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* Posts by Nigel 11

2484 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

Event Horizon Telescope spots source of black hole jets

Nigel 11
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Re: Universe = depressingly vast

Best argument against the strong anthropic principle I know.

It wasn't built for us. It was built for creatures that live s...l...o...w...ly. One thought per day rather than one per second, and a life-expectancy scaled similarly.

They might even be living in this solar system ... the slow cold parts thereof. Wild speculation, might what we call a comet be what they call bidding a final farewell to a deceased loved one? Tip the ashes down the gravity well?

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Nigel 11
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Boffin

Re: blah

Always find the fact the stuff escapes from a black hole (ie the jets) confusing

It doesn't escape. The jets are the stuff that avoids falling into the black hole, after getting close enough to be generally shredded, vaporized, and heated to incredibly high temperatures by the rest of the stuff whirling around that does ultimately fall in.

It's a bit like dust trying to escape a Dyson vacuum cleaner. Very little does. The only way it can, is to go dead straight up the axis of rotation of the vertex.

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Scottish PhDs hoist kilt to reveal storage array killer

Nigel 11
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If it works down at the logical volume level, there's no reason to restrict the filestore that runs above it. zfs or btrfs might be good matches (they're supposed to be self-healing, should the worst happen and data be irretrievably lost).

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Nigel 11
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Re: Limited use cases

Leverage Wake on LAN?

However, there will always be cases whre data is lost, temporarily or permanently. A whole lab of PCs shut down while the electricians or decorators work. A set of PCs being unavailable, which exceeds the redundancy in whatever redundant storage technique is in use. So it can't ever be quite as reliable as proper server-room storage with a proper backup strategy.

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Network boffins say Terabit Ethernet is TOO FAST

Nigel 11
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Boffin

Physics LImits

They're getting quite close to the physics limits. The frequency of light (visible light) is in the range 400 to 800 Terahertz. So 1THz modulation is a significant fraction of the carrier frequency, and dispersion effects will start to be very significant.

It was solved with radio waves a long time ago, but we don't yet have anything like the control over individual cycles of optical light that we do over individual cycles of RF and Microwave radiation. As far as light is concerned, we're still doing the equivalent of AM radio.

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Bitcoin Foundation vows to clean up currency's bad rep

Nigel 11
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Re: my granny don't get it

Have you ever tried explaining the notion of money as it currently exists, as if to a man from Mars? One thing is certain: most people don't have a clue, and also don't have a clue that they don't have a clue.

So being too complicated for most folks to understand ought not to be a barrier to adoption. Consider also computers, mobile phones, airplanes, automobiles.

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Windows 8 early-bird users still love Windows 7 more - poll

Nigel 11
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WTF?

If you have Windows 7 in your coat pocket, you are part of a very small minority (technologically or sartorially or probably both).

As for the mode of working: I like overlapping windows. Anything that insists that I should only be able to see one app at a time doesn't have a clue about the sort of work I do.

I wonder what the city dealing rooms will do (four or more monitors per workstation, ALL displaying multiple windows from multipe apps)?

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Nigel 11
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Re: That's gotta hurt

And crucially, this is a poll of self-selected early (pre-release) adopters, who you might expect to be of the neophile tendency, and inclined in general to like things merely for being new and different.

Things will be much, much worse for MS when XP ceases to be supported, and the folks who thought Windows 7 was a downgrade are confronted with Windows 8 (maybe as the only option on a new PC? )

Apple must be rubbing their hands in gleeful anticipation.

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Tibetan STATUE found by 1930s NAZI expedition is of ALIEN ORIGIN

Nigel 11
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Alert

Amazing ...

No-one has yet made a Stross / Laundry tie-in. Hope they've installed good wards on it.

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CPS grovels after leaking IDs of hundreds arrested during student riots

Nigel 11
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FAIL

Not nearly as serious ...

This isn't nearly as serious as when the CPS discloses details of witnesses to dangerous thugs or their lawyers. The witnesses have variously been intimidated into withdrawing their testimony, roughed up, or murdered.

the CPS has a considerable amount of form for doing this. So much so, I have occasionally wondered whether incompetence was an adequate explanation.

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Intel denies that its CEO thinks Windows 8 isn't ready

Nigel 11
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Never believe anything in politics until it is officially denied

Otto von Bismarck apparently said this first. I tend to remember the "Yes Minister" formulation, which I think was Sir Humphrey observing "on the other hand, it hasn't yet been officially denied ...".

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Space Station ready to SWERVE sat junk hurtling towards it

Nigel 11
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Space-cleaners

Serious suggestions have been made about how to clean up orbital junk. You'd need orbiting robot craft that would match orbit with each piece of junk and deal with it. You won't want to take the junk on board because that means you'd need more fuel for the next orbital rondezvous, and soon you'd be out of fuel.

The manouvering would use a low-thrust high-efficiency electrically-powered thuster such as VASIMR. When it matched orbit with a piece of junk it would attach a very lightweight "parachute". Something to maximise drag with respect to the very thin atmosphere or solar wind up there. This would cause the piece of junk to de-orbit over a number of years, ending with it re-entering and burning up.

Sort of like a fleet of orbiting Roombas!

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Nigel 11
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Re: What ever happened to the "Right Stuff"?

Absolutely the wrong thing to do. Google "Kessler syndrome", or read some SF.

A single large piece of space junk can be tracked and avoided. 10000 small pieces of space junk can't. And at orbital velocities, even small pieces can cause huge damage.

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DDR4 memory: Twice the speed, less power

Nigel 11
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Re: Sort of...

DDR3 was initially more expensive than DDR2, because DDR2 was the mainstream volume product and DDR3 the exotic new one. Today, DDR3 is the mainstream product and if you want to upgrade a system using DDR2, that upgrade will cost you more than the same amount of DDR3.

It'll be the same for DDR4 if it catches on. And if Intel backs it for the core-i4 or whatever they call it, then it most certainly will catch on!

As for upgrading a DDR4 system, I doubt that you are right. Chances are it'll be completely flexible and a system will work with 1-N sticks of DDR3, quite possibly even if they are all different sizes. There's already more flexibility than most people realize with DDR3 - matched pairs are best for performance but not mandatory (and give me 8Gb mismatched over 2Gb matched any day! )

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Intel CEO thinks Windows 8 isn't ready, insider claims

Nigel 11
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Unhappy

One size does not fit all.

Microsoft's big mistake is thinking that what fits a smartphone can also fit a desktop.

I'm no Apple fanboi, but Apple knows this. An iPhone is not the same as an iPad and is absolutely different to an iMac, in UI terms.. True Apple fans go out and buy one of each, because all of them get a lot of UI things right, for the size and usage of each class of device.

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Nigel 11
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Re: The Score

You missed out Win 2000 and Win ME.

I guess you weren't there in 95, because Win 95 was a bad one, 98 was better, 98SE the best of that technology, and ME an utter dog's breakfast. Having installed ME you either wiped it and reinstalled 98SE, or you were well softened-up for a new PC running Windows 2000 (which was also pretty bad).

A few months back I loaded 98SE into a VMware VM on a modern fast PC, just for fun. Boy did it boot fast!

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Nigel 11
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Mushroom

Re: something new here ?

is this not so with every Windows OS release ?

You mean like Vista? It never got fixed, it got rapidly replaced and then buried. Neophiles got shafted. Buy into the hype and then buy again to get something that was usable!

Windows 9 will be coming sooner than many think.

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Vandals break into congressman's office, install Linux on PCs

Nigel 11
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Who stands to gain?

Who stands to gain by mentioning that this act of vandalism involved use of a tool called Linux? (A detail that's about as relevant as someone's window being smashed using an Apple charger brick, rather than the more usual house-brick).

Is Microsoft a large campaign donor by any chance?

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Google Go language gets used: For file-scrambling trojan, though

Nigel 11
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Re: Great language name! Not confusing at all?

You'll very often find it referred to as Golang, possibly to make it searchable. Or use quotes: search "Go language" seems to hit on the right things.

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How hard is 3D printing?

Nigel 11
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Wax

It strikes me that one of the most interesting materials to print 3D things in, is wax. Can these printers do wax?

If you are wondering why: look up lost was casting. You surround the was with clay, heat it to boil and burn out the wax and to fire the clay, and finally cast metal into it. To start with it could revolutionize the jewellery trade. You could go from a 3D cad design to a finished item cast in silver or gold in a day. And computers can calculate (and 3D-print? ) fractal designs so easily. Just try carving a fractal from a block of wax by hand!

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'Programming on Windows 8 just like playing bingo' - Microsoft VP

Nigel 11
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Devil

Re: 'just like playing bingo' ...

I think you meant "a true gamble" not a true gaming platform ....

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Nigel 11
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@Cmdr3X Re: thx for asking about variadic templaces

If you still want to learn programming, start with the right language. These days I'd suggest Python. Anyway, definitely a scripting language (interpreted), so you can type bits of code at the computer and immediately see what they do. As a side-bonus, you won't need to pay a penny for a compiler or a developer environment (even if you are determined to stick with Windows).

If you get to the point where you are a competent programmer and are being frustrated by the slowness of code written in your script language of choice, you might then consider learning a compiled language. (But do first make sure someone hasn't already written what you need!)

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Climate sceptic? You're probably a 'Birther', don't vaccinate your kids

Nigel 11
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Count yourself lucky

Count yourself lucky if the nutters find harmless things to believe in, like UFOs or NASA faking the moon landings or WTC conspiracies.

Without them they might find other things to believe in, like fascism or Maoism or any number of other -isms that have led to a state perpetrating mass murder.. They wouldn't have pre-labelled themselves as nutters, either.

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Raspberry Pi patch adds warranty-safe overclocking

Nigel 11
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Why?

see how high you can go until you find a setting that renders the board unstable.

Overclockers have always puzzled me. The manufacturer knows exactly which are the critical pathways in the CPU. They can test and appropriately speed-grade their chips by exercising these pathways. Intel turbo-mode is supported, meaning that Intel has tested your CPU at the highest turbo speed they support. You'll get correct results, as long as you stay within the thermal envelope.

But if your CPU has not been manufacturer-tested at the speed you are clocking it., all bets are off. Which matters most - getting the right results, or getting wrong results faster?

It's not an entirely rhetorical question. If you are rendering frames for a movie or game, wrong results are either immediately obvious or of no significance. However, that's a special case. One bit wrong in the allocation bitmap of a filesystem, or in the compression or encryption of a datastream, and the eventual loss may be huge. Even in a render farm, overclocking has risks: it's the same overclocked CPU crunching the pixels, and adjusting the allocation bitmap of the disk on which the results are stored.

So the question: why overclock a Pi, when you can so easily buy a faster system?

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Governments block YouTube over that video

Nigel 11
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Re: During the meanwhile ...

"not eat pork as it is the greatest sin" - like what did the poor pigs do to deserve that!?!?

in the Middle East, in centuries past, pigs carried a parasite that can infect humans with dire consequences.

Declaring pork to be unclean was a very sensible public-health measure at the time. The reason why it was so was at that time unknown. The unfortunate thing about religion is that now the reason IS known, the true believers nevertheless adhere to a commandment that makes absolutely no sense if you are living in 21st-Century England.

In other words, "Don't think. Just do what you are told".

Almost all mainstream religion has this fundamental flaw. As do many well-known secular cults: communism, fascism, managerialism, and many lesser ones.

IBM got it's first commandment right: "Think!"

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Brains behind Kazaa and Morpheus unleash patent storm

Nigel 11
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Mushroom

Re: Disgusting

The prior art for that one is milennia old!

The ancients used to write with no spaces between their words. Then they started to insert dots. Finally they hit on the idea of using spaces.

As for computer prior art, awk and its split() function is a relatively recent example!

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Mobile phones still failing to kill people – Nordic scientists

Nigel 11
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Hypersensitives

Have any of these people claiming to be hypersensitive to radio emissions been put through a double-blind test? Did any of them pass (i.e. prove that it's even possible for a human being to tell whether an alleged mobile phone in their proximity is or is not turned on, if it's sealed in an opaque plastic box that they can't touch or open, that's provided to them by a person who also doesn't know if the "phone" is on, off, or a root vegetable.

It's the same as with drugs. Some get better because they believe that inert tablets are useful medication (placebo effect), and some report unpleasant side effects even when the pills are inert dummies (which one might call drug hypersensitivity if it weren't a double-blind test).

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Ten USB 3.0 HDD enclosures

Nigel 11
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Joke

Re: Why blue LEDs?

Why never white LEDs?

I can guess: Apple has a patent on them.

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Forty Canadian birds BONKING against windows EVERY MINUTE

Nigel 11
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Strange

There must be something odd about those Canadian windows.

In all the years I've been looking at birds on a feeder table through a picture window, I can remember only a few bird bonks and only one fatality (a pigeon). They seem to be able to see the glass. A few do have to take emergency evasive action at the last moment - that this happens rarely suggests that they learn from experience.

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Microsofties to get Windows 8 Surface tabs

Nigel 11
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Re: this device will fall flat in the UK...

It's pretty unlikely to end up standing on its edge after a fall. Wonder how many falls before it fails.

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New guide: Bake your own Raspberry Pi Lego-crust cluster

Nigel 11
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Re: Great.. .but better ways to do the power...

A PC power supply will be VERY unhappy supplying many amps at 5V and none at 12V. It may refuse to work with that load, overheat and emit smoke, or simply waste a large fraction of the power going in. They're designed for use with modern PC hardware, with the lion's share of the power being consumed at 12V.

Just source a single-voltage power supply that delivers enough amps at 5V. There will be plenty of PSUs to choose from at RS or CPC. It may be cheaper to use multiple 5V 4A or 5A "bricks" than a single (say) 40A unit, and may also be easier to wire up.

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Swedish cops contain fermented herring menace

Nigel 11
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Re: Sounds even worse than durian fruit

I thought Durians were banned as cargo by every airline on the planet? Or has someone purchased a jet for the sole purpose of moving loads of Durian around the planet?

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Analysts: Shamoon oil biz malware flingers were 'amateurs'

Nigel 11
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Re: WTF?

I'd have thought it made them radical feminists of the "castrate them at birth" persuasion.

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GNOME hacker: Culture isn't holding desktop Linux back

Nigel 11
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Forget Joe Sixpack ... think businesses.

I'd say that the main reason people who know as little as possible about computers don't use Linux is far simpler than any of the above.

Linux can't run Microsoft Office (or some other MS-only package to which they are attached by advertising, brainwashing or addiction ). Yes, they could switch to LibreOffice with less trouble than switching from Word 2003 to Word 2007 ... but they won't unless someone tells them that they have to, because of inter-operability issues. (If I said peer pressure to conform, I'd not be too far off the mark).

The question we should be asking, is why are big businesses and governments almost all still wedded to Microsoft, when one might have thought they could save huge amounts of money by switching to Linux?

One answer is "support costs too high". A more likely one is "migration costs too high". Once again, Microsoft Office is the moat Linux would have to fight its way across.

I don't know the answer, but I'm certain that arguing the minutae of font design on a particular Linux desktop option isn't the least bit relevant.

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There is life after the death of Microsoft’s Windows 8 Start button

Nigel 11
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Re: Waste of my time

So, you think it would be a really smart move for the UK to decide overnight that everyone should be told to drive on the same side of the road as Europe?

Of course not. It would cause chaos and kill lots of people.

Well, Windows 8 has made the same mistake, except it won't kill so many people. (It will certainly kill some. Annoyed or stressed users having heart attacks. Emergency service operators or medics failing to react correctly or fast enough because they are struggling with the unfamiliar new interface. And so on)

Yes, I'm sure I could get used to it. I just don't see why I should waste my time on a completely pointless change.

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WD to parade flash-disk mutant for Wall St moneybags this week

Nigel 11
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Hybrid drive query

Something I've been wondering about hybrid drives: do they remain readable if/when the flash cache fails?

In my experience, most (not all) conventional disk drives fail gradually and the SMART statistics (especially reallocations) give you advance warning. In contrast flash devices go from working storage to utterly bricked "just like that". It would be nice to be told that if the flash part of a hybrid drive does turn into a brick, what's on the magnetic disk can still be retrieved.

Failing which it will be smarter for one's operating system to control a flash cache and a magnetic disk drive as separate devices. In fact maybe the drive manufacturers could package this option as one SATA device with two LUNs, or even make it a jumper-configurable mode?

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Scientists provide a measure of uncertainty

Nigel 11
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Mathematical crypto also has its problems

Crypto systems have a critical weakness: private keys have to be kept secret. If they fall into the wrong hands, the cryptography is broken.

There are also mathematical weaknesses. It is now known that not all keys are equal. Statistical techniques have been developed that make a subset of keys very much more crackable than others the same length. Of course, once such an attack is known, vulnerable keys can be rejected, but suppose there are other mathematical weaknesses that have not been made public?

Also, most modern crypto depends on the Riemann hypothesis being true. Few mathematicians think otherwise, but it has yet to be actually proved. By the way, if you ever discover a disproof, spam it far and wide and then go into hiding for a few months. It's the only way you'll remain alive and at liberty!

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Mars probably never wet enough for life, nuclear bomb crater indicates

Nigel 11
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Re: No life?

Venus is too close to the sun for terraforming (unless orbiting sunshades are possible). Venus suffers/ suffered a runaway greenhouse effect caused in the first instance by water vapour, which we couldn't do without.

Mars's problem is low gravity, meaning atmosphere (especially water vapour) tends to drift off into space. However, that's a slow problem taking geological time. It *might* be possible to terraform Mars by directing a lot of cometary ice at the planet to replace or supply the necessary water. Then pump loads of CFCs into the Martian atmosphere to create a super-greenhouse effect, to compensate for the weaker sunlight.

Of course that way there would never be an ozone layer to keep UV out, but Mars is further from the Sun so theUV will at least be weaker by proportion. We'd have to colonise the Oort clouds first, though, to get hold of the vast amounts of water-ice it would take.

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Nigel 11
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Unhappy

Re: Fossil Finds...

Either way, it would cast a whole new perspective on our place in the Uniwerse.

Unfortunately, not so (unless Martian biochemistry proves to be utterly un-earthlike). Extinction-level meteor impacts can eject bits of Mars into orbits that are later captured by Earth, and to a lesser extent (because it's more "uphill") vice versa. Microbes can survive incredible accelerations, and a long time in vacuum. Therefore, it's a near certainty that whichever planet first evolved microbial life would have spread its microbes to the other. So if we find familar RNA-based microbes on Mars, they probably originated here. That, or Earthlife originated on Mars.

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Fanboi beats 'e-trespassing' rap after using GPS to find stolen iPad

Nigel 11
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Citation hardly needed: do the statistics

Someone who was ten in 1945 would be 77 today. The majority of such people will still be living. The activities of the Gestapo in the occupied Nederlands are well-documented. And the legal structures of a country usually arise out of its history.

It is of course a hypothesis: as with most statements about society it's almost impossible to prove scientifically.

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Nigel 11
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Netherlands

This is probably because even today there are people in the Netherlands living with the memory of jackbooted thugs arriving at their front doors and dragging off their loved ones (parents, mostly, these days) to be "interrogated" and shot.

The Netherlands may have gone too far to the opposite extreme, but it's certainly the lesser error.

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Nigel 11
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Re: Odd system

Some branches of my extended family tree are extinct.

When the state of Germany was founded under Bismarck, my distant ancestors happily trotted off to register themselves as citizens. One of the things they volunteered was their religion: "Jewish".

The rest, as they say, is history. Never assume that government will remain even slightly benevolent for the duration of your lifetime, and for that of several generations of your descendants. In case you don't realize it, your DNA could be used to identify your children or even great-grandchildren, many years after your death.

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Boffins computerize giant cyborg cockroaches

Nigel 11
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Coffee/keyboard

SoC

System on Cockroach! I was drinking coffee when I read that!

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Torvalds bellows: 'The GNOME PEOPLE are in TOTAL DENIAL'

Nigel 11
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Re: A bit off topic but...

The problem is of course, that most users will just click yes without actually reading the question, so what we need is another question to check you really meant to click yes. The problem is of course, that most users.....

The answer is to generate an informative message and at the end, something like "To confirm that you have read and understand the above, please type the first letter of the fourth word on the sixth line, followed by the fifth letter of the second word on the seventh line" (ideally, with random nths).

That will at least jog the user out of auto-click mode. The rest is down to whether he's got a brain to engage. If he's just a slightly higher-level automaton than the computer, there's nothing can be done about it. (Ignorance is curable. Stupidity is terminal).

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Voyager's 35th birthday gift: One-way INTERSTELLAR ticket

Nigel 11
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You are just a simulation of a human brain in the aliens' computer. It monitors where you think you are looking and sends appropriate simulations of reality back to simulated optic nerves.

Same idea on a grander scale, and a bugger to disprove. Isn't Occam's Razon wonderful! Relax and watch ze blinkenlights.

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Nigel 11
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Re: 35 years old

Your radio is in a moist oxidising atmosphere. Why do you think that things we want to last for a long time are vacuum-packed?

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Nigel 11
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Re: Eternity

It will evaporate(*) well before eternity. It will probably have evaporated before it next encounters a solar system (unless they managed to aim it precisely at one of our nearest neighbours a mere handful of light-years away).

(*) most things have a vapour pressure greater than that of interstellar space. Also it's being bombarded by high-energy particles.

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'Immortal cancer' found in Australia

Nigel 11
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Unhappy

Re: It's somewhat sad...

There's a great difference between a species dying out due to a virulent disease and a species dying out because we killed it.

But we did kill this species, just less directly. We killed almost all of them. They bred back, but because the species had at one point been reduced to a small number of individuals, they all share a very restricted gene pool. Hence this cancer, which can infect all of them, and which may cause their extinction.

There may also be a wider lesson. Another species which came through a genetic choke point is our own. It's reckoned that at some point about 80,000 years ago, the entire population of homo sapiens was less than a thousand. We too are far more vulnerable to extinction by some new plague, than most other species.

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Nigel 11
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Boffin

Re: Reverse the polarity of the Neutron flow.

Unlocking our telomeres would be much more likely to increase the rate of cancers than giving us immortality.

More realistically, it might give most of us a healthy life extending to 100, maybe 120 years. How successfully depends on how many of the diseases and failings of old age are caused by the biological senescence mechanism, and now many by other causes such as accumulating cellular mutations.

Alzheimers is not a certainty. I remember interviews with Jeanne Calment (she lived to 122, despite smoking heavily all her life!) and Harry Patch (the last veteran of WW1). Both were of sound mind when their bodies quit on them. So are the majority of people who (mostly) die in their 70s, 80s and 90s from causes related directly or indirectly to cellular senescence.

Wrt cancer: as other causes of death become curable or treatable, its incidence increases. It's also more likely the older we are, because of accumulating cellular mutations. Personally I'd take an increased risk of eventually falling to cancer, than the near-inevitability of falling apart in my 80s or 90s when my body's self-repair mechanisms start to turn off.

Immortality is not even conceptually attractive. However, a few more decades of reasonably enjoyable life most certainly is.

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Wireless Power breakthrough: Iron Man can lose the chest reactor

Nigel 11
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Inductive coupling?

I've always wondered why medical implants can't be recharged by simple mains-frequency inductive coupling. An iron-cored coil connected to a rectifier inside the patient (sealed in appropriate non-metallic bio-compatible material). To recharge, strap a bigger mains-activated coil on the outside of the body.

Ancient technology, but it's how my electric toothbrush is recharged. Why haven't medical devices used it for decades?

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