2413 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009
Isn't definition 4 appropriate?
BTW It struck me that definition 4 also leads to definition 3, if used in the context of a lynch mob.
The real truth is that they won't allow independant verification of their version of "truth". Also, that they are now issuing official denials of what has previously been reported.
Draw your own conclusions.
Re: Get your tin-foil hats here -- at these prices I'm cutting my own throat
There's a rarely-considered particle that is created by all high-energy physics experiments. They violate causality, because they always appear before the experiment is carried out, and never afterwards.
They're called Trolls.
Physical properties. Amongst others it's highly reflective, highly malleable, polishes to a near-perfect mirror surface, conducts electricity very well, doesn't tarnish(*), and it's very dense.
(*) More accurately it's a noble metal - a gold surface is actually gold. C.f. aluminium or zirconium or many other shiny metals which also polish to a good mirror, but which have surfaces of protective metal oxide, not pure metal.
Here I guess that the high density is key for the target. Platinum is slightly denser but won't offer such a clean surface, is harder to fabricate, and costs even more in any case.
Re: I think a certain water bureau might not be very good at their job
The interesting thing about arsenic is that we need some, in the correct form, in our diet
Has that actually been proved?
Last time I read about it, the status of Arsenic as a trace element in higher organisms was unknown. It's omnipresent in the environment in small concentrations, so it's impossible to feed a rat on a completely Arsenic-free diet to see whether it develops a deficiency disease. On the other hand, there wasn't any known enzyme or other bio-molecule with Arsenic as an essential component.
Best guess was that Arsenic is an element that higher organisms have evolved to tolerate in low doses, because those doses are omnipresent.
I do know that certain micro-organisms are known to have evolved in Arsenic-rich waters to substitute Arsenic for Phosphorus in many (not all) of their biological pricesses. But drinking those same waters would soon kill a mammal, so any read-across is doubtful.
Where did the water go when they "flushed it"?
The local soft drinks bottling plant, of course. (With a 20% discount).
Re: Here comes the science bit
The law just needs to get a sense of proportionality.
Yes, he's guilty as charged. But let's see. If three years is an appropriate sentence for a waiter caught pissing in the soup, then for pissing in a reservoir you get three-billionths of that sentence. I make that a shade under fifty milliseconds.
BTW just one anthrax spore might be enough to kill you, if it's the lucky one in a million. This is the difference between biological and chemical weaponry.
Re: Some one else needs to be charged ...(@ Evil Auditor)
but dead animals and bird droppings added AFTER the chlorine... that really would freak me out.
I hope you are one of the few people who never allows any tap water that didn't come from the kitchen cold tap past their lips. Also, that you have checked the routing of all the pipes in your property, and have inspected the situation in the loft.
Commonly in a flat in a Victorian building, the other taps are fed from a header tank in the loft, that is not covered, and which is accessible to any wildlife that can get in under the eaves. I have heard of cases where people complained to the water authority that their water tasted unpleasant, and the problem was traced to a decomposing pigeon or rat in the header tank. It's also not unknown for the kitchen cold tap to be mis-plumbed into the supply from the header tank. And of course, mixer taps mix a bit of impure hot water into the "pure" cold water, if you select cold but the previous usage was warm.
Personally, I'm rather more concerned about leachate from the coal tar (ie concentrated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, bio-accumulative carcinogens) with which the Victorians sealed their cast iron public water supply systems against leakage. Many of these pipes are still in use. At least London has the saving grace of hard water coating the innards of everything in limescale.
Oh, and "plumbed" my well mean plumbed with actual lead pipes, if the building is pre-war. Again I'm glad of the hard water in London.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. You now have permission to vomit.
Re: Urine is sterile
Potassium Cyanide can also be 'sterile' , but by your reasoning it would also be safe to 'drink'
Diluted to the extent that's being considered here, it would be.
Re: Well done postgres hackers - fantastic job
"We've found a bug in your product."
"Great. Let us have the details and we'll fix it"
"By soonest? Well, yes, if you're willing to pay someone to work specifically on your problem for a few days ... actually it's already been fixed in the latest release, but we understand you may have operational reasons for prefering to pay for a back-port of the bug-fix ..."
"We've found a bug in your product"
"Great. pay us $$$$$$ for an upgrade to the current version"
"Is it fixed in the current version?"
"No, but we can't open a ticket against your obsolete version"
[snip - unproductive dialogue]
"Whaddya mean, you'll sue? Haven't you read our terms and conditions? Anyway, we've got more and better-paid lawyers than you. You ought to know that, after all it's you that's paying for them when you buy our products"
(It's Friday. Don't take this too seriously).
Re: There's a sweet spot
Who will spend two days travelling from Shanghai to London when you can fly in under 12 hours?
Someone deeply air-travel-phobic?
By 2100, with an optimist's perspective, it's probable that we'll be back to the 1920s with only the very rich or very important people flying, and everyone else using electrically-powered trains. (And quite possibly sail-powered ships, unless they allow ships to burn coal, or build nuclear-powered mega-ships. )
Re: Doesn't add up
So why are they proposing to lay 13,000 km of track?
THINK BIG! By the time China Global Railroad is complete, much more than 13 Megameters.
From Seattle, across the USA, and South to Latin America (via Panama)
From Beijing, through Russia to Europe, and either across the Straits of Gibraltar into Africa or possibly via Iran and Saudi. Either way, ending at Capetown.
Don't forget the branch line tunneling under the Himalayas to India.
It's not even a new idea, but its time just might be coming (ie when the oil finally starts running out). Yes, the politics is "interesting", on top of which there are a few other rather tricky bits of geology asides from the Bering Strait.
Re: Fresh water: It's the new oil.
The UK has considerable advantages on that front. We have high rainfall (Southeast excepted), and we're a fairly small island so it ought to be possible to pipe seawater to just about anywhere. I'm assuming that one can frack with seawater? Not so sure about what sort of pollution is in the water returned post-fracking, but unless there are cumulative toxins, the sea is very large and can dilute almost anything that's not bio-accumulative to harmlessness.
Re: Another reason the standard should have been 10gbit/sec long ago
10Gb/s copper as a viable upgrade from 1Gb/s would be a serious power drain, if it could be done at all.
10Gb Ethernet over copper as standardised today is limited to 10 metres. That's enough for some server room applications (including this one?) but not far enough for networking premises. If 100 metres at 10Gb over copper is possible at all, it would eat considerably more power than 1Gb/s (which in turn eats significantly more power than 100Mb/s - IIRC a good fraction of a Watt per link).
BTW for performance, Flash-SSD memory shouldn't be on a disk bus at all. It should be a card on the system's PCIe lanes. It's often made to look like a disk drive because that way it can supply a performance boost to existing disk-based infrastructures, but it's hardly the best way to use the flash memory.
Re: How long...
Which maybe points to why full migration to ipV6 isn't likely any time soon?
Re: Anyone else think "Golgafrincham" while reading this?
I'm afraid I thought of pretty much the opposite, as written in Kornbluth's "The Marching Morons". (Classic SF from the 1950s - I think it actually predates me).
Re: Weights and Measurements
Was this not the basis of the Issac Azimov 'Foundation' books?
Sure was. And that's fiction. Which was pretty much the point I was making.
Re: ummm right....
And... Floating a balloon in that stuff with rather...uncomfortable.... conditions to crash right in to makes for a nice suicide bet.
Like, living on Earth during the cold war wasn't pretty much the same? (We came within minutes if not seconds of mutually assured nuclear destruction more than once). Come to that, how much better are things today?
People still live in Tokyo, Istanbul and San Francisco ... what are their chances when the big earthquake hits? Definitely when, not if, though maybe when is after their life comes to some other natural end. That's the key.
What are your chances if an airliner in which you are crossing an ocean develops a major mechanical malfunction? I'd expect a floating city to have a fair degree of self-repair capability, and lifeboats, both conspicuously missing from our airliners.
I can actually imagine the idea of floating cities above Venus working, but not in the near future. First, we'd have to solve the problem of getting raw materials to first build and then maintain those cities. Robot miners working down below (at 600C in Sulphuric Acid vapour)? Or mining asteroids, and delivery from above ... how, exactly?
Maybe five hundred years hence, if we don't wipe ourselves out or develop the social equivalent of senility.
And I think O'Neill colonies in Earth orbit or Earth's Lagrange points might be easier.
Re: "may make a good sci-fi writer"
"Halting state" is written in the second person. It didn't bother me that much. It's the sort of thing that authors do as part of being creative. I wasn't convinced it added anything compared to the conventional mode of narration, but I didn't find it hard to process.
Have you ever tried Iain Banks' "Feersum Endjinn", in which one of the narrators is dyslexic? Or (the book) "Clockwork Orange"?
Re: Weights and Measurements
Stross is a completely awesome writer of entertaining and thought-provoking fiction.
As for economics, I have yet to be convinced that anyone understands economics. As a physicist, I know that fluid dynamics is really hard, and climate modelling even harder. Now try climate modelling with particles (people) that make their own decisions about how they are going to behave, based on the conditions in which they find themselves. You really think you can do that?
Most economists I've talked to don't know enough maths to recognise an (impossibly?) hard problem when they see it. They just catalogue what's (mostly not) worked in the past and suggest on that basis things that might work in the future. Like one would expect,they mostly don't work. But what hey, sometimes you luck out, and then you're famous and influential and enjoying tidbits from the tables of the seriously rich.
To the extent that they are reminding us of the bits of history to remember rather than repeat, they're not entirely bad. Compared, say, to parasitic "professional managers" who claim that they don't need to know anything about the business activities that they are in charge of and the lives they fsck up.
Re: Snowden was/is a chinese spy.
So why is he stuck in Russia?
If you really want to scare yourself about the future ....
Read some good SF. I found the back-stories in Vernor Vinge's "A Deepness in the Sky" particularly haunting. Societies that were driven back to the stone age or extinct by inflicting omnipresent surveillance on themselves. Others which avoided that trap, and fell into the more subtle trap of over-optimizing their civilisations, thus finding themselves powerless to avert a complete collapse when entropy finally gained the upper hand.
The front story is also pretty darned good, though (IMO) a bit less frighteningly plausible.
Do we have the wisdom to avoid in real life, that which will haunt your dreams when you read it as fiction? I very much fear not.
Re: Well said that man.
Where are the EU alternatives for email, cloud storage, and social networking?
Email - if you care, use encryption. The e-mail protocols are absolutely as open as a postcard in the mail unless you encrypt. PGP also allows your correspondent to verify that it was you who sent the e-mail, not someone impersonating you. Alternatively just don't say anything in e-mail that you wouldn't write on a postcard.
Cloud Storage: again, if you care, keep your live data locally and encrypt your backup data before it enters the cloud. Or decide that the risk of putting your corporate crown jewels outside the physical boundaries of the corporation is not worth the cost savings from using cloud services instead of locally-hosted ones.
Social networking: oh really? I find the best way of not having spooks, burglars, con-men, salesmen, salesdroids, bosses, promotion rivals, exes, and random nutters knowing more about me than I know about myself, is not to use social networks at all. Call me paranoid if you want, but surely the USA gubmint comes very far down on the list of people that most social network users should concern themselves with?
If you are of dircet interest to the NSA none of the above will help. Your best bet would be to refuse to use any electronic device manufactured since 1990, but they'll probably still have you bugged and monitored 24x7. There are people out there who choose to live without any technology not available several centuries ago. I should think that a modern spook's biggest challenge would be spying on someone living an Amish lifestyle!
Re: Well said that man.
There's even no operating system available which wouldn't be controlled by an American company.
Boggle. Ever heard of Linux?
Not only is it not controlled by an American company, it is not controlled by any company or other organisation at all. It's Free Open Source Software.
It's possible that there are backdoors in Linux or related software that were engineered by the NSA and which are sufficiently obscure that all the folks who have since looked at the source code have missed the problem. Witness Heartbleed (which was probably an accident, but similarly was not noticed for quite some time). But that's not the same as controlled.
Re: The May blossom is out @Captain Hogwash
For me, all along the Thames footpath at Richmond (SW London), last Saturday. Is this a long way South from you?
The horse chestnut trees are also all in blossom, which I think is even more advanced than the May in April.
Re: As a matter of interest ....
So what's the fastest processor you can currently get that runs at 20W?
It's a question of connectivity rather than operations/second. That's where a brain retains an orders-of-magnitude advantage over man-made Silicon. It's a distributed 3-D processing network, compared to Silicon 2-D ones. (If you estimate fractal dimension the gap isn't quite so huge - maybe 2.8D versus 2.3D).
If operations/second was all it took, we'd have lost several years ago. Brain: 10^11 neurons switching maybe 10Hz. Computers: 10^4 CPUs switching at 10^9 Hz. But each neuron has around 10^3 synapses, so brains boast ~10^14 independant full-bandwidth interprocessor links!
I'm also perfectly prepared to believe that the only way to program a brain is the way that nature does it: grow one, connect it via high-bandwidth links to its environment, and wait fifteen-plus years for it and its parents and its society to bootstrap it. (NB it is scientific fact that the physical structure of our brains changes very significantly at puberty - adolescence really *does* do one's head over! )
The joker in the pack will be if any subsystems in out brains are discovered to be quantum computational devices. Most think this unlikely. I'm not so sure. Did the quantum realm really remain completely unexploited throughout six hundred million years' evolution of nervous systems?
Re: “you have to know how the brain works to program one of these”.
I've seen plenty of instances of cats programming human brains ....
Don't write Intel off!
Intel has two advantages. Its process technology is second to none. And it is the platform of choice for proprietary binary-only applications.
Intel was in grave danger when Netburst (P4 architecture) failed and AMD (briefly) gained the whip hand, but they've long since spotted the danger presented to their business by inefficient electricity usage, and are well down the road to remedying it.
The mot efficient ARM CPU would be the one fabbed by Intel ... but until someone else can make serious inroads to the server-room under the handicap of a less advanced process technology, the world is unlikely to see that CPU. I'd be surprised if it didn't already exist in a secret R&D lab somewhere inside Intel ... plan B stuff ... unless they've forgotten that "only the paranoid survive".
A different perspective
Although I can't agree entirely, it's worth pointing out that in Sweden and other parts of Scandinavia, there is a very different attitude to taxpayers' privacy. There isn't any, and there's no significant public disquiet with that state of affairs.
Now a mature market, possibly declining?
1. Replacement interval for PCs is getting longer. Once 3 years to obsolescence, now 5 years, will probably soon be 7+ years, and determined by hardware becoming unreliable rather than obsolescent.
2. Many new systems use SSDs not HDs. SSDs are getting larger and cheaper. I expect that soon the default system device on a new corporate desktop PC will be an SSD, not a HD. The domestic PC market is in obvious decline. Consumers prefer tablets (with SSDs)
Which leaves cloud storage and enterprise storage on multi-Terabyte drives, but for how long?
IBM sold its disk drive business to HGST quite a few years back. I think IBM worked out what was coming on the SSD front long before the crowd did.
Re: Why is it warm?
There's a third possible heat source: a matter phase change in the core. Inside the earth, a solid(ish) iron(ish) core is believed to be crystallizing as an on-going process, and releasing heat as it does so. Heaven only knows what corresponding process might be going on in the core of a brown dwarf.
Much more to the point, the Yellowstone super-volcano is going to errupt all by itself "soon". (That's a geologists' "soon". Something like within 300ky, probability 0.9).
So it probably won't happen within our lifetimes. OTOH, when it does happen, one might expect it to usher in global starvation, anarchy and war, leading to the death of at least half the human population of the planet. (It could be much worse than that). Statistically, that's around a one in 10,000 chance it'll kill you. And there are a dozen or so other supervolcanoes around the planet!
Unlike looking out for large meteors, I'm not aware of any even slightly plausible way to tame a magma-filled supervolcano reservoir.
If a 50 metre chunk of iron is plummeting towards a city at 50000mph then there is nothing anybody can do about it one way or the other. There's no way to stop it happening and it's doubtful that you could evacuate the city in time
Depends how long ahead it is spotted. You don't need to impart much delta-V to convert an earth-hitting meteor into a near-missing meteor, if you spot it early enough.
Even if it's too late to move it (or even just to steer it away from an urban centre onto a less-populated area tens of miles away), with a single day's warning you could get people away from ground zero and into basements and strong buildings with all the glass taped up. They'd then survive (and with a meteor, there's no radioactive fallout).
Re: Maybe we need a couple hits near some major cities
Any hit with any human casualties, in a place that other folks can travel to, would be sufficient. Tunguska is too remote, in both space and time.
BTW a kiloton-equivalent object vaporising ten or more miles above the surface (ie Chelyabinsk) is no great deal. Lots of broken glass, but few severe injuries. It's anything that reaches (or comes very close to) the ground and creates a nuke-equivalent plasma ball there, which we have to be more concerned about.
The other danger, not mentioned above, is what might happen if a meteor strike devastated (say) Karachi. Would it be mis-identified, leading to an all-out nuclear strike and counterstrike in the following minutes? Indeed, are we sure that the USA or Russia would correctly identify what nature could throw at Washington or Moscow or other major cities?
Seven for one: WHY??
It baffles me why a company ever splits its shares other than ten for one. That way you can keep track of how your investment is doing (just read the digits and move the decimal point for the pre-split value).
Two for one and five for one are manageable with a little thought. Seven for one perhaps suggests that the company wants a complete disconnect in investors' minds between the old and new share price. What do they know is coming, that we don't?
Re: No change
Seriously, revelations reads like a bad trip
Probably, that's exactly and literally what it was.
Until recently, it was not understood that if grain was stored damp (ie after a bad harvest), a fungus called ergot would grow on it. The fungus produces ergotamine, which has effects similar to a bad LSD trip. And since an entire community likely ate bread baked from the same batch of bad wheat, they all went on a bad trip at the same time, and that made it even harder to dismiss the (shared) experience as mere hallucination.
Revelations indeed, though not divine.
Out of interest, how does the speed of this elevator compare to the devices that get people to work down deep mines? (some of which are over two miles deep).
Re: Power savings
OTOH for every hard disk that is replaced by an SSD, watts of power spent keeping the platters spinning are replaced by milliwatts of SSD standby power.
Yes, I know that modern operating systems can spin down the HD when it's not being used, but in quite a few cases there's some pesky app that regularly prods the disk so it doesn't spin down. Also spinning down a hard disk too often rather shortens its life, to the extent that I prefer mine to spin continuously except when I actively shut down or hibernate my PC.
Anyway, after reading that I'm not sure my PC will have a hard disk for much longer.
Re: the lightbulb moment...
I'm surprised no-one has asked yet ...
How many network technicians does it take to change a lightbulb ?
Re: So not actually making graphene then.
(perfect) Graphite is lots of layers of Graphene held together (mostly) by Van der Waals force between them. Graphene was first discovered by peeling one layer off a Graphite crystal (using sticky tape!). Prior to that, it was believed that a single isolated layer would not be chemically stable. Anyway, I too am puzzled as to what is the actual difference between Graphene in bulk, and ordinary Graphite. The area of the perfect atom-thick layers? I don't know how many imperfections there are in Graphite crystals.
Are there any mass extinction events around this time that corroborate this?
Is there an iridium or ash layer like chickycluxal?
No, because it was too long ago. 3400 My compared to 60My. Erosion and subduction will have long ago destroyed the macro-structure.
However, there will be special minerals such as shocked quartz that can only be generated by extreme pressure waves. And it may not be complete coincidence that the impact site seems to have been where we now find some of the the richest Platinum-group-metal-containing rocks on the planet.
Re: Assuming that..
the dinosaurs weren't very bright, and rather nasty to boot
You've got a time machine to hand?
Dinosaurs are still with us. We call them "birds". The big flightless ones all died out. The small flying ones didn't.
Of non-human intelligences on the planet, parrots and crows have to come pretty high up the list. Parrots have the verbal abilities of a human toddler, and that's speaking in human language. Some crows make tools (a step up from just using found tools). Considering that their brains are constrained to be so small, that's even more impressive.
So big dinosaurs might have been scarily smart critters. We'll never know (short of finding some 60My-old fossil tools made by intelligent 'saurs! ).
As for nasty, that's plain silly. Some were carnivores. So are many humans. They evolved to be carnivores, like tigers or killer whales. With humans, that's chosen behaviour.
Re: Wiped out species in existence?
impactor of that size would cause what is known as crustal tsunami. would just crush all underground shelters as it traveled around the globe
But life at that time was single-celled organisms living in oceans. Provided the water around them didn't vaporise or get hot enough to kill them, they'd survive with no trouble at all. An impact like his could sterilize all life on land and within rocks, but deepwater life away from the impact site would stay safe.
Re: @Tom 7
The hard thing about life is getting it started
Maybe. Or maybe not. Maybe it's a virtual inevitability, given a planet continuously covered in liquid water for a few tens or hundreds of millions of years. There's only one instance of life known to us at present, and you cannot calculate anything about the likelyhood of an event from a single datum.
However, one can observe that life started within a few hundred million years of the formation of this planet, and closer still to the later time when Earth developed stable oceans that weren't periodically boiled or vaporised. So life got started fairly quickly compared to the length of time it's been running for.
The same cannot be said of multicellular life. It may be that almost every planet in a habitable zone around a star is covered in slime, that only one in a million has multicellular organisms, and that we are currently the only intelligent life in our galaxy. But that's also speculation - only one datum, from which it's hard to make deductions about the likelyhood of life of any sort.
Re: Is this really as bad as it sounds?
I shoud think that if they sit out there and repeat every day / hour / minute, they'll soon find out how long one has to wait on average for a new chunk of un-zeroed memory to leak.I'd expect heap-management on the host system to recycle blocks of free memory fairly fast, unless it's a very lightly loaded system.
I wonder where they get their apps from, and how they stop stuff "leaking" through "their" handsets to the NSA?
Re: Look at this! - Compare to Mozilla FAQ
An honorable man, whatever one thinks of his views.
Re: No win. (@LDS)
The gay community is several percent of the human race (many of whom feel obliged to conceal the fact). What you mean is that a small, vociferous, extremist minority of the gay community is acting like McCarthy.
Can you name any group of people numbered in the millions, which does NOT have an organised and extremist group claiming to be acting on behalf of the other millions when in fact it's just pushing its own agenda?
Don't be silly, and put Firefox back (unless you actually prefer some other browser, in which case don't claim you removed Firefox as a protest).
Re: Freedom of speech goes both ways here
Some people can, and some people can't, leave their beliefs as a private individual at home when they go to work. If he was one of the former group, then it was wrong to call for his resignation. If one of the latter group, it's his employees who shouuld have led the campaign to oust him.
In my book I'll contrast the speed with which he resigned to save his company embarassment (perhaps he should have toughed it out?), with a certain MP who resigned today after fighting an unjustifiable, legalistic, and threatening battle with the media over the facts of her abuse of the house of commons expenses system. I know who I'd rather work under!
Re: Thank god I have an old car
The important thing is that safety-critical systems are appropriately firewalled from infotainment systems. The last thing one wants is malware or a hacker getting in to the standard networked OS running the infotainments, and then accidentally or deliberately crashing your car. (I.e. crashing the safety-critical systems, followed shortly afterwards by a mechanical impact).
IMO appropriately firewalled means something like a serial interface with a very limited set of readonly diagnostic commands. Ideally, air-gapped until a service cable is attached. Re-flashing or re-parametrising the safety-critical stuff should require removal of the control unit from the innards of the car and breaking the seal covered in dire warnings about why you shouldn't break it.
The other important thing is that the safety-critical systems are engineered to an approriately high standard, and engineered to fail safe. There have been some worrying reports of late suggesting auto manufacturers are cutting corners that would never be allowed in aviation.
BTW Electric cars simpler than internal combustion? I doubt it. You need precision control of battery charging and discharging, monitoring of motor temperatures so you can't drive hard enough to burn them out, monitoring of the battery for dangerous excursions (leading to thermal runaway and fire if not stamped on), plus the same antilock braking systems and ESP as a fuel-driven car (and don't forget, the engine is also a regenerative braking system). I don't see this as simple. Fuel tanks are less capable of spontaneous combustion than big Lithium batteries. There aren't two competing braking systems one of which interacts with the fuelling system on a fuel-driven car.
- Infosec geniuses hack a Canon PRINTER and install DOOM
- Feature Be your own Big Brother: Monitoring your manor, the easy way
- Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
- In a spin: Samsung accuses LG exec of washing machine SABOTAGE
- Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer