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Comment Why can't we model this? (Score 1) 226

Every time I hear of a story similar to this one, I'm reminded of something that has always puzzled me:

We are aware of all the (relevant) forces at work in and on the rubber band. At a sensible scale, for all intents and purposes, we could say we understand the rubber band perfectly. (Right?)
So the only thing holding us back from modelling this kind of stuff is computational resources, which, I would assume, should not be that much of a problem with today's supercomputers. (Right? I mean it doesn't have to be in real time.)
So why aren't we doing it? In Physics we deal with equations that involve approximations a lot of the time, but that's more out of convenience and simplicity than out of a lack of understanding of our world (again, at a scale where we can use classical physics).
Take thermodynamics. Or fluid dynamics. They're both just approximations of atoms interacting in a way that is very much understood already, but we keep them around because it's easier to imagine the physical implications of a concept like temperature or drag force, rather than millions upon millions of tiny particles bouncing around semi-randomly.

I guess my point is, if they can have virtual wind tunnels, why can't they have virtual rubber bands? As a matter of fact, why can't we calculate the properties and interactions of a significant fraction of the things around us without the need for experiment?

Comment Re:Uses? (Score 1) 54

Having convincing sounds is very nice, but even sounds that are not 100% accurate can still be used for very creative purposes.

You're obviously the expert here, but the way I understood it I thought physical accuracy was not really a huge priority in the business. I read an interesting article once (at work, so I'm not gonna searchf or it now), were it was explained that the sound that subjectively fits best to the action is often made by something wildly different than what appears to make it on screen. E.g., the whiplash foley from Ben Hur was apparently a raw steak slapping against an exposed thigh.

I'm not disputing anything you're saying, it sounds like an awesome application for the idea, just adding my .02€.

Comment Re:Maybe something everybody can use? (Score 1) 393

Without having read TFA (I'm at work, gimme a break..), I'd offer the opinion that the most sensible thing to do would be to let the private sector handle making all the apps. This gets rid of two problems:

A) Not catering to everybody's platform.
2) Not catering to everybody's needs and tastes
(Because, let's face it, it's impossible to make everyone happy at once.)

If there's data or services that only the government can provide, they should offer APIs that allow developers to take advantage of them. That way, everybody wins. The government's happy because they've done their part, the people are happy because they've got their app, and the devs are happy because they get to be the middle-man, possibly making a profit while they're at it.

There. That wasn't so hard.

Comment Gravity at relativistic speeds... (Score 2, Interesting) 405

Ok, this question has been bugging me for a short while, and this seems like the ideal place to bring it up, since it's somewhat on topic:

(1) We're always told how inertial mass and gravitational mass, while two distinct things, are always the same (up until today, anyway).
(2) We also know that mass increases with speed, which we use to explain why objects can't accelerate to the speed of light (infinite force required to overcome inertia, etc.)
(3) This would logically imply that gravitational mass increases with speed as well, and would further mean that gravitational attraction between two objects depends not only on their separation, but also on their relative velocities.

Are my conclusions correct? 'Cause that's kinda counterintuitive (although that's what tends to happen at the frontier of physics).

Comment Re:H1b visas and the job market (Score 1) 618

The South in the American civil war was poorer that the industrial North *because* not despite of slavery. With slaves, there was no need to industrialize.

Not to rain on your parade or anything, but the way I learnt it, (one of) the big reason(s) the South remained pro-slavery is because they weren't industrialised and thus relied on cheap labour, not the other way around. I guess it's a chicken and egg kind of thing, though, and I'm not even gonna pretend I know enough about the subject to claim you're wrong.

(just throwing in my € .02)

Comment Re:Don't let reality get in the way of your anger (Score 1) 1217

Disclaimer: Long-time Mac user.

Okay, two things:

(1) Your first argument seems kinda silly, and a bit of a false dichotomy to me. "If we give them Macs to use, they'll never know how to use a computer in the real world!" ...Really?
First off, using computers in school (to me at least) seems more like it's about teaching basic computer concepts and technological literacy. Doesn't matter if it's running Windows, Gentoo (or whatever) or OS X, not "how to use this particular OS so you won't fail in the corporate world". Just like, say, high school science isn't about memorising all the constants or unit conversion rates. (Not that that's *necessarily* how things are always taught, but I think we can all agree it's how it should be.)
Second, in all likelihood they'll be forced to learn how to use Windows at some point in their lives anyway, so this gives them a broader background right off the bat. How is being able to use multiple OSes a bad thing?
And third, we all know the average corporate drone is so tech-illiterate that they can barely turn on their machine without help from the guys over in IT (this comes off sounding arrogant, but hey, it's the truth), so it's not like all the other Windows-using schools now have a huge head start in teaching computer literacy.

(2) Just a general comment on the topic. FTFS: "'We have one platform,' Hayes said. 'And that's going to be the Mac.'" I know this argument too well, but from the other side. I grew up in a Mac-using household, which, in the '90s and early '00s was a lot rarer than it is now. This caused me endless amounts of frustration in one school I went to, where I was told they didn't "do" Macs, which on good days meant I was left to my own devices figuring out stuff like intranet/printing on my laptop, and on bad days meant I was actively discouraged from using it altogether. So, while I'm not saying giving students a choice isn't the best option, I do understand the need for consistency and homogeneity in case the school needs to iron out any technological glitches that crop up. (Or, indeed, face situations like "oh, but I couldn't write my lab report, because the template you sent us is Mac-only, and won't open on my Windows netbook."). Also, I'll admit, there's a certain bit of schadenfreude involved in seeing my middle-school situation reversed.

Comment Re:Wait, does this mean... (Score 4, Informative) 389

Okay, I'll bite.

So just because you measure the speed between them as c doesn't mean they are each moving at half-c. They are still both moving at c, in opposite directions, for an effective 2c with regards to their eventual position.

No. Your conclusions stem from a fundamental misunderstanding of relativity. It makes no sense to talk about "eventual position" in the way you are, because it requires talking about an absolute time. There is no absolute time. You may have heard this sentence being thrown around before in special relativity, but perhaps you haven't appreciated the full meaning of it.

Let's talk about "eventual position". What you're saying is, we measure the positions of A and C, then wait some time t, then measure their positions again, and, lo and behold, if we divide the distance travelled by the time taken we are left with the impression that A and C are moving apart at 2c. This is true if you measure t and the distance in B's reference frame, but not from A's or C's reference frames, even though these are equally valid.
Once again, there is never one way of looking at things that is just a little bit "truer" than the others, even if your intuition may tell you that, since B's reference frame is at rest, it should provide a less distorted and more objective measurement than A's/C's. Truth is, you could look at the same problem in a different way, where A is at rest. Then B is moving away from it at nearly-the-speed-of-light, and C is moving away at even-more-nearly-the-speed-of-light, at a speed defined by the equation on this page.
We have no definition of which of the above observations is the "correct" way of looking at things, because they are physically indistinguishable from each other. They are, in fact, the same thing; different realities exist for different observers, which is why the name "relativity" is so fitting.

Here's a better example. The furthest objects in the universe are about 13b light-years away. The light they emitted 13b years ago is getting to us now. Do you think, in the past 13b years, that they haven't moved any further??

Sure, 13b light-years away must mean that a photon arriving on earth right now must have been emitted 13b years ago, right? From our perspective it does. From the photon's perspective, it made the journey in less than the blink of an eye. Does this mean the photon travelled many multiples of the speed of light to get here? No, it just shows, once again, that different realities exist for different observers.

Comment Old News (Score 1) 25

The summary links to a blog post, which links to an article in the Croatian Times (which, by the way, doesn't give me the impression of being a serious news source).
I did a bit of digging and found an article (in German, but basically the same story, with a little bit more detail and more than a hint of cynicism toward the whole idea) from Der Standard (one of Austria's best newspapers).
Dated: November 2007.

Two and a half years old? C'mon, guys, you can do better than this!

(Disclaimer: Austrian living abroad.)

Comment Re:Hey, look, I can quote too! (Score 1) 1238

Atheism has nothing to do with Stalin's murderous ways. In fact the entire argument is silly..... the original poster mentioned "atheist values". Those don't exist. An atheist doesn't believe in god.. that's it. Other than that an atheist could hold any views. Atheism is a not a set of beliefs and is not similar to an organized religion

Comment Nobody is that stupid. (Score 1) 483

Nobody is that stupid. Sure they'll be happy to fuck up your shit, but they'll make sure theirs is nice and pretty,

We begin today's lesson with a discussion of the horrific history of the Rapa Nui and Easter Island. We'll draw a line from that ancient environmental disaster to the current situation in Los Angeles where the ditance between "your fucked-up shit" and "my pretty shit" is currently the width of one street in most places.

We all breathe the same air, we drink the same water. Ultimately, it all "our shit." Today's homework is Poe's "Masque of the Red Death" for a discussion about how well separating the Rich from the Poor works.

Comment Re:Software patents are profoundly anticompetitive (Score 2, Insightful) 477

Software patents literally make these open source projects illegal

You know, I keep seeing this said over and over again, and I've been letting it go, but I can't anymore ...

A PATENT DOESN'T MEAN ITS ILLEGAL TO IMPLEMENT IT.

It doesn't mean you can't make it open source.

All a patent does is grant someone a right to exclusive use ... IF THEY WANT IT TO BE USED EXCLUSIVELY BY THEMSELVES OR LICENSE IT TO OTHERS.

Having a patent doesnt do anything by itself, it gives the holder of the patent specific options.

It is not illegal to make an OSS h264 codec, you just simply need the license authority to allow you to do so.

You people really need to get a freaking clue before you go ranting about things you don't understand.

Let me ask you, how many people has the MPEG-LA sued over h264 ... there are OSS implementations ... how many of them have been sued? I can count to one higher on my dick, so just stop with the retarded bullshit you're pulling out of your ass.

Whats absolutely ludicrous is how completely ignorant of reality you and the rest of the 'ZOMG PATENT!%!@!@!@' twits are. You know what the biggest problem for patents in OSS is? Ignorant OSS zealots without a clue.

I suppose the fact that Novell, Redhat and Canonical all are patent holders just slipped your fucking mind too right? There are most certainly patented features in the Linux kernel, and it doesn't fucking matter because the patent holders are OK WITH THAT. It actually means that no one else can stop Linux from using those ideas. Patents help OSS too, just like software licensing.

I get that you don't like patents, but what you need to get is a god damn clue about what patents do, how they do it, and why they exist. You clearly don't know any of those 3 things. You're just another one of those people that rant about things they don't understand. Like the twits who rant about software licensing followed up immediately by telling everyone how GPL is gods gift to the world. Pure ignorance and stupidity.

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