Search found 1072 matches

by tomandlu
Tue Jan 12, 2016 2:32 pm UTC
Forum: Science
Topic: The Argument from Contingency
Replies: 43
Views: 6633

The Argument from Contingency

My son, who is now studying philosophy, explained the argument from contingency to me. Now, I don't find it a very convincing proof of the existence of God, except for very loose definitions of God, but at the same time, the basic principle seems sound - things are either necessary (they always exis...
by tomandlu
Thu Jan 07, 2016 4:15 pm UTC
Forum: Fictional Science
Topic: Ignorant Magic - story idea
Replies: 18
Views: 6798

Re: Ignorant Magic - story idea

I'm left thinking about the mechanism for such a story and universe. Although you obviously wouldn't have to reveal this right away (or at all), you could always take the fairly straightforward route of supposing that "magic" is some sort of universal field which "reads" the ven...
by tomandlu
Thu Jan 07, 2016 2:11 pm UTC
Forum: Fictional Science
Topic: Ignorant Magic - story idea
Replies: 18
Views: 6798

Re: Ignorant Magic - story idea

Having a "magic can do anything, so don't think about limits" attitude that is so absolute as to preclude the mindset that there is Order in the universe would seem to require a mind so devoid of Order as to be unable to maintain consistent focus on any goal that would involve detailed pl...
by tomandlu
Thu Jan 07, 2016 12:03 pm UTC
Forum: Science
Topic: What's up with avocados?
Replies: 22
Views: 3723

Re: What's up with avocados?

There is a thread concerning chocolate and raptors lurking around somewhere. The main problem is that the prey has to withstand a much higher concentration of toxin than the predator. Alternatively, they could keep it in a pouch attached to their belt, but clever raptors could discard the pouch bef...
by tomandlu
Thu Jan 07, 2016 10:35 am UTC
Forum: Science
Topic: What's up with avocados?
Replies: 22
Views: 3723

Re: What's up with avocados?

Avocados are toxic to birds, and therefore evil. It's also toxic to a lot of other animals, including cats & dogs. The pit & skin are more toxic than the flesh. It's interesting how many toxic foods humans are able to tolerate. Indeed, we find many of them pleasant in small doses. You'd sti...
by tomandlu
Thu Jan 07, 2016 10:29 am UTC
Forum: Fictional Science
Topic: Ignorant Magic - story idea
Replies: 18
Views: 6798

Ignorant Magic - story idea

How does this sound? Magic is real and always has been - a fundamental universal force. However, it has quantum*-like behaviour, in that it hides from any scientific inspection or analysis or consideration. Basically, if you know any true science, then magic is never going to work for you. Essential...
by tomandlu
Tue Jan 05, 2016 10:51 am UTC
Forum: Fictional Science
Topic: Big Magical Numbers
Replies: 12
Views: 6484

Re: Big Magical Numbers

Perhaps by "across all bases" you mean "across all units"? Indeed I do - and apologies, gmalivuk - I should have said something like "independent of any units of measurement" or something. Brain fart. The math constants are interesting but too small, but the particle r...
by tomandlu
Mon Jan 04, 2016 5:18 pm UTC
Forum: Fictional Science
Topic: Big Magical Numbers
Replies: 12
Views: 6484

Big Magical Numbers

This isn't really a FS question, but it's for FS, so...

Are there any nice big (preferably integer) numbers as magical as Pi? I.E. constant across all bases? (so I guess it would be a proportion)
by tomandlu
Thu Dec 31, 2015 12:30 pm UTC
Forum: General
Topic: My joke...
Replies: 8
Views: 3505

Re: My joke...

Kewangji wrote:Will you find ran and runs as separate entries in a thesaurus?


That's not really the point - a thesaurus is a dictionary of synonyms; a lexicon isn't. In a thesaurus, 'ran' and 'dash' would appear together; they would not in a lexicon.
by tomandlu
Thu Dec 31, 2015 9:52 am UTC
Forum: General
Topic: My joke...
Replies: 8
Views: 3505

Re: My joke...

Synonym lexicon works fine. Are you sure? Wikipedia doesn't agree. if anything, it's (almost) the opposite of a thesaurus, since a lexicon treats multiple forms (run, ran, runs) as a single unit - a lexeme apparently... In linguistics, a lexicon is a language's inventory of lexemes. A lexeme is a u...
by tomandlu
Wed Dec 30, 2015 10:01 am UTC
Forum: Science
Topic: Miscellaneous Science Questions
Replies: 2863
Views: 626298

Re: RELATIVITY QUESTIONS! (and other common queries)

A related (ish) question - if we assume that the universe will eventually reach a state of maximum entropy, how does a black hole ever stop being a black hole and become part of the general noise? Black holes can form and evaporate many times before the heat death of the universe. Thanks - hadn't r...
by tomandlu
Wed Dec 30, 2015 9:12 am UTC
Forum: Science
Topic: Miscellaneous Science Questions
Replies: 2863
Views: 626298

Re: RELATIVITY QUESTIONS! (and other common queries)

A related (ish) question - if we assume that the universe will eventually reach a state of maximum entropy, how does a black hole ever stop being a black hole and become part of the general noise?
by tomandlu
Wed Dec 30, 2015 9:09 am UTC
Forum: General
Topic: My joke...
Replies: 8
Views: 3505

Re: My joke...

teelo wrote:Image


:)

If it helps, my alt-text would be "oddly enough, there are no decent synonyms for 'thesaurus'.

BTW does anyone know if there's any connection between the two types of 'saurus'?
by tomandlu
Tue Dec 29, 2015 5:04 pm UTC
Forum: General
Topic: My joke...
Replies: 8
Views: 3505

My joke...

Image
by tomandlu
Thu Nov 19, 2015 10:00 am UTC
Forum: General
Topic: Ethics question
Replies: 17
Views: 2819

Re: Ethics question

The organ scenario brings in a bunch of other elements. It's fairly implausible that a policy of killing people for their organs wouldn't have any harmful side effects. So, it doesn't really function as a disproof of the utilitarian viewpoint, it merely illustrates that one must also count the indi...
by tomandlu
Wed Nov 18, 2015 4:43 pm UTC
Forum: General
Topic: Ethics question
Replies: 17
Views: 2819

Re: Ethics question

But the whole point of hypothetical ethics questions is that you have to take them at face value. Unless you're Captain Kirk. Yes and taking them at face value will lead to different conclusions that in real life situations that are not nearly so bounded. I'm not sure what you mean. Yes, in real li...
by tomandlu
Wed Nov 18, 2015 12:58 pm UTC
Forum: General
Topic: Ethics question
Replies: 17
Views: 2819

Re: Ethics question

Well, the classic one against which this breaks is the organ scenario - would it be permissible to kill a healthy innocent person because his or her organs could save multiple lives? If your answer is 'No' (which is most people's response), then we've established that numbers alone cannot be the on...
by tomandlu
Wed Nov 18, 2015 9:30 am UTC
Forum: General
Topic: Ethics question
Replies: 17
Views: 2819

Re: Ethics question

If I manage to reduce the death toll by pushing a lever, then, well, that's rather a good thing now, ain't it? Well, the classic one against which this breaks is the organ scenario - would it be permissible to kill a healthy innocent person because his or her organs could save multiple lives? If yo...
by tomandlu
Tue Nov 17, 2015 5:01 pm UTC
Forum: General
Topic: Ethics question
Replies: 17
Views: 2819

Re: Ethics question

1. Performing an act that will result in the death of an innocent person is always wrong, whatever the consequences. The ends do not justify the means. If the ends don't justify the means, what does? Actions and intent should both be ethical - you can't ignore the consequences of either. If an acti...
by tomandlu
Tue Nov 17, 2015 2:55 pm UTC
Forum: General
Topic: Ethics question
Replies: 17
Views: 2819

Re: Ethics question

Yeah, that still down make sense to me tomandlu. The person in 2 doesn't seem to be controlling the train at the moment. Killing that person won't have stopped the train from being in danger in the first place. So killing that person now doesn't provide any benefit except in the same way that scena...
by tomandlu
Tue Nov 17, 2015 2:51 pm UTC
Forum: General
Topic: Ethics question
Replies: 17
Views: 2819

Re: Ethics question

I'm not sure why you accidentally releasing the train really makes any difference in terms your decision of the consequences. If there's an argument for letting 5 die instead of 1 or vice versa, I'm not sure why it would suddenly change due to the cause of the train being released (aside the case y...
by tomandlu
Tue Nov 17, 2015 2:03 pm UTC
Forum: General
Topic: Ethics question
Replies: 17
Views: 2819

Re: Ethics question

Um, how did you get to the conclusion that 1 > No and 2 > Yes? Or is that only your personal opinion? I don't understand how someone's responsibility in some act gives me power over their life. There's no difference between the two options. It doesn't - but it does mean you can sacrifice them if it...
by tomandlu
Tue Nov 17, 2015 12:04 pm UTC
Forum: General
Topic: Ethics question
Replies: 17
Views: 2819

Ethics question

There are a series of common ethical questions relating to run-away trains and various victims. In general, they are used to show how we apply different standards to the same ethical issue, depending on how the situation is phrased. That aside, it essentially boils down to two scenarios afaict: &sdo...
by tomandlu
Tue Nov 17, 2015 11:49 am UTC
Forum: Logic Puzzles
Topic: Escape the Frictionless Circle
Replies: 156
Views: 45049

Re: Escape the Frictionless Circle

Is there any way you could get the gold block swinging around you, like someone warming up for a hammer throw, but with the block still in contact with the ground? Would/could that help? Hmm... what if you wrapped the rope horizontally around the block and then pulled on it as though it was a yo-yo?...
by tomandlu
Tue Nov 17, 2015 11:10 am UTC
Forum: Science
Topic: NASA reports net gain of Antarctic ice
Replies: 56
Views: 6923

Re: NASA reports net gain of Antarctic ice

A worldwide ban on urban travel would save around 13% of annual energy consumption and would encourage/force investment in public transport, which can use alternative energy sources. For renewables, we need better storage if such sources are to be a reliable part of energy security. An energy source...
by tomandlu
Fri Nov 13, 2015 10:49 am UTC
Forum: Mathematics
Topic: Traffic light puzzle
Replies: 8
Views: 2361

Re: Traffic light puzzle

I play this game a bit. As soon as I see a light either against me or turning against me, I slip into neutral and coast, but do nothing else until necessary, whether that be braking or engaging gear again. My logic (which may well be wrong) is that there's no real point in trying to guess whether br...
by tomandlu
Tue Nov 10, 2015 11:02 am UTC
Forum: Science
Topic: NASA reports net gain of Antarctic ice
Replies: 56
Views: 6923

Re: NASA reports net gain of Antarctic ice

How does the government benefit from carbon trading? It allows them to stay within their commitments without impacting the life-styles of their voters. Even if it worked as 'intended', it's a curious approach - a sort of ecological equivalent of 'indulgences', but the first world buying emission ri...
by tomandlu
Mon Nov 09, 2015 5:00 pm UTC
Forum: Science
Topic: NASA reports net gain of Antarctic ice
Replies: 56
Views: 6923

Re: NASA reports net gain of Antarctic ice

I'm somewhat cynical about global warming - not whether it's happening or not (one look at the temp. graphs ought to settle that question), but whether we are capable of doing anything about it prior to an actual, in-your-face crisis. I tend to think the best thing that science can do is prepare for...
by tomandlu
Mon Nov 09, 2015 10:29 am UTC
Forum: Mathematics
Topic: Einstein on Maths
Replies: 0
Views: 2009

Einstein on Maths

I came across this quote over the w/e in a pamphlet of two Einstein lectures, and thought it might amuse anyone who hasn't seen it before... I dunno why, but I get the impression that Einstein and Vonnegut would have got on well together. At this point an enigma presents itself which in all ages has...
by tomandlu
Thu Nov 05, 2015 5:33 pm UTC
Forum: Science
Topic: NASA reports net gain of Antarctic ice
Replies: 56
Views: 6923

Re: NASA reports net gain of Antarctic ice

Climate science has been forced into a very combative mode by the deniers, which, perversely, has made it less credible imho. Not that it makes much difference - haters gonna hate, etc. So it goes.
by tomandlu
Wed Nov 04, 2015 5:29 pm UTC
Forum: Science
Topic: Favorite home experiments
Replies: 582
Views: 432751

Re: Favorite home experiments

Not exactly a home experiment, but I liked this from Mythbusters:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLuI118nhzc
by tomandlu
Wed Nov 04, 2015 5:20 pm UTC
Forum: Science
Topic: NASA reports net gain of Antarctic ice
Replies: 56
Views: 6923

Re: NASA reports net gain of Antarctic ice

I believe the reasoning is that since the earth is spherical and the gravitational field extends spherically (at least it does in this mental exercise) the water surface in that bucket will try to assume a sphere sector shape. In a spaceship accelerating at 9.81 m/s 2 the acceleration would cause t...
by tomandlu
Wed Nov 04, 2015 5:10 pm UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 1599: "Water Delivery"
Replies: 82
Views: 13259

Re: 1599: "Water Delivery"

Yeah, in the US, the norm is to have a tank that's gradually heated and refills, obviously itself from the mains. Spunk means semen where I come from too (North-Eastern USA), so I am not sure what the people behind the campaign were thinking. I'm not sure how universal that is. Despite the many ter...
by tomandlu
Wed Nov 04, 2015 1:18 pm UTC
Forum: Science
Topic: NASA reports net gain of Antarctic ice
Replies: 56
Views: 6923

Re: NASA reports net gain of Antarctic ice

... that's a thing? I used to know a very unpleasant anti-Semite on the old Pov-ray newsgroups who was a relativity denier. His 'proof' was that a bucket of water had a curved surface when on a planet, but a flat surface when on an accelerating space-ship, thus proving the fallacy that it was impos...
by tomandlu
Tue Nov 03, 2015 11:39 am UTC
Forum: Science
Topic: NASA reports net gain of Antarctic ice
Replies: 56
Views: 6923

Re: NASA reports net gain of Antarctic ice

SDK wrote:Gotta wonder what it's like to be a scientist working on climate change research.


You know you're in trouble when economists point and laugh at you...
by tomandlu
Thu Oct 22, 2015 7:25 am UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 1593: "Play by Play"
Replies: 66
Views: 11639

Re: 1593: "Play by Play"

What's the weirdest actual rule in a sport that you know of?

Not so much a rule, more of a naming thing, but penalties in rugby always throw me, as they seem to be part of the game rather than a punishment for bad behaviour.
by tomandlu
Wed Oct 21, 2015 10:50 am UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 1591: "Bell's Theorem"
Replies: 46
Views: 9293

Re: 1591: "Bell's Theorem"

I was seriously unimpressed when presented with Schrodinger's equation at university. Why that equation, I asked. Schrodinger appeared to have come up with it by tirare ex rectum . If I remember correctly, Schrödinger derived it from the principle of least action applied to a wave-particle. Didn't ...
by tomandlu
Wed Oct 21, 2015 9:56 am UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 1591: "Bell's Theorem"
Replies: 46
Views: 9293

Re: 1591: "Bell's Theorem"

I was seriously unimpressed when presented with Schrodinger's equation at university. Why that equation, I asked. Schrodinger appeared to have come up with it by tirare ex rectum . If I remember correctly, Schrödinger derived it from the principle of least action applied to a wave-particle. Didn't ...
by tomandlu
Mon Oct 19, 2015 5:22 pm UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 1592: "Overthinking"
Replies: 26
Views: 5644

Re: 1592: "Overthinking"

cellocgw wrote:Geez, got this far and I'm frist [sic] to suggest we're overthinking the comic? :oops:


I'd have to think about it.
by tomandlu
Mon Oct 19, 2015 4:39 pm UTC
Forum: Individual XKCD Comic Threads
Topic: 1592: "Overthinking"
Replies: 26
Views: 5644

Re: 1592: "Overthinking"

I recently read Feynman's biography. His first wife died of TB - mainly because, as Feynman found out, doctors are lousy at science and hardly ever bothered to find out which treatments were efficacious and which were a complete waste of time, and instead relied on their prejudices and assumptions. ...

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