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Comment Re:I teach a course somewhat similar (Score 1) 235

Except you then have a problem- why aren't we flung off the Earth? Spin around while holding a ball and let the ball go- it doesn't stay stuck to you.

Aristotle has the answer here- we're stationary and earth moves towards its natural place at the center of the universe. Copernicus and Galileo have no such explanation, and indeed their result seems to be physically impossible.

(And for everyone who thinks "duh, gravity", check the dates we're talking about)

Comment I teach a course somewhat similar (Score 3, Insightful) 235

More on how we know things rather than how little we know, but it touches on a lot of the same issues. We spend a lot of time on the trial of Galileo and how we know the Earth goes around the Sun. It's far harder to show than most people think. If you exclude "I've seen photos from space" I suspect less than 1 in 100 people can give the correct answer of stellar parallax. Galileo proudly announced in 1610 that we'd soon see the proof - he was still waiting for anyone to see it by the time of his second trial in 1633. It wouldn't be officially discovered for 200 more years- so why was Galileo so sure he was right?

Science isn't blindingly obvious- if it was someone would have discovered it ages ago. It's piecing together tiny bits of evidence until something coherent starts to become visible, and even then most of the time someone else comes and kicks apart your jigsaw puzzle with new data

Comment Re:Colleges need to stop building new buildings. (Score 1) 274

Especially when it's historic. We had a long term dampness and mold problem in one of our large, old (by American standards, ~140 years) academic buildings. The final solution was to literally dig out the foundation, lower the entire basement floor by two feet and rebuild the foundation, one six foot segment at a time. As you might imagine, this cost a bloody fortune.

We're looking at another renovation of a historic building which will convert it from a gym into a new academic space, and tie it into another existing building that needs some help. Current estimates are that it will cost more than the entire new middle school the district built 2 years back, and the middle school is huge- far larger than the renovation we're doing.

Comment Re:Could someone ELI5 how Macbooks retain value? (Score 1) 434

Hmm- I just checked my order and my home PC is from August, 2007, so almost exactly 8 years old. Works just fine on Win7 64-bit, will upgrade to 10 when it gets its first service pack. I do game on it- not cutting edge, but Skyrim, Borderlands 2, Fallout NV and the like run just fine. I will admit to upgrading the video card and installing a SSD a few years back- it's mostly limited at this point by the 4GB RAM on it. I don't want to buy more since I suspect it will crap out someday and DDR2 800 isn't of much value anymore, but I have no intentions to upgrade so long as it runs.

Don't see too many Macs from 2007 still in use. I got a new work iMac about two years back which was nice since the previous one (~2010) was almost too slow to use. An SSD would have made it tolerable (Apple mechanical HD's are the lowest tier junk out there) but of course you can't upgrade an iMac. My current one is nicer since I stuffed it with RAM and a SSD- it will probably make it 5 years.

Comment Re:Not Dangerous (Score 1) 31

Your story is clearly false, as any child taken into the water to try and tame sharks would be quickly killed by box jellyfish, stonefish or any of the hundreds of other immensely poisonous animals in Australia that want nothing more than tasty human flesh to dine on.

Comment Wheatstone bridge (Score 1) 620

Ignoring stuff like a fountain pen and a mechanical watch (both of which I use daily) we had an old Wheatstone bridge in one of the PChem labs I taught a number of years ago. It was pre-WWII, mid-1930s and still worked fine.

If you want computer tech, I've used Fortran 4G on some ancient IBM mainframe back in college to run some analysis on research results, and we had an HP-85 running an HPLC in a lab a while back. The HP85 had the worst case of screen burn in I've ever seen- the main HPLC control screen could be seen clearly even when the computer was turned off

Comment What's your favorite strange rule result? (Score 2, Interesting) 111

In Car Wars it was impossible to kill yourself with a .45 magnum pistol. (People had 3 HP, 1 damage injured, 2 made the character unconscious. A heavy pistol did 2 damage so shooting yourself with it made you unconscious) Unforeseen bizarre results often appear in game play- what was your favorite?

Comment The day I knew OS/2 was doomed... (Score 1) 387

was the day I went into the campus bookstore. There were some boxes of OS/2 Warp, ~$200 with the networking stack, right next to the SDK, which was well north of $500.

Meanwhile, on the next shelf over there were some really colorful boxes of Visual Studio for $99, including the bundled copy of NT 4.0. Laugh all you want at Ballmer screaming about "Developers", MS got it.

Comment Re:Why is ITT even eligible for federal student lo (Score 1) 85

Yes, let's look at Berea. 1600 undergrads, more than $1 *billion* endowment. There's a good reason they don't need to charge tuition. I work at a college too, and we do have to charge tuition, in part because our endowment to enrollment ratio is less than 1/7 of theirs.

Ozarks is a bit worse off, at only $427M for 1300 students. They're only 4x better off than we are. Given that their students are required to work for the college, they can make up that difference.

So in order to manage to do what they can, all we need to do is raise either a ~billion dollars (we have more students so will need more cash) and have all of our students work, or raise ~2 billion and we can avoid that.


Comment FARK has become tamer for various reasons (Score 1) 45

Drew: There's no attempt to make Fark more PC. I think what happened is the rest of the Internet moved -far- past us on the anything-goes relative scale.

This really isn't the case, but it's not necessarily bad. Ironically, the recent "PC" changes have been less offensive than previous ones. Fark has removed a number of "extreme" posters over the years- Gorgor and Rugbyjock are two of the most obvious. IMHO, that really hurt- they both added a lot of substance to the site, and since everything they did was only accessible if you went looking I'm still not sure why they were so awful.

The more recent changes aren't anywhere near as bad as people think. For example, there is a tradition of posting links to tasteful pinups on the football threads during commercial breaks- one poster did every Playboy centerfold in order. Nobody has griped about it. The one time a mod really cracked down on this (and other offtopic pics) they were overruled in less than an hour. OTOH, there was a poster who started posting links to bondage porn in those same threads. Some of the most prolific posters in football threads are women, and it was clear it was over the line- I had no problem with him being squashed.

Comment Re:65nm?! (Score 1) 268

I'm typing this on a desktop running a Conroe-version Core 2 Duo: 65nm process. I just got finished running a game of Borderlands 2 with all of the options cranked up.

Yeah, yeah, I know that's primarily GPU, but the idea that somehow a C2D is a crippled chip is absurd. This thing is fine for pretty much everything I throw at it. The biggest bottlenecks it has right now are the 4GB RAM on the motherboard and the USB2-based wireless adapter- the CPU basically doesn't hold it back at all. The only thing that's CPU bound is Registax, and I can wait a few minutes while it runs.

Comment Re:No suprise. Comcast TV is poor value for money (Score 1) 140

Ironically, I recently switched to Comcast (105 Mbps) and ended up with the basic channel package. The way the teaser rate worked is that is was actually a lot cheaper to order the two bundled than the bare internet line- it was $10/month less plus $40 less on install.

Only thing I have to do is cancel the basic cable after year 2 on the contract. I'm not looking forward to that...

"Floggings will continue until morale improves." -- anonymous flyer being distributed at Exxon USA