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Comment: Re:Do people really take this risk seriously? (Score 3, Interesting) 218

by HiThere (#49753819) Attached to: Asteroid Risk Greatly Overestimated By Almost Everyone

A large impact in a shallow ocean area might well in every human dying within a decade. Most immediately. It would also first steam clean the planet, and then set an ice age in motion.

Now I'll grant that this is unlikely in any century, less likely by far, in fact, than that we'll do the same thing to ourselves via war or some other means. (War seems the most likely, but it's not the only contender. An escape from a biological warfare lab is a possibility. I'm not counting natural evolution as "doing it to ourselves", but it's happened to other species. In fact it is currently happening to a large number of amphibian species, some of which have already gone extinct.)

But I do consider asteroid impacts worth worrying about. Not worth obsessing about, however, as they are a bit down the ladder when it comes to humanity exterminators.

I also question his method of assigning proper degree of concern. And the reliability of his assertions. E.g. he claims that only one person has ever been hit by a meteor, but there's no evidence that that's true. He should have said only one person is known to have been hit by a meteor. But how many people in remote areas of the planet could have been hit and the reason for death, or even the fact of death, not officially acknowledged? And clearly nobody could cite an instance before around 1700, as even the existence of meteors was denied. So you need to ask what is the probability of someone being hit by a meteor and the fact being officially recognized. This is a quite different question. He performs the same type of factual manipulation (less obviously) in a few other places.

That said, it's not a major concern while other concerns rate higher. But a species ending event is worthy of particular concern over and above the concern over the individual lives lost, as you also need to consider the future lost, and not just a few personal futures, but all human futures.

Comment: Re:Root cause = speed over security (Score 1) 71

by HiThere (#49738759) Attached to: 'Logjam' Vulnerability Threatens Encrypted Connections

OTOH, using "roll your own crypto" is nortorious for individualized holes and weaknesses. It does tend to mean that the "one size fits all" means of breaking the code won't work, however. Or at least may well not work.

That said, if you have good enough communication to share custom crypto programs, you may be better off using a one-time that can't even theoretically be broken. But it does require a good source of random numbers (e.g. amplified triode vacum tube with no input so you're just amplifying noise). Such things are reasonably easy to build, but for some reason they aren't normal computer accessories. (Video cams watching a flickering flame are another good source.)

But custom crypto is hard to do correctly. AND it requires good communications to standardize the programs. So if you have the communication, a one time pad is better.

Comment: Re:Who needed it? (Score 4, Interesting) 69

Seriously. NetUSB? On a router? WHY the devil would I want that?

Printer sharing. A problem that was solved well in the 80's and since re-solved slightly worse every few years. It is difficult to imagine a worse way than NetUSB, but I am sure there are developers out there with a better imagination than mine.

Comment: I am not able to find that disproof (Score 5, Insightful) 263

by HiThere (#49721239) Attached to: Book Review: The Terrorists of Iraq

The assertion that the infinite monkeys theorum has been disproved seems incorrect. Searches for the named scientist in conjuction with monkey also fail.

IOW, I suspect the entire article is garbage. I will admit that this is based on the fact the the only easily checkable statement appears to be factually incorrect, but if it's wrong where you can check, what should you believe about the places where you can't check?

Comment: Re:Major changes in many countries (Score 4, Insightful) 333

by amorsen (#49720287) Attached to: Genetically Engineered Yeast Makes It Possible To Brew Morphine

There has been practically zero progress on handling the demand side. Doing so would require a radical rethink of how Western countries deal with drugs and drug addiction. This is not likely to happen in the next 20 years at least, and it is stupid to condemn other countries to 20 more years of violence by keeping our focus on limiting supply.

Comment: Major changes in many countries (Score 3, Interesting) 333

by amorsen (#49719953) Attached to: Genetically Engineered Yeast Makes It Possible To Brew Morphine

If we eliminated the need to grow opium, a some countries would find their economies transformed. Imagine Afghanistan without opium financing various criminal factions. We just need to figure out how to make cocaine without coca, and Middle America would be changed too.

Of course that relies on the secret getting out. Otherwise we are still stuck with the morass of violent crime.

Comment: Re:As long as the jobs actually go to the kids (Score 1) 248

There's also absolutely no guarantee that anybody will be hiring those skills. Why should the rich bastards be the only ones who demand guarantees?

Were I advising someone in school, I'd look at the current economics of STEM professions, and the BS surrounding them, and advise the students to study foreign languages. Or *something* besides STEM. Otherwise in 20 years you'll have a huge debt and no way to ever pay it off.

Comment: Re:It formed during the Holocene? (Score 2) 292

by HiThere (#49706927) Attached to: Larson B Ice Shelf In Antarctica To Disintegrate Within 5 Years

Sorry, I can give general explanations about how ice shelves work, but I don't know the specifics of Larson B. But clearly different sea levels would mean that the ice shelves would form in different places. As to what name they would have ...

As an aside a lot of the argument among paleontologists, and others of the ilk, is about names rather than about facts. E.g. there often isn't enough solid information available to say whether two fossils are of different people guess. Some people like to split spieces on small basis, others like to clump, and there often isn't a good reason to decide between the two. Similarly, what difference in locations would justify giving an ice shelf at two different times, and slightly different location, a different name? The ice wouldn't be the same, because the ice on an ice shelf is continually, if usually slowly, moving out to sea. But people like to draw boundaries.

Comment: Re:It formed during the Holocene? (Score 3, Informative) 292

by HiThere (#49701121) Attached to: Larson B Ice Shelf In Antarctica To Disintegrate Within 5 Years

Saying that it formed during the current interglacial is misleading. This is an ice shelf, and ice shelves are the result of glaciers moving into the ocean and not breaking off. So it probably formed because the glaciers started moving a bit more rapidly, and it also probably had ice at the oceanwards side that broke off and melted, and which may well have been older.

FWIW, glaciers are always moving, but as the start to melt their motion speeds up. For a glacier to grow it needs to be accumulating new ice faster than it looses it through moving into an area where the ice is removed faster than its formed. This was said in a sort of general way, because some glaciers live high in the mountains, and when they descend they drop chunks of ice down hill. In the case of an ice shelf, the glaciers are pushing out onto the ocean and floating, so the weight of the terminus is suspended. This "ice shelf" creates back pressure that tends to hold the glacier in place, but the glacier is also pressing the ice shelf to move further out to sea, where it becomes unstable.

Comment: Interesting, but... (Score 1) 148

by HiThere (#49701061) Attached to: Rust 1.0 Released

It looks interesting, but they need to work on their documentation. I wasn't able to find anything about reading and writing random access files. It had many things that appear easy to do in Rust which are difficult in various different languages, but I couldn't find a way in which it was notably better overall in any area.

FWIW I was mainly comparing it against D and Python, with a few considerations of Ruby. I should have compared it against Ada, but it's been too long since I actually used it. I can't reasonably compare it against C++ as I haven't used it significantly since the STL was adopted. (At that point I was stuck using access basic, and relatively to that nearly *anything* looks good.) The only fortran I could compare it against is FORTRAN IV, and they are nearly disjoint in the tasks that they would be good at.

Mind you, this comparison is based purely on reading over the documentation, and shouldn't be taken too seriously. So often the contents of the package doesn't match what it says on the packaging. Given what it says on the packaging my favorite language would be Vala, but actually I never use it.

You can fool all the people all of the time if the advertising is right and the budget is big enough. -- Joseph E. Levine