Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:Both! (Score 2) 77

My daughter (who now has her own kids) was taught basic algebra at an Aussie HS using a spreadsheet, it was the teacher's own idea and it worked a treat. I think it worked so well because she was doing rather than just seeing or hearing.

A lot of kids have trouble with algebra because they don't get the basic concept of variables and references, they do understand those concepts in general they just don't link it to algebra. I had the same problem teaching grown ups C pointers many years ago, in a lab class of ~50, less than 10 would get the basic concept on the first lesson. Seems hard to believe but in my experience most students get stuck because they have missed something very basic, often because the teacher thinks it's so obvious that it's not worth spelling out.

Comment Re:Who cares if we are hungry... (Score 1) 419

I guess it does contribute to greenhouse gases since one of the byproducts is Water Vapor.

The Earth's atmosphere is essentially chemically saturated with H2O, pump more in and it just falls out as rain (or dew in the desert) over the next few days. There are two things that water vapour, temprature and pressure. Water vapour has actually increased by about 4% since the 70's, this is because CO2 has warmed the atmosphere and warmer air can hold more water, which creates even more warming. This phenomena is called a "climatic feedback" it amplifies the change due to a "climate forcing" (in this case, increased CO2). Even if you stop the artificial forcing, things will keep changing until the climate reaches a new equilibrium (or the oceans evaporate as on Venus).

Corn to ethanol was a cynical hat tip to the greenies, in reality it's nothing more than political pork for US corn farmers that distorts the global market.

Comment When elephants fight (Score 4, Insightful) 365

As an ex-paper boy I assure you newspaper deliveries were MORE flexible than Amazon 50yrs ago.

They are patenting an entire delivery scheduling methodology for customer order management of groceries (etc) that will re-occur on a predictable and fairly precise time period of the customer's choosing.

I have a picture of a milkman's horse lifting his blinkers with one hoof and rolling his eyes at this patent, it's just ordinary business practice for any company that delivers stuff to your door. The local chemist paid me to deliver stuff on on a push bike way back in the 60's. Most family's had one car (at most), the chemist had plenty of regular customers who had difficulty getting around so he bent over backwards to accommodate their needs. He didn't have a computer and trucks, he had an order book, a big black phone, and a bunch of eager kids on push bikes who had more than enough local knowledge to make UPS blush. If a customer was in dire need during school hours, he would get in his VW and deliver it himself. Virtually the same service is available today but it's organized by the government, you get a qualified nurse in a tiny car rather than a grotty kid on a push bike. There is however a shit load more paper work involved to join up.

Copyright protects Amazon's software implementation of this age old business practice, the only possible use for a patent such as this is to burden and stall serious competitors with serious litigation, as in Apple vs Samsung. Software patents are a legislative experiment that failed. It was worth having the experiment, but now we know that all it does is provide an arena for elephants to fight, and we all know what happens to the grass when elephants fight.

Comment Re:More Info Please... (Score 1) 123

Maybe you meant science doesn't deal with proof?

It's seems obvious to me that is what he meant, it also seems obvious to me you meant "observations" not "facts". A "fact" is an absolute truth only within an axiomatic system, science is not an axiomatic system. A "scientific fact" is a rigously tested theory that has no known conflict with observation.

In actuality, it's...

Observation -> Hypothesis -> Theory--> Test---> Scientific fact.
- Feedback loops not shown.

Comment Re:This ain't the first time ... (Score 1) 470

Don't get me wrong, I think it's a GoodThing(TM) that our standards have evolved. Today's standards would certainly have done nothing but strengthened Medel's claims (assuming he would have addressed the criticism).

Modern standards would also have found a more ethical method to test the original smallpox vaccine. You can spend a long time examining the moral issues of that test and the subsequent extinction of smallpox in the wild, and still not find a satisfactory answer since it comes back to the age old question of "sacrificing one for the good of the many". I prefer to save that time by simply declaring "All's well that ends well".

Comment Re:This ain't the first time ... (Score 2) 470

falsifiable, measurable, or experimentally verifiable

Sorry, I assumed people would insert those caveats themselves, I was thinking about scientific explanations not the type of explanation that is extracted from the arse of a preacher. This is because I don't see religion as an explanation of anything, I see it as speculation about everything. There's nothing wrong with speculation, it's only becomes a problem when it's mistaken for truth.

Comment Re:This ain't the first time ... (Score 4, Insightful) 470

I see your Brian Cox and raise you a Richard Feynman. Key quote "I can't explain magnetism,..[snip]...that's just one of the things that you have to take as an element of the world, the existence of magnetic repulsion".

Now an explanation for magnetism may be discovered one day, but that will just push the problem down to another more fundamental property of the universe that "just is" (in Feynman's words finding an explanation for magnetism will just "peel another layer off the onion"). I agree science models reality better than any other method yet devised and gives us a deep understanding of the universe, but it cannot (currently) explain where the fundamental forces and spacetime come from, it just takes it as a given that they exist and can be observed.

Slashdot Top Deals

There are two kinds of egotists: 1) Those who admit it 2) The rest of us