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Comment Re:Billing address? (Score 1) 110

Which works great until the government splits a zip code. Then it takes years for some merchants to decide the new zip code is valid, & until then, transactions that attempt to verify zip code fail—either enter the right zip & get rejected by the merchant or the wrong one & get rejected by the bank. (That actually happened to me at a gas station once.)

Comment Re:It's a placebo Re:oh no (Score 1) 297

Actually, it seems they work (at least for IBS) even if you are explicitly told it is a placebo: Placebos without Deception: A Randomized Controlled Trial in Irritable Bowel Syndrome Although possibly not as does not seem that study had a group that received a placebo without being told (just the group that was told & the group that received no treatment at all).

Comment Re:Is this string theory again? (Score 1) 164

String theory is mentioned in a few places, but there do not seem to be any equations involving actual vibrating strings, but only things derived from string theory. AdS/CFT does come from string theorists, but is actually a conjecture (at least, so says Wikipedia) about how certain string theories may be equivalent to certain theories based on the usual sort of non-stringy quantum fields. While they claim a connection to string theory, it seems plausible that some other underlying theory could end up satisfying the same entropy bounds & thus be subject to the paper's arguments (if they are in fact correct).

Comment Re: because Photoshop doesn't exist (Score 1) 317

We need a proof that a vote has been correctly counted that cannot be forged (produced without actually including the vote in the total) except by the one who voted. (It needs to be possible for them to forge so that nobody else can trust it.) I am pretty sure there are papers attempting this, but I do not have time right now to check if any of them have succeeded; I would not be surprised if they have (feasibility of implementation notwithstanding).

Comment Re:Don't worry (Score 1) 89

The problem is that while quantum superposition can be thought of as "all possible states simultaneously," it is not in general possible to choose properties of the state you get at the end (called "postselection" in the quantum computing literature). All you can do is adjust the probabilities of the different states, & for some problems, we do not know a way to make the desired state likely enough to do any better than a square root improvement in running time over a classical computer. So for that sort of problem, an O(2^n) algorithm would become O(2^(n/2)).

Apart from quantum suicide (which depends on various unproven assumptions & is technically nontrivial even if theoretically possible), there is no known way to do postselection.

Comment Re: Softare and wording problem (Score 1) 210

I have seen my phone's battery discharge while "charging" if it was doing something with, say, the CPU, GPS, & Bluetooth at the same time. They need to allow drawing power from the battery, even when plugged in, because the USB port (& the charger to which it is attached) does not necessarily supply enough power to run, just to charge at whatever rate they deem appropriate.

Comment Re:Nintendo are only keeping up appearances. (Score 1) 140

Certain platforms have rampant trademark infringement in the programs offered on them, especially games. Does the fact that trademark holders (including Nintendo) continue to ignore them cause their marks to be genericized on those specific platforms? (Or maybe they are unaware of the infringement...quite possible, but I am not sure if that matters legally.)

(Not asking for legal advice—just curious...I was actually wondering about that just a few days ago.)

Comment Re:Good. (Score 1) 146

Regarding lazy programmers: I have written programs where I used packed bitfields & still ended up needing around 4-8 GB RAM. I was counting how many of something existed & marking them off as they were discovered—enumerating in (much) less space would make it take a lot longer, barring a computational complexity breakthrough (or maybe spending weeks discovering a different special-purpose enumeration method).

But for the most part, programs do seem to take up more space than necessary these days. E.g. a text editor should not need over 1 GB RAM. Even with unlimited undo & 30 or so documents open, each is not very large (under 128 KB), & I cannot type that fast.

Comment Re:Good. (Score 1) 146

When I was a little kid, I once said I wanted a terabyte floppy disk & a 6 GHz CPU (& was told something similar to that being either never needed or not possible). A terabyte of flash is smaller than a floppy disk, but I still want my 6 GHz CPU. (With air cooling & 85 degrees Fahrenheit ambient, that is.)

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Today's scientific question is: What in the world is electricity? And where does it go after it leaves the toaster? -- Dave Barry, "What is Electricity?"