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Submission + - Should more math and equations be used in the popular press? (nytimes.com) 1

raque writes: The NYTimes (standard disclaimers apply) published two OP-EDs in their Philosophy section (first here second here), The Stone, discussing how Heisenberg's Uncertainty principle is abused. The second is a followup to the first. The author struggled to make clear his point and left the impression he was creating a strawman argument. In his followup he said that he was avoiding equations due to his writing for a general audience. I replied to both articles as Rtbinc, in the second I put up the following comment:

One of the issues is that Dr Callendar has is a fear of Math and equations in popular reading. A lot of other people are afraid of these few very pretty symbols. Lets do an experiment and see if using some equations and symbols drives readers into fits of terror and prevents their understanding as they cower shivering under their chairs.

The below is from Heinz Pagels in the Cosmic Code (available on Kindle from Amazon and Nook from B&N for about 10 bucks). It shows up on Google books too. Go look, it's fun.

One part of the Uncertainty Principal is (p)x(q)h – where p and q (the is pronounced delta, e.g., delta-p) are the sums of all of the uncertainties — or differences — in a huge pile of measurements of the position and velocity of some particle we're measuring – and h is the tiny, but still not zero, number called the Plank constant. The mathematical symbols haven't changed meaning, so if h ain't zero, neither p or q can be either. We can be as precise as we like, until we hit the Plank Constant. This is not some mathematical oddity, it is how the universe operates. That is weird, and that is one example of quantum weirdness.

The question for the experiment is: Would Dr Callendar have done better to use the equation in the first article instead of metaphors from TV and Movies? Or, did they so frighten you that you need a good stiff brandy and a foot rub.

So I'm asking the same question to everyone on Slashdot. Would Dr Callendar been better off just diving in and dealing with Heisenberg and quantum mechanics using the tools that were developed for it.

Comment Re:just wow (Score 1) 421

Okay – I'll assume you're just trolling, but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt. I have lived that life for the last 20 years as a male and I'll give you, and the rest of Slashdot, some insights. Any ladies can chime in if I've missed or misrepresented anything.
In no particular order:

You exist for the sake of "The Other", who ever that may be. There are usually several. What you want and need doesn't matter any more. You service the needs of others - in every way that can be used - and *must* make that the source of your joy in life. Think about that one for a minute. You fulfill someone else's wants and needs and that *is* how your wants and needs are fulfilled. Having a want or a need that isn't fulfilling someone else's want or need isn't part of the definition.

It's a low level management gig. You have no control over what sort of revenue stream you have, but still have to get stuff done. You can't fire anyone, all you can do is quit.

It doesn't get more back office.

Children don't make for interesting conversation, are endless sinks of want's and need's, aren't grateful, and success in parenting is to make yourself irrelevant.

You are now officially stupid. In matters of any importance no one cares what your opinion is. All status in America and in the West stems from your JOB! Think abut that.

It is boring. How many time can you make the same set of healthy reasonable priced meals and sweep the same floor.

Comment Re: or watch the movie? more documents than people (Score 1) 166

One of the points of Archaeology is to check the historic record. I will point out the Tuscon Garbage Project as an example. It plainly shows that what even honest people say and what they do ain't the same thing.

Also, more importantly, what people think happened, and that is what they record, and what really happened doesn't need to coincide.

For example at Mos Espa the history 10,000 years from now will show that this was a famous ritual space where the hero/demon Vader was born. But an Archaeological analysis will not find a community. They will find buildings that only make sense from a certain angle, are unique, just look like they work, but don't. There will be small temporary habitation that is concurrent with the time period. This will question the historical validity of the Hero/Demon Vader, but will be suppressed. The truth that Saint Luke, the companion of Christos, redeemed his father with the Force of Holy Ghost as given by Christos is undeniable. Those future Archaeologists will have to weigh the importance of their findings that Mos Espa was a theatrical film set, versus the fury of the inquisition.

Comment Re:like anything else.. (Score 1) 580

So in the end the first problem with poor college science and math performance is poor elementary school education. I worked and worked through Calc 1 and 2 in college, enjoyed it, and got Cs. My professors were wonderful. I was working on a problem with her during office hours and she stopped, looked me in the eyes and said "What's 12 x 9?". I was flummoxed. She said that if I didn't know that the way I breathed it was going to be hard going. It's 108 (how many of you knew that before you read the answer?).

The second problem is that doing anything well at a high level is hard. That's the difference between one of us noodling away on a guitar and Eric Clapton. One of the issues in any discussion of education is the assumption that with the proper education we can turn out Feynmans and Claptons as needed. No, you can't. A poor education and stymie a genius, but it can't create one.

The third problem is motivation. It has to be the most fun you can have standing up. As a previous poster pointed out - do you really want to collect data for six days a week for 9 months and produce one little paper for your effort? If you learn to sing really well like Robin Thicke you can make a music video with Emily Ratajkowski strutting around naked in front of you. Edward O. Wilson watched bugs. He loves watching bugs.

  BTW as an example of the second problem - if you watch the blurred lines videos, the censored and the uncensored you'll note that Thicke, Pharrell and T.I. make it look easy and natural twice - differently. Then they did it again on The Voice TV show. That's really hard to do. No one seems to thing that all all I have to to do is pass some classes and I can do that.

Comment Re:Expect more of this. (Score 1) 608

"If you build it they will come" only applies to Baseball fields.

I saw an ad that stated that people don't want computers or programs - they want solutions. They have something they want to do and a way to get it done for a good price. The people in the server room care about what happens in the server room - so linux works there. Everyone else wants their stuff to work. The Linux Desktop developers never got this. They never produced a cheap reliable product that provided the solution to the customers problem. The computer is a means not an end.

You never saw, and still don't see, Fedora advertising themselves as:"The Solution to the home-user windows 8 issue. How Fedora will preserve your data, your photos, your music and make them easier for you to get to and enjoy - all without having to buy yet another computer! All this for $25!" Which is product people want.

Instead you get: If you're a nerd and want to polish your Geek Cred you can with Fedora! Join with other people like you who have already outgrown their 2XL tee-shirts and will ego stoke you for your subtle and elegant code styling. Which is an overly sarcastic look at a social movement.

Social movements and products are not the same thing. A computer desktop is a product.

I realized this at the last Linux Expo I attended at the Javits Center in NY (2002 - 2003?) when I left and bought the new Mac OSX at J&R. I think it was Panther. Two days I walked around and spoke to everyone. I needed to track my finances, have my wife log in and work from home, have my daughters play barbie and Carmen Sandiago, and have my son do his homework. The only one they could handle was the IBM terminal emulation. They also had demo's of the LOTRs movie renders and the Ice Age Movie renders. I think it was the Battle of the Helm's Deep. The IBM booth was near the SUSE booth and I was talking to two guys from the booths, and booth said the Linux Desktop was dead because there were no solutions to what I needed as a home user.

Comment Re:Nope, its what Gnome does (Score 1) 778

So it seems, I just downloaded Fedora with Gnome 3 and I can't make it work - everything is just *gone*. It's been a while since I've dealt with Linux, Apple's habit of saving me from myself has gotten old. I'd like to get kde running but I can't figure out how. Reading the docs might help.

IMHO - since Lion, 10.7, Apple has been more aggressive in streamlining the GUI. Scroll bars went away - then they came back. Utilities were removed - the Network Utility is no longer provided. If you have a copy then keep it, there isn't a new one.

You have the esthetics too. The color has been leached out. Now it looks like it has been washed too often with too much bleach. You can google it and get a list.

Then I tried Gnome ~sigh~

Comment Re:This is *NOT* what Apple does. (Score 1) 778

Yes it is, but not without some thought. From the limited controls and feature set of the new Airport Utility to hiding the /Users/~/Library folder Apple has removed options that users kept tripping over. The fact the you need to start a special Developer Menu just proves the point. This may not be a bad thing. Anyone who has worked help desk has stories of the damage done by those who had the mistaken impression they had a clue what they were doing.

You'll note that the ability to view the source of a page isn't right there up front anymore in any browser that's the same sort of thing. You still can if you want, but you have to find out how.

 

Comment This is what Apple does. (Score 1) 778

Apple has been removing options for users for years. The first versions of OSX were close to linux in the number of things you could do, these days I forget it's a Unix variant. Macs are what Steve, or these days Jon, thinks is good for you. That seems high handed until you think if you buy a Ralph Lauren suit your getting what Ralph thought was good for you. That being said, the number of times I went to the rescue of some noob who what whining that his Mac version 10.5 or earlier was broken and sat there and went WTF??!! I'd be able to buy a new Mac. As Apple has steady *not* let people think for themselves things have gotten stabler and stabler.

Submission + - What role do the Humanities play on Slashdot?

raque writes: The "NYTimes has this story on the growing hostility towards the Humanities and the Liberal Arts in American Education. I see two questions here: What does this mean for Slashdot? We're about STEM here, but the method used is the written word. Without Humanities how well will we be able to write? The second is that tech employees move up the corporate ladder the "tech" becomes less and less important. IT managers don't program, they write memos, proposals, email after email. It would would seem to me that success in moving up the ladder depends on skills developed in the Humanities classroom more then the CS lab.

Comment You left out MacOS before X. Duh!! (Score 1) 413

Maybe it's just because you young folk have a short memory, but the first OS I remember is MacOS 4.3. It ran off a floppy and used a second floppy as a scratch disk. It was so amazing when I got a hard drive. 40 meg of space. That was just insane. Who could hope to use 40 meg of space. I remember toying with Minix. I got it on disk and played with it. It was nice but I couldn't imagine what to do with it.

Though maybe it was IBM 360. I used one, or a terminal, which is more the truth, in the late 70's in High School. Worked in the attendance office doing data entry. Remember those punch cards.

Comment Everyone is talking past each other, again (Score 1) 276

Wilson states that to do good science and to be a good scientist you don't need to be a math wiz. Iddo states to be employable in the tech and science field the more math the better. Am I the only one who has noticed these aren't the same point? Iddo is worrying that if your C.V. doesn't show enough math you won't get the position to do the science at all. Wilson says you can find a place for yourself that uses the math you already know. Wilson is optimistic, Iddo is realistic/pessimistic. Wilson succeeded and is a giant. Iddo has watched his students struggle and have to wait tables to get by.

In the end Wilson is following closer to J. Bronowski in Science and Human values and Iddo is closer to my grandmother. Bronowski cared about humanity, grandma cares about me.

Comment I think the wording "women in tech" is wrong. (Score 1) 546

I live in a gender switched world. My wife is a programmer for a major Wall Street firm, and I stay home to raise the kids. She has been at the firm for 25+ years and is a manager who is part of the hiring team. I've been a SAHD for 20+ years. When we attend those various office functions I notice a fair amount of female programming staff. Way over 10%. The section my wife manages is over 50% female. What is different is that this is a mainframe COBOL environment. When I talk to the male programmers about tech we discuss with linux distro we like and how so & so did what ever. The women discuss how they are using tool X to solve problem Y. Tool X is what they have, it cost a lot of money, it does the job. They are not interested in the tools themselves, they are interested in the problem they are solving. Understanding what the user needs, how that might be different then what they asked for, and doing all of this in a timely fashion is the topic of this and every day.

After that they are interested in how much money is being made, what the benefits are, time off, just like any other job. So we are talking about long term job stability, good office environment, how many stalls are in the bathroom, who is and isn't and idiot.

Asking why women aren't represented in tech misses the point. The question should be what does a tech job provide that an HR or accounting job doesn't.

Comment Re:Is this for real? (Score 1) 425

In that case we are in complete agreement. Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should.

I get why people get so enamored of what computers can be made to do. As someone with writing based learning disabilities Mac and spell check changed my world. I went from not being able to finish High School to Honors in College. WriteNow and MacWrite Pro with that little 9 inch black and white screen were magic in the most pure Harry Potter way. I took my minor in computer science so I could understand this tool that freed me.

I'm amazed by what people don't care about and don't want to know. Just make twitter work .. Wow I'm the mayor of something on Foursquare ... What are people saying on Facebook? Send me your contact info and we'll set up a date. It goes on and on. Just because the first one was a good idea doesn't make the second, or third, or fourth one a good idea too. Matt Hanan found out that Apple's Opaque nature makes them difficult to trust. I've spoken to friends about how all of this interconnected, I'll do it for you-ness may not be a good idea. That cloud services have to be monitored and secured. What I get back is a suspicious look and being asked why I want to take their twitter from them. How can they live without it, it's magic. If you point out that magic has side effects and things you don't see I get more suspicious looks. It's rather bizarre.

       

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