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So in the case of this particular paper, some other researchers did ask for the raw data, and they got it and carried out exactly the analysis I was interested in knowing about. So I guess it's a happy ending, except I didn't get to write a tumblr post back when there was a lot of buzz in the media about it. :)

This is amazingly great (I laughed out loud at the "Biceps-controlled socialism" graph), but I feel it only works because the original study authors made the rookie mistake of publishing their data set. The only time I have wanted to try something similar (for the brain mosaic paper), I hoped it would be possible to extract the data from the diagram, but no, the jpg in the pdf is sufficiently low-resolution that it doesn't work.

Ok, so we should identify criminals with "thoughts of committing deadly violence, regardless of action", and then "many of these offenders should probably never be released from confinement". A literal thought crime.

Yes, there will always be some off-by-one errors, so the best we can hope for is to pick the convention that creates less of them. That said, the fact that most programming languages choose the zero-based convention seems to suggest that that's the best one.

There's also the revealed word of our prophet Dijkstra: EWD83 - Why numbering should start at zero.


I think the orthodox MIRI position is not that logical proofs are necessary, or even the most efficient way, to make a super-intelligence. It's that humans need formal proofs to be sure that the AI will be well-behaved. A random kludgy program might be much smarter than your carefully proven one, but that's cold comfort if it then proceeds to kill you.

I mean, you can literally build an EmDrive yourself, but you definitely can't measure the tiny thrust yourself. You still need to trust the experts there, no?

Apart from the question about whether it produces any thrust, there is also the question of whether it will lead to any interesting scientific discoveries. For example, if it turns out that there was a bit of contaminating material that evaporated, the thrust is real but the space-faring implications are not...

Eh, elections seem hard to update on though. Before the election, I thought Clinton was 70% likely to win or so, because that's what Nate Silver said. Then Trump won. Was I wrong? Maybe, but it's not statistically significant at even p = 0.05.

So just looking at U.S. presidential elections, you'll never have enough data to see if you're calibrated or not. I guess you can seriously geek out on politics, and follow and make predictions for lots of local and foreign elections also. At that point, it's a serious hobby though, I'm much more of a casual.

It sounds pretty spectactular!

I found one paper about comets crashing into the sun, but unfortunately they don't consider as big comets as you do--the largest one is a "Hale-Bopp sized" one, which they take to be 10^15 kg (which already seems a little low, Wikipedia suggests 10^16 kg.)

I guess the biggest uncertainty is how common so big comets are (so, how often should we expect to see one crash into the sun). In particular, I think the known sun-grazing comets are much smaller than the big comet you consider.

Also, I wonder a bit about your 1 second. The paper says,

The primary response, which we consider here, will be fast formation of a localized hot airburst as solar atmospheric gas passes through the bow-shock. Energy from this airburst will propagate outward as prompt electromagnetic radiation (unless or until bottled up by a large increase in optical depth of the surrounding atmosphere as it ionizes), then in a slower secondary phase also involving thermal conduction and mass motion as the expanding hot plume rises.

If a lot of the energy reaching the Earth comes from the prompt radiation, then it should arrive in one big pulse. On the other hand, if the comet plunges deep into the sun, and most of the energy is absorbed and then transmitted via thermal conduction and mass motion, then that must be a much slower process. By comparison, a solar flare involves between 10^20 and 10^25 J, and it takes several minutes to develop.

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