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Comment Rank idiocy disguised as science. (Score 0) 171

This is just more Chopra-esque woo. The entire idea amounts to seeing images in clouds: our minds see patterns and similarities all over the place, even when there are none in reality.

No, the laws that govern the formation of structure in the universe really have nothing whatsoever to do with the laws that govern the formation of brains, let alone the Internet. These are three very different kinds of things with three very different mechanisms for building them, and which do very different things. The fact that they are networks or network-like (in the case of the large scale stucture of the universe, which isn't actually a network) is pretty much the only thing that connects them.

Finally, let me just point out that the claim that these networks are "asymptotically similar" is just flagrantly incorrect. The asymptotic state of our universe is completely empty space. It's not a network, or even a semblance of a network: it's vacuum. The appearance of a network that we see today is merely a temporary, transient phenomenon that will go away in time (I'm not sure the exact time scale, but I expect probably tens of billions to trillions of years should do it). There will still be stars and galaxies long after the appearance of the network has been completely wiped away: the universe will become a series of islands separated by vast distances as the filaments collapse into the more massive clusters of galaxies or are stretched to nothingness with the expansion.

So no, this crud should be chucked in the woo bin where it belongs.

Comment Re:Wealth disparity -- more important than income (Score 1) 555

Well, income inequality drives wealth inequality, and vice versa. Tackle one, and the other follows.

That said, inheritance taxes really should be extremely high above a certain amount. The ability of the children of rich parents to inherit the wealth of their parents is one of the major things sustaining wealth inequality.

Comment Re:zero sum game (Score 1) 555

The economic logic is that by reducing the taxes on the rich, you increase their incentives to do better: after all, if they get to keep more of their money, they have more to work towards, right? Of course, this has no basis whatsoever in reality. You have to get to rather extreme tax rates (around 70%-90%) before the incentives start to become counterproductive.

Comment Short answer: No. (Score 4, Interesting) 570

Having spent a lot of time in traditional education, and a lot of time teaching myself new things on the Internet, no, just throwing computers at kids is not going replace classroom education. The main difference between the two is depth and breadth. With a classroom education, you are confronted with topics that you are unlikely to have ever considered on your own, sometimes out of lack of interest, sometimes because the Internet tends to focus on certain aspects of various topics while ignoring others. You just can't get anything approaching a comprehensive education in any field just by reading things online.

Perhaps even more importantly, a good fraction of education lies in not just learning facts, but in doing: in learning how to research a topic so as to produce a compelling argument, in learning how to solve problems, in learning how to perform laboratory experiments. These experiences are irreplaceable.

But perhaps most crucially: most people just aren't self-motivated enough to educate themselves. And even for those that are, it isn't easy to do it yourself.

Comment Wall of sound won't work (Score 5, Informative) 474

It will do literally nothing. Sound waves simply add. You can't get rid of sound waves by adding a bunch of random sound waves. The sound waves you don't want will pass right through. Now, if you simply have a white noise generator in your house, so that the ambient volume is higher, that may make it so that your ears have a harder time picking out specific sounds, which will, in turn, make it easier to ignore them.

Barring that, noise cancelling headphones or double-pane windows, as others have mentioned, are going to be your best bets. And double-pane windows are good for heating/cooling anyway.

As an aside, I'm also rather skeptical that noise cancellation for the entire apartment could ever be practical. The problem is the waveform bouncing off the various walls and other features of the apartment is going to be too complex to accurately measure or cancel. And then what about the sounds you do want to hear?

Comment Re:Conversion process? (Score 2) 170

From what little I know of biology, I'm almost certain they're used for fuel, meaning eventually broken down into a combination of H2O and CO2. There may be a few steps along the way, where the bacteria incorporate some of the hydrocarbons in their membranes for a short time, or break the longer hydrocarbon chains into shorter chains, releasing the smaller molecules back into the water for other bacteria to gobble up. But eventually it's basically all going to become H2O and CO2.

Comment Re:It happens again and again in nature (Score 5, Insightful) 170

Sorry, but this, "It's a natural phenomenon!" argument just does not fly. A really, really simple way to see why this argument cannot be remotely reasonable is to look at pictures like the one posted on this article:
http://www.allword-news.co.uk/tag/louisiana-fish-deaths-raise-oil-spill-questions/

But to get into the nitty gritty of it, the article you linked says that it's "twice the Exxon Valdez spill each year," and that is likely spread out over a wide area and released in small amounts that are less likely to clump. Also, consider the magnitude: the Exxon Valdez spill between 260,000 and 750,000 barrels of oil. So if we take the high estimate, that's perhaps 1.5 million barrels of oil that normally spill into the Gulf of Mexico each year, likely spread over a wide area.

The Deepwater Horizon spill was around 4.9 million barrels of oil, all released in a short time (much less than a year), all in the same place. No, spills of this magnitude do not happen naturally (except perhaps in exceedingly rare circumstances). Yes, it is highly damaging to the ecosystem of parts of the Gulf.

Comment Only a few websites (Score 1) 716

I only block ads for two reasons:
1. The ads are particularly obnoxious. I really despise the in-text ads that pop up when you mouse over a particular word in the text, for instance.
2. I despise the website's business model. The Huffington Post, for example, makes millions of dollars but doesn't pay most of its bloggers a cent. Sometimes there's good content there, so I'll only click through if I have an adblocker enabled for the site.

But for other sites I usually let the ads load. From time to time I'll even click the ads just to support the website, if it's a website I like. I almost never see an ad I'm actually interested in, however.

Comment Re:Perspective, people, perspective (Score 1) 262

The temperature of space is 2.725K. That's quite cold. Now, there are some particles in space that are at much higher temperatures. Obviously the particles streaming from the Sun are quite hot, for example. But their very low density means that they don't have all that much impact on the temperatures of objects in our solar system. For most objects in our solar system, that's set just by the thermal radiation from the Sun, and what the objects in question do with said radiation (how much they absorb and how much they emit).

Comment Re:Perspective, people, perspective (Score 2) 262

There's also the point to be made that high-efficient power transmission over long distances requires high voltage, and there is always some loss in converting to/from the high voltage power for transmission. I'm reasonably sure that there would be far less required in terms of voltage/frequency conversion with superconducting lines. At any rate, we could still reduce long-distance power transmission costs by improving the grid with current technologies, even without room temperature superconductors.

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