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Comment Re:Explain to me like I'm 5 (Score 1) 257

One of the most famous of the late Monsignor Ronald Knox's witticisms was a verse built on the Berkleyan idea that things exist only when they have an observer:

There once was a man who said: "God
Must think it exceedingly odd
If he finds that this tree
Continues to be
When there's no one about in the Quad."

This promptly drew the anonymous reply:

"Dear Sir, Your astonishment's quite odd;
I am always about in the Quad;
And that's why the tree
Will continue to be
Since observed by Yours Faithfully, God."

Comment Re:Millikan Oil Drop experiment (Score 1) 134

Paraphrasing part of

Millikan's experiment as an example of psychological effects in scientific methodology

In a commencement address given at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in 1974 (and reprinted in Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! in 1985 as well as in The Pleasure of Finding Things Out in 1999), physicist Richard Feynman noted:

        We have learned a lot from experience about how to handle some of the ways we fool ourselves. One example: Millikan measured the charge on an electron by an experiment with falling oil drops, and got an answer which we now know not to be quite right. It's a little bit off because he had the incorrect value for the viscosity of air. It's interesting to look at the history of measurements of the charge of an electron, after Millikan. If you plot them as a function of time, you find that one is a little bit bigger than Millikan's, and the next one's a little bit bigger than that, and the next one's a little bit bigger than that, until finally they settle down to a number which is higher.

        Why didn't they discover the new number was higher right away? It's a thing that scientists are ashamed of—this history—because it's apparent that people did things like this: When they got a number that was too high above Millikan's, they thought something must be wrong—and they would look for and find a reason why something might be wrong. When they got a number close to Millikan's value they didn't look so hard. And so they eliminated the numbers that were too far off, and did other things like that...

As of 2014, the accepted value for the elementary charge is 1.602176565(35)×1019 C, where the (35) indicates the uncertainty of the last two decimal places. In his Nobel lecture, Millikan gave his measurement as 4.774(5)×1010 statC, which equals 1.5924(17)×1019 C. The difference is less than one percent, but it is more than five times greater than Millikan's standard error, so the disagreement is significant.

Comment Ah yippie yi yu (Score 1) 90

Ah yippie yi yu
Ah yippie yi yeah
Ah yippie yi yu ah

I was asked by one of my young cousins to translate this music video into Italian when I was over there nearly 20 years ago. I had to explain that some of it was just meaningless sounds. Can imagine that it would make an interesting question in a linguistics exam to write it down phonetically. I am curious to know if it is a known feature in singing, or if it was just invented.

Comment Re:V39.0, no updates available (Score 1) 115

Further to my post, a message balloon popped up about an hour ago saying that the update was available. I tried the same thing with the same result as before. Then, I thought that maybe it was something to do with me running as a Limited User, so I right-clicked the Firefox icon and chose the "Run as administrator" option. I logged in, Firefox promptly started up and I successfully updated from there.

Comment Re:A story for those who (Score 1) 128

We get earthquakes like that all the time in New Zealand. Given that it was 14.6 km (9.0 miles) deep it probably would hardly even be felt unless you were nearly right on top of it. How they are felt depends very much on their depth. After the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 that badly damaged Christchurch, we got that automatically reports on the location and magnitude of any earthquakes as well as how they are actually felt on the surface. Here's a 5.8 magnitude, 4km deep one from today, 30 km away from Wanaka.

Comment Re:Star Trek Hating Women in Command Roles (Score 1) 143

I wonder when it'll become acceptable for male captains to wear skirts.

It already happened, last century, when Geoffrey Spicer-Simson, a skirt-wearing navy commander, captured the first German naval flag for the British in World War I.

Diplomacy is the art of saying "nice doggy" until you can find a rock.