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Comment Contagiousness (Score 4, Informative) 475

Maybe people have pointed out that Ebola is not very contagious and is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids. However, the Ebola Reston strain is airborne though only dangerous to monkeys.

The current strain in Liberia and other places is Ebola Zaire, and is not airborne, but there is nothing preventing its mutation into something that is more contagious like Reston, so we should be cautious.

Comment misleading summary (Score 1) 186

The summary suggests that Ramanujan wrote down some results that were conjectures until now. He wrote down many results, few if any on his deathbed, and most of them have already been verified for years, though some were still open until recently. Apparently the actual article is about the closing of the last few ones only.

Comment Re:The summary is incorrect (Score 5, Informative) 186

The summary is actually referring to other conjectures from his notebooks and other notes, not 'the' Ramanujan conjecture as proved by Deligne, so the summary is not really incorrect, just misleading. It should be noted that these other conjectures are in fact not unusually important and certainly not even close to the Weil conjectures, but are nevertheless interesting.

Comment Re:Guy was so smart it's scary. (Score 1) 186

Actually, he was unusually gifted in mathematics and certainly much brighter than the average mathematician, at least in terms of raw power and intuition. Evidence of this can be found both in his work and in the comments on him by G.H. Hardy, the eminent English mathematician who helped Ramanujan come to England and who collaborated with Ramanujan for years.

Comment Terrible (Score 5, Informative) 113

The print version is available.

I don't recommend reading it. There is absolutely nothing in this article about the actual engineering problems behind scaling for this number of users and how these problems are solved. In fact, there is nothing technical at all in this article except for some vague descriptions of the "bootcamp".

Comment Re:Diaspora? (Score 1) 128

I had high hopes for Diaspora, but the problem with it is that it doesn't replicate certain features of Facebook that would be a necessary condition for people to switch to it. For example, it doesn't have an event creation and invite feature, and that is really the only reason why I would join a social network in the first place.

Diaspora shifted focus a while ago to concentrate on organising internet discussions amongst people with common interests rather than focus on interactions with real-life acquaintances. With this goal they will never overtake Facebook, which is not what they want to do any more anyway. Now they are just closer to Google+, and in my opinion not terribly appealing especially since the interface is irritating.

It is unfortunate because I'm sure the two goals could exist in a decentralised network, but it was apparent from the beginning that the Disaspora team did not have the raw coding power to create this possibility.

Comment I Use It Everywhere (Score 1) 1086

Despite my username, I am a mathematician, and I can say doing mathematics definitely affected the way I think. Of course I do math as my job, but I also think of the rest of my life in very mathematical terms.

For instance, to measure my productivity I have created a detailed spreadsheet of my progress and the hours that I work. I view my efforts as a dynamical system, and potentially I can use this to clarify and understand the periodicity in my productivity using differential equations.

I view my purchases at the grocery store as an economic system and I have often come to rational decisions about money management using decision theory.

When I drive I think of minimizing the time of my route using traffic models. I probably haven't gained much on my travel time but looking at everything mathematically has clarified my view of the world.

My point is that every problem I encounter my mind can't help but look at it from a mathematical perspective, and the act of formulating problems in a precise way with all the necessary hypotheses have helped me solve many problems, even those that don't require heavy mathematical machinery. Mathematics isn't just solving specific problems but looking at a question from all perspectives and formulating thoughts in an extremely precise manner. These are things I of course did not do before I started to study mathematics.

The effects on me are pretty apparent because I have been doing mathematics for so long but I believe even a little bit can be very useful.

Comment Re:Just like the Slashdot moderation system (Score 3, Insightful) 233

Letting technical writing people doing the writing won't work. A large part of the scientific writing is the discussion of the experiment, which not only helps the scientist clarify his or her own thoughts and gives insight into future experiments, but also really only is worth reading if the scientist or members of the experimental team do it themselves. Technical writers really only would have the ability to write the experimental procedure, and even then it would be hard. Since science is so specialized you'd have to have technical writers for thousands of subdisciplines, etc. This goes especially true for mathematics, where the writing procedure is very closely related to doing mathematics.

Already because of this, no time for the scientist would be saved. A Google moderation system would have two problems. First, it wouldn't save any time because you still have to have some person doing the reviewing, and secondly you have to have someone qualified doing the reviewing whom you can trust to some extent to review in confidence, for otherwise if there are certain major problems with the paper but a few good ideas, they can be "stolen" by others, which may become a problem.

Comment Re:Google and Apple (Score 0) 152

Even in a seemingly anti-apple place like this, I don't think there's much negativity towards OS X. It started with the iPod and continued with the iPhone/iPad because they're not open enough.

I dislike the iPortables because without modding I can't open a terminal and browse the filesystem, install arbitrary software, and look at the source. I suspect a lot of geeks want something that 'Just Works' AND is open. The anger comes from the thought that IF only Apple opened the iDevices then geeks could finally have this.

IMO the n810 which I am typing on now (and similarly the n900) is pretty damn close if only more developer efforts were directed towards it. Sadly few people care about open source so right now devices like the n810 show promise and the fade away into obscurity.

Hopefully Nokia with MeeGo will come a bit closer.

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