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Comment: Re:well.. (Score 1) 760

I suspect future earnings potential. A couple hundred acres of good farmland, if cared for, can be used to make the owner money from now till whenever: if they put a lot of work into it, mind you, not like it's just sitting there earning interest. Also, it's a limited edition thing: they aren't making more of it. Well, slowly anyway, geology takes a while.

Something else to consider - the land is likely to be mortgaged to to gills to pay for the really pricey equipment needed to farm these days. Farm equipment makes exotic cars look cheap in comparison (fun non-sequitor fact: saw more Lamborghini tractors on the road in rural Italy than sports cars).

Many of the same arguments on income vs. net worth apply to most small business owners. It takes a lot of $$ to get the infrastructure to run whatever enterprise they're running, and it's enough to support a few jobs. But, it's not particularly liquid infrastructure: cash out the land or the pizza oven or whatever, and no more jobs or production.

Comment: Re:Journals and Universities are mostly to blame (Score 1) 320

The structure of University research is a huge part of this. Researchers don't care about truth or quality of their research. They care about keeping their jobs and their pay, which means several things:

Speak for yourself. As a practicing University Researcher, I greatly care about truth and the quality of my research.

I've got a job which pays me to do really cool stuff that I care about. Poor quality research doesn't get me that job: why on earth would I mess with a good thing by doing a bad job?

For what it's worth, I've probably published more papers where the null hypothesis wins than not. Way more work and less satisfying to get a good upper limit, but it is what it is.

Comment: Re:The Rules (Score 5, Informative) 347

by habig (#49244137) Attached to: FCC Posts Its 400-Page Net Neutrality Order

Actually, this is the first thing to come out of Government in a while that actually makes senses ... and I generally lean pretty libertarian.

Net access has a lot of parallels with other utilities (large infrastructure costs means little competition). In the case of phone companies, it's almost a one-for-one swap anyway: land lines are going the way of the dodo, but many of us now mostly use network packets for phone calls anyway (both actual voip phones and skype-like services).

One can argue whether utility regulation itself is a good or bad thing: but network service quacks and waddles an awful lot like a utility-shaped duck, any way you slice it.

Comment: Re:avoiding doing a postdoc isn't possible (Score 1) 283

by habig (#48090745) Attached to: Glut of Postdoc Researchers Stirs Quiet Crisis In Science

Am I alone in finding any of this news? I dropped out of academia almost 20 years ago (best decision I ever made, also one of the more difficult ones) and it was clear then to anyone who could do simple arithmetic that most of us (post-docs) wouldn't get faculty positions.

Yes, definitely Not News. When I went off to investigate grad school (in astrophysics) 25 years ago, departments I was applying too explicity warned me "look, odds that you'll get a long-term job in the field are slim if you go down this path". That's academics warning away potential customers of their grad programs: so the problem was bad enough even them for ethics to trump self interest.

Nor can you predict what will be in demand when you graduate: academia is a fickle beast, and fields go in and out of fashion in less time than it takes for the typical PhD. So study what you love, because you love it. That way, and only that way, will you win.

This! In spades (and, this was exactly what those people telling me there were few jobs said next). It happened to work out for me (sort of, I do experimental particle physics now instead of real astrophysics).

But even my friends who didn't get as lucky as I did aren't unemployed or flipping burgers. If you can get a PhD in astro- or particle physics, you've got some useful skills that transfer nicely to working in the real world. Most all of which pay way better than being an academic. So again, my career works only because I love it: not because I wanted to get rich.

Comment: Re:Scion marketed to, trimmed for younger, less ca (Score 4, Informative) 261

by habig (#48037115) Attached to: Which Cars Get the Most Traffic Tickets?

The Scion is marketed to younger people and trimmed a bit hotter. The Subaru is marketed to older people and has things like heated seats and automatic climate control.

The WRX? That's the rally car version with an amazing power/weight ratio and all wheel drive to get that power to the rubber. Not exactly the Oldsmobile demographic.

FWIW, heated seats match up well with all wheel drive, you're living in a snowy place if you buy this car, regardless of age.

Comment: Re:Are we, America, butthurt? (Score 1) 247

by habig (#47764255) Attached to: Fermilab Begins Testing Holographic Universe Theory

On the contrary, it's a well thought out experiment using some clever and not terribly expensive techniques. The "holographic universe" thing is a flashy attention grabbing headline, but if you bothered to go read up on the details, you'd see that it's simply a good way to look at the consistency of spacetime on scales people haven't yet explored. I, for one, would love to know if spacetime is lumpier than expected, regardless of what you care to call it.

Also, last week's "hints beyond the standard model" article was slashdot clickbait, not actual science news.

So, worthy reader, "how about doing some actual article reading, like the guys on Slashdot do?" Oh, wait, I see....

Comment: Neutrino Mass (Score 5, Informative) 97

by habig (#47718903) Attached to: The First Particle Physics Evidence of Physics Beyond the Standard Model?

I'm a bit biased, but consider finding non-zero neutrino mass (via neutrino oscillations) as the first "beyond the standard model" evidence. Slashdot carried that story in its infancy, way back in 1998.

Also worth pointing out that TFA is talking about an experiment in construction that hopes to push the g-2 result past 5 sigma. It's not there yet, although 4.something sigma is still pretty darn good. Just 14 years late to the party.

Comment: Re:My experience driving a Prius (Score 1) 377

by habig (#47257361) Attached to: Are US Hybrid Sales Peaking Already?

If you're a highway warrior for the forseeable future your best bet is diesel. Electric power-trains truly show their strength in city driving due to the ability to regenerate from braking. On the highway the savings are too marginal.

I've been wondering how come there's not a diesel hybrid. Get the diesel goodness on the highway, the electric bonus in the city: make use of both strengths! Not like locomotives haven't been doing this for the last hundred years or anything...

Of course, I also wonder how come pneumatic hybrids aren't being developed more (I think Citroen is the only one out there). Storing energy as compressed air is more efficient than in batteries (which don't deal well with with high inrush currents), and don't have the "nasty chemical battery pack" issues.

Comment: Re:Submarines Move (Score 4, Interesting) 75

by habig (#46585137) Attached to: Physicists Produce Antineutrino Map of the World

When the Borexino experiment was being built (under the Appenines in Italy), they calculated that if a nuclear sub parked for more than a couple weeks in the same spot in the Adriatic, they'd be able to see it using neutrinos.

Not sure if anyone's redone that calculation now that the experiment works, but the preliminary one attracted some interest from the defense side of things.

There is a reasonably well thought out set of specs for "if DoD wants to use neutrino detectors to monitor nuke activity in, say North Korea, what would they have to build". Done from the perspective of the particle physics guys saying "if we can get DoD to spend some of its semi-infinite pile of cash on some neutrino detectors we're interested in, how would we do it?". The answer turns out to be almost feasible, actually. Here's only the most recent paper I bumped across, there are many others.

Comment: Re:Scientists "know"? (Score 2) 75

by habig (#46585009) Attached to: Physicists Produce Antineutrino Map of the World

Researchers don't "know" squat. They have lots of theories, none of which have supporting data. That's what makes the heat of the Earth's core a mystery. By all rights it should not be this hot. It should be dead cold like the moon.

How about "scientists have a pretty good idea". Here's a recent review article on geoneutrinos, which does compare direct neutrino observations and the overall heat budget.

Don't know everything, but the more tools you can turn on the problem, the more clear things become. Adds up to something a bit more than "squat".

Comment: Re:Pre-Science (Not To Be Confused With Prescience (Score 1) 580

by habig (#44257775) Attached to: Math and Science Popular With Students Until They Realize They're Hard

While this would result in graduates who really knew their stuff, I'm afraid the pressure is in the opposite direction. Administrators lean on faculty to increase the institution's "4-year graduation rate". Because legislators lean on them, because the public leans on the legislators. John Q. Public wants what he's paying for, a four year degree in four years, dammit! (despite the fact that an Engineering curriculum really is five years worth of stuff: it used to be here, and still is in much of the world). Given the current huge tuition rates, certainly that's understandable though: if penny wise and pound foolish.

Some people can learn what they need in less time than others. Some subjects are harder than others. But, everyone and every subject unfortunately has to be mashed into the same timeframe.

Of course, why it's ok for the "professional" careers (as if Engineer or Scientist isn't) you mention to require more schooling is a baffling exception. Good for those fields: they get the time to teach stuff thoroughly!

Comment: Re:why no dark matter black holes? (Score 4, Insightful) 44

by habig (#43774827) Attached to: Dark Matter, WIMPS, and NASA's Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer Data

If dark matter only reacts to gravity, why doesnt collapse into hgh density clumps over the eons? Ordinary matter is stopped from doing this by the electronmagnetic repulsion of atoms for masses less than a few hundred Jupiters and by hadronic stong force for less than couple Suns.

It does, we call those clumps "galaxies".

Note that the virtue of interacting only a little bit with normal stuff (via only the weak and gravitational forces, not gravity alone) actually makes it harder for dark matter to pack in tightly. Why? it's hard for a distribution of dark matter particles to shed kinetic energy and settle down more deeply into the gravitational potential well. Ordinary matter has all sorts of electromagnetic ways to shed energy and cool down.

If this thermal argument is opaque, imagine one WIMP, with some kinetic energy. It falls down towards the center of a galaxy. But, it seldom interacts to lose any energy, so zooms right back out the other side. Sort of a tiny, frictionless pendulum with a galaxy sized amplitude.

Comment: Go North, Young Man (Score 4, Interesting) 198

by habig (#43765499) Attached to: Data Center Managers Weary of Whittling Cooling Costs

Why don't they just site their centers up north? Here in Duluth, most of the year the outside air is cooled for free by mother nature. Heck, they could sell their waste heat to nearby homes and businesses and get a negative PUE.

Don't need to be green to worry about this, it's $$, something ever company wants.

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