It doesn't have to be /complete/ failure. Just one person in the handling chain has to forget once, and the mangling is done.
709 posts • joined 9 Aug 2007
One of the things that surprised me most was how suprised I was on seeing the New Horizon pictures of Pluto. Somehow, I seem to have subconciously expected to never see any proper pictures, despite following the lead-up news from the mission with interest. I think it was supposed to stay as it was, with the best view only ever being the Hubble's blurry dot image. :-)
If you want the University to be able to confirm you actually attended there, and what the result was, they are going to need to store some basic data which identifies you and distinguishes you from other David M's who might also have been there. The problem here is that that data wasn't secured properly, not that they stored it.
It would -- I assume -- be more than a little annoying to find that your alma mater said "Nope, got no record of that dude whatsoever" when an employer was doing a few basic CV checks , just because the university had over-enthusiastically tried to minimise its store of personal info.
 Or, for that matter, refused to replace your gone-missing/eaten-by-dog degree certificate for the same reason :-)
On the subject of which:
Lessons learned from (and since) the Voyager 2 flybys of Uranus and Neptune
Heidi B. Hammel
More than 30 years have passed since the Voyager 2 fly-bys of Uranus and Neptune. I discuss a range of lessons learned from Voyager, broadly grouped into process, planning, and people. In terms of process, we must be open to new concepts: reliance on existing instrument technologies, propulsion systems, and operational modes is inherently limiting. I cite examples during recent decades that could open new vistas in exploration of the deep outer Solar System. Planning is crucial: mission gaps that last over three decades leave much scope for evolution both in mission development and ...
I usually buy one of the annual "Year's Best SF" anthologies; ion the past mostly (invariably) the Dozois one but sadly that's no longer an option. You get a good mix of authors (albeit not necessarily always to one's taste) and this can give you a good idea as to what else you might want to search out.
Unlikely anyone's still reading this thread now, but this has a nice recent summary --
"Monte Carlo estimation of the probability of causal contacts between communicating civilisations"
Marcelo Lares, José Funes, Luciana Gramajo
In this work we address the problem of estimating the probabilities of causal contacts between civilisations in the Galaxy. We make no assumptions regarding the origin and evolution of intelligent life. We simply assume a network of causally connected nodes. These nodes ...
IMO the Drake equation, whilst a useful list of things to consider, was never really an equation in any useful sense. And in the absence of known values for parameters, you have to take a different approach; e.g.
" The Great Silence - the Controversy Concerning Extraterrestrial Intelligent Life",
G. D. Brin,
Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society 24, 283-309 (1983)
(you should be able to find a pdf online if you search)
Everything that goes into a black hole (ie through its event horizon) never gets out; indeed even if the something has "only just" passed through and the black hole then suddenly and implausibly evaporates almost infinitely fast. The event horizon is not just a surface in the future, it's a surface in the infinitely far future for anybody with the good sense to avoid falling in, isn't at all reflective, and is only a "surface" in a mathematical sense.
 But then, if you happen to be falling into the black hole, it -- neither the event horizon nor the singularity are infinitely far in your future at all, they're a finite time away. Have fun!
 This sentence is at best probably only "sort of true", and would very likely enrage any passing general relativists.
And, just to make things worse, being only a temporary black hole, it might also have broken global electric charge conservation whilst doing it:
Fortunately there is no reason to believe this would also break credit-card charge conservation, so you will avoid getting a nasty shock shortly before being blasted into oblivion. However, you may wish to make sure by paying for the drinks in cash. :-)
The *architecture* of the network is left - e.g. if an artificial neural network, the number of layers, the number of nodes in those layers and the sequencing of them, how the training converges, how the nodes are linked, the thresholding function, and so on. I will leave it up to the reader to decide whether it is this or the training data that gives the basis for good results; perhaps you might imagine a simple truth table with good/bad training data on one axis, and good/bad architecture on the other, and imagine what the results would be.
I used to run simulations like that during my PhD. I had to diagonalize a 43x43x43x43 density matrix on a machine with not enough RAM. Mind you, if there had been more RAM, I'd just have upped the sizing :-)
I couldn't do this all the time, however - it tended to annoy the other users. Gave the hard drive a good workout, though. CPU usage percentages were down below 10% (I think I recall even 3% at some point).
It's unlikely to be any consolation, but knowing something of how general relativity works can only make things even weirder; e.g.
(I particularly recommend Fig. 3.1 in the latter :-))
The phrase "speed of light" is often used in a way that is context dependent. Here, it means an intrinsic property of the spacetime, which cannot be exceeded, since that would make no sense whatsoever. Since light in vacuum travels at this maximum speed, the two are often conflated. Generally, unless you are doing optics, "speed of light" always means this maximum.
In other contexts, it might mean that speed that electromagnetic signals (light) happen to be travelling in a particular medium (in glass, e.g., light travels more slowly than the spacetime-maximum "speed of light"). If you slow the propagation of light down enough, by coupling it strongly to something (e.g. a cleverly prepared gas of atoms matched closely to the frequency of your light), then you could possibly make the speed of those light signals in your medium slower than the speed of sound in that medium. Pedants may then annoy you by noting that with the (strong) light-matter coupling required for this, your signals are no longer just electromagnetic, and as such are not longer really just "light".
Perhaps there used to be more trees once, but the drivers gradually got them all. Once upon a time, whilst in a car full of graduate students heading to Adelaide, but most certainly not one being so careless as to travel faster than the speed limit, a moment's distraction followed by a slight steering error nearly led to a clump of trees on a gradual bend getting countably smaller. Fortunately the corrective swerve only led to a 360+ degree spin in a large cloud of dust, and a knackered suspension; followed by a very much slooooower drive the rest of the way.
ObShout: Hi Steve! Do you by chance read the Register? And would you like an apple? :-)
Well either that, or "The Navy Lark", as per sub heading and picture;
No, I'm not really that old. I just happened to catch it by accident while trying to record re-run episodes of "I'm Sorry I'll Read that Again" at 3am on NZ radio in the 80's. This was an instructive process, because some times I also got to listen to the NZ shipping forecast.
Telescope should be put where the cost/performance tradeoffs work out best - and space is an incredibly expensive and difficult place to put things. It's instructive to compare the history of the James Webb with the current slew of ground based adaptive optics giant telescopes (see e.g. https://physicstoday.scitation.org/doi/full/10.1063/PT.3.2875). As with many things, there is no simple answer to space-vs-ground telescopes.
I recall (to a degree) a ye olde times SF story involving a government agent travelling around the US to ensure that businesses spent money on advertising and shiny product add-ons, ostensibly to ensure that the many extra jobs created kept the economy on track. The twist was that they were in fact a Soviet agent, since the USSR knew they had no hope of keeping up if the USA *actually* started becoming more efficient.
I still use Xfig quite a lot, largely because I'm very used to it. The results invariably are somewhat brutalist, but at least you can get things done quite easily. Sometime I even convert postscript graphs from e.g. scilab/python/R into fig format and re-do the labels in xfig; despite the many advantages they have over xfig, it is too much of a pain to get the axis furniture (ticks, labels, numbering) in a publishable state, and it's easier to edit or replace it. Also you can fix line widths and the like after the export.
Mind you, imo the best graphs are done using pgplot, so I may not be the most up-to-date judge :-)
Perhaps Thaler should enter into an agreement with DABUS, where he agrees to file in place of DABUS, and to hand over the rights and earnings (less expenses) when the legal system finally catches up :-)
I presume that currently such an agreement would gain little legal recognition, but I'm sure that Thaler would do the right thing and abide by its intent anyway (or else why try to file on DABUS's behalf?)
The nice thing about Venus, is that even with a really crap telescope , and even from London, you can see its phases (about now is a good time, btw ).
 E.g a ~ £15 department store xmas prezzie quality.
 No, not *now* now, it's midday, and that would be silly. Try in the evening :-)
Indeed, "productization" is an inexcusably hideous construction. But I think it is intended to mean "implemented and put to use in a product" or "turned from this into a saleable product", or this like, so not quite the same as a bare "production", which does not necessarily have the same implications.
Still, several words to cover the intended meaning would have been better than the single jargonoid one used here.
The statement "Nothing propagates across the event horizon" is not true; although it is true that for a distant observer nothing is seen to cross the event horizon, ... things just approach ever closer and become more and more red-shifted. But from the perspective of an in-falling object (photon, rock, whatever), crossing the event horizon is easy enough.
Perhaps it is more-or-less implicit from your description that you mean "propagate *outwards* across the event horizon", but I think it worth the clarification.
Gravity propagates at what we call "the speed of light", which is really the fastest possible speed allowed by the spacetime metric (i.e. 1, in dimensionless units)
All such questions can of course be referred to the authoritative text "Gravitation", by Misner, Thorne, and Wheeler; but it's a bit of a tricky read for the layperson. Still, if you happen for some reason to be stuck at home with too much time on your hands ... :-) 
 Or should I say "stuck at home with too much spacetime on your hands"? 
 In practice, I suspect it will be "too much time, not enough space".
Superficially you may have a point; but no-one in RF antenna theory ever bothered to use such ideas to implement specific concepts and applications as the metamaterials research community has.
Dolin, in 1961, proposed a scheme to implement a radial invisibility cloak; but somehow all the RF antenna theorists in the world never proposed a scheme to implement it. Veselago, in 1968, noted some weird properties for materials with simultaneous negative permittivity and permeability, but somehow the RF antenna community failed to explore the implications. And looking at the scale of the early split-ring resonator metamaterial elements from the 2000's, it is more than plausible that they could have, had they wanted to.
Instead, it took John Pendry and co-workers' rediscovery to get the ball rolling and actually start trying to get interesting things done, and devices (from the exotic to the less so) implemented using what we now call "metamaterial" ideas.
You might also, for example, note that all the "entanglement" language that quantum theory guys use is just a new badge pasted over the old "superposition" label. But the change of name came along with a mindset change where the effect was now considered an exploitable resource, rather than a passive property. That change in mindset, which is on the face of it even more ephemeral than the case for RF-to-metamaterials, is an absolutely key feature of modern thought in quantum mechanics.
Sometimes it's not the building on past work that counts, it's the complete reimagining of the potential for use that does. And sometimes it is the reimagining that counts, not the past work that is (now) easily replicated.
Once the card is in a giant pile of largely unsorted pile of other cards, the tracing is hard. You know what Joe's number is, but finding his card is slow and time consuming. On the other hand, you can easily pull a card out of the pile, but then matching it up with a name is likewise hard.
It's not impossible. But then if someone is prepared to spend that much time and effort on you, which way you might (or might not) have voted is likely merely a fig-leaf for one of the many problems they will shortly be - or already are - visiting on you.
Just as the comparison of this nanoparticle against a pulsar is a dubious one, given the different scales of the two objects; so is your comparison of the comparison against a Cl_2 molecule, albeit in the opposite direction (although admittedly not quite so extreme a difference). Further, a diatomic chlorine molecule, as reported on in your second link, is not something that would normally be considered a "made object" in the same sense as the dumbbell nanoparticle is.
It might also be worth noting that the title is "Ultrasensitive torque detection with an optically levitated nanorotor", rather than "New nanoparticle rotation speed record!", and that their interest seems mostly in being able to use it as a sensor.
More generally, if you have a problem with "scientific hyperbole", then it is only sensible to pay rather less attention to the press release, and news articles based on them. Unfortunately, since it usually seems that science *not* dressed up in hyperbole rarely makes it into the media, interesting results are routinely hyperbolised rather more than is perhaps desirable.
If you have any interest in the science, you need to read the scientific article. Since the published article is behind a paywall, it looks like there is a preprint version here:
I await with interest your informed commentary.
This gives an interesting survey:
"Climate change impacts: The growth of understanding"
In this peculiar history, the main actors are committees and no seminal papers or scientific giants emerge. Seat-of-the-pants guesses made in the 1960s proved to be roughly correct, and the details are still being fleshed out today.
Just to be clear, this is one of those heavily simplified statements that is very much only "sort of true". It might be better to say that you keep increasing the momentum of the object, but that at relativistic velocities you don't get to increase the velocity by a comparable amount: p=mv only holds at v<<c.
The full E=mc^2 formula is, where m is the rest-mass,
E^2 = m^2 c^4 + p^2 c^2
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