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Comment Re:Great (Score 1) 292

I'm a physicist. About ten years ago, a professor told me that he payed three times the price of his laptop for Mathematica, because he needed it. Depending on the subject you're working on, Mathematica could be indispensible for scientists (other scientists have it if you don't, and they will publish before you).
In 2013, I don't know if this is still true, since there are a lot of good free alternatives to Mathematica. I must admit, there is still a problem that I don't know how to solve, and Mathematica does, but maxima and sympy didn't know how to do it when I last checked. But I'm lucky and my symbolic computations are reasonably simple. My impression is that having Mathematica, if you know how to use it, is like having a team of math PhD's as slaves, so it's great when you can afford it.
I am certain that there are a lot of results that wouldn't have been found without Mathematica.

Regarding MSOffice... I used MSWord 95-98 until about 2000, 2001 I think. Then I discovered TeX, and I never went back to MSWord or anything like it. The only reason I used it was that I was in Eastern europe, I didn't pay anything for it (I'm not even sure I really understood I was supposed to pay something for it), and I didn't really know there was anything else available.
I never had any use for anything else from MSOffice, and I honestly don't understand why anyone would want to use it, taking into account that if you want to migrate between different versions of MSOffice you have to use OpenOffice or LibreOffice...

With my above comment I intended to point out that there are usage cases where it does make sense to pay more for software than for the hardware (the dude I replied to said there can't be such cases). I cannot imagine anyone convincing me that MSOffice or any similare software is worth more than an average laptop, but I can imagine someone convincing me that Mathematica, or Maya, or some other specialized software is worth much more than a laptop.
In fact, I believe MSOffice is worth at most what LibreOffice is worth, since more people complain about MSOffice than LibreOffice... but I'm a nerd/hippie/communist/whatever, so my opinion may not matter.

Comment Re:Great (Score 1) 292

not that I disagree with your comment about LibreOffice, but I do want to point out that there are people for which it makes sense to buy Mathematica, even if it costs more than the machine itself (I have no idea whether they're using a subscription model now or not).

Comment Re:New ant traps based on emitting emergency sound (Score 1) 36

I don't love insects, but your suggestion felt fundamentally evil.
On the one hand, the summary says "ant kids cry out for help", and then you explicitly say "let's take advantage of that to kill ants".
At least kitchen bug traps work by luring them with tasty smells, so I can reason "well, we are taking advantage of gluttony".

Comment Re:I don't understand this picture (Score 4, Informative) 32

The camera is behind and "below" Saturn, and Saturn's rings are "tilted" towards the Sun (you can see this because the planet's shadow on the rings is curved; if the ring was parallel to the light rays, the shadow would have straight edges).
The planet's back is lit by the rings: the upper part gets light reflected by the rings, and some diffused light, while the lower part only gets diffused light, that's why the upper part is better illuminated.
The "black rings" that you can see over the upper part of the planet are just the back of the rings (i.e the part that's in Saturn's shadow). Because the planet is much better illuminated than this portion of the rings, you see them as black on colored background (they must receive some light from the back of the planet, but that's probably below the sensitivity threshold of the camera).
They are "offset" because you only notice the portion between the camera and the planet; the rest of the shadowy part of the rings is dark on a dark background, so you can't see it.

Comment Re:let me know when i can control my dreams (Score 1) 47

I went to the wikipedia page after reading the xkcd comic that had "lucid dreaming" in its mouseover text.
There, I saw that lucid dreaming is taught to people who have a lot of nightmares, while undergoing therapy, so that they can gain control over their dreams.
It sounded intriguing, but I didn't have the patience to learn more about it.

In any case, sorry to hear you ran into stupid people.
But if you did train yourself to do this, I do have a couple of questions:
(1) can you control the passage of time in your dreams in any way?
(2) how elevated is the math you can do without waking up?

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