Today, predictive codes are significantly more complex and have grown into a real cash cow for the scientist, if they catch on. Thus, they are no longer distributed for free because the scientist wants to keep the code internal to their group to maintain funding.

This creates a real problem from a peer-review perspective because you can never really figure out what the code is doing or if it has been fudged. At best, you get a few half-ass validation efforts that are published in some crappy journal. After that, the authors just refer to that crappy article as proof that their code work perfectly and feel they never have to justify its accuracy again. (The editors feel that way too!)

For highly controversial and groundbreaking studies, I would argue that all the data and code needs to be clearly laid out after acceptance of the paper. The data needs to be available for people to analyze on their own. The code needs to be available for a more rigorous peer review. I understand that that may pose a hardship on the scientist for future studies as it gives away their "edge," but he has clearly reaped tremendous press over his paper so maybe it balances out.

My personal opinion (aside from what I think of global warming) is that the fact that Mann is unwilling to release his code or data supporting his famous paper probably indicates that he is at least a little bit worried that the code is wrong or some data was cherry picked. That's not really a very good stance for an academic who is making a groundbreaking argument.

Comment: Re:Alarm clock???? (Score 1) 644

by cyn1c77 (#46790557) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Tech Products Were Built To Last?

Alarm Clock? Really?

I used to live across the street from police & fire stations. I can sleep through anything. A few years ago, searching for ever louder and more earth-shaking alarm clocks, I got to thinking about that. For tens of thousands of years mankind has not had alarm clocks. We relied on the Sun and Daylight to wake us up. So I went down to the local megamart and bought a digital outlet timer. You know, the sort of thing you use to turn your lights on automatically while you're out of town. Hooked up a power strip to it, and plugged in a bunch of $5 floor lamps. Nothing like a Redundant Array of Inexpensive Lamps.

Every morning at exactly 6:55 the digital timer turns on and my room is brightened by 5,000+ lumens of light. It's a nice way to wake up. Very gentle. You come out of sleep slowly rather than abruptly.

What if your significant other doesn't want to wake up at the same time that you do?

Comment: Re:BS (Score 1) 357

by cyn1c77 (#46764155) Attached to: San Francisco's Housing Crisis Explained

Wow, I am so sick of Californians stroking themselves. There are 49 other states in the country filled with people equivalently valuable to those in Cali. Try to keep that in mind.

They Bay Area is one of the few economically active places in the USA, that's why housing is expensive there.

If you want cheap housing, go to an economically dying area, like Detroit; or a place with no regulations such that chemicals leak into your house or explode in your face, like Texas.

The Bay area is boxed in by water, limiting available space and it has a high-population density. The land is also scenically desirable. So yeah, rent is going to be high.

Other cities in the US and across the world have the same issues, but don't resort to socialist approaches such as rent control or have the same sense of entitlement (for better or worse). They just let capitalism work things out.

Amazingly enough, they are also able to restrain themselves from insulting other states when expressing any displeasure online. Amazing!

Comment: No quarintine = no containment (Score 2) 112

by cyn1c77 (#46738175) Attached to: Racing To Contain Ebola

Let's see what we are working with:
(1) 90% mortality rate,
(2) No known vaccine,
(3) Spreads by bodily fluids,
(4) Area with poor hygiene,
(5) All experts recommend letting the virus "burn itself out."

Objectively, is there really anything to do other than to strictly and conservatively quarantine every country (and sub-quarantine cities as necessary) with a positive case?

We should not even be sending in aid workers, who could potentially be exposed. Medicine and water can be airdropped.

That's the short term solution. In the long term, you need to educate the population, improve hygiene and infrastructure, and figure out where the infection is coming from. In general, the African governments have not really been interested in doing any of the above.

Comment: Re:Great, just what we need (Score 1) 126

by cyn1c77 (#46731843) Attached to: The Graffiti Drone

graffiti artists are the people responsible for those really cool murals;

The thing is, those "really cool murals" aren't as cool when you find one on your house one morning. Or on your fence that you just had painted. The day that you are having a big party at your house for your staid work colleagues, including your boss.

Comment: Re:Level of public funding ? (Score 1) 292

by cyn1c77 (#46724883) Attached to: Nat Geo Writer: Science Is Running Out of "Great" Things To Discover

Actually, I do think it's a bad thing. You might know the old saying "applied research brings improvements, but basic research brings revolutions".

I've never heard that saying. Google doesn't seem to be able to find it either.

My pet example of this is lasers. The theoretic foundation for lasers was done somewhere around 1920. Long, long before materials were ready for it. Only in the 1960s the first lasers came into existence, huge, expensive pieces of technology that relied on very expensive crystals to work. Only in the 1980s we started to be able to build cheaper lasers, and it took another ten years before they became mainstream in our consumer electronics.

Your example is fantastic, however, because it clearly highlights the OP's point. It took 40 years to engineer the laser after it was theoretically conceptualized. It then took another 40 years to reduce it to a commonplace piece of technology. That's two scientific lifetimes.

My view is that most early discoveries (1800-1900's) were more a result of the development of the scientific method, which allowed a clear methodology to test hypotheses. Later discoveries (1950's) have tracked with technology development, like electricity, vacuum tubes, nuclear physics capabilities, lasers and computers.

We've currently reached a point now where technological development has stagnated relative to the rapid rates previously. Scientists are effectively using the same equipment they had 10-20 years ago, it's smaller, bit faster, but not much better. Additionally, most new physical theories require more than three or four dimensions, which is outside most scientists intuitive range.

If you want to get back to the rapid discovery rates that we have previously enjoyed, we're going to need to develop some groundbreaking technology, be it unlimited energy, computers that are actually more intelligent than us (not just faster), or some sort of evolution of the human brain to open up a new level of human scientific comprehension. And even with all that, people are still going to have to teach themselves an increasing amount of scientific history to catch up to the present, before they can contribute to new developments.

Comment: Re:Don't bother. (Score 2) 509

by cyn1c77 (#46657623) Attached to: The Problem With Congress's Scientific Illiterates

We have another group at a little less than half that are so worn out with work, the 3 kids society said they should have, the junk they spend their money on, etc.. etc.. that they don't have the time to pay attention.

Oh, we pay attention. But there is no one to vote for who will fix the problem since all of the parties collude to keep themselves in power.

What do you expect us to do? What are you doing other than complaining on /.?

Are all the childless people really making more of a difference? I didn't know that clubbing, going to the movies, and trying to get laid really was that effective at motivating political reform!

Comment: Re:Politcs vs. Science (Score 3, Insightful) 291

by cyn1c77 (#46642297) Attached to: NASA Halts Non-ISS Work With Russia Over Ukraine Crisis

This. NASA is not a political body and should not act like one.

You're joking right?

NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) is a government organization that has to appeal to the president and Congress every year for funding and scope. Their employees are considered federal employees on the GS (general schedule) pay scale. NASA has both "national" and "administration" in the title. It doesn't get any more political than that.

How are they NOT a political body?

Comment: Re:Not practical as contact lenses (Score 1) 99

by cyn1c77 (#46623037) Attached to: Contact Lenses With Infrared Vision?

Infrared essentially blocks out normal vision. While this may be useful as wearable computing, it wouldn't be useful if you had to poke around in your eye every time you needed to switch back to normal vision.

You are missing the point. (And must not need bifocals!)

It would be useful if I could put one IR-capable contact lens in one eye, while having a regular lens in the other eye. This would be fantastic for driving at night, or hunting those pesky pack rats that live in my backyard.

Many people who need bifocals use a different lens in each eye for distance and reading. Some also get laser-corrected to this state. Most peoples' brains are able to successfully merge the different images, but some are not. (So it is better to try it with contacts before lasik!!!)

Comment: Re:Other quakes today (Score 1) 114

by cyn1c77 (#46613281) Attached to: 5.1 Earthquake Hits California

As someone who has lived in California for a very long time (probably longer than those seismologists have been alive) and has been through many quakes, my experience tells me that they are indeed mistaken. A 5.1 quake like that is a good thing, because it's small enough that is doesn't cause much damage, but powerful enough that tectonic pressures are released. We might get a few, weaker aftershocks but there is no way that this is leading to a bigger quake.

Look up "geologic timescale" and compare those times that to the lifespan of anyone that you know.

Then think about if human recollection is useful in any way for anticipating earthquakes.

Comment: Re:'Murica! (Score 1) 230

by cyn1c77 (#46613263) Attached to: Geologists Warned of Washington State Mudslides For Decades

> Jokes aside, I never understood why people live in KNOWN dangerous places.

Because it's only one factor. Farmers value the fertile land where floods deposit soil, and it's rarely feasible to live very far from the farm. Traders value the shipping made easier by river or ocean traffic near river heads, but those are likely flood areas. Damming and irrigation and dikes can actually _change_ the shape of the flood plain, making formerly safe areas profoundly more dangerous. Industries rely on the river water or hydro-electric power, and long commutes to work are a subtle tax on every worker's time every day.

Would you pay double the price of your current home, or apartment, to live in a safer place further from your work? Could you afford it?

I'd be more likely to afford it if the alternative was being buried alive under 40 feet of mud.

Comment: Re:Space travel (Score 1) 357

by cyn1c77 (#46608411) Attached to: Gunshot Victims To Be Part of "Suspended Animation" Trials

This sounds more like science fiction than anything else to me. But if it works and the technique becomes viable to handle patient with heavy injurie - and assuming the patients can be kept suspended for long periods of time without creating further damages, I wonder if the technique could be adapted for space travel. It would solve a lot of problems related to long-duration interplanetary travel.

The idea is not new. I just wonder if this could be the first step in this direction.

If you RTFA you'd know that they were only slowing down the cell's metabolic reactions by a factor of 10 or so. They aren't stopping the reactions which, under normal conditions, would result in brain damage after 5 minutes. Thus, for deep space travel (say 1 year of time), you'd need to slow the reactions down by a factor of 10^5. Thus, it is unlikely that this technology would be adaptable to meet that need.

You'd have more luck working out how to freeze the body without tissue damage from water expansion (for example, by replacing the water with a compatible chemical surrogate that did not expand when it froze). At that point, you could deep freeze the body and effectively stop most molecular transport.

At these prices, I lose money -- but I make it up in volume. -- Peter G. Alaquon