Archive for April 2009

Comment For Mark’s “Meta-cycles” post

April 17, 2009

I left this as a comment on Mark Shuttleworth’s recent blog post.  I am only posting it here because I was told it was removed as spam.  Perhaps too long?  Anyways, I hope Mark can see it now.


I always enjoy your blog posts. This is my unifying philosophy:

1. 6 Month Cycles: These are best for getting the best of free software out quickly for immediate testing and or contributor feedback.  This is the release that should be based on energizing your contributor community. I honestly don’t think the 6-month release can ever become the bedrock of mainstream use. Here you need to have the “release early, release often” mentality.

2. LTS Cycle: This is best for providing a “final” product which the mainstream world can build upon and rapidly support and promote. This release is best for users who do not care about the latest new features in Linux, just want something that works well. Here you need the “release when it’s ready” mentality. (Though I would confine yourself to a 2-3 year window so you don’t pull a Perl 6.)

I think releasing alongside Debian is a very smart move. You really would be shooting your developers in the foot by taking away a great opportunity to collaborate with Debian and share code.

Also, I’m interested in your new UI ideas, but frankly they seem to be trickling in very slowly. (Only notifications). This isn’t trying to be a criticism, it just seems this UI work takes time to do it properly and having it all rock hard stable in a year, where the majority hasn’t even started to be tested I think is a stretch.

Lastly, Gnome 3.0 may not be the best release to base an LTS on. There may be some small “KDE 4.0” effects that would be nice to have an extra 6 months to iron out. Your end users would like to have a polished Gnome 3.X version.

So, again, I like your post and applaud your idea to move the LTS back to 10.10. That is when I believe it will “be ready”.

Three Generations of Quarks are Needed To Avoid Anti-Matter

April 14, 2009

As we have already discussed, the reason we have particles without anti-particles is because of CP violation. CP-violation caused slightly more particles to be produced in the big bang then anti-particles. Then all the anti-particles annihilated with a particle leaving only the excess of particles we observe today.

However, it takes 3 generations of quarks to have CP violation. CP violation is encoded in the CKM Matrix, a 3 by 3 matrix. (N=3 for 3 generations of quarks). You need a overall phase in the CKM matrix to have cp-violation. If there were less then 3 generations of quarks, say 2, then the new 2 by 2 CKM matrix would have no overall phase and hence no CP-violation.

It was not too long ago when scientists had not suspected there were three generations of quarks. If there weren’t, we would have no CP-violation and no matter. It would have all been annihilated with the equal abundance of anti-matter.

By the way, in case you don’t know, the CKM matrix people won the Nobel Prize in physics last year.

Generation Warfare, or Mr. Rogers is Evil.

April 13, 2009

At some point I have to stick up for my generation, especially following my TED talk post where it was pointed out most of science research is really being carried out by people of my generation.

However Fox News, catering to the beliefs of a +50 generation, would have you know my generation is lazy and full of entitlement because, trumpets please: we watched Mr. Rogers! They spent 3 hours dedicated to this recurring theme:

What Fox won’t tell you is the reason they are so embittered over our generation is we took them to the cleaners during the election, because of course we are so lazy having watched Mr. Rogers. Lazy people always do the best job rallying people to support their cause and vote in record numbers.

Very Interesting Talk On Bacteria Communication

April 9, 2009

Seriously, you should watch this to the end. This lady shows how bacteria communicate and that the implications of this will be huge. This will be a game changer in the field of medicine and perhaps the rest of science as well.

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Cow Tipping Done Right

April 7, 2009

Once again we here would like to promote good science. Therefore, next time you go cow tipping make sure you are doing it right.

Brooks on Morality

April 7, 2009

David Brooks is one of my  favorite columnists.   He wrote a column today entitled The End of Philosophy where he discusses where humans get morality.

He points out that philosophers back to Socrates assumed morality came from good reasoning.  However, more and more it doesn’t seem like reason is what gives people their morals; emotions do.  As Jonathan Haidt of the University of Virginia puts it, “The emotions are, in fact, in charge of the temple of morality, and … moral reasoning is really just a servant masquerading as a high priest.”

Many people are convinced they have some code of ethics that through reason spells out their morality.(Like religious or philosophical beliefs.) Though this may be true to a degree, most people make moral decisions based on the immediate emotions they feel, not logic flowing from some moral axioms they subscribe to.

Of course evolution is mostly responsible for all this.  Interestingly, as Brook’s points out, the more we learn of evolution the more we see that it has led humans to be “cooperative, empathetic and altruistic,” not just competitive.

I agree.  No matter what philosophy or religion or lack of both, most humans make very similar moral decisions in similar circumstances.  Evolution has bred humans to be very moral creatures by compelling us to follow the aesthetic paths our emotions are suggesting we go.