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  1. #1381

    Re: Let's Discuss Science

    The first images of a Black Hole are all over the web. Surely impressive.
    The website XKCD, which is an interesting comic/info site, has the main photograph of the hole, with a scale of the Solar System embedded. Look it up. It sure puts our miniature size in perspective.
    www.xkcd.com
    Missing winter...

  2. #1382

    Re: Let's Discuss Science

    I was amazed at the size of it. I always thought that black holes were rather "small".
    Meet again we do, old foe...

  3. #1383

    Re: Let's Discuss Science

    I have never been able to understand the size issue. Is it the volume inside the event horizon (no light escapes from there) or is it some sort of plasma-mass in the center of the horizon? At that level of "compression" is there even a concept of mass as we know it?
    The second option is where I am with you, Drop. I think that the understanding is that there is something in the center that nobody really knows what is because it is no longer matter as we know it, and the size there is truly small.
    Still, the black hole thing is really interesting. Human story: the person that developed the algorithm is a 29 year old woman named Katie Bouman. One joke: David Bowman is the main character in 2001 Space Oddisey. The coincidence of the last names is funny and cool.
    And this woman should become national spokeswoman for STEM. But I bet she has more interesting things to do.
    Missing winter...

  4. #1384

    Re: Let's Discuss Science

    The size is the event horizon. Anything beyond that is unknowable. The other important and easily measurable property of the black hole is it's mass.
    Roger forever

  5. #1385

    Re: Let's Discuss Science

    If I may.
    When I proposed this thread and Vlad started it, my main idea was not so much to share information as to share opinions. As you know, I do find that the articles we post are not as interesting as the opinions we post.
    In the RUN TO THE WH thread there is an article posted about these FAKE VIDEOS. By now our ability to create images and distort reality is becoming extreme.
    My point: everybody here that has read a few of my postings knows that PARANOIA barely describes my standard state of being. But I do wonder: am I at least slightly right to be concerned, if not outright afraid, of what AI is, can and will do to us? The job losses, the capability to distort information, the propensity to foster intellectual laziness and diminish proper, valuable healthy curiosity. Am I overreacting when I believe we are not even close to be ready for this phenomenon?
    Example: could our collective TAT brain be able to detect a persuasive AI that would open an account here and debate us?

    Alternate post:
    Why am I so ready for a bottle of rum at noon local time?
    Missing winter...

  6. #1386

    Re: Let's Discuss Science

    Quote Originally Posted by ponchi101 View Post
    If I may.
    When I proposed this thread and Vlad started it, my main idea was not so much to share information as to share opinions. As you know, I do find that the articles we post are not as interesting as the opinions we post.
    In the RUN TO THE WH thread there is an article posted about these FAKE VIDEOS. By now our ability to create images and distort reality is becoming extreme.
    My point: everybody here that has read a few of my postings knows that PARANOIA barely describes my standard state of being. But I do wonder: am I at least slightly right to be concerned, if not outright afraid, of what AI is, can and will do to us? The job losses, the capability to distort information, the propensity to foster intellectual laziness and diminish proper, valuable healthy curiosity. Am I overreacting when I believe we are not even close to be ready for this phenomenon?
    Example: could our collective TAT brain be able to detect a persuasive AI that would open an account here and debate us?

    Alternate post:
    Why am I so ready for a bottle of rum at noon local time?
    Ponchi that article scared me too. Like many things in science just because you can do it should you? I"ve bren off FB for a couple of years now and follow cat rescuers and tennis players on IG. If I see something posted - i saw the Kellyanne Conway thing and didn't believe it until the "major media" outlets picked it up - but is that enough? I don't know.

    ETA: Someone just posted this response on WaPo:

    The people designing (and advertising) the technology (it'll help you get better beer!) Are now warning about the technology?

    Awesome; they invent a technology that is an existential threat to human civilization a la "The Terminator" (there's actually a service associated called Skynet; I've seen the commercials, not deepfake ones either) and now they claim the threat and propose safety measures which involve paying them more money.

    Luddite and proud of it.

    Let's all go back to typing.
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb




  7. #1387
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    Re: Let's Discuss Science

    It's important to remember that AI (artificial intelligence, not artificial insemination) can be used for tremendous good. The most accessible example in my case, because of my job, is the positive impact of AI on information center operations--from interactions with customers (using AI to anticipate what users are looking for) to inventory management to order fulfillment.

    Though yes, it will kill jobs on fulfillment while also creating jobs on developing and implementing this new functionality.

    The frightening side of AI, however, gets precisely to what ponchi is talking about. AI would not be such a horrific threat if we didn't have such a large segment of the population that long ago and willfully surrendered its capacity to reliably evaluate and interpret the quality of evidence. That should be more frightening than AI itself.

  8. #1388

    Re: Let's Discuss Science

    Ponchi: You aren't being "paranoid" when they really ARE out to get you.

    GH

  9. #1389

    Re: Let's Discuss Science

    Missing winter...

  10. #1390

    Re: Let's Discuss Science

    Trump's order to slash number of science advisory boards blasted by critics as 'nonsensical'
    "It's no longer death by a thousand cuts. It's taking a knife to the jugular,” one science advocate said of the order to eliminate a third of the advisory boards.

    June 15, 2019, 4:11 PM EDT
    By Phil McCausland

    ...Donald Trump signed an executive order late Friday to cut the number of government advisory committees by a third across all federal agencies, a move that the White House said is long overdue and necessary to ensure good stewardship of taxpayers' money.

    But critics said it is the Trump administration’s latest effort to undermine science-based and fact-supported decision-making.

    “This is another example of how disconnected the Trump administration is from the needs of the American people and how to protect them from harm," said Mustafa Ali, who resigned in 2017 as the senior adviser for environmental justice at the Environmental Protection Agency.

    Experts on the advisory committees, which were formalized under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) in 1972, give the executive branch input on issues ranging from high-level nuclear waste disposal, the depletion of atmospheric ozone, AIDS, drug addiction, school improvement and housing.

    The administration has for two years been "shrinking and restricting the role of federal science advisory committees," said Gretchen Goldman, the research director with the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, in a statement. "Now they’re removing the possibility of even making decisions based on robust science advice. It's no longer death by a thousand cuts. It's taking a knife to the jugular.”

    But White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere told NBC News over email that the cuts were long overdue.

    “A government-wide review of FACA committees has not been done since 1993, and the President believes it is time to once more review and eliminate ones that are not relevant and providing valuable services so that we are good stewards of the taxpayers’ money,” Deere wrote.

    The government-wide review referred to is the last time such a big cut was made.

    President Bill Clinton signed an executive order in February 1993 that terminated “not less than one-third of the advisory committees” created under the Federal Advisory Committee Act that were not required by statute.

    The number of scientific advisory committees grew slightly under the George W. Bush and Barack Obama presidencies, but science advocates’ concern is that the Trump administration continues to distance the federal government from the fact-based decision-making that these committees are intended to uphold.

    The Union of Concerned Scientists found in a study last year that between 2016 and 2017 the number of science advisory committees across all agencies decreased by 20 percent and their membership decreased by 14 percent.

    Goldman said that Trump's ordered cut will greatly exacerbate this trend.

    “They’re escalating by saying they will get rid of a third of them arbitrarily,” Goldman said over the phone. “This is really nonsensical because there is not any reason to do that. It’s not costing the government much money because they’re not compensating people for their time or expertise, just mostly paying their travel expenses.”

    A Congressional Research Study review of Federal Advisory Committees in October 2016 found that there were roughly 1,000 committees organized under the Federal Advisory Committee Act between 2011 and 2015. Their membership during those years ranged from 69,750 to 72,220, and the budget for all committees remained at or below $416.4 million.

    More than half that budget goes toward federal support staff for the committees, the report said.

    Stan Meiburg, who worked at the Environmental Protection Agency for 39 years before retiring in 2017, worked with and served on such committees under both Republican and Democratic administrations while he was a federal employee.

    Advisory committee members are largely unpaid and often find creative ways for the federal government to save money, said Meiburg, a former EPA deputy regional administrator and current member of the Environmental Protection Network.

    “It’s very unwise,” he said of the executive order, “and when you think of ways that money could be spent that works effectively for taxpayers, these committees carry small margins and produce tremendous returns.”

    Unlike the Clinton administration’s executive order, Trump's decree also opens the door to shutting down committees created by congressional statute. The order requires agencies to create “a detailed plan” for committees' continued existence if they are “required by statute,” and to draft, “as appropriate, recommended legislation for submission to Congress” for panels that are to be changed or terminated.

    This could set up a fight between the White House and Democrats, as Congress has used FACA advisory committees to provide greater oversight of the executive branch.

    “The committees are reflective of a congressional interest in ensuring a broad number of perspectives are brought to bear on public policy,” Meiburg said. “That interest is still going to be there, and I think you’ll see a great amount of resistance from Congress.”

    The order specifically exempts some committees, however, including those that advise on the safety of consumer products.

    The required cuts don't apply to advisory panels “whose primary purpose is to provide scientific expertise to support agencies making decisions related to the safety or efficacy of products to be marketed to American consumers” or those groups “whose approval is necessary to fund an extramural research procurement contract, grant, or cooperative agreement,” the order says.

    Advocates said the exemptions make it clear that Trump's order isn't about cost savings or helping American citizens, but about supporting corporations.

    "That show they specifically are not wanting to cut the committees that deal with or affect private industry," Goldman said. "The ones that are left then are where science might prove to be inconvenient."



    https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/pol...itics-n1017921
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb




  11. #1391

    Re: Let's Discuss Science

    Those folks in West Virginia who had purple water a few days ago are just a bunch of whiners. Who says water has to be clear and odor free?
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb




  12. #1392

    Re: Let's Discuss Science

    Downright terrifying
    Missing winter...

  13. #1393

    Re: Let's Discuss Science

    Missing winter...

  14. #1394
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    Re: Let's Discuss Science

    Okay. As someone who has worked in or for the federal government for 28 years...

    Advisory committees, advisory groups, steering committees, etc., have always been a problem--at least as long as I have been affiliated with the federal government. Yes, the Clinton Administration slashed and burned them, as noted in the article, but all federal agencies did was start calling them different things that didn't include the words advisory, committee, etc. Expert panels or expert workgroups became quite popular terms used to get around it. So, in any case, I've watched this movie before.

    It's also important to note that not all of the advisory committees/groups covered under FACA are all that scientific. E.g., in a proposal I led just a month ago to the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy, we proposed an advisory committee to guide us in conducting evaluation activities as it related to helping rural communities develop highly tailored coalitions of local organizations to respond to each community's version of the opioid epidemic. Just to be very clear, we did not propose an advisory group because we really felt like FORHP needed an advisory group to help guide rural opioid evaluations. We proposed an advisory group because FORHP has advisory groups for EVERYTHING. It's an opportunity for senior federal program personnel to throw some money in the direction of their favorite colleagues in the field, perhaps their alma mater, someone to whom they owe a favor, etc. So, there's that.

    And for the record, the article is wrong when it says this only involves paying an expert's travel. That's only true if serving on such a committee falls within the purview of their usual responsibilities within a particular organization, e.g., have the Executive Director of the American Heart Association serve on an advisory committee at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. For most researchers or experts in the field, in addition to travel, federal agencies or their contractors have to pay honorarium (typically capped at $500/day), hotel accommodations (not the exceed the federal per diem rate for the city in which the meeting occurs), meals and incidental expenses (also capped based on the meeting location), local travel (if any), etc. So it's more than just travel. That's wrong.

    Is this still bad? Yes, because we know precisely where Mike Pence is coming from, especially as it relates to agencies like EPA.

    Is this ALL bad? Hell no.

  15. #1395

    Re: Let's Discuss Science

    It seems to me that the whole point of the article is that an administration that is clearly against facts and making decision based on them is going further down the road of elimination science and critical thinking out of their decision making process.
    All the details that you mention? I take your word for them. There is no need to doubt them.
    But the key point is that you have a president that denies facts and does not know science at all coupled with a Vice President that will make political decisions based on faith before he even checks the science. Slashing all this scientific acumen from the USGOV simply seems like one way to quite dissenting voices. Not to tackle the issues you are talking about.
    Missing winter...

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