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Comment: Re:We Really Don't (Score 2) 152

by stjobe (#48903281) Attached to: How Do We Know the Timeline of the Universe?

So, the problem with his pointing out the lack of "testing, reproduction of results" in prehistoric history tales is ... that it isn't good sales?

And that's your scientific objection? To his scientific objection?

No, that's my non-scientific objection to his anti-science rant. A plea against ignorance and the wilful discrediting of a lot of hard-earned science, if you will.

This guy put it a lot better than I ever could; in short, calling these hypotheses "guessing" is ignorant as well as insulting, both to the scientists in the field and to everyone's general level of intelligence.

Comment: Re:We Really Don't (Score 5, Informative) 152

by stjobe (#48903051) Attached to: How Do We Know the Timeline of the Universe?

LOL. Hypothesis is just a fancy way to say "here's my guess". Whether put forward by Joe Schmoe or Johnatan P. Schmoe, PhD it means the same thing.

It really doesn't.

A hypothesis has to make sense, has to be based on observation and/or our best current knowledge of the subject matter. Ideally it is testable somehow, even if only mathematically or theoretically.

A guess doesn't have to have any of those constraints. "Aliens did it" is a guess, but it's not a hypothesis.

Comment: Re:We Really Don't (Score 5, Insightful) 152

by stjobe (#48902921) Attached to: How Do We Know the Timeline of the Universe?

Early Universe ideas? Not fact. Not "well-known". Guesses.

That's... really selling science - and the scientific method - way short.

It's not "guesses", it's hypotheses, which are by their nature our best explanations of something given our current understanding of how those things work.

Calling these "guesses" reduces all the science that's actually going on and puts it on the same level as Joe Schmoe's wild-ass guessing on subjects he's not familiar with.

There is a world of difference between Joe guessing what happened in the early days of the universe and a scientist that has devoted several years of his life studying the matter putting forth a hypothesis of what happened.

Please don't paint these as the same thing, it's just doing the anti-science folk a service, and the rest of us a disservice.

Comment: Re:Fastest Probe? [Re:Exciting stuff] (Score 4, Interesting) 170

by stjobe (#48840869) Attached to: Analysis Suggests Solar System Contains Massive Trans-Neptunian Objects

I wonder what the fastest possible chemically-propelled-rocket probe is? If the probe was made small and compact to do little more than take photos and spectrographic analysis, how fast could the bugger be made to travel using existing rocket tech?

While not chemically-propelled, Freeman Dyson calculated while working on the Orion project that one of those magnificent bastards could achieve 3.3% of the speed of light (0.03c, 10,000 km/s, or roughly 22 million kph - give or take a few hundred thousand mph - by firing a shaped-charge nuclear bomb behind it every three seconds for ten days straight.

At that speed, Alpha Centauri is just 133 years away, and these ETNOs are really not much farther than down the road to the chemist.

It's a shame that project never came to anything but a few chemical proof-of-concept scale tests.

Comment: Re:"AI" vs Strong AI (Score 1) 227

by stjobe (#48828289) Attached to: An Open Letter To Everyone Tricked Into Fearing AI

computers are already capable of "hypersonic flight" - they can process information FAR faster and more accurately than any human

Only true for a subset of "process information" - those that lend themselves to computerized calculations (i.e. math).

Humans are rather faster and more accurate than computers at just about any other task.

Also, saying that "all that's missing is sentience" is missing the point that it is exactly this sentience that is the hard (and rather badly defined or even understood) part. We just don't have a clue what sentience is, so there's no way we can even begin to emulate or implement it artificially.

Comment: Re:"Forget about the risk that machines pose to us (Score 1, Insightful) 227

by stjobe (#48827727) Attached to: An Open Letter To Everyone Tricked Into Fearing AI

it's not like we have to build AI from the ground up. we have a prototype already. it's called the brain. your brain is just a meat processor. it's a system of cells, interconnections, chemicals, and electric pulses. all of that can be modeled in software, and run a million times faster, run itself in parallel, interface with other electronic systems in vastly superior ways, nearly limitless, perfect storage, and so on.

A couple of things:

Our understanding of how the brain works is less than perfect, to put it politely.

More to the point, we have basically no idea what consciousness actually is, how it works, or what makes it appear.

Further, we have a very tenuous grasp of what intelligence is in the first place - we can't even agree on a single definition of it.

So worrying about mankind developing self-conscious artificial intelligences might make for a good sci-fi story, but it makes for a rather lousy news story. We're just nowhere near close to having anything even remotely resembling human intelligence.

If we don't even know what human intelligence is, how could we possibly make artificial copies of it?

Hard AI currently looks for all intents and purposes impossible, and soft AI is just not a threat.

Comment: Re:huh? (Score 1) 300

by stjobe (#48742253) Attached to: Why We're Not Going To See Sub-orbital Airliners

The US banned it because it was European and because the domestic Boeing 2707 never even got to the prototype stage.

Both France/UK (Concorde) and Russia (Tu-144) had actual flying production aircraft but the US couldn't even get a prototype airborne.

That's the sad truth about the US SST program and why (in part) the Concorde never really made it big - what's the use of a very, very expensive airliner whose only redeeming feature is that it's very, very fast if it isn't allowed to go faster than a regular wide-body passenger jet except over international waters?

Comment: Re: noooo (Score 4, Informative) 560

by stjobe (#48718347) Attached to: 2014: Hottest Year On Record

We need these to store it. For 100.000 years.

Sure. If we're stupid.

If we're smart, we start using thorium reactors instead (so we don't add any more waste than necessary), and build some breeder/burner reactors to reduce the current waste handling to manageable amounts/time spans.

Yeah, nuclear energy research has moved on from the 60's, even though we still use reactor designs from back then. We should really, really stop doing that.

Comment: Re:And that's still too long (Score 2) 328

Twenty years sounds fair to me.

Twenty years from creation (copyright is currently defined as starting at creation) is way too short. I'm about to publish a trilogy of novels, and I started on the first one in 2001. By your standards, six years of profiting from my works should be enough. That's laughable.

You wrote the first one in 2001 and sat on it for 13 years, then complain that 20 years would be too short?

Twenty years from first publication might be reasonable

20 years from publication is about twice as long as is reasonable. Most novels make the vast majority of their sales in their first year, after that it just peters out to nothing over a number of years. It's a rare novel indeed that still makes sales after ten years, let alone twenty.

On the one hand, you have individuals creating works, and on the other hand, you have big corporations creating works.

That one is easy - disallow corporations from owning copyrights. There's no sane reason why copyrights should be allowed to be transferred from the creator anyway - and a corporation is not an entity that can create things anyway.

Either way, a flat twenty years is absurd.

No, what's absurd is the current situation of life+95, with renewals allowed every time that term is in danger of coming to an end.

Copyright is supposed to be a restriction of our right to copy the works of others so that the other can profit from it for a short while - thereby giving the other an incentive to create. But giving up our right to copy forever was never the intention of the deal.

It's high time to renege on a deal that's been perverted by one side into something that no longer even resembles the original intent.

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." -- Albert Einstein