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Comment Physicists are getting desperate (Score 3, Informative) 178

A year and a half ago, a 3.5 sigma 750 GeV bump appeared in the LHC data. New physics was heralded and a hundred theoretical papers attempting to explain it appeared. It was a statistical fluke and disappeared as more data was collected.

Now we're faced with a 2 sigma anomaly and the shouts of new physics are once again repeated. This is even more likely to be noise.

Physicists have been predicting new physics for 30 years. It was a major justification for the promotion of the LHC project. Nothing has been found. There's a lot of desperation at work here. It's sad.

For a good summary of all of this from a CERN experimentalist who called the 750 GeV noise, see Tommaso Dorigo

Comment Re:No big red button? (Score 1) 212

Actually, a blast furnace is used to produce pig iron from coke, iron ore, and limestone: not steel. Pig iron has a high carbon content, about 4%. A basic oxygen furnace or an electric arc furnace is used to turn pig iron or scrap steel into new steel by burning the carbon down to 1% or less, removing impurities, and creating the desired alloy (by adding Mn, Cr, Ni, Mo). A blast furnace runs in a continuous process, with raw materials loaded at the top and pig iron and waste removed from the bottom. Shutting one down is complex; there is no off switch. Loss of control would make for a very bad day.

Comment Avoid your technical comfort zone (Score 1) 229

The hardest part of the transition from individual contributor to manager is to avoid falling back into your comfort zone. Managers primary must solve people problems: motivation, communication, cooperation, team dynamics. New managers are often unfamiliar or inexperienced with these types of problems. When faced with people problems and technical problems, the tendency is to address the technical ones first. This provides them with the sense they're making a contribution. But your job as a manager isn't to solve technical problems. Your job is to build a team that can do this. Letting go of those tasks which are your core compentency is very hard and many fail to make the transition.

Comment Re:Maybe Corporate America Should Loose Up the Pur (Score 1) 275

FYI that's well past inflation.

$1 spending in 1980 = $2.77 spending in 2007 (due to inflation). Federal spending rose from $894M to $2.7T (1980-2007), a factor of 3. Pretty close. Real GDP increased from 5.9T to 13.4T (1980-2007). If taxes remained a constant percentage of GDP, we should now be spending 6.3X 1980.

with more people you can lower the burden on all

The population grew from 227M to 300M (1980-2007). The idea that a larger population doesn't lead to proportionally larger demand for government services (roads, police, courts, etc.) is odd.

the government sextupled spending (>$1 Tril/year -> $6Tril/year)

Given inflation and growth in GDP and population, you'd expect a large growth in federal spending. The actual growth was 3X. (0.894 to 2.7). The U.S federal government spent $3.5T in FY 2010 and is expected to spend $3.8T in FY2011 - large but significantly less than $6T.

Both parties have been simultaneously increasing spending and cutting taxes. It's the combination that has driven the country to its parlous financial state. To blame it all on spending increases is counter-factual.

Comment Re:A practical system with a good track record (Score 2) 152

You're assuming that nothing useful can be accomplished in a few seconds. The applications in Coachella all complete in less than 10 seconds. A few seconds is plenty of time to duck under a table.

As for epicentral distance, the intensity drops 90%/100km after the first 100km. If you're 200 km from a magnitude 7 event, the intensity may be low enough to not matter, unless you're up-rupture, or on alluvial soil, or at convergence zone for shockwave reflections, etc. If you're in the SF Bay Area you're less than 100 km from likely epicenters, so it's a few seconds of warning or nothing.

Large events mean large rupture. If you're up-rupture you'll see more intense shaking than at the epicenter, not less. Simple metrics like distance from the epicenter provide no guidance about intensity.

Comment A practical system with a good track record (Score 2) 152

Portions of the system have been in operation since 2001. There have been several moderate and many small events. The system has produced no false positives or negatives, so far. It works by detecting the P-wave (6.2km/s), analyzes it to estimate the intensity of the coming S-waves (3.6km/s), and automatically triggers protective measures if the intensity is expected to exceed MMI V. It does not estimate earthquake magnitude, since that tells you nothing about the intensity at your location. The P-waves convey about 6% of the earthquake's energy; the rest is conveyed by the S-waves. The P-waves provide a natural warning that you're about to experience strong shaking.

The warning time varies from 0 (at the epicenter) to many seconds farther away. A networked system provides up to 1 second of warning for every 3.6 km from the epicenter. This is enough time to protect equipment and give people a chance to prepare themselves.
Operating Systems

Running Old Desktops Headless? 347

CajunArson writes "I recently dug up an old P4 that is in fine working order and did what any self-respecting Slashdotter would do: I slapped Linux on it to experiment with making an NFSv4 server. One other thing I did was to remove the old AGP video card to save on power, since this is a headless machine. Now, I removed the video card after the installation, and I'm doing just fine as long as the machine will boot to a state where networking works and I can SSH to it. My question: Is there a good solution to allow me to log into this box if it cannot get on the network? I'm looking for solutions other than slapping a video card back in. In my case, I will have physical access to the machine. A few caveats to make it interesting: This question is for plain old desktop/laptop systems, not network servers designed to run headless. Also, I am aware of the serial console, but even 'old' machines may only have USB, and I have not seen any good documentation on how and whether USB works as a substitute. Finally, if there is any way to access the BIOS settings without needing a video card, that would be an extra bonus, but I'm satisfied with just local OS access starting from the GRUB prompt."

Court of Appeals Rejects FCC's Cable Subscriber Cap 87

olsmeister writes "The US Court of Appeals Friday threw out the FCC's cap on the number of cable subscribers one operator can serve, saying the FCC was 'derelict' in not giving DBS its due as a legitimate competitor. 'We agree with Comcast that the 30% subscriber limit is arbitrary and capricious. We therefore grant the petition and vacate the Rule,' said the court, which concluded that there was ample evidence of an increasingly competitive communications marketplace and that cable did not have undue control on the programming pipeline. The FCC commissioner's statement (PDF) is available online."

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Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards. -- Aldous Huxley