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Comment Re:brace yourself (Score 1) 453

I completely agree. I didn't want to say anything like "I got the last laugh" in my story. I love my brother like a brother, so there's no laughing. However, I working in a job I thoroughly enjoy where I make very decent money, and my family is wonderful. I wish things had worked out as well for my awesome little brother, but everyone is who they are in the end. I'm a big geek, and better off for it.

Comment Re:Maybe (Score 4, Informative) 293

Yeah I tried to go through some of that stuff years back, and it was distinctly unconvincing, sketchily-laid out, and in a far weaker state than the author(s) would wish you to believe. Ultimately, if they feel they have a truly viable theory they have to apply it, in as much detail as the current LCDM model has been applied. That means they have to start off in the early universe (or the distant past, if you prefer; we don't *have* to assume a Big Bang), then justify in some way the existence of both the cosmic microwave background, and the exact spectrum of perturbations on it; then in the same, self-consistent coherent model, they have to account for structure formation and the presence of a wave imprinted on the largest scales of galactic structure which just happens to have a wavelength that perfectly matches that on the CMB... if the universe evolved as predicted by a Lambda CDM model; they have to include a form of nucleosynthesis to explain the ratio of elements we see in the oldest stars; they have to explain why old stars tend to be metal poor and young stars are metal rich; they have to explain the collapse of shards in clusters to form galaxies; and so on and so on.

Do that, and people might just start paying attention... but they have to do it at a level of rigour that is equivalent to that employed in professional cosmology. If they can't, they don't have a theory, they have words, and words are extremely cheap. It has to be couched in a mathematical language, and that's because it has to have a surmise and make a testable prediction. It has to be directly testable. I am very definitely not a fan of Lambda CDM, and a hunt back through my posts on /. that relate to cosmology would probably make that quite clear, but I've spent many years looking at it and its perturbations anyway. In my view, Lambda CDM has one absolute killer of a prediction: the wavelength which it predicted, from that on the CMB, was imprinted on the large-scale structure, and which was later found, exactly where it said. That wavelength, and the amplitude of the wave, is exquisitely sensitive to any change in the evolution of the perturbations, which is itself exquisitely sensitive to a change in the background spacetime. Lambda CDM got it right; any successor model -- and I hope to God there is one, because Lambda CDM is not satisfactory -- also has to.

The last that I knew, the Electric Universe stuff doesn't do any of this. (I would emphasise again that to gain acceptance it is not enough to posit a model -- and it's not even enough to present some back-of-the-envelope calculations. Frankly, the absolute minimum is a full analysis of possible backgrounds -- containing at least photons, neutrinos and standard model matter -- before you can even think of putting a paper out. That would then need to be followed up with an analysis of the perturbations, which we are all after all made from. Effectively, a version of the CAMB code, or one of its competitors, is necessary. Without it, you don't really have a viable model, just yet another model that can recreate something with observables matching the background Lambda CDM, and those come ten a penny. And so on. This is not an easy job, which is why we have no answers yet -- but it sure as shit isn't because the people working in the field are purblind idiots devoid of imagination or soul. Well, certainly not all of them ;) )

Comment Re:The interface F*CKING SUCKS: no news here (Score 1) 435

The new tabs idea would almost work for me - to manage my workflow I figure I need 8 tabs total. In their infinite wisdom, they've limited the new tabs idea to 5. Why 5? I have no idea. I do enjoy the fact that it's reasonably intelligent, so it does figure out automatically how to filter things. However, I really need the ability to add my own tab for work reasons. You know, the one that's labeled "EVERY EMAIL FROM KEVIN BECAUSE THIS IS THE GUY THAT'S PAYING ME AND I DAMN WELL BETTER NOT MISS A MESSAGE FROM HIM".

Just create a label for Kevin, and a filter so all his mails automatically get that label and the Important label (starred too if you want). His mails will show up on the left in the Inbox, in the Important box, in the Kevin box, and (if you also starred it) in the Starred box.

The tabs are more for broad, generic, automated categorizations. If you want to do something specific like what you've described, you need to use the label and filter tools.

Comment Re:Maybe (Score 4, Interesting) 293

The difference here is that whereas normally the "indirect" signals we receive are photons directly from a particle, or indeed a measurable and reproducible influence on known quantities in a laboratory setting (which includes the tracks of known particles through accelerators), dark matter is not easily amenable to such tests. We only see it (interpreting "it" loosely -- the way I use the words, 'dark matter' should be interpreted as 'the fact that galaxies, clusters and the universe as a whole act as though there is more matter than we observe', which is probably infuriatingly vague :( ) through its gravitational effects, and by the sheer weakness of gravity and the impractical idea of creating, well, galaxies in a laboratory setting it is never going to be directly detectable that way.

The Higgs boson, on the other hand, was seen in reproducible experiments. I do agree that we can quibble on whether it was a direct detection, or whether it was indirect, given that its existence was ultimately deduced from the pattern of particles around it - but there are big differences. For one thing, a (relatively) quick analysis of the shrapnel from a collision that produced a Higgs will point to a particle of a particular mass and nature. That can then be reproduced (albeit at a low likelihood, given the nature of the experiment), and has been. We only even saw announcements from CERN when two independent experiments both reported an excess at the same mass. (In particle physics these certainly used to be called "resonances" -- when you find that collisions with a particular energy change nature dramatically, you can be pretty certain there's a particle there. For all I know, they're still called resonances, but my particle physics is second-hand through textbooks and therefore about 25 or 30 years out of date.)

It basically comes down to a detection on local scales, under conditions we can control, through a force other than gravity. We can't examine anything through gravity - it's uselessly weak, and impossible to control. That's a "direct detection", and can be through interactions with photons, or the influence of the new particle on the particles we observe coming out of its interactions and annihilations, or anything along those lines that can be seen, influenced, reproduced, observed. We can't do that with the evidence for dark matter. All we have is that galaxies rotate faster than they should (and they do, unequivocably), and that clusters should not really be bound (but they are, equally unequivocably), and that we cannot account for this with our current theories of gravity. The easiest solution is at least one particulate dark matter, certainly -- but if that exists it *is* amenable to production in a lab, even if to actually observe it we would have to wade through ten times more data than the LHC pours out, or a billion times more. But that isn't the only solution, because the only evidence we have is through gravity, and there is absolutely no reason at all (and it would be a mild form of intellectual blindeness) to prematurely declare that "dark matter" is definitely particulate and not, say, a sign that gravity does not behave on kpc scales the way it does on AU scales, let alone on Mpc and Gpc.

Comment Re:Search is Google's answer to everything. (Score 1) 435

Microsoft, in their traditionally incompetent fashion of misunderstanding their users, decided to mimic Google's unacknowledged mistakes when they came out with Windows 8. (Unity, of course, had beaten them to the punch in incompetence, as they so often do.) Apple figured it out better when they tied search to the home screen on the iPhones, but wisely kept it out of sight. Most people drag their two-dozen useful icons to the first few pages of their iPhone, and use search only when they've forgotten which folder they hid their AnimeTube player in.

Thing is, search isn't the only way to find things in GMail. You can tag emails with labels - I have almost 100 filters set up to do just that based on who sent the email. So I can click on a label to see all my Amazon orders, or everything my web hosting service sent me, or email from co-workers. This does the functional equivalent of sorting mails into folders to help you find stuff without searching, except a mail can be in multiple folders simultaneously.

This is also where iOS fails badly. They're still stuck on the 1984 Macintosh paradigm where the object is the object, and is always the one and only object. That's a limitation of physical objects which has been artificially implemented in software. This is the fundamental skeumorphism Apple needed to remove in the iOS update, but didn't. Just like putting mail into folders, this means if you can't remember which folder you put it in or accidentally put it in the wrong folder, you can't find it without a search. On Windows, Unix/Linux, and Android, you can have pointers (references, links, whatever you want to call them) to an object, like GMail's labels. This lets you sort the app icons on your desktop any way you want, while simultaneously keeping a master list of all your apps in the app drawer. You can even put down multiple copies of the app icons if, say, you might need quick access to your address book both in your folder of communications apps and in your folder of navigation apps.

Comment Re:Maybe (Score 4, Informative) 293

It's always enlightening to see how it looks to people who have had occasional glimpses from the outside but never bothered looking any further.

No-one is so wedded, philosophically, to the idea of CDM as is. Everyone knows its an approximation. The arguments over what it *is*. Mirage, particle, multiple particles, modifications to gravity, unanticipated effects of relativity on large scales, unanticipated effects of *averaging* observations across large scales, or a combination of the lot of them. And I can guarantee that practically no-one has been arrogant enough to stand up in a room and declare that we know what dark matter is.

I saw one person - who shall remain nameless - say something along these lines. He said to a room full of distinguished cosmologists (and me, I'm not distinguished at all), and I paraphrase since this was a few years back, "We can be absolutely certain that supersymmetry exists". That quite took my breath away. Firstly: no we can't be. Secondly: lol. Thirdly: winning that prize obviously turned you into an even bigger prick than you already were. I can't remember if anyone made these points to him because his talk was so stultifyingly boring, and so overlong, that I was comatose long before the end. Anyway, the corollary of his flabbergastingly inaccurate statement is that he also believes firmly that there is a single species of particulate dark matter, since this is more or less a prediction of general supersymmetric theories.

He's wrong, anyway. There may very well be supersymmetry, but we can in no way be certain that it exists.

Same goes for "dark matter", whatever you want to call it. The only thing you can't do is deny that the problem is there, and that the simplest explanation, which basically works all the way from galactic scales up to cosmological scales, is that it is composed of massive, weakly-interacting particles.

Comment Re:Maybe (Score 5, Informative) 293

I'm a professional cosmologist, and I have to take issue with your first statement. The instruments did not, and categorically have not, detected the presence of something that is matter. If they had, that would be a direct detection of dark matter, and a Nobel prize would already be sitting on their desk. What they have detected are indirect signals of dark matter. It is very hard to reproduce the observations - particularly the cosmological observations - without adding at least one component of dark matter. So the observations are typically interpreted in terms of dark matter.

But this is very much not, strictly speaking, necessary. What we have is something that has an effect which, when viewed through a Robertson-Walker model, looks for all the world like a species of massive, weakly-interacting particle (or two or three such species - no-one ever said there has to be only one). On smaller scales, we have what for all the world appears to be a large amount of mass that can't be seen.

Any of this could be down to a modification of gravity. We know the nature of gravity roughly up to the position of the Voyager craft -- call it 300AU to be generous. We are extrapolating that a thousand times to get to galactic scales, a million times to get to cluster scales, and a thousand million times to get to cosmological scales, all without evidence. Of course, without a better theory to replace relativity, it's the best we can do, so we do it - but don't try and claim that instruments have detected that it is matter (they haven't), nor that we are wedded to particulate dark matter (with caveats, we aren't; the caveats are firstly that neutrinos have a mass and are therefore a rather warm dark matter, and secondly that it seems rather unlikely that there isn't at least one species of weakly interacting matter which would act as CDM, but maybe not in sufficient abundance to answer our woes).

Comment Re:Maybe (Score 2) 293

I'd be interested in seeing the study you're talking about - the general relativistic models of galaxy rotation that I've seen have been pretty unconvincing, and at most provide around a quarter of the effect.

What is impressive - and is very definitely phenomenology and not fundamental physics - is the success of MOND. It's been startlingly successful at predicting rotation curves from the observed distribution of luminous matter -- far more so than a standard cold dark matter paradigm -- and it does so with a single universal parameter, unlike the plethora of tunings necessary if one adds in a dark matter halo to the observed standard model matter. The sheer success of MOND, on galactic scales, tells us that something is going on here. Unfortunately what we know isn't going on is that gravity is changed precisely the way MOND changes it. It's ugly, it's ad-hoc and, worse, it doesn't work at all for cluster scales, and can't even be applied on cosmological scales. Still, it's a hell of a lot better at fitting galactic scales than the standard CDM paradigm.

There was a paper came out the other day that claims to show MONDian effects by tightly tying the CDM into the observed matter. I've not had time to read through it yet but I'm unconvinced since in a CDM model the rotation curve of a spiral galaxy is flat due to a spherical halo of CDM... but the observed matter is resolutely confined to a narrow disc. But that might just be a badly-written abstract.

Comment Re:Maybe (Score 5, Informative) 293

"What we have is a phenomenon that is not explained by the calculated mass of the universe."

Vague statement. What we have are two phenomena, one which is not explained by the observed mass in galaxies or in clusters, and one not explained by the present (and currently only serious) model of the universe. Feel free to propose alternative models for the universe... but make sure that they fit the current observations *at least* as well as that model and fails to break the Solar System. That is hard to do.

"As a filler we have titled it "Dark Matter" and "Dark Energy" and given it a mathematical correction to the calculations."

True, with the correction above.

"The mass issue is fixed if we realize that the size of the universe is larger than the visible horizon."

No it isn't. That will do precisely nothing for the rotation curves of galaxies and will also basically do nothing for the cosmological problem either. Vague hand-waving and appeals to Mach's principle don't hold without a concrete model. Provide that model and people may be convinced, but at the minute what you're suggesting is startlingly acausal and, as a result, unacceptable.

"Meaning it is bigger than we can see."

Very true. No-one thinks that the entire universe is the observed universe.

"With that we can assume that we can only see 13% of the whole universe and that the reset of it is too far away to see. Now, run those numbers through the formula to calculate the expansion rate of the universe and you get some great results!"

Nope, you get precisely the same results that we currently get, because while it may startle you, that's what we currently do -- effectively. Thanks to causality, matter outside of our horizon cannot have an effect on us. Basically, something which is far enough away from us that light cannot have made the distance cannot possibly have influenced us. That, or you have to propose a new theory of gravity -- good luck with that one. It's a common game in cosmology, and one which precious few people since Einstein have had any luck at.

"The energy issue disappears when you realize that the closer an object is to a gravity well the slower time moves."

No it doesn't. Do you think that we're using non-relativistic models of cosmology? Relativity is at the heart of your statement that gravity wells dilate time, and relativity is at the heart of cosmological models.

"Thus there is a large time differential between the edge of a given galaxy and intergalactic space. This time differential accounts for the perceived added gravity."

Now this is a much more interesting statement. Dig out Wiltshire's attempts to use time dilations between galactic clusters and voids to explain the dark energy problem, firmly in the context of general relativity. The fundamentals are not well-studied, but it is promising. However, it goes the opposite direction from your surmise -- it tends towards providing a dark energy rather than a dark matter. It does drive home the point though that it is vital to actually try and calculate something based on an idea, properly rooted in a concrete theory. The answers might be rather different from what you expected...

Comment Re:When will the sheep look up (Score 2) 394

I think the public figures "if I'm not doing anything wrong, why should I care about spying". The idea that they are only targeting terrorists and criminals gives people the illusion that our privacy is not truly at risk. It's when they misinterpret information and target the innocent people is when they get upset. It's a false sense of security not fully understanding the larger scope of spying and archiving information.

Or the public figured it out that by doing ANYTHING online already makes you part of a million different tracking things. Besides the NSA spying on you, you have Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and dozens of other people tracking you (mostly Google through its advertiser subsiaries).

It's not "I'm not doing anything wrong", it's "it's public ".

It's why "privacy controls" and "privacy settings" are a joke (they DO NOT EXIST - you cannot make private anything you post online - the only way is to NOT POST IT ONLINE. After all, it's private, right?). The whole notion of "privacy online" is marketing - it gets people to drop their guard down. Or for Facebook, to get people to post crap online they wouldn't otherwise post (the entire point).

What's public is public.

Of course, the creepy factor is when people come in and combine all that information together...

Comment Re:Well duh (Score 1) 162

If you can physically access and modify a machine, you can change the way it behaves. Is this really news? Can they do it wirelessly? Over the internet?

Or in this case, when you're in front of the kiosk. Wirelessly is nice, over the internet is nice, but can I, when I'm about to insert my money, update the firmware from that side of the machine? If not, and I have to break into the kiosk to get at it, well, it's not a very interesting hack anymore.

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