Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Comment This would create a caste system (Score 1) 344

If people started to be evaluated by banks by the people they associate with, even online, it would create a caste system. There really would be an untouchables class that nobody wants to associate themselves with, and there would also be a superior class that people think of as better than the common people.

Comment lack of women in math != problem (Score 1) 472

A lack of women in Math isn't a problem. Women should go into whatever career they enjoy and desire to go into. I guarantee you that there will be less women interested in joining the police force than there would be men, in any country. That's not a problem. It is only a problem if there is a woman who wants to be a police officer and is prevented from doing so against her will by some intentional or unintentional bias.

Women make of ~50% of the population; therefore, they should make up 50% of every profession... This is not sound logic.

Women should be able to excel in whatever career path they choose. There is only a problem if there is a barrier that prevents women from entering the Math fields. If there is no barrier and women just statistically enter such a field in lesser numbers, there is not a problem. It is only a problem if they are interested but unable to enter such a field due to conscious or unconscious discrimination.

Comment Re:Nothing new (Score 5, Interesting) 331

This. More specifically, I have heard that the "Southern Bell" accent is the closest accent to the original, proper 18th century English, and that "ain't" was a desirable word by the upper class.

For those not familiar, the Southern Bell accent is the kind of accent you might here from upper class white folk in the Deep South. It's almost gone, now, but maybe still exists sparsely. Most commonly, you hear it in movies set in the old South.

Comment A great opportunity to contact your representative (Score 1) 255

I see this an a great opportunity to contact my representative. Most often, congressman get letters from tons of ignorant people mixed with intelligent an unintelligent letters from mobs of people in various campaigns against _____ bill. This is a great showcase of what is wrong with the system; a clear, unambiguous example of its corruption and flaws. I will be contacting my representative about this story in the hopes that he can see exactly why we don't want SOPA to pass.

Comment Re:You want this to be interesting... (Score 4, Insightful) 174

Iran has incredible resources, and amazing people. If we could only convince the population to pull it back from theocracy, its future would be incredibly bright.

Firstly, I think as the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have shown us, we (the US, collectively) have very little power to change or encourage people to think how we'd like them to. We 'ought to have learned a little humility. If we toppled all authoritarian regimes in the world by force and gave the people perfect, free and fair elections, I bet 9/10 of those countries would vote a religious theocratic dictator right back in.

Secondly, we don't need to do that. Fortunately, most Persian people are already disgusted with the theocracy. What many of the revolutionary Arab states are voting for, the Persians have lived with it for 40 years. They're tired of it. The only reason it isn't gone is because you will die if you go against the regime. In fact, dying might be the most pleasant part. You'll probably be tortured, and if you're really unlucky, your family will be killed, too. Or maybe just your father. You don't even have to protest to be caught when the best minds of US and European IT companies are doing their best to allow the Iranian government to track your every move.

Most people tend to favor living with harsh favor political oppression over death. That's why Iran is not free, yet. It will become free when
1. The cost of freedom is lowered
2. The cost of oppression is high enough to warrant "give me liberty or give me death."

Comment Re:Earthquake prediction (Score 1) 78

A lot of seismology veterans are completely jaded from the failure of the Parkfield experiments to turn up any precursors. I'm new to the field and young, so understandably I'm more optimistic.

In my opinion, there are clearly some precursors to some earthquakes. There is a huge variety of precursors to choose from for any given fault.

1. Seismic gap. Some faults signal an imminent earthquake by a sudden drop in seismicity: suddenly there are no earthquakes; that means the fault is not moving, not releasing stress, and when it finally does move, it'll move a lot very quickly.

2. Small strain. The Tohoku region supposedly had relatively small strain rates from GPS data (i.e., the land wasn't deforming very quickly). Some Japanese seismologists argued that the results meant that the fault was locked and still building up stress, and yet others argued that the fault was simply not that active, anymore. The seismologists arguing that the fault was locked and would give way to a huge earthquake proved to be correct. However, the strain rates would have been small for hundreds of years. Saying there's going to be an earthquake sometime because this fault is not moving much is not much better prediction than we can do now.

3. Electrical current/resistivity/ionosphere charge. This kind of thing has been reported for so long that I'm certain that it's a real phenomena. People throughout history took notice of "earthquake lights" before an earthquake. Scientists never believed them until the Japanese actually took pictures of earthquake lights several decades ago. People have also reported seeing strange lights floating above the ground, strange cloud formations, and spikes in ionosphere charge seem to happen frequently enough. The sharp current in rocks immediately before fracture (NASA scientist) is also promising. None of these things are very reliable, though;

4. Gases, ground water changes. If as my adviser said, that snakes wake up from hibernation due to some kind of gases is true, that surely shows some leakage of gas from the ground before an earthquake. If I recall, there is also Japanese folklore discussing strange smells before earthquakes. I believe earthquake cloud people also claim that some escaping of gases contributes to earthquake clouds. And there have been many studies about well water depth and composition changes before earthquakes.

5. Stress buildup and recurrence. There are many earthquakes that occur periodically. We can see that the Great Tokai Quake in Japan occurs every ~150 years and it's been 156 years since the last one. We can measure the stress buildup on the fault and say, "if this whole fault goes, there will be a M8.X earthquake." However, despite how obvious this method is, it's also woefully unreliable. The Parkfield earthquake happened every 20 or so years for as long as people have lived in California, and only the past one was 20 years late (and with no precursors).

In my opinion, there are a lot of different precursors that do happen, but don't reliably happen. But before I entered seismology, I seriously considered meteorology. To me, predicting an earthquake is not too much different than predicting a tornado, albeit more difficult. For tornadoes, we use radar to measure particle velocity in the clouds, and issue warnings after some set of circumstances has been fulfilled. If there is strong rotation or a wall cloud, there is a tornado warning. Despite the clear understanding that tornadoes form from strong downdrafts in strongly rotating thunderstorms and supercells, and they most frequently drop from wall clouds, not all rotating wall clouds produce tornadoes. In fact, most wall clouds do not produce tornadoes. We haven't given up predicting tornadoes, though, and we certainly don't regard tornado warnings as useless. We just accept that most tornadoes happen when there is a rotating wall cloud, and sometimes, but rarely, tornadoes will happen outside of expected circumstances that we can't predict.

Perhaps we should rethink earthquake prediction; it needs to have more public and engineering involvement. I think that it's inevitable that someday in the distant future we will be able to say "circumstances are prime for an earthquake", and be able to issue some kind of earthquake watches or warnings, just like the weather. But a tornado watch doesn't mean that everyone should worry and get ready to run to the basement, and a tornado warning even doesn't mean that we should panic, stop what we're doing, and run to the basement (although we should get ready to do so). Buildings should be strong enough to not collapse, and people should be confident enough of their buildings that they can hide under a table and be safe. An earthquake warning would mean, "we don't know if an earthquake is going to strike, but if the earthquake alarm starts sounding, let's remember what we practiced in our earthquake drills." It wouldn't mean that everyone should camp outside for a week until danger passes.

A lot of the older seismologists are simply jaded from over 100 years of unsuccessful earthquake prediction, and especially that we are still unable to predict them even after the explosive growth in understanding of earthquakes of the past 50 years. I think we are trying too hard to do the impossible and need to work harder on what we can do. We should accept that there are many possible precursors, of which any given earthquake may or may not exhibit. Some will exhibit multiple, and others will exhibit none. We should accept that some earthquakes will be unpredictable and move on; we shouldn't abandon prediction of all earthquakes. In addition, I think we should strive to change the notion of an "earthquake warning" from "everyone run out of the building and camp in tents for a week" to "be prepared to seek shelter should your earthquake alarms start sounding." We also need to work on good earthquake alarm systems such as Japan's UrEDAS and Earthquake Early Warning (EEW) systems. Seismologists should be able to say, "this area that we expect an earthquake in is exhibiting possible precursors X, Y, and Z. If the whole fault ruptures, we know it will produce an earthquake of magnitude X due to the stress that has built up on the fault since the last quake. Be prepared to seek shelter." Politicians need to work to keep people from panicking from such a warning; instead we should be prepared. We should not be prosecuting seismologists for failed warnings or the lack of a warning.

Comment Re:Sanity (Score 1) 463

From what I've seen around the world, most of the countries that make entertainment content are crazy about protecting that industry's profits, and most of the countries that only consume said content make good, reasonable laws regarding the consuming of that content.

It makes sense, really. Countries that make the content are actively involved in the action. Countries that just consume are farther away from the action, and can make more rational decisions. It's not too much different than how onlookers to a sports or event can make good decisions, but when you're down there in the fray it's harder.

Comment Earthquake prediction (Score 5, Interesting) 78

Seismology Ph.D. student, here. Bear with me here as I don't recall the sources for this but if you do enough Googling, I'm sure you can find them. I wrote a paper on the history of Japanese seismology for my undergrad senior project (included some information from Japanese textbooks that might not be available in English), so I've read a lot of about this subject.

People have noticed phenomena such as bizarre animal behavior, earthquake lights, and earthquake clouds since the dawn of time, and more recently people have noticed an increased charge in the ionosphere before earthquakes. A NASA scientist has also shown that a spike in electric current will run through a rock moments before the rock fractures.

Much research has been done by Chinese and Japanese regarding animals. Japanese believed for hundreds of years that earthquakes were caused by catfish. They based this on much historical evidence of catfish going crazy shortly before an earthquake. At one time in Japanese history, "catfish" and "earthquake" were used as interchangeable words. There were lots of science experiments and observations done regarding catfish in the early 1900s at a lab in Aomori prefecture. A famous early Japanese seismologist (his name escapes me) found an incontrovertible correlation between oarfish catches and some seismic swarm in the 1960s. There was an earthquake in Hokkaido a few decades ago that was foreshadowed by all of the mice on the island running amok in the streets. It is common folk knowledge that when deep sea fish appear near the surface en masse, a large earthquake will strike soon.

I don't know as much about Chinese seismological history, but it's commonly believed and has been shown that snakes can detect earthquakes. There have been studies and anecdotal evidence in Chinese seismology of snakes that will awake from hibernation before an earthquake. My Taiwanese adviser claimed that the Chinese scientists determined that sulfur gasses produced similar behavior in hibernating snakes. I also should note that China is the only place in the world where there is a government mandate to study earthquake prediction, event if it's fruitless. Every seismological bureau in China (there is one in every province) must look into earthquake prediction. There is a stigma about earthquake prediction and looking at animal behavior in the West, but that stigma is much less severe in Asia, especially China.

In addition to Asia, every time there's a major earthquake in the Western world, I see stories like this, like "I'm a biologist and my frogs went berserk the day leading up to the earthquake," or "I'm a zoologist and my alligators did weird things before the earthquake." There is clearly some link between animal behavior and earthquakes that has been shown repeatedly throughout history.

Lastly, it wasn't but a year ago I saw posters at a seismology meeting about huge spikes in ionosphere charge before large earthquakes. This has been shown repeatedly to happen all over the world.

Now for the bad news. This past Seismological Society of America meeting, I saw a poster from NASA research debunking a specific ionosphere charge before a large earthquake result. There are many large earthquakes that are preceded by a huge spike in ionosphere charge. The problem is that there are many, many other times where there are equally, if not more severe spikes in ionosphere charge. The ionosphere likes to have charge spikes relatively frequently. How can you tell the difference between a normal day with a high ionosphere charge and the day before an earthquake? Well, you can't. At least we cant, yet.

The NASA scientist that has shown electrical current running through rocks the moment before a fracture is also very controversial. His results are extremely promising for seismology. The problem is that we've never been able to observe an increased charge in the ground or a change in resistivity before an earthquake. Look up Parkfield, CA. That place is loaded with instruments for earthquake prediction like no other in the world. We haven't been able to shown any reliable earthquake precursors. In fact, the largest study ever conducted to predict a recurring earthquake in Parkfield was a terrible failure. The place is loaded to an extreme with instruments. The Parkfield experiment was supposed to solve earthquake prediction. Unfortunately, not only was the earthquake much later than expected, but there were literally no precursors. The failure at Parkfield discouraged basically the entire US seismology community from earthquake prediction.

Animals are also a sticky subject. Yes, certain animals have been shown to sense earthquakes hours or even days before it happens. But how can you determine between when a catfish jumps out of the water from an impending earthquake, or when it just jumps out of the water because it's scared of some bass from a car that drives by? Animals are not scientific instruments. They are not reliable. And no study has shown that animals are a reliable tool for earthquake prediction. It has been studied many times, especially in Asia. Sometimes they do predict an earthquake, but more often they do not. And there's no way to tell if they're spooked from an earthquake or just acting up.

Seismologists are very unhappy that we've been at it for over a hundred years and still can't even remotely predict earthquakes. There are so many earthquake precursors that have been shown throughout history, but they are always either shown to be unreliable, statistically insignificant, or false. There is probably a solution out there somewhere, but it will take many more years of research to get to, if it's even possible. Some people say it isn't.

Comment Re:North Korea too, and it's not new (Score 2) 106

IMO, the best way to undermine and/or overthrow crazy regimes and create true change in countries is not to discipline the enemy government, but to act as an example and lend out a hand of friendship straight to the people. Sanctions against governments always result in the enemy government finding new and innovative ways to continue enriching themselves while transferring the pain of sanctions down to the people.

All too often sanctions hurt the people of a country, and only barely the government. North Korea is a special case because the number of independent websites there is probably zero, but if we start censoring North Korean websites due to sanctions, we'd also quickly start censoring Iranian or Cuban websites for similar reasons, and all we'd be doing there is removing the last dissenting voices in those countries from the internet--hurting the people.

The best way to create change is to befriend the North Korean people, in any way possible. If they like the USA, then it would undermine the government that is trying to portray the US as a land of evil and badness. If we hurt the people through sanctions, it will actually run counter to the original intent; the people will suffer from the sanctions, grow to hate the US, and the DPRK government's hold on power will increase as their anti-US rhetoric will be legitimized.

Comment Re:North Korea too, and it's not new (Score 4, Funny) 106

Do you not understand what sanctions are for or how they work?

Sanctions work?

Of course they work. Sanctions were great against Imperial Japan, Nazi Germany, North Korea, Iran, and Cuba. Before sanctions, they all had terrible crimes against humanity. After sanctions, look how quickly the people came to love the United States and then overthrew their evil regimes to impose new democratic governments with freedom for all!

Comment Re:Impressive (Score 1) 41

I believe the term you're looking for is "circumference," and the circumference of Earth is around ~40,000 km.

Also, according to their website, they will not be just traveling from point A to point B. Scientists use buzzwords and "wow!" statements in their research, too, so I imagine that 33,000 nm journey also includes the journey back to California.

During their 33,000 nautical mile journey, the Wave Gliders will travel across some of the world’s most challenging environments. The Wave Gliders will begin their journey together to Hawaii, and then split into pairs, one pair continuing to Japan (over the Mariana Trench, where Virgin Oceanic will complete the first of its Five Deep Dives) and the other pair to Australia.

Comment Re:Have to keep watching (Score 1) 288

There is an area in the North Dakota / Montana area that has relatively high seismic activity. There are no local networks in that area, though, because nobody lives there, so we don't see all of the small ones that happen. I'm not all that familiar with the area, but that's what I've heard. Source: from my professors--I'm a seismology grad student.

To see how a local network can affect the amount of earthquakes you're seeing, compare the USGS's earthquake map of the New Madrid Seismic Zone to CERI's map.

Comment Re:Regulators vs. legislators (Score 1) 192

This would be a case where the issue of segregation could not be solved at the local level. If possible, it could be solved at a state level. If the state continues to ignore the issue, the next-most local level would be a federal mandate for the state to desegregate. The principle of solving things at the most local level possible still stands.

Slashdot Top Deals

Money isn't everything -- but it's a long way ahead of what comes next. -- Sir Edmond Stockdale

Working...