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Comment Re:Space elevator coming next? (Score 1) 159

Not only the fact that you do induce a voltage along the length of the tether-- think about the dynamics induced by the air currents. Anyone who has taken an introductory physics course knows that driven strings exhibit some pretty complex dynamics. It's entirely likely that you couldn't stabilize the tether, that some sort of instability would take hold and snap the damn thing. Incidentally, this is similar to the problems prohibiting viable tokamaks. You start out with what seems like a reasonable stable electron distribution (that is, reasonably close to an equilibrium solution), but small perturbations tend to grow pretty quickly and before you know it you've collided with the chamber wall.

Comment Re:I have problems with this (Score 1) 1319

This is a pretty commonly held misconception, exacerbated by the media. Einstein never objected to much of non-relativistic QM, but he did take issue with the attitudes adopted by many Copenhagen proponents-- that once you had the Heisenberg picture, the theory was put to bed. Einstein knew better than this, and was vindicated by Dirac et al during the development of quantum field theory. He never rejected QM in its entirety. It's unfair to diminish his role in developing modern physics, even with such benign criticism-- the man was probably the greatest scientist to ever live.

P.S. I study QFT. I'd be pretty interested in hearing Einstein's take on things like renormalization.

Comment Off Topic-- Dirac (Score 5, Insightful) 162

FTA "[...] people like Einstein and Paul Dirac (who predicted the existence of antimatter )"

It's so strange that they have to explain who Dirac is. I'm a student in a top high energy physics department, and the man's name is literally everywhere. He build quantum field theory from the ground up, damn near by himself. He's definitely a demigod within the community.

When I was in highschool I read (in Scientific American?) an article about Dirac, and it portrayed him as something of an under appreciated genius, that somehow he managed to escape the public eye. I guess this really is true.

There's this huge disconnect between who the layman idolizes (Einstein, Bohr, Hawking etc.) and who the theorists idolize (t'Hooft, Yang, Wilson, etc. though of course we do idolize the other guys as well).

Comment I've touched the TACC unit (Score 1) 213

It was kind of funny, I got to tour the TACC through a lab contact, and the most interesting thing wasn't Ranger (the fastest publicly owned supercomputer in the world), but this odd looking unit they have in the back room pushed up against a wall. Walking up to it, we thought it was filled with flourinert-- but then the systems manager stuck his finger in and licked the liquid off, explaining it was mineral oil! It's pretty amazing, they cool this thing using a swamp cooler. Just a pump with a heat exchanger that feeds a water loop through an exterior wall, to an evaporator. And apparently this thing works well during the Austin summers-- not as bad as Houston, but those of us who've had to endure it know that it can get pretty humid.

Submission + - The Data Peak That Causes The Excitement (

Takionbrst writes: "I awoke at the end of my QM III lecture today hearing this "in fifty years you might remember this as the day we found out why objects have mass." A preprint uploaded to the arXiv today reports on an unexplained peak in data collected from accelerators at Fermi-Lab possibly indicates the existence of a previously unknown particle. It's mass is likely in the 100-200GeV range--within the range of Higgs Boson energies predicted by the Standard Model. Is this the discovery of the century?"

Comment Contrary to what Kotaku claims... (Score 1) 469

I can have complete control over a video game in 2011. I simply have to torrent it illegally from a plethora of sources and install a crack. I thought maybe the uproar (and subsequent spike in pirating) over the Assassin's Creed DRM would have shown developers that sometimes excessive control can backfire. Quoth the Princess Leia: "The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers."

Comment Learn to use your F1 key (Score 1) 84

Mathematica syntax is actually quite easy once you get used to it. This is enhanced enormously by the excellent help/reference/tutorial database. Can't remember the syntax for a certain command? Curious about options? Need a similar command but can't remember/don't know it? Highlight your command and hit F1. Takes all of about 2 seconds, and you have all the requisite knowledge to construct some pretty sophisticated functions. I'm a physics student, and I've used Mathematica extensively for both quick and dirty and more involved numerical work, and in this respect its proved invaluable. My one reservation is that it's handling of procedural programming blows-- sometimes I wish I knew C better than I do...

Comment Someone who has actually worked a DARPA contract: (Score 2, Interesting) 302

DARPA is the canonical "high risk, high reward" agency. Sure some of their funded proposals/contracts sound bat shit insane, but what if this actually succeeds? This is, after all, the organization that brought us the precursor to the internet and the predator drone. A pilot-less combat plane you say? Blasphemy. Lay people exchanging information and culture near instantaneously across the world using light traveling through a cable? Apostasy. IMHO, quit whining about what in all reality is a small, small fraction of the federal budget, and focus on what really matters. And by that I mean ensuring net neutrality. =)

Comment Re:if that's true... (Score 1) 272

You know what the great thing about making absolute statements (or in your case, the insinuation) is? It only takes one counter example to prove the statement false. I played WoW for about 5 years, consistently performing at the highest levels of both PVE and PVP (top 100 world wide PVE, multiple gladiator titles). I'm also a physics major at a world class research university who has publications in a major journal. While your statement may be true of many WoW players, it's downright asinine to assume no benefits come from the game at all or that it inevitably wrecks your life. In short, I defy you, sir.

Comment Re:Critical temperature (Score 1) 72

Yeah, I figured the literature was probably fluff so I didn't even bother to track it down. It's interesting that they can't even show an expulsion of flux--my experience has been that you can take quite a few ceramics and throw them into a SQUID and see the "Meissner" effect... but when you try and measure resistivity it's always finite but measurable. Seems they didn't even get that far...

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