* Posts by relpy

134 posts • joined 21 Apr 2009


POWER SOURCE that might END humanity's PROBLEMS: A step forward


"The trouble is that sustained fusion is extremely difficult to achieve"

Not wishing to be a pedant*, but there are a really really really large number of stars in the universe, lots of them, mind-buggeringly huge numbers of them. Each of them sustains fusion very nicely. So we can conclude that sustained fusion is not in the slightest bit hard to achieve.

Scaling it down to a size that doesn't burn your toast from 1,000,000 miles away is the bit that's tricky.

* This is a lie.

Boffins agree: Yes we have had an atmospheric warming pause


Re: Oh dear - oh dear oh dear oh dear

> Because the word science has been used to give additional respectability to other, what I would call non-scientific, endeavours, the meaning of the word has been diluted.

Agreed. Hard not to.

But to inject a mote of realism : while we're at it, can we stop calling people who fix washing machines "engineers" and people who practice medicine without postgraduate research qualifications "doctors"?

Leading on from the unfair and gratuitous dig at doctors (and I'm not one in either sense) - in lexicographical terms, which came first "science" or "scientific method" - if the former, then possibly it's "scientific method" that is misnamed rather than the popular term "science"? :-)


Re: Oh dear - oh dear oh dear oh dear

I think I have a little pondering to do as a couple of persuasive and detailed arguments have been made. In part I feel we may be arguing semantics - but since we're disussing the meaning of a word that is not unreasonable.

However - with respect to a specific points made:

>> nope, didn't miss that - that's what "testing against available evidence" means.

> Sorry, I'm afraid that you did.

No I don't believe I did - the point is that the available evidence changes over time. For example, a not inconsiderable amount of money was invested in gaining a statistically acceptable likelihood of the existence of the Higgs boson. Was the standard model not science before it was discovered? If we hadn't discovered it would we look at the standard model and say "that wasn't science"? I think not. Would we say "need more energy!"? Quite possibly. Is that science?

However, climate science, be it science or not, is undoubtedly immature. Although largely not as immature as the debate :-)

I have much sympathy for your view for the diminishment of the rigour and meaning of science. I especially dislike the addition of the word "science" to the end of any other endeavour to make it respectable. However I'm concerned that your definition ultimately relegates nearly all of medicine, meteorology, geology, astronomy, astrophysics / cosmology, ... anything that can't pass a 5 sigma test or that can only offer statistical predictions,... to "quackery". I don't think this is useful.


Re: Oh dear - oh dear oh dear oh dear

nope, didn't miss that - that's what "testing against available evidence" means.

as more evidence becomes available the test gets harder and nearly always, in all branches of science, the current theories ultimately fail when presented with sufficient new measurements. it's normal and it's okay. science is always a work in progress and that progress is not a convenient straight line.

what you are suggesting would seem to be that we need to know all of the impacting factors and get the answer correct before any work has value. this is clearly ludicrous.


Re: Oh dear - oh dear oh dear oh dear

Science is pretty much exactly the creation of an initial hypothesis, followed by testing (almost always to destruction) of that hypothesis against the available evidence, followed by the replacement of that hypothesis with one which better fits said evidence. Repeat until retirement.

BIG, CURVY Apple models: Just right for SLAP AND TICKLE



"The frowning phone will also come complete with unprecedented pressure sensitivity"

"Interestingly, Samsung has licensed a similar technology from a British firm called Peratech."

So, by "unprecendented" we mean "precedented"?

Galaxy is CRAMMED with EARTH-LIKE WORLDS – also ALIENS (probably)


Sorry but...

It's got to go.

'Stupid old white people' revenge porn ban won't work, insists selfie-peddler


Re: The real moral of the story is...

It mightn't be the picture of you that causes your rejection - it might be the picture of the other candidate...

Mars boffins: You fools! That's no CRATER – it's a SUPER VOLCANO


"Massive new type of volcano"

For a particular value of "new"...

Samsung: Sod off Apple, we've made gold mobes for way longer than you


Re: I am slightly dumber

They might not make money from it themselves, but who serves the ads on the pages the fanbois love to post their anti-Google rhetoric on?

No I've not checked the site, I really can't be bothered...

Behind the candelabra: Power cut sends Britain’s boxes back to the '70s


Nope, zap the thing for 5 and you're overdone...


US feds: 'Let's make streaming copyrighted content a FELONY'

Black Helicopters

Re: Bonkers

So you lose the right to vote for streaming a video?


Go democracy... (which is possibly the intention)

Boffins want toilets to become POWER PLANTS


Damn you Sir!


I got a Wii-U advert with this...

Beer - renewable energy.

Bill Gates: Corporate tax is not a moral issue


Re: Bill is right this time.

"People running corporations have a *duty* to maximize shareholder value."

I agree entirely, the issue is not the companies behaviour but the rules they are requried to obey, but...

How exactly do they justify the ridiculous salaries that they take for their board members and certain "key" staff (traders for example) when all the available evidence suggests that after a certain point (usually cited as about 20 times the average salary) inflated wages are in no way linked to increased performance?

Forget tax bills, here's how Google is really taking us all for a ride


Where do...

... I pay me subscription for El Reg?

Microsoft and pals: Save the global economy by NOT ripping us off

Paris Hilton

Okay, so I don't condone software piracy but...

What a remarkable load of tosh.

Very similar to the RIAA saying that piracy costs them so many beellions - where's all this money actually going to come from?

Paris, head in hands, despairs for these guys.

Galaxy S4 radiant, but has black holes


Re: iPhone 5 still leading the market.

I have an SII and have also had no problem with Apple Maps...

New nuke could POWER WORLD UNTIL 2083


Oh Poo

You see, for a moment there I was - well happy - hopefull - optimistic even.

But you had to go and ruin it didn't you.

Oh well.

Monday soon.

Apple patents situational awareness for oblivious fanbois


Wait a Cotton Pickin' Minute!

Isn't this a process that's completely implementable in human form? So surely it's not patentable material!

Oh wait, USPTO, I get it now.

Nexus 1 put in orbit to prove 'in space, no one can hear you scream'


Re: "Theory" - in science

"Newton's theory of gravity was proven with experiment. Then it should have become Newton's Law of Gravity (like his generic Laws of Motion)."

Only it's proven by experiment to be wrong. Hence General Relativity.

It's really really hard to prove a theory correct because you have to prove it in all possible circumstances. You only have to prove it incorrect in one. This however doesn't necessarily relate to how useful the theory is in day to day life.

For example, I have a theory that "Beer is Good, but More Beer is Better". There have been occassional instances in my life where the available evidence has suggested this theory to be deeply flawed. However, on the whole, the theory makes me happy.


Re: no screams, just explosions...

Sorry chaps, but:

Spaceships do make sound and explosions in space do go bang.

And you can even hear the noise pretty much as soon as you see the event.

It all just depends where you put the microphone.

(Though I'll grant you that fireballs don't collapse back in on themselves).

It begins: Six-strikes copyright smackdown starts in US

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Re: Want me to stop torrenting?

And may I add:

- I can lend it to people

- I can sell it

- My kids / wife / who-ever-I-damn-well-please gets to inherit it

North Korean citizens told: Socialist haircuts are a thing... go get some


Re: exactly...

"great unwashed"?

I'll have you know they all have lovely clean, shiny hair.

Higgs data shows alternate reality will SWALLOW UNIVERSE


Re: The laws of physics will be different in the encroaching bubble.

okay so you're right in as much as if you choose to base your maths on a euclidean geometry then euclidean rules apply. the point is that yu don't need to do that. that however comes with repercussions.

I can't imagine a formuation of geometry / maths in general that doesn't require irrational numbers - in fact I don't think the idea makes sense, so ultimately all I'm really doing is arguing over whether we call the the fudge factor that converts our non-euclidean view to euclidean and back "Pi" - and this is a possible conversion even if we might choose not to do it.

sadly i lost my love and wonder of maths somewhere in my first year :-(

unlike beer :-)


Re: The laws of physics will be different in the encroaching bubble.

@ Frumious Bandersnatch

There's no requirement for any universe that the ratio of the circumference of the diamter of a circle to its radius will be either irrational, transcendental, or constant. In fact we live in one where this is not the case. But yeah okay, I'm trying to be cute and possibly not doing it very well.

As an aside I'm not sure any of these theories "require" "Pi" as such. In fact I think that may ultimately be a circular argument. Rather I suggest that the formulation of mathematics that we have chosen happens to use Pi amongst other values as a fundamental constant. There are other, equally valid, mathematics - some axiomatically different, others possibly merely different formulations of the same underlying maths. No doubt each of these would have an equivalent value in the place of Pi - possibly to re-inject the irrationality as it were - but you hopefully get the point. Essentially, if we lived in a less locally Euclidean space would our trigonometry use Pi = 3.14... and then what would our maths look like? But does it matter or make an actual difference - not really no!

As another aside - ref your comment on the Pb based life forms - if the universe was so structured we'd have nothing whatsoever to worry about. This is not why the universe is structure the way it is, but it is one of the reasons we get to make fatuous comments on it :-)

Beer, it's a half. And it's cute. Even if I'm not.


Re: The laws of physics will be different in the encroaching bubble.

"Pi is an irrational number..."

How quaintly Euclidean...

Any storm in a port


Re: This is really old news


So it was her fault all along?

Who'da thunk.


Re: PS2

And they came with the bundled 50 / 50 chance of getting the keyboard and mouse the right way around when trying to plug them, arm twisted like a SCO lawyers soul, into the back of the computer.


This is really old news

It's a well documented fact that any 50 / 50 chance decision will be gotten wrong at least 9 times out of 10.

My personal best effort ever was:

German Girl: "would you like to come with me? I know this nice hotel. We could have some fun."

Me: "No, I want to go see Lichtenstein".

25 years later I still haven't fathomed that one out. (See Icon).

Regardless, to be sure of answering correctly, the odds need to be exactly 1,000,000 to 1 against...

Traceroute reveals Star Wars Episode IV 'crawl' text

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Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm. And well you should not. For my ally is the Internet, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its connectivity surrounds us and binds us. Socially Networked beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the Internet around you; here, between you, me, the tree, the microwave, everywhere, yes. Even between the destination address and the router.

British games company says it owns the idea of space marines

Paris Hilton

Wait a minute...

Lewis wrote something I agree with!

I need a stiff drink...

Paris because - eh? - I said stiff DRINK dammit.

Whiskey icon please.

Forget cupcakes: What you find on Facebook and Twitter is TARTS


Re: re. Twitter and Legality


Shouldn't you be posting that on FB?

Asteroid mining and a post-scarcity economy


Oh Joy

Now the machines have an army of self replicating mining bots that can strip the homeworld down to nothing when they finally turn on their fleshy erstwhile masters.

We're all Doomed I say! Doomed!!

Hyperspeed travel looks wrong: Leicester students


Re: That blooper always annoyed me...

"In the name of all that is holy and good, Star Wars is NOT Science fiction. It's Space Opera"


Star Wars is REAL otherwise how did we get the message from the Galactic Empire about the Death Star plans?

Venus EXPOSED in predawn threesome with Saturn and Mercury


Re: Drip drop drip drop

Thanks for the much needed excuse *not* to get up around about dawn and stare at the sky (m'lud), with a large pair of astronomical (m'lud) binoculars between (your honour) the houses on the opposite side of the road.

You may have just saved me from prison.



"Venus going down while Saturn rises"

Cambridge boffins fear 'Pandora's Unboxing' and RISE of the MACHINES


Re: Seriously

"To compete for resources doesn't require any intelligence"

Indeed. Consider which is the most successful lifeform on the planet. Then reconsider it based on the following criteria:






Yeast could be a deserving contender though...

Paris Hilton

Re: Seriously

Computers already have a means of reproduction.

What do you think Humans are for?

With reference to the "intelligent design" comment - as an agnostic I've always considered the existence of God to be perfectly reasonable. Equally I've always thought it quite possible that it's us. Somebody has come first.


Re: The solution is ...

Ah yes,

But it's much much much faster than you, and you just gave it a very good reason to stop you pressing a red button somewhere...

Apple versus Samsung: everything infringes everything


D'Oh! Missed It

Of course! I get it now...

Apple got the patent on Copying and they don't want to share it !

Damn those cunning cupertino curmudgeons !

Is lightspeed really a limit?


Re: Limits. @ relpy

Reflects *NO* Light.

Wouldn't want to be too hard on that.

find the right requency and I think it might.

Big and shiny not withstanding.

(icon because that's what it is)

(and okay, it reflects no light I grant you, to any measurable value of none).


Re: @Chemist

Fair enough.

I confess I too despair of the standard of some reporting of science, and even more of what seems like a general malaise towards the subject as a whole. Although to be honest probability and risk are possibly an even bigger issue (from a maths graduate who does the lottery now and again - so who am I to talk!)

I don't know a great about the subject to be honest, but I do know what absolute zero is (cold :-)

I hope somebody works out how to go faster than light, preferably without requiring more energy than exists in the universe, but I don't expect to see it for anything larger than a electron in what remains of my lifetime, if even that.

As for everything being possible, well, we only have theories to support our scientific view of the world. Theories are far easier to prove wrong than correct. Point here is that some of the key theories we're talking about are proving incredibly robust. A certain amount of cynicism is always warranted, in both directions.

But as you say - there are limits - and we should always aim to make decisions based upon the best available evidence, not superstition, hope (see above) or too much star trek.


Re: @Chemist

I'm happy to believe you have a fine understanding of both physics and chemistry. Almost certainly better than mine. I've felt no need to down-vote you.

However when you make assertions along the lines of "science education is rubbish" you are kind of required to get your facts right thereafter.

You used as an example the fact that absolute zero is an absolute, and lower temperatures "have no meaning". I provided you with evidence that it does. Your response was to critcise me and assume I hadn't understood what I read. As it happens I believe I had understood it, and it told me your prior assertion was incorrect - negative temperatues do have meaning, albeit that meaning is rather esoteric by "normal" standards and is certainly not what the layman might consider "obvious".

High horses require high standards of their riders...

Not a boffin, just cold.


Re: Limits.

And I quote : "(Hint : below absolute zero doesn't mean anything )".


Re: Limits.


Christian footie match ends in almighty brawl


Re: Of course...

Apparently there have been reports of a similar incident in the Agnostic League but I don't know whether or not to believe them.


Re: So....

Okay, fair point - it's hard to prove intent and you wouldn't want the majority living in fear of legal action if they made a sporting error - that is part of the game and you accept it when you sign up.

Guess some people are just dick-heads and we have to live with it. Just seems a bit lame.

Mind you a punch is pretty clear cut and I struggle to see that it should ever be acceptable.



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