8,345 reputation
23265
bio website knowing.net
location Kailua Kona, HI
age 50
visits member for 3 years, 6 months
seen 11 hours ago

Contributing Editor and Columnist, SD Times. Editor of now-defunct magazines including Software Development, Computer Language, and AI Expert. Founding Editor of Game Developer, which still totally rocks.

On Twitter at @lobrien

Sr. Software Engineer at Gemini Observatories.

Not a bad coder.


Jun
30
comment Was July 1936 the hottest month on record for mainland USA?
Hmm... The graphs are actually significantly different. Notice the delta in average temperature and then if you look at individual points, they all seem shifted by some amount. (The linked-to article claims fraud on the part of NOAA.)
Jun
21
comment Is our moon moving away from earth?
I think the Moon is in a stable orbit, but the lander is causing that part of the Moon to deflate. We popped the Moon, people!
Jun
14
comment Does personal happiness depend on level of education reached?
I'm afraid I don't see how Maslow's hierarchy relates to the question.
May
30
comment Are white people more likely to commit mass murder?
I know the site frowns on Wikipedia as a primary source, so I'm making this a comment. This graph suggests that, in the United States, it has been true in recent decades: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
May
29
comment Will 1 in 4 American children grow up illiterate?
I disagree with the sentiment of the quote, too, but I included it because it suggests that within the field, a fuzzy definition is considered acceptable. (Which obviously makes a question about a specific % harder to definitively answer.)
May
29
comment Will 1 in 4 American children grow up illiterate?
I think the statistic is likely to be relevant absent a specific claim that something has radically changed in recent years.
May
29
awarded  Nice Answer
May
29
answered Will 1 in 4 American children grow up illiterate?
May
25
comment Is the idea of solar roadways practical?
I suppose what I'm skeptical of is the premise that "available surfaces" is a challenge so significant as to justify all-new technology. I'm all for solar power: My house runs on a PV system. Roofs are a good environment for solar panels! We have a nearby parking lot that has conventional solar panels that shade the cars: off-the-shelf technology, 100% solar exposure at proper angles, no load-bearing / wear issues. "Snap-together" modular PV systems are worth developing, but why make them roadways/parking areas?
May
24
comment Is the idea of solar roadways practical?
It seems like the $4.4M / mile is just for the cost of the panels, not the cost of grading, installation, etc. I'm not sure, but that seems like $4.4M / mile versus the cost of the surfacing material (asphalt/concrete). And I am very skeptical of the fundamental concept of a glass-covered road surface: surely a pebble in a wheel tread is going to scratch / damage the surface.
May
23
awarded  Nice Answer
May
22
comment Does healthcare.gov contain 500 million lines of code?
@JeremyBanks Thanks for that! Incorporated that data into an update (it's still just "some guy on the Internet" making the claim but the quirkiness of the data "smells" believable to me. 1 VB and ASP.NET page, a couple dozen .BAT files...)
May
22
revised Does healthcare.gov contain 500 million lines of code?
Updated to add recent reddit coFmment claiming count on real codebase
May
9
comment Does the time for evolution make sense?
Gould's "Wonderful Life" is a classic on the setback/opportunities of mass extinctions: amazon.com/Wonderful-Life-Burgess-Nature-History/dp/039330700X
May
9
comment Does the time for evolution make sense?
Additionally, I like to emphasize that selection and evolution is happening across the entire genome simultaneously. So while an eye is evolving, all other aspects of form, feeding, mating, appearance, behavior, etc. will simultaneously evolve if there's selection pressure. When humans create complex objects, we generally work quite sequentially, working on only one or two things at a time. That can lead to false intuitions about evolution.
May
8
comment Does the time for evolution make sense?
Edited to add back the original question's reference to a universal ancestor, which avoids abiogenesis issues.
May
8
revised Does the time for evolution make sense?
Added back original question's reference to LUA, which avoids issue of biogenesis
May
6
awarded  Civic Duty
May
4
comment What was the density of prehistoric Earth atmosphere (dinosaurs buoyancy theory)
While I just guided you towards a specific claim re. pterosaurs, I have to admit that once of my first thoughts on reading your site was "Wouldn't a denser atmosphere require significant physiological adaptations visible in the fossil record? (Diaphragm strength, etc.)" Within the rules of this site, that would count as 2 separate "claims" and require multiple questions/answers, but I just thought I'd share with you the thought.
May
4
comment What was the density of prehistoric Earth atmosphere (dinosaurs buoyancy theory)
I can't speak for others, but I'd be very interested in hearing of specific issues about, for instance, pterosaur aerodynamics or wing-loading that illustrates a need for a denser atmosphere. The rules for the site keep it very focused on specific claims; it's intentionally not a site for broad discussion. OTOH, it's my experience that site regulars are genuinely interested in seeking out surprising insights.