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Everything posted by waitforufo

  1. I'm not trying to play some semantic game. For the purpose of this argument I am defining a "pollutant" as a substance at a concentration above which it causes harm to the environment. This would be true regardless of the effects of this substance at lower concentrations, even if those lower concentration effects were beneficial or essential. I just don't think current levels of carbon dioxide are any where near a level of harm.
  2. Subsidies for research are okay. I should have been more specific and singled out subsidies without which an industry would not be economically viable. Bascule above points out interesting research into cost reducing photovoltaic cells. This can be money well spent. The yardstick upon which such research should be measured however, is the economic viability of the products produced. More in line with the topic of this forum (which should be global warming not climate change) the proper question would be "are all energy producing industries paying the true cost of production." Pollution is a cost that should be paid by those that produce it and passed on to those the consume products so produced. So is carbon dioxide a pollutant or not? I personally am a skeptic. If it is deemed to be however, those that reap the benefit of carbon dioxide production should bear the cost. Taxation may be the best way to apply costs to those that benefit. Money collected by such taxation would be best spent on research to replace said polluting industries (Not spent on subsidizing FLDS baby farms in Texas through Aid to Families with Dependent Children.). Taxing polluting industries would automatically make non polluting industries more economically viable. The question however remains the same. Is carbon dioxide a pollutant? If not we should not burden our economy with artificial costs. With regard to ethanol, government never considers the unintended consequences of its acts and there is no free market to correct for such unintended consequences. Politics then enshrines such nonsense in perpetuity.
  3. I would prefer that they subsidize none. Look at what ethanol subsidies have done. If some people can't afford unsubsidized fuel, subsidize those individuals. If all energy sources are put on an equal footing, the best will win.
  4. No. Respect implies accommodation. Tolerance implies absence of abuse. In a polite society this boundary can be ambiguous. So for example if you have a day set aside for religious observance and I am your employer I give you the day off out of respect. If I tolerate you I make you take a vacation day.
  5. I as well do not think we can judge people of the past by today's standards. We can and should however judge what they believed and promoted particularly where they went wrong. Doing so reminds us of the hubris of all people, including those of great accomplishment. For example, the liberty many of us enjoy today may not have come about without the efforts of men like Thomas Jefferson and George Washington both of whom were slave owners. Darwin for example encouraged and supported the work of this half cousin Francis Galton the author of "Hereditary Genius." Francis Galton is known as the father of eugenics.
  6. Regardless of the major you select, there will be courses required for graduation that you have no interest in taking. These courses are often difficult. You may see no personal practical benefit from taking these courses. The courses may only be offered during times that coincide with courses you would truly love to take. To graduate however you must take them. When studying for my master's degree 'solid state physics' is one I particularly remember. I'm not saying it’s a bad subject. I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with those that love the subject. It just wasn't in my carrier plans. I just wasn't interested. I found it to be a difficult subject. The professor was poor as well. He had a PhD from UCLA and had never formally taught after working 20 years as a chip designer for Texas Instruments. I picked out all kinds of equally difficult courses that I was interested in and tried to convince my masters professor that I should be able to switch. I even said I would take two of those other courses instead. No dice. All MSEEs were required to take this course. I got a 3.2 out of 4 in the class hating every minute of it. I retrospect, I still don't see why I had to take the it. I have never even used it once. But I'm glad I have my degree. I glad I measured up to the challenge. Because I toughed it out I have been able to work on projects I would not have otherwise been able to work on. Great projects. By the way, when you get a real engineering job, you will be put on lots of boring and nonsensical projects. You will learn a bit from each, but it will often feel like drudgery. You have to do well on those projects if you expect to get the projects you really want. That’s why they call it work. That's just the way life works. Always paying your dues. If you stick with it, one day you will toque down the last bolt of some really bitchin engine that sprang from your imagination and hear that baby fire up for the first time. Then it will all be worth it. After that, back to paying dues until the next time. That's engineering.
  7. Ionizer, In one of your posts you say … "I can simulate the situations in the problem and just observe what happens in my head, then it becomes easy to solve." This is a very important skill in engineering problem solving. Exploit it properly and you will find your math classes becoming easier particularly as they become more advanced. Engineering studies are hard. I don't know a single engineer who doesn't have war stories about a professor that gave weekly assignments that took all day Saturday to complete. I'm not talking about just 5 hours, think 12, or more. Also, getting half of them right made them feel like a genius. Then there are the profs that give midterms and finals that so difficult that after cramming for a week you get 45% right. That 45% correct is a downer until you find out your grade was in the top 1% of the class. Worse still is when you get the solutions to these marathon homework problems and tests and see just how easy they were. Oh yea, and there will be semesters (or quarters) where you have a few professors like this at once. Most colleges and universities will require you to take a core curriculum including humanities, business, and other. You have to be a rounded individual. Compared to your engineering classes you will breeze through these. You will also meet students, with other degree goals, who think such courses are difficult. These other students will graduate in their majors with good grades, perhaps before you do. Engineering as a profession is difficult. Those difficult courses I mentioned above, all the problems in those courses have answers. In the real word many don't. There will be times in your carrier where after putting in weeks of six 10 hour days you will just have to decide that you were on the wrong track and start over. The deadline for your answer will not change. Engineers, particularly mechanical engineers, create physical things that perform a function. When done well, the creation will have elegance. This will be the reward for your work. If you want to study engineering because you think your salary will be good, I recommend you try something else. Even if you graduate, you will likely leave the profession in a few years after graduation. There are many other carriers that are less difficult that pay well. After reading all your posts again, I think you have to seriously evaluate your current maturity level. Don’t take that as an insult. I worked for two years after high school before becoming a university freshman. I did a lot of growing up in those two years. I learned that hard work with my brain was more fun than hard work with my back. I also learned to respect those that do labor. If you want to enjoy life however, learn to enjoy hard work.
  8. A good and famous example of the precautionary principle is "Pascal's Wager." "Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is... If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is." - Blaise Pascal I don't think this argument convinced too many people. Also, I can't image that those so convinced fill many collection plates or become famous for heroic action based on a faith so founded. So okay I believe in Global Warming as long as you don't spend my money trying to fix it.
  9. Don't rabbits eat their scat to give it another go at their digestive tract?
  10. Smoking Tobacco: Prohibit governments from taxing this product or receiving funds through lawsuits against tobacco producers and this product would be banned almost immediately. The hypocrisy of governments condemning the tobacco industry never ceases to amaze me. Tobacco consumers are addicts. They look for any reason not to quit. I don't think it was the intention of skepticlance in creating this forum topic, but I have heard tobacco addicts make arguments like "well you can get cancer from eating smoked or grilled foods, so why should I quit smoking?" Answer: You need to stop listening to the little nicotine addict in your head. Incense: In these modern times, do living or gathering spaces really smell that bad that incense is necessary? Same thing with air fresheners and Potpourri. Large gatherings of people before air conditioning, bathing, and deodorant were common perhaps, but today? Smoked or grilled food: One, it tastes so good. Two, most people don't eat it in large concentrations or often. All things in moderation. Marijuana: Good times or bad, people have always wanted to get high. This one seems less harmful then most. Personally, I think it would be best to find other ways of dealing with stress, but if it makes you an easier person to deal with in public please don't stop. Cooking: All cooking produces smoke. Yes it's worse if you use wood, coal, or dung indoors but even cooking with electricity produces smoke. Not cooking food would kill more people. By the way it was not that long ago that the first world used wood and coal indoors to cook food.
  11. Global cooling. One year in a row and counting. Come on people, can't you at least be happy that our ultimate doom is one year further in the future?
  12. This sooner rather than later line of thinking is often incorrect. Economic resources are limited. The money we spend now has to come from somewhere. Consuming our economic resources on today's poor solutions may mean that we have to limit research into tomorrow's better solutions. So for example in the future you may have to retire. Should you save money for retirement in your early 20's? Perhaps spending that money on a college education would be a better idea. (Perhaps spending the money on girls and beer is a better idea in your early 20's.) Here in the US you sometimes still hear the expression "if we can put a man on the moon, why can't we …" Well perhaps we can't do the thing they want since we spent all our money putting a man on the moon. So if we have 60+ years to figure out energy issues, perhaps we should spend our money researching better solutions for future not implementing todays poorer solutions. Personally, I think there are lots of smart people in our capitalistic society doing that right now. That’s the beauty of capitalism. People have the incentive to find solutions to problems because it will make them wealthy.
  13. For radio waves you could create a cardioid antenna array. See: http://personal.ee.surrey.ac.uk/Personal/D.Jefferies/antarray.html Since reciprocity applies in radio propagation and reception, showing that there is a receiving null in an antenna proves also that there would be and cancelling transmission null. You could create an antenna of hand held size if you pick a high enough frequency. Then you need to find a signal source and a tuned receiver. Perhaps a cell tower and a cell phone (with coaxial input) could be used. Perhaps you could also show standing waves on a short circuited transmission line. Ladder line is open and you could measure the electric field with a probe. http://www.microwaves101.com/encyclopedia/vswr.cfm
  14. Klaynos, I thought I pointed that out by saying... "One might argue that this "law" is true even if resistance changes with current or voltage. In such a system, resistance could be described as non-linear." Swansont, OP?
  15. I don't really think your wife wants a bird. She is addicted to nicotine. Emotionally, she doesn't want to quit. She wants you to tell her she can't have the bird so she can keep smoking. By not letting her have the bird, it will be your fault that she is smoking. I would call her bluff. Tell her you think it's a great idea, find a local pet shop and go with her to pick one out. My guess is she will change her mind before the purchase. If she does try to back out, buy one anyway. Be real positive about it. You can always sell the thing on craigslist later. You will only be out a few bucks.
  16. I believe there was a time in science when a law was defined as an exceptionless regularity. So Ohm's Law, voltage equals current times resistance (V=IR), is always true without exception. One might argue that this "law" is true even if resistance changes with current or voltage. In such a system, resistance could be described as non-linear. Modern science has however found that concepts once considered to be exceptionless regularities, such as the law of conservation of mass/matter, actually have exceptions. Due to this, in my opinion, the term "theory" is favored over "law" in modern science. Perhaps a better question would be "what is the definition of 'theory'." This word has a number of definitions in science depending on context. Unfortunately in popular culture the word "theory" seems to mean an idea not yet proven. This popular culture definition is always emphasized by pseudo science groups such as those promoting life origins through "intelligent design." Using this popular culture definition of 'theory' puts in their minds, "intelligent design" on the same footing as "natural selection" since neither can be proven to be an exceptionless regularity.
  17. First, I live in the US so my comments will be US centric. My name is on several patents but the various companies I have worked for own all the patent rights. Generally on your fist day of employment with most US companies you sign an agreement with your employer saying that all your inventive ideas developed during your employment are owned by your employer. By the way that includes ideas you had before you came to work for them and ideas that have nothing to do with the business area of your employer. If you don't sign it you don't get the job. So most employed engineers and scientist patent ideas because patents look good on your resume. With regard to squelching competitive technology or preventing media reports on new technology, the patent process was designed to prevent such things. Anyone can go the US patent website, http://www.uspto.gov/patft/index.html , and search all issued and applied for patents. As I said in my last post, the information found in these documents should be complete enough for anyone skilled in the art to create a copy of the invention. Can a company pay the media to not report on inventive ideas? A media outlet is free to agree not to publish for a fee, but the information is available to anyone at the above site. With regard to changes in patent law, there have been so many changes in the last decade they all can't be cover here. Most of these changes have been driven by world trade and economic globalization. Many of the changes were to increase commonality in law from country to country. For example most countries had patent protection for 20 years while the US used 17 years. The US changed to 20 years to match the majority of countries. In the US, you own your ideas from the time you think of them. If you can prove through notes that you thought of an idea before anyone else, you own it from the date you thought of it. This can be done from dated notebooks. This is why most US engineers use notebooks with numbered pages that are stitched in. In most other countries ideas are not owned until you file for a patent. To align with other countries the US created a new filing type, the provisional patent. This is basically filing your notes. After filing a provisional patent you have one year to file an actual utility patent. The provisional patent was created to provide US inventors earlier filing date protection. US utility patent filings can be more difficult to prepare than patents filed in other countries. These types of changes go on and on. With regard to the cost of patenting, in one country the fees paid to the government patent office are generally not too bad. I don't think you would have to pay more that $5k total. Patent lawyer or patent agent fees are a bigger issue. The really big issue is that you have to file in every country that you want protection. Also, if someone violates your patent you have to sue them. That can really cost you. Imagine an individual suing GM or Exxon. Such things have been done successfully but most can't afford it. There was a successful case of a guy that had a patent on a superior car radiator cap and overflow reservoir. Such cases are rare. The really big issue was permitting companies to extend the period of patent filing by paying fees. My opinion is that this is a bad idea. This is the government permitting companies to extend their ownership by paying a tax. This just allows too much politics in the patent process. US tax law for example has given tax exemptions to specific individuals and specific companies. So your lobbyist can buy you any fee you want.
  18. Patents were invented for two purposes. First, for a short period of time, they grant to the inventor the rights of property to inventive ideas. Initially this short period of time was 17 years (at least in the US). Second, they required the inventor to fully disclose their ideas. This disclosure is intended to be complete enough so that those skilled in the art could produce the patented invention. By setting up the patent process in this way, inventors would benefit near term from the windfall of their inventiveness, and society would benefit long term from technological advancement the patent document full disclosure would provide. After 17 years, anyone could copy every detail of the invention without penalty. Today, the patent process works much like it did when created (By Thomas Jefferson if I recall correctly). The difference today that patents last for 20 years and that period can be extended by paying fees that increase by year. The initial period was extended by international agreement. Why the fee based extensions? You see, governments decided to take advantage of really good proven ideas through taxation. Those fees (taxes) grow quickly year over year so most patent holders drop them after a few years. Many companies and individuals still question the value of patents. The disclosure cost is a high one. Once you disclose, only law can keep someone from copying your ideas. That doesn't work so well in our international business environment. China for example is a huge market and they generally don't prosecute those that violate ideas patented in the US or Europe but not in China. Even if it is patented in China, you have to prove the violation in the Chinese court system. What do the Chinese care if some US or European citizen or corporation gets screwed? Holding your inventiveness as a trade secret may protect ideas better than a patent. Such secrets however don't benefit society, as open patent disclosures do. You see, the patent concept was quite an enlightened egalitarian one. Today, most companies file for patents to prevent getting sued for building their own inventions. You see if they don't file a patent, some yahoo comes along and sees what they are selling and files a patent on it. Then he hires his brother in law lawyer to sue the company he has copied. Yes the inventive company can go through the whole court system and win, but in the mean time his production line can be shut down by judicial injunction. So it's generally cheaper to just settle out of court. To keep this from happening, companies and individuals file for patents.
  19. Popestar, At 17 I'm sure your GPA looks like a big obstacle. At 27 you will wonder why you were so concerned. Lots of people go the community college, university, then graduate school route. When you succeed in becoming a doctor, the name of the university on your diploma won't have much of an impact on your life. Stop worrying about the past and just focus on your future. Work to make it bright. The effort you have to put in form this point forward really won't be any more difficult than your current classmates holding 4.0 GPAs. You live in a country that lets you start over a million times. Relax. Adults in our life that are not telling you this should be ignored.
  20. Those that fight dogs in competitions, competitions to the death, choose pit bulls. You never see the police drag away cocker spaniels, Jack Russell terriers, English setters, great danes, or other breeds from dog fights. There must be some reason for that.
  21. Part of the breading of pit bulls was to produce jaws with tremendous biting force. They may be no more likely to attack than any other breed. Their physiology may however make that attack more deadly.
  22. Instead of this tiresome ad nauseum discussion about skeptics, perhaps a discussion about the folly of enthusiast would provide an entertaining change of pace.
  23. Dear JohnB, Thank you for your well considered and polite reply. My personal opinion is that the concept of global climate, let alone global climate modeling is a young science requiring significantly more research before conclusions can be drawn. The plot you present for example is of temperature smoothed with a 25 year filter (least-squares?). Temperature is of course a weather variable. I have often heard within several Science Forums threads that a 20 to 30 year average of weather defines climate, but I have seen no scientific justification for this averaging number. Assuming this number is years is correct, many should take issue with presenting data on a year to year basis. When bandwidth is reduced, it is generally best to also decimate the data as well. A more reasonable number would be to present climate data on at most a 5 year basis but more likely a 10 year basis depending on filter parameters. Since the last time global cooling was considered likely, in the 70's, we have 3 to 6 data points showing a warming trend. Something we should keep and eye on, but hardly enough data, by itself, to justify modifying human behavior. With time, I am sure that climate scientist will get better at calibrating proxies and validating current climate models to explain past climate events. When this is accomplished I'm sure that current climate modeling skeptics like myself will be won over.
  24. Dear iNow, The topic of my thread is “climate models and climate past.” To determine the accuracy of any model one must verify the model against known data. In dynamic systems, this modeling verification would generally be done over time events that show significant deviation from normal or that have some otherwise unexplainable characteristic (e.g. not related to earth’s orbital variation in the solar system). I selected the little ice age, medieval warm period, and Holocene climatic optimum because each of these seem to fit such a definition. I also selected these three epochs because they included known warming and cooling climate events. Two warming events because of the current interest in warming trends. Better understanding these epochs would further our understanding of climate variation. Good science in and of itself. More important, verifying current models over these epochs would prove our understanding of climate variation without an anthropogenic increase of greenhouse gases. Modelers would be able to show that there models predict past events well and that our current situation can be explained best by anthropogenic forcings. Such verification would go a long way toward dispelling climate model skeptics. P.S. Happy New Year
  25. Dear Lockheed, I went to the beginning of your thread and did not find answers to the questions I asked. Perhaps you can provide quoted text from your input or from the input of others throughout the body of your thread. Even better, perhaps you can provide a peer reviewed paper the covers the questions I asked in post #1 of this thread. Are my questions too ambiguous? Do I need to clarify them further?
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