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Comment Re:Flip flop the question: (Score 1) 511

The public does not need to know anything in any given field, but it would be helpful if they really understood how science works. The public needs to accept that science is a process of testing and gathering ideas, not a end-point collection of true answers and facts.

It is entirely possible that our scientific model of everything departs enormously from how the universe actually works. It could all be total bullshit. But if that's the case, we've slowly dug our way into giant pile of incredibly useful bullshit. Proper application of the scientific method always ensures that you move toward ideas that have useful predictive power and throw out those ideas that don't. It never ensures that you move toward Capital T Truth and it is incredibly unstable in terms of having any sort of lasting certainty about The Way Things Are.

That's tricky in terms of public relations. To properly understand an active scientific field, you have to be willing to consider and mull over ten possibly conflicting ideas at once without getting upset that no one can tell you which one is true.

Comment Re:Wait... They want them to dumb things down... (Score 1) 511

That's not true.

Active areas of research are complicated and full of conflicting ideas that are being tested currently to see which hypotheses are supported strongly by evidence and which can be proven false. The most current knowledge in an active field is a complicated mishmash of things that seem to be true (i.e. have been tested several times and not shown to be false), but that haven't all been tied together into one neat, elegant package.

It's absolutely useful for scientists to figure out how to put things as simply as possible, but asking for simplicity above all else is sometimes asking for an incredibly incomplete or misleading answers. A scientist with comprehensive knowledge of the work being done in his or her field will be aware of a dozen important ideas or important results that don't fit together in any obvious way. They might even appear to conflict with each other in the context of what is currently known. In a decade, more complete understanding will resolve that false conflict or further work will expose flaws in prior work.

How do you express that simply to people who want you to point at one idea and say it's the right one? If you know two things in an active field, either one or both or neither is correct. Science is a collection of ideas and results that say something interesting and haven't been proven false yet. That does not always allow simple, correct answers. Very old fields are easier, because things have been tested thoroughly. "Do like charges repel?" "Yes."
The Courts

Google Found Guilty of French Copyright Infringement 254

adeelarshad82 writes "A Paris court on Friday found Google guilty of violating copyright by digitizing books and putting extracts online, following a legal challenge by major French publishers. The court found against Google after the La Martiniere group, which controls the highbrow Editions du Seuil publishing house, argued that publishers and authors were losing out in the latest stage of the digital revolution."

Comment Re:As a physicist... (Score 1) 124

I'd like to be the first to complain that resonant power transfer has nothing to do with quantum entanglement.

Entanglement, no. Tunneling, yes... if you like to market your device by insisting on quantum descriptions of things that involve transition rates of 10^28 photons per second. A ~10MHz photon doesn't pack a very big punch, energy-wise.

It's a classical effect but can be framed in quantum terms for "welcome to the future" cred.

Comment Re:Edison? (Score 3, Informative) 124

It's not only possible, but really damn easy to do.

You can build a reasonably efficient resonant power transfer doohickey in your backyard out of some copper tubing, some low loss tuning capacitors, a RF power generator, and some diodes and filter caps on the far end to turn the received RF into DC.

I've built one to couple 4MHz pulses across to a rotating experiment for ultrasound measurement: http://n3ox.net/files/us_ring.jpg

You couple 'em that tightly, and they're like 99% efficient at transferring power.

But even with Tesla aside, this isn't new... it's just not as vastly useful as people re-discovering it seem to think it is. It doesn't work over gigantic distances, only moderate ones, and there's no engineering you can do to get around that. It's near-field coupling between resonant circuits. That said, I think it might end up pretty useful for non-contact charging of your electric car like TFA suggests. That's a *good* application for it, and it has more efficiency than "ordinary" inductive coupling.

Comment Re:Retarded. (Score 1, Insightful) 124

It's called Shannon's Law -- and no matter how you sex up the technology, the fact is you're raising the noise floor doing this.

Bad engineer. No cookie for you.

Except that energy transfer is not information transfer, and doesn't really require any bandwidth. Of course, every emission has *some* bandwidth due to noise, etc, but you should be able to do wireless power with very narrow band oscillators and I suspect you have confine emissions to the the ISM (industrial, scientific, and medical) bands. Maybe it needs a little bit of slow digital transmission if you need to sync devices and chargers beyond just whether or not there is another resonant device around (you don't want charging stations trying to feed power to each other).

But the fact of the matter is that resonant power transfer requires sharply resonant circuits, so you can't emit much power over a wide bandwidth even if something goes wrong.

Comment Neural network... (Score 5, Funny) 1092

All you need to do is devise a complex computer with some decision making abilities and program it with information with destination coordinates in case it gets lost.

Program it to recognize a local authority figure like a policeman or teacher and provide them with the destination information so that they can help it find home.

I suspect the most effective hardware platform for such an application is some sort of fairly high-functioning biological organism.

Free Resources for Windows Perl Development 117

jamie pointed out an important announcement in the Perl community. Adam Kennedy, known as Alias, developed Strawberry Perl to "make Win32 a truly first class citizen of the Perl platform world." Over the last year, major CPAN modules have used Strawberry Perl to get to releases that work trouble-free on Windows. But the tens of thousands of smaller modules on CPAN are lagging, in many cases because of lack of access to a Windows environment for development and testing. Now Alias has worked with Microsoft's Open Source Software Lab to provide for every CPAN author free access to a centrally-hosted virtual machine environment containing every major version of Windows. "More information (and press releases) will follow, the entire program under which this partnership will be run is so new it's only just been given a name, so some of the organisational details will ironed out as we go. But for now, to all the CPAN authors, all I have to add is... Merry Christmas. P.S. Or your appropriate equivalent religious or non-religious event, if any, occurring during the month of December, etc., etc."
The Internet

The Internet Is 'Built Wrong' 452

An anonymous reader writes "API Lead at Twitter, Alex Payne, writes today that the Internet was 'built wrong,' and continues to be accepted as an inferior system, due to a software engineering philosophy called Worse Is Better. 'We now know, for example, that IPv4 won't scale to the projected size of the future Internet. We know too that near-universal deployment of technologies with inadequate security and trust models, like SMTP, can mean millions if not billions lost to electronic crime, defensive measures, and reduced productivity,' says Payne, who calls for a 'content-centric approach to networking.' Payne doesn't mention, however, that his own system, Twitter, was built wrong and is consistently down."

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