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Comment Re:I know people who work on weapons (Score 2, Insightful) 409

Just because there is a continuum does not mean that we cannot figure out a reasonable point to draw the ethical line. Your premises are (1) that engineers are involved in building stuff and (2) that stuff can hurt people. Your premises are valid. The logic you use to make your argument is not.

You might use the same style of argument to say that, when hitting babies, it is too hard to draw a line because some people are ok with it and some people are not and that there is a continuum of softly holding them to beating them to a pulp.

Still, you could in fact be right that engineers are without responsibility for how their products are used, but this is not clear from the logic you employed.

Comment Simply astounding! (Score 5, Insightful) 193

Despite it being 2010, it remains popular to attack science and medicine as though they do not have a significant mastery of reality or how the body works. Achievements like this demonstrate that the human body is not only understandable, but that it can be highly manipulated and changed with life-changing degrees of success.

For all the people who claim that our medical knowledge is seriously lacking or fraught with error, this fly's in your face. Prepare for an onslaught of biomedical advances that will change everything we know about health and longevity. While the human body may seem to work like black magic, perhaps like an infinitely complex analog circuit, advances in understanding are steadily being made. There are real achievers in these domains and they are standing on the shoulders of giants, accruing the tools to solve any physiological problem.

Comment Re:force is lack of moral authority (Score 1) 1224

If only everyone would employ basic logic and skepticism, and not be scared to talk about it, dogma could become a part of our history and naturally remove itself from the mainstream. Children could actually receive the honest answers to the difficult questions in life. Really... why follow a religion with all of its inconsistencies and human manipulation? You shouldn't. It is 2010 and none of the popular religions can even begin to serve as a useful algorithm with regard to moral decisions we routinely face (much less can these religions aid in the world of epistemology and they blatantly fail in the world of cosmology). As far as morality goes, it may truly be as simple as The Beatles put it: "All you need is love." Yet this is no simple task and everyone must reconcile the value of other's wellbeing and happiness within the context of their own ambition. "For one human being to love another; that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation."

Comment Re:Imagine (Score 1) 469

"Militant atheist Sam Harris, according to "The End of Faith" apparently wants to see humanity exterminated, religious and atheist alike, rather than allow religion to continue to exist, which comes over as "nutjob" to me."

This is a lie! Please cite. I have read the book twice and nowhere in it does this lunacy appear. Nothing close. Sam Harris poured succinct insight into American religious discourse with that book. Please actually read it.

Some actual quotes (concepts he espouses) from Sam Harris are found here: http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Sam_Harris

"It is difficult to imagine a set of beliefs more suggestive of mental illness than those that lie at the heart of many of our religious traditions."

"Where we have reasons for what we believe, we have no need of faith; where we have no reasons, we have lost both our connection to the world and to one another."

"We must find our way to a time when faith, without evidence, disgraces anyone who would claim it."

"It is imperative that we begin speaking plainly about the absurdity of most of our religious beliefs."

"We have Christians against Muslims against Jews. They're making incompatible claims on real estate in the Middle East as though God were some kind of omniscient real estate broker parsing out parcels of land to his chosen flock. People are literally dying over ancient literature."

"Mormonism, it seems to me, is--objectively--just a little more idiotic than Christianity is. It has to be: because it is Christianity plus some very stupid ideas."

"I've read the books. God is not a moderate. There's no place in the books where God says, 'You know, when you get to the New World and you develop your three branches of government and you have a civil society, you can just jettison all the barbarism I recommended in the first books.'"

"Only 28 percent of Americans believe in evolution; 68 percent believe in Satan."

"If Jesus does come down out of the clouds like a superhero, Christianity will stand revealed as a science. That will be the science of Christianity."

DIGITIG, YOU HAVE DELIBERATELY LIED TO THE READERS.

Comment Re:Well... (Score 1) 615

You have made no explanation of why agnosticism is a more rational position.

Any intelligent atheist acknowledges that they are technically an agnostic with respect to a sky-god creator, but they are also technically agnostic about fairies, magic teapots, flying spaghetti monsters, etc... This is a confusing and unhelpful use of the word agnostic. Why is agnosticism a more rational position? Saying that you have studied a fair bit of philosophy of religion is insufficient.

Comment Re:Finaly! (Score 1) 775

I am personally terrified that there are "aliens" out there. If there is a "god" out there, how do we know that we aren't the first screw up? I'm just waiting for the day when the Zerg and Borg arrive to destroy our planet and bring us into their collective.
Microsoft

Microsoft Launches WorldWide Telescope 167

esocid writes "WorldWide Telescope, developed by Microsoft's research arm, knits together images from the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-Ray Observatory Center, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, and others. Windows users (only) can browse through the galaxy on their own or take guided tours of different outer-space destinations developed by astronomers and academics. The application allows viewing from different wavelengths such as X-ray, visible light, and hydrogen-alpha radiation. Business Week has a review and some background on the project, which has been in development for years. Google Sky beat them to the punch but Business Week opines that WWT's interface is superior."
Education

Lectures On the Frontiers of Physics Online 77

modernphysics writes "The Outreach Department at Canada's Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics offers a wide array of online lecture playbacks examining hot topics in modern physics and beyond. Presentations include Neil Turok's 'What Banged?,' John Ellis with 'The Large Hadron Collider,' Nima Arkani-Hamed with 'Fundamental Physics in 2010,' Paul Steinhardt with 'Impossible Crystals,' Edward Witten with 'The Quest for Supersymmetry,' Seth Lloyd with 'Programming the Universe,' Anton Zeilinger with 'From Einstein to Quantum Information,' Raymond Laflamme with 'Harnessing the Quantum World,' and many other talks. The presentations feature a split-screen presentation with the guest speaker in one frame and their full-frame graphics in the other."
Mars

Seeking Signs of Ancient Martian Life 106

StonyandCher writes in about a collaboration between NASA and a leading Australian exploration and mining scientist, Dr. Brent McInnes, to search for signs of ancient life on Mars. The plan is to develop and miniaturize the "Alphachron" — an exploration technology currently employed by the Australian minerals industry to determine the age of minerals. If the Alphachron can be miniaturized, it could fly with the next rover mission set for launch in 2010. "The highest priority is to understand when liquid water was present on Mars. 'The same minerals that can be found in [Western Australia]... can also be found on Mars,' McInnes said. Accordingly, by using the Alphachron to date minerals on Mars and thus tell when liquid water may have been present, it can be inferred when life may have been sustainable near the surface of the planet."
Earth

Earthquake In China 595

Several readers sent in links on the earthquake that hit 10 hours ago near the Sichuan city of Chengdu in China. The Telegraph focuses on the citizen journalism that got word on the quake out on the Net instantly (the first report was via Twitter). Science magazine speculates that deaths from this event could exceed the 240,000 killed in the Tangshan quake in 1976, though the estimated death toll is below 10,000 at this writing. Hundreds of videos are up on YouTube, including this footage from a security camera — keep your eye on the goldfish.

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