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Comment Re:Uhm... (Score 2) 208

He is not more truthful than any other head of state. As every head of state before him, he tries to get through his agenda. But differently than many an head of state before, he vastly overestimates his own abilities. So far, all of the prominent election promises he tried to implement were wrecked because the way he tried to implement them didn't work. Maybe he will learn. Maybe he recognizes that there is more to being a president than making bold promises. Maybe he finds out that there is a reality which does not care about ideology but just is as it is. And reality does not change just because the President of the United States watches TV and misunderstands what he sees.

Comment Re:That's what happened ... [well...] (Score 1) 226

The holocaust has been investigated, is currently investigated and will be investigated in the foreseeable future.

But that's quite different than just crying "We've been lied too! It never happened!". If you have serious doubts, that's fine. State the doubts, state which specific claims you find doubtful, state, how to investigate the claims and which result would you convince that the claims are actually true. Everything else is just denial, as Henri Poincaré rightfully said: "To doubt everything or to believe everything are two equally convenient solutions; both dispense with the necessity of reflection."

Comment The term "planet" is arbitrary, whatever we define (Score 5, Informative) 150

Originally, the planets (greek: wanderers) were those objects in the sky that didn't remain fixed in the stellar constellations, but actually wandered through them. Thus, Sun and Moon were considered planets too, and besides them, five other objects were constantly visible to the bare eye with no fixed place: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. And because they were seven, and seven was considered by the ancient cultures of the Mediterran to be a holy number, everything was fine. (Occasional comets which aren't constantly visible were thus considered shakeups of the celestial order and taken as bad omens.)

And then Ptolemy's geocentric model put Sun and Moon in a special group, because differently than the other planets, they never change direction in the sky, which the others do. Thus, the trajectories of Sun and Moon were easy, while the other planets needed cycles and epicycles to describe. This was one of the reasons, Nicolaus Copernicus came up with the heliocentric model, because then it made sense why Sun and Moon were "circular" wanderers, while the other planets were "epicyclic" wanderers, So, Sun and Moon were no longer considered planets, a position already shaky in the Ptolemian model. But it added Earth as a new planet. Copernicus' system didn't come up with good predictions of the planetary positions though, thus it wasn't widely accepted and even considered heretic by the Catholic Church. Johannes Kepler improved on the predictive power of the Copernican system, but Ptolemy's model was so finely tuned by now that it still was preferred for practical reasons. Galileo Galilei's discovery of the Iovian Moons gave credibility to the Keplerian model, but for navigational and other purposes, Ptolemy was still more exact. And it created a new class of celestial bodies: Suddenly, there wasn't one Moon, there were several moons out there. From a classical point of view, all moons were planets too: no fixed positions within the stellar constellations. At the end of the 17th century, Isaac Newtons Theory of Gravity gave a better model, Ole Roemer's discovery of the Speed of Light added some clues, and finally, the heliocentric model was better at predicting planetary (and lunar) positions than Ptolemy. But then a flood of new discoveries of celestial bodies clouded the view again: Uranus, Ceres and finally Neptune were discovered, and then all the other asteroids circling the Sun between Mars and Jupiter. Somehow the size of the Earth moon was used as a cut-off: Everything larger than the Moon circling the Sun was considered a planet, everything else an asteroid (which literally means "star like"). It was as arbitrary as anything else, but the Moon was close by and well studied, so for practical purposes, it made sense.

When Pluto was discovered, it became planetary status, because at first, its size could not be determined from direct observation, only because of the brightness (15 mag), it was at first considered to be Earth sized. So it got the planetary status. Later there were better pictures with larger resolution, and the estimated size shrank down to ~2500 km in diameter, and in the same way, the estimated reflectiveness (albedo) increased, so in the 1980ies, Pluto was considered a "dirty snowball", consisting mainly of water ice mixed with planetary rock. Thus the cut-off point "Moon size" was crossed, and doubts about Pluto's nature as a planet arised. It was speculated that it was a former Neptune moon losing its orbit. And when the next transneptunian objects were discovered, like Eris, with about the same size than Pluto, the whole "what is a planet" question became virulent. Simple enumeration as in "The planets are those nine celestial objects we call Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune and Pluto" didn't work anymore, and a meaningful definition which included Pluto, but not too many other newly discovered objects, wasn't readily available.

Comment Re:Simple question (Score 5, Insightful) 124

Even solid-state physics seemed esoteric at first. Why try to find out how electrons move between atoms in crystals that are not very good conductors, but quite bad isolators as well? And suddenly: transistors!

Questioning the reason behind research is partly envy (why don't I get this cool equipment to play with?), partly missing imagination (why can't I think of anything this might be useful for?) and partly missing scientific education (why do I take everything I use today as a given without ever wondering how they work?).

Comment Re: not the first time (Score 1) 122

2500 years ago, the City of Athens already had this system in place. Every year, all public positions in the town government were given out in a big, open lottery every free citizen could take part. Yes, Arthur C. Clarke wrote a novel. But Athens had it in reality and it worked until Athens finally lost in the Peloponnesian War and subsequently became part of the Kingdom of Macedonia.

Comment Re: Why do you believe that? (Score 1) 456

I don't like SMS (never liked it at all) as typing on a phone is clumsy. So any messenger that relies on a phone does not work for me. And while T9 is helpful in many cases, sometimes it really gets in my way as sometimes it does insist on other words than the one I plan to type, and if I am sending SMS in other languages, it totally screws things up, and changing the language settings for each message is just a pain in the ass. (Yes, I had the situation that I was working on a project with people talking english and at the same time had a conversation with german speaking friends, and in the end, I had to switch languages for each single SMS).

Comment Re:And government isn't "Too big" (Score 2) 227

It's because people who complain about "big government" are mostly people having no clue about what a government really does. The only reason why the bottle you get at the supermarket with the label "milk" actually contains milk and only milk (and some air in the remaining volume) is big government with big regulations strangulating supermarkets, manufacturers of bottles for food and producers of milk to strictly adhere to the rules, not putting melamine into it, make sure the bottles are hygienically without any (known) problems, don't leak dangerous compounds in the milk and actually contain milk, not just som whiteish fluid.

There never was a peaceful society without a big government. There are only legends invented by people never living in societies with a weak or non-existant government about some utopia they just pulled out of their ass.

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