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Comment: Re:Advanced? (Score 1) 94

by erice (#47519319) Attached to: Finding Life In Space By Looking For Extraterrestrial Pollution

Would an advanced race actually do something so illogical?

By "advanced", I assume the summary meant "technologically advanced". How would any civilization reach a high level of technology without going through industrialization? It's not like anyone enjoys living downwind of a coal plant, but the messier forms of energy production are convenient, cheap, and don't require any advanced materials or science. Try to imagine an alternate history where we emerged from the industrial revolution with effective, sustainable fusion and solar power without ever polluting the planet.

The thing is, fossil fuels run out rather quickly on the cosmic scale. A few centuries and the consequences of pollution become apparent quickly too. A civilization must quickly move to something cleaner or it dies. Either way, the pollution stops. What are the odds that our telescopes will find a planet inhabited by a civilization that just happens to be going through a (likely) one-time few century window of time?

If they exist at all, the average of civilization out there is probably tens to hundreds of million years old. It is unthinkable that a civilization that old would still be producing significant pollution (at least of a type that we are familiar). Maybe we should be looking for efforts to dump excessive waste heat.

+ - The Search for a Fifth Force of Nature->

Submitted by Jonathan Salinas
Jonathan Salinas (3748663) writes "They're really beginning to consider killing SUSY because they are seeing that it has produced no concrete experimental evidence when it should have already. This sounds like quite the farce of force, but at least it's opening a path to the next step in uncovering the truth.

From the article: http://www.bbc.com/news/scienc...
"According to the simplest versions of the theory, supersymmetric particles should have been discovered at the LHC by now...Next year will be an important year for SUSY. The LHC will be smashing atoms together at almost twice the energy it did in its first run. Even those who are still strong advocates of SUSY, such as Cern's revered professor of theoretical physics, John Ellis, agree that if LHC scientists do not find super particles in the LHC's second run, it might be time for the hospital patient to be moved to the mortuary.

One of the alternative models being considered is the composite Higgs theory: "The composite Higgs theory also solves the fine tuning problem, albeit less elegantly and, just as with SUSY, there is no experimental evidence for it. It supposes that the Higgs is not a fundamental particle, but is instead made up of other fundamental particles bound together by a hitherto unseen fifth force of nature. This is similar to what is already known to happen with the strong nuclear force, which binds quarks together to produce nuclear particles like protons and neutrons.""

Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:Not foolproof (Score 1) 106

by erice (#47459709) Attached to: Seat Detects When You're Drowsy, Can Control Your Car

Perhaps not creepy but, by itself, not foolproof. I have a tendency toward Bradycardia (slow heart-rate). My normal is in the 50's and at times will slow even down to the mid-40's while fully alert and functional. I don't know whether the system in mind incudes other input in order to determine impairment - the article doesn't really say - but heart-rate alone would be far from reliable.

To be universally useful, I think that a "fatigue detector" needs more than just one parameter.

Lane departure should be a good combination. Calibration for the driver would be helpful, too because you are right, heart rate varies significantly from person to person. Conditioned athletes often have resting heart rates below 50, even below 40. On the other hand, a couch potato may start wavering at 80.

Comment: Not of the kind usually talked about but, yes. (Score 1) 381

by erice (#47440139) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: Do You Want a Smart Watch?

Suuntu Ambit2 is a 100m water resistant GPS sport watch that you can run apps on to custom process the data. It doesn't do things that smart phones do but it does not require a smart phone to function and it operates in environments where smart phones can't. It is heavy, expensive, and there are Linux compatibility issues. That is why I don't own one yet. But it is the right direction.

Comment: What suprise? (Score 4, Informative) 86

by erice (#47435045) Attached to: What Happens When Gaming Auteurs Try To Go It Alone?

The results, surprisingly, are mixed: while some, such as Double Fine's Tim Schafer, have gone on to far greater success, it doesn't always work out that way

This might be a surprise to people who know nothing about startups or business but it should not be to anyone else. Here's the reality: Startups often fail. In fact, the overwhelming majority of startups fail. Being an "auteur" may improve the odds of a soft landing significantly but it does not remotely guarantee success because there is no way to guarantee success.

The reasons for failure are many including poor business skills (there is more to running a company than running a project) and unconstrained egos. The usual bad luck and mayhem that sink projects can also sink companies that only have one project.

Comment: Re:Not the data I was looking for... (Score 1) 148

by erice (#47321129) Attached to: What's Your STEM Degree Worth?

You you really want them to average in tech workers without degrees, like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg?

Why not? High income dropouts are so few that they make little difference in the result, especially if you do your statistics right and report the median rather than arithmetic mean.

Comment: Re:Durability and independent operation (Score 1) 427

by erice (#47320455) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Would It Take For You To Buy a Smartwatch?

Why are you comparing a specialty dive watch to a smart watch.

It would be like me saying I would buy a Dive watch, but there don't have a phone and I can check my airline reservation from one.

Because anything less than a dive watch is a device that I have to be careful with around water. It isn't about the dive functions (made largely obsolete in recent years by wrist mounted dive computers) and there is very little "Special" about a dive watch. It is just an exceptionally robust watch. This is the kind of watch that people who wear watches for function tend to wear, as opposed to those where watches are jewelry.

Comment: Durability and independent operation (Score 1) 427

by erice (#47319751) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Would It Take For You To Buy a Smartwatch?

I wear a shock resistant dive watch. Quite unlike my smart phone, I don't worry about dropping it, hitting it against solid objects, or getting it wet because it shrugs these things off like it was nothing. I don't worry about losing it because it comfortably resides on my wrist regardless of what I am wearing.

I want a smart watch that is like that.

However, much of that advantage is lost if I still have to carry around a cumbersome, unattached, and fragile smart phone. It is fine to augment the smart phone when the two devices are together but if the smart watch is non-functional on it's own than I don't want one.

If the technology is not up to these challenges (And, frankly, I don't think it is) then it is not up to creating practical smart watches. Come back in 10 years and there may be a smart watch worth wearing. The battery problem may be solved by that time too.

Comment: First farmers *in Europe* (Score 1) 40

by erice (#47199155) Attached to: DNA Study: First Farmers Were Also Sailors

Not the first farmers. Early European civilization certainly arrived by sea from the Middle East and invasion/colonization from the sea was repeated many times. It is not terribly shocking to think that agriculture could also have arrived initially by sea. However, that is a very different thing than claiming that the first farmers in the Middle East were also sailors. A thousand years or more could have passed between the beginning of farming in the Middle East and the transmission of that technology to Europe.

Comment: Re:gullwing doors (Score 2) 136

by erice (#47193071) Attached to: Tesla Makes Improvements To Model S

No worries about clearance above the car

Because this is a concern for a sports car, when most parking places are designed for vans.

they don't stop you from putting a roof-rack on it

Also a big problem for sports cars, I'm sure.

Crossover SUV != sports car. They are bigger, taller and commonly used to carry bicycles, skis, and other sporting equipment on their roofs. Crossover SUV's are highly utilitarian which is very unlike sports cars.

Comment: Trivial hardware is still challenging (Score 4, Insightful) 103

by erice (#47184411) Attached to: Sparse's Story Illustrates the Potholes Faced By Hardware Start-Ups

Hardware is Silicon Valley's new religion. Bits and atoms aren't so different after all, the creed goes; just as the cost and complexity of starting a software company has drastically declined over the last decade, it's now becoming much cheaper and easier to start companies that make physical things. But talk to almost any real hardware company, and you'll discover that the promised land is still some distance away.

No. Hardware is Silicon Valley's founding religion. Software came later and now real hardware startups can not get funding. Sparce's experience shows that even if your development is trivial (no significant R&D) and you don't do any of the manufacturing yourself, it can still be a bumpy road to selling product.

I see no evidence that this is improving. All that has happened is that ambitious hardware startups no longer happen and people are getting excited over hobby scale development that didn't use to make the news. Well, to be fair, Kickstarter has allowed "super hobby" scale developments to take off that used to fall into a no-man's land. They were too small to form a viable business around and yet too big for a couple of guys to pull off in their spare time. Still, this is nowhere near a hardware renaissance. The promise land is not just some distance away. There is little evidence that we are going there.

Comment: Re:Sentient machines exist (Score 2) 339

by erice (#47112623) Attached to: The Singularity Is Sci-Fi's Faith-Based Initiative

No. We don't know *how*, but we know it can be done and is done every minute of every day by biological processes.

The knowing how is the problem. While there is little down that a human level AI could be built if we knew what to build, it is not clear that we are smart enough to come up with a design in any kind of directed fashion.

“If our brains were simple enough for us to understand them, we'd be so simple that we couldn't.”
  Ian Stewart, The Collapse of Chaos: Discovering Simplicity in a Complex World

This is conjecture, of course but there is scant evidence against it. Some AI researchers have taken this philosophy or something similar to heart and propose that the only way to make real progress in AI is to reproduce the processes that lead to the human brain: random changes and selection pressure. The trouble is, even if it works and a human AI comes out of it (and it is no clear that we are even smart enough to provide the right selection process), it seems we would have little control and less understanding of the result. Benign but useless seems the most likely outcome.

There is never time to do it right, but always time to do it over.

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