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Comment: Re:We already know how to prevent cancer (Score 1) 144

by slew (#47724985) Attached to: New Research Suggests Cancer May Be an Intrinsic Property of Cells

Actually, it is unknown if these (or any things) reduce any specific persons' chance of getting non-environmental** forms cancer.
At best, it is only shown by correlation, and as you know correlation is not causation, it is only an average risk profile, because we do not yet know what causes most cancers, so we do not know how to prevent it. The tip off that this is pseudo-science is the copious use of the hedging word "might" in your linked article...

** as opposed to cancers like mesothelioma

Comment: Re: "Not eradicated" isn't needed (Score 1) 144

by slew (#47724887) Attached to: New Research Suggests Cancer May Be an Intrinsic Property of Cells

Most diseases are simply treated (aka managed). A few can be cured (so that you no longer have that condition) like a bacterial infection. It may be the case that cancer is only treatable because potential cures would require changing or suppressing fundamental biochemical processes that evolved into our bodily systems (and can't be simply changed or suppressed w/o a radical redesign of our biochemical system).

I'm totally making this up, but if cancer processes were to be discovered to be mostly a function of a rapid partially undifferentiated cell division pathway that occurs when you are a blastosphere that was partly reused in the process to heal skin break or say white-blood cell production etc, etc, it wouldn't be simple to just disable this in your dna before you were born (as that would kill embryotic development). It also wouldn't be safe to disable it completely later because many other things depended on it. The fact that a certain biochemical process must be present to exist in the first place, may have resulted in our evolutionary path relying on the underlying mechanism for many other processes in a deeply nested and intertwined way that might be near impossible to for us to untangle. This may mean that cancer will never really be cured, only treated/managed.

On the flip side, if it were some sort of mutation, or dna methlyization that no critical biochemical system relies on (because it wasn't part of a deep evolutionary pathway), it might be straightforward to just screen for it, or modify dna replication processes to eliminate it, or develop some inhibiting/methlyization factor to markup the dna to avoid the process altogether. That might be considered a cure for cancer.

Today when we say someone is "cured" of cancer, we are really not being honest. The person survived the treatment and they appear to be cancer free for a period of time. The fact is that since we did not actually cure the cancer, it could go out of remission and require more treatment (sadly for some people I knew this unfortunately is not an unlikely outcome).

Of course having a "cure" might be semantical, as a lifetime of management could render it to less critical status (say like type1 diabetes), but if the underlying triggers are part of a multitude of critical biochemical process (because of evolution) it may prove to be quite hard to even have an effective treatment to manage cancer in difficult cases (and/or the side-effects could be pretty bad).

Comment: Re:Pick a different job. (Score 1) 461

by slew (#47724029) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Do You Wish You'd Known Starting Out As a Programmer?

If you mean the quality of code that gets churned by your average coder, then yes, it is just like plumbing.

At least a plumber's work is often assembled from standard parts and inspected before it's sealed up behind a wall never to see the light again.
Sometimes I wish the code I've had to troubleshoot was assembled from standard parts and gotten a minimal once-over before going into production...

Comment: Re:Is this really good news? (Score 1) 208

by slew (#47723097) Attached to: Dramatic Shifts In Manufacturing Costs Are Driving Companies To US, Mexico

Our forklift drivers had to go through a 2 week certification course, with obstacle courses on several different forklifts that we had in service, plus recurring yearly testing. It was a "prestige" job on the floor.

On the flip side, one summer job when I was a teenager, I was a working in a high-tech fortune 100 company's warehouse (which shall remain nameless) and my manager decided to send me to fork-lift "school" so I could help out loading the trucks. His sole word of advice to me was that the last guy to put the forks through the walls of his office got fired on the spot, so don't screw up.

The "school" was a 2 day hands-on where I got to attempt to drive 2 different styles of forklifts for about 20mins each and watch an OSHA approved fire extinguisher operation video. I spend the rest of the summer trying not to destroy things in the warehouse.

  It was pretty prestigious job for a teenager, but I was getting slightly above minimum wage for that job...

Comment: Re:not hard cosmic radiation (Score 2) 116

by slew (#47708171) Attached to: Scientists Find Traces of Sea Plankton On ISS Surface

Yes and no-- Depends on what the ISS's orbit is. If it has a circumpolar orbit, (crosses the polar region), then it will pass through the magnetic field lines that funnel cosmic particles into the atmosphere that cause the northern lights. EG-- it would get beamed pretty intensely with concentrated cosmic particles.

If it does not have that kind of orbit, and instead stays around the equator, then no so much. Mostly radiation free, compared to outside the magnetosphere.

ISS orbit track here... Quite equatorial...

What we need to do, is send a lander to the moon loaded with some microbial and planktonic colonies, where it can get beamed by high intensity, raw solar wind radiation, (And more importantly, where we can keep close tabs on it easily) and measure how the colonies do over time.

Accidentally did that back in '67 with Surveyor 3...

The 50-100 organisms survived launch, space vacuum, 3 years of radiation exposure, deep-freeze at an average temperature of only 20 degrees above absolute zero, and no nutrient, water or energy source. (The United States landed 5 Surveyors on the Moon; Surveyor 3 was the only one of the Surveyors visited by any of the six Apollo landings. No other life forms were found in soil samples retrieved by the Apollo missions or by two Soviet unmanned sampling missions, although amino acids - not necessarily of biological origin - were found in soil retrieved by the Apollo astronauts.)

Comment: a few grams of tritium a problem? (Score 2) 295

by slew (#47708051) Attached to: If Fusion Is the Answer, We Need To Do It Quickly

If it were only just getting a few grams of tritium, it isn't that hard to do. On the scale of a few grams you can just get something like this baby and hide it in a commercial seawater desalinization plant to get a few grams after a bit of time (and energy)...

Of course that isn't the most economical way to do it. I think a common military-industrial method today is to put lithium control rods into an experimental-sized fission reactor and collect the tritium gas that comes off... Still no fusion necessary...

Comment: Re:Explains how Merkel was very calm (Score 1) 168

...when it became known that the US were bugging her phone. Probably her reaction was "What's the hubbub, it's not like we don't...".

Of course when things like this become public, you have to make a good show, though...
Feigning outrage and going viral. Isn't that what the modern internet is all about?

Comment: Re:Stupid (Score 2) 195

by slew (#47705663) Attached to: Phoenix Introduces Draft Ordinance To Criminalize Certain Drone Uses

I also have the right to record what I see.

Sadly, you do not have the absolute right to record what you see. For instance being in your hotel room and having someone film you from a peephole in the door. Even though you might be able to see it when you are standing in a public place, you have no right to record what you can see.

If the subject of the photography is in public (as opposed to a publically accessible, but privately owned place), courts have basically ruled the subjects have no expectation of privacy, so most photographic recording is fair game. This is how paparazzi get many of their photos legally...

If the photographer is in a non-public area (e.g., the publically accessible, but privately owned hotel hallway), courts have ruled that public access rules do not apply.

The grey area is when the subject is in a non-public area, but the photographer is in a public area (e.g., a drone in "public" airspace, above a private residence).

AFAIK and IANAL, the line is generally drawn that invasion of privacy requires a recording device of some sort in these situations. It stems from the idea that invasion of privacy requires the publicizing of private life of an individual that is offensive to a "reasonable" person and/or not of legitimate concern to the public. I suppose w/o a recording device, you often cannot effectively publicize it so it falls outside typical invasion scope... And of course the definitions of "offensive" and "reasonable" are generally left up to the courts to decide...

Comment: Re:Surprise? (Score 1) 570

by slew (#47700025) Attached to: Munich Reverses Course, May Ditch Linux For Microsoft

In fairness, there are at least two ways that could happen:
1) MS bribes people to complain. Unlikely, but not impossible.
2) MS bribes the relevant officials to *say* there have been overwhelming complaints. I mean, there are inevitably going to be complaints; that happens any time *anything* changes. The question is at what point they become important enough to sway the overall decision.

With that said, I suspect you're right.


3) MS originally bribed officials to attempt to force ordinary people to Linux desktops knowing they would eventually complain enough to make the whole experiment fail and spin a cautionary for any that follow...

Or maybe not... ;^)

Comment: if a quality project can't raise money elsewhere (Score 3, Interesting) 98

If a quality project can't raise money elsewhere from more traditional fund-raising sources, might this indicate a subtle case of pre-selection quality bias instead of an indication of any anything to do with kickstarter campaign odds?

It could simply confirm that woman entrepreneurs often have less access to traditional funding sources because their industry contact lists are shorter in certain industries (which may or may not have anything to do with positive specific gender bias on kickstarter).

This is also consistent with the fact that in industries that tend to have more even female representation, they apparently lost the bias they were measuring...

I guess you can spin the results anyway you want...

Comment: Re:Seems simple enough (Score 1) 168

by slew (#47686785) Attached to: Processors and the Limits of Physics

Single isotope silicon? Silicon wafers surfaces (where the transistors are) are generally doped with ions using diffusion and etched, and the most serious defects are usually parametric due to patterning issues. We've go a long ways to go before actually isotope purity is going to be a limiting factor...

Conductivity of gold vs copper? Copper is a better conductor than gold (although silver is a better conductor than both of them). The reason that gold is used for *connections* is that it is more malleable than copper allowing it to make a more robust physical connection. For conduction, copper or silver is much better. The reason that silver isn't used today is that the processes needed to etch it are their infancy. Also, there's a reluctance to go there, because it's known that silver is much more prone to electro-migration issues than copper and the gain in conductivity is relatively small (compared from the step between aluminum and copper).

Also, silicon on insulator isn't w/o problems. The main problems today are the floating-body problem** which will likely render SOI impractical for devices that need high frequency switching (e.g, a CPU) in future process nodes. This is why after a brief commercial taste of this technology, many companies are moving away from it except for specialty products (like Z-ram).

Also, if your assertion is true that insulators don't conduct heat (very well), now you can't get heat away from one hemisphere of your circuit (instead of heat conducting up and down). Wouldn't that tend to make more problems than it solves?

**As I understand it, in bulk silicon, there is a leakage path that bleeds the capacitance away, but on an insulator, the body of a transistor is effectively a large parasitic capacitor. Failure to fully discharge the transistor body after switching creates somewhat of a memory effect limiting performance and potentially causing a parasitic transistors to drain floating nodes (e.g., in latches and xor-gates) in a operational sequence indeterminate way influenced by neighboring transistors. This makes it hard to margin for and may ultimately make it unworkable to obtain the tolerances needed for high speed design.

Comment: Re:Is that really correct?? (Score 1) 168

by slew (#47686653) Attached to: Processors and the Limits of Physics

200mV likely comes from a generic analysis of CMOS on Silicon wafer oxide assuming you don't want a leakage factor more than 50% the current (most of which comes from the subthreshold conduction current) and you don't do any weird body-biasing techniques (which would consume lots of circuit area). It isn't a hard number but a general ballpark. Since everyone is scaling down the supply voltage, we must also scale down the threshold voltage and then the amount a signal is below the threshold voltage when you are 'off' is now conducting at a level that is a significant fraction of when it is 'on' meaning the device no longer has much noise margin to work reliability at all.

Of course with different insulators and conduction semiconductors and transistor types and tolerance for leakage and reliability this will be different.

If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments. -- Earl Wilson