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Comment Re:Why should? (Score 1) 303

The problem is that you're comparing the current self-driving car to a *perfect* human. Yes, Google's cars might have problems in bad weather, with flag signals, etc. But they don't have problems with falling asleep, texting, being distracted by the two kids fighting in the back seat, etc. And having driven in the south after a light snow any number of times, I've seen an awful lot of humans who simply cannot be trusted with a car in the same weather conditions you're complaining that SDCs can't handle. I've seen three really bad accidents in my life- two were caused by the driver falling asleep at the wheel, the third by a person who wasn't paying attention to their right side blind spot. SDCs would have avoided all of these. I've been in two accidents bad enough to set off airbags- both were caused by a driver suddenly stopping to avoid a problem and the following car not paying enough attention to stop in time. And while I'm a pretty good driver, I caused one of these- it was a moment of inattention that a SDC wouldn't have had.

Comment Re:It should be obvious (Score 1) 358

Depends. I've seen attempts by astrologers to come up with a set of relationships that's both systematic and testable. I would argue that those attempts approach scientific hypotheses.

Now, they uniformly *fail* those tests, so even if they are potentially valid scientific hypotheses, they're wrong and thus can be discarded, but that doesn't make them non-scientific in the first place.

Comment Re:Lots more information (Score 3, Interesting) 89

It's not. It's actually one of the biggest problems the LSST will have for a couple of reasons

1) It's not in the middle of Europe, it's on a remote mountain in Chile. A bit harder to get super high speed internet up there

2) The data off the LHC can mostly be analyzed by computer. While some of the LSST data can be (transient stuff), discovery of interesting new things is going to be a lot harder to automate, so trying to figure out how to get people to actually look at the torrent of info coming off of it will be a challenge.

That said, they aren't very worried about the actual data itself- they are starting with a 150TFLOP computer to do the initial analysis and figure they will need about 950TFLOP after a decade of use, which is fast but not world record setting. ~60PB of info over a decade is doable with a variety of tech

Comment Re: A-10 for the Win (Score 1) 502

And speaking as an ex-tanker guy, speed and height are not what we want. The job is *close* air support- this means being nearby, able to see the target. Is this a dangerous role? Yes- modern AAA is very good. But being on the ground is kind of dangerous too, and it would be kind of nice if the Air Force were willing to actually help out rather than just chucking a precision bomb from 20KM away and hoping it's enough. (And then being shot down by a modern dedicated fighter jet since it's not very stealthy with the weapon racks open and sucks in air-to-air combat even against 40-year-old models like the F-16)

Comment Re:Its easier now (Score 2) 114

It's also a lot easier when you start from scratch and don't have to support any old versions/file formats. The bad decisions you make on day 1 (and you *will* make them, no matter how good you are) are going to haunt you for the rest of your life.

Comment Re:I teach a course somewhat similar (Score 1) 237

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) 237

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) 435

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 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.

"Stupidity, like virtue, is its own reward" -- William E. Davidsen