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Submission + - SPAM: Waterloop

Scribbler'sEmporium writes: A team of 150 University of Waterloo students revealed, what they call, the world’s first functional pneumatic levitation system for the Hyperloop. They are one of 22 teams competing for SpaceX’s International Hyperloop Competition.
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Comment Bog Iron (Score 1) 250

These sorts of sample turn up at university geology departments on a regular basis by people hoping they are meteorites. Frequently they are proven to be bog-iron. The "crater" could also be explained by a glacial feature called a kettle or pothole. They can occur in clusters, but can also be solitary. My work ISP is blocking picturepush but if this feature is in an area previously glaciated (ie most of north america north of say Kentucky), then this is a possibility.

Comment Re:Biologists haven't seen it this way for a while (Score 1) 337

Not true. The process we call evolution has a two very clear and sensible goals/directions - one from the point of view of the gene and the other from the point of view of the individual (sometimes these are in conflict), but both strive towards maximum reproductive success. Culture, social interactions, dominance hierarchies, mate selection-retention strategies, and investment in offspring are all play important aspects of human culture and evolution. BTW this podcast course ( is a really great introduction to the field. Highly recommended. Class #13 is releveant to this discussion on culture and evolution.

Comment Not a surprise (Score 1) 113

Biology has not traditionally been computationally intensive, but that has changed in the last 20 years. Computer modelling of ecology, disease epidemiology, and cellular processes has been tremendously helpful. With the age of the genome merging into the age of the proteome the trend is only going to grow. Biology is or will shortly be as computationally intensive as physics. Witness the explosion of Bioinformatics departments in Universities in the last 10 years. The main trouble is that most of the problems in biology (finding patterns in nucleotide sequences for example) are not interesting problems for computer scientists. The computational techniques, for the most part have been worked out and are just a matter of number crunching. The trick now is to employ them on the mountain of data generated by the biologists. It doesn't surpise me that biologists are learning to do their own coding, or at least learning enough of the lingo to go talk to the local programmers.

Comment When Can an Employee Disobey? (Score 1) 1006

When Can an Employee Disobey? Adjudicators support management's rights to direct employees, but have concluded that some situations permit the employee to refuse to obey. They can refuse IF: #1 the order would have placed the employee in danger and contravenes the Labour Code #2 the order was to commit an illegal act - such as being told not to enforce the Act for a particular company #3 the order was not job related - such as running personal errands for the supervisor ************** See #2.

Comment Re:Panspermia (Score 1) 156

I dont have trouble with thought-experiments like "Panspermia" but why is this discovery being touted here (and in an above comment) as en example of such over the excedingly far more likely terrestrial origins of bacteria? This planet is TEEMING with bacteria. You could say its "lousy" with them. Everywhere you look there are bacteria just "moldering away". Consider that the bacteriological taxonomic archives only list several thousand named species of bacteria. This is primarily because of our historical reliance on culturing methods as the only means of bacterial identification. However, recent estimates based on DNA squencing have suggested that 1 in 100 to 1 in 1000 species of bacteria are unculturable with today's culturing technology. One study using DNA sequencing identified 10 new species and 2 new genera of bacteria in the human mouth. If an environment as familiar as the mouth can have undiscovered bacterial species lurking, then the prospects of finding bacteria elsewhere is promising. Have faith my brothers and sisters in this planets ability to support life in all manner of inhospitable (to humans) environments! If you want job-security, become a bacterilogist! There is easily another 500 years worth of bacterial species to be discovered and named. ~Flatlander

Comment Re:Made up words... (Score 1) 77

New Scientist has a good article on the changing nature of English language. One of the trends is to reduce the variability in non-standard verbs. ie make all verbs work the same way. "Run" will become "runned" on day. The trend starts with big words that people dont know well or dont know the rules for... like broadcast. Change is coming!!!

Comment immune system phylogeny (Score 3, Informative) 270

Reptiles have immune systems which work for them. They are cold blooded as was mentioned above. Reptiles (in general) have specialized cells which do phagocytosis (even very primitive organisms have this), lymphoid tissue (gut-associated etc) but not lymph nodes, lyphocytes differentiated into B cells and T cells. What they don't have is the variety of immunoglobulin classes that mammals have. ie Their antibody is IgM-like and IgG-like (IgY), but not IgD, IgE and class switching is either slow or non-existent. Birds were the first (phylogenetically) to exhibit lymph nodes and multiple Ig classes, and class switching. Furthermore reptiles don't seem to be able to do the memory (amnestic response) very well. To say that the reptile system is better (or as good as) the mammalian system is non-sensical. They both work have worked to keep species alive for many millions of years and they both continue to evolve. The key is that they work for each in their own envirnmoment. The immune system of a cold blooded animal is by necessity different from a warm blooded animal because bacteria have adapted to grown so much faster at warmer temperatures. If the immune system cannot respond rapidly (ie memory response) then that individual dies. If you look at the evolution of the immune response it appears to have taken several leaps rather than evolving gradually and steadily. These events coincide with changes which could alter the microbiological pressure on animal species. (see the Silurian period and the development of immunoglobulin and T-cell receptors, also the important RAG 1 and RAG2 genes). If reptiles were evolving into birds and there was a change from cold-blooded to warm-blooded at the same time you would expect to see a shift in the immune system capabilities --- and we do. Insects, while vectors of disease likely had little to do with this shift (Achem's razor)

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