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Comment: Color Illusion (Score 2) 339

by physicsphairy (#49153437) Attached to: Is That Dress White and Gold Or Blue and Black?

The XKCD plot just makes me see gold and white at different levels of brightness. But I did find this color illusion featuring yellow and blue. The dogs are actually the same color, which you see if you look at them individually through a small aperture

Make it pretty obvious that at some point your brain switches from wanting to see blue to wanting to see yellow based on the color context. It would appear some of us are slightly different in where transitions like that occur.

Comment: Re:I've got this (Score 1) 400

by physicsphairy (#49015773) Attached to: An Argument For Not Taking Down Horrific Videos

What does media exposure in America really do for them, though? Their base of power is over in the middle east. The only way they can possibly relish in our horrified reactions is if they open up access to American news media and the internet. That's the opposite of what they seem to want to do, however -- they are shutting down the internet and other outside sorces of information.

The way, I see it, these videos must be really for the benefit of their internal politics. They can't exactly brag that they've taken down an American aircraft carrier, but they can at least brag that they have done something horrific to an American hostage which paints them as having some kind of power.

An open media exchange would play to our advantage, not theirs. A world in which all the terrorists are posting their misdeeds on youtube and jeering us is a world where they are one or two clicks away from seeing how much more enjoyable our society is and hearing our counterpoints.

Comment: Re:Uh, don't post... (Score 1) 135

How do you to prevent your friends from posting the same information? Ordinarily, I wouldn't mind shouting from the rooftops that I am going to a party. I wouldn't even care if cops heard me. But if the cops are going to survey my friends' casual posts -- "Going to a party at Brent's!" -- and guarantee flashing lights out front once their algorithms pinpoint where it is, that a bit different. It's less like having a cop reading information you have put up on a flyer and more like the cops having wiretaps on all of your associates. Which would be fine, with a good reason and a court order. But I don't like the idea that by sharing our days in a normal way online we are all effectively spying on each other on law enforcement's behalf.

Comment: Re:Or you could try more Diplomacy? (Score 1) 517

by physicsphairy (#48996837) Attached to: The US Navy Wants More Railguns and Lasers, Less Gunpowder

I don't think you understand, they want to stop storing explosives on ships. The ships will be carrying the explosives whether they are to be used or not. Will better diplomacy change how chemistry works? Unless you think a few stunning diplomats could render maintaining a defensive force unnecessary. In which case, you may want to check up on whether there are any other big military and/or economic powers with extra-territorial ambitions right now.

Comment: Re:We Really Don't (Score 2) 153

by physicsphairy (#48903387) Attached to: How Do We Know the Timeline of the Universe?

Do we really need to establish a cult of science in which the gods are displeased if we don't use enough syllables in our word for "guess"? The words can be used interchangably. A "scientific hypothesis" does often catch more suggestion of testable, derived predictions, but it's also frequently used in a more general sense, just as "guess" can be used in a more noble sense.

I am all about respecting the scientists who invest a lot of work, but the fact they've done a lot of work doesn't make them more likely to be correct in a discussion of novel facts. There's no way to assign a probability to it and say "There is a 25% chance this explanation is correct because of this much work we put into it." In any case, the work is in testing and verifying the hypothesis, which is the science part, not in coming up with it (although work put into testing does of course put the researcher in a position to make further hypotheses).

Please don't paint these as the same thing, it's just doing the anti-science folk a service, and the rest of us a disservice.

Anti-science folk should be ignored. We don't need to scheme and manipulate to make sure our presentation of science leaves them on the poorest footing to rebut us, because, unless they are using science, their rebuttal is irrelevant. IMHO science teaches us to be humble about we have to say. Acknowledging the fact there may be flaws and we can and should be proved wrong is the whole difference between science and wild speculation. I don't think we should be provoked into saying otherwise just to try to entice the crackpots to our side.

Comment: Re:the problem with Twitter (Score 1) 114

by physicsphairy (#48897809) Attached to: Twitter Moves To Curb Instagram Links

One of the beauties about 140 characters is you have to think about what you want to say and how you say it. Editing for brevity often makes it punchier and better phrased. Many are the occasion when I have written a joke or insight for facebook, modified it for twitter, and then posted the twitter version in both cases because the twitter version was just better.

300 characters is not almost as quick to read it is quite clearly twice as long to read. For me, that would mean that instead of having time to follow 100 people on twitter I would only be able to follow 50. (Another of the other main features of twitter is allowing followers to interact with popular figures with their fans which I imagine also benefits greatly from a terser format.)

Personally, I think twitter has the potential to be one of the social media that survives in the long term. Yes it has obvious limitations but I get much more bang for my buck reading those condensed updates than I do using any other media platform. Sometimes when life gets busy I will quit other sites but twitter remains perfectly manageable and useful. It's great for news, politics, humor, and interacting with relatively large numbers of people. If you have an essay you need to share, you can link to it.

Some examples of how much you can pack into “It is the job of thinking people not to be on the side of the executioners.” -- Albert Camus

"Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards." -- Søren Kierkegaard

"We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep." -- William Shakespeare

Comment: Re:Yes. (Score 1) 227

by physicsphairy (#48809097) Attached to: Lawrence Krauss On Scientists As Celebrities: Good For Science?

In fact what we really do need is more scientists expressing their political opinions and backing them up with hard facts and of course working to dismantle the lies put out by professional politicians.

A very nice thought, but logic never survives a descent into "my side vs. your side." As soon as scientists enter into the political sphere their points are no longer judged as factual conclusions but as their adopted positions, as one may rightly question whether it was their political conclusion or their scientific conclusion which they arrived at first.

If we don't want science to devolve into "our scientists say this!" and "oh, yeah, our scientists say this!" we need to keep scientists as far away from politics as possible. And, doing so makes it that much easier for politicans to go against their base, "Sorry, guys, I feel you, but the experts say it's like this, so I guess that's what we're going with."

(Try re-imagining that scenario as, "Sorry, guys, but the Democrat/Republican scientist says it's like this" to a Republican/Democrat audience.)

Comment: What do you *do* with that energy? (Score 1) 300

by physicsphairy (#48753215) Attached to: The Search For Starivores, Intelligent Life That Could Eat the Sun

Civilizations of course have energy needs, but devouring stars seems a bit excessive. For strict survival it would make more sense to minimize your resource requirements. A human brain needs 500 calories per day, and our sun outputs 3.8 x 10^26 watts. So efficient use of our own sun's energy could presumably sustain on order of 10^25 human-level intelligences as is. If your appetitite for energy is more rapacious than that, I think it's a good guess it's effectively infinite. In which case, maybe it would be better to examine galaxies than stars. It's going to be a billion times more probably that an individual galaxy contains a star-devouring civilization than that a single star system does, and presumably not unnoticeble.

Comment: Re: What IP address ranges are in the US? (Score 1) 234

by physicsphairy (#48707179) Attached to: NSA Says They Have VPNs In a 'Vulcan Death Grip'

The problem with a hacker army is hackers don't hold up very well to carpet bombing. If you're a country with nuclear capabilities, sure, go ahead and have a poke at your opponents under the assumption they won't escalate. But otherwise I wouldn't recommend conducting computer assaults on anyone as a nation if you can't back it up with physical firepower.

Comment: Re:I was suspicious from the moment they denied it (Score 0) 282

by physicsphairy (#48670455) Attached to: Did North Korea Really Attack Sony?

Why does it make no sense to deny you were involved? North Korea typically does deny things which they actually do ( for example) while taking credit for things they don't or can't do. Their whole game is to live behind an obfuscation of words. If we actually believed them when they said they were prepared to nuke us, they would be smoking crater already. However, if we didn't quietly worry about it, they wouldn't so easily milk concessions out of us (and would probably get invaded). Their ideal outcome would be for anyone planning another Kim Jong Un movie to decide it's not worth the financial risk, while still leaving the U.S. government insufficient proof to retaliate. Don't make the mistake of believing the leaders really are as deluded as their rhetoric. They have real strategic objectives behind it.

Comment: Re:I wonder who bought him (Score 2) 216

Their wielding of power requires that others are responsible. You can't pass a law against someone unless you've laid some blame at their feet. And it's not necessarily the goal to pass the law, either. Maybe just a friendly reminder that ISPs aren't making enough campaign contributions and might want to reconsider before the next legislative session comes around.

Comment: Re:This would be a great idea if... (Score 1) 186

by physicsphairy (#48518427) Attached to: Pizza Hut Tests New "Subconscious Menu" That Reads Your Mind

It is meant to solve the single solitary problem pizza hut has ever been interested in solving: how to make more money. Just as a curiosity everyone now wants to order a pizza to see if it really works. They may keep ordering for a while before the novelyt wears off. There may be psychological biases in which people think the pizza tastes better. If nothing else, everyone is now talking about getting a pizza they will like by going to Pizza Hut.

Byte your tongue.