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Comment Re:Careful what you wish for... (Score 1) 447

No - I am not trying to shift the blame at all. Governments are responsible for leaving the holes in the law. Indeed your analogy reinforces my point because, just like it is impossible to produce a perfect program with no security holes, it is impossible to produce the perfect tax law with no loop holes. So while governments may be to blame it is not a practical solution to just tell them to pass laws without loop holes - just like you can't solve computer security by telling everyone to write code without any security holes. You might be able to improve things but there will still be a persistent, ongoing problem.

However your analogy does suggest a different solution: perhaps we should treat international corporations who exploit loop holes in tax law the same way that we treat hackers who exploit security holes in software. Given the ridiculously long sentences handed out for hacking I expect this would be a great deterrent...although still open to abuses of power.

Comment Worse: it is unfalsifiable (Score 2) 400

In other words, "the universe is a simulation" is an unevidenced assertion, much like the multiverse.

It is far worse than that because unless we find the programmer(s) (or possibly a bug/exploit!) there will never be any evidence of the simulation. In this way believing in a simulation is just like a religion - there is literally no difference because the only way to scientifically prove a religion is to find evidence of god. Everything which religious fundamentalists explain as "god creating it that way" a simulation can explain by "the programmer(s) creating it that way" and QM is not a problem in that regard if you are simulating the universe itself because outside the simulation we have no idea what the physical laws are so we can literally just invoke magic.

The arguments made in the article about QM are not obstacles (and in some cases very poorly explained e.g. the spin of an electron is exactly known at all times because it is a fermion and has a spin-1/2, what is not known is the direction the spin vector points) because even if we restrict ourselves to the type of computers we know about they are easily solved by simply saying that the simulation is pre-determined. You can reproduce all QM phenomena, and indeed any phenomena you can imagine, this way. However since the simulation runs in a universe we know nothing about the limitations on such a computer are utterly unknown. Hence belief in a simulation is unfalsifiable and so not a scientific theory but a belief.

Comment Re:Is there a thing called time? (Score 1) 167

Not exactly. After all, you can't measure how "fast" or "slow" something "passes" except by doing so... over time. Which leads to a bit of a circular definition.

Not really. Time is always determined as the period between two events just as space is always measured as the distance between two physical objects. If you have a physical process that you know takes a fixed amount of time to happen then, when you look at it in the moving frame, it will take longer to happen so, relative to you, time has been slowed down...or more correctly now partly coincides with one of your space directions. However since you now only perceive part of their taime axis as being parallel to your own it does mean that time is slowed for them relative to you.

Comment Re:Is there a thing called time? (Score 2) 167

Slow it down is not the same as stop, and "will stop" is a prediction.

Yes a prediction based on existing physical laws...welcome to a physics discussion this is what they generally involve: extrapolation of existing physics to situations you can dream up.

Really saddens me that you use an if statement in a physics discussion.

Don't be sad! Again this is a very common statement in physics discussions because of their nature. One of the fundamental reasons physics is so useful is that it can make predictions such as "if in situation X then Y will happen" so if statements are infused throughout physics discussions and as already mentioned they are based on extrapolating existing, experimentally well established laws to a particular situation.

You are pontificating.

Try looking up what pontificating means. I was not stating opinions but facts and stating facts which counter your beliefs might annoy you but that still does not make them opinions.

Comment Careful what you wish for... (Score 4, Interesting) 447

If people are upset about all this, perhaps our elected representatives can change the laws?

The problem with this is that these companies have an army of lawyers trying to find holes in whatever laws are passed. They can find these holes faster than laws can be patched because governments have to tread carefully to make sure new laws do not accidentally penalize companies who are behaving themselves. The only way I can see governments defeating this is by giving themselves far more discretionary taxation power to target individual companies than they currently have and that can lead to abuse of that power if we are not careful.

Comment Re:Is there a thing called time? (Score 1) 167

We cannot "stop" time.

Actually we can slow it down: time passes more slowly for an object moving at a high velocity relative to the observer. In the limit that this approaches the speed of light in a vacuum time will stop.

We cannot evaluate the opposite of time, or "not-time".

Yes we can. If the flow of time reversed we could do experiments which would unambiguously determine this. The oscillation of kaons and B-mesons show that physics is not the same if time is reversed. This is called T-violation and is closely associated with the difference between matter and anti-matter, something called CP-violation.

We cannot directly "measure" time. We cannot directly "see" time. If we cannot evaluate these things, does time exist?

Exactly the same applies to space: we "see" and "measure" space by looking at the physical separation between things in the same way that we "see" and "measure" time by detecting the time between events. Space is as real as time - it clearly exists because events happen at different times in the just the same way that they do not happen at the same place. In a universe with no matter or energy then there would be no way to detect the presence of space or time but then there would be nothing there to ponder their existence either.

Comment This is NOT Quantum Physics! (Score 2) 167

For example, if you aren't looking at something in a video game it doesn't get rendered, ergo schrodingers cat like phenomena. The moon in fact is not there if you don't look at it.

This is NOT AT ALL how quantum mechanics works. Schrodinger's Cat was a gedanken experiment developed by Schrodinger to show how absurd the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics was when applied to everyday objects. Absolutely no physicist believes that this is how QM actually works: the cat is simply either alive or it is dead and is not in a superposition of two states. The point was to show that the prevailing interpretation at the time was wrong. The same goes for the world: QM does not say that things stop existing if they are not observed and nobody believes this. QM is strange and counter-intuitive, it is not crazy!

Comment Re:Useful Innovation (Score 1) 212

Why? Isn't an innovation that makes it easier to distribute content in higher quality an innovation, even if you can't tell the difference?

Yes technically it is an innovation but unless it does something to improve the cinema experience why do I care? It is like the innovation of circular tea bags. Yes this is technically an innovation and yes it will temporarily boost sales but only until everyone figures out that it makes no difference whatsoever and goes back to what they were doing before. What a lot of people seem to forget is that it is not innovation we want it is useful innovation.

Comment Useful Innovation (Score 1) 212

What about digital distribution of digital content displayed via huge digital display systems?

It basically looks just the same as that from a film. It might save the cinema money but it does nothing for the customer. There is pseudo-3D I suppose but that shrinks the screen and gives many people a splitting headache after a few minutes. So I suppose the criterion should be innovation that is good for the customer.

Comment Alternatives (Score 2) 648

At some point, someone has to be the grownup in the room and say "you know, that would be really nice, but we simply can't afford it".

There is another alternative so solve that if what you are going to cut is really important: you can raise taxes. However I understand that Trump wants to lower taxes and apparently by cutting basic science. That's a very short term strategy. It may take a decade or two but if you fall behind the rest of the world in science you are handing us a huge economic advantage....errr...so forget I said anything, this sounds like a great plan!

Comment Re:National Health System (Score 1) 283

The exception in the statement "just about every other" is of course Switzerland

Really? When I lived in Switzerland everyone I knew thought the cost of health insurance was insanely expensive - certainly compared to just over the border in France. More recently when we have been paying the costs for postdocs and their families the costs have similarly been extremely expensive. It might be cheaper than the US but the US health costs are just insane - compare it to other European countries and I think you will find it looks very expensive.

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