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Comment: Re:Salton Sea (Score 1) 144

by slew (#48044801) Attached to: Aral Sea Basin Almost Completely Dry

Even the Wikipedia asserts that the basin where the Salton sea wasn't some prehistoric stretch of desert that we somehow man has converted to a lake, it has been the location of a lake on-and off (every 100K years or so), for the last million or so years... For example, Lake Cahuilla

Like nearly all endorheic basins, in prehistoric times, the Salton basin was periodically filled by water from rain. It is generally thought that in pre-historical times, the Salton basin took water from the Alamo and Nuevo rivers beds which periodically nearly run dry.

AFAIK, in historic times, a lake in the Salton Basin existed in some form in 1884, 1891, 1892, and 1895 due to seasonal Colorado river flooding into the Alamo and Nuevo river beds...

However, in 1900 a canal (the Alamo canal) cut for irrigation purposes to improve the flow between the Colorado and Alamo river. This canal eventually silted up. The so-called "accident" was actually a deliberate attempt in 1904 to rectify this by cutting a breach in the bank of the Colorado river to feed the canal . Seasonal flooding of the Colorado river from heavy rains over a few years after this breach was created diverted nearly all the water that formed the current Salton Sea until that breach was reversed. Of course after the construction of Hoover Dam, that portion of the Colorado river generally doesn't flood any more and the controlled flows through the Alamo and Nuevo rivers beds generally aren't high enough to keep the Salton Sea from receding which means in some sense, the Hoover dam is actually killing that Salton Sea in it's current incarnation.

In some sense, Man's actions in this case are likely somewhat akin to small blip in the timing of the on-going geological-time formation and destruction of new lakes in the ancient Salton Basin, and far from being some Man-made ecological disaster (unlike some nuclear plant disaster, or a coal ash spill) if that is what you are implying...

Comment: Salton Sea (Score 1) 144

by slew (#48041765) Attached to: Aral Sea Basin Almost Completely Dry

Actually, there are many of these bodies of water around (prehistoric endorheic basins including the Caspian Sea and the Great Salt Lake). But I think the Aral sea situation is more akin to the Salton Sea... The Salton and the Aral sea are that have recently had their replenishing flows restricted by agriculture.

Comment: Re:The kind of science fair my school used to have (Score 1) 308

by slew (#47987985) Attached to: Irish Girls Win Google Science Fair With Astonishing Crop Yield Breakthrough

If it's anything like the science fairs we used to have at my high school, then it will turn out dad is a plant biologist (who swears the girls did it all on their own) and the girls will be curiously vague when asked about the methodology.

Or the science teachers (apparently the kinsale community school they attend has a history of producing regional, national, and international science fair winners).

Comment: Re:Tegra based! (Score 1) 74

by slew (#47970245) Attached to: Google Partners With HTC For Latest Nexus Tablet

Thanks. Neat.

Up next, Hong Kong :)

Back in 1997, most of the people of hong kong went relatively peacefully into the Chinese fold (or just simply left before it happened like my grandparents)...

On the other hand, you might think of the people in southern Taiwan as kind of like a mix of US southerners and Texans...

Even if Taiwan is eventually ceded back to China, some of them will likely still hold a N/S civil war grudge for a few generations, and other will continue to claim some right to secede into a lone star state (mostly in an appropriate alcohol based setting with sufficient lubrication, of course). At least there aren't likely to be many guns involved in taiwan... ;^)

Comment: Re:Tegra based! (Score 1) 74

by slew (#47969921) Attached to: Google Partners With HTC For Latest Nexus Tablet

I'm fairly certain the people of Taiwan consider Taiwan a different place than China -- enough so that they have the whole Taiwan name and all.

Actually It's a moving target over 40 years or so...

From the end of WWII the occupiers of Taiwan (basically the retreating/invading Chiang Kai-shek govt) pretty much considered themselves the exiled government of mainland china, thus calling themselves the Republic of China. The ground started significantly changing in 1971 when after UN resolution 2758 passed, mainland china (aka the People's RoC) was able to reclaim their UN seat which. Eventually, the notion that the RoC (aka Taiwan) was a different place than china all but faded by 1991as by then most in the RoC conceded that mainland china was lost (to the PRoC) by forcing the resignation of the so-called "representatives" tied to legacy captured provinces in the mainland.

Of course as with most things Taiwanese, it ain't that simple.

Some of people of Taiwan were repressed by the retreating CKS occupiers from the mainland (not much different than the Japanese), but that distinction is often not understood by those outside of Taiwan (see the 228 incident). If you know people from the south part of the island (e.g, Kaoshung, or Tainan), many still hold a grudge, and think of both remnants of the CKS government and the mainland as the enemy. These folks form the basis of the pan-green coalition (not to be confused with the environmental green party movement, but one favoring Taiwan independence) to oppose the pan-blue coalition (remnants of the CKS/KMT government + other parties favoring close ties with the mainland).

Of course, the people of mainland china don't see things that way at all. The see it as formosa island/taiwan provence which was historically part of mainland china (except for the time the Dutch and Japanese occupied it, of course). RoC is generally pissed about how the US handled the disposition of Taiwan after WWII (with the Treaty of Peace with Japan aka Treaty of San Francisco to which the RoC and PRoC were not invited). Basically the island of Formosa/Taiwan was treated the same as occupied territory whose responsibility was given to the US, but whose final fate was undecided (much less complicated, but similar to Berlin). In contrast, the Treaty of Taipei (a separate peace treaty between PRoC and Japan) further complicated the matter by obfuscating the issue of Taiwan by reclaiming it for the PRoC even though Japan had no authority to grant it at that point having ceded authority over Taiwan in Treaty of San Francisco...

Comment: Re:This was one of the most interesting parts of M (Score 1) 109

by slew (#47947463) Attached to: Microsoft Lays Off 2,100, Axes Silicon Valley Research

I'm not the biggest MSFT fan, but that's really giving MSFT the short stick, by saying they were done after MS-Basic and MS-Dos...

For example, Bill managed to recruit David Cutler for WinNT which really allowed them to take over the server market and kept their desktop windows franchise alive for another 15 years (do you think it could have had WinXP legs by limping along with WinME as a code base?)... Of course you can't be at the top of the hill forever and I suspect the Nokia acquisition won't be as transformative as WinNT...

Comment: Re:Golden opportunity missed... (Score 1) 198

by slew (#47932541) Attached to: Wave Power Fails To Live Up To Promise

the Moon will move towards the Earth in an increased pace.

Maybe that will be just enough to keep the moon from flying off into space since normally the moon is moving away/B from earth at about 4cm a year because it pulls on the earth's rotating surface which causes a slight acceleration... Or maybe it won't make any difference at all ;^)

Comment: Bad reporting, but.... (Score 1) 129

by slew (#47884727) Attached to: Researchers Working On Crystallizing Light

Actually, it is an interesting result. AFAICT, they have taken one of the ideas that came out of quantum optics (the JCM) and created an experimental system that apparently allowed for coupled JCM system to form a simple lattice (probably where they misappropriated the "crystal" metaphor from).

As for what this is good for? Seems like right now it's too simple, so basically nothing, But researchers anticipate this idea will find use as a quantum simulator for studying dissipation and/or decoherence from quantum systems that are far from the equilibrium state. The basic idea seems to be that in this highly coherent JCM lattice system, you can have tight control of tunneling and similar non-linear phenomena. It may make it easier to simulate quantum emergent behavior (quantum effects that show up in macroscopic phenomena).

Using this technique as a quantum simulator tool might be compared to using an analog computer to quickly simulate differential equations more efficiently than a digital computer. For those that like a car analogy, it might be compared to using a tricked out multi-barrel carburetor to study venturi/Bernoulli equations rather than retask your ignition timing / fuel injection computer to do this...

Comment: Re:I can simply ignore all health and diet advice (Score 1) 291

by slew (#47882589) Attached to: Link Between Salt and High Blood Pressure 'Overstated'

Just about everything that is bad for you today is being negated a few years later. Can't find the link today, but at one point "research" showed that jeans were responsible for higher risk of cancer. So I will just continue to live my life and enjoy it to the fullest. If something kills me, at least I had a good time.

I think you might be alluding to the two theories about jeans and cancer.

One theory was that azo-dyes( commonly used in the pigments of cheap denim jean brands and leather products) might emit cancer causing aromatic amines. Basically this "research" led to a partial ban on the use of certain AZO-dyes and it's likely that we are safer as a result. You can now wear jeans w/o worrying about that problem at least.

The other theory was that wearing tight jeans (or other tight pants in general) seems to be correlated with a higher incidence of testicular cancer in males and yeast infections in women (potentially creating a greater risk for cancer). Apparently this theory was debunked, although tight pants are still responsible for reduced fertility (in both men and women)

Perhaps this reduced fertility will allow you to live your life and enjoy it to the fullest. ;^)

Comment: Re:abstract is rather different (Score 3, Funny) 269

by slew (#47882393) Attached to: Massive Study Searching For Genes Behind Intelligence Finds Little

I was about to post something similar. The spin is quite strange given the reading of the abstract.

FWIW, I believe the original study that identified the 3 SNPs in educational attainment is here, but as mentioned it's a very weak statistical correlation as it only contributes to about 1 additional month of schooling on average. Also the assumption that the genes vary in terms of SNPs is also a big assumption which may be false too.

Basically, they seem to be mostly saying it's unlikely that a small mutation (because that's what a SNP is mostly) that was selected/amplified by evolution can determine our intelligence. That's really baby steps in this question.

Perhaps some sort of DNA methylation which is correlated with in-utero nutrition levels interacts with the underlying DNA expression somehow that is a better proxy for what we think of as intelligence (which is only weakly correlated with academic achievement). If so, we probably aren't going to find it by this technique at all. Kinda makes this total non-news in my book.

Comment: Re:Stopping the spread of germs (Score 1) 174

by slew (#47861909) Attached to: Denver Latest City Hit By Viral Respiratory Infection That Targets Kids

It's not to clean your hands. It's to keep the doorknob germ free.

Sorry, that does not compute. What's the point of keeping the doorknob germ free, if everyone that needs to open the door has to touch a dirty rag and compromise their hand (that's swallowing the spider to catch the fly)...

Hand sanitizers mostly work against bacteria and not so much against virusses.

That' a common misconception. The latest generation of alcohol based hand sanitizers (when used correctly) work well as a virucidal agent. However, hand sanitizers often don't work well against certain spore forming bacteria and some common problematic bacteria like Clostridium difficile. The main problem with hand sanitizers is that people often don't use them correctly (e.g., they don't use enough and/or let it dry before rubbing their hands), and/or they tend to dry out your skin (dissuading people from using it as much as they should in some environments). Of course soap and water generally work better, but many people often don't wash their hands correctly either.

Comment: Re:Stopping the spread of germs (Score 1) 174

by slew (#47856279) Attached to: Denver Latest City Hit By Viral Respiratory Infection That Targets Kids

1. Although alcohol based hand sanitizers work reasonably well against germs (mostly viruses and a few types of bacteria), they generally need 15-30 seconds to do their job well enough. You generally don't touch a door handle that long, nor is it likely to glop enough on to your hands to meet that threshold.

2. Alcohol based hand sanitizers are highly flammable, glopping a flammable substance all over a door handle will not make OSHA your friend.

3. At the end of the day, the washcloth is likely just wet w/o the needed concentration of sanitizer which basically renders them a germ infestation hotspot.

FWIW, a more mainstream technique is to use special metal alloy door handles. Although they only work on bacteria, they are at least a known proven method ;^)

In case you haven't noticed, nowadays, in large public gathering spots they don't even put doors on the restrooms at all. In other cases, I often simply take an extra paper towel** and open the door handle with the paper towel and toss the towel in the trash (most restrooms helpfully put a paper towel receptacle near the door just for this purpose). I'll try to make do with this method until they get the Star-trek sliding pocket doors installed everywhere...

** Having travelled in Asia, I've gotten in the habit of always bring tissue paper with me when out and about **just-in-case** it is not available even when not abroad...

Neckties strangle clear thinking. -- Lin Yutang

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