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Comment Re:It can be fine... (Score 1) 533

Whew! For a minute there, I thought Slashdot, which was full of cutting-edge techies when I joined something-teen years ago, had become the domain of crotchety old curmudgeons. Glad to see someone still acknowledging that progress can exist.

Plenty of other technologies have given way to newer ones in the time this site has been around, and in most of those cases, there's been a period where technology B didn't work well with technology A and wasn't universal, and then after a bit manufacturers supported it and life went on.

If this sort of wailing and gnashing of teeth happened every time - and was actually successful - we'd still be using 5.25-inch floppies, MFM/RLL drives, keyboards with "AT" connectors, EGA graphics, token-ring networking over coax, long-distance communications through DB-9/DB-25 serial ports limited to 56K, and so on.

Even if a new standard is developed, there's a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem, in that somebody has to be the first to adopt it, and during the transitional period there's less motivation for industry to make things for it. Just look at USB in the '90s. That was a standard, developed by IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Compaq and others, which should have had enough weight in the PC world, but rather embarrassingly the first mainstream product to use it was the iMac - and Apple wasn't even involved in creating the standard.

Five, ten years from now, I anticipate we'll all have USB-C headphones (except Apple users, who might have something non-standard), and there will be USB-C ports everywhere, and we'll look back at this thread and laugh.

Comment Re:Astronomy in a nutshell (Score 5, Insightful) 146

The accelerating expansion of the universe, aka "dark energy" is just about the last case in which you want to say this sort of thing, you know. Two independent groups of scientists both set out to measure how much the expansion was decelerating, since they, and basically everyone else who even believed the universe was expanding, expected gravity to slow it down over time. Through lots of observations (not pulled out of their collective asses) and calculations (ditto), they wound up disproving their own hypotheses.

I would say that's an example of science at its best - research leading to results that fly in the face of what had previously been believed, and belief being updated as a result. Apparently the Nobel committee felt the same way. Oh, and yes, there are people - not just Hubble folks - actively running experiments to get more data and see whether the numbers arrived at back in the late '90s by the guys who won the Nobel 5 years ago were actually right. In fact, those same guys are involved in follow-on projects to further refine or narrow down the ranges they came up with.

Comment Re:Totally normal (Score 1) 141

This. Given the size of the iTunes Store and Google Play, if you want a certain kind of app, there are probably 20 free ones you can download and try to see which one you like best. My phone says I downloaded 26 free Sudoku apps at some point in the distant past - but for some strange reason, I only kept one of those.

Comment Not like the other ELTs. (Score 1) 105

GMT's approach of using a small number of very large round mirrors, instead of a large number of small hexagonal ones, is very different from the path chosen by E-ELT and TMT (and GTC, and SALT, and HET, and Keck I and II)... in fact, other than possibly the original design of the MMT, I'm unsure whether anyone's done this before. (And of course the original design of the MMT was chosen because nobody knew how to make a 6.5-meter mirror at that point in time.) It will be very interesting to see how well it works, particular in comparison to the (by now well-established) practice of using lots of small hexagons.

Comment Extreme views on all sides. (Score 1) 286

Congratulations, fellow Slashdotters, for (predictably?) hewing to the opposite end of the spectrum from the people in the articles.

If their side says, "Hawaiian culture and spirituality is of paramount importance, your science has no place on our sacred mountain," calling them extreme and then saying that science is of paramount importance and their culture and spirituality should be given no weight whatsoever... doesn't make you look like the good guys. In fact, it only gives them more evidence that supporters of science are every bit as extreme and closed-minded.

I work full-time at a big telescope on Maunakea, and have a further part-time job using one of the smaller telescopes on Maunakea, as well as other jobs outside astronomy. I go to Maunakea in person, and interact with TMT's opponents in person. The situation is a lot more nuanced to me than a bunch of Internet Tough Guys could hope to begin to understand, but I just wanted to let you know that no, you're actually not helping.

Comment Re:I read some of the comments to her (Score 1) 467

Are you comfortable with angry people walking around with no money, nothing to do, and completely desperate?

Well, we have that already, yes? Except now, when you see some bum panhandling, there's so much uncertainty over whether he wound up there because he was a jerk, or because of circumstances beyond his control.

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