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Comment: The problem with exponential growth... (Score 1) 442

by tyme (#48446919) Attached to: Alva Noe: Don't Worry About the Singularity, We Can't Even Copy an Amoeba

is the constants. If your process doubles in the measured quantity in 20 days then you have something that might be worth worrying about (assuming that it won't hit some other limit, so long as that limit isn't you), but if it doubles in 20 years you have some time to consider and prepare. Whenever I see talk about the singularity it seems like the growth people are talking about either has a very short doubling period (which it probably doesn't) or the growth is actually super-exponential (the doubling period itself is chchanging with time).

In either case, innumeracy will be our downfall before the singularity gets us.

Comment: Maybe high O2 led to evolution of hard tissue (Score 3, Interesting) 78

by tyme (#48360727) Attached to: Earth's Oxygen History Could Explain "Darwin's Dilemma" In Evolution

Rather than sparking rapid evolution, maybe the high O2 concentrations led to (or allowed) the development of hard tissue in existing complex organisms. Ocean acidification dissolves the shells of clams, corals, etc. and increased O2 levels could coincide with decreased CO2 levels (probably because the organisms creating all the O2 had to get it from somewhere).

This being Slashdot (and the link being paywalled) I have not bothered to read the linked article. Hell, I've barely bothered to read the summary.

Comment: Objective-C, hands down (Score 5, Informative) 316

by tyme (#48006841) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Swift Or Objective-C As New iOS Developer's 1st Language?

Swift is still a very immature language, with lots of bugs in the compiler, rough support in the debugger and IDE, and the syntax isn't even set in stone yet (don't expect the syntax to settle down before Swift 2.0, probably some time in late 2015 if not 2016). There are a number of things that you still can't do in Swift (e.g. providing a callback function for APIs that expect a C function pointer), and you'll just spend a lot more time hitting your head against walls than writing working code. On top of this there are many more resources available for learning Objective-C than there are for Swift, and the pitfalls and corner cases are better understood for Objective-C than they are for Swift. As a bonus most of your instincts honed on C will carry over to Objective-C (while they are likely to lead you astray in Swift).

Swift is a really exciting language, and fun to play around with, but it's not ready for production work (yet). It will get there, but in the mean time you should stick with the established tools, which means Objective-C for iOS and Mac OS X app development.

Comment: Re:not suprising... (Score 1) 406

by tyme (#47619185) Attached to: Idiot Leaves Driver's Seat In Self-Driving Infiniti, On the Highway

Poor people can't use their wealth to shield themselves from the consequences of their own stupidity, so yes.

I observe this fact every weekend in a nearby wealthy neighborhood where I go to eat at good restaurants. Stupid rich people who don't know how to obey traffic signals (both drivers and pedestrians), don't know how to operate simple machines (soft serve machines shouldn't cause issues for observant adults), and who generally seem to expect everyone to make allowances for their blundering and incompetence.

Comment: Re:String theory is voodoo physics (Score 2) 259

by tyme (#47607969) Attached to: The Man Who Invented the 26th Dimension

gtall wrote:

Einstein's theory of relativity was theoretical at first. It was only later that scientists were able to devise experiments to test it

Actually, you have that exactly wrong: Einstein's theory of special relativity was a direct attempt to explain a specific experimental result, the negative results of the Michelson-Morley interferometer experiment to verify the existence of the liminiferous aether. The Michelson-Morley results were published in 1887, and Einstein published special relativity in 1905.

Comment: Re:tl;rambj (Score 1) 45

by tyme (#47487455) Attached to: Appeals Court Affirms Old Polaroid Patent Invalid

What patent were you reading? There is not a single mention of conversion of vector images to raster images!

The patent describes a set of recorded data that corrects for color and "spatial" distortion of an image by an input our output device. All the claims pertain to various features of that data set, or of the process of applying the corrections to an image.

Comment: I wouldn't get too excited about this either way (Score 1) 304

by tyme (#47355175) Attached to: Ninety-Nine Percent of the Ocean's Plastic Is Missing

First, if fish (or other marine animals) were eating the plastic (and there is a lot of evidence that they are) then they would also be starving to death (as they can't digest the plastic, and it fills up their digestive systems). When they die, the plastic would be returned to the ocean, and we would see it in our assays. So I don't think that the plastic getting eaten is the obvious solution.

Second, as anyone who has gotten sunburned while swimming knows, water doesn't block ultraviolet light very effectively, so plastic floating near the top of the water column would be exposed to a lot of UV. Plastic breaks down pretty quickly when exposed to UV, so we may just be seeing the natural destruction of the plastic by sunlight (and, I suppose, that plastic that has been partially broken down by exposure to UV might be more easily consumed by bacteria, but that's pure speculation).

Third, maybe we aren't measuring the amount of plastic in the ocean correctly. If the plastic is being consumed, or is sinking to the ocean floor, then we might easily be missing it. Also, the plastic might well not be evenly distributed across the ocean: it may be collecting in specific places due to winds and ocean currents. If we are not collecting samples evenly over the entire ocean, then we could be missing some high concentration areas.

I doubt that this means we can all breath a sigh of relief and decide that dumping plastic in the oceans is no big deal. I also doubt that this means that plastic is a much bigger problem than we thought (how could it be a bigger problem then we thought? People have been screaming about it like it was a sign of the end-times!). It is interesting, however, and I would like to know why our measurements don't match our expectations.

Comment: Re:Not all are edible though... (Score 2) 290

by tyme (#47090031) Attached to: Should We Eat Invasive Species?

morethanapapercert wrote:

my concern is that deciding to eat the invasive species is tantamount to an admission of defeat.

While I don't think that we should accept the status quo of irresponsibly introducing invasive species to our local environments, I think it's a wonderful idea to try eating our way out of the problems we've already created. For example, the Northern Snakehead is a recent and particular problem in my region (Washington D.C. Metropolitan area) and, coincidentally, is quite tasty. If we could manage to fish them to extinction it would be all for the best, and should be encouraged. Of course this may not work for many invasive species (some reproduce too rapidly to be effectively controlled by human predation, others might not be edible or palatable), so this sort of solution should be considered only as a second (or lower) tier option.

Comment: Re:On that note (Score 2) 290

by tyme (#47089995) Attached to: Should We Eat Invasive Species?

Jane Q. Public wrote:

In order for it to be true, the average "microbe" would have to be incredibly smaller than the average human cell

Indeed: human skin cell = 30 um, red blood cell = 8 um, human X chromosome = 7 um, yeast cell = 3x4 um, mitochondria body = 4x0.8 um, E. coli bacterium = 4x0.6 um. (taken from this page found via a rudimentary Google search, zoom down to the micrometer range)

Human cells are pretty large, on average, and microbial cells are much smaller.

That doesn't make the cited factoid any more meaningful, but it is certainly not worthy of doubt based purely on the numbers (that is to say, there are certainly more atoms of calcium in your body than there are human cells, but does that mean that you are, in fact, a lump of chalk?).

Comment: Re:Iapetus (Score 4, Funny) 51

by tyme (#46770517) Attached to: Astronomers Solve Puzzle of the Mountains That Fell From Space

Yes, Iapetus was photographed by Voyager 2 in 1981 (link to NASA image with metadata listed), and I would suspect that there were earth based images taken well before that (but none that would show any detail).

Who would have expected a summary on Slashdot to be carelessly wrong about something factual and easily verified?

Between infinite and short there is a big difference. -- G.H. Gonnet

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