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Comment Re:Weak/nonexistent punishments for faulty notices (Score 1) 58

All patent applications are signed under penalty of perjury. However, the US Patent and Trademark office disbanded its enforcement department in 1974. So, you can perjure yourself on a patent application with impunity.

Unless it's testimony in a criminal case, or the perjury trap in front of a grand jury, or something they want to prosecute like lying on your tax form, the Federal government is in general lassiez faire about perjury, or even encouraging of it with their reluctance to prosecute, especially perjury committed by a so-called intellectual property holder.

Comment Re:Maybe (Score 1) 179

The short of it, Jupiter moves things around; it's very good at scattering other bodies, even large ones. First it dragged outer populations into the inner solar system, then scattered inner solar system material out, and then on its retreat pulled outer solar system material back in. It's actually a very big deal that it did that, as it brought ice into the inner solar system.

Comment It doesn't like going through walls though (Score 1) 63

Or anything solid really. If you have line-of-sight it works pretty well but get anything in the way, and you can have serious issues. I tried it for wireless HDMI and it wasn't able to maintain a solid signal over about 25 feet because there was an interior wall in between the transmitter and receiver.

Comment Re:Maybe (Score 1) 179

1. "Adjective nouns" need to have similarity to "noun" but aren't necessarily a subset. Gummy bears aren't a subset of bears either.

Gummy bears are not a scientific term. Besides, the IAU itself already uses the word dwarf in this manner. Dwarf stars, dwarf galaxies... but carved out an inexplicable exception for dwarf planets.

I'd like to see a citation on this. I highly doubt that you can simulate the formation of a solar system where multiple Mars analogues can coexist in the same orbit

False equivalency. There's a difference between "two Mars sized planets existing in the same orbit" and "Mars' orbit having been cleared". And more to the point, the biggest problem with the concept of Mars clearing its orbit is that its orbit was already largely cleared when it formed. According to our best models, Jupiter reached all the way in to around where Mars' orbit is today, and had cleared almost everything to around 1 AU. Earth and Venus accreted from planetesimals between each other. Mars accreted from planetary embryos ejected to the space in-between Earth and Jupiter. Without Jupiter's migration, simulations produce an Earth-sized Mars and several planetary embryos in the asteroid belt on eccentric / high inclination orbits, something akin to the situation between Neptune and Pluto - except with the embryos nearly Mars-sized.

3. In a geological sense yes. But the current definition of planets is based on orbital mechanics, after which Earth is a lot closer to Jupiter than to Ceres/Pluto.

Huh? By what aspect of orbital mechanics? By semimajor axis and velocity, Earth is much closer to Ceres than Jupiter. Are you talking inclination and eccentricity? Then we should boot Mars in favour of low inclination / eccentricity asteroids.

4. Hydro-static equilibrium as a dividing line is way worse. There are roughly 100 TNOs where we don't really know whether they are elliptical.

Hydrostatic equilibrium can be very easily estimated based on mass, which can be approximately deduced within a range of feasible albedos and densities, and very accurately deduced if the body has a moon. By contrast, it's almost impossible to estimate neighborhood clearing to any distance beyond Neptune, or at all in the case of extrasolar planets. Which, to reiterate, the IAU definition says aren't planets, even though they have an extrasolar planet working group.

We'd have to visit each and every one of them with a probe just to put them in the proper category.

This is utter nonsense.

Meanwhile, it's completely clear which bodies qualify for the "clearing its orbit" rule.

No, it's not. We have virtually no clue what lies in the outer reach of our solar system. As we speak there's a search for a new planet that could be as big as an ice giant. It's a huge open question as to whether it would have cleared its neighborhood, and it will be very difficult to ascertain.

All currently qualifying planets have roughly 99% or more of the mass in their orbit in themselves. Ceres has 30%.

You seem to have some weird concept going on that "semimajor axis = orbit". Ceres has nothing of significance in its orbit. The asteroids are not all in the same orbit. They're certainly more likely to cross each others orbits, but that's not the same thing.

And again, since you apparently missed it: the reason that the inner solar system is largely cleared except for the asteroid belt (and the reason that the latter exists) is Jupiter. Mars did not clear its own neighborhood.

5. The definition should be mutable. Why should a planet that gets ejected keep counting as a planet?

You seriously have to ask why something that hasn't changed but is in a different location shouldn't suddenly be declared to be something entirely different? If you take a rabbit to Canada does it suddenly become a dwarf rabbit?

6. I highly doubt life could form in a non-cleared orbit.

Once again, you're stuck on this misconception that the only orbital parameter that exists is the semimajor axis. And also apparently a notion that stable orbital resonances don't exist.

Orbits can come in a wide range of forms. If you want to see how crazy they get, check out Epimetheus and Janus ;)

As for a life bearing celestial in orbit around another (gas giant) planet: I don't think anybody feels bad about calling that one a moon? As in "Yavin 4".

The funny point with your example being, that whenever you illustrate a large round (hydrostatic equilibrium) moon in sci-fi - Star Wars, Star Trek, Avatar, whatever - people invariably keep calling it a planet and having to correct themselves. We inherently recognize "large, round object with relevant gravity = planet", and have to shoehorn our minds into not using that term.

7. "Within each other's periapsis and apoapsis" seems like a reasonable enough definition that neither Ceres nor Pluto qualify for.

Once again, you ignore most orbital elements (seriously, stop right now and go read the Wikipedia article on orbital elements). We don't live in a 2D solar system. And your notion is oversimplified even for 2D.

All of this, let alone other aspects such as mass ratios, resonance, metastability, etc. And it gets even more complicated when you view the solar system not as a 2-body problem but a multi-body problem. Then things like horseshoe orbits, Lagrangian points, etc come into play.

8. Yes that's silly but that'll probably be changed easily enough and has no effect on Pluto.

1) It's over a decade later. Where's the fix?
2) It's just a symptom of how horribly hasty and ill-thought-out their action was.

9. How are you planning to ascertain hydro-static equilibrium for an exoplanet if we can't even do it for Varuna.

What are you talking about? Varuna is the size of Ceres. The fact that it hasn't been declared a dwarf planet by the IAU is again a symptom of the IAU's dysfunction on this issue. See #18. By contrast, we'd have no snowball's chance in hell of identifying all potential orbit crossers for it.

The fact that you bring up Varuna makes me think that you feel it shouldn't be a planet because it's an oblate spheroid. If so, that just reveals yet another problem with your understanding: you need to go look up the definition of hydrostatic equilibrium. Hint: if Varuna wasn't an oblate spheroid, then it wouldn't be in hydrostatic equilibrium.

Comment Re:Awesome (Score 1) 164

It really depends on the algorithm. This is apparently about the type of language used, not the opinions expressed. If the algorithm mostly removes one word replies like "Fucktard", and leaves in place "I respectfully disagree with you that Mr Trump's policies will have the effect you describe", then, well, it's fine. What's the problem?

What I find interesting right now is that the word "Toxic" is used to describe the kinds of comments that'll be removed, and immediately rather a lot of people on Slashdot (not you) immediately assume it's anything that's anti-StrawJW.

Kinda tells you something about the people who use the term "SJW" to describe opponents of their own beliefs, doesn't it.

Comment Re:Reproducibility is hard. (Score 5, Insightful) 220

Why are we still using printed journals?

Why is the amount of space a report takes up still an issue?

Details are important. If you want a short version, then make a summary, but don't cut out the detail available to do that.

In terms of ascii/unicode text, we're not going to run out of bytes to explain important scientific details.

Heck - make videos of the processes, mention part numbers, and even show mistakes that you encountered along the way in your notes! Video hosting is free, and shouldn't be going away anytime soon. Making a process replication video should be a normal thing.

If you're spending so much time anyway, so much of your life in these studies, what's the value in holding back important information?

Ryan Fenton

Comment Re:R&D (Score 1) 98

Apple spends serious coin on Research and Development; far more than their competition.

This is almost true, though the vast majority of Apple's R&D funding is firmly at the D end of the spectrum. IBM used to spend a lot more than Apple on research, though they've cut down a lot. Microsoft still does (around $5bn/year on MSR). These companies and Google (and Oracle, and so on) all throw grants at universities for research, which Apple doesn't. It wasn't until last the last few months that Apple even published any of their research.

Comment Re:AI Snippets... (Score 1) 288

In this respect, it's not really any different from stuff genetic algorithms have been doing for decades. If you have a set of executable tests that can tell if the algorithm is working correctly, then you can evolve something that will pass the tests. Of course, you have absolutely no idea how it will behave on inputs not covered by your tests.

Comment Re:TL;DR something you claim is cogent...? (Score 5, Informative) 179

The IAU spend months in total hashing out this issue and three days talking in meetings before the vote

That's just the issue: that's not what happened. The IAU discussion was a disaster. Here's the timeline:

2005: The IAU appoints a committee to investigate the issue and generate a proposal. The committee investigated the issue for a year.

The IAU meeting is scheduled from 14-25 August 2006.

16 August: The committee recommends a definition based on hydrostatic equilibrium. No "cleared the neighborhood" nonsense. They publish their draft proposal.

18 August: The IAU division of planetary sciences (aka, the people who actually deal with planets) endorses the proposal.

Also 18 August: A subgroup of the IAU formed which opposed the proposal. An astronomer in the group (aka, someone who studies stars, not planets) - Julio Ángel Fernández - made up his own "cleared the neighborhood" definition. While most of the membership starts to trickle away over the next week, they remain determined to change the definition.

22 August: The original, hydrostatic equilibrium draft continued to be the basis for discussion. There were some tweaks made (some name changes and adjusting the double-planet definition), but it remained largely the same.

Late on 22 August: Fernández's group manages to get to just over half of the attendance at the (open) drafting meeting, leading to a very "heated" debate between the two sides.

22 to 24 August: The drafting group begins to meet and negotiate in secret. The last that the general attendance of the conference knew, they'll either end up with a vote on a purely hydrostatic definition, or (more likely) no vote at all due to the chaos. Attendence continues to dwindle, particularly among those who are okay with either a hydrostatic definition or none at all.

24 August: The current "cleared the neighborhood" definition is suddenly proposed and voted on on the same day. Only 10% of the conference attendance (4-5% of the IAU membership) is still present, mainly those who had been hanging on trying to get their definition through. They pass the new definition.

It's not generally laypeople who are upset about how it went down, it's IAU members. Many have complained bitterly about it to the press. The IAU's own committee of experts was ignored, in favour of a definition written in secret meetings and voted on by a small, very much nonrandom fraction of people, the vast majority of whom do not study planets.

If there's one thing I hate, it's people who pretend that anyone who opposes the IAU definition does so because they're ignorant morons overcome by some emotional attachment to Pluto, when in reality it's been planetary scientists themselves who have been the definition's harshest critics, because it's an internally self-inconsistent, linguistically flawed, false-premise-based definition that leads to all sorts of absurd results and contradicts terminology that was already in widespread use in the scientific literature.

Comment Re:sign of decline (Score 1) 98

Sometimes. Apple already has their 1 Infinite Loop building and then most of the office buildings nearby along De Anza and a few nearer the middle of town. They're pretty short on space. It makes sense for them to be building a new big building, and the cost difference between building a new boring building and a new shiny building is pretty small. This will let them move a bunch of people who need to collaborate into offices near each other, rather than having them spread across the various De Anza buildings.

From what people were saying when I was at Apple a couple of weeks ago, it's actually coming a bit too late. The company has grown faster than they expected when they started planning and so rather than being able to move everyone from De Anza into IL2, they're having to identify sets of people who need to collaborate and move them, leaving quite a few behind in De Anza. If your company is growing faster than your ability to build office space to house them, that's generally a good sign (though the insane planning permission situation in the Bay Area means that it happens there a lot more often than you'd expect).

Comment Re:The definition is fine (Score 1) 179

Exactly. I think Stern's always been on the right side of this. The original paper that the Stern-Levison parameter comes from has a great system laid out, where you have a bunch of adjectives that you can apply to different bodies based on their varying physical (composition, size) and orbital parameters, and you can use any combination of them as needed. Which seems to me to be so obviously the right solution.

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