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Comment Re:If I had say in the matter. . . (Score 1) 147

That's right, not to mention everything they have on that thing does basically the same thing. They're just measuring the composition of everything they can find.
If the gas chromatograph breaks, they use the liquid one, if that breaks they shoot an x-ray at it, then a neutron beam, a frickin' laser, etc. It's a pretty fancy robot.

Comment Re:If they can do any property, then here's one. (Score 2) 85

It could probably figure it out eventually. I don't know if it could beat us though. But I imagine we would tell it everything we knew about superconductors vs temperature for various molecules, then it would learn what's important to make the superconducting temperature go up, then learn how to make the superconducting temperature go up, then figure out what molecules could exist, then run simulations to see what would happen in the real world. Alot of computing.

Comment Re:Cybercheat? (Score 1) 484

I'm guessing that swapping PDFs of textbook answers is what they're talking about in engineering.

I wouldn't even call that cheating, I'm a student in engineering (US) and knowing the final answer in a homework problem is no substitute for the page(s) of work that it takes to get there. Infact, many problems will tell you the final equation. It gives you something to shoot for, and figure out why.

Comment Re:Waterworld (Score 3, Insightful) 309

What happened to doing things because they're cool. Sure it doesn't make sense now, but imagination is a powerful thing, and what about building the world's tallest building? There's no point to have a 150 story building, but we learned alot in doing so and we have something cool to look at. Who cares if it's pie-in-the-sky, great engineering projects would always seem silly. What do you think the people thought when Stonehenge was first being planned?

Comment Why e-readers? (Score 5, Insightful) 106

If Kno (the company) has its way, students will be carrying around a Kno (the device) rather than a stack of textbooks

Speaking as a student I want to know why all these companies keep thinking we want e-readers and e-books instead of textbooks. I don't want my textbook to go dead 9 hours into studying, or not be able to have 3-4 books open to 3-4 different sections each. I would however, like one for pleasure reading, but not a $500/5.5 lb machine. What exactly is this for?

Comment Re:Not so simple. (Score 1) 1138

One thing that I find unbelievable is how many people out there have complained about abusive practices on the part of banks issuing college loans and the lack of government intervention and yet nobody seems to be saying a word about the universities themselves. Universities are among the most inefficiently run entities out there who like the government and raising taxes the solution to their problems is always raising tuition. It's obscene what universities charge for tuition and yet nobody complains. There's nobody fighting to force colleges to keep spending under control and bring down the cost of education. It's no wonder so many people end up buried under student debt.

A rather funny thing happened at my university recently. Some fraternity was pulling a prank where 2 people jumped out of an unmarked white van to 'abduct' some initiate. Now seeing this happen someone on the street called the cops and thus the university sent out texts to everyone on the e-alert list. A few hours later it was discovered to be a prank, so the university sent out another text to tell everyone not to worry. The next day the university blasted these kids and told everyone the cost of the two texts: $7,360. I get about 4-5 texts a week from them. I have no idea how they spent $7,360 on (at most) 40,000 texts.

Comment Re:Rational (Score 1) 807

No joke, first semester of calc I had no idea what they were talking about when they explained derivatives. Went in stoned and it literally changed my view on math. Now all those wierd abstract ideas and theroems fit right in together. It made me see calc in a new light, honestly switched my thinking about equations from 2D to 3D. Now that's how I explain calc to all my friends who don't get it (Still in college), and they say, "Oh! That does make sense, but how the hell did you come up with it?"

Comment Re:Free market (Score 1) 857

This happened because the government forced banks to give mortgages/loans to people who should have never even considered buying anything that expensive. Millions of loans go out, hundreds of thousands should never of happened, tens of thousands default and the banks out $400k. Free Market did not cause this, Government regulations did.

Congress Endorses Open Source For Military 145

A draft defense authorizing act in Congress includes wording plugging open source software. It seems both cost and software security were considerations. This is an important victory for open source. "It's rare to see a concept as technical as open-source software in a federal funding bill. But the House's proposed National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009 (H.R. 5658) includes language that calls for military services to consider open-source software when procuring manned or unmanned aerial vehicles."
United States

How Close Were US Presidential Elections? 971

Mike Sheppard writes "I'm a graduate student in Statistics at Michigan State University and spent some time analyzing past US presidential elections to determine how close they truly were. The mathematical procedures of Linear Programming and 0-1 Integer Programming were used to find the optimal solution to the question: 'What is the smallest number of total votes that need to be switched from one candidate to another, and from which states, to affect the outcome of the election?' Because of the way the popular and electoral votes interact, the outcome of the analysis had some surprising and intriguing results. For example, in 2004, 57,787 votes would have given us President Kerry; and in 2000, 269 votes would have given us President Gore. In all there have been 12 US Presidential elections that were decided by less than a 1% margin; meaning if less than 1% of the voters in certain states had changed their mind to the other candidate the outcome of the election would have been different."

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