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:Most likely explanation (Score 1) 248

Even a measurement error is at first: evidence

Yes, in a non-technical sense there is evidence of something. In the technical sense (see for example Bayesian Probability for the technical meaning used in the hard sciences) there is still no evidence that indicates the EMDrive works as advertised. If there had been such evidence then scientists across the world would flock to reproduce the results of the successful experiment just like people rushed to reproduce the results of Pons and Fleishman.

A more precise statement might be to say that even though all of the experiments reported some unexplained thrust, there is no agreement between the experiments and none of the experiments have been able to show a clear signal or lack thereof above the noise floor. Contrast this with the Pons and Fleishman experiment which did show a clear signal way above the noise floor (which ended up being non-reproducible) or the CERN experiment which showed that neutrinos traveled faster than light, again way way above their noise floor. Those CERN experimenters had the honestly and humility to say they didn't think their clear signal was real because the experiment was very complicated and there was probably something in the experimental setup they were not accounting for. The reason they said this is because if their clear signal had been real then it would have thrown a huge monkey wrench into established theoretical physics. It turns out that they eventually found their mistake, in one place in the experimental apparatus a longer cable was used instead of the short one they assumed was used. This caused an extra delay in their measurement of the light signal and thus cause the erroneous results.

If any of the EMDrive experiments provided real, scientific evidence of the EMDrive mechanism working then the scientific world would be in an uproar like they were after Pons and Fleishman. For the EMDrive experiments thus far we have the worst of both worlds. On the theoretical side, the EMDrive would upturn the world of theoretical physics much more than the faster than light neutrinos; on the experimental side, all the experimental results (except the refuted ones from China) are consistent with there being no EMDrive effect at all. This is what I meant. I didn't mean there was no evidence, I meant there was no evidence that the EMDrive actually works as advertised.

Comment Re:Most likely explanation (Score 1) 248

By refuted I mean the early experiments in China that were not done in a vacuum. Their thrust measurements were orders of magnitude greater than the results in any of the experiments that were done in vacuum.

As for citations, read the actual papers published by the experimenters. If we discount the earlier paper from China which has been refuted, none of the others demonstrate clearly that the EMDrive mechanism produces a specific measurable, reproducible, amount of thrust. When you look at all the experiment results combined, it actually looks worse than any single experiment because while each of them measured some unaccounted for thrust, the results are not consistent across experiments which indicates that each one was not accounting for a different source of noise.

If any one of the experiments had been a success then the next step would have been to reproduce the same results in a different lab, just like people rushed out to reproduces the results of Pons and Fleischman. Instead, after each paper people try to make a new and different experiment with more signal and less noise that will conclusively show that the EMDrive mechanism produces thrust. This Slashdot article is a perfect example. If any of the previous experiments had been a success then the next step would have been to repeat that experiment to confirm the results. Instead, it is suggested they continue to try to beat back the noise floor by greatly adding to the cost and the inconvenience (to say it mildly) by conducting a brand new experiment in outer space.

Comment Re:Most likely explanation (Score 1) 248

What makes you so certain it will fail spectacularly? It hasn't so far ...

ALL of the experiments that have not been totally refuted have completely and utterly failed to demonstrate a consistent and a repeatable signal that is higher than the noise threshold. Being unable to track down all sources of noise is not the same thing as getting a reliable signal that can be replicated in other experiments. When we look at all of the experimental evidence taken together it is completely consistent with zero signal and only noise.

If you are measuring this as performance art, then sure, it has been a rip-roaring success but if you are measuring it in terms of science and engineering then all the experiments have totally failed to demonstrate that the effect is real.

Just because all of the experiments thus far have either failed or been refuted, with some experiments getting a signal in the opposite direction of the one expected, and others getting as much signal when vital parts of the apparatus are missing, and yet other early experiments claiming a signal many orders of magnitude greater than anything seen in the more controlled experiments, doesn't mean the effect does not exist. It just means that no matter how carefully they look, somehow, by some miracle, the signal is always buried in the noise. When you reduce the noise by a factor of 1,000, that darned signal also gets reduced by a factor of 1,000.

There is absolutely no coherent theoretical explanation for why this should work. That doesn't mean it can't work but the fact that this "new force of nature" with numbers that were pulled out of a hat just happens to always require an apparatus that creates enough noise to mask the effect is highly suspicious. Basically they need to pipe in and dissipate 1,000 Watts of microwaves in order to create enough thrust to keep a single snowflake from falling. Certainly it would be great if this worked but so far there is no theoretical explanation and no experiment evidence to indicate it does actually work. None. Zero. Zip. Nada.

The signal they are looking for is so darned small, it is almost impossible to account for all the possible sources of noise. Claiming that what is left over after all known sources of noise have been eliminated must be the real signal is ridiculous. This is why they see the signal in the wrong direction or see a signal 1,000 times greater in the earlier experiments when the noise floor was 1,000 time greater.

The reaction to the EMDrive is very similar to the reaction to the "face on Mars" which was also a signal that was down at the noise threshold. Scientists who tried to explain this to the public got castigated and got sent tons of hate mail and some may have lost their jobs over it. When higher resolutions photos were eventually taken, the doubting, cautious scientists were right and the wisher and dreamers were wrong.

Comment Re:Remember, it's because people aren't marrying (Score 1) 531

...harmless urges...

At the risk of sounding like a far-out social conservative crossed with a radical feminist, do you have any evidence to support your assertion that viewing porn satisfies a 'harmless urge'?

I think you raise an interesting question, especially if we focus on the outlet of the urges and not the urges themselves.

Just like in (my) software development, there is an ideal solution and then there are the solutions we can complete given time, money, and person-power constraints. Of course, we may not be able to agree on any of these.

I look at the abortion issue this way too. In an ideal world there would be little need for abortions except for medical reasons. Unfortunately our world is very far from ideal, especially around many of the situations where an abortion seems like a good option for someone.

I think it is essential to look at porn in the same way. IMO in an ideal world there would be very little need or demand for it because almost everyone would be getting their urges met with other consenting adults. But just like a high demand for abortions indicates a world that is far from ideal, so does a high demand for pornography. It is not useful to ask if viewing pornography is harmless or not. The useful question to ask is if it is more or less harmless than the alternatives.

Some people maintain that sexual repression in the West is tied to its exploitive, capitalistic structure. I'm not saying they are necessarily right but it is hard to deny that sexual repression is deeply ingrained in our society. I also think the high demand for porn is linked to this systemic sexual repression.

YMMVG but IMO the ideal solution involves getting rid of the sexual repression so people in general get laid more often. I really thing this would have a huge impact and make the world a much better place. For example, I wonder if the mass shootings (or shootings in general) would be diminished if the would-be shooters were getting laid more often.

Unfortunately, sexual repression is deeply ingrained in our society so we are not going to get the (my) ideal solution anytime soon. If it is true that pent up sexual frustration causes some people to lash out violently against strangers then of the many non-ideal solutions to wide-spread pent up sexual urges, it could well be that making porn widely available is the least harmful of the lot.

Comment Re:Does it work better than a tree? (Score 1) 195

Except, what would you do with gas on Mars? It's handy here because the other half of the reaction, oxygen, is abundant everywhere. On Mars, you'd have to also haul massive tanks of compressed oxygen around to react with your gas.

If only there were some way to make a solar cell to strip off the carbon from C02 in order to free up some oxygen. Seriously though, the missing ingredient here is hydrogen, not oxygen. Perhaps water in the soil could provide both oxygen and hydrogen.

Submission + - antiX: a Debian-based Linux distro without systemd

DrJimbo writes: AntiX-Linux and its sister distro MX-Linux are both Debian-based and neither one uses systemd. The release of antiX-16 was just announced. It comes in three different sizes: core, base, and full. Even the largest still fits on a CD. It has extensive LiveUSB features including easy customization of the legacy bootloader and the UEFI bootloader. On fast hardware it can boot to Bash in as little as 5 seconds and to an X-Windows desktop in less than 10. YMMVG. Details are available in the links above. A quick overview is provided in this promo video. Disclaimer: I'm one of the devs.

Comment Re:Standard Operating Practice (Score 1) 634

If people treated their vote as a joke, then they don't deserve a re-vote. Simple as that.

That's not the way it works even if it is the way you want it to work. They deserve a re-vote if they are able to get a re-vote by going through the proper procedures.

The idea that a decision once made is locked in for ever and ever just because StillAnonymous happens to like it is absurd.

Comment This problem is 100% due to the music labels (Score 2, Insightful) 288

As has been obvious for over a decade, consumers overwhelmingly want to be able to use recent technological breakthroughs so then can listening music easily and conveniently. Most are willing to pay for this and most probably want to support the artist.

The music labels have been fighting this tooth and nail pretty ever since it was possible to download music via the internet. This is slightly bizarre since part of the service they are supposed to be providing to society is to streamline the distribution of music (hence the RIAA curve, etc). Instead, perhaps due to somewhat sociopathic CEOs, they try to cripple distribution of music in order to create false scarcity which harms society and harms the artists and only benefits the labels.

The only reason a 3rd-party can make money from this is because the labels are totally failing at the task of distributing music in the best and easiest way possible. The answer is not to close off 3rd parties who are doing the job the record labels are supposed to be doing. The answer is for the record labels to do their damned job and distribute music in a reasonable way given current technologies. The tighter the labels grip, the more revenue will slip through their fingers. There is no way consumers are going back to buying a vinyl album and then a cassette and then a cd of the same music.

The actual cost for distributing music has plummeted to near zero. If the record labels are not going to take advantage of this and distribute music in a reasonable way then good for Google and for anyone else who steps up and removes the artificial scarcity and artificial inefficiency create by the music labels.

While we're at it let's shorten the length of time copyright stays in effect. That way these rock stars won't be lumping their recent music together with music that was made back in the 30s and 40s by people who have long been dead.

Comment Re:Gee, I wonder why anti police sentiment exists (Score 1) 621

Okay. Fair enough. Thanks for clearing that up. I agree with you that the summary is wrong to lump bank accounts in with prepaid cards. On the other hand it was clear to me that UnknowingFool was talking about an account associated with a prepaid card. If UF had used "prepaid card" instead of just "card" then they would have been even more clear. Your post was misleading because it makes it seem like nothing has changed regarding seizing money.

I think we all agree that they can now seize money from prepaid cards and they weren't able to do this before. I thought that was the point UnknowingFool was making and you seemed to be refuting it.

Comment Re:Gee, I wonder why anti police sentiment exists (Score 1) 621

Now they are seizing the money in the account.

No, they're not. The summary is wrong.

The fine article also says the police are seizing money from accounts.

If a trooper suspects a person may have money tied to some type of crime, the highway patrol can scan and seize money from prepaid cards.
Troopers insist this isn't just about seizing cash.

Saying that the police are using this to seize money accurately reflects what is said in the fine article. If you think the summary and the article are both wrong on this point then please provide a link to evidence that refutes it.

Comment An *Oracle* win would have killed off FOSS (Score 2) 357

The Oracle lawyer has it completely backwards. If APIs could be protected by copyright then FOSS could be easily locked out of making compatible implementations. Oracle is not in this battle to get a few billion dollars from Google. They are in this battle to kill off all independent software development. As bad as software patents are, changing the ground rules so APIs can be protected by copyright would be much much worse.

Slashdot Top Deals

In English, every word can be verbed. Would that it were so in our programming languages.