Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 Internet speed test! ×

Comment Re:Never once do my fingers leave my hand. (Score 1) 112

It has already had all of the funding it needs. DNA testing in 1999 at BOLD (Bureau of Legal Dentistry), a forensic DNA lab in Vancouver, British Columbia found standard X and Y chromosomes in two samples taken from the skull. This is conclusive evidence that the child was a human male, both of whose parents must have been human as well, for each must have contributed one of the human sex chromosomes. Steven Novella, a neurologist at Yale Medical School has determined that the skull bears all of the traits of a 4-5 year old child who died of hydrocephalus. I submit my Yale Medical School Neurologist against their Plastic Surgeon "from the Royal College of Surgeons of Canada in Sept. of 1971".

The credulous or lonely will continue to assert that it is alien in the face of evidence, but this will always be the case, whether they are credulous about the claims of UFOs, psychics, Bigfoot, autism-causing-vaccines, creationism, climate change deniers, forged birth certificates, faked moon landings, ad infinitum. Evidence will not convince people who do not live in an evidence based world.

To say that we should fund research to prove something that has already been proven is to say that we should fund research for every crackpot idea that counters what science already knows just because someone thought it, e.g. we should continue to fund research into Flat Earth vs More-or-less Spherical Earth.

"Oh yeah? But science has been wrong before, you know! What about Newton? Everyone was all 'Hey, Newton, you're the greatest!', then Einstein comes along and shows that Newton was wrong!"

Yeah ... except that isn't how it works. Newton's description was correct within the bounds of low relative velocity and low gravity. Even after the Theory of Relativity was established as true, you could still reliably launch a (model) rocket using purely Newtonian physics to calculate its trajectory. If Einstein's Theory had contradicted what we know to be true within Newton's description, he would never have made it out of the Berlin Patent Office. Science advances at the fringes. The new thought not only extends, it incorporates and better explains what we already know.

So, when you have lab results from a lab with no skin in the game, best to accept it.

"Of course, they were pressured by The Government to report those results - maybe even by The Alien Government. That is probably why Obama can't produce a valid birth certificate - he not only isn't an American, he isn't even human!!!!"

I, for one, welcome our low intelligence, high fecundity, masters.

Comment Not going anywhere soon, or like the movies (Score 1) 112

We don't have the tech in any practical sense. Certainly not to make the trip in a life time. Can't do it at all with chemical rockets:

And to go to Pandora ... um I mean, to Alpha Centauri, in the 6 years of the movie? Can't be done. This guy (video below) has done his homework - even anti-matter explosions (if you could make that much anti-matter, and remember, it isn't free, it is just a storage and release mechanism for some other energy source here in our Solar System) even these explosions aren't going to do it, because his analysis shows that it isn't the weight of your fuel, it is the amount of energy you would have to liberate in the vicinity of your ship to reactively move it forward.

In short, it will either take generations in some sort of ship that we don't know how to build, or non-reaction technology, of which we don't have a theory. Not even the Alcubierre Drive. While all of its difficulties may in the future be solved, the point is, this drive violates multiple things we currently hold true which cause these problems:

1) 10^^64 kg of energy would be required to propel a small craft across the galaxy. This is greater than the mass of the entire visible universe. Even to the next star you are talking about multiple stellar masses of energy.

2) A paper by José Natário published in 2002 argued that it would be impossible for the ship to send signals to the front of the bubble, meaning that crew members could not control, steer or stop the ship.

3) A more recent paper makes use of quantum theory to argue that the Alcubierre drive at faster-than-light velocities is impossible, mostly because extremely high temperatures caused by Hawking radiation would destroy anything inside the bubble at superluminal velocities and lead to instability of the bubble itself.

(Above 3 points from the Wikipedia article:

So, we aren't going anywhere fast, soon. We aren't even going anywhere slowly, soon. Eventually we will certainly send out probes designed to last hundreds of years to nearby stars, but no people. Eventually it will likely become possible to send generation ships, and then people may go, but many will not see the point - unless we change human psychology - which I suppose we will. But it doesn't seem likely that it will ever be colonization as we usually think of it. Eventually, there will be a race of humans (different species?) who live entirely in space and having developed the tech to live in the Oort cloud may just find themselves drifting out closer to Proxima and Alpha Centauri. Perhaps one day these people will just drift among the stars. But, by that time, if that is what they are doing, they won't feel the need to inhabit a star system.

And someday, of course, we may discover augmentations to our current understanding of the laws of Physics that will allow us to roam interstellar space like Captains Picard and Reynolds. But there is no reason to suspect that, just because we can dream of it, the Universe will accommodate those dreams.

But, if you really want all of this to have any possibility of happening - ever, then you should start in on solving all of the problems that face us now and drain our resources away from uplifting research and exploration. Drab and mundane as it is, as we deplete our resources we starve the future. As we degrade the planet we constrain future choices. As we over-populate we divert what we have just to feed and shelter the new masses. Each hour of American Idol or Monday Night Football diminishes our prospects just a little bit. If you want this future you will certainly have to make it.

Comment Julian Jaynes (Score 1) 85

Experiments like this bolster Julian Jaynes' theory of a new human mentality that arose at different points in different cultures. It is not a genetic shift, but rather, a shift in the way the brain functions based on the plasticity in the development of our brains as we grow. In Mediterranean culture he dates it to around 1000 BCE, between the origin times of the oral versions of the Iliad and the Odyssey (which have very different depictions of the 'inner' lives of the characters). In his book, "The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind", he covers a wide expanse of evidence including philosophy, anthropology, psychology, literary criticism and neurology. The book is from the late '70's and I am sure that some of the research, especially the neurology, is outdated.

His basic argument is that prior to some point (and that 'point' is actually a slow shift across generations) we were not conscious in the sense that we now mean, that is reflectively aware of our inner life as we process, and interact with, the world around us. Since the ability to perform complex tasks is usually associated with that 'reflective awareness', Jaynes takes quite a bit of time covering experiences and experiments which show the range of things which we can do entirely unconsciously. Some of the most eerie are the experiments done with epilepsy patients who have had their Corpus Callasum cut. He details multiple experiments showing how the side of the brain without strong language skills is able to understand and respond without the other half knowing what it has done. The subject having done something of minor complexity is unable to articulate it and may even deny having done it.

He further argues that even now, with our 'integrated' awareness, much of what we consider deeply human capabilities such as solving a complex problem whose answer is not deduced but arrived at creatively, is actually done unconsciously and only afterwards is the solution presented to 'conscious' thought as an already solved problem. This sounds precisely like what was described in the article.

Comment Re:Assuming... (Score 1) 600

Just a couple of exceptions to this. First, the only part of our calendar that is based on 'astrological' occurrences would be the Zodiacal Signs, and it is arguable that these are not part of a 'modern' calendar. The others are based on *Astronomical* events. Your post implies that there is a certain arbitrariness in the choice of using the revolution of the Earth around the sun as the basis for a year. Of course, you could use some other planet's year, but then you would have a terrible time working out the seasons. Most other temporal measures longer than an hour and shorter than the century, are also, with greater or lesser accuracy, based on actual things that happen in the Sun-Earth-Moon system. Season - bounded by the extreme and median positions of the Sun's apparent motion north and south in the Earth's sky Month - 1 revolution of the Moon around the Earth Week - Easily quantifiable phases of that Moon's illumination as seen from Earth Solar Day - 1 rotation from noon to noon of the Earth Sidereal Day - 1 rotation from 'fixed star' to fixed star of the Earth (about 4 minutes shorter than the solar day).

Comment Re:Perhaps this should be the next poll? (Score 1) 371

I'm a #9.

I got laid off in November from an online travel company that had a double whammy - bad economic times for travel and they lost a big corporate contract the month before. I had only worked for them for a year.

I am good at what I do, but I am not able to make that ranking of "hey I am the best of the best". I have met many better than I am and I have met many who never had an original thought. But in general, I am unable to really rank anyone other than those I work directly with.

As for the market, I have applied for probably about 40 full time jobs since I got sacked. Of that I have had about 5 phone interviews. I am working 3 part time jobs, one of which isn't even in IT.

It seems that employers are becoming incredibly picky. Last week I applied for a job for which I was dead on for every one of the required qualifications, except 1. I had long time UNIX experience, all the way back to Sys V in AT&T. I had Solaris, HP-UX and Linux - years of all of them (sys admin as well as software development in C, C++, Shell, Perl, Python, Web, ...). The hiring company wanted all of that, and AIX. I didn't even get to talk to them. The recruiter said the AIX was a deal breaker.

As an aside, I could be way off, but my experience tells me that UNIX is UNIX. With the exception of where each sticks its application packages and some differences in the init files, it is pretty much all the same. Maybe they thought I would be unable to learn the intricacies of the administration console.

Slashdot Top Deals

It is now pitch dark. If you proceed, you will likely fall into a pit.