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Devac's profile

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following: 29
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hubskier for: 2002 days

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recent comments, posts, and shares:
Devac  ·  1 day ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Useful Spy Books

Lecturing/presenting: Content coverage - Prep time - PowerPoint quality

Maths/proofs: Elegant - Minimal - Non-recondite

And the obligatory meme-y one gf/bf: Smart - Sane - Pretty/handsome

Devac  ·  7 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: 450th Weekly "Share Some Music You've Been Into Lately

Devac  ·  10 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Cars and trucks of Max Max: Fury Road up for sale

Max Max should be the title of a remake with '80s dialed up to Kung Fury levels. Oddly, URL has it correctly but not the title.

Devac  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: If we could design plants, they would be purple.

    It made me remember an article I read in 2015 which claimed that plants should be purple, because green light carries the most energy (and green plants reflect green light).

Then maybe they should be black and absorb all visible light? No. Producing pigment is quite energy intensive, so alternatives mainly pop where a niche forms due to competition for resources. That's why brown and red algae are a thing the deeper you go, as with depth the composition of light changes to that of blue and green. And because the light intensity changes as well, efficiency needs become dominant.

In any case, plants ignore the most energy-rich part of sunlight because stability matters more than efficiency, according to a new model of photosynthesis. And it makes a lot of sense, intuitively. Even in lab-scale chemistry it's often advantageous to take a longer process at lower temperature to obtain, for example, higher yield or optimise for a specific isomer or what have you.

    Back in the day, all the tiny light-eating lifeforms were purple. Being more efficient overall, the “purple gang” greedily sucked down all the light they could get, and grew and multiplied as quickly as possible.

"Back in the day" was about 2.4-2.6 billion years ago, and the oxygen wasn't even remotely as abundant in the atmosphere or water as it was after the Great Oxygenation Event, so creating purple retinal:

was preferable since it only needs one oxygen atom per molecule. Chlorophyll, varied as it is, needs at least 5-6 times as much, and even more of it for it to be produced with any level of certainty because of reagent proximity being ruled by thermodynamics and statistics. While on that, the composition of the atmosphere was different and there was no ozone layer, so that life was bathing in a lot more UV than it does today. The author compares apples with oranges, to put it coyly.

EDIT: Some style/grammar corrections, added a few facts.

Devac  ·  15 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Terence Tao

School, teachers, students, parents, everything. Personally, with the benefit of retrospect, I'd probably still skip grades directly over mixing uni with middle school. It's a shit experience either way without at least some of the support, but I'd take full immersion challenge over alternatives any day.

Devac  ·  16 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: September 1, 2021

I still think that trying to convince people isn't a lost cause.


Despite all reasons to the contrary, from falling literacy to rampant provincialism, I have hopes the answer isn't ethnic clensing, fall of empires and dark ages.

Devac  ·  16 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: September 1, 2021

R wasn't the first programming language I learned, but successfully used this beginners course to get a gentle overview/tutorial on the basics nontheless. There are also full-fledged books available, like Hands-On Programming with R or R for Data Science, with the first one being more project-oriented though perhaps too much to start with. Finding resources isn't difficult, for sure, but I used those three to greater or lesser extent and figured them worth recommending. I'd be happy to help you if you're stuck or find something to be too much.

Devac  ·  16 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: September 1, 2021

I convinced three people to get vaccinated. Dunno what happened, but I noticed people in general are finally listening to what I have to say instead of just assuming it can't be worth their time and dismissing it seemingly before I even stop talking. Then again, I gained a lot of bulk over the last year and a half, so maybe they're finally intimidated enough to stop treating me like that. Either way, fun.

Some skills, apparently, just evaporate if left unpracticed. It's like my brain completely lost any juggle-related wiring and downgraded from casually dealing with four balls in high school to barely able to swap two.

I found How to read a book by M.J. Adler while trawling card catalogues over weekend, and it's an honestly good guide for becoming a more demanding reader. I'm experimenting with some of the advice, like writing in my books as I read to see if it does anything (yes, I remember that post about reading with a pen), though it's still kind of a mental block against ruining it. I have some textbook on knot theory where the margins are filled with stuff that's simultaneously distractingly superficial and straight-up wrong half the time, and on a lowkey anxiety level I wouldn't want that to be the impression of me. Humorously, How to... dwells a lot and falls into reiterating same thing numerous times in slightly different contexts/complications, but I suppose it's a way of hammering the point home.

Also while looking for books, I scored an eight volume, hardback series on painters, their works, and general art critique for a price of a sub sandwich. It was still in cellophane and the 'new book' smell is overwhelming despite them being about my age. The literal title would be White Man's Paintings (Malarstwo Białego Człowieka), and I'd probably leave it at that since there likely isn't a more idiomartic word for "Europe and northward of Panama."

I'm in this shock-like state where time perception doesn't exist. It's usually preceeded by something bad, and having it as a standalone feeling of flow is very alien. Last time I was like that, my father died and the last three months were a blur. It's hard to disassociate the state and memory, especially when everything feels immensely absorbing.

Devac  ·  19 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: August 11, 2021

    Pass or fail?

Depends on many factors. For my needs? Huge overkill. Doesn't do anything to prove your point or weaken mine.


I wonder what you'd say if I supported my claim with some 3rd-rate slideshow originating from a defunct one-person consulting firm. Yes, it sources data of other agencies, but I think neither of us can do more than speculate. You don't like it because it wastes taxes or something, I find it a good shortcut for many people of lackadaisical attitude.

    "One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results."

Cool. I, too, can drop vaguely related quotes and leave it at that. Observe: "and when men have been educated in such a manner that even the legislator himself cannot trust them, there is real danger." Now, did I mean it literally, in original context, or in context of commentaries of Aristotle's writings?

To stop cluttering the other thread, regarding your other comment, this doesn't answer my questions. I didn't mention EnergyStar or who/why/what funds it etc. I inquired the priorities, you read whatever you think you wanted from it.

Devac  ·  20 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Cory Doctorow: Big Box stores' other shoe drops

OK, hold up.

    I don't see anything wrong with Lowe's hiring people ("corrupt tax-experts"!) to look for grounds to ask for a lower assessment. When I file my taxes, I look for legal ways to reduce the amount owed. Sometimes, like with the mortgage interest deduction, it seems strange that I am getting a break now but not when I was a renter.

So, dwelling for clearly non-insignificant time on minutia of taxation is A-OK in your book, but spending maybe an hour or two on researching energy/water ratings on lasting-more-than-fiscal-year home appliances is some recondite voodoo normal people shouldn't be expected to handle on their own? How does that work?

Devac  ·  22 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: August 25, 2021

Simplified/ELI15 ahead. Chemists: don't hate on me.

This project is about modeling a 'designer catalyst' that'll be enantioselective for specific synthesis. What's that? If you have a chiral compound (left or right-handed molecules with a mirror symmetry), unless we're talking about evolved mechanisms, when you synthesize it in the lab, it'll be a racemic mixture, 50:50 of left and right-handed enantiomers. Metaloorganics are great candidates for preferentially skewing a reaction towards one enantiomer over another, but their applications are much broader than that. Grignard reagent being one of the oldest flagship fussy ones. Seriously, after working with it a few times, I think it breaks down if you even mention water around it.

As to specific applications, though, I'm very lucky to be in a fairly basic research-focused environment. There's something on the funding application, I'm sure, and it is a fertile ground for pharmacological applications, but we kinda get to play around and look for commonalities in the mechanism. My job is part lab, part wrangling the math for simulations.

Apart from carbon-metal bonds, it has almost nothing to do with my cuprate superconductor stuff. Both are fun, tho!

Devac  ·  23 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: August 25, 2021

New team! It's nice to be around people capable of mutual respect.

Having background in chemistry is like a physics super-power at times, and vice versa. Being a theorist with first-hand experience in metaloorganics synthesis is apparently on par with being a Jedi. Finding a polite, accepted by peers and seniors alike, way of saying "this is pretty much a secondment on top of my research, just because I can make the beakers dance doesn't mean I'll be pulling double shifts as a lab tech" is 10 times better than being a Jedi. Also, it's probably the only time when Thank you for arguing and similar worked instead of somehow even more aggrivating people into interpreting everything I say in the worst possible way and making me think "is this all bullshit or am I somehow THAT mindnumbingly bad with people?" Dunno which is a bigger step.

It's a lot of fun, though I also have a whole bunch to catch up on. There's a lot of bad stuff happening in Poland, so it's a great change of pace for once. And, hell, working in a chemistry lab is great if you're not working with assholes who think you're worth less than an automated dripper.

After I took the second opinion, I switched my psychiatrist. It's rare for me to 'click' with anyone, having such one person as a doctor is already hard to overstate.

    the whole point of a laser

It's a beam of colimated EM wave that is in this case used as a kind of a medium for the crystal. Determining energy loss can be (and, to my knowledge: often is) done by splitting the initial beam, directing one in and out of the experiment and comparing against the intensity of the second, unused, beam.

There's something missing, but as I mentioned before, it escaped some of the world-class experts. Scepticism is good. Scepticism against something breaking thermodynamics is great. But it's arrogance to assume all those people missed the literal first culprit. To add, from your other comment:

    By definition, if you need to use external energy to prevent disorder in the system, the second law of thermodynamics still holds. Why? It takes energy to turn on the laser. No laser = no reversal of entropy = no answer to Asimov's Last Question.

See now, you changed the definition and type of 'the system' within quote. Local entropy can change in either direction, but the global entropy will rise. It's a tricky subject.