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Comment: Re:FTA (Score 1) 231

by shadow_slicer (#43482641) Attached to: Prof. Stephen Hawking: Great Scientist, Bad Gambler

There are only two possibilities: 1) there has always been something 2) there wasn't always something. Neither can be true, ergo we don't exist.

According to the big bang theory, there has been "something" as long as there was "time" and "space". This means it would actually be accurate to say that there has always been something. Talking about things before the big bang makes about as much sense as asking what is east of the north pole.

Comment: Re:Suicide boats is not Iran's primary weapon (Score 1) 969

by shadow_slicer (#38559546) Attached to: Tensions Over Hormuz Raise Ugly Possibilities For War

But the real version is the 'mad general' cheated - because according to his order of battle he didn't have those weapons in the first place, so he wasn't facing a force prepared for that threat.

So in other words, the 'enemy' cheated because they did not give the 'US' an accurate estimate of their capabilities. This is obviously cheating because we all know that the first act of war is to provide your opponent with a detailed inventory of your forces (down to the number of rubber rafts and 9mm bullets). =P

Back in the real world people have to actually work to determine the capabilities of other nations. The fact is that large numbers of small boats, cruise missiles, and other arms consistent with that used in that war game are extremely easy to conceal. Whether or not the general in charge of the mock enemy force 'cheated' in that situation, his results speak for themselves: he demonstrated exactly what it took to defeat the US navy. Particularly if that navy thinks it 'knows' what its enemy is capable of.

In summary, the exercise proved exactly what it proved. No more, no less. You can not dismiss the facts because they were not the facts you were expecting or were hoping for.

Comment: Re:Not all religions are bad (Score 1) 910

by shadow_slicer (#38397860) Attached to: Christopher Hitchens Dies At 62

You don't get "thrown in the furnace" for being bad. Salvation is based upon having faith in Christ's death & resurrection as atonement for your own sins. God gives you the choice to reject him. The consequence of that choice is eternity without God.

So god is so powerful that he found a way to give both atheists and Christians the eternal satisfaction of knowing that they were right all along.

Comment: Re:Cap Gains vs. Income (Score 5, Insightful) 2115

by shadow_slicer (#37443898) Attached to: White House Proposes "Wealthy Tax"

That's only true for capital gains from dividends. Capital gains from changes in the share price are only taxed at 15%.

For this reason many companies do not make a profit. Instead they spend the money on either capital items or investments and pay $0 tax. These uses of the money increase the assets of the company, which is then reflected by a corresponding (sometimes even amplified) increase in the share price. If a stockholder then sells enough stock to make up the difference in price, they effectively pay themselves dividends at a total tax rate of 15%.

Personally, I think the best way to solve this is to make dividends a before-profit outlay for corporations, and then make all capital gains count as income. Of course, good luck getting something like that implemented...

Comment: Re:More tolerent of human error (Score 1) 510

by shadow_slicer (#35694994) Attached to: Google's Driverless Car and the Logic of Safety

Why should the manufacturer be responsible? The owner chose the car, and was supposedly supervising the car; thus the owner has accepted responsibility for the car's actions. If I leave the stove on cooking something, and it starts a fire, it's not the oven manufacturer's fault, it's mine. If my dog digs up your flower bed, it's not the breeder's fault, it's mine.

It seems clear to me that the owner should be responsible. Insurance companies already charge different rates based on the make, model and year of car, so shouldn't this fit neatly into the the insurance adjustment framework we already have?

Comment: Re:Irrelevant .... (Score 1) 536

by shadow_slicer (#34919114) Attached to: Cosmological Constant Not Fine Tuned For Life

It's still an answer to a why question -- "Why is [this particular] grass green?". I can't help it if the answer to this question causes you to have other, related, questions. It is really disingenuous to imply that they are the same question. It only seems so due to the ambiguity of the language. If your question was completely specified, then I could give you a completely specified answer. (Though this is less useful than it seems since you have to know almost everything about the answer in order to formulate a fully specified question)

If you insist on asking these chains of why questions, you run into another problem. The part that we say "I don't know" for today is likely to be discovered by science tomorrow. Eventually science may discover almost everything so all your series of why questions would end up at the First Cause problem. You might be better off saying that science tells how and why things are the way they are (with exception of the First Cause) instead of claiming it can't answer "why" questions.

Comment: Re:Agnostic & Atheistic are orthogonal concept (Score 1) 536

by shadow_slicer (#34918510) Attached to: Cosmological Constant Not Fine Tuned For Life

In fact, as the lack of god is the null hypothesis, atheism is the default scientific proposition.

This is the part I don't understand. If there is no evidence either way, why does atheism win by default?
Isn't this like saying we should abandon string theory because it doesn't explain anything better than the standard model?

Comment: Re:Life Cycle (Score 1) 118

by shadow_slicer (#34749376) Attached to: Researchers Claim 1,000 Core Chip Created

Are you serious? There's no way FPGAs beat GPUs in FLOPS/watt.

FPGAs have so much more overhead both in space and power due to programmability, whereas GPUs are pure processing. Further the algorithms necessary for CT and MRI are practically the same algorithms GPUs were designed for, so if you were to use an FPGA, your design would end up with a similar architecture anyway. Further, while low end commercial GPUs (like those you and I use for gaming), may only last 3-4 years, the high end scientific computing GPUs (Tesla, etc.) generally run until they're obsolete.

So my bet is that the FPGA would die sooner:
1. FPGAs have more that can go wrong.
2. FPGAs will run hotter than the equivalent ASIC.
3. FPGAs will also run slower, so they will run hotter for longer periods.

Comment: The interesting part of this article (Score 3, Interesting) 86

by shadow_slicer (#34264320) Attached to: Problem-Solving Bacteria Crack Sudoku

The interesting part of this article (to me) is not that they made bacteria solve sudoku. What I find interesting is how they solved it:

1) Unlike most sudoku solvers, which use a centralized algorithm. The bacteria use a distributed algorithm: Each individual bacteria cell only knows the contents of cells in their row or column. It's actually a lot more complicated than this though, since there are many bacteria cells for each sudoku square and cells only respond to the first signal they hear from a given position. Given enough bacteria (or time to grow them), the bacteria could brute force a solution (though there appear to be some inherent heuristics that would make a solution probable without the bacteria differentiating into all possible types).

2) The way logic is implemented. They use, what they call a 4C3 leak-switch. This basically is a piece of RNA that codes for 4 different proteins. This piece of RNA can only be transcribed to proteins when there is only one protein left. When the signal is received from another cell, it removes the part of the RNA corresponding to that protein.

3) The communication infrastructure. The bacteria communicate by releasing simple viruses (coded for using the 4C3 leak-switch). These viruses are specialized to only infect bacteria in a certain row or column. When the viruses infect a bacteria they remove the part of the RNA in the 4C3 leak-switch. The viruses are specialized to only infect cells in the corresponding row or column.

The amount of biological power employed in this case is actually rather frightening. This requires the creation of (at least) 16 unique viruses and 16 unique bacteria. Specific receptors for the viruses to bind to the bacteria must have been designed and the protein for both the virus coat and payload transcription need to be tweaked and introduced to the bacteria. A sufficient quantity of each bacteria must have been created.

Comment: Re:Lungs (Score 2, Insightful) 177

by shadow_slicer (#34258880) Attached to: Bacteria Used To Fix Cracked Concrete

Usually when you say that the bacteria 'likes' acidity it means that at least one of the proteins it depends on requires the acidity to function. If there are several proteins that are essential for the bacteria to live, the probability that all of the required mutations would occur becomes reasonably small. Additionally, even if the bacteria are able to mutate in such a way to live outside the concrete, they would be poorly adapted to that environment, and would most likely become food for something else. That's not even considering the likelihood that the food source the bacteria uses in its concrete environment may not be available elsewhere.

tl;dr:
The amount of change necessary to go from a bacteria that thrives in concrete to a bacteria that thrives in the lungs is large enough (under the expected conditions) to be considered insurmountable.

Comment: Re:It's all about entropy (Score 1) 467

by shadow_slicer (#33631392) Attached to: Distinguishing Encrypted Data From Random Data?

Read parent again. Your AVI/WMV/MPGs are all compressed.

If the stenographic data is added after compression it can still be detected. It is likely the encoder that created them left a unique "fingerprint" in the way it encoded the files. Any deviation from this fingerprint between multiple parts of the same file will tell a determined adversary that there is stenographic data hidden in them.

If the stenographic data is added before compression, it must survive the lossy compression. Since these lossy compression algorithms are designed to keep only the subjectively relevant information, the stenographic data will be subjectively relevant (i.e. clearly visible).

Comment: Re:My guess? Users need to STFU (Score 2, Informative) 422

by shadow_slicer (#33112548) Attached to: Is <em>StarCraft II</em> Killing Graphics Cards?

I fail to see how rendering a scene at a high framerate would be any more challenging than rendering a complex scene at a lower frame rate. Remember that the hardware either is or is not in use. The ROPs, the shaders, etc. It isn't like there is some magic thing about a simple scene that makes a card work extra hard or something.

The difference is that with complex scenes, the framerate is limited either by the CPU (to calculate AI and physics) or IO (to send commands, textures and meshes to the card). With a single static screen, each frame the program only has to upload a single texture and render a single rectangle. If there is no framerate limit, the CPU will the render command as fast as possible, and the only IO is a command to the card to render. The graphics pipeline has only to render a single texture. The texture reads are spaced in a common access pattern, so there is no contention among processing units for access to GPU memory. This means they can run at full speed. Overall this means that the usual limitations on the GPU pipeline speed don't apply.

If money can't buy happiness, I guess you'll just have to rent it.

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