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Comment Re:Mechanism? (Score 1) 184

If extensive cell phone use is almost universal now, and there is no statistical increase in brain cancer, one must conclude that either cell phone use does not cause brain cancer, or something else is negating the increased chance caused by cell phones. You are correct that the lack of correlation does not formally prove that cell phones don't increase your chance of getting brain cancer - but it does suggest that, for whatever reason, it's not a real issue in practice.

Comment Re:Mechanism? (Score 4, Insightful) 184

Once upon a time, almost no one had cell phones. Now, almost everyone does have them, and many use them constantly. To my knowledge, there has not been a statistically significant increase in the incidence of brain cancer between these two eras. I conclude from this that cell phone use cannot be much of a risk as a cause of brain cancer.

Comment Re:How Can The USMS Sell These? (Score 1) 88

I believe all these coins came from wallets that were physically located on seized Silkroad servers. Thus, they may or may not belong to Mr. Ulbricht, depending on whether he is found to have actually been the power behind the Silkroad. The actual bitcoin contained in these wallets, however, were definitely used for illegal activity.

Comment How is this even a problem? (Score 1) 351

Over 55% of hashpower is miners who have chosen to mine on that pool voluntarily, because it is currently in their best interest to do so. If starts to use it's hashpower for nefarious purposes, those miners will certainly no longer perceive mining on to be in their best interest, and will take their hashpower elsewhere. Having 51% of the network hashpower makes it theoretically possible to do bad things, but actually doing those bad things would certainly result in losing a large part of that hashpower, thus negating the threat. It's just like US democracy. Being the party in power gives you the theoretical power to do evil, but if the voters find out that you are doing evil, you probably won't have that power for long. What am I missing here?

Comment Re:A link between DPR and an early Bitcoiner (Score 1) 172

Regardless if there was an official link, it is probably true that Bitcoin really took off when illegal/quasi-legal enterprises like Silk Road started using them. That's not to say Silk Road created Bitcoin or that all Bitcoin commerce is illegal, just that it would never have grown to real prominence without it.

No, it 'took off' when the media discovered it, and the fact that Silk Road commerce was conducted with Bitcoin gave them the sauce for the story - but the media would have eventually discovered Bitcoin with or without Silk Road.

Comment Re:A question to the community (Score 1) 300

From : " Point of sale with bitcoins isn't possible because of the 10 minute wait for confirmation It is true that transactions can sometimes take tens of minutes to become confirmed. Despite this, retailers can accept unconfirmed transactions with very little risk by simply 'listening' on the network for a double-spend transaction, or partnering with a company that provides this service. After a head start of merely several seconds, the original transaction would reach so much of the Bitcoin network that a fraudulent double-spend transaction would almost certainly be fruitless. An attacker would have to commit easily-detectable fraud, in person, several hundred or several thousand times, before one of these low-value double-spend attempts would likely succeed. An attacker could work around the necessity of sending out a second fraudulent transaction to the Bitcoin network by attempting to solo-mine an attack block containing the attack transaction himself - temporarily withholding the block with the rest of the network - and then execute the fraudulent purchase within seconds, or minutes at most, of mining the attack block, before broadcasting the attack block. However, the cost of such an activity would dramatically outweigh the value of anything typically offered without a confirmation wait for several reasons. First, mining a block (attack or otherwise) entitles the miner to a valuable block reward, and because the attack involves temporarily withholding the block from the network, the attacker would put himself in the likely position of his block becoming stale, which would result in forfeiture of the entire reward. Most solo miners solve less than one block per month, so this would represent the loss of proceeds of potentially several weeks of mining. Second, it is not possible for a solo miner to know exactly when his mining activity will yield a block, and because the attack must be carried out within seconds or minutes of successfully mining a block, the attacker will not be able to know or plan in advance the brief window when the attack would be likely to succeed. While it may be easy for a determined attacker to get low-value items that are sold and delivered online instantly without waiting for confirmations (such as downloads), this unpredictability and the briefness of the opportunity would make it extremely difficult to commit any kind of fraud where real-life interaction is required, such as visiting a merchant or taking possession of goods. Petty shoplifting would be far simpler. Even if an attacker went forward with this attack, the retailer would be notified of the fraud the moment the attack block is released seconds later. In short, the 10-minute wait for confirmation is only practically necessary when delivering goods of value that significantly exceed the block reward an attacker would have to risk to perform an attack and where recourse after delivery is practically nonexistent, such as money transfers. "

Comment Anybody know why the top quark was found first? (Score 1) 123

It's my understanding that this boson was not discovered before LHC because it was too massive to produce in a lesser accelerator; however, the top quark was produced at Fermilab some years ago, and it has a larger mass (Higgs @ 125GeV, top quark @ ~171GeV). Does anyone understand why this is? I know I am missing something here...

Submission + - Canada's Internet Surveillance Bill: not dead after all (

Maow writes: Despite a recent story claiming that Canada's Bill C-30, covering internet surveillance, has died a "lonely" death, the minister responsible claims otherwise.

"Public Safety Minister Vic Toews is denying reports that the Harper government intends to quietly shelve its controversial online surveillance bill, C-30. Speaking to reporters on Wednesday morning, Toews insisted the legislation was moving ahead."

This is the bill that you either support, "or you stand with the child pornographers."

Comment Re:This is the flaw with libertarian arguments (Score 1) 694

The market will not necessarily support what is good for society, it will only support what is profitable. This company was even given a head start by the government and still couldn't make it. It's very unfortunate that the destructive libertarian argument that the government should stop spending money and let the private sector work it out seemingly has so much traction.

Is it possible that "green" solutions that are not economically sustainable, and/or that are produced by poorly managed companies may not be "good for society"? Someday a well-managed company will produce economically viable "green" solutions, and the market will definitely support them. The problem with the government spending big money betting on companies like this is that, even if the government is right about which direction we need to go in (which they frequently are not), they still don't know how to pick the right companies to lead in that direction. The market does, and will - if the government lets it.

The Almighty Buck

Submission + - SPAM: Is the Federal Reserve Illegal?

An anonymous reader writes: Bernard von NotHaus, a North Carolina man, was convicted Friday on “Domestic Terrorism” due to printing coins designed to be used as currency. The law used to convict him was that Congress has the exclusive power to coin money in the United States. So how can the Federal Reserve do the same thing without being charged.
Link to Original Source

Submission + - Dutch Radio Geek Tracking Libyan Airstrikes (

jfruhlinger writes: "The days when citizens could only learn about a distant war from the government or the institutional press are long over. An ex-Dutch military geek exemplifies the new way information comes out, tracking attack flights on Libya, and even tweeting messages to the US command responsible for the strikes."

Submission + - RSA Hackers May Have Wanted Server Source Code (

Trailrunner7 writes: The most important issues the RSA attack brings to the surface concern exactly what the attackers may have been after and what the successful compromise means for the integrity of the tens of millions of SecurID tokens deployed around the world.
As troublesome as these scenarios are for SecurID users, perhaps the more likely target of the attack on RSA is the source code for the software that's used to administer and run the token deployments at customer site.
"There's a lot of code needed for maintaining databases, adding and deleting users, making backups, synchronizing master and secondary copies of databases, and more. An attacker who could penetrate these administrative systems doesn't have to worry about key generation or cryptanalysis; they could simply steal existing keys or insert new ones of their own," Steve Bellovin said.

Are you having fun yet?