Showing posts with label Interesting Link. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Interesting Link. Show all posts

Monday, September 05, 2016

Wind what?

What do you call that giant tower with spinning blades that produces electricity from wind?  Windmill?  Well, kinda, but not really.  The word "mill" that forms the latter portion of the word "windmill" is just that, a mill.  In this context, a mill is a machine that grinds and crushes something, such as grain.MD There isn't a whole lot of grinding and crushing of anything when using a rotor to produce electricity.  It's really the opposite of a mill.

The definition of "turbine" is a bit more broad.  A turbine is a machine that converts the movement of a fluid into rotary motion.TD  With that definition, a mill is a type of turbine.  However, a turbine is not necessarily a mill.

There is no specific word that provides a special name for an electricity producing turbine, so the word turbine itself is used.  Turbine is also used to name machines that make electricity from flowing water, such as those found at Hoover Dam.HD   So, that giant tower with spinning blades that produces electricity is more correctly called a wind turbine.  A collection of wind turbines at one location are frequently referred to as "wind farms".


Another wind powered machine is the windpump, which is used to pump water.  Windpumps and windmills have been in use for about 1500 years, being first developed in the Persian region between A.D. 500 and 900.WP  Wind turbines owe their existence to our long history of windmills and windpumps.  It's somewhat understandable that there is some confusion of terms.

Interesting modern examples of wind power in use


There's even a wind-powered record player!  Well, that's mostly art, but apparently it works well.  Then, there's this guy, William Kamkwamba, who built wind turbines and pumps for his village in Malawi at a time of famine and when such luxaries were only experienced by 2% of their population.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Trouble with Wikileaks emails from DNC: as far as I can tell, no "election manipulation" is actually in the emails

Anyone can go to the Wikileaks page and peruse through the DNC leaked emails.

You know what I've seen no one do? Look through the emails and talk about any actual evidence of election manipulation.  I've seen journalist use rather dicey innuendo regarding email content, but not much else.

Most of emails are just reports.  What conversations I've seen are just people expressing their opinions and/or making strategies in support of those opinions and desires (like how best to get certain points across to their constituents).  I've not seen anyone showing anything from the emails about rigging the primaries.

The party insiders are supposed to be neutral by their own party rules, but I don't really care about DNC or any party's rules.  I'm not a Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Greenie, etc.  Even if I were, I still wouldn't care because I understand that people are people.  We Americans all have the rights to our own opinions, and the rights to pursue our own interests.  What would've suprized me?  Seeing every person in the DNC expressing complete neutrality regarding who is going to represent their party in the General Election.

The DNC rules aren't laws of the land. The only person that needs to be upset, maybe, is Sanders since he was working under one set of rules, and others where not.  In the end, it still just people expressing their opinions and trying to work towards goals they feel are best for their interests.  None of this has anything to do with me, and none of this is in anyway a "manipulation" of elections.

If someone can dig up something that shows election rigging, then we have a story, as well as an actual crime.  Maybe it is buried somewhere deep in the emails.   I've not see it.  I'd be interested to see if something like that pops up.   The fact that no journalist have dug it up suggests that it's just not there.

At this point, after looking through the emails myself, I'm forming the opinion that anyone that uses the terms "manipulate" or "rigged" in reference to the primary elections based on these emails is being dishonest or honestly doesn't know what they are talking about (which is still a form of dishonesty).

I'm also now of the opinion that Julian Assange, who has made several incendiary statements regarding the content of these emails, is full of nonsense.  What little good he did in the distant past is now been cancelled out by his modern behavior.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Killing of the Real-time Strategy game

Real time strategy (RTS) game is often defined by what it is not, rather than what it is.  When looking up real time strategy game, you'll often find it described as a strategy game that is not turned-based.1  I find this tendency as funny.  Normally, something is defined by its characteristics, not the lack thereof.  A real time strategy game is a strategy game played in real time (hence the name) between two or more opposing teams.  Elements of real time strategy games typically include fighting units used for attack, harvesting units used to gather resources, structures of various functions, terrains of various properties that aid or reduce defense, unit spawning, hidden map areas until explored (fog of war), etc.

Generally, real time strategy games allow the player to control position of units on a field of play (map) with various types of terrain. Units can be assigned to act on specified targets.  For example, harvesting units can be assigned to collect resources at a specific location on the map.  Another example, fighting units can be assigned to attack (cause damage) on specified opponent's units.  Typically, units without specified targets will act autonomously in how they attack nearby opposing units or collect nearby resources.

One of the first real time strategy games is The Ancient Art of War, which was initially released in 1984.  I played this game for many hours.  I even also designed many of my own levels for this game.  Many games have followed.  Dune II is often considered the break-thru title that popularized real time strategy.  Prior to online gaming, many releases of real time strategy games supported diverse game-play possibilities.

An alternate viewpoint about real time strategy games can be found in the article What is a real-time strategy game? An exploration and definition.

Currently, real-time strategy games are looking like the proverbial red-headed step child of gaming. Fairly few RTS are being made any more (for a variety of reasons, but that is a topic for another article perhaps) and they tend not to sell particularly well, nor do most of them hold on to viable communities for considerable periods of time...
The author of this article laments that real time strategy games have not been particularly common or successful in recent years.

I found another article, Did the multiplayer online battle arena kill real-time strategy, that claims to explain why real time strategy games aren't be developed anymore, from a perspective of a Blizzard fan.  In this article, the cause is passively blamed on the popularization of massive multiplayer (MMO) online games.  I think this author is wrong.  He references events long after real time strategy games began to falter.  However, the popularization of online gaming is related to the demise of the real time strategy genre, it wasn't related to MMO's, such as World of Warcraft.

Real time strategy games seemed to be an excellent fit for online gaming.  Instead of being pitted against the limited AI, players are able to play against other humans.  However, instead of valuing the challenge of playing against humans with various strategies, a vocal set of players didn't want other humans to use other types of winning strategies against them. They wanted to limit all human players to the same strategies that they chose for themselves.

Developers unfortunately listened to these vocal users too much and reduced real time strategy games down to frantic rushes to resources and frantic rushes on opponent's bases with very repetitive build order of units and structures.  Instead of adding capabilities to increase the number of possible strategies (to better match the real world), developers reduced game play down to focus on one strategy.  The games were still tactical in how you faced units against each other, but they lost all sense of strategy.  With reduced game play possibilities, developers lost their ability to be innovative and bring in new inspiration into the subsequent real time strategy games.  Without the ability to expand playable strategies of real time strategy games, the genre has atrophied.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Lack of reproducibility of scientific papers getting attention

A lack of reproducibility of published scientific studies is finally getting recognition by the corporations (that seems to me to that could lose millions from bad research).  Academia seems a bit resist.  Source article:
 Reseach uncovering unreproducibility faces backlash 


Saturday, June 20, 2015

I know English is evolving when I hear these words in a courtroom

I was recently snared into Jury Duty in Massachusetts.  This isn't so much an article about that.  Instead, this is about something I noticed while listening to the case before me and my 5 other jurors; word choices.

The first interesting word was uttered by the Prosecutor quoting the defendant who was fighting a DUI charge. The Prosecutor stated that the defendant pleaded with the arresting officer to cut him a break because he was not cocked.  This word cocked was used in a mocking manner by the prosecutor several times in his opening and closing arguments.

The second word that stood out was spoken by the Defense attorney.  While questioning the arresting officer, the Defense attorney asked about the likelihood of something-or-another.  What caught my attention is that he used the prolly, instead of prob'ly or probably.  The use of this word in such a formal manner struck me, since the word is still considered by many to be of the mythically inferior not-a-word status.

The last spoken element I picked up on was the Judge's use of the idiom begging-the-question.  I've written about the idiom begging-the-question quite recently.  There are two official definitions for the idiom.  The traditional definition is based on a logical fallacy.  The modern definition is an alternative for raises-the-question; this was Judge's use that day.  It is interesting to note that both definitions appear in dictionaries now.

Monday, June 15, 2015

There is increased awareness of general problem with #scientific studies right now, with #preclinical at the crux

Over reliance on study conclusions and flaws within scientific studies is a troubling problem that is recently getting more attention, finally.

Flawed preclinical studies create false hope for patients waiting for lifesaving cures; moreover, they point to systemic and costly inefficiencies in the way preclinical studies are designed, conducted, and reported. Because replication and cumulative knowledge production are cornerstones of the scientific process, these widespread accounts are scientifically troubling.
The problems go beyond preclinical studies.  I've approached this topic before in two previous articles.
As more studies and data are revealed about this issue, the problem seems to be far worse than some may have believed.  This most recent study suggests that 50% of preclinical studies are plagued with errors which prevent their results from being reproduced.  As any high school graduate should know, reproducibility of a study's result is the cornerstone of the Scientific Method.  Anyone must be able to use the same methods of the study to find similar results.  If results cannot be reproduced, the study has no scientific value and cannot be used as a reference or source for further discovery.

To sound the alarm even louder, Nature's article Irreproducible biology research costs put at $28 billion per year cites that as much as 89% of studies may have irreproducible results.  They state,
Overall, the team [study researchers] found that poor materials made the largest contribution to reproducibility problems, at 36%, followed by study design at 28% and data analysis at 26%. The team estimates the overall rate of irreproducibility at 53%, but cautions that the true rate could be anywhere between 18% and 89%. That puts the potential economic cost of irreproducibility anywhere from $10 billion to $50 billion per year.
This is a problem that needs to be tackled.  It is costing billions of dollars, and perhaps putting lives at risk.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

The stars can affect your life...well, one star in particular may help trigger strokes

There is a lack of respect in skeptic circles regarding Astrology and the ability of the stars to affect our lives.  Skepticism is sound, for the most part.  However, one star in particular can not only affect our lives, it can kill or maim us, and not in a way that many expect.  There is growing evidence that links geomagnetic storms from our Sun to an increase number of strokes within the human population.

There is now growing concern about the frequency of first-time strokes and correlation with geomagnetic storms.  A study was released last year, titled Geomagnetic Storms Can Trigger Stroke - Evidence From 6 Large Population-Based Studies in Europe and Australasia (link is to abstract).

An article about this study by Medscape Medical News had the following additional comment,

Dr. Feigin told Medscape Medical News that geomagnetic activity has also been associated with increased rates of heart attacks, suicides, and acute psychiatric admissions."We have known for ages that geomagnetic storms can shut down electrical stations across many regions and affect satellite navigation equipment, so it is logical that they can also affect human health," he commented.

The geomagnetic storm study (source) itself found that,

...high levels of geomagnetic activity (ie, those accompanying geomagnetic storms, predominately during solar maxima years) are important predictors of stroke.

What does this mean for the average person?  I don't know.  I haven't found any sources that convert this new found knowledge into something actionable for us laypersons.  It does leave the mind to wonder and speculate, though.  If someone is in a high-risk group of stroke susceptibility, should they chill out for a couple of days for geomagnetic storms to pass? If so, how so?