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Comment Re:Prions: Bunch of Hooey (Score 4, Insightful) 116

After 15+ years of this "ice 9" business I'm still waiting for results that in any way meet Koch's Postulates.

OK, this one will cover a lot of ground. Weber P et al. Cell-free formation of misfolded prion protein with authentic prion infectivity. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci USA 2006 October 24; 103(43): 15818–15823. It's open-access, so no excuses about being stuck behind a paywall.

Making claims that biochemists working on prions "don't like to get dirty" is both insulting and disingenuous. Animal models are, in fact, used here to demonstrate that purified PrPsc (misfolded prion protein) is infectious in live hosts, in addition to triggering misfolding in vitro. No one uses farm animals because they're large, expensive, and there's no compelling reason to incur that cost when simpler model animals (here, hamsters) will do.

why not entertain the notion that this is a slow virus and that the symptomatic misfolded protein is a mere phenotype, possibly detrimental, but not causal

Well, because the linked paper was able to amplify the infective population of PrPsc in a cell-free system, which would not be conducive to the amplification of a virus.

I understand the appeal of an underdog hypothesis, but unless you can present a better argument that isn't comprised of ad hominems, vague conspiracy theories, and a smattering of scientific claims answered by 5-year-old literature, I'm not convinced.


Submission + - cde: Making Linux Portability Easy (stanford.edu)

ihaque writes: A Stanford researcher, Philip Guo, has developed a tool called cde to automatically package up a Linux program and all its dependencies (including system-level libraries, fonts, etc!) so that it can be run out of the box on another Linux machine without a lot of complicated work setting up libraries and program versions or dealing with dependency version hell. He's got binaries, source code, and a screencast up. Looks to be really useful for large cluster/cloud deployments as well as program sharing. Says Guo,

CDE is a tool that automatically packages up the Code, Data, and Environment involved in running any Linux command so that it can execute identically on another computer without any installation or configuration. The only requirement is that the other computer have the same hardware architecture (e.g., x86) and major kernel version (e.g., 2.6.X) as yours. CDE allows you to easily run programs without the dependency hell that inevitably occurs when attempting to install software or libraries. You can use CDE to allow your colleagues to reproduce and build upon your computational experiments, to quickly deploy prototype software to a compute cluster, and to submit executable bug reports.

Submission + - Two-thirds of NVIDIA GPUs show memory errors (arxiv.org)

entee writes: Researchers at Stanford tested over 20,000 NVIDIA GPUs around the world using the Folding@home distributed computing platform, and found that a substantial number of NVIDIA GPUs exhibit "soft" memory error. Even after applying a crude correction for computing errors, as many as two-thirds of graphics cards were found to "forget". The paper claims this is a problem in all existing NVIDIA GPUs: "G80 and GT200 are both vulnerable to a nonzero per-transaction error rate in memory accesses", and that it is likely true of boards from all GPU manufacturers. This study comes on the heels of Google's recently reported "hard" memory error rates in its server farms. Given the rapidly swelling number of GPUs user for scientific computing applications, perhaps this result explains why NVIDIA plans to introduce ECC into its next generation hardware.

Comment Re:wow (Score 4, Insightful) 1106

FACT: Fluorescent bulbs lead to poorer health in humans because of a lack of vitamin D production. In addition to hurting humans, this also makes them wholly unacceptable for use in animal cages because many animals (particularly reptiles) really need this....

I really hope your incandescent bulbs aren't causing your body to produce a lot of vitamin D, because that "biochemical reaction" is triggered by UVB radiation. Incandescent lights won't produce much of that unless they're running really hot (like halogens) - and those need to have a UV blocker on them to keep them from giving you sunburns.

FACT: Fluorescent bulbs contain toxic chemicals that are far worse for the environment than all the belching coal smoke from power generation.

This is a common canard from the anti-CFL crowd that has repeatedly been shown to be false. Calculation demonstrates that even if no CFLs are recycled, you still drop less mercury into the environment, from the reduced amount of mercury put into the air by burning coal:

FACT: The people who are really pushing CFLs are not the environmentalists (except a few sheep). The people who are really pushing it are the power companies because after years of mismanaging the power grids and failing to upgrade them to accommodate growing energy needs, they have run themselves into a brick wall.

Oh really? That really needs some evidence before we can take it as a "FACT".

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