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Comment: Re:Is it still October 9? (Score 1) 198

by mcswell (#48472253) Attached to: Health Advisor: Ebola Still Spreading, Worst Outbreak We've Ever Seen

The Lathe of Heaven.

Actually, that was exactly my thought (minus the dream) when I saw the abstract of this post. In fact an article published 9 Oct would doubtless have been written some time before that--although I suppose they might rush an article on this topic through, meaning it might have been written (and last updated) only slightly before that date.

I went to the NEJM, and the original article is in fact available: Oddly, down at the bottom it says "This article was published on May 7, 2014, and updated on May 22, 2014, at" I don't understand that, unless they re-published it in October. Worse, though, none of the quotes in the /. post actually appear in the NEJM article, although the general point of needing early(er) diagnosis does come up.

So I'm starting to smell s.t. fishy in this post. Where are the alleged quotes coming from?

Comment: Re:Can you say meteor shower ? (Score 1) 78

by mcswell (#48472215) Attached to: Study: Space Rock Impacts Not Random

If you read the linked news release (which you should, it's very short), they're not talking about meteor showers, they're talking about the large meteors that blew up with a blast energy > 1kt. There were 33 of these detected in the 14 year study period, of which 9 pairs (= 18 of the blasts) occurred within one day of each other. The assumption of independence argument was invalidated at a very high confidence level, claim the authors.

Not stated in the article is whether the 33 blasts had any connection with known meteor showers (or, I guess, previously unrecognized meteor showers). The original article (here: does mention this possibility.

I would be remiss not to mention that the statistical analysis may be flawed; a posting claiming just this is here https://astrostatistics.wordpr.... (IANAS.)

Comment: Re:Let's do the math (Score 1) 304

by mcswell (#48472135) Attached to: Complex Life May Be Possible In Only 10% of All Galaxies

I read an article based on this premise back around 1965 (give or take, it was before the Moon landings). The author modeled the maximum speed that people could travel, beginning perhaps 10,000 BC (running) and going up through Gagarin/ Glenn. By projecting that increasing rate of increase, he "proved" that man would break the speed of light in another 30 years or so.

In fact we reached a maximum of 7miles/sec ( 0.00004c) back in 1968, and have regressed since 1972.

It's sort of like Mark Twain remarks in Life on the Mississippi, extrapolating from how the Mississippi periodically cuts off bends, thereby shortening itself: " the Old Oolitic Silurian Period, just a million years ago next November, the Lower Mississippi River was upward of one million three hundred thousand miles long, and stuck out over the Gulf of Mexico like a fishing-rod."

Comment: Re:Out of touch with reality (Score 1) 62

by mcswell (#48431017) Attached to: US Intelligence Unit Launches $50k Speech Recognition Competition

You might have a look at the IARPA releases on this, especially Programmers are *not* being asked to release their software rights: "To receive an award, Solvers will not have to transfer their IP rights or grant a license to the Seeker – the purpose of the Challenge is to gauge how far recent advances in speech recognition have come in solving this important problem. With broad participation, this Challenge has the potential to provide IARPA with insights on the best next steps to stimulate research for solving this challenging problem." Of course, if someone does come up with a significant improvement on the state of the art, they might be in a good position to sell it--for >> $50k.

Comment: Re:Mechanical computers are awesome (Score 1) 81

by mcswell (#48396627) Attached to: Real Steampunk Computer Brought Back To Life

Yeah, I was in that Yacht Club the exact same year. Our ship, the Goldsborough, had two of those guns aimed by mechanical computers; it was decommissioned in 1993, the last of its class in the US Navy, and I'm reasonably certain that her mechanical computers were not replaced with electronic ones (although certainly electronic computers were installed for other purposes). So mechanical analog computers were used until at least then in the US Navy. Several other ships of its class were still in commission in the Australian and German navies (and one or two of the US ships made their way to the Greek navy) into the 21st century, and presumably had those same computers; one of the German ships is now a museum ship, so punkers can probably see the computer. Perhaps gunfire control computers are on display in some other museum.

I don't know whether more recent ships had mechanical computers.

Comment: Re:So its like coming up from 66ft deep to 40ft de (Score 1) 28

by mcswell (#48341163) Attached to: Pacific Northwest Lab's Sensor-Packed Fish Gauges Hydropower Facilities

I haven't read the original article, but I'll display my ignorance anyway. There are two ways one could interpret moving from sea level to the top of Mt. Everest: as an absolute pressure change, or as a relative change. The atmospheric pressure at the top of Mt Everest is 33% of sea level (, which is a difference of 14.7psi*0.67 = 9.85psi. At the same time it's a relative change of 67%, i.e. the pressure at the top of Everest is 33% of the pressure at sea level.

Comparing that to ascent from underwater to sea level, you could ask for a difference of 9.85 psi or a relative change of 67%. Taking the 9.85 psi diff, since a depth of 34 feet (fresh water) is equivalent to an additional pressure over sea level of 14.7psi (one atmosphere relative, two atmospheres absolute), that would be the equivalent of coming up from 34feet*0.67 = 22feet to the surface. Or you could ask for a relative change of 67%, i.e. going from 100% to 33%. That would mean coming from a depth of 3 atmospheres absolute = 2 atmospheres relative = from 68 feet to the surface.

The reason that every major university maintains a department of mathematics is that it's cheaper than institutionalizing all those people.