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Comment Re:Examining explosions in a vacuum (Score 1) 235

What we know about explosions at any scale tells us nothing about the Big Bang, which was not an explosion.

The Big Bang was an expansion of space, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's not useful to consider similarities between explosions and expansions. The fact that matter and energy in the universe are not perfectly uniform and symmetrical is evidence that the Big Bang, even the singularity itself if there was one, was not uniform or symmetrical. If it was then there had to be an outside influence creating the asymmetry.

Comment Examining explosions in a vacuum (Score 1) 235

You'd think based on what we know about smaller scale explosions that the universe would be spherical, but even explosions in a vacuum aren't perfectly spherical. The shape of the shrapnel field and gasses depends on exactly how the explosion occurs. Until we know how dark matter and dark energy affect regular matter and energy with respect to accelerating it there's no obvious way to determine what the shape of the universe would be 13+ billion years after its creation. Subtle imperfections in the initial, generally spherical, shape of the universe might be amplified by their interaction with dark matter and energy, resulting in the initial sphere becoming highly irregular as it expands in size.

I think the question could be attacked from two sides. We can examine the current shape of the universe (shitty, because we can only see what is possibly just a small piece of it which may prove insufficient to extrapolate an accurate bigger picture) and ask, "If it looks like this now, what must it have looked like in the beginning," or we can attempt to understand through mathematics and theory what happened in the beginning and then extrapolate what it must look like now. Either way, I don't think we'll have a generally-agreed-upon answer anytime soon. Dark matter/energy is a giant hole in our understanding of how/why things move in the universe, so first thing first, figure that one out then worry about the size and shape of the universe.

Comment ISS studies (Score 1) 137

The ISS crew stays in their tin can for six month stints and seem to get along fine (from what we know, anyhow). A trip to Mars would take about six months. We know from interviewing prisoners what complete isolation will do to someone (and it's not good), so assuming a crew to Mars had at least four people I'm not sure there's a significant problem to solve here. Obviously the crew would have to be vetted and have prior experience in this type of situation (such as on the ISS), but as long as they're not sending random volunteers (ahem, certain other attempt to get to Mars) I think they'll do just fine.

Comment Re:Competition rules (or lack thereof) (Score 1) 237

...and then you'll get a run of situations where someone spikes whatever the competitors are drinking at the tournament... so that 95% of the contestants end up disqualified, making the advantage that much easier.

The ones who are left are likely drinking mind-enhancing fluids anyway.

Or even likelier, hiring third parties to swing batons at competitors' fingers and hands, rendering them physically unable to move the chess pieces and unable to focus due to the pain. Or playing footsie with them under the table to break their concentration. Or building up a resistance to a nerve toxin over decades, then releasing a small amount into the room to kill everyone but their self. If I were going to cheat at professional chess competitions, I'd probably invent an FTL drive and ask the Vulcans if I could borrow Spock, as he's pretty good at chess. If that failed, I could intentionally become assimilated by the Borg and introduce a virus into their hive mind that both gave me free will and ran Chessmaster 9000. Failing that, I'd probably just have to nuke the entire planet from orbit, then carefully plant evidence that I'd won every chess competition ever held during my lifetime. Any future sentient species a few billion years down the road would be like, "Man, that guy was fucking boss at chess."

Comment Re:Competition rules (or lack thereof) (Score 1) 237

Lots of time between moves.

That certainly helps me understand how this could happen without arousing too much suspicion. At least one possible cheating vector has now been identified, if not eliminated. The down side is that it's hard to believe this guy was the only one taking advantage of that sort of strategy, and there's no way to tell who else cheated. Reminds me of the steroid scandal in baseball way back; the whole sport's been stained, with everyone's stats in question.

Comment Competition rules (or lack thereof) (Score 2) 237

Why the frak would they let a competitor get up and leave the playing area at all, much less after every single move? Were they playing in someone's garage drinking cheap beer and no one gave a shit? They should treat these competitions more like a casino, where cheating is expected and overcompensated for by paranoid surveillance, especially when money's on the line.

Comment Re:How are these related? (Score 1) 201

That is the fault of the No Child Left Behind Act. The act that tied teacher / administrator salaries to the test results. Public schools across the nation stopped worrying about a kids learning and worried about their bottom line. That leads to doing whatever it takes to make sure the test results are positive.

It's easy to be moral and ethical when there's nothing to lose. To blame the mechanic providing the "something to lose" when weak, immoral and unethical people decide to act in their own best interest at the expense of children's education is irresponsible. I find it fascinating when someone shows their true colors under pressure. Most people call themselves "Christian", "good", "decent", etc., but it's not until the shit hits the fan or some bum asks them for a few bucks for a hamburger that we really find out who they are. As an Atlanta resident, all I have to say to these "teachers" is GO FUCK YOURSELF AND ENJOY PRISON.

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