public misconceptions

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Re: public misconceptions

Postby Meteorswarm » Mon Mar 01, 2010 3:44 am UTC

For what it's worth, there are a few assumptions at the core of science that require faith:
  • That the world is internally consistent and obeys a few fundamental laws
  • That these laws can be deduced by experiment
Now, they're totally reasonable assumptions, but they're still there. If you don't believe in them, then you can throw out all the experiments done because you don't hold that they're valid predictors of events and are, in effect, random.
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Re: public misconceptions

Postby Interactive Civilian » Mon Mar 01, 2010 3:46 am UTC

Slpee wrote:Specifically, people who use the phrase "believe in evolution" in any context.

The use of the word "believe" is contradictory to the entire concept of evolution science in general. Belief implies faith, or that one must go beyond what can be logically concluded or deduced from fact or observation. Evolution requires none of those things. Evolution can be logically deduced from scientific evidence that we have collected and studied for years. If there were no evidence or if it had massive gaps in its reasoning, then it would be belief, but then it wouldn't be the Theory of Evolution, it would be the "Cool idea that one guy had" of Evolution.

So, if I say "I believe you" in this case, am I making a faith-based assertion that you are correct? Or am I saying that your facts and reasoning have convinced me that you are correct? :?

Belief is not only about faith. Like many words, it has different nuances in different usages.
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Re: public misconceptions

Postby Shivahn » Mon Mar 01, 2010 9:08 am UTC

Interactive Civilian wrote:
Slpee wrote:Specifically, people who use the phrase "believe in evolution" in any context.

The use of the word "believe" is contradictory to the entire concept of evolution science in general. Belief implies faith, or that one must go beyond what can be logically concluded or deduced from fact or observation. Evolution requires none of those things. Evolution can be logically deduced from scientific evidence that we have collected and studied for years. If there were no evidence or if it had massive gaps in its reasoning, then it would be belief, but then it wouldn't be the Theory of Evolution, it would be the "Cool idea that one guy had" of Evolution.

So, if I say "I believe you" in this case, am I making a faith-based assertion that you are correct? Or am I saying that your facts and reasoning have convinced me that you are correct? :?

Belief is not only about faith. Like many words, it has different nuances in different usages.


If we the old (with its own problems, but that's irrelevant) epistemological definition of knowledge as justified true beliefs, the unfortunate implication here is that no one can know evolution to be true.

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Re: public misconceptions

Postby QwertyKey » Mon Mar 01, 2010 12:36 pm UTC

rho wrote:That travelling faster than light is just an engineering problem. "But we broke the sound barrier so..."

And yes, it's amazing how many people don't believe there's gravity in space :?
[/size]



Why is there 'gravity' in space? Under what circumstances does gravity in space matter? Black hole ergospheres? Already interplanetary gravity is a can of worms, if I'm not wrong.(1 planet seems to be ok.)

I also heard that space vacuum is of a higher quality than man-made vacuum. Even with those H atoms per cm3

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Re: public misconceptions

Postby Shivahn » Mon Mar 01, 2010 6:20 pm UTC

QwertyKey wrote:
rho wrote:That travelling faster than light is just an engineering problem. "But we broke the sound barrier so..."

And yes, it's amazing how many people don't believe there's gravity in space :?
[/size]



Why is there 'gravity' in space? Under what circumstances does gravity in space matter? Black hole ergospheres? Already interplanetary gravity is a can of worms, if I'm not wrong.(1 planet seems to be ok.)


Er, what? Why wouldn't there be gravity in space? Why does gravity get quotation marks?

One circumstance I can think of in which gravity matters is the one where if there weren't gravity in space, the solar system wouldn't exist. So that's pretty important.

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Re: public misconceptions

Postby You, sir, name? » Mon Mar 01, 2010 6:30 pm UTC

I think the problem the public has with gravity in space is that they're told that you don't get sucked to the floor in space vessels like you get sucked to the ground on earth.
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Re: public misconceptions

Postby Whelan » Mon Mar 01, 2010 6:48 pm UTC

Would you, if the floor of the ship were suficiently more dense than the walls and ceiling?
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Re: public misconceptions

Postby douglasm » Mon Mar 01, 2010 6:57 pm UTC

Whelan wrote:Would you, if the floor of the ship were suficiently more dense than the walls and ceiling?

Yes, but that would require a rather extreme difference. Your ship's floor would have to be about as massive as a small planet or moon for it to be noticeable.

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Re: public misconceptions

Postby You, sir, name? » Mon Mar 01, 2010 7:03 pm UTC

Whelan wrote:Would you, if the floor of the ship were suficiently more dense than the walls and ceiling?


You fall towards the center of mass of the vessel. However, this effect is negligibly weak. If you weigh 100 kg, and you're 10 meters away from a 100 metric ton mass center, the gravitational force is of order 10-5 N (the force of a 1 milligram mass near the earth surface)
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Re: public misconceptions

Postby qetzal » Mon Mar 01, 2010 7:06 pm UTC

Shivahn wrote:If we the old (with its own problems, but that's irrelevant) epistemological definition of knowledge as justified true beliefs, the unfortunate implication here is that no one can know evolution to be true.


How is that implied? Plenty of us believe evolution is true, so I can only guess that you consider such belief unjustified. Either that, or you somehow "know" that evolution is factually false, independent of any justification for believing it.

It's also very ill-defined to say that no one can know "evolution" to be true. That term can encompass a lot of different propositions. Some of them are definitely known to be true (as much as anything can be known to be true). For example, that allele frequencies change over time in reproductive populations. (That's actually one formal definition of evolution.)

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Re: public misconceptions

Postby Mother Superior » Mon Mar 01, 2010 7:19 pm UTC

QwertyKey wrote:Under what circumstances does gravity in space matter?

Not many. Only the ones where you're actually in space, doing something.
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Re: public misconceptions

Postby Krikkit_Robot » Mon Mar 01, 2010 8:20 pm UTC

Whelan wrote:Would you, if the floor of the ship were suficiently more dense than the walls and ceiling?


Depends on your situation. If you were in orbit and the heavy 'floor' was facing either towards or away from the earth it wouldn't make any difference how heavy it was, you are falling at the same rate and would be 'weightless' relative to it.

If you were traveling away from earth, or wherever, and the main gravitational force was behind you (hard to explain direction in a space ship. Imagine a square room with a window on one wall, and you are facing that window, and you were traveling in the direction you are facing.) you and the walls are falling/decelerating at the same rate but the ceiling and floor would have a slight effect on you.
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Re: public misconceptions

Postby You, sir, name? » Mon Mar 01, 2010 9:49 pm UTC

Krikkit_Robot wrote:
Whelan wrote:Would you, if the floor of the ship were suficiently more dense than the walls and ceiling?


Depends on your situation. If you were in orbit and the heavy 'floor' was facing either towards or away from the earth it wouldn't make any difference how heavy it was, you are falling at the same rate and would be 'weightless' relative to it.

If you were traveling away from earth, or wherever, and the main gravitational force was behind you (hard to explain direction in a space ship. Imagine a square room with a window on one wall, and you are facing that window, and you were traveling in the direction you are facing.) you and the walls are falling/decelerating at the same rate but the ceiling and floor would have a slight effect on you.


That's not quite correct.

For a system of a planet, and an astronaut in a space ship with it's center of mass between the astronaut's center of mass and the planet (i.e. heavy floor), where the distance between ship and planet is R, the distance between astronaut center of mass and ship center of mass is r, and R >> r; the total forces acting on the ship and astronaut are:

[math]F_{ship} = -G\frac{M_{ship}M_{earth}}{R^2} + M_{ship}\omega_{ship}^2R + G\frac{M_{ship}M_{astronaut}}{r^2}[/math]
[math]F_{astronaut} = -G\frac{M_{astronaut}M_{earth}}{R^2} + M_{astronaut}\omega_{astronaut}^2R - G\frac{M_{astronaut}M_{ship}}{r^2}[/math]

In a stable orbit as you suggest, these forces are zero. Let's see what does to the angular frequencies:

[math]\omega_{ship}^2 = G\frac{M_{earth}}{R^3} - G\frac{M_{astronaut}}{Rr^2}[/math]
[math]\omega_{astronaut}^2 = G\frac{M_{earth}}{R^3} + G\frac{M_{ship}}{Rr^2}[/math]

So, either the astronaut has to maintain a miniscule difference in orbit relative to the ship (to compensate for the near-unmeasurable gravitational pull of the ship), or he will fall towards the ship's floor (due to the 10-5 N-or-something force acting on him).

This is pretty obvious when you think about it. In any system of masses, with external forces acting on it or not, there exists a gravitational pull towards the system's center of mass. That's why we have gravity on the earth, even though we also orbit the sun.
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Re: public misconceptions

Postby jmorgan3 » Mon Mar 01, 2010 10:00 pm UTC

You, sir, name? wrote:
Whelan wrote:Would you, if the floor of the ship were sufficiently more dense than the walls and ceiling?


You fall towards the center of mass of the vessel. However, this effect is negligibly weak. If you weigh 100 kg, and you're 10 meters away from a 100 metric ton mass center, the gravitational force is of order 10-5 N (the force of a 1 milligram mass near the earth surface)


I'm usually not this pedantic, but the topic of this thread forces me to correct a slight error here. You will fall towards the center of mass of the vessel (that is, the net gravity for exerted on you by the vessel points toward the CM of the vessel) if you are outside the ship and it is perfectly spherically symmetric. It is even pretty close for non-spherical bodies at large distances. However, once you're inside the ship, this breaks down. For example, if you are inside a vessel shaped like a perfect spherical shell, the ship would exert no net gravitational force on you. If you are in a hollow-cube vessel, net gravity on you will point towards the nearest face. Finding out the direction of gravity in the general case requires integrating the gravitational pull from each infinitesimal morsel of the ship.
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Re: public misconceptions

Postby kernelpanic » Mon Mar 01, 2010 10:22 pm UTC

Orders of magnitude are usually misunderstood. People think that 1.5*1010 multiplied by 2 is 1.5*1020, not 3*1010.
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Re: public misconceptions

Postby phlip » Mon Mar 01, 2010 11:05 pm UTC

Re: spaceship with a massive floor: say you were in such a spaceship, so an average-sized person felt around 1g on average. How bad would the tidal force be?

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Re: public misconceptions

Postby You, sir, name? » Mon Mar 01, 2010 11:23 pm UTC

phlip wrote:Re: spaceship with a massive floor: say you were in such a spaceship, so an average-sized person felt around 1g on average. How bad would the tidal force be?


Haha. Since you'd have to make it out of like neutron star shavings to get your ship smaller than a planet, .... nasty!
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Re: public misconceptions

Postby Robstickle » Tue Mar 02, 2010 12:28 am UTC

Guys I just thought you should know that like people should stop considering einstein's relativity "or something" to be a law because it's not the law of gravity and WE DON'T KNOW WHAT WOULD HAPPEN TO STUFF AT LIGHT SPEED. Physics does not make logical sense.

I don't mind correcting people when what they type makes as much sense as the above but when their entire post is full of them saying that "physics doesn't make logical sense" when they should really be saying "I don't understand, please explain." it starts to grate a bit.

(Ok so I condensed for comedic affect but I don't think it adds to the stupidity of the post in question)

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Re: public misconceptions

Postby BlackSails » Tue Mar 02, 2010 1:20 am UTC

Going back to HFCS -

It is not the same as Sucrose. Its digestion is not the same either.

Sucrose is composed of chemically bonded glucose and fructose. It is broken down into glucose and fructose by β-fructosidase, which is inhibited by both glucose and fructose, as well as by other mechanisms.

HFCS is composed of non linked glucose and fructose. It skips β-fructosidase entirely.

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Re: public misconceptions

Postby Chen » Tue Mar 02, 2010 2:46 pm UTC

Robstickle wrote:Guys I just thought you should know that like people should stop considering einstein's relativity "or something" to be a law because it's not the law of gravity and WE DON'T KNOW WHAT WOULD HAPPEN TO STUFF AT LIGHT SPEED. Physics does not make logical sense.

I don't mind correcting people when what they type makes as much sense as the above but when their entire post is full of them saying that "physics doesn't make logical sense" when they should really be saying "I don't understand, please explain." it starts to grate a bit.

(Ok so I condensed for comedic affect but I don't think it adds to the stupidity of the post in question)


Usually the "physics doesn't make logical sense" really means "physics doesn't make intuitive sense". Things like relativity are certainly non-intuitive because the things it deals with are almost unnoticeable in everyday life.

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Re: public misconceptions

Postby Shivahn » Tue Mar 02, 2010 4:32 pm UTC

qetzal wrote:
Shivahn wrote:If we the old (with its own problems, but that's irrelevant) epistemological definition of knowledge as justified true beliefs, the unfortunate implication here is that no one can know evolution to be true.


How is that implied? Plenty of us believe evolution is true, so I can only guess that you consider such belief unjustified. Either that, or you somehow "know" that evolution is factually false, independent of any justification for believing it.

It's also very ill-defined to say that no one can know "evolution" to be true. That term can encompass a lot of different propositions. Some of them are definitely known to be true (as much as anything can be known to be true). For example, that allele frequencies change over time in reproductive populations. (That's actually one formal definition of evolution.)


Er, read the post I'm responding to (or, the nested one). The person in question pretty clearly said that you can't "believe" in evolution.

That... pretty strongly implies you can't know evolution is true given a JTB understanding of knowledge.

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Re: public misconceptions

Postby QwertyKey » Tue Mar 02, 2010 5:42 pm UTC

Chen wrote:Usually the "physics doesn't make logical sense" really means "physics doesn't make intuitive sense". Things like relativity are certainly non-intuitive because the things it deals with are almost unnoticeable in everyday life.


Not only is some physics unnoticeable, it deals with abstract concepts. Energy is an abstract concept that many can grasp, but what about 4(or higher)D space? I personally still do not comprehend a single thing of higher dimensional string theory, though my focus is currently not on that now as I find it too advanced for me.

Curvature of Space-time is also not easy, as is the absolute constant-ness of speed of light.

Then there is wave-particulate nature of matter/stuff.

Mathematics also suffers from this with negative numbers (There is no such thing as negative apples, negative mass*, negative time, negative length... etc)
Mathematics itself accepts abstractness though, physics has to be applied and be observable. 40 billion light years means something in physics, but is only a number with a multiple of a dimension in mathematics

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Re: public misconceptions

Postby DarkShard » Tue Mar 02, 2010 7:39 pm UTC

Every time someone insists that the second law of thermodynamics proves that either A) there must be a creator OR B) Evolution is impossible, I feel the need to froth at the mouth.

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Re: public misconceptions

Postby qetzal » Tue Mar 02, 2010 10:07 pm UTC

Shivahn wrote:Er, read the post I'm responding to (or, the nested one). The person in question pretty clearly said that you can't "believe" in evolution.

That... pretty strongly implies you can't know evolution is true given a JTB understanding of knowledge.


OK, sorry! I thought your comment was meant as a response to Interactive Civilian's comment, not to Slpee's.

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Re: public misconceptions

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Mar 02, 2010 10:23 pm UTC

phlip wrote:Re: spaceship with a massive floor: say you were in such a spaceship, so an average-sized person felt around 1g on average. How bad would the tidal force be?

You have to be more specific than that. How are you taking the average, for one thing? If you're standing close enough to a black hole, or to something only slightly bigger than a black hole of the same mass, then the gravitational force on your feet could be made arbitrarily large, while adding mass and still keeping it just outside of the event horizon, the tidal force could be made arbitrarily small.

But of course it also depends on the shape of the mass you're talking about. If it's in a plane much bigger than you, the gravitational force will be approximately constant along your height, meaning very little in the way of tides. If it's more like a small sphere, then use inverse square: 1g at your waist means 4g at your feet if that accounts for half the distance from your waist to the center of mass of the "floor", more if it's a bigger fraction, and less if it's smaller.
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Re: public misconceptions

Postby Shivahn » Tue Mar 02, 2010 11:05 pm UTC

qetzal wrote:
Shivahn wrote:Er, read the post I'm responding to (or, the nested one). The person in question pretty clearly said that you can't "believe" in evolution.

That... pretty strongly implies you can't know evolution is true given a JTB understanding of knowledge.


OK, sorry! I thought your comment was meant as a response to Interactive Civilian's comment, not to Slpee's.

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Re: public misconceptions

Postby joshz » Wed Mar 03, 2010 1:58 am UTC

DarkShard wrote:Every time someone insists that the second law of thermodynamics proves that either A) there must be a creator OR B) Evolution is impossible, I feel the need to froth at the mouth.
Wait, how do they even make that connection?
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Re: public misconceptions

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Wed Mar 03, 2010 2:06 am UTC

joshz wrote:
DarkShard wrote:Every time someone insists that the second law of thermodynamics proves that either A) there must be a creator OR B) Evolution is impossible, I feel the need to froth at the mouth.
Wait, how do they even make that connection?

A) Someone had to create this low-entropy initial state.
B) Life is lower-entropy than just random rocks and oceans and whatnot, and so shouldn't arise.

The main problem for (A) is that it's really the same thing as the First Cause argument, and for (B) it's that they're ignoring the meaning of "closed system".
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Re: public misconceptions

Postby joshz » Wed Mar 03, 2010 3:14 am UTC

Yeah, that's a fail argument.
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Re: public misconceptions

Postby TimC » Wed Mar 03, 2010 10:00 am UTC

I'm afraid I'm rather long in the tooth and the whole creation/evolution debate is somewhat settled in my mind (I came from a strong Christian/creationist upbringing and ended up after about a decade of soul-searching in favour of evolution before anyone asks). Might I propose something slightly different to discuss;

Bio-degradable products are eco-friendly

As part of a green initiative at work they've just replaced the old plastic coffee stirrers with wooden ones which are over 8x the volume. I have no idea whether these stirrers are actually more eco-friendly, but when I asked the sponsor the reaction was that I must be some kind of idiot for thinking otherwise.

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Re: public misconceptions

Postby achan1058 » Wed Mar 03, 2010 3:13 pm UTC

As far as I know, plastic do take an awfully long time to degrade, and releases toxic products when it does, that's why it is "non friendly". Wood is edible (by worms and etc at least), so it is most likely more friendly than plastic.

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Re: public misconceptions

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Mar 03, 2010 3:35 pm UTC

Of course, if it goes into a landfill, pretty much nothing will degrade, and so volume actually is a significant consideration. Though eventually we'll have to start mining our landfills for all the rare materials we've thrown into them over the years, which will re-expose "biodegradable" things to the "bio" that's supposed to degrade them, which might be good.
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Re: public misconceptions

Postby TimC » Wed Mar 03, 2010 4:42 pm UTC

Which is exactly my point - bio-degradable doesn't really degrade. Plus the plastic stirrer took very little (marginal) energy to produce and ship. Even if I think about just shipping costs the wood one is more expensive, again driven by volume.

I've often thought it would be very ironic if it turned out that paper placed into landfill actually trapped the carbon and therefore that global warming is actually caused by people recycling paper. I know the volumes involved mean it's not true, but it would be kinda funny if true.

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Re: public misconceptions

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Mar 03, 2010 4:50 pm UTC

Yeah, funny in kind of the same way that ozone being a greenhouse gas is kinda funny. Basically as a means to illustrating that things are more complicated than most people like to think.
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Re: public misconceptions

Postby mercutio_stencil » Wed Mar 03, 2010 9:37 pm UTC

Doing a full environmental impact analysis is dificult, costly and just barely reproducable. And even so, it just about always works out that the lowest impact items are those that are lowest in weight. Why do you think Tetra-pak is more environmentally friendly than a can, even though it isn't recyclable?

Actually, I suppose that says bad things about how much fuel costs factor in to the equation.

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Re: public misconceptions

Postby kernelpanic » Thu Mar 04, 2010 12:43 am UTC

That computers can only be binary, because ternary logic hasn't been developed, and (consequently) that programmers work in a dark screen with bright green binary digits and are somehow able to interpret them in real-time as they are being processed. I blame the movies for that. And for showing people in a command line using a mouse, and people in a GUI typing furiously.
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Re: public misconceptions

Postby MadRocketSci2 » Thu Mar 04, 2010 12:53 am UTC

I'm pretty sure ternary logic exists, and is straightforward. I think the real distinction is between digital and analog general computation. We know digital general computation exists, and that all digital general computers can simulate each other. Is there some general theory of computation with analog functions? That computer would be hyper-turing in some senses.

(oops -you were probably quite aware of that. This is for posting other's misconceptions, and the format got me)

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Re: public misconceptions

Postby MadRocketSci2 » Thu Mar 04, 2010 12:59 am UTC

That computers, being digital, will never be able to emulate things that the brain does, because the brain is an analog computer. (Actually, the brain, on the neuron level, is quite digital in it's operation, even though the architecture is radically different from anything a human would invent)

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Re: public misconceptions

Postby Steax » Thu Mar 04, 2010 3:22 am UTC

kernelpanic wrote:That computers can only be binary, because ternary logic hasn't been developed, and (consequently) that programmers work in a dark screen with bright green binary digits and are somehow able to interpret them in real-time as they are being processed. I blame the movies for that. And for showing people in a command line using a mouse, and people in a GUI typing furiously.


And all operating systems have cool beeps and sound effects for every click of a button, opening a window with smooth zooming features, and all text strings are printed out one at a time with a beep on every character.
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Re: public misconceptions

Postby kernelpanic » Thu Mar 04, 2010 3:27 am UTC

MadRocketSci2 wrote:oops -you were probably quite aware of that.

Yup.

Steax wrote:
kernelpanic wrote:That computers can only be binary, because ternary logic hasn't been developed, and (consequently) that programmers work in a dark screen with bright green binary digits and are somehow able to interpret them in real-time as they are being processed. I blame the movies for that. And for showing people in a command line using a mouse, and people in a GUI typing furiously.


And all operating systems have cool beeps and sound effects for every click of a button, opening a window with smooth zooming features, and all text strings are printed out one at a time with a beep on every character.


So the only thing needed to hack the CIA (if that even makes sense) is to type faster than the guy at the other end. Have you noticed how the good guys use a computer in a well-lit room while the evil ones only use them in basements with 15-watt bulbs?
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Bhelliom wrote:Don't forget that the cat probably knows EXACTLY what it is doing is is most likely just screwing with you. You know, for CAT SCIENCE!

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