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Comment: Re:So.... (Score 1) 226

Haha yeah sure, I'm not complaining about any of the past ones since I wouldn't be here without them, I just don't want any future ones. Kind of like how some historians thing the Mongol massacres were cool 'cause they helped move things along (and, you know, pretty much directly led to global European dominance), but probably wouldn't be all that giddy about, dunno, a nuclear holocaust even if it meant breaking the status quo to allow, say, sub-Saharan world dominance.

Comment: Re:So.... (Score 1) 226

If that were an even remotely-likely outcome, it would have happened. Life is extraordinarily good at surviving and evolving new equilibria.

That was merely an illustration that stable does not mean desirable, not a suggestion that such an outcome is likely.

Meh, the history of life on this planet is one long series of massive, unexpected perturbations, ranging from ice ages so severe that the equatorial seas are covered with several meters of ice, to massive volcanic eruptions that block most global insolation for years, to massive meteor strikes. In addition, the ice core records show that the planet has undergone radical climate change (much faster and more extreme than what we're currently seeing) without any cause at all as far as we can detect, as recent as 60K years ago.

Sure, and the history of life on earth is one of massive, unexpected mass extinctions, which often followed those massive, unexpected perturbations, because those aren't the kind of perturbations that natural systems can be robust against (hence my qualifier that the perturbations occur "regularly for a time"; you know, things like winter and summer, hurricanes, etc). It's certainly inevitable, but I'd rather not induce that on my own species any sooner than necessary.

Equally, we shouldn't ignore the fact that doing nothing at all (assuming we could) will also have disastrous consequences on our own habitat. Earth changes all the time, in all sorts of ways. If we want stability we need to learn to actively engineer the planet.

Yeah, I'm all for that. In the meantime, however, I'll continue to be a bit pissed off when some arrogant prick on slashdot trivializes all environmental concerns because he's apparently taken "higher-level math or engineering courses" and thinks he understands "how dynamic systems function". The nerve of that dumbass...

Comment: Re:So.... (Score 1) 226

Well duh. If all life on earth was destroyed, there'd be one hell of a stable equilibrium, but probably not one many of us would like to occur. Natural ecosystems can only be expected to be robust against perturbations they have faced regularly for a time, which usually doesn't include much of what humans do. As long as we rely on nature to survive, we shouldn't scoff at the idea that our actions can have disastrous consequences on our own habitat.

Comment: Re:Wonderful (Score 4, Insightful) 496

by martas (#48799059) Attached to: Ted Cruz To Oversee NASA and US Science Programs
"Saving?" They didn't just save, they actively advanced. Who do you think was at the forefront of medical, technological, scientific, and mathematical research in the middle ages? Who was it that was actively trying to understand how nature worked, because they believed it to be the way to get closer to god?

Comment: Re:Clickbait headline (Score 1) 436

by martas (#48496399) Attached to: Supreme Court To Decide Whether Rap Lyric Threats Are Free Speech

if threats are judged from the perspective of a reasonable recipient, rather than the intent of the sender, then the "oh, everyone makes death threats online, they'd never follow through" defense fizzles away.

Uh, you mean the opposite? If you can demonstrate that there really is an internet subculture where "everyone makes death threats", then surely you have demonstrated that at least in that subculture no reasonable recipient would interpret them literally? Assuming the "threat" is made within the context of that subculture, that is. Reasonableness has to be context dependent, after all.

Comment: Re:boggles the mind... (Score 1) 523

by martas (#48453277) Attached to: What Would Have Happened If Philae Were Nuclear Powered?
The total mass of the object doesn't matter given that it has finite thermal conductivity. If you intend to study it with instruments which also give off heat/are near to something that gives off heat, then what matters is how that heat will affect the area immediately around the lander.

Comment: Re:Perspective (Score 1) 338

by martas (#48451927) Attached to: LinkedIn Study: US Attracting Fewer Educated, Highly Skilled Migrants

the US seems to be trailing the UK by a small margin.

Eh, only in some ways. The UK might have more surveillance cameras and official domestic spying, but the US has probably more unofficial domestic spying, and, from what I've heard, generally in the UK your hair don't stand on end when you're near a cop.

Comment: Re:Calories in, calories out... (Score 1) 252

by martas (#48442499) Attached to: Doubling Saturated Fat In Diet Does Not Increase It In Blood
Yes, which is bad because it leads you to eat more, thus making the "calories in" part bigger. That was my point. What matters most is physiology -> psychology -> fat, not physiology -> fat, so you should optimize a diet for psychology subject to a fixed amount of calories. If you use information about physiology in order to do so then great, but you don't need to, and in fact it may at some point be counterproductive because the more mental energy you use thinking about physiology, the less you have left to enforce the calorie limit. I'm willing to bet many people who have had a long term struggle to lose weight have gone through cycles of "try to implement great idea that helps lose weight -> start slacking off on calorie restriction because there's already a dopamine release from eating/doing 'the right thing' -> don't lose weight -> get discouraged -> say fuck it and eat an entire pizza in one sitting". Not everyone, but many people.

From Sharp minds come... pointed heads. -- Bryan Sparrowhawk