Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:Speaking as an example... (Score 1) 129

I've heard or read a number of exchanges in which an interviewer asks a Pharm rep why their company has gotten out of the vaccine business. The reply is generally of the form "Because vaccines aren't profitable". The interviewer asks for further details. The rep explains that a vaccine cures the patient, or prevents them from even getting sick. This means that you sell them nothing, or maybe a few doses of a medicine, and then you make no more money from them. The profitable drugs/treatments are those that maintains the patient as a patient, requiring ongoing treatment for the rest of their lives.

[Citation Needed], indeed. Can you point to a real live Pharm rep who actually says this? I mean, we all know that's essentially how it works, but I might invest in torch and pitchfork stocks if someone official is actually on record...

Comment Re:Quit changing UK spelling to US (Score 0) 174

When you are directly quoting someone's writing it is usually considered a professional courtesy not to change the spelling to suit your own preferences.

He did not say "not a single one was in favor of it", he said "not a single one was in favour of it.

Was he dictating letter-by-letter? One doesn't change spellings when quoting written material, but accepted practice when transcribing spoken material is to use the spelling appropriate to the audience, not the speaker.

Comment Man, those Ruskies are dumb! (Score 1) 153

Pushing a heavy ship up on the ice to crush it and thus break it may be efficient, but is hardly the only way to break ice, and probably not the most efficient all things considered.

A nuclear-powered ship should have raw power and heat in abundance. I'm thinking that super-hot steam under extreme pressure would cause any thickness of ice to crack, and cracked ice is extremely brittle and easy to crack even more, so a combination of super-hot steam and raw ramming force would crack the ice just as efficiently without the need for the ship to go on top of the ice and crush it. Would make it possible to use a more seaworthy hull shape and thus improve the conditions for the crew.

Man, those Ruskies are dumb! They spend a billion dollars building a giant icebreaking ship, and none of them made the connection that nuclear generators make heat, and heat melts ice. Hah!

PS: Love your sig.

Comment Re:Linking to Wikipedia to explain math (Score 1) 102

If you're a mathematician who sees math articles in WP which are missing intuitive explanations that could feasibly be added, then by all means be bold and add them! Just, please, if it's an important one like "manifold", read the talk page first to see if there's already a consensus about the technical level. There's a lot of thought and effort put into striking the right balance that may not be apparent from just reading the articles.

Comment Re:Conceptual Universes (Score 1) 102

This is one of the things I've always hated about the reporting on math, which is not only the fault of reporters but also of mathematicians.


But mathematics really needs to get less abstract in its terminology. The name needs to mean something, just like how in CS you call something "method_does_this()" instead of "method_x()".

Well, the names often are meaningful, but after a while one starts running out of words, and/or the concepts just get so specialized that there aren't any words that convey anything close to the right idea of what's happening.

Comment Re:linky whacky (Score 2) 102

Actually after reading a bit more, it turns out not to be as hyperbolic as it sounds. The author has come up with a whole constellation of new mathematical constructions to support his claimed proof. As the article points out, this means it'll take quite some time for mathematicians to understand these constructions before they'll be able to judge the correctness of the proof. This kind of thing would be dismissed out of hand if it came from Joe Nobody, but Shinichi Mochizuki's reputation in this case should ensure that it gets a good look. And before the crackpots hop on, no, that's not because of any ivory-tower prejudice, but simply because no sane (and busy) professional would judge that such a large personal time investment is likely be worthwhile, without some very strong past performance.

Comment Re:Linking to Wikipedia to explain math (Score 2) 102

Well WP math articles aren't designed so that every concept comes with a layman's introduction; that would involve massive duplication and bloat. And so, yes, the link you posted would be more appropriate here than a WP link. But I really don't see how you get from there to accusing the volunteer WP math editors of having a big willy contest. There's a reason those articles are written the way they are, and it's not just to make you personally feel stupid. They don't give a shit how smart you think they are.

Comment Re:linky whacky (Score 1) 102

Yeah, that "new, conceptual universes" line lit up my bullshit detector like a Christmas tree. But the author is well-established, so it's probably a bad translation and/or breathless hype inserted by the university PR office.

Comment Re:Linking to Wikipedia to explain math (Score 5, Insightful) 102

Nobody's measuring anyone's penis--the truth is a lot more boring (and reasonable) than that. Wikipedia is a fantastic first reference for working mathematicians or grad students--I'm sure nearly all math article editors are in these groups--who just want to quickly find out e.g. what the hell an "ultrafilter" is. And so the articles are written in a way that makes them most useful to the people who donate their time to produce them. It's not that any (non-douchebag) mathematician gets off on throwing around smart-sounding jargon. It's just that you can't actually do anything with "intuitive" descriptions.

Slashdot Top Deals

Children begin by loving their parents. After a time they judge them. Rarely, if ever, do they forgive them. - Oscar Wilde