Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 Internet speed test! ×

Comment Re:Enforce against the feds? (Score 2) 41

Of course a state can enforce its laws against the Feds.

Local police can issue parking tickets to or tow Federal vehicles, even those with Federal plates.

Federal vehicles must be registered to some state, and must meet the safety/emissions inspections laws of that state (e.g. Federal agencies can't buy non-California certified models to be registered in California). Similarly, states have sued and won Federal agency compliance/cleanup of environmental hazards per state, not Federal, standards law (federal laws may have an impact when it is "federal/military property" such as a state park or military base, but not, say, an FBI Bureau office in a commercial building)

Note: the above apply to Federal agencies (legitimately called "the Feds"), but the same general principle applies to Federal agents ("a Fed")

While a homicide committed by a Federal agent in the commission of his/her duties has Federal implications, it is also a local crime; local police can detain/arrest and interrogate a Federal officer, pending further disposition. Other felonies, short of murder, are more clearly handled by state law, without any question of jurisdiction: drunk driving, theft, etc.

Comment Re:who? (Score 3, Informative) 122

I found myself asking the same thing, so I checked Alexa (I'm certain there are better sites to check these days). It was rated #8546 worldwide (#9215 in US) in a fairly steady decline since its peak around #4250 in November of last year. Those are "okay" but unimpressive numbers, and it's pretty much been steadily dying. By comparison, a specialty news site like is #3808 globally (#3012 US) and reaches the top 2000 when stuff is hitting the fan.

Sharebeast's user base (by IP) was 25.7% US, but 21.4% Indonesian. UK (5.3%), India (4.7%), and Saudi Arabia (4%) also had "significant" shares. The most popular search terms leading to it are not English terms.


As I said, I'm sure that there are better sites for domain metrics these days, and I can't even see most data Alexa lists because I don't have an Alexa Pro acct. I'd welcome better data from anyone who monitors domain metrics regularly/professionally.

But it really doesn't look like the Feds took down any sort of powerhouse, more like a dying target of convenience (unless they were really worried about Indonesian piracy)

(Incidentally, I was surprised to see Alexa report that (#1672 globally, #1272 in US) gets 40.6% of its visitos from India (where it ranks #302) but only 29.4% from the US)

Comment Interesting game. The only way to win is not to pl (Score 1) 426

Equivalently: "How may I [consort with] a brothel of multiply infected hookers who have graduate biomed degrees, practical research in communicable infection and a fervent INTENT to infect their customers?"

As WOPR said in "Wargames", 30+ years ago, "Interesting game. The only way to win is not to play."

Comment "Boston-Based" Megabots? Not anymore AFAIK (Score 1) 107

I know Gui Cavalcanti and the merry band at MegaBots, and while I never asked directly about the specifics of their their business plan, it seemed like their relocation from Somerville, MA [Artisan's Asylum makerspace] to the SF area earlier this year was permanent "for the foreseeable future"

Comment Assuming a grand meaning seems to be overreaching (Score 3, Interesting) 188

As a former molecular biologist who happens to be in the middle of a course on the design/synthesis of biomolecular electronics (biological semiconductors, conductors, LEDs, solar etc.), I wonder if the solution isn't as simple as this:

Essentially all biomolecules are synthesized by enzymes. Most are acted upon by enzymes or have some enzymatic activity during their functional life. Quantum criticality could be a useful property to enhance binding and catalysis at enzyme clefts (or other active sites) by enhancing charge/electron transitions in/on a molecule. Criticality may allow transitions and thresholds to be sharper, snappier, more selective.

"Quantum criticality" is just a label we give to a group of mechanisms (and the structures that encourage them) based on some test. I might label the many things that scare my friend's neurotic but otherwise imposing German Shepard as "Fido-phobic". This category might even be scientifically interesting -- if pulling pranks or stealing from my friend were major scientific goals at this point in time. That doesn't mean that squeeze toys that groan, rubber cubes that bounce erratically, and electric toys that "awaken" at random or after a delay share a fundamental property. They simply have properties that have interesting effects toward a certain goal (keeping her dog from interfering in our hijinks)

Comment Complete Misunderstanding of Epidemiology (Score 2) 29

They can't validate a scale using unintervened progression or existing treatments, then pretend it says ANYTHING about a new/unknown treatment. The whole point of a new treatment is to alter the progression of the disease in a new/different way; the whole point of clinical trials is to determine the NEW course of the disease using the NEW treatment.

The claim made here is: a better tool to predict the time progression of headaches treated with aspirin (or beer or sex) can better predict the time progression of a headache treated with some yet-uninvented drug, so we needn't test the new treatment as thoroughly to characterize it. That's like saying "the more predictable sex with your partner is, the more you know about sex with a different partner"

And yes, I AM a physician and molecular biologist.

Comment I wish I could say this stage was unnecessary (Score 5, Interesting) 99

When I was in medical school (decades ago), we had a lecture by one of the pioneers of endoscopic gall bladder surgery (cut some 1-2cm slits and use long-handled tools and a tiny camera to cut/remove/etc) which I well knew was already preferable to the "open procedure" that slashed the patient open (classic surgical proverb: you can never have too much exposure) so you could have the working space to reach in and do it with your big mitts)

I was a big fan, but as a student of both philosophy and the history of science I had to ask how he justified performing the procedure *before* (until) he got the complication down to the level of the standard open incision. He was outraged (as were my classmates) and tersely stated that he had gotten consent (not knowing that I'd done a thesis on the inadequacies and inherent ludicracy of getting "informed consent", especially based on information from the surgeon who wishes to do the procedure).

It was a sincere question, one that I felt could not answer to my own satisfaction (his answer didn't help; he'd simply been looking to "the medical advance" and had never been trained in genuine ethics), but despite that, I feel that he had done the right thing, and that tens of millions have greatly benefited since.

Though not all would-be 'medical advances' end so salubriously, the sad fact is, we don't know any better way -- and I'd wager that we'll have workable fusion generators long before we have a better usable method for making medical advances. "First, do no harm" was a simplistic principle suited to the era before Christ when a doctor was as/more likely to do harm as/than good. (Note that the Hippocratic Oath forbids surgery outright)

We are now skilled enough that some of our advances seem "too good to deny to all comers" without full data -- but where are we to get that data, except by trial (and error). We are not yet advanced enough that MOST of our attempts at medical advance are so beneficial, nor are we advanced enough to have a much better alternative to "try it and see".

Comment Re:What could possibly go wrong (Score 2) 122

No, "critical mass" is defined as the amount that can create sufficient runaway escalation of the fission rate by capturing the energetic byproducts of fission to stimulate more fission in a positive feedback loop.

I'll tell you what: I'll give you 1 gram of the radioactive isotope of your choice, if you can stop its fission. You can't. You can only moderate its rate somewhat. Clearly it's self-sustaining on every level down to the individual atom

Comment Re:Variable rate of decay? (Score 1) 199

RTFA, which was a study done in Radon, and cited confirming studies with other isotopes.

That said, I personally think it is AT LEAST as likely that both solar processes and terrestrial decay rates are being influenced by some outside factor. This is supported by other decay rate correlations with e.g. the Earth position in it orbit relative to the galactic center.

Comment Prior scientific publication no longer prima facie (Score 1) 120

Under this years new "first to file" patent reform, prior publication, scientific or otherwise is not enough to void a patent, since the standard is explicitly NO LONGER "first to invent", no such claim need be made.

One hopes the courts act sensibly and close this loophole, but given the history of the matter (owners of IP-abusing patents settle or fold if they suspect a case will be ruled against hem, rather than risk a sensible precedent that would weaken their other IP holdings -- or deep-pockets third parties offer them cash behind th scenes to fold) I suspect that the first few lower court precedents to go all the way to a published decision will almost necessarily be silly ones (earnest plaintiffs can't afford to drop their cases even if they might lose) that will have to be reversed (perhaps in an unrelated future case) by higher courts or even the USSC.

The above applies only to the US, of course, but MOST matters of law are jurisdiction dependent

Comment Re:fuck CBS. (Score 3, Informative) 149

A Falcon 9 can lose not just one but two of its engines *after* launch and still complete its mission.

It's just not going to take off when it spots a problem when it's still on the ground. The Saturn V couldn't spot such a problem, much less abort half-a-second before lift-off. It would have been past the point of no return

Comment Re:What this really means (Score 1) 284

How is that 10%?

Nukes are measured in kilo-or mega TONS, 1 ton = 1000kg, so 1 kt = 1,000,000 kg not 1000kg.

Yes, I know the original article screwed up on this point. I wrote that off as a typo, but let's not extend the error here, where future junior-high geeks will find it via search engine and contaminate their intuitions

Comment Re:Yawn. (Score 2) 490

It was ironic back *in* 1984.

I was an Apple developer pre-Mac, and THAT is when it began looking like Big Brother. The Apple II/III had been open (not quite as open as today's open source, but the principles hadn't yet been firmed up) but everything Mac, hardware and software was locked down. Apple forbade early Mac owners from using ANY hard disk for 18-24 months until they developed their own. Even an external HDD voided the warranty which you *needed* because Mac's expensive non-user-replaceable power supplies blew out every 6 mos, even without the load of an HDD

Slashdot Top Deals

"We learn from history that we learn nothing from history." -- George Bernard Shaw