Monday, February 09, 2009

Obama on Biden's 30 percent - the truth

In his press conference today there was the following exchange:

Question: Mr. President, at a speech Friday that many of us covered, Vice President Biden said the following thing about a conversation the two of you had in the Oval Office about a subject he didn't disclose.

"If we do everything right, if we do it with absolute certainty, if we stand up there and we really make the tough decisions, there's still a 30 percent chance we're going to get it wrong."

Since the vice president brought it up, can you tell the American people, sir, what you were talking about? And if not, can you at least reassure them it wasn't the stimulus bill or the bank rescue plan and if, in general, you agree with that ratio of success, 30 percent failure, 70 percent success?

Obama: You know, I don't remember exactly what Joe was referring to...

What was he really referring to?

Given the season, and speaking as someone who can totally empathize, its obvious.

Mr Biden and our President were discussing what to buy their respective spouses for valentines. Given my experience, 30 percent is a little optimistic.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Simology - The New New Religion?

I'd heard all the claims before, in the New York Time Story
Our Lives, Controlled From Some Guy’s Couch

What just occurred to me is, Hey, this sounds like the basis for a new religion - Simology. I've already got the symbol worked out (you were wondering what that was, right? So, how do you create a new religion, and, the most important question for all religious founders, how do you obtain money and power through it?

The basic premise of the article, and Nick Bostrom's logic, is that once a society achieves a certain level of technological sophistication it is almost guaranteed to be able to run simulations:
"Dr. Bostrom assumes that technological advances could produce a computer with more processing power than all the brains in the world, and that advanced humans, or “posthumans,” could run “ancestor simulations” of their evolutionary history by creating virtual worlds inhabited by virtual people with fully developed virtual nervous systems.

Some computer experts have projected, based on trends in processing power, that we will have such a computer by the middle of this century"
I think this may be minimizing things a little. The advanced civilization does not have to be human, nor does it have to live in a universe anything like the simulation. We run universal simulations today on super computers. They are limited to a few million particles (or galaxies, depending on the scale), but we simulate varying parameters that typically don't look like our universe - in a attempt to find those that do.

What if this is a more advanced total universal simulation? Here are a few parameters, some initial conditions, lets see what happens? Since the universe in which the simulation is running does not have to be like ours, the arguments of "You need a universe to simulate one" don't hold true. We may not be able to simulate the entire universe, but I could see us doing "evolution on earth" some time next century. If you had 1THz, you could probably easily do 1M years a second. For those in the simulation though, time would have to seem real for evolution to work.

The article approaches it from a philosophical point of view, but what about the scientific one? i.e. If it was, how would we tell?

There may be some testable things:

1) Space would be grainy, pixelated if you like. Which it is at the quantum level, think planck length.
2) Time would be quantized due to processing clock cycles, which again, it seems to be at the planck time
3) There would be a set of relatively simple laws (lines of code) that everything followed at the lowest level, which most scientist would argue there are, or seem to be, if only they could work them out
4) There would be a set of seemingly random initial conditions to our universe (check again)
5) There would be a built in random factor, otherwise it would not be a simulation (what's the point if you know the outcome?). Again, quantum mechanics / heisenberg.

I think there's more evidence here than most religions, which brings me back to my initial question - how do you start one?

There needs to be some online content (a book is sooo last millenia), a charismatic leader, some pointless rituals and some hope. Oh, and some followers. I have lots of hope, could put together some content, any volunteers for following?

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

iPhone - uLose your hands

While the iPhone is cool and all that, one thing I haven't seen anyone mention is that you need two hands to use it.

As any power blackberry user will tell you, its all about using one hand. Scroll wheel, buttons, even the keyboard can be used while you are:
a) Drinking your Blended No-Whip Mochiatta
b) Driving
c) Gesticulating wildly
d) All of the above

You can also do this with most phones. With the iPhone you have to hold it, and use the other hand to actually use the thing. I guess you could use your nose, tongue, etc. but, well, you get the point.

I just got (through work) a cingular 8525:

and, while its a little thicker than the iPhone, it has most of the same features, but is also really configurable (iPhone skin anyone) and you can write your own programs for it (windows mobile). I would like the gyroscope thingies for landscape mode, and some of the gestures (like zoom-in and off), but you can use it one handed to read emails, phone and do most things, and it also has a keyboard if you want to write really long emails. I can also view pdfs, powerpoints, word docs, etc.

Lets see how long it takes for others to notice this slight design flaw.

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Lose Lbs and Control of Your Bowels

Seems Pharmaceuticals have beaten common sense once more. In FDA approves non-prescription diet pill - Yahoo! News they announced that
"the fat-blocking weight-loss pill orlistat, which has been available by prescription, can be sold in a reduced-strength version over the counter"
Basically, instead of absorbing fat, as any good digestive system should, it just passes about of quarter of it straight through. Meaning that your bottom becomes runny, you can't have a normal life, you get depressed, eat more and need more pills. A vicious cycle if you like.

How do you avoid this outpouring from your butt??
"Eating a low-fat diet will reduce the likelihood of this side effect."
But isn't the point of the drug to prevent fat absorption? If you are eating less fat, won't the drug effectively DO NOTHING??

Why not just eat less, especially less fat in the first place?? Ahh, cos that's too hard - its easier to pop a pill, stuff your face with pizza, and hope they find a life-threatening problem with the pill so you can make out like a bandit in the class-action suit (or rather so the lawyers can).

Oh, and at $1-$2 a day for $5-$6M people, the pharma would lose out on, oh, around $3B !!

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Monday, August 21, 2006

Free Energy, Free Marketing, or Free Lunch?

OK, so there's a US patent as well, you can check out the United States Patent Application: 0060066428 here.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, check out the Steorn Challenge and my last Blog Post.

It's got some artist drawings as well as the line drawings from the European patent. So here's the question everyone is asking.

Do they really think they have something, or is this just one big marketing ploy?

If its marketing, what the hell is it they are, in fact, marketing?

Is it just that they're good at marketing, and they want to sell, erm, marketing services? Or are they just trying to make the Steorn name so (in)famous that they can then sell some other mediocre product?

I mean, remember the whole thing about Segway? The whole IT business? How many people thought that IT was going to be a matter transporter and not, as it turned out, a Sinclair C5 on steroids?

You can imagine the results of the 12 person scientific jury:

"Well, it wasn't exactly OU, but these microgenerators are pretty neat. You just have to wind them up and they can power a cell phone for 30 minutes"

Interest parties should also check out some of Butch Lafonte's work. Try the Equilibrium Motor for example.

There are a lot of the same ideas, but he's been doing it for, it seems, quite a bit longer. Basically using magnetic shielding to get more energy out than you put in. The guys over at JLN Labs have been working on lots of other interesting stuff for years.

I'm also wondering where the energy comes from, if it, in the slightest chance, actually works? The earths magnetic field, or Zero Point? In the first case, will the energy drain eventually slow down the earths spin? In the latter case, will we cause a drop in the Higgs field to a lower energy level and wipe out the entire universe?

Maybe the latter? The Mayans predicted everything would change in 2012. That gives them 6 years to sell enough of these things to destroy life, the universe and everything.

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Saturday, August 19, 2006

Energy For All?

In today's news an Irish company challenges scientists to test 'free energy' technology.

I've been following such attempts for a few years now, and the most interesting thing about this one is the amount of media attention its been able to attract.

I've managed to dig out the patent, but haven't fully deciphered it yet.

Its at patent number WO2006035419

Here's the brief description from the preamble:

[0001] "Low Energy Magnetic Actuator"


[0003] The present invention relates to a magnetic actuating apparatus.


[0005] Electromagnets are commonly used where there is a requirement for a magnetic field to be actuated (turned on/off).

[0006] An electromagnet achieves this effect by providing (generating) a magnetic field while electrical current is applied to it. To turn off the field the current is no longer applied to the electromagnet.

[0007] The use of electromagnets to effectuate magnetic fields suffers from one major drawback - the electromagnet requires a relatively large amount of electrical energy to operate.

[0008] Many techniques are being used to reduce the amount of external energy that an electromagnet requires. Primarily these techniques relate to the efficiency of the electromagnet and its components.


[0010] A low energy magnet actuator allows magnetic fields to be turned on and off using a small amount of energy. The magnetic actuator according to the invention generally includes a base suitable for the support of a plurality of magnets. An actuatable shield is positioned in relation to the plurality of magnets so that it effectively blocks the magnetic field when it is positioned over at least one of the magnets. The magnetic fields of the plurality of magnets interact in a manner that allows low energy actuation of the shield. In one illustrative embodiment of an actuator according to the invention, the base supports a first magnet mounted to the base in a first position. A second magnet is supported by the base in a second position relative to the first magnet. A shield is positioned relative to the first and second magnets in a configuration that enables the movement of the shield between two known positions. In this illustrative embodiment, each magnet is of similar field strength and the field that radiates from the ends are of the same polarity. The shield is of a thickness that effectively blocks the emitted magnetic field when positioned over one or the other of the magnets. The magnetic fields of the two magnets interact in a manner that allows for the low- energy movement of the shield. The exposed magnetic field may be used to perform work (e.g. interact with other magnetic fields to move an object).

[0011] Advantages of the actuator according to the invention include low energy actuation of the shield in a manner that yields motion or actuation that is highly efficient. The highly efficient actuation of the shield results in movement that can perform work in a highly efficient manner.

Comments are welcomed.

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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Wei-Hwa's Puzzle Challenges

Wey Hey! Da Vinci Code quests may be over, but Wei-Hwa's Puzzle Challenges are now live on Google. Bit of a let down though...

The first is a simple math puzzle. Use 8, 8, 3, 3 and your choice of +-*/ and parentheses to make 24.

Spoiler Alert.

Its actually way easy.

8 /(3-(8/3))

3 - (8/3) = 9/3 - 8/3 = 1/3.

So 8 / 1 / 3 = 8 * 3 = 24.

Hope the next one has some cool graphics at least : )

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