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Comment Re:Even U238 isn't radioactive. (Score 1) 242 242

I think you misread something. Pu239 synthesis doesn't include beta capture. U239 is unstable and EMITTS a beta similarly for Np239. Beta (electron) capture would lead to a lower atomic number:
P+e^- = N+\nu_e
There used to be a cool webpage where you could traverse all the isotopes and see how they were produced but I can't seem to find it now.

Comment Re:Harbingers? or just early adopters? (Score 1) 300 300

This is easily testable with whatever dataset they used to do the research. * Come up with a hypothesis based on a subset of your data * Test your hypothesis on the remaining data It seems like they had bunch of data so they could have selected data before the last N choices were made them see how their model predicts what the "Harbingers" would say or not.

Comment Re:Why can't this be the law everywhere? (Score 1) 271 271

I think that asking a private company (Google) to do the job of the State, keeping records private, is the wrong course of action. If your goal is to have arrest records be private then make the SOURCE of Google's search results remove them, e.g. the state database or historical news reports. It is NOT Google's job to hide these things it is the State's job to make these data private. Now if Google is HOSTING these data then they can be held responsible to remove the, otherwise the State should just go after the sources.

Comment Re:the non-empirical research dollar (Score 1) 364 364

You do realize that one reason for the current state of affairs is the complete lack of ability to test ANY new theory? The LHC was really only designed to see what we expected to see. If we don't see some things that will be great but it will mean that the Standard Model is pretty much wrong. But we won't be able to test anything else.

It is naive to believe that everything in the world can be optimized my some market solution. If some group isn't producing results it is not always the case that reducing their funding will produce better results (e.g. education and basic science). We have trained many great theoretical physicists in the past 30 years but have invested very little in experiments that are likely to produce that could falsify any modern theory.

Comment Re:Science != Biomedical Research (Score 1) 444 444

I am in astrophysics so....

Regardless I think there is a very real difference between fields where you can leave your experiment on and grow significance with square root time and those that you simply cannot. It is not a matter of difficulty but a matter of biology. One cannot study many disease with the quantity of data to make a robust statistical conclusion. Biomedical research needs to accept this. However simply discounting their research because you think they aren't working hard enough isn't going to change anything.

Comment Re:Science != Biomedical Research (Score 4, Interesting) 444 444

I agree with your general tone and statement. However it is important to note the inherent limitations of biomedical research. Generally one CANNOT do large scale studies needed to get a statistically robust result. All of physics and astrophysics generally use the 5 sigma discover requirement which means you have to measure the effect to 3e-7. You cannot do this with people as subjects. It is hard to do this with ANY biological subject. Many of the issues brought up stem from this.

I think much of the problem is exacerbated by the public-or-perish mentality but is even more affected by the total lack of reporting null results (when you DO NOT see anything). This skews your overall distribution. It is like not accounting for trials (because you aren't). In biomedical research they need to spend more time quantifying their trials and placing their results in the proper statistical context. Just staying that you are less likely to get parkinson's disease if you drink coffee because we asked a bunch of people isn't the whole story. How many questions did you ask? Was it 100? Did you treat all those as essentially trials?

Comment Re:uhh...warm oceans=wet land (Score 1) 173 173

* The Atacama Desert - 27 degrees South
* The Chihuahua Desert - 30 degrees North
* The Namib Desert - 23 degrees South
* The Sahara Desert - 23 degrees South

What is your point? Two are tropical deserts ( while none lie between 30-35 degrees.

Comment Re:Yep it is a scam (Score 3, Insightful) 667 667

I think you are confused. If there were no pipeline the oil would have to be refined nearby. This WOULD create lasting jobs and keep much more of the profits near where the oil is being extracted. The whole point of making a pipeline to the Gulf Coast is to enter the global crude oil market or more precisely to benefit the big oil companies who can ship the crude oil to countries with little or no environmental protections but cheaper refineries thereby keeping a larger share of the profits for themselves. The pipeline may not be directly bad for the environment but it is intended to avoid the costs and environmental regulations imposed by refining in Canada or the USA.

Comment Re:Hypocrisy. (Score 1) 153 153

I see it was the latter. Regardless, the government should be funding pie in the sky academic research. Currently the push is to fund marketable research. How does that benefit society? We all pay for the development of some clearly marketable product and don't actually retain any of the monetary benefit. If the government funded ONLY pie-in-the-sky research that was vetted by scientists we would be close to where we were in the 1950-1960s where dramatic increases in technology were occurring due to funding of basic research and the solving of problems needed to complete that research. You can claim it is is sucking on the government teat or you can realize that we would never have much of the technology we enjoy today if it weren't for funding of basic science.

It is better to never have tried anything than to have tried something and failed. - motto of jerks, weenies and losers everywhere