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Comment: Re:Can't have it both ways (Score 1) 337

by slew (#49303667) Attached to: German Vice Chancellor: the US Threatened Us Over Snowden

When did Germany get so whiny?

Actually, Germany has traditionally been a bit whiny (some think it's a national pastime among the German populace).

Apparently that national characteristic helps the country excel at producing high-value / high-tech outputs with high-productivity, but sadly it can also be a major obstacle in creating high quality marketing, and performing PR, and subtle diplomacy...

Comment: Re: Aren't these already compromised cards? (Score 4, Interesting) 269

by slew (#49277131) Attached to: Fraud Rampant In Apple Pay

Apples' implementation IS more *convenient* for the *fraudulent* user.

FTFY. By hiding some of the transaction information from the banks that clear the transactions, the fraud detection heuristics used by banks are less effective. By requiring no physical trace of the transaction, the merchants don't have any incentive to intervene to avoid chargebacks thus making it easier those in possession of stolen card numbers to rack up charges.

Actually this was quite predictable (and predicted by several industry folks), but fear of being left off the ship that was going to sail basically led the banks to just hope for the best as a cost of doing business.

Reminds me of a story a co-worker told me. Back many moons ago (~20years ago), he was a field engineer for mainframes. One day he got an emergency call from a customer that needed a mainframe fixed as some ridiculous hour of the morning. When he got there, his boss was there along with a half-a-dozen Bank presidents in suits in the computer room hovering and watching him work.

Later he found out from his boss that it was a mainframe that did real-time credit card approvals and the bank was basically approving nearly all transactions blind whilst they waited for the computer to be fixed. The theory was that if they didn't do this, people would just take out another card and they would lose all the business for potentially several days (the once bitten twice shy on c-c declines). Apparently all the Bank presidents were there as part of an agreement to verify if he wasn't able to fix the computer within that hour, they would start denying large transactions and they expected to lose tens of millions dollars in lost merchant fees if they did that (and something like that needed their immediate approval). That's why his boss didn't tell him that before he started working on the machine. No pressure...

Comment: Re:Absolutely Not! (Score 1) 760

People with low incomes cause more problems on the roadways.

Although I would think that is likely to be true on average, you always have folks like Nick Gorden, Justin Beiber, Amanda Bynes, Marcell Dareus, Conrad Hilton, David Beckham, Matthew Brodderick, Ted Kennedy, etc, etc...

If I had to speculate, it's likely to be a "U" curve where middle class folks have the fewest problems, but at some point, you can fix many things with money and people that have enough money will feel they might as well worry about fixing things later. I'd argue by percentages, there are more problems with the upper incomes, although of course there are quite a bit fewer of them to deal with on an absolute sense, so that kind of makes them outilers...

Enforcement of laws is generally easier with those that have the most to loose (e.g., you are in the sweetspot of pain and survivability). If you don't have anything to loose (e.g., you are judgement proof because the amount of extra-survival money you have isn't worth anyone's trouble), or if you have so much money (that you don't care about the laws), enforcement of laws becomes much more difficult...

Comment: Re:It sounds fraudulent (Score 2) 169

by slew (#49269971) Attached to: A Mars One Finalist Speaks Out On the "Dangerously Flawed" Project

Also, who would have given these guys money?

People give money to groups all the time. Groups claim they want to solve poverty, cure diseases, help the children (or perhaps just little girls and not boys), eliminate racism, promote suffrage (well maybe one if you vote for the correct political party) things that they can never accomplish with the resources available to them (but they want to help the cause). People pony up because they feel connected to the cause, not because the groups can expect to achieve the goal.

These groups raise funds in order to pay staffers, hire consultants, give contracts to the their friends' companies for promotions, logistics and supplies (say like Interplanetary Media Group). If any money is left over, they sprinkle some of the spare change to the cause de-jure, and then call it a day. As long as it's considered a legal cause and is organized as a non-profit (or more recently, a type-B corporation), we have decided as a society that this is one way people are legally allowed to make a living redistributing income...

And even when their cause becomes passé (e.g., the March of Dimes was originally founded to combat infant polio), they will simply change the game and take on a larger more grandiose goal (e.g., combat birth defects)...

Move along, there's nothing to see here (unless you want to change these rules). Mars One is just one of many groups that exploit this niche in modern society ;^&

Comment: Re:Leaving Earth alive impossible anyways (Score 1) 228

As I understand it, during the Apollo lunar missions, exposure to radiation from the Van Allen Belt wasn't too bad because of the short transit time. Much more ionizing radiation was received from solar wind sources when outside the earth's magnetic field during the mission.

It remains to be seen if solar/galactic radiation can be mitigated to allow us to transit beyond the moon and live to tell about it, but at least the VA belt is of relatively small concern...

Comment: Re:Yeah, really? (Score 4, Interesting) 228

The new world? It took the largest and most powerful empires of the times, several centuries, royal decrees, and hundreds of ships to get a handful of explorers to have establish colonies in the new world. When they got there, they found local indigenous populations that helped their efforts.

The same thing could be true for space. The local indigenous populations that help our efforts aren't necessarily beings, but could be as simple along the lines of nitrogen-fixing bacteria helping us on earth, or plants or other things we can eat, or help us with water, air, energy, etc...

Or space could be like Antarctica You never know until you get there.

I'm guessing space is going to be more like Antarctica, which doesn't mean you don't go there, it just means you don't colonize it right away, you just research it and see where it leads you...

Between global warming, tectonic plate movement, improved technology, open land exhaustion, and maybe even some ecological disaster (due to war or perhaps an asteroid collision), maybe we will actually colonize Antarctica someday, which seems like a reason to spend some time to better understand it today...

Biotech

Controlling Brain Activity With Magnetic Nanoparticles 42

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-saw-that-episode-of-star-trek-too dept.
sciencehabit writes: Deep brain stimulation, which now involves surgically inserting electrodes several inches into a person's brain and connecting them to a power source outside the skull, can be an extremely effective treatment for disorders such as Parkinson's disease, obsessive compulsive disorder, and depression. The expensive, invasive procedure doesn't always work, however, and can be risky. Now, a study in mice (abstract) points to a less invasive way to massage neuronal activity, by injecting metal nanoparticles into the brain and controlling them with magnetic fields. The technique could eventually provide a wireless, nonsurgical alternative to traditional deep brain stimulation surgery, researchers say.

Comment: Re:Meanwhile... (Score 2) 283

what is the margin of error on the CO2 emission data? It's not a direct measurement, it has to be an estimate.

There is not a meter on every tailpipe, so we cannot directly measure emissions. But we can very accurately measure CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere. CO2 from burning fuel can be distinguished from CO2 from biological processes because the isotope ratios are different. We can also measure fossil fuel extraction and storage, and from that calculate consumption.

Although you *might* measure things like this, I'm pretty sure the IEA methodology in this report is to estimate the so-called "end-use" energy consumption and compute the probable CO2 emissions by scaling factors in the proportion of the different CO2 profiles of the different energy production means (by proportion of those production means). The CO2 emission scaling factors are taken from the 1996 IPCC Guidelines so are averages across many regions and industries, not measured numbers that include efficiency numbers. The proportion of production is survey information, also not measured (e.g, if a country reports 100 nuclear power plants and conversions from coal to gas, but those facilities are offline most of the year, the average scaling factor will be quite optimistic)...

Also there are also changes in source data collection and estimation methodology from time to time. A critical example might be 2014 vs 2013 (as described in the report)..

For the 2014 edition of this publication, end-use energy consumption data for the United States show a break in series with historical data due to a change in methodology. The break in series occurs between 2011 and 2012 for oil; and between 2001 and 2002 for electricity and natural gas. The new methodology is based on the last historical year of the most recent Annual Energy Outlook (AEO) publication. Changes occur primarily in reported end-use energy consumption in the industrial sector and its subsectors, including the nonmanufacturing industries of mining, construction and agriculture. Historical revisions are pending.

It's all possbile that this is just a discontinuity due to change in estimation methodology rather than something real in some measured data...

Comment: Re:Becasue... the children! (Score 1) 190

by slew (#49246429) Attached to: Powdered Alcohol Approved By Feds, Banned By States

Because that's not the real reason either. The bans on powdered alcohol followed stories about people doing really stupid stuff with it, like snorting it, trying to smoke it, seasoning food with it (and getting more drunk than expected, later than expected), etc etc. It's not worry about kids; it's worry about simpleton adults who like to experiment with stuff before knowing anything about it.

FWIW, all sorts of crazy stuff is already happening with cannabis edibles in Colorado. Here's the fear and loathing article that made the rounds...

Maybe there's a good reason to pause given the public doesn't really know how to handle this stuff yet...

Comment: Re:No better than = just as effective? (Score 1) 447

by slew (#49245979) Attached to: Homeopathy Turns Out To Be Useless For Treating Medical Conditions

And yet placebos have been shown to be pretty effective, and are steadily becoming more so when compared against the drugs being tested.

Or, perhaps...

The drugs are only marginally effective, and some of the maladies that affect us today are partly psychosomatic...

Yes, the mind can be a powerful tool. Unfortunately, it's not always on our side...

Comment: Re:Many pharmaceutical drugs lose to placebos as w (Score 1) 447

by slew (#49245923) Attached to: Homeopathy Turns Out To Be Useless For Treating Medical Conditions

So given a choice I'd chose the cheaper homeopathy "solutions".

Given a choice I'd chose the even cheaper placebo "pills" ;^)

(unless of course actually spending money on your cure in a non-single-payer healthcare system is an integral part of the placebo effect)

Comment: plaque causes dental caries (aka cavities) (Score 4, Interesting) 54

by slew (#49229307) Attached to: Sugar Industry Shaped NIH Agenda On Dental Research

Although some sugars are worse than others (e.g,. hard candy which sticks to your teeth), just about any carbohydrate you might eat will contribute to plaque (including fruit, vegetables and even whole grains) and indirectly to increased susceptibility to dental caries (how hard your dental enamel is and how acidic your diet is are other contributing factors)...

You can vilify "refined" sugar and HFCS industries all you want, but equivalent sweetness of organic molasses or maple syrup are probably worse when it comes to plaque contribution to dental caries...

FWIW, the existing types of studies that target limiting sugar are not correlation studies, basically they are ecological survey studies on population statistics by estimating their sugar intake vs prevalence of cavities at certain points of time. The author was suggesting specific studies that try to address correlation between certain foods and cavities were being suppressed by the sugar industry.

But back in that time frame of the 60's and 70's people were looking for a vaccine for plaque so interest in such studies may have simply dissipated w/o needing a big conspiracy. This is probably due into a large part of seminal studies on dental caries (in the late part of the 19th century by Miller) that established the link between enamel decay and acids produced by plaque bacteria fed by potato starches (not sugar because it wasn't a wide part of the diet) and later studies in the 1940/50's (by Gustafsson) seemed to indicate the frequency of use of sugars (rather than the quantity of sugars consumed). By the 1960's/70's there were already studies (like Duggal) that implicated snacks like cakes and biscuits (that combined glutinous starch with sugar) which were consumed at higher frequency (more than 3 times per day or basically outside of mealtime) had serious "cariogenic" potential.

Unsurprisingly, this research wasn't suppressed, but basically ignored by the government panels. Sadly, back in the '70's, it was much easier to pay off people to simply ignore research, than to actually suppress the funding to start research (not knowing the outcome).

On the other hand, some of the unrepeatable history of dental research sponsored by the sugar industry, such as the one in Vipeholm, Sweden already yielded habits like lördagsgodis. I'm sure the sugar-industrial complex in the US would love for something like that to pop up in the US (and not just restricted to Halloween)...

Nobody's gonna believe that computers are intelligent until they start coming in late and lying about it.

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