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Comment Controlling Biology is the Problem (Score 1) 331

"You didn't use the right technique" is the first excuse used by researchers when their results don't hold up.
In Bio science this reproducibility problem is, at heart, a problem with having an experimental system that is under control, well defined and "stable".
There are plenty of very precise measurements made that are not accurate because there is something about the experiment that is not under control.
In biology, even if you do your best to account for statistical variation, it can often be the case that your results are bunk because there are things going on beyond your ken.
This is a real problem, people are now taking it seriously. It has impacted on my life in science on numerous occasions. I don't start something based on others' work unless I've tested the underlying rationale.

Comment Mundane finding (Score 2) 42

Slashdot readers are technical people but are usually trained in the computer and engineering sciences. I'm a biochemist and I've been here since the beginning but I certainly do not come here for biological quality.
I perused the paper. It is in a good journal and it looks like some good work.
Single application question: how does phagocytosis of silicon nanowires differ in any significant way from good old run of the mill asbestos?
Answer: for those dreaming of a bioelectric interface I put forward that these silicon nanowires will cause cancer.
The authors do not address this and do not provide any experiment that would overcome this hurdle.

Comment The best home display worse than the worst Theater (Score 1) 341

...and there is already simultaneous availability of small independent films at home. The recent Werner Herzog film "Lo and behold..." for example was available for download while in the theater.
It could be a good economic thing to do to take advantage of the money being spent on advertising a film in its theater run to also make it available at home.
Now the Studios are always trying to stick it to the theater owners so I can see that this is the way things are going.
But the movie going experience is best done in a dark theater where, unlike at home, you can immerse yourself.

Comment We Travel through a Crowded Galaxy (Score 1) 232

...and pass close to other stars. Furthermore the Sun probably evolved in a densely packed globular cluster. The solar system is therefore susceptible to random and drastic gravitational chaos. No need to invoke the presence of giant invisible constant companion planets. Rather consider a periodic drive by shooting wreaking mayhem and havoc in the Oort cloud.

Comment I love my Mini (Score 1) 87

I hate laptops. I have a monitor, keyboard mouse everywhere I need to work so I tote my mac-mini around. It has always been under powered and unexpandible however the form factor and durability of this machine is nice and wins out for doing actual work. Doubles as a means to stream/play movies. When it wears out no worries, I can get peripherals anywhere. Hope they continue to support it...

Comment Follow the Nitrogen (Score 2) 125

I was inclined to poo-poo this paper but it does make an interesting observation. Venus has a crushingly dense atmosphere now (mostly CO2) but it is 3.5% Nitrogen. The authors point out that the weight of Venus's Nitrogen is actually comparable to the Earth's (10^19 kg). The field of astrobiology runs off the rails in its endless focus on carbon and water when what you also need is nitrogen (and reduced at that). Since the sun was once cooler and Venus was once wetter there is good reason to investigate the possibility that conditions were once life favorable.
Too bad it is most assuredly dead now.

Comment Re:What exactly can a US Senator do? (Score 2) 813

Pick up the phone. The UC system is a government (cf. political) entity that relies on federal largesse. After her phone call a behind the scenes scramble would secure these particular jobs. It would not solve the problem in general of course but a Senators influence is formidable.

Comment I vote No here's why (Score 1) 380

Self interest. My teenage horde of comics, scfi fi pulps and ancien Hardy Boys novels ain't selling on Ebay because all the potential customers torrent the entire history of Superman off piratebay thus leaving my carefully bagged collection worthless...with transferable digital copies you create a LEGAL aftermarket of say all of the X-men series for 0.5 cents.

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There's no sense in being precise when you don't even know what you're talking about. -- John von Neumann