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Comment: Re:Students have to take some of the responsibilit (Score 1) 827

by phriot (#44589773) Attached to: The College-Loan Scandal
The "sticker price" is rarely what students pay. The little box to the right of the $30k/year figure states that roughly 70% of UC students get financial aid averaging about $15k/year, cutting the price of attending a UC in half. I imagine that attending a community/junior college for 2 years, followed by 2 years at a Cal State instead of a UC would be even cheaper still.

Comment: Re:150 years is a long time (Score 1) 545

by phriot (#44543917) Attached to: Could Humanity Really Build 'Elysium'?
Agreed. When my father was a kid, there was exactly one television set on his entire street. The only thing to cross into space from Earth were some primitive ballistic missiles. He was born before nuclear fission was ever used to generate electricity. He was five years old before the first working transistor was created; computers were the size of rooms. By the time I was five, we had a reusable Space Shuttle, generations of nuclear power plants, PCs were common, and the Web was under development. I'm not yet 30, and half of those things are almost so ubiquitous as to be unnoticeable (they're in your pocket). The other half are falling to politics and economics, but could be advanced rapidly with sufficient infusions of cash. I doubt I could accurately predict what we'll be capable of when I'm my father's age anymore than he could have predicted today back in the 1960s - it will almost certainly be more than I could possibly guess at.

Comment: Re:Database Replication (Score 1) 138

by phriot (#44129187) Attached to: The DNA Data Deluge

If only there were a highly compact self correcting self replicating data storage system with 1's and 0's the size of small molecules...

In the future, if sequencing becomes extremely fast and cheap, it might make sense to discard sequencing data after analysis and leave DNA in its original format for storage. That said, if the colony of (bacteria/yeast/whatever you are maintaining your library in) that you happen to pick when you grow up a new batch to maintain the cell line happened to pick up a mutation in your gene of interest, you won't know until you sequence it again. I'm a graduate student in a small academic lab and if I want to "access my stored gene data" in the way you suggest, I need to: 1) Grow an overnight culture from my freezer stock of E. coli carrying a plasmid with my gene of interest inserted in it. 2) Isolate the plasmid DNA. 3) Take a reading on a spectrometer to determine DNA concentration. 4) Prepare a sample for sequencing at the concentration the Core Facility prefers. 5) Fill out an order form for sequencing. 6) Walk the sample over to the Core Facility. 7) Wait 1 to 3 days to get my sequence data back. I can pull up the FASTA file I have from the last time I got this gene sequenced in about 15 seconds.

Comment: Re:Some uses (Score 0) 372

by phriot (#42867437) Attached to: Professors Rejecting Classroom Technology
I TA'd for a professor that I felt used clickers very well. He worked maybe 4-5 clicker quiz questions into a lecture. These were worth a very small number of points, the bulk of which were awarded based on answering all the questions in a class. This method seemed to keep a majority of the large class focused and also served as instant feedback about which topics he needed to give alternate explanations.

Comment: Nostalgia (Score 1) 465

by phriot (#42493639) Attached to: Death of Printed Books May Have Been Exaggerated
The reason why e-books haven't surged to become the primary book format is likely that many readers today have grown up with physical books. This fact results in feelings of nostalgia when we pick up a printed book. I, for one, would never consider reading old favorites on my Sony Reader, nor would I try to read new works that I anticipate becoming favorites on that device, because feeling paper between my fingers and smelling pages of paper has meaning to me. Within a generation or so, kids may not build the same relationship with physical books, and at that time the majority of books may be consumed in e-book format.

To err is human -- to blame it on a computer is even more so.