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Comment Lightning is a DC not an AC Electric arc? (Score 5, Insightful) 199

Greg is a great guy, giant tesla coils are cool, and I'd love to know more about lightning, but it seems like lots of properties of air (especially when it has water or other polarizable droplets/particles) are frequency dependent. So I'm not sure how that this is really going to act like the natural lightning that we're used to... Science? Ok, but not Natural Lightning Science.

Comment Re:just obvious human logic (Score 1) 250

You are absolutely correct... the details of the patent claims (and supporting specification) are very important.
However, the selection of the examiner is also extremely important.
I won't be surprised if one of these patents is issued in a first action allowance, even if another (perhaps even narrower) receives a final rejection.

Some companies even submit multiple applications with minor tweaks to the abstract so that they go into different branches of art.
When the first examiner allows the patent, you abandon all of the others so that any prior art discovered by another examiner doesn't make it to the file folder.

Multiple submission triples or quadruples the cost of filing, but you can dramatically improve the chance of allowance for highly suspect patents.

Comment Re:Isotopes != elements (Score 1) 220

Actually, finding a cloud containing only Radon gas would basically indicate alien intelligence or some completely new nuclear process since there isn't a process that would purify to only Radon... Even isotopes that decay into radon would need to be purified....

Finding a giant isolated stellar gas cloud that contains no other elements again either implies that they were purified by some process, or that it has been there alone since before there were other gases (eg Oxygen, Nitrogen) to mix with. It would (thermodynamically) ove to form ammonia (NH3) and water (H2O) to get to a lower stable energy state).

They have proposed the least unlikely answer (interstellar alien intelligence is a big leap).
Please pursue further education.

Comment The 3rd set of data supporting subsurface H20 ice (Score 5, Informative) 59

There was new data this year indicating subsurface water ice from two synthetic radars (SHARAD and MARSIS at different frequencies on two different landers).
They have estimates for the volume and placement of the ice as well.
http://www.jsg.utexas.edu/news/feats/2010/mars_glaciers.html

An original finding from 2002 based on a single Gamma Ray Spectrometer instrument showed excess Hydrogen...
http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2002/28may_marsice/

And now even more extensive results from long term surface studies... I find the recent subsurface radar measurements most compelling.

Comment Re:Sadly its not real (Score 1) 828

I call BS on that post by Baldrson.

I was a physics student at Caltech at the time. We had pre-prints of the papers from both Utah organizations on cold fusion on the day that P&F released their paper (Early March around spring break) as well as the less well known Jones paper. We went to the university lab stores and bought all of the Palladium available. Professors in actual labs that wanted to study the effect were pissed (and actually bought the Palladium back at a profit and with the inclusion of the students). Several of the same students made large sums in the Futures market (on the way up and down). There was no significant work on-going at Caltech when ColdFusion was announced, but we were all very hopeful and involved in the weeks that followed. New calculations, research, and science was done based on the results. I am saddened that further CF research is so polarized from regular science (mostly due to governmental funding and politics), because this isolation prevents peer-review and publication of good experiments, but allows crack-pots to flourish in the vacuum. We all hope there is something there, but the chances of finding it get more remote with every fraud- its like figuring out what happened to JFK.

I also know one of Fleischmann's collaborators from just before this event- he describes him as both an excellent scientist, but also obsessed with secrecy and getting credit for work that was well outside of his primary field of expertise- Electrochemistry. That combination of obsession, intelligence, and renown has always been detrimental to our understanding of the universe... see Linus Pauling on Vitamin C or the work of the latest Nobel.

I trust my own memory, and that of my direct personal contacts more than I trust you.
You just seem tragically misinformed.

The scientific community has done a pretty good job dealing with the aftermath of some very bad actions both by scientists, the media, and politicians. Conspiracy theorists don't help us actually come to grips with the complexity of the world around us, they grasp for the "simple but wrong" answers instead.

Comment Re:A Groupon pitfall (Score 1) 129

Great idea! Creating a public app has it's own pitfalls, but if groupon (and other coupon writers) can create negative externalities on normal buyers to make their money... then we can create market pressure on their customers to make them stop... "free" markets only work when they are transparent and reciprocal (among other requirements).

Comment Re:A lot of work (Score 1) 358

Yes... there is a lot of math. That is almost all I remember from my attempt to learn it in PH236 at a small technical school in southern cal. Memories of Christoffel symbols, Riemann Curvature, and covariant derivatives dance in my head. I find learning the math pretty dry without some physics behind it. There are on-line class notes which might be helpful and studying with friends (if you can find someone that shares your illness).

http://www.amazon.com/Gravitation-Physics-Charles-W-Misner/dp/0716703440/
Bleah! Read the reviews of MTW and see what you think...

I've since discovered that our book, Gravitation (while a great demonstration of the weight of the topic), is not the best book to learn from... at best it is a reference. A more basic book by Hartle is probably better for beginners. I picked it up at a friends house and felt I understood more GR reading it for an hour than I did studying Gravitation for 8 weeks (yes I dropped the class!). Mathematica was just coming out at the time, and I wish that we had used it, since it seems that much of the "algebraic" manipulation would have been easier... I don't know that the concepts would have been.

http://www.amazon.com/Gravity-Introduction-Einsteins-General-Relativity/dp/0805386629/
Please don't just read one of the pop-science books and feel like you know the material... "Everything is relative, dude" is just stupid.

Comment Re:General relativity is part of physics series (Score 1) 358

I'm pretty surprised that General Relativity was part of a basic physics sequence... I think you mean Special Relativity, which is basically (linear) algebra and is a small departure from classical physics.... I too studied Special Rel in a freshman class at a small school in Pasadena... Then I sat in on Ph236 where I tried to grasp part of General Rel as taught by Kip Thorne (who helped write Gravitation, a book which demonstrates it's weighty topic)... Mostly I learned math, and my final understanding today is very limited.

Perhaps Special Relativity is what the poster means too, but it doesn't seem like it based on his concern, and it's not what he said. As others have mentioned General Relativity is a much bigger an more difficult topic involving Tensors and Differential Geometry.

Look at the two topics in Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_relativity
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_relativity

Basically, Special Rel deals with the special case of inertial reference frames (eg those that are not accelerating or rotating). It explains Doppler RADAR, and is basically completely accepted by the scientific community. Special Relativistic Quantum mechanics (Dirac's Equation) is part of the Standard Model and necessary for some quantum chemistry and Fine Structure of the atom.

Complexly, General Rel deals with the more general case of all reference frames (eg including gravitation, acceleration, and rotation). It explains gravitational lensing and a portion of Mercury's orbital precession, but is still not completely accepted, because it's not known how to combine its concepts with Quantum Mechanics. String Theory is the most popular attempt... (also not really accepted),

I consider Quantum Electrodynamics QED and Quantum Chromdynamics QCD to be much more commonly understood and comprehensible. They are still hard (like math), but not absurd.

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