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Comment thanks, that's clearer (Score 1) 383

your restatement of the essence of the discussion was very helpful to me "truer" is the wrong objective - better positioned to lead to more and better prediction is. This sounds like an argument over whose intuition that the underlying mathematics is on a better path to come out of the roadblocks is right. I'm not sure what the point of the animosity is. In the end if they are right they will prevail and if they aren't better they weren't so obnoxious about it now.... .

Comment Two topics conflated (Score 1) 383

This is pretty deep water so I could have missed the point but it seems like there are two sets of discussions talking past each other: what constitutes a valid theory and what constitutes a reason to develop a particular speculative theory where nothing empirically relevant exists. To me a theory is a tool - it predicts outcomes. Any number of theories can be useful but we successively replace less complete with more complete theories based on their ability to predict. Theories are tools not truth. The discussion here seems to be whether string theorists are delusional in working on their 'framework' when there is no usable theory to emerge. What constitutes the proof such work is useful. Maybe the philosophers can help them frame this discussion beyond instinct and notions of beauty. This is a search a truth they hope will point the way someday to a theory.

Comment A planet (Score 1) 52

and yet we don't insist on saying Jupiter isn't a planet but is a gas giant planet or just a big ass planet and we don't insist that earth isn't a planet but a rocky planet. The embarrassing result of the Pluto images is that it is clear the damn thing is a planet with real active geology and not just a dead chunk of leftovers. Better to call it an ice planet or something that refers to that unique reality. And in general call it what it is - a planet.

Comment more than one plot element this time (Score 1) 169

God I saw this as a kid and I WANTED it to get good but every episode was driven by Dr Smith being an a-hole and the Robinsons forgiving him and taking him to the next episode free as a bird to screw them again. Talk about a lazy writing staff. This could be an interesting idea if they tried to take the original start and create something imaginative with challenges and resourceful responses. If they just reanimate the corpse it would have to stink pretty bad now because it stunk horribly before they buried it.

Comment "clearing the neighborhood" (Score 1) 43

"we are using both mass and distance from the Sun (more specifically, M^2 / A^1.5, where M is mass and A is distance from the Sun). That combination of mass and orbital radius gives the average time for a body to "clear its orbit". Trying to understand the argument against Pluto a bit more and did the shallow internet search for the "Stern-Levison parameter" . If I understand the equation correctly Pluto would be a planet if it were withing 0.8 AU because it would be whipping around so fast even it's puny scattering ability would have had time to clear smaller bodies over a "long period of time" whatever that is. So if it were in Mercury's orbit it would be a planet (well for about 3 seconds until it evaporated) but way out on the edge it isn't. I'm thinking for the solar system a long time may mean something else than it might to us which apparently means from the formation until now..... Is that really the deal here? Seems dumber than I thought already.

Comment They shouldn't have shown the images (Score 1) 43

damn thing sure looked like a planet. Active geology, and atmosphere. I appreciate your writing out this exposition of the case against 'demoting' Pluto to something other than one of the nine planets. I'll accept Pluto is not a planet when Jupiter is not a planet but a gas giant and we are down to 4 planets.

Comment we prefer Little Planet (Score 1) 321

"f you define "planet" (the non-dwarf kind) to include Pluto, then you need to also call Vesta and a bunch of other objects "planets", so instead of 9 planets, it'll be somewhere in the teens, and growing as we discover more Kuiper Belt objects." and that's bad because..... In the end a rose by any other name is still a rose, but the idea we knew the mass and approximate size of this body for so long and called it a planet and then decided it had to have a modifier because we found more is sort of dull. The whole concept of a planet having enough mass to pull itself into a spherical shape seemed to be a reasonable dividing line because it seems silly to call every chunk of matter in orbit around the sun a planet. Having to have enough mass to toss all other bodes out of it's path just seems arbitrary.

Comment Hold up the vision and they will come (Score 1) 634

Of course I knew how this discussion would go as soon as I read the summary but I read through anyway. Near as I can tell the story is several universities started to offer engineering programs that focused on work socially conscious individuals would be attracted to (like previous focuses on 'green engineering' or any number of other incarnations) and in retrospect they find they drew in many more women to try the field than the more traditional programs. So we get this opinion piece that points this out and says all the outreach efforts so often decried here are probably not as important as holding up a vision to people how a field lets them accomplish something they desire. And the frigging crying and whining sets up again. If the glasses are all building Easy Bake ovens and calling it mechanical and electrical engineering I might agree. If they are using the goal of providing clean water to rural third world areas and having to master basic engineering skills to do so then you should all go have a beer and stop worrying some chick is going to be given your job.....

Comment Mod this up Re:I guess he crossed the wrong people (Score 1) 320

Genetic engineering rice to add vitamin A is ass kicking science and haters should kiss off. Being worried about engineering plants to allow huge amounts of pesticides to be applied just might be rational. Sticking in random genes that make plants toxic to the insects that co-evolved with them might boost production but might wipe out whole species. Like every other part of science people get scared when they don't understand it and more importantly when they think money is in control and no one is watching.

Comment Natural response to perceived rarity of candidates (Score 1) 517

If you see two equal candidates in terms of technical credentials but you know one can bring a perspective you perceive to be weakly represented in the field I don't find it unexpected that people might reach for that rare candidate. We are not told what the female census was of these institutions nor what the typical application profile looks like. Sorry I can't get all torn up over this - if we see the same thing once there is some balance in the ranks and all capable girls have role models to encourage them to pursue these fields if they have the talent and inclination to try I will change my view.

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