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Submission + - Quantum Computing Paper Presentation & Seminar Report (

An anonymous reader writes: Quantum Computing Paper Presentation & Seminar

The history of computer technology has involved a sequence of changes ~ZT\ one type of physical realization to another from gears to relays to valves to ~3nsistors to integrated circuits and so on. Today's advanced lithographic *r-:hniques can squeeze fraction of micron wide logic gates and wires onto the s^face of silicon chips. Soon they will yield even smaller parts and inevitably each a point where logic gates are so small that they are made out of only a -^ndful of atoms; i.e. the size of the logic gates become comparable to the size r atoms.

Submission + - Airbag saves man's life, then kills him (

SternisheFan writes: "In 2010, Ronald Smith of Scotland, was involved in a six-car accident, during which his airbag deployed successfully. He wasn't hurt, even though he had been hit from behind and had struck the car in front. The crash was of sufficient force that his car window broke and pierced the airbag of his Vauxhall Insignia. (Vauxhall Motors is owned by General Motors.) After the crash, Smith, an engineer, reported seeing white powder emerge from the airbag. His face was also red from some sort of irritation, presumably related to the white powder. As Scotland Daily Record reports, he began to feel ill. He suffered from a cough and shortness of breath. A few
  weeks after the crash, he was admitted to hospital, where he died. He had not been a smoker. He had not experienced any other obvious health problems.
    An inquest was finally held. During it, a forensic pathologist talked about how Smith's lungs were infected and that he died of bronchial pneumonia. The coroner, Terence Carney, declared in his verdict: "This man died as a result of this incident and more pointedly because of the explosion of his airbag, and this death should be recorded as misadventure."
    Washington University's chemistry department says that inside airbags is a mixture of NaN3, KNO3, and SiO2. The end result of the chemical reaction is supposed to be silicate glass, which is safe. What might have happened is still open to conjecture."


Submission + - French government to use PostgreSQL & LibreOffice in free software adoption (

concertina226 writes: French government agencies could become more active participants in free software projects, under an action plan sent by Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault in a letter to ministers, while software giants Microsoft and Oracle might lose out as the government pushes free software such as LibreOffice or PostgreSQL in some areas.

Submission + - Brazilian Judge orders 24-hour shutdown of Google, Youtube and Executive arrest (

_Sharp'r_ writes: "Judge Flavio Peren of Mato Grosso do Sul state in Brazil has ordered the arrest of the President of Google Brazil, as well as the 24-hour shutdown of Google and Youtube for not removing videos attacking a mayoral candidate. Google is appealing, but has recently also faced ordered fines of $500K/day in Parana and the ordered arrest of another executive in Paraiba in similar cases."

Comment Re:Theory or fact? (Score 1) 672

I don't think it is fair to accuse me of being disingenuous - while it is true that I don't agree with evolution I would like to see an honest and open dialog in which people can present facts as facts, theories as theories and be free to disagree with theories until they are established as fact.

It may be true that this bill is intended to discourage critical thinking about science, but what many folks (not necessarily you) seem to be pushing for is to censor the discussion rather than engage in open debate about theories that we simply don't know to be fact.

Comment Re:Theory or fact? (Score 1) 672

No, I am not holding anybody to an impossible standard. We can make whatever claims we need to about geological processes, stellar evolution etc. I am only asking that we distinguish between things we can know as fact and things that we must suppose as theory.

It is important to understand the distinction between fact and theory so that further improvements can be made in any discipline. If a researcher finds facts that collide with a theory, he must be comfortable declaring a theory to be in error.

What we should teach in schools is that a fact is distinguished from a theory in certain ways, that facts and theories both provide meaningful aids in understanding our world but that they are not equivalent. Further, when we teach a theory in school, we should teach it as a theory not as a fact. Student should know what we know for certain and what we have had to derive from the facts available to us.

Comment Re:Theory or fact? (Score 1) 672

While there may be subtle (or not so subtle) shifts in meaning based on context, I think it is fair to say that no one would assert that we can use the words theory and fact interchangeably in science or any other discipline.

No reasonable scientist would accept a theory as having the same weight as a fact. In the event that an observed fact conflicts with a theory, good science calls for us to reformulate the theory based on the facts. We do not discard facts when they conflict with a theory.

Comment Re:Theory or fact? (Score 1) 672

"All modern life forms" is one of things that has not been proven, in fact has not been repeated a single time - this is a theory. So far we have been unable to evolve a complex life form from a simple one even a single time. Whether you agree with the theory, the bottom line is that it is no more than a theory (at best) and has certainly not been proven through observation of repeatable scientific experiments.

In other disciplines we would never accept an assertion as fact that could not be proven demonstrably - software engineering is a simple case. If you tell me that a program can perform some task, you prove it by writing a piece of software to perform that task. Does biology get a pass on this requirement?

Comment Re:Theory or fact? (Score 1) 672

You are correct, we as a society tend to be a little sloppy/ambiguous about how things are named and referred to.

I suspect that most of the folks engaged in this discussion are thinking of the theory of evolution as the set of ideas that provide a description of how life began on Earth and how the various more complex species evolved from a single celled organism.

The creationist view also suggests common descent from a universal ancestor, most creationists (though not all) would argue that common ancestor was in the same species.

Comment Re:Theory or fact? (Score 1) 672

What has been observed in nature is the principle of natural selection and function of genetic mutations - these are components of the theory of evolution rather than a comprehensive treatment of the theory. What has not been observed is the process of evolution as the "origin of the species", the beginning of life on this planet.

Theories explain and interpret facts, but theories are not facts.

Comment Re:Theory or fact? (Score 2) 672

I am simply asserting that these things are indeed theories, not facts and can not be presented as facts.

Whether I agree with the theory isn't the issue. I believe that when a society chooses to teach theory as fact it begins the descent into a valley of ignorance that will take a long time to climb out of. I think it is important to be impartial when we teach the next generation, things are what they are - be objective. No matter how much you like an idea, classify it fairly and be open minded enough to allow it to be labelled properly so that the young minds can see a consistent treatment of the reality they are coming to grips with.

I would go so far as to suggest that even theory is a bit strong since we can not verify the hypothesis via repeatable experiment. If we could even know what the conditions were at the time the evolutionary process began that would at least be a start, however we don't even have the most basic facts to work with in this case.

Does it make sense to suggest that I am a flat earth, sun revolving around the earth type simply because I take issue with people characterizing theory with fact? That seems like a non-sequiter to me.

Comment Re:Theory or fact? (Score -1, Offtopic) 672

How many times has evolution been shown to be accurate? The last time I checked the conditions under which life supposedly evolved have not been recreated a single time. No "live" organisms have been synthesized from primordial ooze even once. In fact, we aren't' even sure what comprised the primordial ooze.

There are plenty of theories about what the conditions might have been, however the bottom line is that we really don't know. We can only theorize about what might have been going on at the time - and that isn't based on observation (another key element of real science).

This discussion is not about whether the theory of evolution is correct, but rather whether it is a theory or a fact.

Is it reasonable to assert that a fact can be an idea that has never been observed and can not be confirmed by even a single complete test (since the conditions of the test can not be known)?

Some of the facts that are used to construct the theory of evolution are testable and observable, however the theory is an interpretation of a mixture of facts and assumptions and the theory itself is simply not a fact.

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