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Devac's profile

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Devac  ·  12 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: SpinLaunch conducts first test of suborbital accelerator at Spaceport America

But, in the end, isn't scalar just a trivial tensor?

Seriously, though: I know it can be annoying, but if my pedantism received anything over the last couple of months, was vindication.

Devac  ·  12 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: SpinLaunch conducts first test of suborbital accelerator at Spaceport America

Man, it's really too late/early for this, but I suspect the problems begin around here:

    KE = 1/2 Iomega^2. SHIT. Frickin' moments of inertia? I = L/omega. L = M x V x R. Uhhhm, M is mass is 1kg. V is angular velocity. R is radius around the centroid - hey we got all this shit!

Angular momentum is a vector quantity, and it's almost too easy to lose track of components and frames of reference even without not only having a wrong formula for L, but a wrong formula for the magnitude of L.

  L = r x p (L, r, p vectors) ; p = m * v (p and v vectors)

  |L| = m * r * v * sin(angle between component vectors r and v)

On a first glance, your model can be simplified to a rod spun a distance r around an axis, parallel axis theorem style, but I'm gonna take this one in pieces. Updates inbound.

Devac  ·  18 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Open Chemistry: What if we just give everything away?

And you're blatantly avoiding my followup. Are you indignant, or have I made the trap too obvious?

But let's have it your way, and let's work through your argument.

You introduce two clauses in a sentence that's an appeal to Ethos: "I support the Good Intentions Motive. I mentioned charity several times in an earlier conversation as a way to reduce the gaps left by the Profit Motive. The two motives can work together." Efficient, strong start.

    But if "the goal isn't profit" is it true that "everyone can benefit" under Good Intentions alone?

Ah, a classic. Because implication A=>B doesn't work only when Truth implies False, you may even pretend at grace by assuming B ("everyone can benefit") to be true! Unfortunately, you follow with sarcastic "I noticed the problem" by pointing to what's explicitly called a problem in the article.

    Under Good Intentions, success is a problem.

It's only true when 'problem' means "not everyone can benefit." This deal a blow to my strong thesis, but doesn't work for less restrictive qualifier. You can still benefit some, but you're silently equating those two positions as bad.

    There are costs to make and distribute dyes, and increasing success means increasing costs, without any corresponding increase in the resources used to make and distribute dyes.

I addressed it more than sufficiently, but let's state it explicitly: the material cost is negligible, and this becomes more true as you scale up production, but it's the know-how distribution that is the bottleneck. You claimed it doesn't invalidate your argument, which you apparently didn't think worthwhile to support.

    Under the Profit Motive, a firm will face growing pains as business scales up, but this is the most desirable sign of success. Every additional order brings revenue which supports satisfying more orders.

True only until the intersection of supply-demand curves, adjusted for expenses, under assumption you have no direct competition.

    The goal of reaching every potential customer is so important that a promotion in which only 1% of the audience responds is worthwhile.

Why? You might as well just say that this tiny lab HAS TO grow into the world-wide brand that produces so much dye it's rebranded as food additive just to offload the thing, but I suppose it'd be too on the nose.

    The goal of getting dyes to everyone who can use them is supported by spending money on advertising.

    A simple search for "fluorescent dye" online produces a number of invitations to acquire dye via the Profit Motive, some from firms that have made great efforts to establish a reputation for reliability and convenience. I had 300 μg of PA Janelia Fluor® 549, SE in my shopping cart in minutes.

So if the goal has to be profit, it already doesn't need advertising, just URL redirect. Cool!

    It's not easy to find the Good Intentions site. If you can find it, you have to register before you can request a product. After I registered, a senior scientist contacted me to ask if I am affiliated with an organization (information "important for us to meet our legal obligations"). I confessed I was just snooping around and didn't need any dye.

That's pretty typical.

    It's great that Janelia is performing this service to whatever extent their budget allows. Probably they enable some work to be done that would not have happened because of financial limitations. Probably there is also some waste when people use free Janelia dyes on projects that might not have seemed worthwhile at $138 per 300 μg.

Dealt with this one already.

    I think the challenge is in scaling, so everyone can benefit.

This I agree on, I'd even re-concede 'most/many' instead everyone, but your arrival at that conclusion is spotty and disputable. You skipped around values of A=>B, but didn't connect the thing.

Also, you're treating research institutions like a business whereas it's not their role. I don't think you're obtuse, so explain to me why this substitution works without detriment to their purpose.

    The Use of Knowledge in Society explains how the price mechanism promotes coordination among different people without requiring planning or oversight.

His entire reasoning follows from the prefect knowledge of the system, rules, and its actors. Pretty par for the course in economics, which I for one have the sense to admit as not my forte, but I'll deal with his purply prose when I'm not busy.

Devac  ·  19 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: SpinLaunch conducts first test of suborbital accelerator at Spaceport America

Like I'm happy about it. You're snarking wrong people for wrong reasons on wrong platform.

Devac  ·  19 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: SpinLaunch conducts first test of suborbital accelerator at Spaceport America

For $110 million (just took the first value, don't exactly care myself)? It's about 0.1% of what ISS cost or around 1% of SkyLab (adjusted for inflation) with MIR fraction somewhere in-between those two, so not much. Don't get me wrong, I'm currently torn between continuing to laugh at it or rallying folks here to salvage it as an exercise, so my opinion is a few notches above "burning money," but let's not overstate the cost. Now, if you asked how many people could it free from medical or inherited debt, that'd no doubt be more impactful.

EDIT: I originally made an error by an order of magnitude, holy shit I'm tired.

Devac  ·  19 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: November 17, 2021

I'm one of two people on the project who aren't actively sick with COVID or were exposed to COVID, and the other guy can't work the labs. Everyone's been vaccinated, so that's at least some small comfort, but holy shit if there hasn't been a worse time for this to happen. Not in a whiny entitled "why does this extra work happen to me!" but more like "we hit a snag, everyone's sick and unable to help even if they could, and I'm vastly under-qualified to be the de facto brains of this operation." And I could keep the things running, if they were running. Instead, I'm working back from the first principles to see why/if the model doesn't work, and since I never done gaseous phase reaction like that it's straining my grasp of statistical physics. Like, the kind of SP I've been using for the last three years was almost exclusively about inert things close to absolute zero, ya know?

Oddly, this side-project is the most 'lost' I've felt since the phd programme started, so I guess it's gonna be a good exercise. Sink or swim, bitch!

Devac  ·  19 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: SpinLaunch conducts first test of suborbital accelerator at Spaceport America

    Spinlaunch has made no provisions for the hypothetical counterbalance

Ah, a rookie mistake: you counterbalance your payload with a second payload, release 180 degrees later. And people thought a theorist can't engineer good.

I'm mildly disappointed they aren't hiring anyone to develop inertia dampeners or cetacean tractor beams.

Devac  ·  19 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: SpinLaunch conducts first test of suborbital accelerator at Spaceport America

    You can't see it in the gif, but you CAN see it in the Youtube video, that sucker be TUMBLING

Good lord, you're right. I tought it's some compression artifact at first.

I had other plans, but now I'll try SpinLaunching some Kerbals this weekend.

Devac  ·  19 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Open Chemistry: What if we just give everything away?

Oh, that's because I went out on a wild tangent, though the core of the issue is that sharing resources isn't a purely material concern. If you want to look at that lab like it's a business that needs to grow, it's missing the point of what labs and researchers do. When demand is bigger than supply doesn't mean their only course is to open an LLC.

If you want to tangent this discussion more, the real-world problem is that even if one of those trained undergrad folks opened their own startup to sell bespoke dyes and undercut Sigma or other supplier, they would almost certainly be bottlenecked and crushed by supplier monopolies. How about them potatos?


    even then your disagreement is of the O, Veni variety.

If you wanna go that route, let me just tell you you're yet to make an argument that doesn't boil down to "make profit = good."

Devac  ·  20 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: SpinLaunch conducts first test of suborbital accelerator at Spaceport America

    I'm still trying to figure out what problem SpinLaunch is the solution to. Are the carbon emissions generated in producing the electricity required to spin up the arm and payload substantially less than the first stage of a conventional rocket? That's the only thing I can come up with. And I think the answer is likely a "no".

I suppose that it'd be more viable on the Moon or Mars, where gravity is lower, the atmosphere negligible and chemical propellants are harder to get than, say, sunlight. In that regard, I'd also like it to work, but god damn if the reports aren't silly af.

Devac  ·  20 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: SpinLaunch conducts first test of suborbital accelerator at Spaceport America

Yeah, it's probably a bit like listening to someone who read one book, surprised they only turn heads of those who read none.

Devac  ·  20 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Open Chemistry: What if we just give everything away?

    Probably there is also some waste when people use free Janelia dyes on projects that might not have seemed worthwhile at $138 per 300 μg.

Because basic research isn't nickle-and-dimed enough already, let's consider pre-emptive waste.

Here's the thing: it's not about the material cost. It isn't. The synthesis for most dyes is piss easy and can be handled by most undergrads, but unless you train them hands-on and tell about all the weird quirks that can't be packed even into supplementary materials for your paper, it's gonna have a pathetic yield. Story time!

During probably organic synthesis 2 lab, I achieved a higher percentage yield at higher purity than even our lab techs. See, the reflux column had to be open-topped to avoid containing ether vapors. I'm fuzzy on the details but whatever we were making was super-sensitive to water, the humidity in the lab was off the charts, and ether has the tendency to pull the water down the column.

I looked around, asked lab tech for a glass airlock tube (that S-shaped pipe, same you'd use for alcohol fermentation) who was reluctant to give it to me until I told what for. I took some anhydrous magnesium sulfate (very hygroscopic), ground it into fine powder, put it inside the pipe. Nope, it wouldn't work, efficient enough. So I dripped a bunch of dry acetone there, and moved the slurry around to cover all the walls of the pipe, then blasted solvent away with a heat gun.

My yield was 91%, the second highest was 23%. Lab tech said he never got it above 86%.

I can easily imagine the know-how for those bespoke dyes being about four orders of magnitude more complex than my shitty little McGuyvering. You probably need to take tiny bullshit elements like the thickness of the glass into account, because if step 4b cools too quickly your reagent crashes out and simultaneously stops further reaction while being a slurry mess of a headache to separate from your dye. Some simple some recondite as fuck until someone will do the "monkey see, monkey do" portion of the training.

Sorry for flippant line in the OP, but if you gonna hinge your further reasoning on arguments like "wasteful scientists"... dude, seriously?

Devac  ·  31 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: What’s Wrong with Socialism?

    It seems that greater income is correlated with greater well-being. Everyone quotes the famous Kahneman study showing that "there is no further progress beyond an annual income of ~$75,000" in emotional well-being and ignores the previous sentence saying "When plotted against log income, life evaluation rises steadily." Another study shows increase in both measures without limit. People sure seem interested in getting more income, whether or not it solves all of life's problems.

All other considerations aside, methodologies of those studies were substantially different. One was an app that asked the same person 50 times on average, the other was an interview conducted by a human that called random people. Honesty of interviewee under those different circumstances aside:


    Even if bliss peaks at $75,000, that's slightly above the U.S. median income and well above the European average. I don't hear anyone arguing that socialism creates wealth, it is all about distribution. Wealth has to be created before it can be distributed, and we have an engine that works for that purpose.

I wonder to what level the numbers in those studies are cultural. I'm not average by various measures, but I'm actually pretty content with my money and it's just a tad over $9k/year, below average even in Poland. Maybe it's because I still vividly remember living on less than half that, but most my needs are met and it's enough. Maybe the gauge isn't invariant here.

Devac  ·  31 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: What’s Wrong with Socialism?

    That's great, but if it doesn't cost the taxpayer anything, it just suggests that they believe the organization will do more good with the money than the government.

A government successfully working around its own (built-in) inefficiencies is a good thing, regardless of the message it sends.

Devac  ·  31 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: What’s Wrong with Socialism?

    under socialism behavior which is praised is not rewarded and behavior that is condemned is rewarded. The cases provided support this thesis, and I think it's completely fair to debate whether they are representative or cherry-picked, or whether they represent unwanted side effects of policies that are overall a net positive.

Desire to improve one's life is natural, regardless of system. The issue are limited resources (potentially) not allowing for everyone to achieve the plateau where most people are content. What differs are the means of aiding less fortunate people. What doesn't is that there will always be a subset that abuses whatever system they're under.

    A medical condition requiring surgery is not a behavior (if it wasn't something like a liver transplant for alcoholism), so it seems like a peripheral example.

No, but delineation here is moot: both are required for continued survival regardless of behavior. The burden on one's life afterwards, however, shouldn't be predicated on accidents -- of birth or otherwise.

    The insurance from his job paid $28,920, leaving a debt of $10,092.

To my knowledge, not everyone in the US gets health insurance at work. And $7400 per year is no small expense, regardless if it comes from tax to the state or private provider. I'll look more into this, but I do distinctly remember all US postdoc applications I've seen emphasizing you're gonna buy your own.

    Perhaps when the state does more of the humanity and empathy work, people feel less obligated to contribute.

This is a much, much broader topic, though I'd like to apologize if you thought I implied Americans are less humane or empathetic. For what it's worth, people contribute to WOŚP and our tax application includes an opt-in way to donate 1% of your returns directly to a cause or foundation. Many do so. Some will never. Most think it's enough, and prefer to give it to a reputable foundation instead of some by-cause. Many give money )often not insignificant money) to church, and that's another can of worms, but the distribution of this charity differs by parish. Not all are equal, so you'll see ones with shelters, soup kitchens, care and active programmes to help people get on their feet... and places sporting some bitchn' marble statues.

As for helping people on the street, there was some study where they put a kid without shoes or coat outside in different countries and looked how long it took for someone to lend aid. Poland was also on some ludicrously low in that rank, but that's because I can guarantee you that most folks believed it's a setup for pickpockets or, what article argues, people believing that person probably already abuses social aid, doesn't contribute etc etc etc. Because that's the anti-social aid propaganda here, and has been so for years. We also have a 500+ program, where (skimming the details) you get extra 500 PLN per child per month and some extra perks/aides regarding school and daycare, and if the father can't pay alimony, the state covers the difference or pays some it's-complicated sum. There's been a huge stink over some couples abusing it that completely ignored tens of thousands legitimate cases, too.

I prefer to help on the off-chance the person is in genuine need. I remember buying some extra food, giving them to a homeless man, and he just tossed them away after making sure there's no booze. So instead of writing a think-piece about perils of charity perpetuating abuse and laziness, I took it out of thrash and gave it to someone who used it. I wish to be able to offer some book that'd serve as a good introduction to Polish condition that's simultaneously in English and not utter garbage though.

Devac  ·  33 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: November 3, 2021

I did two tournament games this weekend, won both. Humility has its time and place, but I've outgrown this class. It's plain disrespectful for me to keep clogging those games. Gotta mobilize, advance, and move forward. Enough stalling.

I found a cheap place to practice the piano, they also have heaps of other instruments and the owners are this super-enthusiastic retiree couple. They offer lessons on pretty much everything they have around, too. I also went out on two dates, though neither was nearly as exciting. I choose to believe it says more about them than me, but all things considered, it's probably good I finally went out for something beyond work or groceries nonetheless.

Devac  ·  33 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: What’s Wrong with Socialism?

I went through two life-saving surgeries, and one that improved my quality of life so much I sometimes can't believe it myself. Have four degrees, currently doing a PhD that doesn't feel like a decade-long indentured servitude. Debt, medical or otherwise? Zero.

And I worked shitty jobs through more than half of that education just to support myself. It was miserable despite all the safety nets I could get. Not even for a moment I thought "that person's life is nowhere as shit as mine, give me their social aid!" It's not collective responsibility or socialist indoctrination or whatever polysylabic name substacks crowd[0] made up for it. No, it's basic humanity and empathy. We can talk about those. We can talk about differentiating self-interest vs avarice, from ethics to economics (hell, you no doubt have means to school me on both). But having a talking point about how others not suffering through same burden is making you feel bad by diminishing whatever 'sacrifice' was made is some kindergartner-level problem the author has to grow through.

Exercise for the reader: convince me I'd fare better, or at least not worse, under American conditions.

[0] - EDIT: For the record, I don't particularly care for their political views. Or, for that matter, yours. Hell, I like you the same either way. This is just my new blanket term for their generally shoddy scholarship, from misapplying geology and biology to fumbling at basic modelling, they seldom speak with any of that reason or rationality they espouse.