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Comment Re:Nothing stopping them from giving more.. (Score 1) 644

Besides, nothing is stopping them from giving more if they really feel that strongly about it.

That's not how game theory works. Toll roads do not work with voluntary tolls. A few might pay but the majority would not. Funding of public goods works best on a non-voluntary basis. That's why civilizations evolved things like "taxes" pretty early on once agriculture started taking hold. Everybody pays, everybody benefits. Yes, you effectively contribute a portion of your labor to the city/state, but if everything is balanced right, the rewards of cooperation exceed the cost of your labor contribution.

Comment Re: Very Disturbing Trend (Score 1) 1083

No, there is more anthropological support for a strict definition of a minimum combination of factors necessary to define a civilization and the wide variety of bonds that peoples have called "marriage" throughout history than for your loose definitions of civilization as "tribe members acting in a civil manner" or a strict definition of marriage.

  • * Large urban centers
  • * Full-time specialist occupations
  • etc

I could include a list of existing and historical definitions of marriage by different tribes and cultures, but it would likely be pointless. Obviously no consensus or detente can be reached if we do not even speak the same language. Plus, this might be misconstrued as an "appeal to authority" argument rather than the appeal to historical precedence I am trying to get across.

Comment Re:Very Disturbing Trend (Score 1) 1083

How does the institution of marriage predate the civilization that would be needed to recognize and affirm such an institution?

Pair-bonding has deep evolutionary roots. Marriage is a formal recognition of a pair-bond by the tribe, not by a state. Tribal life and tribal behaviors predate civilization by a wide margin.

Comment Royal Society (Score 1) 323

Don't discount the Royal Society journals and the early influence of British scientists. Yes, Newton's principia was published in latin, but the Journal of the Royal Society was printed in english. Even Leeuwenhoek had to have his work translated into english to get it published. I would say that the language of science went from greek to arabic, then to an early mix of latin and english, then to german due to the influence of the thriving german chemical and optical industries, then back to english.

Comment Happened to me (Score 5, Interesting) 348

Spot on. No funding = no tenure = bye-bye faculty position and no more lab. Very proud of the papers we put out and the 3 PhD students and 1 MS student that graduated before the end though. We had just uncovered a possible mechanism for how an actin-binding protein could be involved in invadopodia formation and cancer metastasis (cancer cells escaping their initial tumor).

Comment SpaceX is doing something right (Score 4, Informative) 123

Since debuting their Falcon v1.1, SpaceX has had 7 successful launches in the past 12 months (one secondary cargo in wrong orbit, though). Aviation Week announced yesterday that SpaceX just signed more contracts:

SpaceX closed 9 deals, w/possible 2-3 heavies. Four more in the next few weeks, incl one non-GEO, then maybe 4 more before end of the year.


Comment Not suprising (Score 2) 191

Our brains evolved to learn fine motor skills like chipping flint. Writing notes by hand engages those motor skills and that learning process. Don't just go through your book and highlight important passages - that does almost nothing. Take notes in class. Make notes on those notes when you study.

Comment Re:So more enthalpy=more life? (Score 1) 185

By heat bath, they do not necessarily mean "hot". The *difference* in temperature matters. The system (life) has to dump heat (delta-Q) into its surroundings (atmosphere, bath, etc) for replication to be favorable. The system usually has to be hotter than the surroundings for the heat (Q) to flow from the system into the surroundings. An engine is more efficient on colder days than hotter days. The system *can* absorb heat from the surroundings, but this is usually accompanied by an increase in disorder of the system.
So, Venus is just too darn hot to act as an efficient head dump for the negative delta-G's of carbon-based biochemistry.
Good old \delta G_sys = \delta H_sys - T \delta S_sys
[That said, I think that the paper is defining delta Q backwards (+ Q flowing out of system) from the usual convention (+ Q flowing into the system).]

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