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Comment: Re:Edison to Deforest ... ALMOST! (Score 1) 386

by randalny (#40072903) Attached to: Disentangling Facts From Fantasy In the World of Edison and Tesla

“If Edison had a needle to find in a haystack, he would proceed at once with the diligence of the bee to examine straw after straw until he found the object of his search. I was a sorry witness of such doings, knowing that a little theory and calculation would have saved him ninety per cent of his labor.”
Nikola Tesla

Having read extensively about both Edison and Tesla, my personal theory is that one of the reasons Edison championed DC power over AC is that he didn't UNDERSTAND AC, especially the concept of muti-phasic AC, which is what makes the AC system really work. He was very much a DC sort of guy, who had essentially no theory behind his inventions beyond what he saw worked. That is why he had the quote about genius being 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. One other problem he had was that even though Maxwell had published his definitive theory of electromagnetism before Edison even really started his career, Maxwell's prose was incredibly impenetrable -- especially for someone with as little formal education as Edison. Additionally, most of the real further work on the theory of electromagnetism was done in Germany (the scientific and technical hub of the world till the 1930's) and published in German, which Edison of course did not read. Tesla, on the other hand, studied electrical theory in Austria, spoke and read German, and had a mental gift for taking a bit of theory and constructing entirely complete inventions in his head. He considered the actual construction of the devices as little more than an afterthought.

Comment: Re:false equivalency (Score 2, Informative) 386

Yes, and Nikola Tesla was simply wrong in promoting alternating current for about any use. If you look at modern electrical or electronic gear, they all have circuitry to convert alternating current to direct current before powering anything.

Except for just about all uses of power till home electronic equipment was invented in the 80's. In 1960 just about everything in the home was powered directly by AC (as in incandescent and florescent lights) or by an AC motor very similar to the one invented by Tesla. Only the radio needed a transformer to use AC power. Even today probably 90% of your actual power usage is of direct AC power (air conditioning and lights). So I would say that it is wrong to say Tesla was wrong.

Comment: Re:false equivalency (Score 5, Informative) 386

Yes, and Nikola Tesla was simply wrong in promoting alternating current for about any use. If you look at modern electrical or electronic gear, they all have circuitry to convert alternating current to direct current before powering anything.

EXCEPT for the AC electric motor and the florescent light bulb -- two of the most common uses of power even today (and certainly before about 1960). In 1960 the refrigerator, the record player, the kitchen mixer and also various household pumps were powered by what was essentially a slightly improved version of Tesla's motor. The incandescent lights were also being run off his power too. Only really the radio needed a coil to convert to DC.

Comment: Re:Depends on how you measure (Score 5, Insightful) 386

What the article does not note is that Tesla didn't really claim to have invented alternating current, but he did claim (probably validly) to having invented the a working, practical AC induction motor (while a student in Europe), which made AC practical for industry. He also claimed to have invented a practical AC generator (at least he had a patent on it that he sold to Westinghouse). Additionally he did invent and patent a working system for radio and wireless signal transmission that was essentially copied by Marconi later. Add to that the Tesla coil and the working florescent light bulb, and you have a pretty impressive set of inventions. Compared to Edison (who I admire very much also) Tesla with just a couple of assistants revolutionized a great deal of the world. Edison's real claim to fame, on the other hand, was in inventing the modern invention research team system. His actual inventions were relatively few, but with teams of some dozens of inventors he spewed out patents that made him much richer and successful than Tesla (though not as rich as he wanted - he was essentially defeated in business by J.P. Morgan). Tesla unfortunately subsided into partial insanity after his attempt at power transmission in the teens, and almost every invention after that was essentially in his head.

Comment: Re:Polarity switch (Score 1) 333

by randalny (#28334265) Attached to: Ocean Currents Proposed As Cause of Magnetic Field

No, the poles already reversed once in theory's_magnetic_field, and are likely to keep reversing, though none of us will be around to find out.

This is not really a theory at this point. It has been demonstrated clearly in the geologic record that the earth's polarity has completely reversed at least hundreds of times (as wikipedia notes, "at an average interval of approximately 250,000 years").

Comment: Re:Identical twins are like Slashdot dupes (Score 1) 159

by randalny (#22502738) Attached to: Identical Twins Not Identical After All

Nova has already had a very good episode on the field of epigenetics:

The most remarkable concept in this field is that it is possible to INHERIT epigenetic traits from your parents or grandparents that they developed only in their lifetime.

It also brings into focus the dangers of chemicals like pesticides, in that they are often chemicals that cause DNA methylation. Thus it could be possible to pick up genetic problems from eating pesticides, then pass those problems along to your children and grandchildren.


+ - End of 32 Bit Time Problem 1

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georgetirebiter writes "At least one large, very successful financial services organization in the last few days fell victim to the Unix year 2038 problem when trying to create a standard 30 year risk contract in their proprietary financial software. The problem occurred when trying to make a standard time call in sql. I wonder how many other programmers have had to try to solve this problem in legacy systems? What solutions did they use? Is this really an incipient and perhaps more serious successor to the Y2K bug?"

An adequate bootstrap is a contradiction in terms.