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Comment Physics Has Had to Deal With the Same Issue (Score 1) 445

When I was in physics, we had the same problem. In a freshman class of 20 or so students, there would be 2 or 3 women. By graduation there would only be 5-10 men left and no women.

I asked one of the women that started the year after I did why she switched to math. She said that we guys all got together to work problem sets in the dorms while she had to do hers alone (the college offered limited opportunities for men and women to visit each-other's dorms at the time). This surprised me as I always did my sets alone.

This was back in the 80s.

Just last week I had a chance to visit the same college and sit in a senior-level quantum lecture offered by my favorite professor. I was pleased to see that there were three women to six men. Still not parity, but much improved!

Comment Everyone Here is Missing the Real Problem (Score 1) 670

The real problem is this country's insane War on Drugs. The logic for it is truly perverse:

1. People who use drugs are often willing to commit crimes to feed their habit such as theft and robbery.
2. Therefore, we'll clamp down people selling drugs.
3. But people who exhibit behavior X tend to be drug dealers so we'll clamp down on behavior X.
4. But people who exhibit behavior Y tend to exhibit behavior X so we'll clamp down on behavior Y.
5. None of this is working, so we'll use SWAT teams and Dogs and Really Harsh Sentencing for people who exhibit behavior Y.

Meanwhile, when someone steals from me or robs me the cops tell me, "There really isn't much we can do about it so I hope you have insurance. We are much to busy catching drug dealers to worry about minor crimes like this."

Comment Re:poor question.. but... (Score 1) 663

The equation was to clarify things. Nobody expects from a 1st grader to fully grasp the concept and to be able to set up a an algebraic equation.

Yes. Your equation does clarify things. That's my point. Problem 1 doesn't provide the equation, it provides a bunch of unrelated images from which the student must infer the equation.

Comment Re:So what should the family do? (Score 1) 263

The escape velocity of a neutron star is about 1/3 the speed of light --- and getting mass to 1/3 the speed of light is absolutely impossible.

Actually, you can get mass to within a whisker of the speed of light right on your desk:

Comment Re:So what should the family do? (Score 1) 263

The paper isn't really about how an astronaut would die. It is about the nature of the interface between the inside and the outside of the black hole.

This is interesting because it has applications to cosmology in general. In fact, many (perhaps even most) of our cosmological models have their origins in the study of the theory of black holes and, particularly, the study of event horizons. This makes them fundamentally more interesting to study than neutron stars and the like to many cosmologists.

Comment Re:Spaghetti (Score 3, Interesting) 263

A black hole would eventually stretch a person into spagetti, but not necessarily near the event horizon. For a small black hole the effect might be well outside the event horizon while for a supermassive black hole the effect would be well inside of it.

This is because the event horizon of a super-massive black hole is so large that while the gravitational pull there is enormous, the variation in the graviational forces in a human-sized volume is quite small. It's the variation in the forces that stretches you.

Likewise, while the total gravitation pull well outside the event horizon of a small black hole is much less than the total gravitational pull near the event horizon of a super-massive one, the variation is much higher.

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