Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Comment Re:American investors uninterested in manufacturin (Score 3, Interesting) 268

Startups that actually need to produce physical products are starving because investors don't want to put their money into projects that take millions of dollars and several years to break even.

If it ever does (break even). Scaling up is an incredibly high-risk business, because some things just don't scale.

In Canada we recently opened a national chemical engineering facility (http://www.greencentrecanada.com/) that is specifically aimed at helping researchers scale chemical processes that work at lab-scale (grams) to industrial scale (kilograms to tonnes). There are plenty of things that just don't work outside of the lab, and new processes in particular are often invented by experts who are the only people in the world who can make them work successfully.

The skills required for scaling up are very different from those required for discovery, and having something like this were there is a specific group of experts in scaling up is a godsend to university spin-off businesses, and adds a level of reassurance to investors that simply couldn't exist otherwise.

Comment Re:I want to know the protocol. (Score 2) 176

Clearly we need an RFC for the Brain-To-Brain-Interface Protocol.

You've been modded funny but this is actually insightful.

The fantasy of "brains working together" is based on a transparently stupid idea: that adding more manpower to a late project will not make it later. Communication and thinking are hard, and brains are decidedly non-standard components, with different internal representations of pretty much everything.

As a friend who works in GIS is fond of saying, "If I take a group of geologists out in the field and have them map an area, at the end of the day I can tell who mapped where, but not what they mapped." Our internal representations of the world even for such apparently unambiguous concepts as "granite" are sufficiently different that we have genuine trouble agreeing on boundaries between types of rock. And yet for some reason everyone believe that their own person concept of any given thing is "true" and "real" and everyone else is mistaken.

Even if we could connect two human brains together with high enough bandwidth to do meaningful "co-thinking" the result would look a hell of a lot more like a three-legged race than anything else.

Comment Re:There's already a working system. (Score 1) 126

It always annoys me when people claim to have discovered something new when all they're really doing is reverting to a past method that was recently discarded in the name of "new" and under the pretense of "better". It shows both ignorance and arrogance.

Our knowledge of pedagogy has improved considerably in the past century, which makes it worth revisiting the question. Masters who are ignorant of pedagogy, as the typical master of an apprentice was, are not good, efficient or effective teachers, as demonstrated by the lengthy terms of apprenticeship and the rather high failure rate.

That said, modern "teacher education" is almost completely free of pedagogy. We know how to teach, and we know a number of methods that have been proven again and again under a wide range of circumstances to work. They all look vaguely like the Montessori method, although there are lots of variants that, again, are known to work.

What they don't look very much like is either an apprenticeship program or a modern classroom, neither of which are primarily intended to teach. Apprenticeships are fundamentally about creating barriers to entry for the protection of existing tradespeople. Modern classrooms are about warehousing children for whom society has no place.

As such it is no surprise that we do a bad job of education, because no one is very much interested in educating using empirically valid pedagogical methods. They are rather interested in promoting their political and ideological interests, as you have done here.

Comment Re:Good only for Monsanto. (Score 1) 284

Sterile seed doesn't spread much of anything.

Who is talking about "sterile seed"? Do you understand how the terminator gene works? Terminator plants still produce pollen that can fertilize other plants, but those seeds will not germinate due to the terminator.

The cleverness in the process is that Monsanto has produced a fertile strain that will generate seeds that will grow into infertile plants.

So the detrimental effects of the terminator are not limited to heirloom varieties, they will universally decrease yields for any farmer who is depending on putting aside pollinated seeds from this years crop to plant next years (this is a bigger deal in the developing world, still.)

Comment Re:Good only for Monsanto. (Score 4, Insightful) 284

Negative: If the gene causing infertility is transmitted via pollen, then farmers that try to produce an heirloom seed crop near a field planted with a Monsanto variety would be screwed since their seed crop could end up infertile.

This is not an "if" but a "when". It is as near to a certainty as anything can be.

If anyone other than a large, politically generous American corporation were proposing to do this it would be considered at act of bioterrorism to release terminator seeds into the wild, because cross-pollination with wild-type seeds is a certainty and therefore everyone not buying new seed every year will suffer from yield reductions due to Monsanto's seeds.

Comment Misses the point (Score 3, Interesting) 421

The idea here is that the background state of our universe is a so-called "false vacuum" that will at some future point decay into the true ground state, destroying our universe in the process. That's boring.

By far more interesting is the possibility that the Higgs mass has been driven to just above the line of instability by some new physics. This is the first genuinely "that's odd..." moment to come along in high energy physics for quite some time.

Comment Re:Even China is getting tired of their shit (Score 1) 270

We've been through this for decades, with North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Libya, etc.

Except Iran does not have nuclear weapons nor has it ever seriously pursued them, despite Israeli accusations to the contrary for the past twenty years.

How do we know this?

Because after 20 years, if Iran doesn't have nuclear weapons it can only be because they are not seriously pursuing them. They are simply not that hard to build. Even the North Koreans can do it, and they are nothing like as technologically adept as the Iranians.

It took less than five years to go from "nuclear weapons might really be possible" to Trinity, and that was inventing the basic tech along the way, computing with human computers and timing with mercury switches and tubes. Today, with a budget of a billion dollars and a team of competent high school students you could build a nuclear bomb within five years.

So Iran doesn't have the bomb because Iran is not trying to build one. If they were, they would have had one long ago.

Comment Re:Making Peace? (Score 3, Insightful) 270

Freedom of movement is largely a matter of philosophical and academic concern since most people lack the material wealth necessary to exercise that freedom to any meaningful degree.

I was going to mod you "Funny" because this is so hilariously stupid, but thought I'd reply instead, and point out that fully 1/3 of the population of Canada was born elsewhere, and the US isn't that far behind in this regard.

Want to tell me again how 30% of the population here isn't "really free" by some stupid definition of 'free' you just pulled out of your butt? Or that the greater part of the rest of us couldn't change nations just as easily? "Minor practical barriers" are in a different category from "illegal under the laws of the nation I am currently living in."

"Free" does not mean "effortless", which seems to be the construction you are putting on the term.

Comment Re:Sigh (Score 5, Interesting) 174

X is bad? Fine. Accurately prove how they are bad, in a way that is relatively easy to proof in a repeatable way. Gimme alternatives that are viable (ie can be realistically implemented in a reasonable manner), that are economic (preferably cheaper, but no more than 5-10% more expensive) that are effective (preferably better, but no more than 5-10% less effiicient).

While I'm in agreement with this view, I'm also aware of how much messier the AGW situation is than the CFC situation was. Anything beyond "anthropogenic gases are probably adding about 0.2% (1.6 W/m**2) to the Earth's heat budget at the surface" is extremely model dependent, and models are just not that good at predicting the detailed response of such a complex system.

I am a computational physicist, and it is very clear after digging in to climate models a bit that climate models are not written by computational physicists, who typically have dealt with much simpler systems in much better controlled (and experimentally accessible) situations, which gives us a very healthy awareness of how inadequate our simulations are at capturing anything but the gross features of reality.

If a computational model of a radiation detector comes within 10% of reality you're generally doing pretty well, and radiation detectors of various kinds are about as simple as you can get in terms of physics.

So anyone who claims that climate models are adequate or even particularly useful as guides to policy response is likely not tightly coupled to reality. We don't really know what areas are likely to be affected by what kind of events. Even apparently simple things like an increase in hurricane force winds, or possibly an increase in the number of hurricanes, are hotly debated. No one, to the best of my knowledge, predicted ocean acidification as a likely outcome of increasing levels of atmospheric CO2, but this is likely going to be one of the more significant impacts. And so on.

As such, it behooves us to pursue a number of policies that won't address any specific threat, but which will a) reduce human greenhouse gas emissions and b) increase our ability to respond the climate-driven humanitarian disasters. In the former category would be nuclear power development and other green power sources, and in the latter things like increased funds put aside for international relief via existing organizations.

These positive actions have zero political support, however: people who are beating the drums regarding AGW policy are almost uniformly putting it in terms of controls and limits and restrictions on other people, which we know from far too much history never ends well, and certainly never solves the problem it was supposedly intended to address.

Comment Re:Sigh (Score 4, Informative) 174

You are a denier. Because you put "economics" a.k.a short term profits first. Basically you say "If I cannot earn money polluting, fuck you".

And the Lack of Reading Comprehension Award goes to the guy who wrote the above, putting words in the GP's mouth and then maligning them on the basis of that fantasy.

It's so much easier to win arguments with imaginary opponents who can be vilified for saying outrageous things.

With regard to economics: while it does not explain all of human behaviour, it is difficult to defend the hypothesis, beloved by Lefties in particular, that "economics doesn't matter".

Economics matters, and it is not "putting economics first" to say this, but rather recognizing that economics imposes constraints on any solution to the problem of anthropogenic climate change. The anti-AGW community are firmly convinced that the pro-AGW community consists solely of people like you, who think that the reality of AGW is somehow justification to impose your own anti-economic agenda on the rest of the world.

By responding as you are, you are playing exactly the role the anti-AGW community wants you to play, bolstering their support amongst the public, who will see you for what you are: a left-wing nutjob who has grabbed on to the AGW mantra as an excuse to further your political agenda, not because you care about the future of the planet (because as the GP correctly points out, any viable solution to AGW will have to take economic constraints into account, as as such people like you who deny economic constraints are important are actually an impediment to dealing with AGW.)

Comment Re:Yep. And more... (Score 1) 171

Your truly important rights will disappear in the loss of the rights protected by the 2nd amendment. Don't believe it? What will YOU do when they pass a law that allows them to arrest you for no reason? Oh wait, they already have. OK, what will YOU do when they pass a law that allows them to pass judgement on you and execute you without a trial? Oh... ermm... they did that too.

So since they have passed all those laws, I guess the 2nd Amendment is basically useless as a mechanism for protecting your fundamental rights.

Whereas here in Canada, where we have moderate gun control (virtually no legal handguns, rifles and shotguns require licensing and training), we have considerably better legal protections against arbitrary arrest than you do in the US.

It's almost like there is something else--like a functional government that actually represents a broad range of people--that is protecting our rights. Not only does such a system work better at maintaining the rule of law than the juvenile fantasies of gun nuts, it kills fewer people too...

Comment Re:Still lying (Score 2) 171

With the radiation dose equal to a few minutes of flying at 35,000', use of the system poses less of a risk than the flight.

The dosimetry that generates this number is inappropriate for this kind of machine.

Short version: the dosimetric standard used by the company to claim these devices are safe assumes that the incoming x-rays are absorbed uniformly over the whole body, but in fact they are primarily absorbed in the skin. The skin dose is therefore much higher than the meaningless and irrelevant "whole body dose" that the dosimetric rig used measures.

Comment Re:Left out the important qualifier... (Score 1) 210

Fracking releases methane. That's the greenhouse gas they're talking about.

Given the whole purpose of fracking is to release natural gas (which is primarily methane), this amazing revelation amounts to, "Fracking works!" Thanks for telling us that, /.

The headline is incredibly disingenuous even for this debased forum. The report actually say (and the summary accurate points this out!) that "fracking combined with a bunch of things that are not fracking release methane." So I wonder what the contribution from fracking is? The only thing I can be certain of is that it is NOT the "second highest source of greenhouse gases", although I am willing to believe that the pipelines it feeds are... but pipelines don't care where the gas is coming from.

Comment Re:CC would be to allow plagiarism (Score 1) 172

Likewise. For all the obfuscation and nonsense going on in this discussion, the most restrictive license is the one that appropriately addresses the open access issue.

The ND clause is entirely appropriate in the cut-throat world of academia, where we want others to know about our work and use our results, but not to be able to "remix" our papers.

This is also important in the replication of other's results. I once published a paper that was quite deliberately modeled on another work. The previous work had introduced a particular image registration algorithm in a specific domain of medical imaging using a particular set of phantom images. Because I wanted to compare my algorithm directly to theirs, I replicated a lot of their work.

This is an important incidental to not being able to simply reuse their stuff in a casual non-quality-controlled way. If they had made a mistake in their setup or whatever, I had a chance to find it, so there were a handful of ideas that were re-tested in my work and independently validated.

Comment Re:photoshop USED to be obvious. (Score 3, Informative) 197

The new version of Gimp has a more-standard single-window mode. That was the single biggest complaint before. So now the other large user annoyances have been added

... ...would be a better way to put it.

The biggest one is the ridiculous and recently added "export" functionality for everything but the native file format. This is completely unlike every other editing application of any kind for anything anywhere. If I open a Word or RTF or plain text file in LibreOffice, for example, I can save it to that format with a keystroke.

GIMP is a great program--I even got used to the floating windows after a few years--but its developers consistently treat their users with complete contempt, and in the case of the new export functionality they are actually doing more work to make the program harder to use.

Slashdot Top Deals

The trouble with opportunity is that it always comes disguised as hard work. -- Herbert V. Prochnow

Working...