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Comment Re:Because this will be unlike Biosphere 2 how? (Score 4, Informative) 63

To answer your question, smaller habitat, no experiment at maintaining atmospheric composition, outside excursions in "space suits" etc. Its not very much like Biosphere II.

As for why not under the sea or Antarctica I can give at least three reasons. (1) cost of building, transporting and maintaining the habitat; (2) all the support and research personnel live in Hawaii, above water; (3) the research objectives don't require putting the experiment in a dangerous or inaccessible place.

Now someday when we have an actual habitat design along with all the actual support systems we plan to send to Mars, a trial on top of a super high mountain would make sense as a kind of Mars analog. But we don't have such stuff to test so we don't need the Mars analog with all the expense and complication.

Comment Re:Furthermore, Saudi Arabia must be destroyed (Score 4, Insightful) 336

Not everyone in Saudi Arabia are bedouin; in particular the ruling House of Saud is descended from town dwelling Arabs.

I'll go out on a limb and guess that not everyone in Saudi Arabia is worthless. Even people involved in managing their oil. And as for the elite they don't seem to be worse than anyone else who's inherited oil-based wealth; they've managed that for the long term benefit of themselves and their families. If they're ostentatious with their wealth, well they have a lot of it and it hasn't bankrupted them yet.

So there's no rational reason to want to destroy Saudi Arabia. But there's every reason not to want to be so dependent upon them.

Comment Re:From TFA: bit-exact or not? (Score 1) 169

There used to be a web page called "Your Eyes Suck at Blue". You might find it on the Wayback machine.

You can tell the luminance of each individual channel more precisely than you can perceive differences in mixed color. This is due to the difference between rod and cone cells. Your perception of the color gamut is, sorry, imprecise. I'm sure that you really can't discriminate 256 bits of blue in the presence of other, varying, colors.

Comment Re:From TFA: bit-exact or not? (Score 5, Insightful) 169

Rather than abuse every commenter who has not joined your specialty on Slashdot, please take the source and write about what you find.

Given that CPU and memory get less expensive over time, it is no surprise that algorithms work practically today that would not have when various standards groups started meeting. Ultimately, someone like you can state what the trade-offs are in clear English, and indeed whether they work at all, which is more productive than trading naah-naahs.

Comment Re:A simple test is in order (Score 1) 427

Well, this is a bit like parents who take their kids to get vaccinated and a few hours later that kid exhibits the first signs of autism. It's an immensely compelling coincidence. You'd have to (a) know that autism symptoms often have a rapid onset and (b) realize that when they do they can follow any commonplace childhood event. Even if you did it'd still be hard to shake the suspicion if it happened to your kid.

Somebody points a IR remote at your friend; he gets up and has a brief moment of orthostatic hypotension -- also known as a "dizzy spell" brought on by a sudden drop in blood pressure -- just at the moment the guy pushes the button. Orthostatic hypotension can happen to anyone, but if your friend isn't otherwise prone to it that can be a very compelling coincidence; and many of the symptoms of hypotension can be reproduced by psychological stress.

If something like that happens to you people will say, "oh, it's all in your head," but the thing is that all suffering is inside peoples' heads. One of the worst kinds of pain you can have is passing a kidney stone, but if you happen to be in a coma at the time you won't feel a thing. Distress produced within the brain is indistinguishable to the subject from distress produced outside the brain. Having an external explanation for that distress can make someone feel like they have some control over what is a disturbing experience, and shooting holes in that explanation isn't going to help unless you can offer them a better handle on it.

Sometimes I think we'd be better off if we just brought back shamans and witch doctors.

Comment Re:Mirrors (Score 2) 121

I don't think you could make the reflective surface perfect enough to make the drone positively laser-proof, but I think a reflective coating would certainly reduce the laser's effective range. Analogously you can't nuke-proof an aircraft, but in the Cold War they were often painted "anti-flash white" to help them survive a bit closer to a detonation.

Comment Re:Which is why (Score 1) 251

Well, as far as Atkins is concerned, diet research is really, really hard and expensive to do right. I know because when I was an MIT student one of my jobs was office boy in the Food and Nutrition group, and I saw how hard it was. In one of the studies, research subjects were given a duffle bag from which all the input to their digest systems came, and into which all the output from the same went, for six bloody months.

Of course not every study needs to be that rigorous, but diet is one of those areas where the public needs lots of informed opinion but the funding for research is grossly inadequate to meet that need.

By the way, the current state of research seems to be that carbohydrate restricted diets work well in the short term but have only modest success in the long term.

Comment Which is why (Score 2) 251

... you don't make any important decisions based on a single paper. That's true for hard sciences as well as social sciences.

Science by its very nature deals in contradictory evidence. I'd argue that openness to contradictory evidence is the distinguishing characteristic of science. A and not A cannot be true at the same time, but their can be, and normally is, evidence for both positions. So that means science often generates contradictory papers.

What you need to do is read the literature in a field widely so you can see the pattern of evidence, not just a single point. Or, if you aren't willing to invest the time for that you can find what's called a review paper in a high-impact factor journal. A review paper is supposed to be a fair summary of recent evidence on a question by someone working in the field. For bonus points read follow-up letters to that paper. Review papers are not infallible, but they're a heck of a lot more comprehensive than any other source of information.

The goal of science is to build better mousetraps. The goal of nature is to build better mice.

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