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Comment it could have been an accident (Score 3, Insightful) 737

While the new info about the cockpit door mechanism seems compelling, it may be worthwhile to take a look at the tragic catastrophe of Germanwings in the light of a crude calculation that illustrates just how staggering is the number of hours flown per year.
Let's assume that on average a person faints only once in a lifetime, and that on average we spend 5 minutes a day with seeking out and using the restroom. Then on average we should expect in every 70*365*24*24*60/5 = 177 million hours that a pilot faints while another is using the restroom, assuming that these two events are uniformly distributed and independent. According to IATA the total number of flight hours in 2012 was 45 million. Dividing the two numbers we see that we should expect such a joint occurrence to happen once in every four years. That it does not happen this frequently is essentially due to the retentive heroism of the pilots, that they tend to stay put even when the urge comes until they guide the plane to safety.

Comment Correlation is not causation (Score 4, Informative) 619

From TFA:

The study reveals nothing about the nature of the link between socialism and dishonesty. It might be a function of the relative poverty of East Germans, for example.

Although the historically observed relative poverty may indeed be causally linked to choice of an economic-political system, even that would not be sufficient to appropriately identify the economic-political system as the cause of the alleged differences in moral aptitudes.

Comment Re:Guard (Score 5, Insightful) 332

Your calculation is way off, only 14kg of Batrachotoxin would be needed to render 38m gallon of water lethal, not 15 tons. One can carry that much in a backpack, not to mention that this is for doses that are lethal to everyone (if evenly distributed); much less would be sufficient to cause serious health issues for the majority who drinks from it.

(According to wikipedia sources 100 microgram of Batrachotoxin is lethal for a 68kg person. 100 microgram in every liter of 144,000,000 l (=38m gallon) of water requires 144,000,000*100microgram = 14.4 kg poison.)

This is of course not a justification for draining this amount of water from the pool every time the pool is micturated upon in the fair city of Portland.

Comment Re:Same problem Bitcoin will have (Score 3, Informative) 169

As it is explained in the FAQ, the blockchain is not used for distributing user's messages. Only user registration and authentication is based on the Bitcoin protocol. The blockchain only grows in proportion with the number of registered users, with a few hundred bytes per user. Even with a widespread adoption that is still a quite managable size we are talking about.

Comment lower limit on tokamak design (Score 5, Interesting) 318

Are there any good guesstimates on how small a tokamak-based fusion reactor (which produces more energy than consumes) can become? Theoretical limitations on size of the reactor would have obvious implications for pragmatic issues. AFAIK there is very little limitation on how small fission-based reactors can get.

Comment Re:This is why I don't believe in compulsory votin (Score 2) 321

Speaking of idealists, really it's people like you who claim that "every vote matters" who are the idealists. In fact you are not just an idealist, but outright wrong in this. You are also wrong in claiming that by voting people should make compromises; no, they shouldn't.

In reality the vote of any single person is worth zero. The chance that your vote makes a difference - that without your vote the result would be a tie - is so small as to be negligible, and even if it were the case that your vote was the tie-breaker, since the precision in counting the votes for things like a national election is always greater than one vote, even then it would be pretty much up to pure chance who ends up winning, not up to your tie-breaker vote.

The decision of any single person whether he votes also does not have a significant influence on how many other people may go to vote, and so we are back to the argument in the previous paragraph: your vote does note make a difference. Period. From the perspective of the rationality of your decision it does not matter what would happen if everyone else did the same etc. It would be entirely rational for people to not vote at all, and in fact many people make this rational decision when they stay home or hang out with friends instead.

Hence there is no point in voting if your goal is to influence the result. You are wrong if you think there is. This is the negative part. Now to the positive: One value I see in voting is that it gives you an opportunity to signal your preferences and your goals in your local community when you participate in political discussions. The preferences and goals of people living around you influence your life, and by participating in these political discussions you may actually have an effect on how these preferences and goals change over time. Having chats about "who to vote to" is one of the very few contexts which allows for exchanging ideas regarding these issues.

And so I think you should make use of this opportunity to influence others around your. By taking the effort of walking to the poll booth you signal your preference for living in a democratic society (although you could merely assert this preference as well, the fact that you give up a pleasant afternoon just to stand in line may give some actual credence to the claim). When it comes to choosing the candidate, you should choose the person 1) who represents your views and your preferences most closely, and 2) from whom it's unlikely that you would get favors if it became known that you voted for him. Why? Because such a choice would make it most credible that you indeed intend to make use of the opportunity of voting to represent your preferences and goals, as opposed to using it for some other purposes, i.e. in hoping to get favors from someone.

From this it follows that you should not make compromises and should not choose the candidate who is most likely to win among the barely acceptable ones. You should pick someone who is not among your friends, but whose views are closest to yours, even if he is relatively unknown. Again: your actual vote does not make a difference. You voicing your opinion about preferences and goals might have a local effect. You should use the opportunity of voting to maximize this latter effect.

AFAIK in the US there is always a write-in option. More people should make use of it.

Comment Re:traveling faster than light does NOT contradict (Score 1) 315

In what way do your clowns contradict what I wrote? I did not say that SR supports the existence of tachyons, I said it is compatible with it. The summary (and many articles) say, however, that traveling faster-than-light violates the laws of special relativity. That is false, and that is what I wrote.

Comment traveling faster than light does NOT contradict SR (Score 1) 315

Contrary to what many news-sites keep repeating, it is well known that traveling faster than speed of light does not contradict special relativity. It is well known that tachyons are consistent with SR. SR only entails that a particle is either always slower than the speed of light, or is always faster than the speed of light, but can't cross that boundary from either side. The real issue is that these particles are neutrinos which are supposed to be able to travel with less than speed of light as well.

"In the face of entropy and nothingness, you kind of have to pretend it's not there if you want to keep writing good code." -- Karl Lehenbauer