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August 27, 2016, 08:05:44 PM

Former SpaceX Exec Explains How Elon Musk Taught Himself Rocket Science:

While it's certainly impressive that Elon Musk has bachelor's degrees in physics and economics from the University of Pennsylvania, it's an absurd understatement to say that prepared him to run SpaceX, his spacecraft company.
Jim Cantrell, who was an aerospace consultant at the time, became SpaceX's first VP of business development and Musk's industry mentor when the company launched in 2002. He says that Musk literally taught himself rocket science by reading textbooks and talking to industry heavyweights.

Cantrell's first contact with Musk was a cold call in 2001. As he explains to Esquire:

"I had the top down on my car, so all I could make out was that some guy named Ian Musk was saying that he was an Internet billionaire and needed to talk to me. I'm pretty sure he used that phrase, 'Internet billionaire.'"

Musk learned about Cantrell through Robert Zubrin, the founder of the Mars Society. Musk knew that Cantrell was an expert in Russian rockets and wanted to learn how he could get a spacecraft to Mars.

After reading Cantrell's response in the Quora thread "How did Elon Musk learn enough about rockets to run SpaceX?," we asked him to share some insights into his time with Musk.

Below, he explains the two-part learning process that Musk used to teach himself rocket science.

He committed textbooks to memory.

"He is the smartest guy I've ever met, period," Cantrell tells us. "I know that sounds overblown. But I've met plenty of smart people, and I don't say that lightly. He's absolutely, frickin' amazing. I don't even think he sleeps."

Cantrell tells us that he soon discovered that he and Musk shared an affinity for applied knowledge, and he loaned him some textbooks to study (they "were never returned, by the way!" Cantrell says). The books were "Rocket Propulsion Elements," "Aerothermodynamics of Gas Turbine and Rocket Propulsion," "Fundamentals of Astrodynamics," and the "International Reference Guide to Space Launch Systems."

He doesn't know exactly how Musk would read or take notes, but he knows that he practically memorized them.

"He would quote passages verbatim from these books. He became very conversant in the material," Cantrell says.

He built a network of the smartest people.

Musk "knows everything about what he's building," Cantrell says, but of course even he understands that he can't master everything. That's why he used Cantrell's network in the aerospace industry to gather some of the best in the business. "It was like spaceapalooza!"

For example, they hired the rocket engineer Tom Mueller, who Cantrell says is the smartest propulsion expert out there. Musk respected his deep knowledge and let him take care of things that he'd learned from years of research.

In the same way that Musk absorbed books, he tried doing that with other people's expertise. "It was as if he would suck the experience out of them. He truly listens to people," Cantrell says.

Musk would absorb this information and then hold his own in conversations - and he didn't hold back. Cantrell says that Musk took a tech entrepreneur's approach to the industry and believed that many of the opinions of industry mainstays were stupid.

"He insulted a lot of people in those days! I wasn't insulted, but I was taken aback. He's an original thinker," Cantrell explains.

Cantrell left SpaceX in 2002 because he says he simply did not share Musk's intense passion for his mission to land on Mars. But he tells us that he did it out of respect for Musk's passion and has no regrets about his decision.

He's currently working on a book about the early days at SpaceX, and he thinks that Musk's genius blend of capitalism, curiosity, and motivation will make him a true pioneer.

"He's used a billion dollars to do what NASA couldn't do with $27 billion," Cantrell says. "Boy, it's inspiring."


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August 28, 2016, 06:26:35 PM


NASA's Juno probe gets its first close look at Jupiter

Soaring about 2,600 miles (4,200 kilometers) above the planet's clouds, NASA's Juno space probe had its closest-ever look at Jupiter Saturday.

The pass was the first of 36 planned orbital flybys, NASA said in a statement. Soaring at 130,000 miles per hour (208,000 kilometers per hour), it was the nearest the spacecraft will get to Jupiter during its main mission, which should end in February 2018.

Juno launched from Florida on Aug. 5, 2011, and in July, became the first probe to orbit Jupiter since NASA's Galileo mission ended in 2003.

The nerve wracking five year journey into space, and Juno successful attempt to enter into orbit around Jupiter, were hailed by scientists as an immense opportunity to discover more about the mysterious gas planet.

It's thought that new moons beyond the 67 we know about could be found. By mapping the planet's magnetic fields, scientists are also hoping to unearth new clues about how our solar system was formed.

About the size of a basketball court, the Juno probe had all its scientific instruments on and turned to Jupiter Saturday, attempting to gather as much data as possible. Images captured by JunoCam during the trip will be released shortly, including shots of Jupiter's north and south poles.

"We are in an orbit nobody has ever been in before, and these images give us a whole new perspective on this gas-giant world," Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator, said in the statement.

"We are getting some intriguing early data returns as we speak," he added. "It will take days for all the science data collected during the flyby to be downlinked and even more to begin to comprehend what Juno and Jupiter are trying to tell us."

After its 20-month-mission ends, Juno will be plunged into Jupiter's clouds by NASA engineers. But for now, it has plenty of work left to do.
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August 28, 2016, 08:26:04 PM

Why Computer Vision Tracking the Flow of People Will be a Huge Market:

As I’ve written before I believe Computer Vision will become a major factor as a Human-Computer Interface (1) as sensors and cameras help us make sense of our physical world.
There is so much in the media about “The Internet of Things” that it has lost meaning and for many for some strange reason it became a short-hand for wearables. Wearables are clearly an important market but to me a much broader use case is bringing real-world objects into the computing world and there is no better mechanism than Computer Vision.
That’s why today I’m so excited to finally be able to tell you about Density, a company I led a $4 million financing (2) along with Jason Calacanis (We’re teaming up on the board together! It’s been so great to collaborate and work towards this common purpose) and with Jonathan Triest at Ludlow Ventures, Amit Kapur at Dawn Patrol and several others.

As you can gather from the Giphy image above, Density anonymously tracks the movement of people as they move around work spaces. It’s a small and elegant device that hangs about doorways and provides “anonymous people tracking as a service.”
We’re essentially a data platform and envision others building applications to take advantage of this information. At its most basic level it creates simple records of ingress and egress through doorways (people moving in and out) and each movement becomes a record in a database that can be tracked in realtime.
The basic use-cases of this simple data are obvious.
You can track how many people are in a room to make sure there are no safety concerns or the people aren’t violating their insurance policy.
You can track meeting rooms in a large campus to find out which rooms get used most often and at which times of the day.
You could track the flow of people onto a subway or train line to better predict the frequency and length of trains required by time of day.
A mobile marketing company could track campaigns and then measure increases in retail traffic driven into local stores.
It could also be used with elderly parents to track whether they’re doing ok and potentially even alert automatically to a fall or to a person with Alzheimers crossing an off-boundary barrier.
Businesses could use people tracking to show you wait times so you could decide whether you want to impromptu come update your driver’s license and these same businesses could use people tracking to make peak staffing decisions.
and so on.
But as you may gather from the Giphy above, the simple use case is greatly expanded by the elegance of the Density solution. The software and computer vision recognize when it’s a human passing by the laser and can filter out other movements like doors opening or other objects passing by (dogs, for example).
Each human is captured in a polygon shape at a precise moment in time. As she moves around the room each micro-movement becomes a new row in the database with the coordinates and time sequence. So a single human flowing through a room could of course produce thousands of rows in a database and computer applications can make sense out of this data and machine learning algorithms could of course start to make informed decisions about things like “way finding” signage placement, where crowd risks may be building, etc.
That the computer vision has the ability to track the “flow” around a room and not just a static count is a big deal and the fact that we provide this data cheaply and anonymously we believe will lead to the creation of a massive market with applications supporting many use cases. Density is simply the data & analytics platform. Our goal is to massively drive down the costs of capture for people flows and create unlimited potential for organizations to understand this and draw insights that help better plan spaces.
Of course if an organization buys Density sensors that data isn’t available more broadly to the market unless they opt in to sharing with others. The initial usage of Density will be single organization but we think it likely that over time organizations will opt into sharing data across companies in limited and controlled situations.
Why Density?
The investment thesis for me combines my belief in computer vision as a next-gen I/O (3) along with my thesis that The Innovator’s Dilemma or Deflationary Economics drive all of the largest success on the Internet (4).
Today’s people tracking solutions are hugely expensive and mostly used in retail environments. The costs have greatly limited adoption and we think that’s about to change in a massive way.
The team insisted on anonymity because it believes the right low-cost, widely available tracking devices shouldn’t be recording people’s identities, which would both limit adoption and also increase costs dramatically.
At the earliest stages when I invest my decision is 70% team / 30% market (5). I have to believe that I’ve met a team of extremely bright, highly competitive and deeply passionate founders who have an idea for a product that has the potential to transform a market.
I look for somebody who is almost mission-driven to see the product in the market more than to make a quick buck and I look for a founder who is frugal, grounded and has a strong sense of what he or she believes uniquely about what is wrong with a market and how it can be fixed.
I always tell people that it’s important who introduces you. I was talking to my friend Jonathan Triest at Ludlow and told him I had freed up a bit of time and was looking for an early-stage company, technically-minded company to back. We had done a few deals together in the past year so I wanted to know what he had seen recently.
He described Density’s team and product and I asked for an immediate introduction — he told me they had already started fund raising and I hate meeting people late in a process.

From the first meeting I had with the founder & CEO — Andrew Farah — and his team of Syracuse grads, I knew they had the right vision, temperament and motivations for building out this market.
I brought a group of them immediately down to LA to meet the rest of my partners. We of course had a healthy internal debate about whether the device was accurate enough since it originally relied upon infrared and couldn’t track with enough precision.
On the other side we debated whether a higher-end solution with video cameras was the way to go and what the demand would be for anonymity versus solutions that can help with security / identification.
We ultimately concluded that exceptionally talented teams like Density would make the right product design decisions and we shouldn’t second-guess today’s products versus the capabilities of the team to make the right product selection choices as they went from prototype to finished product.
And of course within a few months of having raised the funds the team perfected the product design and moved away from infrared towards laser and improved the efficacy, the data collection and the accuracy all while holding costs constant.
That’s why in early-stage investing you back great teams and don’t get too hung up on today’s exact product specification — you’re more looking for how they’ve made their design choices to date, what other options they considered and how they reached their initial conclusions. You’re also testing their mental flexibility in considering alternate solutions so that you know ultimately they’ll make the highest quality decisions based on the data they gather in their journey.
I can’t emphasize this enough — ultimately investors need to trust founding teams to make these hard decisions because the team lives in the trenches day-in and day-out and investors can fool themselves into thinking they know the right answer through intuition or meeting 10 companies in a space. Nothing beats the team on the ground and if you don’t trust them to make the hard calls — then don’t back them. Our role is sparring partner. Our role is to make sure your team is asking itself the hardest questions. In the end, the vote is yours.
What Next Density?
Today we’re formally announcing the product is available to the first companies and developers who order it (we have limited inventory) and it will become more generally available in Q1 of next year. It’s not a consumer product — it’s for people with technical capabilities. We’ve had it in private Beta for the past 6 months with companies like Uber, with major universities, with a major airline and many other companies.

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August 28, 2016, 09:34:11 PM


Mediterranean diet better for the heart than taking statins, major study suggests

A Mediterranean diet could be better than statins at reducing the risk of an early death for millions of Britons, research suggests.

Leading heart experts said patients should be prescribed the diet - rich in fruit, vegetables, fish, nuts, whole grains and olive oil - before being put on drugs.

In the first major study to look at the impact of the Med diet on survival of heart patients, experts found it cut the chances of early death by 37 per cent.

Previous research has found just taking statins cuts mortality by 18 per cent. Experts said the figures were not directly comparable, and that many heart patients could get maximum benefit by doing both.

But they said the results were so remarkable that the state should consider handing out free fruit and vegetables, or subsidising such produce, to encourage the public to change its eating habits. Seven million people in Britain live with heart disease.

The diet regime is already known to have a powerful protective effect against a number of diseases, including diabetes and cancer.

Experts hailed the new findings, presented at the world's biggest heart conference in Rome, Italy, as “extraordinary”, showing that the diet was “more powerful than any drug”.

High consumption of vegetables had the greatest impact on survival, followed by oily fish intake, amount of fruit eaten and consumption of mono-unsaturated fat, found in olive oil.

Professor Giovanni de Gaetano, head of the Department of Epidemiology and Prevention at the IRCCS Neuromed Institute in Italy, said: "We found that among those with a higher adherence to the Mediterranean diet, death from any cause was reduced by 37 per cent in comparison to those who poorly adhered to this dietary regime.

"The Mediterranean diet is widely recognised as one of the healthier nutrition habits in the world.

"In fact, many scientific studies have shown that a traditional Mediterranean lifestyle is associated with a lower risk of various chronic diseases and, more importantly, of death from any cause.

"But so far research has focused on the general population, which is mainly composed of healthy people. What happens to people who have already suffered from cardiovascular disease? Is the Mediterranean diet optimal for them too?”

He said the research suggested exactly this, with the Med diet showing a "powerful" effect, cutting deaths from all causes.

Doctors should "consider diet before drugs" and the state should subsidise fruit and vegetables to encourage Britons towards healthier diets, he said.

“The National Health Service pays for drugs, but it doesn’t pay for vegetables,” he said. “The state should consider contributing towards those foods that make up the Mediterranean diet.”
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August 28, 2016, 09:36:22 PM

To begin with, Earth is rotating on its axis at the familiar rate of one revolution per day. For those of us living at Earth's midlatitudes -- including the United States, Europe, and Japan -- the rate is almost a thousand miles an hour. The rate is higher at the equator and lower at the poles. In addition to this daily rotation, Earth orbits the Sun at an average speed of 67,000 mph, or 18.5 miles a second.

Perhaps that seems a bit sluggish -- after all, Mars Pathfinder journeyed to Mars at nearly 75,000 miles per hour. Buckle your seat belts, friends. The Sun, Earth, and the entire solar system also are in motion, orbiting the center of the Milky Way at a blazing 140 miles a second. Even at this great speed, though, our planetary neighborhood still takes about 200 million years to make one complete orbit -- a testament to the vast size of our home galaxy.

Dizzy yet? Well hold on. The Milky Way itself is moving through the vastness of intergalactic space. Our galaxy belongs to a cluster of nearby galaxies, the Local Group, and together we are easing toward the center of our cluster at a leisurely 25 miles a second.

If all this isn't enough to make you feel you deserve an intergalactic speeding ticket, consider that we, along with our cousins in the Local Group, are hurtling at a truly astonishing 375 miles a second toward the Virgo Cluster, an enormous collection of galaxies some 45 million light-years away.
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August 30, 2016, 07:05:33 AM


Bitcoin Tipping Platform Zapchain to Shut Down

Another bitcoin-based content monetization startup has announced it will shut down.

Social network Zapchain, launched in 2014 as part of accelerator Boost VC's fourth batch of startups, has told users that it will cease services effective 31st August. The announcement comes less than a year after the startup raised $350,000 in seed funding.

The decision, made public on the company's website, marks the end of a project that was once one of bitcoin’s fastest-growing projects, and comes amid a decline in the number of consumer-facing startups seeking to launch services on the bitcoin network.

Bitcoin tipping platform ChangeTip, for example, announced it had sold its staff to Airbnb in April, and that it was searching for a buyer of its intellectual property. No details have yet been provided on whether Zapchain will seek similar sales.

Despite these challenges, however, the concept that blockchains could come to serve a vital part of content monetization lives on, most recently with the controversial success of social media platform Steemit, though it uses an alternative to the bitcoin blockchain.

Representatives from Zapchain could not be reached at press time.


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August 30, 2016, 07:50:14 AM


The Anthropocene epoch: scientists declare dawn of human-influenced age

Experts say human impact on Earth so profound that Holocene must give way to epoch defined by nuclear tests, plastic pollution and domesticated chicken

Humanity’s impact on the Earth is now so profound that a new geological epoch – the Anthropocene – needs to be declared, according to an official expert group who presented the recommendation to the International Geological Congress in Cape Town on Monday.

The new epoch should begin about 1950, the experts said, and was likely to be defined by the radioactive elements dispersed across the planet by nuclear bomb tests, although an array of other signals, including plastic pollution, soot from power stations, concrete, and even the bones left by the global proliferation of the domestic chicken were now under consideration.

The current epoch, the Holocene, is the 12,000 years of stable climate since the last ice age during which all human civilisation developed. But the striking acceleration since the mid-20th century of carbon dioxide emissions and sea level rise, the global mass extinction of species, and the transformation of land by deforestation and development mark the end of that slice of geological time, the experts argue. The Earth is so profoundly changed that the Holocene must give way to the Anthropocene.

“The significance of the Anthropocene is that it sets a different trajectory for the Earth system, of which we of course are part,” said Prof Jan Zalasiewicz, a geologist at the University of Leicester and chair of the Working Group on the Anthropocene (WGA), which started work in 2009.

“If our recommendation is accepted, the Anthropocene will have started just a little before I was born,” he said. “We have lived most of our lives in something called the Anthropocene and are just realising the scale and permanence of the change.”

Prof Colin Waters, principal geologist at the British Geological Survey and WGA secretary, said: “Being able to pinpoint an interval of time is saying something about how we have had an incredible impact on the environment of our planet. The concept of the Anthropocene manages to pull all these ideas of environmental change together.”

Prof Chris Rapley, a climate scientist at University College London and former director of the Science Museum in London said: “The Anthropocene marks a new period in which our collective activities dominate the planetary machinery.

“Since the planet is our life support system – we are essentially the crew of a largish spaceship – interference with its functioning at this level and on this scale is highly significant. If you or I were crew on a smaller spacecraft, it would be unthinkable to interfere with the systems that provide us with air, water, fodder and climate control. But the shift into the Anthropocene tells us that we are playing with fire, a potentially reckless mode of behaviour which we are likely to come to regret unless we get a grip on the situation.” Rapley is not part of the WGA.

Martin Rees, the astronomer royal and former president of the Royal Society, said that the dawn of the Anthropocene was a significant moment. “The darkest prognosis for the next millennium is that bio, cyber or environmental catastrophes could foreclose humanity’s immense potential, leaving a depleted biosphere,” he said.

But Lord Rees added that there is also cause for optimism. “Human societies could navigate these threats, achieve a sustainable future, and inaugurate eras of post-human evolution even more marvellous than what’s led to us. The dawn of the Anthropocene epoch would then mark a one-off transformation from a natural world to one where humans jumpstart the transition to electronic (and potentially immortal) entities, that transcend our limitations and eventually spread their influence far beyond the Earth.”

The evidence of humanity’s impact on the planet is overwhelming, but the changes are very recent in geological terms, where an epoch usually spans tens of millions of years. “One criticism of the Anthropocene as geology is that it is very short,” said Zalasiewicz. “Our response is that many of the changes are irreversible.”

To define a new geological epoch, a signal must be found that occurs globally and will be incorporated into deposits in the future geological record. For example, the extinction of the dinosaurs 66m years ago at the end of the Cretaceous epoch is defined by a “golden spike” in sediments around the world of the metal iridium, which was dispersed from the meteorite that collided with Earth to end the dinosaur age.

For the Anthropocene, the best candidate for such a golden spike are radioactive elements from nuclear bomb tests, which were blown into the stratosphere before settling down to Earth. “The radionuclides are probably the sharpest – they really come on with a bang,” said Zalasiewicz. “But we are spoiled for choice. There are so many signals.”

Other spikes being considered as evidence of the onset of the Anthropocene include the tough, unburned carbon spheres emitted by power stations. “The Earth has been smoked, with signals very clearly around the world in the mid-20th century,” said Zalasiewicz.

Other candidates include plastic pollution, aluminium and concrete particles, and high levels of nitrogen and phosphate in soils, derived from artificial fertilisers. Although the world is currently seeing only the sixth mass extinction of species in the 700m-year history of complex life on Earth, this is unlikely to provide a useful golden spike as the animals are by definition very rare and rarely dispersed worldwide.

In contrast, some species have with human help spread rapidly across the world. The domestic chicken is a serious contender to be a fossil that defines the Anthropocene for future geologists. “Since the mid-20th century, it has become the world’s most common bird. It has been fossilised in thousands of landfill sites and on street corners around the world,” said Zalasiewicz. “It is is also a much bigger bird with a different skeleton than its prewar ancestor.”

The 35 scientists on the WGA – who voted 30 to three in favour of formally designating the Anthropocene, with two abstentions – will now spend the next two to three years determining which signals are the strongest and sharpest. Crucially, they must also decide a location which will define the start of the Anthropocene. Geological divisions are not defined by dates but by a specific boundary between layers of rock or, in the case of the Holocene, a boundary between two ice layers in a core taken from Greenland and now stored in Denmark.

The scientists are focusing on sites where annual layers are formed and are investigating mud sediments off the coast of Santa Barbara in California and the Ernesto cave in northern Italy, where stalactites and stalagmites accrete annual rings. Lake sediments, ice cores from Antarctica, corals, tree rings and even layers of rubbish in landfill sites are also being considered.

Once the data has been assembled, it will be formally submitted to the stratigraphic authorities and the Anthropocene could be officially adopted within a few years. “If we were very lucky and someone came forward with, say, a core from a classic example of laminated sediments in a deep marine environment, I think three years is possibly viable,” said Zalasiewicz.

This would be lightning speed for such a geological decision, which in the past would have taken decades and even centuries to make. The term Anthropocene was coined only in 2000, by the Nobel prize-winning scientist Paul Crutzen, who believes the name change is overdue. He said in 2011: “This name change stresses the enormity of humanity’s responsibility as stewards of the Earth.” Crutzen also identified in 2007 what he called the “great acceleration” of human impacts on the planet from the mid-20th century.

Despite the WGA’s expert recommendation, the declaration of the Anthropocene is not yet a forgone conclusion. “Our stratigraphic colleagues are very protective of the geological time scale. They see it very rightly as the backbone of geology and they do not amend it lightly,” said Zalasiewicz. “But I think we can prepare a pretty good case.”

Rapley also said there was a strong case: “It is highly appropriate that geologists should pay formal attention to a change in the signal within sedimentary rock layers that will be clearly apparent to future generations of geologists for as long as they exist. The ‘great acceleration’ constitutes a strong, detectable and incontrovertible signal.”
Evidence of the Anthropocene

Human activity has:

    Pushed extinction rates of animals and plants far above the long-term average. The Earth is on course to see 75% of species become extinct in the next few centuries if current trends continue.

    Increased levels of climate-warming CO2 in the atmosphere at the fastest rate for 66m years, with fossil-fuel burning pushing levels from 280 parts per million before the industrial revolution to 400ppm and rising today.

    Put so much plastic in our waterways and oceans that microplastic particles are now virtually ubiquitous, and plastics will likely leave identifiable fossil records for future generations to discover.

    Doubled the nitrogen and phosphorous in our soils in the past century with fertiliser use. This is likely to be the largest impact on the nitrogen cycle in 2.5bn years.

    Left a permanent layer of airborne particulates in sediment and glacial ice such as black carbon from fossil fuel burning.
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August 30, 2016, 01:07:49 PM

How to grow plants without water:

By now there are already many farmers, all over the world,
owners of both small gardens and big farms, who have
embarked on the road of Waterless Farming. Cooperatives
dedicated to these techniques spring up all over the world;
online blogs, forums, websites and YouTube channels are
created to talk about these arguments; more and more books
are written on this subject matter.
But, in spite of this, Waterless Farming techniques are nearly
unknown to the general public, still convinced that huge
amounts of water are required to obtain good harvests.
So the goal I want to achieve with this book is to make Waterless
Farming techniques known to a higher number of
people, because–in my humble opinion– Waterless Farming
could be able to solve many many problems and critical issues
in the world.
For example, Waterless Farming could contribute to solving
the problem of world hunger, allowing to till even in world areas
which are arid or not very fertile. Moreover, as we already
said, some Waterless Farming techniques allow to till
the soil without the need to use agricultural machinery (or, at
least, to minimize their use). This means that it is possible to
practice agriculture obtaining good harvests even in poor areas,
where people cannot buy modern agricultural machinery.
Furthermore, Waterless Farming techniques would put a halt
to a whole series of environmental issues resulting from the
use of water in agriculture. There are a lot of environmental
issues caused by the use of damaging agricultural techniques,
but in this context, I am going to essentially talk about two of
them: the use of fossil water in agriculture and the use of
river water in agriculture.
Fossil water is a kind of water remained sealed in an aquifer
for a period of time much longer than the normal water cycle,
staying in this underground place for thousands, millions or
even billions of years. When geological changes sealed the
aquifer layer from further recharges, water remained
‘trapped’ inside the layer, and so it is called fossil water. The
exploitation of this kind of water is considered similar to the
one of mining industries since it is a non-renewable resource.
In the last few years – in many places in the world – complex
engineering systems have been made, in order to take this
kind of water from the subsoil and then use it in agriculture.
Consequently, in a nutshell, a resource accumulated over millions
of years is wasted for a few years of harvests. How the
heck could we endorse a behavior like this? Apart from being
ethically objectionable and devoid of any respect for Mother
Nature, it is also economically foolish, since in most cases
fossil water quantity which is in aquifers is sufficient to irrigate
the fields barely for less than 10 years. Once extracted
all the water from the subsoil, it takes thousands of years for
this precious liquid to fill up the layer again. Therefore the
draining of these fossil aquifers could provoke the abandonment
of lands and cultivation in several areas where these
kind of methods are used; consequently, products which at
present grow using fossil water will be imported. More impressive
examples of fossil water use in agriculture can be
found in China, Iran, India, The U.S.A., Saudi Arabia
, Jordan  and Egypt.


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August 30, 2016, 02:52:32 PM


Dogs understand both words and intonation of human speech

Study finds that dogs process speech in a similar way to humans, and that what you say and how you say it both matter when conversing with canines

It is both what you say and the way that you say it that matters when it comes to communicating with man’s best friend, research has revealed.

Scientists from Hungary scanned the brains of dogs while each was played the sound of their trainer’s voice, and discovered that our canine companions only experience a sense of reward when both the words and intonation indicate praise.

The team also found that dogs process speech in a similar way to humans, processing meaningful words with their left hemisphere and intonation with a region in their right hemisphere.

Study raises possibility that two populations of grey wolves, separated by thousands of miles and years, may have resulted in modern domestic dogs

“The results were very exciting and very surprising,” said lead researcher Attila Andics from Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest.

Writing in the journal Science, Andics and colleagues describe how they trained 13 dogs over a period of months to lie motionless inside an fMRI machine, in order to probe how they process human speech.

The researchers used the scans to look at how their brain activity changed as they were played recordings of their trainers’ voices through a pair of headphones. Four different recordings were played with either praise words (such as “well done!”) or neutral words (such as “however” or “nevertheless”) coupled with either a high-pitched intonation indicative of praise, or a neutral intonation.

The results revealed that compared to neutral words, praise words resulted in an increase in activity in the left hemisphere of the brain for both types of intonation, suggesting that, like humans, dogs use the left side of their brain to process words that they have recognised and attach meaning to. On the other hand, differences in intonation but not word type, resulted in a change in activity in an area within the auditory region of the right hemisphere.

“It is actually the very same part of the brain in this right auditory brain region that we found in dogs and also humans in an earlier study that responds to the emotional content of a sound,” said Andics. “It is not a mechanism that is only there for language stimuli, it is the same mechanism dogs use for processing emotional sounds in general.”

26-year study of canine sperm shows an overall decline in quality, and may also shed light on fertility changes seen in male humans

The researchers also looked at the reward centre in the doggy brain, an area that responds to activities or experiences deemed pleasurable.

The results reveal that the reward centre only shows an increase in activity when both praise words and praise intonation are used.

“From this research, we can quite confidently say if they only hear you then it is not only how you say things but also what you say that matters to them,” said Andics.

But, says Andics, whether a dog can really tell if you are calling it a smelly hound in a jolly voice is another matter, as there are typically other cues, such as body language and facial expression at play.

The research, says Andics, offers new insights into the evolution of language.

“The neural mechanism humans have for processing meaning in speech, so for processing word meaning and intonation, are not uniquely human - they seem to be there in other species,” said Andics. That, he adds, suggests that our use of words was down to a novel idea, rather than new brain mechanisms. “It is not the result of a special new neural mechanism but the result of an innovation,” said Andics. “We invented words as we invented the wheel.”
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August 30, 2016, 03:28:06 PM
Optimism in Gambling: Good or Bad?

ImageEveryone who gambles hopes to win – the chance of winning is a big part of the fun. But what happens when you don’t win? Are you able to shrug it off and move on? It’s always a good idea to mix optimism in gambling with a healthy dose of realism. The reality is that most people don’t win when they gamble (see the section on house advantage.When someone does experience a big win, they sometimes become overly optimistic about their chances of winning again. The big win can make them think – unrealistically – that other big wins will easily come again. The best approach is to treat gambling like any other form of entertainment that costs money. If you win, it’s a bonus – if not, hopefully you had some fun playing.
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August 30, 2016, 03:52:18 PM


Hear me now? 'Strong signal' from sun-like star sparks alien speculation

Astronomers engaged in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) are training their instruments on a star around 94 light years from Earth after a very strong signal was detected by a Russian telescope.

An international team of researchers is now examining the radio signal and its star, HD 164595 -- described in a paper by Italian astronomer Claudio Maccone and others as a "strong candidate for SETI" -- in the hopes of determining its origin.

"The signal from HD 164595 is intriguing, because it comes from the vicinity of a sun-like star, and if it's artificial, its strength is great enough that it was clearly made by a civilization with capabilities beyond those of humankind," astronomer Douglas Vakoch, president of METI International, which searches for life beyond Earth, tells CNN.

Whenever a strong signal is detected, "it's a good possibility for some nearby civilization to be detected," Maccone tells CNN.

But experts say it is highly unlikely to be a message from alien beings.

"Without corroboration from an independent observatory, a putative signal from extraterrestrials doesn't have a lot of credibility," Vakoch says.

Advanced civilization?

Paul Gilster of the Tau Zero Foundation, which conducts interstellar research, said that if the signal was artificial, its strength suggested it would have to come from a civilization more advanced than our own.

Such a civilization would likely be Type II on the Kardashev scale, an attempt by the Soviet astronomer of the same name to categorize various technological stages of civilizations.

"The Kardashev scale is based basically on the energy that that civilization might be able to funnel for its own use," says Maccone.

At present, our own species is somewhere near Type I on the scale, whereby a civilization is able to harness all the energy available to it on its own planet, including solar, wind, earthquakes, and other fuels.

A Type II civilization would be able to harness the entirety of the energy emitted by its star, billions of billions of watts.

Doing so would require a colossal undertaking, likely the construction of some kind of superstructure, such as a giant sphere or swarm of super-advanced solar panels popularized by astronomer Freeman Dyson that could catch and store all radiation put out by the sun.

Scientists believe superstructures are probably our best chance of detecting alien life unless they are actively trying to communicate with us.

A Dyson sphere was one of the solutions suggested to the peculiar light fluctuations detected around Tabby's Star, which caused great excitement when they were detected last year.

Maccone is working on developing an alternative mathematical measure of how advanced civilizations are, based on the amount of knowledge and information available to them, that "might help us in the future classify alien civilizations" that we detect.
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August 30, 2016, 04:09:50 PM


Why do people believe the end of the world is near?

People who believe in religions , like me, have a reason to believe that the world will end one day, apparently because their religious scriptures tell them so but why would some people all of a sudden claim that the world will end on a certain date or time?

Why would someone commit suicide in order to avoid the end of the world?
Why would someone give all of his money to charity only to discover that the world wont end now?

Every now and then some people start to claim that the world will end on a certain date then attract a large number of supporters who start doing all kind of extreme behavior just because of believing that end is near.

Yesterday i came across a site that said that the world is going to end in 8 days. The site was a commercial one and it was Selling survival kits, rations and all kinds of goods that a person might need when the world ends!

The first question that came to my mind was, what on earth is the site owner going to do with the money if the world was really going to end according to his beliefs?

Why do people believe in superstitions about the end of the world

This site i was just talking about and other sites sold products worth millions of dollars. Some people are capitalizing on the fears of others and that's why its important to find out why do some people strongly believe in such superstitions.

1) To be among the chosen or in other words to feel superior: The desire to feel superior to others is more strong among some humans than others. Whens some people fail to feel superior in a direct way by playing with the normal rules they start to seek twisted methods to feel superior to others. When a person believes that the world will end on a certain day he instantly feels superior to all of those who are uninformed.
2) Because they eagerly want it to end: Some people believe that they are losers, failures and unlucky fellows. For those people the end of the world can be a very good thing since it will put an end to all the rules that classified them as losers or failures. In other words, some people believe in the end of the world just because they need to believe that it will end soon.
3) The conspiracy theory makes them feel important: Usually when a person claims that the end is near he also claims that the government knows it all. This kind of conspiracy theory makes the person feel worthy and very important because after all if the whole world is conspiring against him then he must be a very important person. In other words, many of those who believe in such superstitions only want to feel worthy. In the Solid Self confidence program i said that people who fail to feel worthy in the usual ways might start to seek unusual ways to feel superior such as claiming that they were abducted by aliens (they were chosen among the whole world).
4) To feel in control: In my previous article Why do people believe in superstitions i said that one of the strong forces that motivate people to believe in superstitions the is lack of control over their own lives. By believing that the end of the world will happen on a certain date a person can become much more in control of his fate

Why superstitions will never end

What do you think will happen when a person who believed that the world will end on a certain date finds out that it didn't end? Will he give up on superstitions?

No he wont simply because he has a psychological need that forces him to believe in them. In other words that person will shortly fall prey to another superstition and will start believing in it as well.

Don't wonder how people manage to forget about a prophecy that didn't happen and to believe in another one that quick. In my article How people twist the facts to support their beliefs i said that people discard the data that goes against their beliefs even if it was real and keep the data that supports them even if they weren't sure of it.

Superstitions will always be there because some people need to believe in them.

2knowmysef is not a complicated medical website nor a boring online encyclopedia but rather a place where you will find simple, to the point and effective information that is backed by psychology and presented in a simple way that you can understand and apply. If you think that this is some kind of marketing hype then see what other visitors say about 2knowmyself.

The Solid confidence program was launched by; the program will either help you become more confident or give you your money back.



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August 30, 2016, 09:41:43 PM


New Solar System objects revealed - BBC News

Astronomers in the US have uncovered previously unknown objects in the outer reaches of the Solar System.

They include an icy body with an orbit that takes it so far from the Sun that it is probably influenced by the gravity of other stars.

The discoveries were found during an effort to locate a possible ninth planet, whose presence has been inferred indirectly.

The study is set to be published by The Astronomical Journal.

Co-authors Scott Sheppard and Chad Trujillo have submitted the details of their discoveries to the Minor Planet Center, which catalogues such objects, along with asteroids and comets.

Their search was carried out using several observatories around the world, including the the four-metre Blanco telescope in Chile and the eight-metre Subaru telescope in Hawaii.

One of the new objects, known for now as 2014 FE72, is the first distant Oort Cloud object found with an orbit entirely beyond Neptune.

Its orbit takes it some 3,000 times further than the Earth is from the Sun.

The Oort Cloud is the large shell of objects that occupies the outermost region of the Solar System.

Dr Sheppard, from the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington and Dr Trujillo, from Northern Arizona University, have been analysing how the new planet-like bodies fit into larger theories about a ninth planet lurking in the Solar System's furthest reaches.

The evidence for this planet has largely been deduced by peculiarities of distant Solar System objects.

One of the new celestial bodies, 2013 FT28, shares characteristics of its orbit in common with the bodies whose positions and movements lent support to the planet nine idea - but it also shows some differences.

Based on analysis of other small bodies in the outer Solar System, astronomers have proposed that - if it exists - the ninth planet is several times more massive than Earth and is at least 200 times further than the distance between the Sun and Earth.

The new work should help constrain the location of this proposed ninth planet.

"The smaller objects can lead us to the much bigger planet we think exists out there," said Dr Sheppard.

"The more we discover, the better we will be able to understand what is going on in the outer Solar System."

Pluto, discovered in 1930, was previously known as the ninth planet. But its planetary status was removed in 2006, following the discovery of an object of comparable size in the Kuiper Belt, a ring of icy bodies just beyond Neptune.
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September 02, 2016, 10:24:17 AM


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September 02, 2016, 11:04:05 AM


Incredible: 'Ring of Fire' eclipse appears in Africa

Take a look at this incredible "ring of fire" eclipse which could be seen across parts of Africa.

Thousands of stargazers came out to watch the eclipse, which only lasted for a few minutes, using special protective glasses.

This particular eclipse is called an "annular eclipse".

It happens when the moon is farther away from the earth, making it appear smaller.

This means that when it passes in front of the sun, it doesn't completely block it out like a total eclipse.

Instead you can still see the outline of the sun behind it, creating the amazing "ring of fire" effect.

This happens because the the moon does not move in a perfect circle around the earth, it is more like a squashed circle or an ellipsis.

This means that sometimes it is closer and further away from the earth.

The next eclipse is due to take place in February 2017, and can be seen from parts of South America and Africa.
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