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Comment Re:Known unknowns (Score 4, Interesting) 91

It's noisy data. In the plots in TFA, you'll see that the residuals are expressed in meters per second. Meters! It's at the limit of detection even for our best spectrographs.

It's very hard to work with noisy data. If you work on bad data the results get extremely dependent on methods of analysis. How do you prepare the data? Do you reject outlying measurements before you even get to analysis? If so, how? Why reject *this* point, but leave *that* one? Are you doing any filtering of the data (and how)? Any windowing? Smoothing? There's a lot of tricks you can use to make bad data appear acceptable. But in the end, it's garbage in, garbage out. That other signal can very well be an artifact. Or could be real, but not a planet. Or indeed a planet. We have no way of knowing without getting more observations of better quality (which is difficult and costs a lot of $$$).

On the other hand, if the data is good, then any data analysis method will give you consistent results (provided that the method is used correctly).

Comment Re:So we're doomed to the world of Wall-E? (Score 3, Interesting) 196

> He never singled out the US as a specific target
Actually, he did once. In one story from "The Star Diaries" the protagonist travels to the cold war era US by mistake, where he witnesses nuclear attack "duck and cover" style drills and general bomb scare. Lem's satire is quite heavy handed, and I believe he was ashamed of writing it. That story is usually omitted in the reeditions of the book.

Comment Implication for stellar clusters (Score 2) 119

If I'm reading TFA correctly, it basically means that stars formed from one molecular cloud have very different metallicities - anywhere between the mean metallicity of the molecular cloud and the "purely metal" extreme. If this is actually true, there may be far reaching implications for the research of stellar clusters. One of the basic assumptions in this field is that all cluster stars created from a given molecular cloud have very similar chemical compositions.

Comment Re:Fireworks in 3...2...1... (Score 1) 1251

This is a very broad statement, and is not entirely accurate. The word "satanism" is often ambiguous, as it is used as a blanket term for a group of diverse theological or philosophical systems. Many satanists do not worship Satan as a deity (e.g. the followers of LaVeyan satanism).

Comment Re:Nice thing about red dwarf stars (Score 3, Insightful) 132

On the other hand, such stars have deeper convection zones which makes their magnetic dynamos much stronger than in the Sun. The resulting magnetic activity may manifest itself in very strong flares. If the magnetic field of the planet is not strong enough, such phenomena could adversely affect the evolution of complex life forms.

Comment Some more important questions (Score 3, Insightful) 198

We all know that people tend to choose weak passwords, this is not really newsworthy. Ever since the database was leaked, many people, including professionals, have performed various analyses of cracked passwords. This is fine, but I think there are more important things we need to know right now:

1) When exactly was the database leaked? It seems that it's been floating around the internet for some time before it hit the news last week.
2) What the attack vector was?
3) What security measures have been taken by LinkedIn to ensure this will not happen again?

And perhaps one more: is there a relation between LinkedIn, eHarmony and database leaks? Did the same person/group do this?


Submission + - Dysfunction in Modern Science? (

eldavojohn writes: The editors of Infection and Immunity are sending a warning signal about modern science. Two editorials (1 and 2) published in the journal have given other biomedical researchers pause to ask if modern science is dysfunctional. Readers familiar with the state of academia may not be surprised but the claims have been presented today to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) that level the following allegations: "Incentives have evolved over the decades to encourage some behaviors that are detrimental to good science" and "The surest ticket to getting a grant or job is getting published in a high profile journal, this is an unhealthy belief that can lead a scientist to engage in sensationalism and sometimes even dishonest behavior to salvage their career." The data to back up such slanderous claims? "In the past decade the number of retraction notices for scientific journals has increased more than 10-fold while the number of journals articles published has only increased by 44%." At least a few of such retractions have been covered here.

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