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Comment: Re:Arguably the most important American ever (Score 5, Informative) 480

by shipbrick (#41124511) Attached to: Astronaut Neil Armstrong Has Died
"A scientific colleague tells me about a recent trip to the New Guinea highlands, where she visited a stone age culture hardly contacted by Western civilization. They were ignorant of wristwatches, soft drinks, and frozen food. But they knew about Apollo 11. They knew that humans had walked on the Moon. They knew the names of Armstrong and Aldrin and Collins." from A Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan

Comment: Re:Becareful coke addicts.. (Score 1) 398

by shipbrick (#39307705) Attached to: Coca-Cola and Pepsi Change Recipe To Avoid Cancer Warning
Probability is not directly proportional to dose. With dose response curves (increasing the concentrations of a chemical), the old dogma is that you can treat with a really high dose where it is easy to see a response (e.g., tumor formation), and then you can extrapolate using those high dose points and make basically a straight line to determine what low dose is "safe". Somewhat recent work has brought to light a concept known as hormesis, which essentially means that low doses can actually have opposite effects than high doses (e.g., an anti-cancer drug that kills cells at high doses can actually increase growth rates at low doses). It is speculated that this might occur due to moderate stimulation of biological stress responses, which can be beneficial. I'd note that scientists have seen hormesis for a while, but it was shied away from to some degree because of the taint caused by the pseudoscience of homeopathy. While hormesis does not necessarily apply to every chemical and response measured, it at least challenges the commonly accepted notion that what you do with the 1000 times concentrated dose is extrapolatable to the low dose.

Comment: Generics (Score 1) 491

by shipbrick (#38223554) Attached to: Patent Expires On Best Selling Drug of All Time
Just FYI about generics and lipitor (atorvastatin). Lipitor falls in a class of molecules called statins, all of which inhibit the exact same enzyme (HMGCoA reductase, the rate limiting step in cholesterol biosynthesis). Although they all are somewhat distinct due to being different molecules: they may have different absorption, excretion, off target effects (side effects), efficiency at inhibiting the desired enzyme, etc. But the point is, there already exist generic statins...

Statins can inhibit many other cellular processes besides cholesterol synthesis such as coenzyme Q10 synthesis (involved in ATP energy production, pretty important, so it's no wonder there are side-effects). Hopefully the loss of patent will cause drug companies to find new drugs with less side effects (like the dual inhibitors discussed in basic research here, though that the molecules discussed don't seem realistic, but the approach is reasonable).

Comment: cautious optimism (Score 1) 588

by shipbrick (#35642072) Attached to: 12-Year-Old Rewrites Einstein's Theory of Relativity
The important part will be if he formulates a new theory or extends Einstein's theory such that we could make more or more accurate predictions about the universe. His math skills are not the only prerequisite here. Einstein himself said "Imagination is more important than knowledge"

"Professor John Ross, who vows to help find some grant funding to support Jake and his work " This we have to watch out for. Science funding can be difficult to get, especially in tough economic times, and hopefully this child isn't simply exploited to bring in money (or fame) for John Ross. Hopefully Robin Williams will help this kid out if necessary.

Comment: Re:A Little Quick Math (Score 1) 436

by shipbrick (#35641012) Attached to: US Competitiveness Chief Immelt's GE Tax Bill: $0
Anyone who makes large blanket statements about the their polar opposing group, is not helping. The particular issue at hand is not really relevant: Democrat, Republican; Christian, Muslim; Mac, PC; iphone, android; etc. I think it may all stem from the same underlying issue - millions of years of evolution as a dominance hierarchy-based tribal species. A part of our primate brain evolved for tribal loyalty and for following leaders. Part of the solution is to first recognize the problem. In addition, remember that power corrupts and you are probably naive if you think your favorite political group/politician or yourself is immune. People should be judged for their individual merits, not by the classification under which they are labeled. This is just a way to "turn off" the brain in order to simply decisions, by choosing loyalty to ones tribe (e.g., political group).

Comment: Re:Boggles the mind (Score 1) 203

I'm relatively ignorant, but AFAIK, it is common for "random number generators" with computers to not really be random at least via software because there will be underlying code based on an algorithm, since they are logical devices. So if you figure out the algorithm you can predict the "randomness". However, I think you can add some kind of specialized hardware device that does something truly random like measure radioactive decay from a radioactive element or roll some physical dice or something, and then it would be truly random... Someone please correct me if I'm mistaken.

Comment: Re:Oh, just great (Score 1) 841

by shipbrick (#34049562) Attached to: Researchers Find a 'Liberal Gene'
It's a nice idea to think that conservatives and liberals are flip sides of the coin, and we need both. Yadda yadda. But it just doesn't work out that way. Liberals are on the wrong side of history. Consider Russia for instance. There are conservatives there, and there are liberals there. Do they really need those liberals sending them in the wrong direction again? What good does it do them? From our modern perspective we can see just how wrong-headed they are. But left and right over there is the same thing as left and right over here, just centered around a different origin. There's no reason to believe our liberals are any better than theirs, and in the future we'll look back and see just how wrong-headed they are today. The people calling for the removal of personal responsibility today are no different from the commies.

Now of course conservatives aren't perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. But at least conservatives believe in the constitution, instead of glorifying the same old mistakes. At least conservatives look to a future where everyone is better off, instead of liberals who simply try to manipulate the power structure so that is favorable to them alone.

Disclaimer: I don't believe what I wrote, but it's using the same 'my side is always right' mentality that you used.

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