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Comment: Re:Don't bother (Score 2) 199

by michelcolman (#49125443) Attached to: What Happens When Betelgeuse Explodes?

Indeed, it doesn't really say much interesting. Half the article is about the definition of absolute and relative magnitude (yawn...), then they say it will be about a quarter as bright as the moon. What about radiation? Lots of highly charged particles will be coming our way. Could give a pretty significant EMP pulse.

Comment: Re:News Media (Score 1) 110

by michelcolman (#49113627) Attached to: Mars One Does Not Renew Contracts For Robotic Missions

Would it only cost $4.5 billion? Bill Gates' net worth is $79.2 billion, Zuckerberg has $33.4 billion, Elon Musk has $7.9 billion and then I've skipped a lot of billionaires in between. If a few of those guys pool together, $4.5 billion sounds like peanuts. I suspect that figure was wildly optimistic, though. And anyway, even with all the money in the world, pulling off such a mission is simply unlikely with current technology. They'll get something wrong, or some vital equipment will fail unexpectedly, and that will be the end of it.

SpaceX is still having trouble simply landing a rocket booster back on the same planet it came from, would they be able to do it with twice the amount of money? Ten times? A hundred times? Nope, they just have to try, fail, try again, and finally they'll get it right. It's not about money, it's about experience.

Maybe try the moon first. I've always wondered why they didn't go for that first. See if you can get people to live there and survive. You can even get them back after a few years. Then, when we've got a colony up and running on the moon, we can start thinking about Mars.

Comment: Re:the samples are resistant to anti-malarial arte (Score 1) 71

by michelcolman (#49104653) Attached to: Drug-Resistant Malaria May Pose Major Threat

DDT doesn't just kill mosquitoes, but lots of other more useful insects (pollinators) and even some larger animals as well. Not exactly good for the ecosystem. It accumulates in fat tissue and works itself up through the food chain, even making it into penguins on Antarctica.

It could be useful when applied locally, for example inside homes, but afaik spraying large areas of land is no longer considered a good idea. And then of course there's the pesky little problem of resistance to DDT which has been shown to develop rather quickly when DDT is used indiscriminately.

Comment: Re:Overuse of artemisinin? (Score 2) 71

by michelcolman (#49104609) Attached to: Drug-Resistant Malaria May Pose Major Threat

I do seem to remember an article saying that drug resistance decreased when the organisms were no longer frequently exposed to the drug. Resistance is a huge genetic advantage when the drug is regularly applied (as with antibiotics in hospitals), but actually a small disadvantage when the drug is no longer applied because it makes the rest of the organism less efficient. In an environment without the drug, the non-resistant bacteria apparently outperformed the resistant bacteria so that resistance faded away. The article was about antibiotics, but I imagine it probably applies to protozoa as well. I wish I could find the link.

Comment: Re:"to an accuracy of 10 cubic kilometers" (Score 5, Insightful) 182

Exactly. When they plug in an accuracy that makes more sense, all of a sudden they are 117 orders of magnitude off. In other words, they could have gotten any result they wanted by just picking some arbitrary value for the accuracy. "How much do we need the result to be? OK, then let's pick... 10 cubic kilometers. Because the universe really cares about round units based on the circumference of some arbitrary planet in some arbitrary milky way. See, only three orders of magnitude off, our theory is now better than quantum physics!"

Next month, they'l publish a new paper in which they have refined their theory by taking an accuracy of 0.71 cubic km. There, our refined theory now exactly predicts the correct density of the universe, from first principles! Throw away quantum mechanics, information theory is clearly superior!

There are two major products that come out of Berkeley: LSD and UNIX. We don't believe this to be a coincidence. -- Jeremy S. Anderson