Obama: Science funding shouldn’t be ‘subject to politics’
President Barack Obama expressed his unequivocal support for the science industry in a public address Monday, saying the nation cannot afford to make sweeping budget cuts that threaten to stall the depth and pace of research.
Most politicians are so ignorant and so sadly out of touch in these two arenas, and so heavily influenced by lobbyists who have an interest in seeing things done one way or another, they they don’t have any business trying to make laws about the industries. Bias and ignorance have led to bans on stem cell research and legislation like SOPA, PIPA, CISPA, ACTA and more. It’s led to the archaic copyright laws we’re stuck with and the poor state of alternative fuel discovery and development. It’s impacted on dozens of facets of our lives. Read more >>
This “we’re actually living in a computer simulation” idea has been floating around for awhile. I’m pretty sure it’s the computer programmer’s version of “We can prove god exists.” But just in case it isn’t, I can count on you guys to crack this thing and have the god-mode codes up on Pirate Bay pretty quickly, right?
Here are two sources of this foolishness. The first one is an objectively terrible article which I hold in deep suspicion because A) I’ve never heard of “TechEye” before and B) they have some kind of weird occultish-looking Egyptian-y sort of thing in their logo, and that concerns me. Any time I see “science” + “odd faux-occult logos” like that, it rings warning bells in my head. (Take note, graphic designers.) The second article is from Phys.org and is much better.
1) TechEye.net: Scientists plan test to see if the entire universe is a simulation created by futuristic supercomputers
US scientists are attempting to find out whether all of humanity is currently living a Matrix-style computer simulation being run on supercomputers of the future.
According to researchers at the University of Washington, there are tests that could be done to begin to work out whether we are in fact real, or merely a simulation created by a futuristic android on its lunch break.
2) Phys.org: Is it real? Physicists propose method to determine if the universe is a simulation
Al Gore did an AMA on Reddit. Unfortunately, he was only able to be on for about half an hour, so he only answered ten questions. I dug out the questions and his answers for this post because the Reddit thread has been positively bombed with garbage and it’s next to impossible to read. Each asker’s name is linked to the permalink of their question and I’ve left grammar, spelling and typos alone. I did include links where people used them.
A common theme of science fiction movies and books is the idea that we’re all living in a simulated universe—that nothing is actually real. This is no trivial pursuit: some of the greatest minds in history, from Plato, to Descartes, have pondered the possibility. Though, none were able to offer proof that such an idea is even possible. Now, a team of physicists working at the University of Bonn have come up with a possible means for providing us with the evidence we are looking for; namely, a measurable way to show that our universe is indeed simulated. They have written a paper describing their idea and have uploaded it to the preprint server arXiv.
Pagemansmith: I understand you and Tommy Lee Jones were roomates in college. What was he like?
Al Gore: He is, first of all, a terrific friend. He really is an amazing guy. As good at directing as at acting, btw. Check out his performance in Spielberg’s Lincoln. Incredible! I hope he gets another Oscar for it. I’m biased, but I sure think he deserves it.
SkepticOfSkeptics: America is one of the powerful countries in the world and yet it lags behind in internet speed. Some or maybe most analysts believe that this is because of telecom monopolies that are unnecessary and bad for consumers. Right now Google is proving that it’s possible to create a faster internet with speeds at 1,000 Mbps, which is about 100 times faster than average internet speeds in America. Sadly, it seems like it will be years before the rest of the country has internet at those kinds of speeds. Read more >>
I’ve got three articles here, and in them the comments sections are just gorgeous, gorgeous piles of crazy and the poor souls desperately trying to outshout the woo.
Apparently, there’s a smallish contingent of folks who think the radiation from cellphones, cellphone towers, WiFi and suchlike are harmful and carcinogenic and cause all sorts of diseases and health issues and whatnot, and one of ‘em has sued a school here in Oregon over the school WiFi. Here’s the articles:
Pseudoscience on the RationalWiki. Click to view source & definition.
Needless to say – or at least, it should be needless to say, wifi and wireless signals don’t give you cancer or memory loss or genital warts or whatever it is these folks are worried about. Look, even Wikipedia says so:
In response to public concern, the World Health Organization established the International EMF Project in 1996 to assess the scientific evidence of possible health effects of EMF in the frequency range from 0 to 300 GHz. They have stated that although extensive research has been conducted into possible health effects of exposure to many parts of the frequency spectrum, all reviews conducted so far have indicated that exposures are below the limits recommended in the ICNIRP (1998) EMF guidelines, covering the full frequency range from 0–300 GHz, and do not produce any known adverse health effect.
For future reference, feel free to file the wifi worriers alongside the people who think vaccines cause autism and magnets can cure cancer.
Quite a lot of the people in the comments sections are angry that taxpayer money is having to be wasted to defend the school from this law suit, which is definitely a good point. As my James said last night, however, “I don’t mind the money being spent. It’s a school’s job to fight the stupid.”
Because really, any excuse to say “Yar, mateys,” in a blog title…
According to BitTorrent and Netflix, people prefer to pirate science fiction:
What’s the difference between movies that people will pay to rent, and movies that people will risk the wrath of the MPAA to pirate? Apparently, it’s all in the genre. Download-obsessed site Torrent Freak researched popular downloads by looking at public BitTorrent trackers. They found that the most popularly-shared movies were science fiction, followed by comedy and action.
The top ten most torrented movies included things like Inception, Star Trek, Avatar, The Dark Knight, and so on. The top ten most watched on Netflix included movies like The Bucket List, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, No Country for Old Men, etc.
The differences between the two lists are pretty striking. Sci-fi geeks on one hand, and drama-fans on the other. That’s a weird shift in behavior there. What is it about the sci-fi geeks that make them more likely to pirate? Is it that they’re more Internet-savvy in general? Younger and so grew up right along with Internet piracy? Do they spend so much on the genre in other ways that they figure they must be entitled to watch the movie for free?
What about the folks who love the dramas? More inherently honest? Didn’t know Demonoid was a thing? Older, and don’t know enough about those tricksy computer machines to torrent some free movies?
It’s interesting to me because the genre divide would seem to indicate a pretty drastic difference in mindset between these two sets of movie-watchers. I’m not saying there’s never any such thing as genre-crossover, mind you.* It just seems like a very stark difference in the two lists.**
It seems like a good spot for a social scientist to set their pick, so to speak. I’d want to know about the differences in these two groups, if there was a lot of cross-over between the two, what kind of incomes and education levels we’re talking about here, etc. it may seem like I’m making a lot out of nothing, but this is a pretty big split in behavior.
Pirates generally don’t think they’re doing anything very wrong. They may acknowledge that society thinks they’re stealing, but in their minds, they have a wide variety of justifications for their behavior. Non-pirates, particularly those who aren’t very computer literate, think of Internet pirates like it’s some kind of cyber-Mos-Eisley, just another way for teh haxxors to get viruses on your computer, which will destroy all your files just seconds before Homeland Security kicks in your door and marches you off to Gitmo for swiping last night’s CSI: Miami off Pirate Bay.***
The mindset difference between pirates and non-pirates is fairly wide, as is, frequently, the age and economic difference. The fact that there seems to be a personal taste difference, too, is pretty interesting. It makes me want to think we’re dealing with a behavior that’s set right into the brain chemistry, something like the differences found in the brains of liberals and conservatives. And then I’d want to know if the political differences are related, too.
I read a lot of little tidbits like these, and the more of them I read, the more I tend to think that we’re dealing with two different hardwired behavior sets in humans, and that seems like a thing we’d all want to know a bit more about.
* A lot of sci-fi movies actually are dramas when you strip all the widgets and futurism out of them.
** And don’t let movies like Iron Man or Sherlock in the Netflix list throw you. Those were mainstream hits.
*** That one got away from me a little. It’s early.