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Comment: Re:The Problem is NOT in your ability .... (Score 1) 418

by nimblebrain (#41566533) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Am I Too Old To Retrain?

I've seen that particular policy, and I've got to say, I don't really understand how a company can employ it for great lengths of time and see it working.

If you induct a bunch of new, young hires at the same time - which seems to be common - they bond with each other. Then they hang out in the company for a while - maybe even a year.

Then they realize that raises aren't forthcoming. Sometimes, the bigger trigger is one of the group finds something elsewhere for higher pay just with that tiny bit of experience under their belts, and that emboldens the rest.

I saw a company finally wake up to that, and they changed their policy to allow hiring of senior people... then the complaint was that they couldn't find good senior people any more, a complaint reflected across their particular industry.

With software, I guess that those "cost centers" actually take a little while for their effects to kick in, because they can coast on the work of the people who are gone just because of the way release cycles work. That's a barrier to corporate learning.

Comment: Science has narrowed a bit (Score 1) 479

by nimblebrain (#30187048) Attached to: Has Sci-Fi Run Out of Steam?

Looking at some of the science fiction of the pre-70s, it was full of possibility. Things could shrink and grow, turkeys could be formed in matter dispensers, radiation might give you powers, you could 'reverse your polarity' and become antimatter and, instead of just exploding like we know antimatter would now, we could throw lightning bolts (okay, I'll fess up - I got the Space:1999 Megaset for my birthday).

Besides all the "expired" science possibilities, there's a real gamble to be made trying to second-guess what physics will discover. We're finding all sorts of nifty quantum effects in quantum computing, but we are hardly much closer to understanding what it "really means" than Niehls Bohr. Care to guess whether MOND will actually come out on top? What the LHC will find in a year or two?

It seems like we're at the point where:

  • Somebody's already patented it, feasible or not
  • Somebody's already working on it, if it's technically feasible
  • Somebody's already made it, but it's really expensive
  • We know it will get there, it will just take a lot of time and money
  • We're already jaded of hearing about it, if it's been going on for 30 years
  • The idea's at a high risk of being based on faulty physics
  • It would be great if battery power were portable and infinite, but right now, it's a pain
  • Apart from immortality, I don't think I have tons on my personal wish list right now that isn't merely a matter of money or waiting.

    Does anyone still have a long "wouldn't it be cool if" list that's feasible given current science and human nature?

Comment: The only "hybrid" part this approach has... (Score 2, Informative) 554

by nimblebrain (#26715149) Attached to: Human-Animal Hybrids Fail

It has been known for a while now that enucleating an egg (i.e. removing its nucleus) and putting the nucleus of an adult cell inside it seems to do somewhat of a reset. This makes a little sense, since mammalian eggs have chemicals and chemical gradients necessary to uncover the right genes to start off the process.

Given how hard it is to get eggs from humans, other animals would be ideal.

The thing is, the nuclei of these eggs are removed. There is one thing of the animals' genes that would remain, though: the mitochondria. That's why you can trace just your maternal line through your mitochondria - they are provided almost exclusively by the egg. If this ever gets used for actual cloning, imagine how this could screw up a deep ancestry project!

Mitochondria do pretty much the same job and have done so for aeons. They do mutate faster, though, so there *might* be other jobs that they are doing for us that are slightly incompatible. On the whole, though, probably not. In the end, chances are that the only fantasy "hybrid" part of this is human cells with animal batteries.

There's a lot of basic research left to do to see how cow and rabbit eggs (especially the ever-copious rabbit eggs!) differ from human eggs in terms of the chemical environment they provide, but once we figure that out, we will have another avenue of making stem cell equivalents, valuable for all sorts of things including spinal cord repair.

Cloning is a little different than therapeutic stem cell application would be, however. You cannot just throw cloned 'stem' cells into a body - you will get a teratoma: a disgusting ball of flesh with all the body tissues in it. You need to coax it down other development paths first. You can wait for a cloned embryo to develop and take out that particular kind of tissue, which is where some ethical considerations come in, or you can apply hormones and other chemicals to do the job.

Comment: Re:When I was breaking in (Score 1) 726

by nimblebrain (#26438805) Attached to: More Than Coding Errors Behind Bad Software

There are those who write just to be "cool". There are even those who know a lot and like to exercise it but find correctness "boring". Avoid those at all costs. If a "genius" can't be bothered cleaning up their own messes, then they really don't know their subject matter as well as they say they do, and you will have to rewrite those fancy pieces of crap on your own dime.

That's not to say that there aren't geniuses that listen to needs and clean up their own messes around, but they are more rare than the lazy self-professed pseudo-geniuses you sound like you have already had the misfortune of meeting.

There isn't really one overarching "programming IQ". There's programming, empathy (why should I put in that feature? for idiots!?), debugging, testing, designing, analyzing. Someone can be a savant in one area and an untrainable mess in another.

See also: Dunning-Kruger Effect :)

Space

Simulations Predict Where We Can Find Dark Matter 61

Posted by Soulskill
from the check-under-the-sofa dept.
p1234 writes with this excerpt from the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics: "Simulations by the Virgo team show how the Milky Way's halo grew through a series of violent collisions and mergers from millions of much smaller clumps that emerged from the Big Bang. ... If Fermi does detect the predicted emission from the Milky Way's smooth inner halo, then it may, if we are lucky, also see gamma-rays from small (and otherwise invisible) clumps of dark matter which happen to lie particularly close to the Sun. ... The largest simulation took 3.5 million processor hours to complete. Volker Springel was responsible for shepherding the calculation through the machine and said: 'At times I thought it would never finish.' Max Planck Director, Professor Simon White, remarked that 'These calculations finally allow us to see what the dark matter distribution should look like near the Sun where we might stand a chance of detecting it.'" We discussed a related simulation a few months ago.

Comment: Re:How will they power this? (Score 1) 176

by nimblebrain (#19660023) Attached to: Google Setting Up a Presence In Kenya

Usikisi hivyo.

You go to Kenya for a Safari then pretend to know the whole of kenya. very pathetic individual.

Where did I claim to know the whole of Kenya? The information on corruption, the trucks, the state of the roads, and what to do in case we were carjacked, came from talking with Kenyans, my pen pal, my guides, and those with whom I was practising Kiswahili.

Your mentality is that you expected Kenya to be really nice.

Ukiyasoma maneno niliyayoandika (if you read the words I wrote)... I expected Nairobi to be nicer than it actually was. When I got to Nairobi, we took a small walk from where we were staying, and it made me very uncomfortable. I liked many parts of the country. I quite liked Nakuru and Eldoret, and Naivasha was beautiful.

You also presume by your tone that I am comparing it with the U.S. (where I do not live). No, I have traveled to a number of different countries, and I am judging by how safe the local people make me feel. Foreigners stick out in Kenya and attract a lot of unwelcome attention.

I know countries have their dark sides. Cities, too. Even nice cities. Things are always the most dangerous when people get desperate. If you have been shot at in the US at all, then you would have a skewed view of the rest of the country. So much for a tech post indeed.

I hope the UN Habitat/Safer Nairobi initiative makes some headway. I would like to take my soon-to-be-born children back there someday, so that David can see them, and perhaps so that they can GMail their friends videos of nyumba (gnus) marching across the Mara.

User Journal

Journal: Waving the White Flag

Journal by nimblebrain

Found out that a couple of things didn't actually compile after all - such small things like the library for randr. A few things simply wouldn't compile because of things they were expecting in the X11 include files (another things that configure missed complaining about, I guess! Doh! :) After continuing to get streams of errors that even Google couldn't help me with, I decided to try Plan B: upgrading with RPMs.

User Journal

Journal: Kontinuing to Kompile

Journal by nimblebrain

Well, I'm back at it again. The "internal floating point error" trying to compile khtml looks like just a bug in that version of g++. After upgrading (well, after forcibly installing... so many programs depended on the earlier stdlib stuff... even after resolving all the other RPM dependencies. I guess I'll find out whether that choice comes back to bite me) to a relatively new gcc, that module compiled just fine.

User Journal

Journal: Got engaged!

Journal by nimblebrain

On December 23rd, in an interesting twist, my girlfriend of three years proposed to me.

I said yes :)

The IQ of the group is the lowest IQ of a member of the group divided by the number of people in the group.

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