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Comment Re:Treaspassing (Score 1) 376

Your supreme court agrees you have no expectation of privacy on a public road, now shut the hell up and enjoy your "freedom".

My right to privacy does not mean that I have no expectation of accountability - especially in terms of city governance, if the city will not avow of the cameras, then how do I know who to impeach or vote out of office in the next election for misuse of funds?

Mad Parent upward and onward!


Submission + - Worst Design Ever? Plastic Clamshell Packaging 1

Hugh Pickens writes writes: "Rebecca Rosen writes that iIf you've recently opened up — or, more specifically, tried to open up — an CFL light bulb, you can sympathize with the question posted on Quora last year, "What is the worst piece of design ever done?" to which the site's users have given resounding support to one answer: plastic clamshell packaging. "Design should help solve problems" — clamshells are supposed to make it harder to steal small products and easier for employees to arrange on display — but this packaging, says Anita Schillhorn, makes new ones, such as time wasted, frustration, and the little nicks and scrapes people incur as they just try to get their damn lightbulb out. The problem is so pervasive there is even a Wikipedia page devoted to "wrap rage," "the common name for heightened levels of anger and frustration resulting from the inability to open hard-to-remove packaging." Amazon and Wal-Mart are prodding more manufacturers to change their packaging to cut waste. “We’ve gotten e-mails from customers who’ve purchased scissors in a clamshell, which would require another pair of scissors to open the package,” says Nadia Shouraboura, Amazon’s vice president of global fulfillment. Other worthy answers to the Quora question include the interfaces on most microwaves, TV remotes, New York City's parking signs, and pull-handles on push-only doors, but none gained even close to the level of popular repudiation that clamshells received."

Submission + - Game Theory, Antivirus Improvements Explain Rise In Mac Malware (forbes.com)

Sparrowvsrevolution writes: Four years ago, security researcher Adam J. O'Donnell used game theory to predict in a paper for IEEE Security and Privacy when malware authors would start targeting Macs. Based on some rough assumptions and a little algebra, he found that it would only become profitable to target Apple's population of users when they reached 16% market share.

So why are we now seeing mass attacks on Macs like the Flashback trojan when Apple only has 11% market share? O'Donnell says It turns out he may have underestimated the effectiveness of the antivirus used by most Windows users, which now makes overconfident Mac users a relatively vulnerable and much more appealing target. Based on current antivirus detection rates, O'Donnell's equations now show that victimizing Macs becomes a profitable alternative to PCs at just 6.5% market share.


Submission + - Artificial DNA replicates and 'evolves' (nature.com)

ananyo writes: Scientists have demonstrated that several lab-made variants of DNA can store and transmit information much like the genuine article.
DNA is made up of nucleic acid bases — labelled A, C, G and T — on a backbone made of phosphates and the sugar deoxyribose. The artificial polymers, dubbed XNAs, carry the normal genetic 'alphabet' on a backbone made using different sugars.
The researchers engineered enzymes that transcribed DNA into the various XNAs, then back into new DNA strands. Faithful genetic transmission over successive DNA-to-XNA cycles allowed researchers to select for only those XNAs that attached to certain target proteins from a pool of random samples — a process akin to evolution over multiple generations (abstract).
The research confirms for the first time that replication, heredity and evolution can take place in artificial DNA-like molecules.

Comment It Doesn't Matter (Score 1) 267

Economic growth will be maintained for as long as is possible - it's in Civilization's DNA. Therefore, environmental and human costs will eventually be utterly disregarded, and all existing fossil fuels will be extracted and burned at the market's earliest convenience. Nothing anyone says or does will make the slightest difference.

Comment Dr. John Ioannidis (Score 2) 233

John Ioannidis, a medical statistics researcher on a small island in the Aegean, leads a group that has done significant work in this area. Here is an article in The Atlantic about his work.

From the article: ". . . Ioannidis laid out a detailed mathematical proof that, assuming modest levels of researcher bias, typically imperfect research techniques, and the well-known tendency to focus on exciting rather than highly plausible theories, researchers will come up with wrong findings most of the time. Simply put, if you’re attracted to ideas that have a good chance of being wrong, and if you’re motivated to prove them right, and if you have a little wiggle room in how you assemble the evidence, you’ll probably succeed in proving wrong theories right."

Comment Re:Club of Rome Study 2 (Score 1) 816

"Unlimited economic growth" is utterly impossible. Fundamentally, as Tom Murphy points out here and here,

a) all activity requires energy, and
b) there are fundamental limits to efficiency, guaranteed by the second law of thermodynamics.

Read the article. Both of these facts together mean that continued growth is impossible. Even the most optimistic scenarios lead to absurd conclusions i.e. the energy needed for continued growth exceeds that available to a civilization which operates at the best possible efficiency, and which uses all conceivable resources within a spherical volume expanding outward at the speed of light.

In other words, all possible efficiency combined with all possible resources are not enough. Period. Growth must come to a stop, at some point.

Comment Re:Not the answer (Score 1) 123

Forces acting on the feet are transmitted to the rest of the body: we call this "standing up". This is true regardless of your frame of reference.

Centrifugal force is a pseudoforce, i.e. a force arising from the acceleration of a non-inertial frame of reference.

Gravity is also a pseudoforce - this is the fundamental premise of General Relativity.

Comment Re:Same atoms (Score 4, Informative) 75

The entire solar system condensed from the same rotating, swirling cloud. So the ratios of the elements are pretty consistent throughout. There do exist some differentiating processes, e.g. heavy atoms sink to the interior of planets, but the starting ratios for all parts of the cloud were the same.

The incoming stream seen by IBEX has a O/Ne ratio falling significantly outside of the range expected for gasses of solar system origin.

Comment Re:Well (Score 1) 756

Thank you for a though-provoking post. However in the geologic near term I am convinced the human race can adapt to things like natural glaciation or Yellowstone erupting

Yes, we'll adapt - the last time we were in such a situation we won the smackdown with the Neanderthals. We're survivors. But merely surviving doesn't mean we'll maintain the ability to launch and therefore allow life to survive in the longer term.

In the geologic long term when issues like the Sun boiling off the oceans become real, it will be10^9 years from now. Things can change so much that not only will there be time for new species to evolve to sentience, but there will actually be time for a second Carboniferous period to *replenish* the earth's supply of fossil fuels. Let me remind you that 10^9 years ago, life on Earth was single-celled. That far in the future, all bets are off.

Yes, let the oceans eutrophy and there might be time for *one* more round of oil-making. That's an ugly way to get energy from the sun. If we are not able to find a way to lift life off the planet, then maybe the next sentient species won't either? Now is very likely life's only chance, so it is imprudent to assume another solution will bubble up before the oceans bubble off.

Comment Re:Well (Score 1) 756

Good point. Short answer: the volatiles are leaking out the top, so Earth's air and water have a shelf life. Eventually, either the greenhouses on Earth would have to have exactly the same construction as the freely orbiting vessels, or the Earth would need to be terraformed.

Also, the ratio of sunlight available to outer space settlements to that available to the Earth, i.e. the area of a sphere 1 AU in radius to that of a circle 1 Earth radius big, is 550 million. That's 550 million times as much energy available, given enough time for construction. (Yes, such a sphere is not orbitally stable; 550 million is an upper limit.)

And yes, when the sun goes out all solar collection stops. But by then, with billions of years of experience in living in free vessels, the hope is that nearby red dwarf stars would be settled: they have life expectancies in the trillions of years.

And yes, the universe is running out of energy, or is going to be ripped apart at the sub-nuclear level, or is going to collapse back down into a singularity. Maybe all the protons will decay. But given trillions of years of physics research on a galactic scale, who can estimate the discoveries that might lead to a solution?

Bones cracking? A properly designed spinning vessel would provide centrifugal force that would be a perfectly good substitute for gravity.

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