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Comment: Re: Yeah, so? (Score 1) 127

by fermion (#47721163) Attached to: How Argonne National Lab Will Make Electric Cars Cheaper
Elements are defined solely by the number of protons, which is also know as the atomic number. There can be no more elements than we know unless they are created by adding more electrons and adding to the end of the periodic table. Writers often make stuff up, like the 10% brain thing, and people are not educated to know it is just made up.

Isotopes are not considered chemically different from each other as they only differ in neutrons . As understood, the neutrons seem to help hold the atom together. It also appears that the number of neutrons increases non linearly in relation to the number of protons, to the point where elements with large number of protons are unstable.

Comment: Re:The question should be, what is causing delays? (Score 1) 140

by fermion (#47686279) Attached to: Delays For SC Nuclear Plant Put Pressure On the Industry
So the solution to this is to build nuclear plants where we can get minimum regulations and avoid lawsuits. These location should be where no one really wants to live, so that people are not going to effected and need to file lawsuits to protect themselves. I have often thought that the states from Washington to Minnesota, which taken together from a significant net drain on the national budget, should be asked to secede and form a country that exemplify conservative values such as an aggressive free market, very limited regulations, and the like. In such a place nuclear power plants could be built in, say, North Dakota, without any of the pesky useless safety issues that now make nuclear power an unreasonable solution.

Comment: Re:Ticket ToS (Score 1) 226

by fermion (#47681413) Attached to: Posting Soccer Goals On Vine Is Illegal, Say England's Premier League
In many venues there are limits to the recording devices you may take in and use. These are largely in place to limit the quality of the fan images to protect the market for the professional images, which generate a great deal of money. These rules are enforced by bag checks, metal detectors, even pat downs. In addition, the primary function of the ushers seem to be monitoring the fans for use of prohibited devices.

That said, the result of violation of these limits is not generally criminal. If I take a picture of cirque du soleil, for example, I will be asked to stop or be ejected if I do not. Likewise, if I am recording a soccer match, and that is the only way to catch a goal, the rules might be that I delete the recording or be ejected, and if I am always doing this the league has the freedom not to sell me or ticket or let me in if I get a ticket.

So under the terms of service, the solution is to ban these people who post goals from attending the game. Claiming the activity itself is illegal is silly. The best the league can hope for is that a person who has been banned might get arrested for trespassing if they ignore the ban and it can be proven they were aware they were banned.

Comment: Re:The problem of Microsoft (Score 1) 337

by fermion (#47646415) Attached to: Microsoft Surface Drowning?
The problem with MS is that they have never been in the business of supported or selling to end users, and they are entering this market at the expense of the desktop business market.. The cost of their software products, at the consumer level, has always been very high end. They have lower priced products, but those tend to be so incomplete as to require a lot of time to make work. Remember, the product is only cheap if your time is worth nothing.

So MS Surface is a good product, but it is expensive for what it is. To make it look cheap they compare it to a 13" Macbook, but the reality is that if is priced evenly between a 11" and 13" Macbook, so is not aggressively priced.

For better or worse, the reason that consumers buy MS Windows based PCs is because they are aggressively priced. A laptop can be had for 1/2 the price of a Mac because the laptop can have lower specs because MS Windows can run well on lower spec machines. I am not going to run on an I5, but there are many who that is fine and they can get a cheaper laptop than Apple provides, and get service from a third party that caters to end users.

It is going to be a while before the culture shifts to MS being a seller of premium consumer product. This will happen, if MS is serious about being such a firm, but that opens up the business market. Already MS is talking about only supported one version of IE, which means that business is going to have the headache of rolling out frequent updates. Apple is teaming with IBM to get point of use applications on iPad, which will significantly reduce the cost of supplying business rule applications to worker bees. Firms can already create custom apps on Android devices to serve the same purpose. MS Surface should be a way to counter these losses on the desktop. Instead they are produces commercials to make the MS Surface seem fun, and charging extra for a keyboard.

Comment: Re:No, school should not be year-round. (Score 1) 421

by fermion (#47640445) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: Should Schooling Be Year-Round?
Summer breaks are useful for parents of means who can put their kids into other activities or parents with commercial activities with which the kids can help. For most everyone else it is beneficial to have year round 8-5 school, not because kids get more educated but because it is highly effective babysitting.

A case can be made for a trimester year round school situation in which students are required to attend two per year. Two in a row can be missed with permission, and missing three is equivalent to dropping out of school. This could be beneficial in many ways, but would be complex.

A big problem with the proposal is simply costs. Right now there is a lot of stuff that happens in the summer. Some of it is paid by school budgets, some of it is paid by external grants, some of it is paid by the teacher. The fantasy is that we can increase the school year with no significant costs. This is not true. Over the past 20 years teacher pay has gone up considerable, and a lot of that cost has to do with simple additional time the teacher is required to work. This is the same in any situation. If you are paid hourly, i.e. required to be at work at 7 and work until 3, if they ask to work until 4 every day then that should come with additional pay. This is what has happened with teacher, the additional few weeks and time per day has increased pay about 15%. If we go year round the pay will increase another 20% at least.

There will be other costs. Training will not happen during the off time, so staff will have to hired to cover classes. The argument cannot be made that personal business can be handled during breaks, so teacher will have to take days off during the year, a practice that many teachers now try to avoid. This again will require additional staff hire. To give you an idea of this additional cost, say a school has 60 teachers, which is a small school. Two weeks of training and two weeks of personal time is 20 days. For all teachers that is 1200 person-days, let round it up to 10,000 person-hours. At minimum wage, rounding up again, is $80,000 per school in class coverage costs. Not all of this is new costs, but it is significant. Add a half million for additional pay, weekend costs to maintain the school that is now down over break, and one is looking at a cost per student going from around $7,000 to around $8,000.

Comment: Re:And yet here I am (Score 2) 98

by fermion (#47638415) Attached to: For Fast Internet in the US, Virginia Tops the Charts
Like so many of these studies the centers of the data are of little use for someone trying to quantify speeds. Even if we had a range for the center, say a standard deviation, that would still leave out variables like size, population, geography and variables in population density. It is unreasonable to publish a single number for a states as meaningful. It does back to the idea that one can make a bunch of junk numbers seem more valid by putting them on a pretty map.

Comment: Re:Just refuse the new gear (Score 1) 224

by fermion (#47627393) Attached to: The Hidden Cost of Your New Xfinity Router
The equipment supplied by Comcast or ATT or Verizon or whoever has traditionally been notoriously wasteful in terms of energy. I myself but a router and DVR. The router pays for itself in a year, and both probably have a return on investment of two years in terms of electricity and rental savings.

Comment: Don't have to go back 100 years (Score 5, Insightful) 315

by fermion (#47627329) Attached to: Why the "NASA Tested Space Drive" Is Bad Science
25 years ago there was desktop cold fusion. A lot of people wanted it, there were conferences on it, probably at least a hundred million was invested in it over a year or two. but it was bogus. The hypothesis was sound, it was no completely unreasonable, but the experiments showing a positive results on the hypothesis were flawed. It is not that cold fusion does not exist as something that might happen, it is that we have not shown it happens. I don't want to muddle the situation, but there is a clear line between what can happen and does happen in the lab. Theoretical people have told me that their models are necessarily not connected with reality. They are math, and the math sometimes tells us what is going on, sometimes fools us, and sometimes is just bonkers. What differentiates all this is good experimental science, which is really hard to do. I mean really hard, and for the most part does not lead to a theory, but only data that can be collected by math. This is why even though Galileo did a lot of good research, it was 100 years before the math caught up and we were able to do what we now classify as as science.It is why electromagnetic, the speed of light, quantum mechanics, and what is to follow is going to drop out the math. Which is to say we have a very complex interactions. Virtual particles drop out the math. The math says that they must exist, but inherently can't do anything useful. This is in the same way that photons can be coupled so they may seem to act faster than the speed of light(maybe, until we get distances longer than the earth-moon system we cannot really know) but no one expects information to be communicated faster than the speed of light. The end result is that if you have an experiment that violates the math, you have to be very sure it is a good experiment, and the consensus is quickly building that this is not. There is a certain responsibility to being an experimentalist. One can't just willy nilly say there are 40 dimensions of energy is created from the aether. On can be sloppy with conclusions, as Einstein was with the photoelectric effect, or Milikin in his oil drop experiment, but one does have a responsibility to do ones best to control systematic errors, and not jump to conclusions when one does not fully understand those errors. Unless, of course, like the two cited authors you are lucky enough to be accidentally correct.

Comment: Re:WTF? (Score 1) 172

by fermion (#47593537) Attached to: Psychology's Replication Battle
We also have to look at how repeatability works. One reads a paper, does one best to follow the work, perhaps calls one of the researchers to get clarification, combine this with known methods, and at the end of the day maybe get a similar result. If, as in the case of cold fusion, the result is not similar, then there is at least some carelessness if not fraud in the original result. Which is fine because it is just one result, and no one should thinks one result is conclusive.

In social sciences reproducibility is possible. For instance in epidemiology databases are crunched using well known statistical methods to determine correlations, then further science is applied to determine is these correlations might be causative. If a second party cannot do an equal statistical analysis and get similar results then the results are not valid. If a second party can go through the process of collecting the data and find systematic errors, then the results is not valid. This is in fact a big problem with education research. When subject to the process of real science, much if not most of the research has been shown to not meet those standards.

So social science research can be scientific, but there is a second issue. We expect research to be predictive. It is said that field such as astronomy are as unscientific as social science. But in astronomy there is an element of application. The results are used to predict other finding which then can be confirmed. This is the element that makes fields such as physiology less scientific.

Comment: Re:Real world equivalent (Score 1) 171

by fermion (#47591499) Attached to: Critics To FTC: Why Do You Hate In-App Purchasing Freedom?
I thought of it another way. You go to the store and everything the kids touches goes on your credit card. Remember, most of what occurs in the apps has no real world equivalent. You can't go and return it, or even complain it was faulty or did not meet expectation. At least a theme park if there is bug in the ice cream you might get another one.

In any case,Apple is absolutely wrong here. If this were a convenience feature it would be easy to add in a setting like they do with so many other features. For instance cellular data roaming can be turned off. To make sure that Apps still have an opportunity to waste bandwidth there is an annoying reminder to turn the cellular data back on when accidentally using the App. If Apple wanted go, it could allow users to set the time interval anywhere from zero to 15, or more, and then allow the App to be as annoying as it wanted to get you to turn back to 15. As it is, the protocol is clearly meant to maximize unintentional in App purchases.

Comment: Re:The Free Market has the Technology Now (Score 1) 218

by fermion (#47589109) Attached to: The Great Taxi Upheaval
Information implies past data and perfect information implies absolute security and verification. This is more possible through the medalian system as carry a large cost and can be removed if people are very unreliable or dangerous. Of course the system is not perfect, but utilizes the time tested method of excessive punishment for certain acts, as well as background checks. Look at it like cleaning staff in a hotel. They have oppotunity to steal, but there is likely no due process if an accusation arises so there is less incentive to steal.

In the current system, information may be collected, and may be reliable, but it is not verified or acted upon. One can imagine where a driver gets a bad review, then creates a new account with a friends credentials. One can imagine a case where cars are not well maintained and cause an accident.

In fact the solution to this is very simple and should not raise the prices much if the profits of the service are moderated. Require each driver to carry commercial insurance and have a commercial drivers license. My father had one, so I know they are not difficult to get. The service could contract with an insurance company to provide a customized package. I think it is important for each driver to contract with an insurance company, not the service, because the insurance company will have additional checks and verifications. The policy can then be linked to the profile to insure that a driver is more likely to be who he or she says it is.

Right now these services are simply trading security for costs. For some this is a good tradeoff. But if the system of regulated cabs is dismantled without something equally secure we will simply see a period where people have no choice but to be insecure and then an expensive process where regulation, probably worse regulations, are implemented.

Comment: Re:or credibility of the government (Score 1) 124

by fermion (#47586049) Attached to: The CIA Does Las Vegas
The key point I was trying to make is that the current war does not depend on conscription. We have enough incentive in terms of pay and benifit and enough people with no other skills that we do not need conscription, so the kids have no reason to protest like the did in Vietnam. The other point is, and I am amused that some silly person spent an hour trying to retcon history(like Boehner is trying to do with the government shut down and the impeachment threats(so sarah palin never suggested that we impech obama, only those in the administration) is that those who were directly impacted by his action or indirectly impacted by those who were supporters did not have any recourse. It is like the no fly list now, except the no fly list is secret and does not seem to focus on certain famous US citizens whom the McCarthy type people did like. As far as the various wars of the Veitnam era an the various wars of current Iraq era, they were political, religious, and economic factors in both. Obviously the former was a religious type fanaticism against communism, while the later is a political fanaticism against Islam. The former was to protect us against a Russian aggression through Cuba, while the later to protect us against a radical 'Muslim' aggression through terrorism. In both cases free exploitation of resources, including oil, was a proximate factor. In either case proxy wars are fought. Vietnam instead of China, Iraq instead of Afghanistan(I know we are now in Afghanistan, but the horses were already out, so to speak).

Comment: Re: Bad summary (Score 1) 201

by fermion (#47582979) Attached to: NASA Tests Microwave Space Drive
In 1989 Fleischmann and Pons published a paper showing evidence of cold fusion. No one, other than a team atmTexas AM, of course, was able to replicate. The lab where I worked had a preprint of he TAM paper andmeveryone unformly decides it was crapbduebto lack lack of experimental detailed procedure. I am told the FP paper had the same issues. Though millions was thrown t the problem in 1989 and 1990 nothing came of this discovery that gviolated all known science. Mather AM people denied fraud by claiming bad rods, but it seems likely there was some spiking. FP were so suspect the filed lawsuits against other scientists who disputed their results. The lesson bieng that one result is a best a guess and worse fraud, and while we want to test the current expectations of physics, a single result provides little information. It is not so much that cold fusion or virtual particles can't provide useful energy, but that the current theory does not show how such a thing is possible and experiment is inconclusive.

Comment: or credibility of the government (Score 1) 124

by fermion (#47580703) Attached to: The CIA Does Las Vegas
In 1950 Joe McCarthy claimed to have a list of communists in government and started a process that destroyed the lives of common US citizens without due process or ability to appeal. In the mid 1960's most young people were against the government because they were being forced to serve their country in the military, which generated a great deal of anti-government sentiment because they did not want to. If we look what is happening today, most of the government overreach does not effect such average of high profile private citizens. For the most part this overreach is seen as only targeting foreigners or terrorists. Susan Sarandon is not being hauled in front of congress and being prevented from working because of what she says. In effect, the government has gotten much more sophisticated at managing the perception of the public. Of course not everyone is governement is so sophisticated. Some are still playing 'there are 400 communists in the Obama white house' card or claiming so other such nonsense and trying to use it to limit rights. But for the most part, the days of stupid seem to be at a lull.

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