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Submission + - Breaking CAPTCHAs with probabilistic programming (

rev_bayes writes: Why should perception be so hard? We understand very well how CAPTCHA image data are generated. It’s simple for us to run that process forward: letters are randomly selected and placed on the image, then some noise and/or image distortions are added, and voilà: you have a CAPTCHA. What we should be able to do is run that process backwards: use the CAPTCHA pixels to figure out what the noise, distortions, and letters must have been.

Comment Re:Just need repeatable results, not a theory (Score 1) 815

Didn't see the whole video yet, but in the beginning it is mentioned that nickel takes on a hydrogen nucleus to become copper. If this is indeed happening, it's possible it's affecting only one isotope within the nickel sample, so couldn't go from 62-Ni to 63-Cu? Would there be leftover radioactivity this way? (I'm not a nuclear physicist)

Comment Re:Hey, Mr. Scientist (Score 1) 309

I used theory in the unofficial parlance suitable for social conversation . Scientific parlance is used in the work environment or during conversations with other scientists or Class XIX entities . Inserting hypothesis into social conversation gives the air of elitism and education which distances listeners who focus on content and don't spend their time nitpicking and being douchebags.

ERROR: Contraction used. This entity will commence self-destruct sequence by watching Fox and drinking C2H5OH.

Comment My theory, FWIW (Score 1) 309

If they are here, they're not the aliens, they're the drones. Send out a legion of drones who roam the galaxy and reproduce every so often to send out their own set of drones. Think of it as the Voyager mission with fleshy AI. If they report back, great, but the creators of the drones know well they will most likely all be gone before getting word back. The drones just take information and aren't necessarily as intelligent as their makers (usually a bad idea to make something that reproduces to many times your own number smarter than you if you can control it). So, bunch of boring data takers floating above. And yes, with probably advanced nanotechnology and other science wizardry. Interesting side note: if you read the account of Fire in the Sky author, Travis Walton, as detailed in "The Walton Experience" (totally different than the movie,, there is a part where he mentions trying to break a glass-like cylinder and is unable. I wouldn't be surprised (assuming this is all a true account and not made up), that it was made out of pure diamond.

Of course, the probability of all this is scant as there are other explanations that would make more sense. But, as a scientist, I feel it is wrong to dismiss it out of hand as bullshit without at least investigating it a little and setting aside my biases.

Comment Enforces Social Hierarchies (Score 1) 176

It's a great concept. Really. But why does it work? He mentions people put money into Mafia Wars on Facebook so they can be better than their peer. I don't think this kind of competitiveness with others is great for society. I think it actually makes us dumber and greedier and more superficial. If people are gonna compare themselves to one another, I hope it would be more along the lines of, "That guy has really found inner happiness. I hope to do that myself one day." It seems like the norm today is more like, "That guy has really found inner happiness. Let me find some reason to hate him. If I can't find one, I'll slash his tires."

Do we really need more stuff that conflates self-worth with measurable things, like salary, possessions, wife's bra size? I'm certain all the wishful thinking in the world won't stop this from happening, but at some point we are going to have to stop comparing ourselves to our peers in order to feel good. And while we're at it, stop mixing up ecstasy (not the drug) with happiness. Big difference...

Comment Re:car analogy (Score 1) 307

You bought the car in 2001, and drive it for 9 years. Today, before morning commute, your get a message on your diagnostic panel:

Genuine Car Advantage Auto-installed (!):
  • Unable to verify wither you paid for your car [in 2001]. Until proof of payment is presented [to your car!], top speed will be reduced to 10 mph. Have a nice day!

Submission + - Dying Man Shares Unseen Challenger Video ( 1

longacre writes: An amateur video of the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger explosion has been made public for the first time. The Florida man who filmed it from his front yard on his new Betamax camcorder turned the tape over to an educational organization a week before he died this past December. The Space Exploration Archive has since published the video into the public domain in time for the 24th anniversary of the catastrophe. Despite being shot from about 70 miles from Cape Canaveral, the shuttle and the explosion can be seen quite clearly. It is unclear why he never shared the footage with NASA or the media. NASA officials say they were not aware of the video, but are interested in examining it now that it has been made available.

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The best book on programming for the layman is "Alice in Wonderland"; but that's because it's the best book on anything for the layman.