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Comment Re:Military (Score 1) 414

For one thing, the military doesn't automatically classify anything that is relevant to them. But also, the problem of projectile motion with air resistance was already solvable by computer simulation, and it will continue to be solved by computer simulation. This result doesn't change that, it's just some interesting physics.

Submission + - Facebook blocks add-on because it's too good at cleaning up Facebook (

the saltydog writes: A developer came up with a browser add-on to help customize the view on Facebook; first, they made him change the name — then, they blocked links to his site (as being "spammy" — which is an utter joke, as the add-on REMOVES all the spam from Facebook)... Now, they're arbitrarily removing photos in the albums on his page. In case you don't believe it, try sending any of your FB friends a link to — it will not work.

It's our data, and our machines — shouldn't we be able to arrange things the way WE want to see them? Fuck Facebook.
(From a happy user of the add-on.)

Submission + - Harvard Library to faculty: we're going broke unless you go open access (

rbowen writes: "BoingBoing reports that the Harvard Library has encouraged faculty to release their research publicly, and resign from boards of journals that don't allow open access. The article says that some journals have annual subscription rates in the tens of thousands of dollars, and the library's annual journal costs are almost $3.75M."

Comment Re:This is an April Fool joke (Score 1) 378

The joke is not necessarily the incident itself, but the fact that he wrote it up in the format of a scientific paper. Obviously the physics involved here is far too trivial to form the basis of a real paper; on any other day you'd get laughed out of physics for submitting something like that to arXiv. But for April 1 submissions, the rules are relaxed a bit.

Now, it's true that I haven't seen any other references to this happening, other than the arXiv submission, so I don't know that the incident really happened. But it seems perfectly plausible that something like that wouldn't be documented anywhere else online. So everything seems consistent with it being a real event, as far as I've seen.

Comment Re:Hansen Must Go (Score 1) 1181

I definitely agree, with the caveat that generally speaking, it's not quite fair to call consensus a non-scientific argument. Of course it's always best to look at the original data and logically evaluate the analysis yourself, but not everyone has the time (or the experience, or the education) to do that for every study. The next best thing is trusting the 95% of other people in the field who agree (or disagree) with it. Consensus is a necessary piece of how science is done.

Comment Re:Hansen Must Go (Score 1) 1181

EAU is one of, if not the most important centers of global warming research. So it's not like we are talking about some small unimportant scientists in eastern Zaire, these guys are important in the global warming world.

Sure, but that doesn't matter to my point. Regardless of how important they are, it's still not justified to judge the entire climate change research community based on the actions of a few of them.

And of course they are pushing an agenda. All good scientists do. But in order to make the transition from "personal agenda" to "established science" they have to convince a lot of other people, who aren't going to accept the idea so easily, and who are definitely going to call BS if the original researchers are making stuff up or if their conclusions don't follow from the evidence. (At least, that's the idea; it doesn't always work perfectly but it's not bad.) This is the entire reason that peer review and reproducibility are so important in science.

Comment Re:Hansen Must Go (Score 1) 1181

If there's anything we learned from the climategate emails, it's that a lot of the scientists working on this problem are not working in good faith.

No, we learned that a few of the scientists working on this problem are not working in good faith. Maybe. As I recall, the official investigation concluded that they had not done anything actually fraudulent, but I don't really know the details on that... still, it was just a small portion of the global climate change research community. Even if their work couldn't be trusted, it wouldn't invalidate everything that everyone else in the field has done.

Comment Re:Presumably (Score 1) 157

Only because Google doesn't control what Android users can put on their phones, at least not as tightly as Apple does. If you get an iPhone, it still needs to be defended against malware, but Apple does most of the work for you. That's the advantage you get for the developers giving up some of their independence.

Also, popularity may play a role. Some metrics have Android as the most popular smartphone OS, which makes it the most enticing target for malware authors. Same reason Windows is the most virus-prone desktop OS. (Well, one of the reasons, anyway)

Comment Re:This is why I don't believe in compulsory votin (Score 4, Insightful) 321

Some of us don't vote because we consider it politically irresponsible to make a choice that we don't believe in. If I dislike (or like) all candidates in an election equally, not voting is a (even the) proper choice. The point: before you brush people off for "not participating" in government, make sure they really are being lazy rather than consciously abstaining.

Comment Re:You can't go c but you can go faster (Score 1) 315

Yes, there are measurements which indicate that photons have zero mass, and that at least certain kinds of neutrinos have nonzero mass. They are certainly not the same particle, and there's no way the neutrinos could be less massive than photons - even if photons do have a nonzero mass, we've measured that it has to be many orders of magnitude smaller than the known mass differences between different kinds of neutrinos.

Incidentally, "speed of light" c does not necessarily mean the speed of /light/ (photons) - see this for example. c is just a particular universal constant. It happens that massless particles, like photons (as far as we can tell), travel at this speed. Unfortunately we are stuck with the name "speed of light" from the days before relativity, when people didn't know that this speed was significant in any manner other than being the speed of light. The results from OPERA seemed to indicate that the neutrinos were traveling faster than c, so even if the photon did have a significant mass (and thus light did not actually travel at the "speed of light"), the results would still be just as surprising as they are.

Comment Re:I'm confused.... (Score 1) 53

I met one of the people involved in the project a few months ago, and from what he said (IIRC) it sounds like it is mostly about marketing and education. They're trying to increase public awareness of and interest in what the LHC does and why it's important, and they figure that giving people a way to easily interact with the experiment (even if it is kind of a one-way interaction) will help pique their interest. In other words, it's a PR tool.

Then again, I'm not directly involved, so I could be wrong...

Comment Re:Plausable deniability. (Score 1) 346

That's not a universal experience, though. I've run a Tor exit node for a few years with an exit policy that only allows about a dozen commonly used ports, and I haven't gotten a single complaint. I'd be very surprised if I'm the only one with this kind of experience. So I wouldn't say "if you want to stay out of trouble, do NOT run Tor exit nodes;" I think my experience shows that you can drastically cut down on your chances of getting in trouble by putting some thought into the configuration, without shutting the node down entirely. (FWIW, I run it on a VPS, not on my own equipment) That being said, the idea of running a Tor node as an excuse to cover illegal downloading that you know the source of seems sketchy. Personally, I wouldn't do it in the OP's case. I just wanted to make the case that running a Tor node is not 100% guaranteed to bring the wrath of the *AA down on you.

Comment Reposted to Physics Stack Exchange (Score 1) 358

I reposted your question to Physics Stack Exchange so you can get input from an additional group of people, several of whom have actually studied GR. (Disclaimer: it's not my website, but I'm a frequent contributor) Of course, most of the prerequisites I would think of have already been mentioned here (Newtonian mechanics, electromagnetism, special relativity, linear algebra, multivariable calculus, differential equations, differential geometry), but on PSE you won't have to filter out a bunch of irrelevant comments ;-)

For what it's worth, the main "thrust" of GR is encapsulated in two equations, which you can find here among other places: the geodesic equation and the Einstein field equations. You can use those to guide your progress: once you know enough to understand what they mean, you've successfully learned the basics of GR.

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