* Posts by Chemist

2702 posts • joined 24 Mar 2010

Boffins build blazing battery bonfire


Re: "Do you have a ref. for this. What in deity's name is a 'reverse catalyst' ??"

Let me be clear on this, at least for others. A catalyst only increases reaction rates (in either direction equally ) by lowering the activation energy. The system will reach its tthermodynamic equilibrium ( at the temp/pressure it's under) faster. It's a kinetic effect.


Re: Hmm. Reminds me of the SolChem work of the US NRL in the early 80's.

"reverse catalysts "

Do you have a ref. for this. What in deity's name is a 'reverse catalyst' ??

DeepMind quits playing games with AI, ups the protein stakes with machine-learning code


Re: I'm confused.

"Template-based modelling, however, only works if there is another well-known protein that is comparable"

However there are many in-between cases. One of the best ones I know are the prediction of the beta-propeller structure in integrins from other beta-propellers where the sequence match is rather poor.


Re: Grail seekers

"There's no Holy Grail, just a lot more work."

It would be nice to think there was but having spent 10+ years modeling proteins I tend to agree it's hard.

Incidentally the most important property of a sequence is probably to fold quickly and cleanly. Efficient function is nice to have.

No, you haven't gone deaf – the Large Hadron Collider has been wound down for more upgrades


Re: Explain pleeeese

"H− has two electrons, and is stable because they fill the S orbital so nicely."

Depends on what you mean by stable - H- is wildly reactive. Sodium hydride, for example is stored mixed with mineral oil to protect it from atmospheric moisture etc.


Re: Explain pleeeese

H- is hydride, a proton + 2e-. One simple example being NaH, sodium hydride

Taking an electron from atomic (mono) hydrogen gives a proton.

So H- lose electron -> H lose electron -> proton

It's all a matter of time: Super-chill atomic clock could sniff gravitational waves, dark matter


Re: Huh?

"Dark matter has an effect on gravity, gravitational waves are a change or variation in/of gravity."

AFAIK gravitational waves distort spacetime and change lengths & time as they pass. They are not in themselves 'gravity'

A lot going on here so I've not been able to refresh my memory on this.

Shocker: UK smart meter rollout is crap, late and £500m over budget


Re: How are these supposed to save energy

"Microwaved some coffee, put a spoonful of brown sugar in it, ,,, and WHOOSH"

It's essentially an example of kinetic v thermodynamic effect. Thermodynamically the water has enough ( more than ) energy to boil but no initiating pathway. In the lab we used little fragments of glass or wooden sticks ( added before reaching boiling I might add) to promote smooth boiling. Your sugar just trigger very rapid boiling. Almost like a mild explosion in fact. Cryogenic liquid gases added to room-temp water can sometimes behave in a similar manner - the initial turbulence promoting more and more rapid mixing until the evolution of gas become very violent.


Re: How are these supposed to save energy

"Kettles are incredibly efficient at boiling water"

And not as likely to scald you as water heated in a microwave which can 'bump'*

* lab term for a superheated liquid that suddenly boils violently.

Linux kernel Spectre V2 defense fingered for massively slowing down unlucky apps on Intel Hyper-Thread CPUs


"I think the only thing to use all the cores at once is gcc"

Video transformations often(usually) use many cores

Try scaling video using ffmpeg - it uses all 4(8 cores) cores on this i7 laptop

Junior dev decides to clear space for brewing boss, doesn't know what 'LDF' is, sooo...


"system to track all of their beer barrels in the UK"

Hacking that with the search term "FULL" & "LOCATION" would be good.


Brit boffins build 'quantum compass'... say goodbye to those old GPS gizmos, possibly


Re: Quantum navigation

"So it knows *where* it is, but it doesn't know how fast it's going? Or the other way around?"

But if it has a fixed position at time T and then T+x ( where x might be quite small) then the direction and travel are a trivial calc. That's what my hand-held GPS ( 14+ years old I'd guess) has always done.

Has science gone too far? Now boffins dream of shining gigantic laser pointer into space to get aliens' attention


Is it me ...

or is the 'message' going to take rather a long time to reach the average star ?

"Space is big, very big ...............you know the rest"

Apache OpenOffice, the Schrodinger's app: No one knows if it's dead or alive, no one really wants to look inside


Re: Counting is not so easy.

"Does anyone use Linux on the desktop? </troll>"

Well I'm sitting here in Saas-Fee in Switzerland and I've just used a little GUI window on this Linux desktop to start downloading a number of BBC comedies onto a Pi at home (UK) . After that I'll move them using a GUI filemanager ( using fish: ) to watch here.

Solid password practice on Capital One's site? Don't bank on it


I use very long 'difficut' passwords for financial sites etc. generated by a program on the fly from a passphrase. The main site that I have trouble with is loging into Skype where paste doesn't work - however Ctrl-V does !

EU wants one phone plug to rule them all. But we've got a better idea.


Re: EU Standard plug

" I'm constantly amazed that the rest of the world hasn't burned down from electrical fires by now."

Could it be because many places have lots of mcbs &/or elcb ?

In our small (50sq.m) apartment in Switzerland we have 15

Not OK Google: Massive outage turns smart home kit utterly dumb


Re: Fundamentally Flawed Architecture

in the UK, a pharmacy is more commonly known as a chemists."

Indeed it is, nevertheless it's the pharmacist that dispenses drugs.

Suggest you look at :



Re: Fundamentally Flawed Architecture

"day my local chemist will contact me"

I think you mean pharmacist - otherwise I agree .

IPv6: It's only NAT-ural that network nerds are dragging their feet...


"and it can be a pain with sites that use you IP address to identify uses and for Geo-location"

Well I've got a fixed IP address but usually Google Maps puts me in West Yorkshire or near Warwick - neither of these is true

Samsung’s new phone-as-desktop is slick, fast and ready for splash-down ... somewhere



Thought it was :

Windows , Icons, Mouse, Pull-down menus

Crappy IoT on the high seas: Holes punched in hull of maritime security


Re: Good old days?

"worked out how to hack a horse "

Although a certain type of horse is often termed a hack


'Autopilot' Tesla crashed into our parked patrol car, say SoCal cops


"12 people get shot in a school and it's the end of the world (which it is) but 3,000+ die EACH MONTH and it's completely ignored."

Difference is 12 people are shot without any reason WHATSOEVER whilst deaths on the road are one of the risks of everyday life (which we should try and minimize) for which we derive a benefit

Swiss sausage sizzler 4.0 hits 200 bangers per hour


Re: Judging by the mugshot I'd say he definitely deserves a "Man In Shed" award.

"Clearly a fellow with a fine shed of delights to work in."

Sheds are called 'stadel' around those parts - although more like a small, massively built, barn.

Our local butcher does a line in what look like small cumberlands pinned with a stick but the machine looks like it is designed for bratwurst or kalbsbratwurst

Das blinkenlights are back thanks to RPi revival of the PDP-11


Re: Basic skill of slide rule

The other advantage of slide-rules was that it was 'necessary' to approx. the order of magnitude answer - which was good brain training.

Make masses carry their mobes, suggests wig in not-at-all-creepy speech


Re: Dear Sir Geoffrey,

"merely a proof that one was in numerous locations at the same time"

Or a cat

There's just one month left 'til the big day: May 25... but don't panic!


Re: Have a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster on me !

"Or 6 pints of beer... "

With two heads on - I assume

Blighty stuffs itself in Galileo airlock and dares Europe to pull the lever


Sabre rattling ?

I've always assumed that this involve rattling the sabre in it's scabbard. Funny place to put ones nose !

On a more serious note it makes you wonder how many more issues will surface.

Chinese web giant finds Windows zero-day, stays schtum on specifics


Re: ActiveX

"Has anyone found an IP camera that doesn't require an ActiveX plugin to configure, that also doesn't cost too much??"

Well I'd suggest an old Android phone with an app. Or better a Pi with camera running Motion. At client end VLC or in my case ffplay

NUC, NUC! Who's there? Intel, warning you to kill a buggy keyboard app



"And you have to create huge great holes in the firewall"

Solved by ssh tunneling


Re: VNC on Linux???

"Use the Secure Shell on Linux. That is what it is for."

Depends on what you need to do. I usually use ssh but if i want a secure vnc session I then use tunneling for vncviewer

Linux 4.16 arrives, keeps melting Meltdown, preps to axe eight CPUs


Re: "the absence of an MMU was a PITA..."

"I recall the Amiga had a multi tasking OS sans MMU."

It did but any serious glitch would crash the whole system (Guru Meditation)

Why a merged Apple OS is one mash-up too far


Re: There's more than one way to skin an app...

"The real skill is in the removal."

Recurses !


Re: re not such a big deal

"Right now, you have your choice of at least a half-dozen very different desktop UIs for Linux, so clearly it is far from an insurmountable problem."

AND have them running at the same time.

Details of 600,000 foreign visitors to UK go up in smoke thanks to shonky border database


Re: Why anyway ?

"I remember arriving in Calais by ferry in the early-1980s. It was lunchtime. French border control/customs were no where to be seen."

I passed through a border about the same time - I think it was Lux.-France. There was a border post but all that was visible was the bottom of a large pair of boots hanging out of the box ( officer attached )


Re: Why anyway ?

"France has been scanning passports on leaving the country for a non-Schengen country for as long as I can remember"

That's certainly not true at Calais. The recent terror incidents have often resulted in French troops searching car boots (duplicated by security staff BTW) but no scanning passports as far as I can recall. (I'm usually too annoyed by the size of the queue at UK control.)


Re: Why anyway ?

"issue of "Frontaliers" (people who work in Switzerland but live in France where it's cheaper)"

Indeed when leaving Switzerland via the crossing near Vallorbe at ~0600 I'm always amazed by the number of cars streaming towards Switzerland from what is a relatively sparsely populated area of France. The Swiss have a shortage of all sorts of workers and low unemployment so I can't see this being easily changed.


Re: Why anyway ?

"Switzerland and France are both in Schengen, the UK is not."

I know all about Schengen - I've been enjoying its advantages for years. My point is Switzerland seems to cope with a free movement in highly desirable country without having to record every in/out. It's basically done another way if you want to remain/work. Until France tightened up security at Dover recently* and UK exit checks were introduced it was normal to drive UK-France-Switzerland-Italy and return and show passports once (at UK border in Calais). Before Schengen most European borders involved cursory checks if any.

*Schengen is very strict border controls at the outer border - Oh yes, even now at the French 'border' at Dover the passports are usually just glanced at if at all


Why anyway ?

I travel by road into Switzerland via France 3/4 times a year - nobody checks, we have a holiday and return again without checks ( other than UK) . If Switzerland can manage without being completely overrun how come we have a problem. ( We stay in our own apartment BTW so no checks there either )

UK.gov: Here's £8.8m to plough into hydrogen-powered car tech


Re: The New Hybrid

The flash point of methanol & octane (for example) is about the same (~12C)

2 + 2 = 4, er, 4.1, no, 4.3... Nvidia's Titan V GPUs spit out 'wrong answers' in scientific simulations


Re: I Don't See The Problem

"At the quantum level, there is uncertainty as to position, or even the outcome. It seems these cards are modelling that behavior."

Point is they're not supposed to be doing that. Even if the algorithms generate deterministic chaotic outputs that wouldn't explain 2 cards being OK

It's Pi day: Care to stuff a brand new Raspberry one in your wallet?


Well I've got a mixed estate of 8 Pis

1) is a motion sensitive camera overlooking the back of the house, a temp. sensor reporting to pi2 and an in-house web-server

2) is a file server, iplayer server, runs a daemon that controls 4 remote wireless mains sockets and records temp. measurements from around the house.

3) Has daemon controlling external house-lights via a Power MOSFET, has a temp. sensor reporting to pi2.

4) Motion sensitive camera and PIR sensor.

5) Motion sensitive camera, has a temp. sensor reporting to pi2

6) Controls via Pi2 a heater in otherwise unheated utility room, has a temp. sensor reporting to pi2.

7) has 2 temp. sensors reporting to pi2.

8) testbed - at mo' has a Schmitt trigger light sensor tracking dawn-dusk

Very simple jobs which could be combined into a smaller number but would mean swathes of wiring around the house.

Combining the capabilities can be usefull. Just tracked over the last few weeks an area of loft that had an intruder that sounded

too loud to be a mouse. So PIR detector switched on light and motion cameras spotted a mouse and a few days later noted its demise.

Cryptocurrency miners go nuclear, RSA blunder, Winner back in court, and plenty more


Re: I don't really have a problem with it

"Electric resistive heaters, CPUs and GPUs are very inefficient ways to heat a building."

They are ~ 100 % efficient. Where else does the energy go ? . A desirable use of electricity - that's another matter

Full shift to electric vans would melt Royal Mail's London hub, MPs told


Re: Modular reactors are the only real answer.

"The only realistic option will be a new fleet of subsidised CCGTs, and they will then undermine the case for SMR unless SMR also get subsidies."

Agree entirely. Just a glance at the current load on the grid is quite scary. (OK it's very cold but luckily it's windy). The coal/nuclear contribution is ~40%


Until last week, you could pwn KDE Linux desktop with a USB stick


Re: Re:logged in as root and using KDE.....

"Back in the day, sUSe used to have a lovely screen background for anyone logged on as root into a KDE desktop.

Is it still around?"

Don't know - never log into the desktop as root ! No need !


"It's bad enough auto-mounting by default"

Well it's just box clear/tick in System Settings to enable/disable automount. There are finer grained options as well if you do want to automount something.

What I can't remember because I always have it turned off is what the default setting for a fresh install is.

Data scientist wanted: Must have Python, spontaneity not required


"Quite the opposite. It's a tool that is more than good enough for both "proper" software engineering and quick and dirty analysis*. "

Agreed. I worked (~2003) for a while, on secondment, with our Computational Chemists and was suprised at the extensive use they made of Python. Mind we had an extensive set of in-house and commercial libraries, tools etc.

Winter is coming for AI. Fortunately, non-sci-fi definitions are actually doing worthwhile stuff


"We created computers roughly 30 years ago"

What, in 1988 ? I think I'd have remembered that !

( I was taught Physics to A-level ~ mid-sixties by someone who had worked on the Manchester 'Baby' 20 years before BTW)

LISA Pathfinder sniffed out gravitational signals down to micro-Hertz


Re: Michelson-Morley

"A bit like the current vogue for looking back at old medicines for new applications ....."

I'm not giving away any company secret but doing that was always in vogue. Difference these days is that lots of start-ups talk * about it.

* applies to other industries too

Here we go again... UK Prime Minister urges nerds to come up with magic crypto backdoors


Re: What's the nature of a scorpion?

"Well, it's not like I have something to hide. And besides, who would be interested in pictures of my pet/my holiday?""

Well I've not got anything to hide ( except financial stuff naturally) but I do always use ssh to access my systems at home from outside - this is to ensure security so my systems don't become a playground for spammers etc. My system is as secure as I can make it.


"I would think that the "security agencies" would know that any encryption with a backdoor is useless"

It's the same in other areas. I lost count of the number of times I put together very detailed proposals for/against certain approaches to tackling a disease area, going to great lengths to research what was know, list the unknowns, explain the complexities, list the pros & cons and suggest a way forward only for a PHB+2 to dismiss ( or sometimes sanction ) the whole thing after a few moments consideration.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019