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Comment Re:Why so much resistance to climate science? (Score 1) 869

It's hard to believe such a small change could make any noticeable difference at all, and I've heard people say AGW is impossible because it is so small, just like you are saying it's obvious because it's so big. This is why you need to look at the details of the change, and not just say, "wow, that is big." or "wow, that is small." If you do that, you're likely to end up with an answer that is completely wrong.

It's not hard to believe if you do some back-of-envelope calculations. The main thing to consider is that most of the gases in the atmosphere have virtually no impact on the greenhouse effect because they do not absorb much infrared light so CO2 contributes up to 25% of the total greenhouse effect (which is 30 degrees celsius in total). The other thing is that the proportion of CO2 in the atmosphere is very small to start with (only 0.3%) so 0.02% is a relatively large chunk of the CO2 proportion.

So your stated 0.02% increase is a 7% increase in CO2 concentration (0.02/0.3) which will have a significant impact on the ~ 8 degrees celsius contribution of CO2 towards the greenhouse effect. That's over 0.5 degree celsius assuming a linear relationship to temperature and ignoring positive/negative feedback etc.

Incidentally the actual increase in CO2 is about 0.07% of overall atmosphere since 1960 (315 to 385 ppm).

Comment Re:How is this (Score 2) 25

... if you're running an internet flourist, it must be nice to be able to contact the cloud operator when february nears and be able to just rent a few more servers for a week.

Pancake day must be quite an event in your part of the world - over here most people get by with what they already have in the cupboard.

Comment Re:The decision the simple (Score 1) 283

Of course, the opposite is true ... I remember someone who insisted in writing ER diagrams to describe our system, despite it not being an RDB, and not being accurately described by ER diagrams -- but to him everything was an ER diagram.

I can't say whether entity relationship diagrams were appropriate in the situation you describe but there is nothing wrong in principle in using ER diagrams to describe non-RDB systems. ER diagrams describe the logical or semantic model, not the physical implementation, and are therefore DB agnostic. Yes, they are often used to help design an RDB schema but their real value is to understand your data at the semantic level.

Unfortunately, many don't grasp this distinction and you'll see many RDB systems where the ER description is used directly to create a normalised DB schema. Except for simple and small databases these will usually perform poorly. And you'll also see both RDB and non-RDB systems where developers have not appropriately considered the semantic view of the data in the system. Except for simple and small databases these will usually become difficult to maintain over time.

Comment Re:Science vs Religion: Contradictions? (Score 1) 1014

I wasn't intending to imply the universe doesn't exist (though it would be interesting if it could be shown that if agnostics exist, and also that their beliefs are rational, then this implies the universe and therefore God, do not exist ;)

I was just pointing out that to justify agnosticism on the basis of logical reasoning causes a problem or 2. Of course it depends how you define agnosticism - perhaps I was being a bit cheeky with my broad definition as it needed to include all non-proven beliefs, not just religious ones. For example there's no inconsistency in saying that agnosticism has a basis in logic, if agnosticism doesn't refer to "truths" within logic. I guess it's a bit like the problem that it is not possible to prove the consistency of any grammar using only statements in that grammar, but it is possible to prove the consistency of other grammars.

It's all a bit academic really as there are clearly differences between the statements of "self-evident truth" found in logic and those found in faith. But from the point of view of logic are these statements any different?

Comment Re:Science vs Religion: Contradictions? (Score 1) 1014

The only rational answers to the "god" question are:

1) "Unknowable" 2) "not relevant"

Any other assertion, be it for or against, fails at logic.

And by the same logical reasoning the only answer to the "Ronald McDonald is an alien from Mars" argument are: 1) "Unknowable" 2) "not relevant"

So agnosticism based on logical argument is not particularly useful.

Furthermore, if logic is the reason for your agnosticism as you seem to suggest, then to be consistent you cannot have any unsupported beliefs, including those regarding the truth of axioms in logic. Thus agnosticism cannot be a rational stance either - the same logic denies the concept of rational argument.

In other words it's not logically consistent to assert "I take to be true only those things that can be proven to be true", as the proofs you are relying on depend on unprovable truths.

Comment Re:Nuke power (Score 2) 483

So seriously, lets stop the fear mongering, four accidents of significance and only one - due to a terribly stupid design - resulted in actual threats to the public. Nuclear power is safe, and if people would just take the time to actually understand it they would know it.

It is statements such as this that contribute to the public suspicion of the nuclear industry IMO. Nuclear power is not "safe", it has risks like any other industrial scale power generation. The public knows there are risks, it knows that the nuclear industry has a history of trying to hide the risks, and it knows that human factors are often more significant than reactor design when safety is concerned.

At some point the industry needs to hold their hands up and say "yes we have been doing it wrong", and if the risks really are less now than they were in the past, try to convince the public that things will be different. But I suspect this wont happen while we are still using reactors with all the same attributes as the ones at Fukushima for example, or storing fuel in ways that were never envisaged by the original designers.

My view is that there will always be accidents (until proven otherwise) and it's not acceptable to rely on people risking their lives every time there's an accident in order to prevent further risk to the public. Both Chernobyl and Fukushima would have been far worse but for the actions of a few "heroes". Nuclear safety should not have to depend on heroes.


8-Year-Old Receives Patent 142

Knile writes "While not the youngest patent recipient ever (that would be a four year old in Texas), Bryce Gunderman has received a patent at age 8 for a space-saver that combines an outlet cover plate with a shelf. From the article: '"I thought how I was going to make a lot of money," Bryce said about what raced through his brain when he received the patent.'"

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