2484 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009
Re: Equivalence Principle
The gravitational interaction of two human-sized objects has been observed, and Newton's law of gravitation (inverse-squares) confirmed for masses of the order of kilogrammes at distances of the order of a meter. The experiments are very hard, and the accuracy isn't great. Some alternative theories have proposed that gravitation breaks down on milli- or micro-meter scales, and of course at much smaller scales still we get into quantum effects. These aren't yet testable.
Other theories posit that inverse-squares gravitation breaks down on the scale of a galaxy and above, and attempt to explain away dark matter and dark energy in terms of a different law of gravitation on very large scales. So far, such attempts have not been very successful in doing away with the need for dark matter and energy to explain the observations.
The equivalence principle is much better-tested for terrestrial masses, than Newton's law itself. But all the masses tested were made of conventional atoms. Perhaps fortunately, we don't have neutronium or large masses of antimatter to play with.
AFAIK the orbits of the Voyager spacecraft are still observed to be not quite as expected. Tantalizing, but they weren't ever designed as gravity probes, and their deviation from predicted orbit is just within the likely errors of observations.
I haven't worked out the details (which will be very complex, probably involving serious supercomputer resources to model) but there will be gravitational perturbations of each orbit by the other bodies. Here in the solar system, the existence and position of Pluto was deduced and calculated by very careful observation of the orbits of Uranus and Neptune. Once they knew where to look, they pointed a powerful telescope at that patch of sky, and there was Pluto.
For this system we can test GR rather than simple Newtonian gravity, because the bodies are very dense and close. It tests the equivalence princible, because a Neutron star is made of Neutrons and a White Dwarf is made of ordinary atomic nuclei (ie with protons, and electrons between the nuclei). Short of a black hole, that's about as much different as two astronomical masses can be. (*)
I'll have to file this system along with Zircons dating of the age of the Earth. $DEITY is being extremely kind to us, providing us with the means to scientifically investigate questions we might have thought were forever beyond our grasp.
(*) I've always wondered whether bosons (commonly neutrons and protons) and fermions (commonly electrons) are gravitationally equivalent. Is there any way to probe this, even conceptually, given that the electromagnetic interactions of electrical charges are about 10^40 times greater than any gravitational effects?
Here on Earth, if you put the feather on top of the hammer and drop in still air, the feather will fall with the hammer. The hammer pushes the air out of the way, and gravity does the rest.
I'd be very surprised if Galileo hadn't tried this, thought he was probably smart enough to realise that the limitations of this particular experiment would be siezed upon by his enemies.
Perhaps this method is right, for billion-year timescales.
If we're aiming only at the next civilisation after this one fails, or perhaps the next intelligent species after this one goes extinct, then a Babylonian solution beckons. Fired clay tablets (with a modern twist). Perhaps a somewhat more advanced ceramic, such as the all but indestructible "Corelle" that Dow Corning once made plates from. (Same problem as un-ladderable stockings. The plates last forever. No repeat sales. No profits. Discontinued. Sigh. )
You could put some low-tech diagrammatic writing on the plates, in an attempt to draw attention to the high-definition data embossed in the ceramic, or ink-jet printed at ~100dpi. Make them both beautiful and startingly hard to break, and stone-age or barbarian peoples might preserve them rather than destroy them. Anyway, it's really hard work to destroy the information on a ceramic surface and a subsequent civilisation will reassemble the fragments from your rubbish tip. Make lots and lots of them, distribute them as superior mass-market tableware, and survival of some of them is virtually guaranteed. All we need is a billionaire with a long-term view of things to underwrite the project. (Thinks ... an Indian one ... must be good for a lot of positive Karma. The largest Hindu unit of time is a large multiple of My, and they believe in re-incarnation and in cycles of creation and destruction. It all fits. )
(Apparently we know more about the everyday minutae of Babylonian life, than about any civilisation since! )
Re: I think that ...
The Earth will become uninhabitable a lot sooner than 5 Gigayears hence. We're actually rather close to the inwards edge of the habitable zone around the Sun, and the Sun is getting hotter as it ages. Unless "we" initiate major planetary protection operations within the next Gigayear (orbital sunshades, or orbit expansion), life will be over by then. Some estimate as soon as 300My, before Earth suffers thermal runaway the same as Venus. (OMG multicellular life is having its midlife crisis! )
If we want to leave a *really* long-term record, Earth isn't really the right place. Too much corrosive oxygen and water and those awkward plate tectonics, and a boiling sulphuric acid nightmare after the end of life on Earth.The Moon is better (dig in deep to protect against all but huge meteor strikes, and position-mark with long-life radioactives near the surface). An outer moon of Saturn would be better still, might even survive Sol going red giant and nova. (Ring any bells? ....)
Re: What *other* apps are not available on Windows 8?
Yes, I know. MS would like all of its users to be tied in to a browser that won't let them block adverts, and which reports more than you know back to Microsoft so that they can target you with more "relevant" and unblockable advertising. The users, on the other hand ....
Re: Shame - Win8 needs a good virtual memory stress testing tool
Ghostery and NoScript...
Adblock-plus, Flashblock, and Tabkit (tabs down the LHS in collapsible trees, not along the top)
Privacy concerns about what is being sent to Microsoft (IE) or Google (Chrome) without my knowledge or consent.
Re: My advice to Mozilla
Mozilla doesn't have to hope anything. Firefox works just fine on Linux and anything else that might replace XP and Windows 7 on business desktops (including the Windows 8 desktop).
The day Microsoft announces EOL for Windows 7 without having an upgrade path that doesn't involve massive costs (including retraining all a business's low-skill keyboard-pokers), is the day Microsoft will have signed its own death warrant.
If I hadn't been around while Digital self-destructed, I'd think it couldn't happen.
There's actually a decent successor to Windows 7 in Windows 8, if only it could be made to boot to desktop with a 7-compatible login /switch user screen and start menu, and TIKFAM made so it can be defaulted hidden and configured completely unavailable using AD policies. Doesn't actually look too hard, if Microsoft would only stop pushing TIKFAM at business users who know they absolutely don't want it in any shape or form.
Re: What *other* apps are not available on Windows 8?
Personally I wish they'd decide that there never will be an official version of Firefox that works anywhere on Windows 8 except for the Windows 7-compatible desktop, until someone stumps up the entire cost of porting it.
If Microsoft think the non-availability hurts their chances of persuading people that TIKFAM is any more seaworthy than the post-iceberg Titanic, let them pay the Mozilla foundation to do the port. If Microsoft doesn't care to do that, tell the world that's why there's no TIKFAM-Firefox.
Re: No passive cooling!
A thought on the NUC form-factor.
Intel needs to put more SATA connectors on it, not just one, so that it can be used as the basis of systems that need >1 hard disk. (IMO every system with locally-stored data needs >1 hard disk, for mirroring - at £40 for a HD can you afford not to? ) How much do four SATA connectors cost? Surely on-chip SATA interfaces are (or can be) designed to idle at microwatts if there is no hardware connected to them? There's clearly no great cost to putting six SATA on desktop boards that rarely have more than three of them connected. If there were, they'd leave them out and the minority would buy PCI-X SATA controllers.
You could connect extra disks by extending the NUC upwards with a section that bolts on top of the NUC box and holds the disks. Keeping the original lid and bolting that on top of the extended NUC would be a nice touch.
If the form-factor catches on the price ought to drop as NUC-format boards start being made by ASUS, Gigabyte etc., along with cases for passive cooling, multiple disks, etc. in various different shapes.
Intel set the ATX PSU format and the common desktop motherboard formats ATX, mATX, ITX. OTOH they failed to persuade anyone that BTX PSUs were a good idea. Standard form-factors are a good idea in principle.
Re: Passive cooling - FOUND!
For the record, if anyone finds this post with Google, I have at last found my passively cooled ITX board with a faster CPU than an Atom. It's a Gigabyte GA-C1037UN-EU. The -EU is important because there is another variant with a fan and (I presume) a wimpier heatsink and/or a different BIOS that will moan if the fan isn't present.
The CPU is a Celeron 1037U, 17W TDP, which CPU benchmarks about 2.5x my Atom. It also takes up to 16Gb of DDR3 which should save on disk IO. The board (incl CPU) is inexpensive (£72 incl VAT and shipping) and even boasts 3 x SATA (one of which SATA-3, great for an SSD), USB3, and one E-SATA.
Fingers crossed. Intel shouldn't be marketing these chips as Celerons. They should market them as low-wattage low-end Ivy Bridge i3 (which they are), or even as faster Atoms. There's a Haswell version coming "soon", but I decided not to wait for it.
I presume it still has an annoying fan in there somewhere, which is why IMHO it doesn't warrant a premium price. (If I''m wrong and the whole case is metal acting as a passive heatsink, please correct me and I'll reconsider).
What I want is a passively cooled board that will fit in an ITX case, to replace the Atom D520 I have at present. Having gotten used to silence, I don't want even a whisper of fan noise. Nobody seems to make such a board, though there's an i3 laptop CPU that's loads faster than the Atom and which has much the same TDP.
Failing which I'll be returning to a mini-tower case with a fan-less PSU and a NoFan heatsink on an ordinary Intel desktop CPU. Small size isn't a killer feature. Silence is.
Re: Bye Bye BitCoin
Bitcoin is not untraceable. It's perfectly traceable for all time: that's what the blockchain is! trouble is, it would take someone with the resources of a whole nation to actually follow the trail (and then it would probably dead-end at a corrupt exchange where the traceable bitcoins were turned into untraceable cash).
Personally, I think that we should impose consecutive sentences on anyone proved to be responsible for deliberately destructive malware. Let's be generous, say just one day per victim of extortion. Destroy 36500 or more computers with your malware, and go to jail for life. Other countries might prefer to hang them, and I'd not be particularly bothered if they do. Less so than about many murderers. There are people losing their livelyhoods by the thousands because of acts like these, and I'd bet that there will have been suicides (plural, probably tens of) as a consequence. Yes I know that everything should be stored on servers run by professionals who make nightly or hourly read-only snapshots of their filesystems, but in the real world there are very many small businesses who don't have any IT staff at all (but still rely on a few PCs).
Yes, I'm ranting, so I'll stop.
Re: Too Limited
If it's like a portable Chromebook, it won't be hard to install Linux instead of Chrome OS. There's also the possibility of keeping Chrome OS and using it as a thin terminal for anything that needs more than a web browser.
A long time in the planning?
It was quite a few years ago that IBM sold its hard disk business. At the time there was speculation as to motive. Was it simply because IBM saw it was labouring under a disadvantage, trying to sell its hard drives to competitors in the server space such as HP and Compaq? Or was it because IBM believed this was a business with a declining long-term future, and sold out before that view became widely held?
I suspect the latter. They compare IBM to a elephant. It can't gallop, but it can move surprisingly fast and knows better than most large companies where it is and where it wants to get to.
fighting against engineers using the terms "master" and "slave" in their documentaion
I'm intrigued to know what she suggested as an alternative. IMO the terms are spot on, and may even amount to an implicit ethical warning for some (far?) future date, that there's a major problem should "slave" software ever approach the threshold for sentience.
"Producer" and "Consumer" are also used, but differently: this terminology suggests that the consumer side is not incapable of taking decisions. And of course, it's also politically loaded!
Re: Quantum computing?
I can't help observing that to get a Fermion back into the same state it started in, you have to rotate it through not 360 degrees but 720 degrees. Are Fermions female? Discuss.
There's satire, and then there's just being a bunch of dicks
Indeed, and this isn't even a patch on Intercal
" It is a well-known and oft-demonstrated fact that a person whose work is incomprehensible is held in high esteem. For example, if one were to state that the simplest way to store a value of 65536 in a 32-bit INTERCAL variable is:
DO :1 <- #0¢#256
any sensible programmer would say that that was absurd. Since this is indeed the simplest method, the programmer would be made to look foolish in front of his boss, who would of course happened to turn up, as bosses are wont to do. The effect would be no less devastating for the programmer having been correct.
It looks like something you'd fill with ice to cool a bottle of wine.
Re: So now all we need..
At the small end you could try a Cubieboard, with 1 x SATA on board. BTW Linux supports SATA port multipliers (forget the exact right term - but like SCSI LUNs on SATA, can attach four or more drives to one SATA port). Might be a fun project.
At the bigger end you could stick with Intel and get an Avoton server with 12 SATA ports. http://techreport.com/news/25703/asrock-combines-avoton-soc-12-sata-ports-on-mini-itx-mobo
There are plenty of whisper-quiet Intel solutions. Start with a low-wattage CPU (think 35W TDP is the lowest). Then research all components with fans. Typically you use a large case with a 12cm fan running at minimum speed and a large-fan CPU heatsink which again will result in the fan running at minimum speed (or off most of the time, if the motherboard is chosen to be capable of running the fan at zero rpm when the CPU isn't in need of any cooling). You can get completely fan-less PSUs. You'll also want to choose hard disk drives with care lest they be the noisiest part of your system. WD "Red" aren't the fastest, but they may be the quietest. I can't hear them seeking at all!
I've been trying to find a mini-ITX board with an Intel i3-4210U soldered onto it and passively cooled (15W TDP) but nobody seems to make that. Annoying. (I have an Atom-based home server which I'd like to speed up, but not at the expense of starting again with an Intel NUC and a 3rd-party passive-cooling case and not at the noise cost of even whispering fans).
Gnome 3.10 ... hopefully yum install cinnamon still deals with that. (Or you could have picked KDE in the first place).
They've already made BBC World Service DAB only (well, apart from AM ... it wasn't ever on UK FM). This is the only reason my DAB receiver didn't get thrown in the trash can.
Re: less than 4 years after the Pearl Harbor attack,
I'd also note that in the intervening four years we also had something the world hasn't seen since: total war
We've seen it many times, just not on the same scale. I wonder how much consolation it was to a Korean or Vietnamese, or is to a Syrian, that most of the rest of the world was / is not likewise at war.
Except, one hopes that the NSA or someone is reverse-engineering the BIOSes being shipped, to keep the other side honest. Booby-trapping all BIOSes shipped is the sort of dirty trick that you could get away with only once (and pay a huge economic price afterwards). Unless you posit a multi-national conspiracy, if it had been happening we'd have heard about it by now.
Unless absolutely nobody is checking.
Re: BIOS malware eh?
It's been around ever since some bean-counter demanded removal of the write-protect switch from a system's flash logic circuitry.
How it ought to be, is that to do a BIOS upgrade you'd start by taking the lid off the system and moving a jumper or switch to write-enable. Then update. Then set it back to write-protect. (Note: nothing to stop manufacturers shipping it write-enabled, if they know that their average customer is a moron. Intelligent customers would protect it on delivery -- or buy from a different manufacturer).
How much did removing one jumper save? One cent? Probably less. Bullet, meet foot.
Why in the thirty-two Hells of Carmack would they want to get into building their own hardware especially at the silicon level?
Because they can see a way to reduce their energy consumption by doing something differently in Silicon? Because of their massive scale, things may look different to Google compared to lesser companies.
What Google really wants?
What Google really wants is an ARM solution fabbed by Intel at 14nm!
Maybe Google is a large enough customer, that Intel might consider fabbing custom chips that aren't sold to anyone except Google. Google could buy any necessary ARM license and have it fabbed by any company willing to take their money.
Also maybe a hybrid chip with both x64_64 and ARM cores is possible and useful to Google.
Another, shorter formulation:
Any sufficiently developed bureaucracy is indistinguishable from malice
Re: FX570 was a superb calculator
I think the Commodore SR-36 goes back a bit further. It had Red LED displays, not LCD (which ISTR hadn't yet been commercialized). Superb bit of kit for the time.
I used mine for about fifteen years, until the batteries faded to the point you could only use it tethered to a wire, and I threw it into a box in the attic. I recently found it and fired it up, but something had failed while it was in storage and it would display only gobbledegook.
Still looks good, though.
Re: A better useful Firefox "extention" [sic]
Invent an algorithm for your passwords.
If you forget your password recalculate My_Algorithm( "Facebook", other_things_that_I_CAN_remember)
It doesn't have to be complicated. You're already ahead of 99% of the crowd. I don't imagine for a moment it'll defeat spooks (who have inside access to Facebook et al anyway). It will defeat the sort of criminal who assumes that all your passwords are likely to be the same, or steals your computer so he can use your stored passwords.
And use a different algorithm for passwords that unlock real money!
Re: Far more than "IT" person of the year
I wouldn't even say that the NSA and suchlike are evil. They're just government agencies and they probably think they are doing good. At present one might credit the governments of the USA and the UK with some degree of good intent, or at least benign intent. But do we all know what is proverbially paved with good intentions?
The road to hell.
There's also the advice about "Power corrupts ...." and I think it's becoming clear that they are stealthily acquiring more power and becoming more corrupt. Yes, for sure we're on the road to hell. How can we get off it?
Re: Fuck Off!
Use a VM. Install Linux (Paranoid version: do not install Firefox or Seamonkey at this stage). Shut it down. Make a copy of the VM. Boot the copy. (Paranoid version: now download and install a browser). Browse. After your chosen time window, blow away the used browser VM, make another copy of the virgin one.
Now, do I trust that NSA hasn't found a way to subvert VMWare player so it can track every VM running in a particular player instance? Or that Browser instances aren't somehow trackable from day one (say courtesy of a secret NSA implant in MS OS'es) with all this Google cookie fuss as camouflage? Of course if the VM host is also Linux, there are lots of alternatives and all source code is available.
the right icon would be a hall of mirrors, possibly with Granny Weatherwax's naughty sister standing between them.
Re: Not sure...
Carry on using 6.x then. Until 2020
Or even 5.x (EOL in 2017, with three years extended support available after that) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Hat_Enterprise_Linux#Version_history
Re: Better Idea
>>Put an end to this stupid millisecond nonsense<<
How? Maybe insist that all trades are input by a human being. Computers alllowed as advisors, but not permitted to enter directly.
Would destroy anything based on high-speed decision-taking and ultra-high leverage. The first, because a human can't input a trade in less than a few seconds. The latter, because the risk from fat-fingering it would be too great.
Just because something can be done does not mean that it should be done. Trading faster than a human being possibly could is one of those things. Doing so with ultra-high leverage puts the stability of our entire financial system at risk.
Re: solar power will be the limiting factor on what humans can do in the long run
Todays nuclear reactors have outputs that reach the MW range on a surface that would take a solar farm half a continent to replicate.
Bollocks! A small fraction of the Sahara desert alone could generate more electricity than the human race currently uses.
The Solar radiation flux onto Earth's surface is about a kilowatt per square meter. Allowing 10% for harvesting efficiency and a factor of two for dark night-times. you need 20 m^2 per kW power-station output. A large power station is a Gigawatt: a million kilowatts, or 20 square kilometers of desert covered in solar panels.
Controlled nuclear fusion would be great if we could get it working (economically). So far, we can't (at all). Certainly worth continuing to try, but ... in the meantime, solar panels really do work, and offer an alternative should fossil fuels become uneconomic or accepted as too damaging to use. Solar panels are already cost-competitive with fossil fuels where there are deserts in close proximity to cities (for example, in Arizona).
Re: I don't understand
Maybe something to do with the fucking great piece of lead that it's stored in.
And probably even then, the driver wants a good bit of inverse-squares law on his side. Like most of a truck's length?
Now you know another reason why slip-streaming or staying in a truck-driver's blind spot for a long time might be bad for you!
But far more ingeneous
Re: I never saw the point of this concept.
Meaningless strings of words, I agree. But can't you see that the "Pheasant plucker" is a minor masterpeice of something like wit? The moment you notice where you might go wrong, some perverse subsystem in your brain wants to go wrong. And there are so many ways to choose from!
Re: Assume "worlds hardest in English....."....
Google Translate also has trouble with the second. Well, more trouble:
In the dense spruce thickets pick the nimble finches efficient.
Jubeljodeljauchzerjungen exultant cheer jubilantly exultant jubilation jubilation yodel yodel exultant cheer Jubeljodeljauchzerjungen.
Tiny children can not cherry stone crack. None cherry stone can crack tiny children.
Red cabbage remains red cabbage and wedding dress wedding dress remains
That's definitely the funniest one. So many ways to go wrong, all rude.
Re: Why a hexagon?
Why can't it be because of a years-stable period-3 wave in the planet's equivalent of Earth's jet-stream. Watch long enough, we may see the vertices move, assuming there's anything more stable to define their location relative to (which on a gas giant, I doubt! )
Re: North Pole
internal (poorly understood going on 'no bloody idea') heat source.
Something undergoing a phase change such as gas or liquid to solid, both down in the planet's depths. Outside chance that it's a low level of fusion (D-D), or there's a lot of radioactive Potassium in a rocky core that theory says Saturn shouldn't have.
Lots of hydrocarbons, enormous pressure: what are the odds on Saturn's atmosphere concealing the Solar System's second-biggest and still-growing diamond as its core?
Short of closing down the internet how *can* the authoritoes close Bitcoin down?
Anyway, it's not new. Since the earliest days of the Chinese Empire (and probably earlier, but the records have perished) there have been trustworthy(*) alternative criminal(**) organisations which would move your money across borders and around accountancy barriers for a fee. Typically you hand over some money and receive a token, such as a roughly torn sheet of paper. You later present it to a representative of the same organisation at another location, and they match the other torn piece and then hand over the agreed amount of cash.(***)
(*) for certain values of trustworthy
(**) according to the authorities, who ask more in taxes than the alternative asks in fees.
(***) this practice may even be the origin of paper money instead of gold, brought back from the underworld by the authorities, who could then back several banknotes with the same piece of gold and get away with it for centuries. Behaviour which any self-respecting criminal gang would be ashamed of.
Re: What goes around...
I wouldn't want to be these crims when they get caught.
Especially if it's organised crime that is first to catch up with them. It's probable that organised crime has also had its data corrupted, and what can they do? Can't inform the authorities. Can't pay the ransom, in case it were a sting by the authorities. Can do something hideously violent and permanent to the perps if they find them.
Re: backups and...
Linux LVM snapshot will preserve the state of the LVM at the time it was taken. Cryptolocker, or anything else not running on the Linux LVM host, could only affect the snapshot if it were mounted and exported read-write. A common practice is to mount it read-only and export it read-only, so users can perform self-service rescue of files they (or cryptolocker) have messed up. RO mount means that only a root exploit on the Linux host can damage it, but then copying the snapshot to offline and offsite storage is a good second-line, not least should your backup volume fail.
One caveat - make sure that the snapshot LVM is the same size as the source LVM so that should Cryptolocker or everything else write to most of the blocks on the source, the snapshot doesn't run out of space.
Re: Title is too long.
£10 + £1 is still £11 whatever way you cut it.
ROFL. Whatever legal way!
One of the oldest "victimless" frauds was dropping all fractional pennies into a personal account, instead of rounding or dropping them into the bank's own account.
Re: Calm down...
It's to stop the "flip it over" problem that USB connectors seem to magic upon themselves - Cable won't go in - Flip it over - won't go in - flip it over - goes in.
A USB connector is a Fermion not a Boson. You have to rotate it 720 degrees before it's back in the state it started in.
(A corollary of his is that no two USB memory sticks can ever have the same internal state :-)
Re: Resistance is futile
@Wzrd1 - a fundamental misunderstanding of CMOS. In a pre-CMOS computer, a bit was represented as a flow of current. It's consuming power even if it's just maintaining an unchanging logic level for minutes on end.
in CMOS a bit of state is a package of charge - maybe as little as 100 electrons. No current flows except when a bit of state is chaged, when the electrons have to be removed from a high voltage (probably representing a 1) to a low voltage (0). CMOS can work on micro- or nano-watts. Witness the hand calculator powered by a couple of square cm of low-grade PV panel, illuminated by an energy-saving dim light bulb (and operated by a dimmer one - sorry). Easy when you want single-digit IPS not MIPS.
Moore's law is based on a scaling law. If you shrink the devices by a given factor, reduce the voltage (between 1 and 0) by the same factor, you have constant power per unit area of chip and that factor squared more devices to play with in the same area. The limiting factor is that atoms are discrete, and today we are at the point where the gates of the FETs can no longer be made much (if any) thinner. So the scaling law can't be followed any further, and the first sign of trouble is that the chip runs too hot because it's suffering resistive heating from various sources.
At a guess they aren't stable. AFAIK there are NO silicon or germanium analogues of aromatic (C6-ring-based ) hydrocarbons. In fact I don't think there are Silicanes either, apart from Silane. Instead you get silicone chemistry, based on Si-O-Si bonds.
But I may be wrong, because I'd have thought Stanene even less likely. Is it really stable in the presence of Oxygen? Water? Or is it like one of those "things I won't work with" (Google that phrase for some fun reading about molecules that fall apart at the slightest nudge -- or occasionally, against all expectation, that don't).
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