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Comment Re:Why lasers? (Score 2) 115

Yes, thanks, I understand that their lab is not in outer space. The best man-made vacuums still contain about 1000 atoms per cubic centimeter(*). So my question stands-- how can they be sure their laser didn't hit a stray hydrogen atom?

(*)Interesting link here on the subject of ultra-high vacuums: http://physics.stackexchange.c...

Comment Re:Why lasers? (Score 2) 115

(disclaimer: I'm not a physicist.) I think the idea is they get the atom to flouresce? The atom absorbs a photon of light, which if it came from a laser we know the exact wavelength of, then emits a lower-energy photon at a longer wavelength, which we can then measure. The difference in energy gets absorbed by the electron (or positron) as it moves to a higher-energy orbital. (Or do you say anti-orbital?)

What I wonder about is, if the anti-hydrogen atom reacts exactly the same way as a hydrogen atom... how can they be sure they didn't accidentally hit a stray hydrogen atom, instead of the antihydrogen atom they were aiming for? I understand they are shooting into a vacuum chamber, but even the vacuum of space has hydrogen atoms floating around in it.

Comment Re:The targets aren't fixed points. (Score 1) 191

Yeah... How many cokeheads in withdrawl have you had to deal with?

Lots. It's part of my job.

It's real fun when they keep screaming at you in a paranoid delusion.

That's not how a coke addict in withdrawal behaves. I'm wondering now if *you've* ever seen one.

How many people have you tried to take care of who are having a bad trip on LSD?

Not that many, because LSD isn't a commonly used drug in Chicago, as far as I know. It's out there, but I would suppose it represents less than 0.01% of the drug use in this town. How many have *you* taken care of?

Comment Bad news for musicians (Score 1) 289

The trouble with audio-over-Bluetooth is that it introduces latency. So, there go several different use cases. Want to do multitrack recording? Sorry, you can't because the track you are playing along with is reaching your ears 20 ms too late. Want to plug a MIDI keyboard into the phone, so you can use the built-in sounds from Garageband? Want to use any one of the "virtual instrument" apps that you play using the touchscreen (there must be hundreds of these)? Get ready for a 20-ms delay between hitting the key and hearing a sound.

Comment Re:Unsurmountable obstacles (Score 1) 381

Anyway, the last time I have checked approximately 50% of world's population did not have proper sewer, and approximately 15% do not have running water and electricity. Just a small fraction of interstellar travel project would bring these necessities to the fellow human beings.

"15%" of the world's population doesn't have running water? The number is closer to 50%. If you were *actually* concerned about water issues in the developing world, I suspect you would know that already. (And no... a "small fraction" of a $100 million research budget isn't going to bring indoor plumbing to 3.5 billion people).

Comment Re:Technology Paradox (Score 1) 226

I lived one zip code away from a large group of affluent Chicago suburbs for $700 monthly rent in 2010, which would have allowed me to buy 2-3 designer jeans per month for the cost of rent in your area

In Chicago, you can be living "one zip code away from an affluent neighborhood" and still be living in one of the worst f*cking ghettos in the US. (e.g. Austin, Woodlawn...) Rents may be cheap but it's hardly a bargain...

Comment Re:Placebos work! (Score 1) 287

Placebos work, so why shouldn't GPs be allowed to prescribe them? .

This is not an uncommon argument, even among physicians. But there's a simple rebuttal, in my view: Giving a placebo conflicts with the patient's right to be informed.

Patients deserve accurate and unbiased information about the risks and benefits of every medicine they are offered. Indeed, at every clinic I've worked in, the patient signs a form stating "I have been informed about the risks and benefits of this medication" (or words to that effect). If I give a patient a treatment that I know for certain is useless- let's say, a sugar pill that is dummied up to look like a prescription medication-- then I would have to inform the patient that I know the treatment to be useless. It's not OK for me to withhold that information, or to keep secrets from the patient, even if I think it's "for their own good".

(There's one exception to this rule: If the patient is enrolled in a clinical trial, they can be randomly assigned to receive either active treatment or placebo. But that's a special case, with special rules. And even in those cases the patient must be told about the process of randomization and how it works).

It *is* OK to give treatments when the evidence that it works is weak, or dubious, or where we just don't know if it is an effective treatment or not. Sometimes, when the risk of the treatment is minimal, that can be a reasonable thing to do (I'm thinking of, for example, folate supplementation for clinical depression). But you have to be honest with the patient about what you're doing.

Comment Behind the times (Score 4, Interesting) 170

People over 45 (like myself) tend to think that learning to operate a computer is an educational experience. It isn't. It was at least mildly educational when we were kids... because the first thing you saw when you hit the "on" switch was a shell for a BASIC interpreter, or something similar. Now the first thing you see are *pictures*, which you point at, like a three-year-old at a candy store.

Even as late as the mid-90s, you would hear a lot of talk about "computer literacy"-- the idea that operating a computer was a core skill, like reading and writing. You don't hear that phrase much any more, "computer literacy". You might as well speak of "microwave literacy" or "Netflix literacy". Yes, there is technically some "learning" involved when you fire up a microwave or Netflix-- you do need to learn which buttons to push-- but it's a tiny area of knowledge which doesn't lead to anything else. And the same is true, I think, of video games.

At the moment, I work with a lot of inner-city teenagers (most of them from seriously dysfunctional homes and communities, most of them "educated" by Chicago Public Schools). ALL of them have computers, tablets, phones. ALL of them can operate their devices like a champion (and most of them love video games). Not one of them, so far, has become a computer programmer.

Comment Re:Slashdot is dying; mod results confirm it (Score 2) 169

Ten to fifteen years ago, a whole lot of my posts were very frequently modded up to +5 and generated tons of replies and interesting discussion.

Sometime between then and now, that diminished and now it seems like most of my posts don't get any moderation or replies or anything. Every now and then there's a thread that generates interest, but for the most part it seems like nobody cares about the things I want to discuss anymore.

If you want to get upmods and replies on Slashdot, the key is to post *early*. I know this is kind of obvious, but it is very much true in my experience. I would guess that at least 80% of comments are made within the first 8-12 hours of a story going live. Once the story has fallen off the "front page"-- forget it. Either people have moved on to other stories, or else the story has accumulated 500+ comments and your own contribution is going to be buried.

In other words... is it possible that you're just not posting comments fast enough (as a result of having a job or a life or whatever), and that's why fewer people are responding?

Comment Re:Caller ID (Score 1) 78

And definitely tell them that, "your call may be recorded for, wink-wink, quality control purposes on this end as well".

I've used that line a few times with collection agencies, and they *always* say "if you are recording we will terminate the call". Evidently it's OK for them to record, but not for me.

Comment Re:No win situation (Score 1) 187

What they've done to the mobile site is far far worse. It now features intrusive banner ads that take up 20% of the screen and WILL NOT GO AWAY. You can't scroll past them, you can't close them. (Also, the disable-ads option is gone). I didn't care that much about the earlier changes, but this is the change that is literally going to drive me away from Slashdot.

Comment Re:Why does an AI need to be "saved" (Score 1) 531

What did the newly-created human do that requires an act of redemption?

Logical argument about illogical premises is illogical.

Yes, but at least with human beings, you can argue that we are born with certain flaws. We're genetically predisposed to be aggressive, violent, selfish, and perhaps racist as well. Even the kindest, most moral person ever to walk the earth has presumably had some thoughts and impulses which were not very admirable.

Christians blame it on "original sin", I blame it on genetics, but it's the same idea. And my point was... how do we know that an AI would have the same flaws?

Comment Why does an AI need to be "saved" (Score 1) 531

Christianity is based on the premise that we are born in a state of sin, and that Christ needs to "save" us from our fallen state. Redemption by the blood of the lamb, and all that jazz.

So what the f*ck did our hypothetical, newly-created AI do that requires an act of redemption? How does Reverend Benek know that this not-yet-invented AI needs to be saved? Maybe it will be created in a state of perfect grace and enlightenment. No lamb's blood needed.

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