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Comment the equivalent of about 300 miles? (Score -1, Troll) 128

...a half-hour travel time between Stockholm and Helsinki, which is the equivalent of about 300 miles.

"The equivalent of about 300 miles"? What does that mean?

Oh, it means "about 300 miles". Or even "a distance of about 300 miles". Right. But this is a 'technical' topic, so we need to use more and bigger words. The best words.

Unless there's some sort of weird space-time physical equivalence principle the authors are alluding to, in which case a half hour is actually 300 miles long.

Comment Re:That's 129.2F if you're interested. (Score 1) 355

Yup, I think you're right. Keeping an answer which matches the number with the least significant digits is used when multiplication and division, giving us the 97. (Technically speaking the 9/5 has infinite significant digits since it comes from the defined boiling and freezing points of water at STP in degrees Fahrenheit and Celsius).

For addition the rules is to round to least precise number being added. Both 97 and 32 are precise to the "ones" place, and so the answer is 129. Just like you and the AC stated. My bad. :(

Comment Re:Consciousness is not the same thing as free wil (Score 1) 285

But there are many events that happened beforehand that go into the formation of a particular brain, none of which (obviously) the brain had any say in. So is free will a simple quantifiable quality you can isolate within the brain?

Sciences like neuroscience are great at answering many mysteries we come up with. The question of free will is not one of these.

Comment Re:Hyperbole (Score 1) 175

But regarding their testing, it was certainly a small scale test of known technology, but you underestimate the value of such tests. There's massive amounts of theoretical aspects they have to plow through first, move gradually to small scale live tests and finally piece it all together in one big PoC. After the small pieces are theorized and tested, it takes exponentially less time to piece them all together in the end.

I wouldn't say I underestimate the value of small-scale tests so much as I would say that Musk and company have been deliberately obscure about exactly what they were testing, and have been downright misleading about the distance between where they are now and what they claim they will be able to deliver. We were shown a dog-and-pony show constructed to meet an artificial publicity deadline, not a well-explained demonstration as part of a clearly-elucidated development roadmap.

When I read comments like yours, it reminds me of anti-innovation corporate voices I have to battle against on a daily basis.

Hmm. Do you misrepresent your progress and conceal the nature of your accomplishments to your corporate masters too, then? That could be your problem.

Look, I'm a scientist in an academic setting, but with private-sector collaborators. I do both "pure" and "applied" research. I contribute to both peer-reviewed papers and patent applications. I can tell the difference between healthy skepticism and blind anti-innovation. The problem with Musk's Hyperloop demo isn't the idea, or the technology, or the dream--it's that he doesn't tell us what the demo is actually doing. It's like writing a scientific paper that starts with the usual Abstract and Introduction, then jumps straight to a one-liner Conclusion and a big Discussion about the implications of the work and all the cool stuff that's going to happen in the future. He just skipped over the Materials & Methods and the detailed Results. We aren't told what we're actually looking at or what it can really do, just to take on faith that it's awesome. That's my issue.

Comment Re:Hyperbole (Score 2) 175

Mod parent up.

The "first successful test" appears to have been a small test sled on a short, low-speed test track. Yes, they showed they could drive a piece of metal with a linear induction motor, but that's just demonstrating an application of known technology. Vancouver's SkyTrain has been using linear induction propulsion since 1985 as part of a regular, boring, functional public transit system. Similar technology appears in Toronto (the Scarborough Rapid Transit line), New York (the AirTrain JFK airport link), and at least a handful of other sites.

Practically speaking, one could have done the same demo by taking a 30-year-old SkyTrain car, stripping the body and seats out, and flipping the induction drive unit sideways to be compatible with the vertically-mounted induction track shown on the Hyperloop demo system. (You'd get great acceleration, too, since you can dump much of the car's weight--and you wouldn't care about the components surviving for more than a few seconds of photo op.) Maybe there were major technological advances under the hood, but the breathless hype all glosses over any meaningful description of what might have been accomplished.

Comment "Alien-hunting telescope"? Really, guys? (Score 5, Interesting) 64

"Alien-hunting telescope"? Really, guys?

A large-scale pure-science project. A tool that will advance modern astrophysical and astronomical research. A landmark technical achievement.

But it came from funny-looking furriners (not just funny-talking, like them ones from Yurp). So we must be sure to cast the headline in the most derisive terms possible. It's not a research tool that shoestring SETI projects will be able to snag a bit of time on--no, it's an "alien-hunting telescope".

I mean, my God--snippets of Aricebo's time have been used for alien-hunting (and alien-spamming) for decades. It was used to send publicity stunt messages to M13 in 1974, and to some nearer stars in 2009. SETI@home users have been crunching Aricebo data looking for little green men since 1999. And yet, oddly enough, no one ever seems to refer to Aricebo as an "alien-hunting telescope". Why is that?

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