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Comment Much better nowadays! (Score 3, Informative) 351

I tried my first veggie burger about 20 years ago, and I remember wondering when the FDA started considering sawdust a vegetable...

Now, I eat Gardein teriyaki chick'n and a few others quite regularly. I'm still waiting for the whole "cheaper than meat" part to kick in though.

If you haven't had them yet, give them a try, you'll be surprised, and once they get costs down, it'll change the world.

Comment Re: That's the state of the universe then... (Score 1) 268

I think I can partially answer my own question. The protons and neutrons in the nucleus can be described as being in a sort of quantum fluid with essentially no viscosity. So Although in some sense the nucleus is hard and almost incompressible, it's more like a superfluid than it is like a crystal. So I'm guessing that the "pear" shape is an unexpected nucleon wave function. Again I'm no nuclear physicist but maybe the situation is something a little bit like that?

Comment Re: That's the state of the universe then... (Score 1) 268

I am not a nuclear physicist, but I still don't get the distinction here. Nuclei are formed through processes that are full of asymmetries. For example, two nuclei collide, or a neutron is captured, or whatever. Is there some theory that asserts that nuclei must obey certain symmetries regardless of the constituent parts? These are unstable nuclei to be sure. Maybe they are an excited state that decays via gammas to a more symmetric one (which could be even less stable)? I'm not sold here but hoped some slashdotter could help illuminate this better.

Take snowflakes for example. They aren't all perfectly symmetric even though the bonds have a certain symmetry. The history of their formation manifests in the shape of the snowflake and causes deviations from the prevailing symmetry.

Comment Re:Good (Score 1) 1080

I like to think about various different market sectors, and how capitalism succeeds and struggles in these sectors. The auto industry is, for the most part, a good example of capitalism at its best. It still has issues with safety & emissions regulations -- pure market forces would favor lower costs over safety, and definitely favor lower costs over low emissions because the individual car owner doesn't suffer exclusively from their own car's emissions. And there are globalization market effects to contend with, as well as monopolistic tendencies.

Service industries are also great in free market economies, like hair salons and auto shops. Though auto shops do benefit from sleazy tactics that are hard for the average consumer to detect. But a haircut is easy, you know exactly what you're getting and what you're paying. How about the tipping culture though?

I think where capitalism struggles the most today is in information industries like software, news, music, etc where the per-unit production costs are zero or are dwarfed by "development" costs. In these industries, I believe the efficient market hypothesis no longer applies because one of its predicates (an aspect of scarcity) is no longer true. These industries are becoming larger and more important today, so it's not surprising that capitalism itself is being challenged.

This doesn't make me "reject" capitalism, because it still has tremendous value and use. But I don't expect it to work very well in the not-distant future without some significant modifications. And no, I wish I knew what those modifications might be but I don't.

Comment Demand, not supply... (Score 4, Insightful) 125

Instead of getting the Government to fund computer science education, how about we just require computer companies to pay competitive salary? It doesn't require any tax dollars, and it's just crazy enough to work.

The problem is, the past 30 years have taught MBA's that *they're* the ones who are supposed to get the $200k salary, and the computer engineer is the one who's supposed to have a Masters and 20 years of experience in a 3 year old language and work for $60k until their job gets outsourced to India.

The problem will largely go away once the computer geek's biggest problem is "Do I buy the BMW or the Mercedes", and the MBA's are crying themselves to sleep, praying they can pay their student loans off before they hit 40 and are too old to spreadsheet.

Comment Re: So what? (Score 1) 133

AFAICT, snaps is no worse in this regard than any other packaging system out there: dpkg, rpm, pacman, etc. Am I right? Is all this fuss about the claim of better-but-not-actually-perfect sandboxing? Admittedly there is this gaping hole in X11 security (the way it's implemented in any case), which has been around for decades. But the article makes it sound like snaps are a new kind of bad. I don't think that's true, but hopefully some slashdotter will set me straight.

Comment It's all about leverage... (Score 3, Interesting) 1116

Today, doing nothing really isn't an option. You *have* to work somehow. By offering a basic income, you are, in effect, creating competition for those jobs. If I have the leverage to say "no", if some people find "nothing" a competitive alternative, then supply-and-demand for workers says that prices (ie, salary) will have to go up to match.

It's a double-whammy against the wealthy, in that they will have to pay a large chunk of *both* the basic income and the delta in salaries. On the other hand, they have benefited the most from income/wealth inequality over the last 3 decades, and increased automation will only make a basic income more necessary.

I'm not sure *anyone* has fully thought through the action-and-reaction of basic income, so I can't honestly say that it's "good", but one way or another its time may be coming.

Comment Re:hard (Score 1) 154

Typically in university-based research, most of the government funding goes to post-doc salaries. The professors are paid by the university, and most of a grad student's research assistantship (basically minimum wage) is also paid through the university. Post-doc salaries are between about 1/3 to 1/2 of what industry would pay the same people.

Comment Re:hard (Score 1) 154

I have to disagree with this, at least as it relates to R&D spending. It sounds like you're advocating for pure, unregulated markets and want to rely on free market economics to somehow, magically, create a thriving privatized research program.

I wish I could believe in that, but it's way too simplistic. People point to Bell Labs as an example of successful private research, but other than that and Research Corporation, I don't know of any privately-funded basic research programs. Both of those, combined, produced very little basic science. Not to belittle them, but government funded programs far exceeded them in terms of funding and science output. I view Bell Labs as a market anomaly -- a momentary quirk of a market failure, possible only because Bell telephone held a monopoly for a while and had money they didn't know what to do with and no competition to keep them running lean.

In a properly-functioning market economy, companies that aren't 100% dedicated to maximizing return-on-investment will fail. This rules out basic science funding by corporations. Then you have private philanthropy, which only works when you have such an enormous wealth disparity that the top 0.0001% of citizens hold a large fraction of the nation's wealth and feel the desire at some point to spend a lot of it on research. Again, a consequence of a failed economy.

The way science has been successfully funded in the US has been through government spending by politicians who were motivated to do the right thing for our country. This was publicly justifiable, especially during the cold war, and probably for the wrong reasons. But starting around 1993, the public has begun to steadily lose interest in science and other long-term goals, and our politics have reflected that.

I don't even pretend to know about the pros and cons of the federal reserve bank. I know its history is suspicious at best, but beyond that there is a lot of intelligent debate that's outside my field of expertise. This is an important issue for sure, but I don't see how any fixes related to the Fed would do anything to restore a beneficial state of research in the US. In a healthy, thriving, and competitive economy, basic research can't and won't happen in the private sector.

Comment Re:Moore's law is dead; physics killed it (Score 1) 124

Moore's Law isn't completely dead, it's just metamorphosing into a new form.

If Intel is moving into spintronics (as rumor suggests), then next-generation chips should use millions of times less power (like, run your CPU for a month on a AAA).

If so, it becomes possible to start stacking CPU layers like memory/flash is today. Imagine a next-generation Moore's law stating the number of transistors in a 3D stack doubling every X months.

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