Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Miscellaneous/2010 July 6

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July 6[edit]

Hyphenated last names[edit]

If Jane Brown marries Bob Smith-Jones what does her surname become? Jane Smith-Jones? Jane Smith? Jane Jones? Jane Brown-Smith-Jones?? What about the children's surnames? --124.254.77.148 (talk) 05:57, 6 July 2010 (UTC)

AFAIK it doesn't happen automatically. She can decide on what she will be named (she may choose any variant, I think except Brown-Smith-Jones, and even the husband may take the wife's surname!), and they both can decide the surnames of the children. --Ouro (blah blah) 06:04, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
This may depend on what country they are in. In the UK, I agree that they can choose a variant - Brown-Smith-Jones would be unusual but not impossible. But, usually, the woman would choose either to keep the name Brown, or use the name Smith-Jones, or indeed use both names in different circumstances (for example, continuing to use the name Brown if already well-known in her career with that name). I don't believe there is a legal obligation - see this article for some guidance. Ghmyrtle (talk) 06:11, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
There are no restrictions that I know of in the US. She could change it to whatever she likes. And the children will go by whatever their parents decide. Dismas|(talk) 06:13, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
The answer certainly varies from country to country...between matters of custom and matters of law, there are wide variations. We could provide a better answer if our OP would tell us where this is happening. SteveBaker (talk) 14:10, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
In the UK at least, three or even four hyphenated surnames are not unknown. Karenjc 20:25, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
Although it's only fair to point out that they are rare, and almost exclusively confined to the old aristocracy - and even where they exist they are almost never used. Ghmyrtle (talk) 20:50, 6 July 2010 (UTC)

I know someone who married a man with a double-barreled last name and now goes by a name like Jane Smith-Jones Thompson, where "Smith" is her maiden name (those aren't her real names). It seems she decided one hyphen was enough. One of her husband's relatives apparently now goes by a name along the lines of Sarah Jones-Thompson Anderson (again, not her actual name). -- Mwalcoff (talk) 22:34, 6 July 2010 (UTC)

When my sister divorced her husband and re-married (this was in the UK), she tacked her new husband's surname with a hyphen onto her previous surname - which (of course) she got from her first husband. That seems weird to me - but there you go. SteveBaker (talk) 03:43, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
I have always wanted to meet someone whose name was Bernadette Pushpakumara-Proskuryakov Googlemeister (talk) 15:06, 7 July 2010 (UTC)

Things man was not meant to know[edit]

I want to learn some of the things man was not meant to know. Where's a good place to start? While we're at it, what was man meant to know? 67.188.234.85 (talk) 10:13, 6 July 2010 (UTC)

A good place to start would be, where did you get the notion that there is anything man is not meant to know? ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 10:16, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
It's worthing pointing out that the OP's only other entry[1] was an even sillier question. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 10:29, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
I think man was meant to know a troll when he sees one. Richard Avery (talk) 10:49, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
I suggest you speak to this man [2], he claims to know what we don't know, and various combinations of knowing and not knowing. Caesar's Daddy (talk) 10:46, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
I never understood all the quipping over "unknown unknowns". I thought that it was one of the most honest and profound statements to come out of that administration. -- 58.147.52.176 (talk) 11:39, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
I thought it was a deliberately abstruse way of saying simply, "we don't know the answers, and we don't even know the questions". --Sean 17:46, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
It is to Donald Rumsfeld's credit that he gave a briefing in Epistemology without dumbing it down for the masses. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 19:12, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
The New York Times had a very interesting series of blog posts on this subject recently, part 1 is here. --LarryMac | Talk 13:44, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
The concept of there being things we're not meant to know is entirely one of religion. When you ask your religious leader difficult questions that seriously challenge the belief system ("Why does god let little children die of leukemia?", "Why did god make the Ebola virus when he created all living things in the garden of Eden?") - then a convenient pat answer is "There are some things that man is not meant to know." - although this is about as useful as a parent using the "Because I say so" answer to a small bothersome child who won't stop asking "Why?". Without religion, there is nothing we cannot at least aspire to know if we wish to do so. After all - who is it but some supernatural entity who could decide what it is that we aren't 'meant' to know? Someone would have to mean that...someone with some kind of right to make rules beyond and above what humans know...in short, a god...hence religion again.
Of course, there are plenty of things that we fundamentally cannot know. Godel's theorem says that we cannot know whether some particular mathematical theorems are true or false. Heisenberg's uncertainty principle places firm limits on our ability to know both the momentum and position of a particle. The 'halting problem' in computer science says that we can't know for sure whether any arbitary computer program will eventually stop running or not. We can never know what's going on inside the event horizon of a black hole. Chaos theory ensures that we can't predict the weather with accuracy very far into the future. There are plenty of things we 'cannot' know.
So the answer for our OP is: If you are an atheist - you can try to know whatever you want - but the laws of physics may place some restrictions on that. If you are some kind of religious nut - then it depends on what particular brand of nonsense you subscribe to.
SteveBaker (talk) 14:06, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
At present we cannot know those things, but we may discover a way to measure them. We didn't know what the speed of light was, for example, until a method was devised to measure it. As for "not meant to know", that implies divine intelligence, whose existence or non-existence is obviously a matter of opinion. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 15:18, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
One is not meant to know in advance an exam question, who has won an Academy Award or what your Poker hand is.... Bugs, is it your opinion that divine intelligence is at work here? Cuddlyable3 (talk) 18:51, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
Cute. The students are not meant to know them in advance, but the portion of "man" (i.e. humankind) that's writing the test certainly is. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 19:38, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
Also, there is a difference between "not meant to know" and "not meant to know yet" - which is what is happening in those three examples. SteveBaker (talk) 03:36, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
Bugs—just a digression on the uncertainty principle. Bohr and Heisenberg said that UP implied that measuring certain types of information to certain degrees of precision was meaningless. Einstein said, "Nah, it just means you don't know how to measure it, but the info is out there somewhere, even if only God knows it." Bohr and Heisenberg say, "whatevah," and the issue was held to just be a philosophical difference for a long time after both were dead. But then this smart cat, John Bell, actually came up with a very clever (but hard to explain in plain terms) experiment that could actually distinguish between the different positions. These have since been run many times (see Bell test experiments), and the tentative answer so far is that Einstein was definitely wrong in this instance. There are a number of possible interpretations of what the results say positively, but negatively they come down pretty hard on Einstein. This is still pretty cutting edge stuff, but I just want to point out that it's entirely plausible—in fact the evidence as it stands points towards it—that the information is just not actually out there to know in the case of uncertainty principle. Which would put it in a very different category than "stuff we just don't know how to measure" (like your example of the speed of light... even though that was not too hard to measure to a reasonable degree once people thought up that they would like to measure it). Godel's theorem falls into the same category: it says something very fundamental about what truth itself even means in a real sense, and not just as the rough approximation that we usually mean when we say it. If Godel is right, then there are hard limits as to what truth can be implied in an ultimate (not just a human-centric) sense. Which is interesting, no? --Mr.98 (talk) 23:53, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
Godels' theorem is actually quite easy to understand (as mathematical theorems go) - I strongly recommend the book: "Gödel, Escher, Bach - The Eternal Golden Braid" which leads you gently through the proof and is definitely one of the five or six greatest books I've ever read. The first half of the book explains the theorem, the second half explores the consequences. It's pretty clear that there is no "if" Godel is right. He's right - mathematically. SteveBaker (talk) 03:36, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
You all are talking current theory. Prior to Einstein, everyone assumed time was absolute; and prior to Galileo, everyone thought that objects weighing X and 2X would fall at rates Y and 2Y. Whatever the thinking is "now" is not necessarily the "ultimate" truth, it's just all we know or can hypothesize at present. Scientific inquiry is not cast in stone. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 11:50, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
Bugs—Godel is only wrong if basically all of math is wrong. It's pure logic. There's not a whole lot of a way out of it. And surely you can recognize the difference between a theory which describes behavior, and one that describes how the universe itself works. That's the point I was trying to make. If the theories that describe how the universe itself work are in fact true, it implies that the information is simply not there. I'm not arguing for or against quantum theory, but pointing out that if it is right, that has profound implications on what is inherently knowable. --Mr.98 (talk) 13:15, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
"Never say never" where science is concerned. As soon as you think you've got it all figured out... you're wrong. There's always something else out there. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 13:29, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
(Logic and science are not the same thing.) And again, I think you're either intentionally missing the point I was trying to convey, or unintentionally missing it. Take your pick. --Mr.98 (talk) 13:54, 7 July 2010 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Yes, Gödel's theorems are impossible to avoid, granted the (quite mild) assumptions used to prove them. However they do not say exactly what is being claimed here. They do not impose limits on knowledge per se, but only on what can be accomplished by formal proof in fixed first-order theories. (Or to put it another way, on truths enumerable by a fixed computer program.)

There is no particular mathematical question that, as a consequence of the Gödel theorems directly, we can guarantee we will never know the answer to. What the theorems give us is a way, given a particular consistent formal theory (satisfying certain stipulations I won't go into), of finding a question that that particular theory cannot answer. That is not the same thing at all as saying the answer cannot be known.

The question of whether there exist mathematical questions whose answer cannot be known at all is an interesting one, and Peter Koellner has written a fascinating paper about it, called On the Question of Absolute Undecidability. You can find it easily on Google if you're interested. But I want to state again, the Gödel theorems do not imply that there are any such questions. --Trovatore (talk) 10:13, 8 July 2010 (UTC)

Bugs completely misunderstands. The laws of physics (chemistry, biology, etc) can generally be overturned with experimental evidence - it is indeed remotely possible that almost any of the laws of physics could really be false. But correctly reasoned theorems in mathematics are absolute truth providing only that you accept the axioms on which they are founded. We know that 2+2=4 won't ever be disproved - and the same thing is true of Godel's theorem. If you look at the axioms on which Godel's theorem is founded, they are the most simple rules of arithmetic imaginable. The only way to dodge them is to deny things like "every integer has a successor" and "there exists a value called zero" - things that cannot be denied because that would also prevent 2+2=4 from being true. It is possible that some very complex theorems have simple book-keeping errors and are therefore wrong. But the discovery of Godel's theorem was sufficiently earth-shattering to mathematicians that they have put it under the microscope and it has been checked extremely carefully. As I said before, it's sufficiently simple that you can easily understand it for yourself. Again, read "Godel, Escher, Bach" - it's a great book, AND you'll come away convinced of the truth - which is that math is in trouble. So, sadly, you are entirely incorrect. Science can be mistaken - but mathematics is solidly, reliably correct by definition...if you accept the axioms...which (in this case) you undoubtedly do! SteveBaker (talk) 01:24, 9 July 2010 (UTC)
Steve, I'm not sure you read my comments carefully enough, or maybe you were mixing me and Bugs up in your response. I certainly was not casting any doubt on the Goedel theorems. I was explaining that they don't say quite the things that are being claimed for them in the above thread. The Goedel theorems, at least in and of themselves, do not put any limits on knowledge, but only on a certain formal way of acquiring knowledge. Whether "absolutely undecidable" mathematical questions exist is an interesting question, but the Goedel theorems do not appear to be particularly relevant to it. --Trovatore (talk) 02:22, 9 July 2010 (UTC)
No - I'm not sure I understood what you said, but I was definitely replying to Bug's claim. To reply to what you wrote, I don't see how we can know that some theorem is true without being able to prove it. Isn't that what the word "proof" means? Since Godel says that we can't prove all theorems - there must be some theorems that we will never know the definite truth of - although we may have arbitrarily strong suspicions of their truth! It's true that there have been theorems that we've been pretty darned certain are true (like the Four color theorem) before they were proven formally...but before the formal proof was in, how could we possibly know for sure that there wasn't some bizarre map that needed five colors? After all, the very idea that every theorem could be proven to be either true or false was taken as absolute truth by pretty much everyone until it was proven otherwise by Godel - so intuition is a sucky way to acquire knowledge. Also, the idea that Mechanistic approaches to theorem proof are vulnerable to Godel - but that doesn't mean that human brains couldn't find a proof is busted by the 'Church Turing thesis' which shows that all computing machines beyond a certain power are equivalent. The human brain is such a machine - so it is proven that we cannot somehow come up with a proof that (in principle) a sufficiently powerful computer could not. Hence the Godel trap encompasses human minds to the same extent that it encompasses formal proof methods. Worse still, the entire universe may be considered to be a computing device that falls into the Church-Turing trap - and that means that there are no possible means to prove a theorem that Godel says cannot be proven. SteveBaker (talk) 13:04, 9 July 2010 (UTC)
OK, I really don't want to talk about the mind/machine thing here; it's not really the issue, I think. There's an argument by a guy named J. R. Lucas that attempts to bring the two together, but we can agree that his argument fails, without necessarily agreeing on the conclusion of the argument. If the mathematical output of the universe as a whole is an axiomatic system, then it's likely one too complicated to characterize within the observable universe, and my response to the claim that we can't know the truth value of its Goedel sentence would be "Duh". I mean, we wouldn't even have time to read its Goedel sentence, nor paper to write it on.
We don't need Goedel to tell us that we can't know everything with perfect certainty. Mostly we struggle to know a few things and be right most of the time.
So focus instead on a particular case, so we have something concrete to talk about. Let's talk about the formal theory Peano arithmetic (or if you're using Hofstadter as your reference, his TNT — don't have his book at hand but I think it's basically the same). PA talks about the natural numbers, in a fairly straightforward way, and is strong enough to settle most questions about the natural numbers that occur to most people (though the jury's still out on a few of them).
But we can form the Goedel sentence of PA; call it GPA, and we know that PA can neither prove nor disprove GPA.
Does that mean that we're neutral on the truth value of GPA? Not at all. GPA just says that PA cannot prove GPA, and we just said that was true. So in fact GPA is true.
Where's the disconnect? Well, to conclude that GPA is true, we're using more than the first-order consequences of PA. We're relying on our belief that the PA axioms are themselves, all of them at once, are actually true, and deriving an inference from that that goes beyond the inferential power of first-order logic. --Trovatore (talk) 20:43, 9 July 2010 (UTC)
The idea seems to come from Tree of the knowledge of good and evil. 195.35.160.133 (talk) 15:01, 6 July 2010 (UTC) Martin.
Or a variant of Pandora's Box Googlemeister (talk) 16:31, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
The Necronomicon was never meant for the world of the living. I would start there. Comet Tuttle (talk) 16:52, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
Females have (so I am told) weird stuff that men aren't meant to know all about.[3][4][5][6][7].Cuddlyable3 (talk) 18:41, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
...and vice versa. Ghmyrtle (talk) 20:52, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
See Secret Women's Business. -- 202.142.129.66 (talk) 01:40, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
If you think this is purely the province of religion, then see Haldane's Law. --TammyMoet (talk) 19:03, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
What makes any of you think that we're actually meant to know anything? --Ludwigs2 00:14, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
Maybe the question is a kōan.—Wavelength (talk) 01:56, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
See also the article about abstract art.—Wavelength (talk) 02:01, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
How about the meaning of life and philosophy of philosophy? ~AH1(TCU) 22:05, 7 July 2010 (UTC)

A good place to start learning the value of pi is 3.14...... but man is not meant to know its actual value. And it gets worse. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 22:54, 7 July 2010 (UTC)

That's not really true. Firstly, we can write an exact statement of pi's precise value - but it's in the language of arithmetic and not a list of digits:
\pi = \sum_{k=0}^\infty \frac{1}{16^k} \left( \frac{4}{8k + 1} - \frac{2}{8k + 4} - \frac{1}{8k + 5} - \frac{1}{8k + 6}\right),
It's not that we don't know the value of it - it means that we can only state that value in certain ways. However, with the above equation and a moderately powerful computer, you can find any specific digit you like (the quadrillionth digit of pi in binary notation is a zero!) - and you can rapidly generate as many digits of pi as you could possibly have space in your brain to retain.
What I said is really true. You just provided an unending infinite series which is a recipe that can never be completed. My brain capacity need not concern you. BTW please sign your posts. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 18:54, 9 July 2010 (UTC)
Somewhat analogously, you might claim that we can never know the value of 1/9, because its decimal expansion is 0.1111..., "an unending infinite series which is a recipe that can never be completed".
Come on, that's just silly. We know exactly the value of π. Its value is exactly π. We can't characterize that in terms of the zero of a polynomial whose coefficients are integers. So what? --Trovatore (talk) 21:47, 9 July 2010 (UTC)
To write "pi" or π is to give a symbol not a value. The subject of pi and Transcendental numbers in general is not silly. They comprise an uncountably infinite set that still pose open problems. Already in the third century BC, Archimedes calculated Numerical approximations of π knowing that its actual value is unattainable. An unsigned friend posted the Bailey–Borwein–Plouffe formula above; it happens that I am the editor who wrote this contribution about another method. Your question "So what?" is a philosophical enquiry that probably goes beyond what the OP expects here. Faced with List of topics related to π I don't know how to begin answering it. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 12:13, 10 July 2010 (UTC)
"A symbol not a value". What's a "value"? Is 1/9 a symbol or a value, and why? For that matter, is 1 a symbol or a value, and why? Literally speaking, 1 is a symbol, but it has a value, the underlying Platonic reality represented by the symbol. The same is true for π. So maybe the real question is, what do you mean by "knowing" the value.
But pretty much however you answer that, your claim is still silly. There is nothing unknowable about π. You can't know all its rational approximations, individually, all at once, but only because you don't have time. By the same token, you can't know all the digits of the decimal expansion of 1/9 all at once, even though they're all the same; the fact that they're all the same is a rule, not the digits themselves. If you want a rule for the digits of π, that you can have, although it's more complicated than the rule for the digits of 1/9. --Trovatore (talk) 19:22, 10 July 2010 (UTC)
Knowing a numerical value means being able to say whether it is smaller, larger or equal to any other value you may be given. You agree that the accuracy of a calculated approximation of a transcendental number is limited. That means its True Value lies somewhere in a range. You know only the range. If someone names an exact number inside that range, you are unable to say whether it is smaller, larger or equal to your transcendental number. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 00:42, 11 July 2010 (UTC)
Say whether it is smaller or larger than any value? That seems just to push the question of "knowing" a value to "being given" a value. I could claim that by your criterion you don't know the value of 1, because you don't know whether it's greater or less than the value fnord, which is defined as follows: fnord = 0 if the continuum hypothesis holds and 2 if it does not. (Apologies if you personally know the truth value of CH, which is not forbidden in principle.)
But assuming that you mean being able to say whether it's greater or less than any rational value, specified as a ratio of numerals, then by your criterion we do know the value of π, because given any rational number, we can indeed say whether it is greater, less than, or equal to π. --Trovatore (talk) 00:53, 11 July 2010 (UTC)
The expression I gave for pi comprises only constants and standard arithmetic operators - it is (in an abstract sense) no different from 1/9 - which is also just a way of describing how to calculate all of those infinite digits. Your objection to the fact that my expression is an infinite series is merely notational. If our mathematics had a symbol ('@' maybe) that meant 'sum over an infinite range' or whatever - then the expression for pi could be just as simple as 1/9. The divide operator...like '@'...requires a potentially infinite sequence of operations to calculate the result. We could easily imagine a mathematical notation that didn't have a divide operator and required you to express division as a potentially infinite series. We don't even have to go far to find such a notation because early computers didn't have a divide instruction and had to be programmed to do 'long division' explicitly. The arithmetic notation for those machines required the evaluation of a potentially infinite series of shift-and-subtract operations. On an Intel 8008 computer, division is every bit as computationally complex as evaluating a series expansion for pi. SteveBaker (talk) 05:13, 11 July 2010 (UTC)
Sort of wish you'd be more careful whom you're calling "you". By indentation this appears to be a response to me, but by content it's apparently to Cuddlyable. --Trovatore (talk) 10:23, 11 July 2010 (UTC)
Numerical values are absolute but the number bases used to express them are arbitrary. For example the same value can be expressed in binary, octal, decimal, hexadecimal or any other base you choose. @Trovatore the value 1/9 that you introduced would in a base-3 system (i.e. 0, 1, 2, 10, 11, 12, 20, ...) be written 0.01. Thus the usual recurring expression is not an intrinsic feature of the value, it is only a consequence of your 10 fingers. Our article on Fnord calls it the typographic representation of disinformation or irrelevant information intending to misdirect. It hardly belongs in an answer to the OP who seems to ask about what man as in mankind is not meant to know, not how one man can represent a lack of information in a nonsensical term. I posted "any other value" without limiting it to a ratio of numerals. In fact you cannot say how a ratio of numerals relates to pi if its value lies inside the approximation range that you have actually been able to find in estimating pi. @SteveBaker thank you for signing your post this time. Please note Trovatore's wish. An infinite summation cannot be executed by a real computer. As a state machine its operations are predetermined and therefore knowable, i.e. nothing that man is not meant to know. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 16:45, 11 July 2010 (UTC)
OK, I'm responding to the key claim above, which is you cannot say how a ratio of numerals relates to pi if its value lies inside the approximation range that you have actually been able to find in estimating pi. That's simply false. Here's how you do it: You throw away the approximation you had, and go get a better one. --Trovatore (talk) 21:49, 11 July 2010 (UTC)
The better approximation becomes in its turn "the approximation range that you have actually been able to find in estimating pi". The claim stands. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 11:55, 12 July 2010 (UTC)
Here's what you said: Knowing a numerical value means being able to say whether it is smaller, larger or equal to any other value you may be given. That you can do for π, at least if a ratio of numerals is sufficient to "give" a value. I can write a fixed computer program that, if you input to it an arbitrary ratio of numerals, will figure out how good an approximation it needs, get an approximation that good, and decide whether π is greater or less than the rational number specified. What else do you want? --Trovatore (talk) 19:34, 12 July 2010 (UTC)
I would like your magic gift of writing a program that figures out the difference between a value and a continually improvable approximation before it finds a sufficiently tight approximation range. There is no limit to the word length of the numerals used in the ratio. They can cause your computer to run out of precision and/or time chasing unreachable pi. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 17:46, 13 July 2010 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Ah hah, so as I understand it you want to do this with bounded memory, is that correct? Essentially you want to feed the numerals in on tapes of unbounded length, but then decide with a finite deterministic automaton whether their ratio is greater or less than π. Why the tapes can be of unbounded length (which they have to be, to make sense of the question at all), but your machine is allowed only bounded memory, is somewhat unclear, but hey, it's your game.

OK, then, I'm afraid you're going to have to say that the real number 3 is unknowable. I don't have a proof off the top of my head, but I seriously doubt there's any way using an FDA to decide whether the ratio of the two numerals (specified in unary, binary, or decimal) is greater or less than 3.

If you specify the numerals in base 3, or base a power of 3, maybe you can do it; it would be strange to have the knowability depend on the base. But for any base you're going to have trouble with 2/3, I think, since no base can be simultaneously a power of 2 and a power of 3. --Trovatore (talk) 21:19, 13 July 2010 (UTC)

Ah, on reflection I was wrong about unary. You just chunk along the two tapes, going three tally marks (ungits?) per cycle on one tape, and two per cycle on the other, and see which one finishes first. I still think I was right about the other bases, though.
So I guess if you use unary, rationals are "knowable" while irrationals are "unknowable", in this particular sense of the word. Not sure why you think transcendentals are any more unknowable than algebraic irrationals, though. Also you will probably agree that most people will not find intuitive the claim that a number like 0.101001000100001000001... (pattern hopefully obvious) is "unknowable". --Trovatore (talk) 08:16, 14 July 2010 (UTC)
As optimistic as Moore's law is about computer memory capacity, you will have to wait a while before you get a computer with unbounded memory. It is your idea and not mine to disprove my statement with a physical computer. My initial statement concerned only pi and, via a link, the other transcendentals. I don't think a number is a transcendental just because its expression is a Recurring decimal so I do not claim those numbers are unknowable. The term "any value" encompasses infinitely many values. Ratios of natural numbers are denumerable and individually knowable. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 13:50, 14 July 2010 (UTC)
Well, you just haven't given any justification whatsoever to the idea that a number is unknowable because it's specifically transcendental. That was and remains just silly. --Trovatore (talk) 17:11, 14 July 2010 (UTC)
Have too. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 18:28, 14 July 2010 (UTC)
Well, then, it escaped my attention. You'll have to point me to it. All the specific things you did say on the question would apply, at the very least, to algebraic irrationals with equal force.
This is nothing personal. I just want to stamp out this pervasive, entrenched, and quite utterly unsupported meme. --Trovatore (talk) 19:22, 14 July 2010 (UTC)
Just pi. Good luck on your crusade. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 21:07, 14 July 2010 (UTC)
Just pi? What's so specially unknowable about pi? You still have not addressed that point whatsoever; not even a crumb of a hint, not a single word about it. --Trovatore (talk) 21:09, 14 July 2010 (UTC)
Try the Mathematics Ref. Desk. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 00:14, 15 July 2010 (UTC)
I'm asking you. You made a ludicrous assertion and have yet to offer any support for it whatsoever. --Trovatore (talk) 00:51, 15 July 2010 (UTC)
I didn't read that. I'm not here. I did not say this. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 10:44, 15 July 2010 (UTC)

The original post is ambiguous. The statement "I want to learn some of the things man was not meant to know." can refer to learning certain questions, but it can also refer to learning the answers to those questions. It was with the second interpretation in mind that I made my two previous replies.—Wavelength (talk) 16:03, 8 July 2010 (UTC)

The original post was philosophical trolling (better than many forms of trolling, mind you, but still...). --Ludwigs2 16:50, 8 July 2010 (UTC)

Time[edit]

If an American show starts at "9/8c" what time is that in GMT? 82.43.90.93 (talk) 15:09, 6 July 2010 (UTC)

9 eastern time is normally UTC - 5, right? Except that this time of year it's UTC - 4, due to American clocks being set ahead an hour for daylight saving time. UTC doesn't use DST. So the depends on what time of year it is. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 15:12, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
Which I just confirmed by comparing the posted UTC with my computer clock. During daylight saving, as now, the eastern zone is UTC - 4 and the central zone is UTC - 5. During standard time, eastern zone would be UTC - 5 and central zone UTC - 6. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 15:15, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
So to answer the OP's question, during the summer a show at 9/8c would be on at 1 in the morning UTC (which is functionally the same as GMT, right?) and during the winter it would be at 2 in the morning UTC. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 15:21, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
If the OP really means to ask, "What time will the show start in the UK?", then he or she has to take into account British Summer Time (BST), which is in effect this month (as is its equivalent, daylight saving time, in the United States). So if the question is "What time will the show start in the UK?", the answer would be 2 in the morning during both summer and winter. (It would also be 2 in the morning most of the spring and autumn, except for the third and fourth weeks of March and the first week of November, when daylight saving time is in effect in the United States but summer time is not in effect in the UK. During those three weeks, the same show would come on at 1 in the morning in the UK.) Marco polo (talk) 17:29, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
To clarify one other detail, a U.S. show that starts at "9/8 Central" would start at 1:00 (a.m.) on the following calendar date, GMT/UTC. So if the U.S. show starts on a Tuesday evening, it will start very early Wednesday morning GMT. Marco polo (talk) 17:33, 6 July 2010 (UTC)

So far people have assumed that "9/8c" means 9:00 pm ET, 8:00 pm CT. There are two unjustified assumptions in that. First, the times could be AM. Then the UT time would be 13:00 or 14:00 (depending on the time of year as above).

Second and more important, it is common for the US networks to feed shows twice, once for the Eastern and Central time zones, and again 3 hours later for Pacific Time. "9/8c" usually means 9:00 ET or PT, 8:00 CT. So if it's summer and the show is at 9:00 PM ET, or 01:00 UT the next day, then it will typically be broadcast again for the Pacific time zone 3 hours later, at 9:00 PM PT or 04:00 UT. (The reason they don't advertise any time for the Mountain time zone, which is in between Central and Pacific, is that in that time zone practice varies from place to place and possibly from show to show.) --Anonymous, 18:56 UTC, July 6, 2010.

Standard practice on American TV would indicate 9 eastern and 8 central. It could be AM or PM, yes. And when it's on in the UK depends on what it is. If it's live coverage of the World Cup or something, then it would be on at 6 pacific, and 1 (am or pm) UTC. If it's a rebroadcast, all bets are off as regards UK coverage. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 19:36, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
Live coverage, that's different. "9/8c" is commonly used for other shows with the meaning I indicated. Nobody was asking about "when it's on in the UK". UK time isn't UTC during summer time anyway. --Anon, 7e/6c or 23:00 UTC, July 6, 2010.
The original question was, "If an American show starts at "9/8c" what time is that in GMT?" Assuming we can equate UTC to GMT, the answer is, "In summer, it's either 13:00 that same day, or 01:00 the next day, depending on whether 9/8c A.M. or P.M. is meant. In winter, it would be 14:00 that same day, or 02:00 the next day." ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 23:23, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
No, you are assuming that 9 means 9 Eastern. As I have explained, it usually means 9 Eastern or Pacific. --Anon, 05:44 UTC, July 7, 2010.
I've been watching American TV for decades, and in the Midwest at least, 9/8c always means "9 eastern, 8 central", which means they are actually on at the same absolute time. They seldom announce Pacific except when it's a live event: "9 eastern, 8 central, 6 pacific". They generally never announce mountain, for reasons discussed earlier. And if you're already in the pacific zone, there's no reason to list the central time schedule. "9/8c" meaning "9 pacific, 8 central", would be useless information on the west coast. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 11:43, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
You're missing the point, which is that the ad or announcement of "9, 8 Central" goes to the whole country and you're expected to just disregard the part that doesn't apply to you. You, instead, are misinterpreting it as implying ET. Similarly in Canada, shows may be announced as "8:00, 8:30 in Newfoundland". That means 8:00 AT, ET, CT, MT, and PT (five separate feeds), but Newfoundland gets the AT feet so it's 8:30 NT. It does not mean "8:00 AT, 8:30 NT" with everyone else ignored. --Anonymous, 23:49 UTC, July 7, 2010.
Given that theory, there are two different answers to the OP's question, since the UTC time for 9 eastern is 3 hours different from 9 pacific. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 13:26, 8 July 2010 (UTC)

Maximum height for a cat flap[edit]

We have a cat, who sleeps in the garage and has a cat flap so she can go outside. At night we shut the door from the garage to the house, but during the day it is usually left open for her to come upstairs. I'd like to put another cat flap in it, so the door can be shut in the winter. Trouble is, that door meets an 18cm step on the inside. The cat flap on the garage side would have to be 18cm off the ground. Is that too high for an adult cat to push open? Cod Lover Oil (talk) 15:29, 6 July 2010 (UTC)

Well, so long as the cat has something to stand on in order to push the cat-flap open, you can have the flap anywhere, theoretically. If you can, why not attach a wooden step to the bottom of the door on the garage-side, enabling the cat to reach higher? 18cm is not very high, in my opinion, but it would depend on the size of your cat. --KägeTorä - (影虎) (TALK) 17:48, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
Even an elderly cat can climb stairs, and the rise from one step to the next is more than 18 cm. She'd have no problem with a cat door that far off the ground. --Anonymous, 18:58 UTC, July 6, 2010.

Where is this?[edit]

Where is this? Reticuli88 (talk) 17:56, 6 July 2010 (UTC)

Cape Town and Table Mountain. Mikenorton (talk) 18:02, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
It is also an astonishing 360-degree panorama for anyone who likes to take a look. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 18:26, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
That's pretty damn cool, is what that is. -FisherQueen (talk · contribs) 19:09, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
That is a pretty freaking amazing find! To be precise it looks likes the picture was taken from Signal Hill (since Table Mountain is actually in the image). You might also want to check out The highest definition picture of Cape Town ever taken. Zunaid 09:44, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
I'm not able to view this image in work due to system restrictions, but if it's as good as it sounds is it worth someone uploading it to wikipedia with the owner's permission, and maybe even presenting it to VPC of even FPC? Just a thought... Gazhiley (talk) 12:52, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
It's as good an excuse to install Flash as I've ever seen. Really quite amazing, and it can make you dizzy! --Stephan Schulz (talk) 14:21, 8 July 2010 (UTC)
I found something just as brilliant: 360° panoramas of all the World Cup stadia. Zunaid 10:14, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
Brilliant indeed! The clarity is amazing. The ability to zoom in across the stadium and actually see people in the seats with such definition is great. 10draftsdeep (talk) 13:54, 7 July 2010 (UTC)

Is there a gardener in the house?[edit]

Dear all. We're both massive fans of gooseberries. We love those sour little beasties! I was raised on gooseberry jam, and introduced Wanda to the phenomenon that is the gooseberry on our first date. We've been growing two gooseberry bushes for the past three years - they're like a pet to me! Except not as noisy as one of those little flat-faced dogs. They've only started to bear fruit in this third season. However, one of our bushes has been struck by the dreaded gooseberry sawfly, who've eaten all the leaves off one bush, and are attacking the other. I'm distraught! I've only got a very old Readers Digest gardening book, which recommends I spray them with some kind of pesticide to kill the little blighters. I couldn't do that. We're sticking to organic principles in our garden, and neither of us could bring outselves to poison a caterpillar - I perhaps could if it has committed a horrible crime. So, is there any organic way we can remove the sawfly from our beloved bushes? Yours, Artie and Wanda (talk) 18:52, 6 July 2010 (UTC)

Again but slowly please Artie. What have little flat-faced dogs started to do? Cuddlyable3 (talk) 19:20, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
Spraying your bushes with urine might work, if that conforms to your organic principles. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 19:27, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
I don't think that urine is a deterrent to most insects, though, diluted and poured around the base of the plant, it can be a good fertilizer. However, there are ways to control pests organically. Have a look at this article, for example. There is also a useful article at the ehow dot com domain. After typing "http://www dot ehow dot com" (substituting actual dots for the words and deleting the spaces) insert the following text: "/how_4392945_control-sawflies-organically.html". (I have to give you the URL this way because Wikipedia has blacklisted the entire ehow domain, though this article seems worthy to me.) Both articles refer to nematodes, a type of tiny worm, which you can breed and which will attack and kill the caterpillars. Ultimately, you may have to choose between the caterpillars and the gooseberries. The second article mentions techniques that will help prevent the caterpillars from threatening your bushes in the first place. Marco polo (talk) 19:39, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
We live in an environment where all living things are striving to survive. They do this by eating and mating (slight oversimplification) The sawflies on your gooseberries are competing with you for that lovely vegetative resource. The sawflies operate at a pretty low intellectual level, like they'll keep eating until something or somebody removes them and/or kills them (or they move on to the next development stage). They probably think you planted the bushes for them. That is nature! You will have to remove them to stop them eating your gooseberry bushes and you can do this by several methods. First, ask them politely to leave. If that doesn't work then pick them off one by one, and transfer them to another gooseberry bush some mile or two hence. If that does not appeal to you then apply some larvacidal dust or liquid to kill them. Killing resource opponents is quite natural and occurs widely in nature. If you think that you are going to share your gooseberries with the sawflies then you will be disappointed - sawflies don't do sharing!! They'll eat all the leaves and let you have the underdeveloped fruit. I advise you to get a grip and deal with the little b*****ds. They are not a threatened species. Caesar's Daddy (talk) 07:15, 7 July 2010 (UTC)

Encouraging insect eating birds, like sparrows, great tits and starlings to live and breed in your garden by setting up birdboxes may be beneficial, although of course it is too late in your current situation. --Saddhiyama (talk) 08:39, 7 July 2010 (UTC)

Watch out, some bird like berries too. Googlemeister (talk) 15:00, 7 July 2010 (UTC)

Will ladybugs eat sawfly larvae? They're amazing little critters. Everard Proudfoot (talk) 21:58, 7 July 2010 (UTC)

Ah, contract killing you mean? 86.4.183.90 (talk) 06:58, 8 July 2010 (UTC)
In a way, yes. I know they're good for aphids. Everard Proudfoot (talk) 07:18, 8 July 2010 (UTC)
I suspect that ladybugs would not be effective against sawfly larvae. The larvae tend to be larger than ladybugs, and their mouthparts tend to be larger, too. I think that they would intimidate ladybugs. Marco polo (talk) 19:46, 8 July 2010 (UTC)

wut do the other countries think of american football!!!![edit]

NOTE: Just a placeholder with original title, to avoid breaking links. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 09:39, 9 July 2010 (UTC)

what do the other countries think of american football[edit]

Hi please. I would like to know please what the other countrys that play football (which is also called soccer) think of the American version of football. I woul espeially liek to read a funny essay by a british man or maybe from some other country who writes about a foreigner perception of football in a very humorous manner! If u know about an article or essay i can read about this thing I will be happy indeed thanks.--69.114.214.58 (talk) 19:07, 6 July 2010 (UTC)

Our article on American Football includes a section on its presence outside the United States. As for non-US commentary, the BBC runs a weekly NFL column. Its archives may be found here. — Lomn 20:51, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
One advantage of American football is that the spectators and players actually know how much time is left in the game. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 20:53, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
I don't get the above joke. Comet Tuttle (talk) 21:12, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
Unless they've changed the rules (I don't watch soccer unless I need to catch a nap), the only ones in the stadium who know the actual amount of time left in the period are the officials. It used to be that way in the NFL too. The NFL switched to using the stadium clock in 1970 or so. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 21:25, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
Ah. But nobody knows how much time is left in an NFL game, either. Is a football game 3 hours or 4 hours? Overtime? How many times have we seen the NFL game pre-empt a regularly scheduled program? Or, worse, the other way around? Comet Tuttle (talk) 19:51, 8 July 2010 (UTC)
The World Cup stadia do not display the score or the time remaining in the game, which was a bone of contention in this week's Monday Morning Quarterback column. And yeah, Bugs is (more relevantly) correct about the indefinite game duration, too. — Lomn 21:26, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
(ec)Football_(soccer)#Duration_and_tie-breaking_methods may help. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 21:29, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
The contempt shown toward the fans, by refusing to inform them of the time remaining, is one reason to dislike soccer. Corrupt officiating is another. That's above and beyond how boring the game itself is, but the latter is obviously a matter of personal taste. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots
Knowing how much time left is, at least in the World Cup tournament, trivially easy for anyone with a wristwatch and a brain. Each half lasts 45 minutes plus added time for injury and stoppages, which is always a round number of minutes, rarely more that 5. The added time is both displayed by the Fourth Official and announced over the tannoy (stadium PA) at the end of the 45 minutes. The nature and scale of the game and pitch mean that, unlike some other sports such as Basketball, the exact number of seconds remaining to the whistle is rarely critical. The only significant uncertainty might be any extra added time the Referee decides to add for further injuries and stoppages during the added time itself, again rare. Where's the problem? 87.81.230.195 (talk) 08:19, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
I have a vague memory of some British commentator saying that American football was just rugby for wimps (all that padding, you know), but I can't place it for the life of me. --Ludwigs2 21:09, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
There's this - but, in general, I'm not sure that anyone outside the US really cares enough to make jokes about it. :-) Ghmyrtle (talk) 21:26, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
Certainly almost no one in the U.S. cares enough about soccer to make jokes out of it. What I said elsewhere here pretty much summarizes the situation. It's boring and corrupt, so why care? In any case, I think of Rugby as an improvement on soccer, and American Football as an improvement on Rugby. :) ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 00:27, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
The thing is Bugs...soccer is the single most popular field sport in the entire world...and not by some small measure. Your complaints may or may not be valid - but something like 99% of the world disagrees with you! I suspect that part of the reason is that any random group of kids with any kind of a ball (or even an empty soda can or a scrunched up sheet of newspaper) can play it. You can use two piles of rocks or two piles of coats for a goal - the game is fun with as few as 5 and as many as 20 players on each side and a 5 minute game is as much fun as an hour long game. You don't need any equipment to play - so even the poorest kids play it. And it's safe for kids of all ages - very few kids get hurt playing knock-around-soccer. When everyone grows up playing it - it becomes something you remain interested in into adulthood. SteveBaker (talk) 03:18, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
Steve, it should be obvious that the USA has 5% of the population, so 99% does not disagree. Googlemeister (talk) 14:51, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
I don't question that soccer is a great game for kids to play. They can run around all day, and they don't have to be any particular size. And what you're describing is how the kids of the Dominican Republic play baseball when they have minimal equipment - they improvise with what they have or can find. I just don't find soccer interesting to watch, I don't like the clock mystery, and I don't understand the game's appeal in general, especially that shootout to determine a winner, which is about as "sissy" a way to determine a winner as I can imagine. But the game is slowly growing in popularity in the U.S. Cricket, on the other hand, is an excellent sport and is to India what soccer is to a lot of other countries. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 06:10, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
You can't really play baseball without at least a moderately round ball and a bat. The "shootout" thing is only used in competitions like the World Cup where it's impossible or impractical to have a re-match to decide a draw. Regular season soccer has ties that are not broken. World Cup soccer is definitely not the pinaccle of the sport. SteveBaker (talk) 00:02, 9 July 2010 (UTC)
This compares American Football with Rugby, which is the usual approach when someone in Britain says anything about American Football. See also, this article which I'm sure I've seen better formatted somewhere. Here's someone allegedly explaining American Football, which might be the sort of thing you're after. 86.164.57.20 (talk) 22:09, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
Some Google searching should be able to find plenty of examples in forums and the like. There was a column on the Telegraph newspaper's website by a 20-something writer the paper had apparently hired to seem "down with the kids" that, in a very unintellectual way, derided the big American sports. Generally, if you scout the Internet for foreign views of American football, you find two major complaints: 1) The players are sissies because they wear all that padding, whereas rugby players don't and 2) The game is tedious because most of the time, the ball is not in play. The first criticism is, of course, absurd to anyone who is actually familiar with the game, which is perhaps the most brutal team sport on earth in terms of the physical pounding its players receive. The second attack on the sport is a logical response from someone used to watching sports like soccer or rugby where the action is continuous and has no idea what he's seeing when he turns on an NFL game and sees the players standing around in a huddle. What someone coming to the game with no context might not understand is that American football is made up of discrete segments called "plays" or "downs," which take place 25-40 seconds apart -- any faster and there would be no time to make substitutions and choose a play for the next down. This is intuitive to Americans who have grown up watching the sport, but you can imagine that if you come to it with no prior knowledge of the game, it would seem odd. And of course, NFL games have a ridiculous amount of commercial breaks, which are annoying even for Americans, but must be especially aggravating to a European used to watching sports with no ads except at halftime. -- Mwalcoff (talk) 22:24, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
American Football is, in some sense, the perfect sport for network television. You get fairly regularly spaced commercial breaks, and you've got a gazillion cameras covering everything so you can have 27 different replays of the guy "breaking the plane" or breaking someone's head. It's interesting to go to an NFL game "live" and observe it from the fan perspective instead of the TV perspective. It's not just a game, it's an event. And as with soccer, the fans are rowdy, at least by American standards. And as noted, we know how much time is left in the game. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 23:16, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
In Australia soccer is not football either, as the real football is Australian rules football or may be Rugby League or Rugby Union but the American football occasionally appears on TV, treated as a strange foreign sport. Graeme Bartlett (talk) 00:18, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
It always amuses me the fact that they call American "football" a sport that would be more aptly named American "handmelon". --Belchman (talk) 01:21, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
American football used to be more of a kicking game than it is now. Before they started producing quarterbacks that could throw 80-yard rainbows (i.e. before they slimmed down the ball to make forward passing easier), kicking to advance the ball downfield was a more common strategy, and scoring by dropkick was not so unusual. You'll see strategic kicking sometimes nowadays, too, for example with what they call a "pooch punt", although kicks on anything other than fourth down or end-of-half are quite rare. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 01:36, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
However, field goal and extra point kicking are still very important. In fact, the typical leading scorers in a given season are kickers. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 01:39, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
Aha, I see. Thanks! --Belchman (talk) 01:58, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
In the UK, if we think about it at all (which we don't, much) we're deeply unimpressed. It's really just like Rugby football but with wussy helmets and lots more padding! Watch a really good pair of teams play Rugby - it's a VASTLY more dynamic, interesting game. The biggest issue with US football is that it's designed around TV adverts - so there are lots of stop-start plays, lots of standing around waiting for people to sell people stuff.
This seems to be a problem for almost all American sports. Basketball is just "netball" which 12 year old girls play in school in the UK. Baseball is just 'rounders' (which, again is predominantly a girls game in the UK). Even seemingly macho things like Nascar racing is just a boring oval track designed such as to allow the maximum paying audience to get the minimum amount of excitement - and it sucks all of the joy out of motorsports like rally driving, formula one and saloon car racing. Watching a bunch of wildly mismatched MINIs, Porsches and BMW's zip around Brand's hatch is incredibly exciting. Monster truck shows are...puzzling...going to one of them is well worth the experience, everyone needs to do that once - but I can't imagine wanting to see it twice. More accessible games are just as bad. Pool is just like Snooker and Billiards - but dumbed down with all of the cunning intellectual parts sucked out of it. My biggest disappointment is with my favorite sport "Air racing"...but sadly, US air racing has been deemed too dangerous so the airplanes fly around the course one at a time against the clock with restrictions on every manouver - rather than the swooping mad chaos it's supposed to be.
I suppose golf and tennis translate reasonably well.
SteveBaker (talk) 03:18, 7 July 2010 (UTC)

We think it's funny you guys get so worked up about a sport we consider to be a game for women and children. :) -- Mwalcoff (talk) 23:27, 7 July 2010 (UTC)

This reference desk is deteriorating into a discussion forum!!!! The OP was invalid!! —Preceding unsigned comment added by Caesar's Daddy (talkcontribs) 06:59, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
I don't understand why the time remaining in the game is so important to Bugs. There really is no great mystery as to the length of the game. The injury time (almost always less than 5 minutes) is well notified to the TV and live audiences towards the end of each half. Some competitions such as the World Cup have extra time and a penalty shootout to resolve tied scores for important games. Otherwise, a draw is a perfectly valid result; a result which gains fewer points than a win - the points are accumulated for position in the league.
As for american football, it amazes me that the clock is stopped after each play, such that it can take 3 hours to play a game of 4 x 15 minute quarters, and play is halted so suit TV advert schedules (what do the stadium crowd do while the ads are on TV?). Equally surprising the entire team can be swapped out, so the game is not really affected by fatigued players (extra time in football means playing on with the same players, and tiredness can become a large factor in the result). Astronaut (talk) 08:35, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
OK, as long as we're correcting one another on the rules, the clock is not stopped on every play. The clock is stopped on an incomplete forward pass, or when the ball goes out of bounds, and in a few rarer circumstances. When the ball carrier is brought down inside the field of play, the clock ordinarily continues running.
I do kind of agree on the substitution thing. My father "played both sides of the ball" in high school, as did everyone; at that time a player who was substituted for could not come back in the same quarter, or maybe the same half; not exactly sure. Would be cool to see a return of the legendary "sixty-minute man".
As for the reason the time remaining in a soccer game is so important to Bugs, I can't speak for him, but for me it feels very fishy — what if the time runs out during a scoring chance? I have heard that they will ordinarily not stop the game in the middle of a strong chance, but that seems awfully subjective for such an enormous determining factor. --Trovatore (talk) 09:43, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
I think you've just revealed what's really going on, and why they keep the time to themselves, and it is indeed contemptuous. It's got to do with how the officials control the game. The players and the fans are at the mercy of the officials' whims. By not letting the fans and players know precisely what's going on with the clock, they maintain their power - as well as leaving the door open for corruption, as we've seen. That might be the core problem with soccer in the USA - that referees are supposed to uphold the rules, not make up the rules as they go along. Being at the mercy of a "king" may be just fine in countries that love soccer, but in the USA it doesn't cut it. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 11:38, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
I'm 100% sure you're wrong. The deal is that in a traditional, classic English soccer game, there used to be no electronic scoreboard and no TV cameras - and the ref had to keep time by looking at his wrist watch. Since he also has to watch for a dozen other important infractions and other problems, it's very likely that he won't be able to look at his watch every second to nail the end time perfectly. In some classes of the game, he also mentally adds up "injury time" and adds that to the end of the game. If he's watching an 'active play' - he can't keep looking at his watch or he'll miss something important. So it's better to write the rules such that the referee can have some flexibility and we don't have a bunch of lawyers arguing about it. British sports are supposed to be gentlemanly - you aren't suppose to suspect the referee of all people of being corrupt. In more modern times, we could easily do all of this electronically - and perhaps we should - but this aspect of the game really doesn't seem to concern the fans in the slightest. The probability of a few seconds here or there turning out to decide a game is really tiny - and games that are so incredibly close that a goal right at the end of 'time' makes a difference are probably between teams which are sufficiently equal that the result is essentially random anyway. SteveBaker (talk) 00:02, 9 July 2010 (UTC)
The NFL used to do it that way also. One of the innovations of the AFL was to keep the official time on the scoreboard clock so fans wouldn't have to guess. When the leagues merged, that innovation was retained. Why soccer insists on their archaic approach is hard to say, but it's just one more reason not to like soccer. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 00:07, 9 July 2010 (UTC)
As long as we're trading nationalisms here, I'll permit myself to say that in my opinion American football is the greatest spectator sport ever invented. Emphasis on "spectator", because if I'm actually going to play, I'd rather play almost anything else.
The reason it's such a fascinating spectator sport is the concept of the "drive", which as far as I know does not exist in any other sport. A drive is a sustained effort towards a goal, that can last ten minutes or more with lots of mini-dramas inside it, but that can end at any moment in triumph (breaking through for a touchdown) or disaster (a turnover going for six the other way). Emotionally, football is a novel, whereas basketball or soccer (opposite ends of the scoring spectrum but similar in lengths of possessions) are collections of short stories. (In the case of soccer, most of the short stories don't really go anywhere.)
There are some sports that manage to get something similar to the profile of tension and catharsis provided by football by artifices of the scoring (tennis, volleyball with side-out scoring). Baseball has men on base attempting to steal, which has some of the same flavor, but just doesn't happen that often. Football really stands alone at the top of the heap in this regard. --Trovatore (talk) 08:46, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
As other editors have commented, what you're looking for is rugby football (either rugby union or rugby league), which combines the physical contact and "drive" aspects of American football - and quite frequent scoring - with an absence of physical padding and helmets, and an absence of advertising breaks. The downside may be that, once a significant lead has been established in a match, much of the tension of wondering who will win drains away. Ghmyrtle (talk) 09:05, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
Rugby has drives? I don't think so. As I understand it, once you're stopped in rugby, you have to give up the ball. How can you have a drive in those conditions? --Trovatore (talk) 09:08, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
Without getting into arcane questions of rules, it depends on which side has caused the play to be stopped (for instance, for foul play). In practice, pressure is often maintained in the same part of the field for periods of several minutes, despite technical stoppages - but if the attacking team infringes the rules, the pressure is indeed immediately relieved. Ghmyrtle (talk) 09:15, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
(ec) You are mistaken. The player tackled has to give up the ball, but the resulting ruck almost always leaves the ball back in the hands of the attacking team. Tackles leading to turnovers aren't much more common than in american football. (That's in Union; in League it's more formalized, with the ball being returned to the attacking team after each tackle until the sixth, when there's a turnover) Algebraist 09:17, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
Hm, perhaps. I haven't really watched enough rugby to know.
Just the same, the division into discrete plays is also an advantage of football. It gives punctuation to the game and makes it more strategic, or at least makes it feel more strategic. And it gives you a chance to get up and get another beer, or hit the head. --Trovatore (talk) 09:27, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
Thanks you to everyone who answer my question, especialy ppl who gave some quotes and links & things of this nature. [personal attack redacted] (u can delete this if it is to much incivility thx). I like the referene desk a lot. :-D --69.114.214.58 (talk) 13:17, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
I think this little discussion, while probably inappropriate for the Reference Desk, demonstrates what I said above. British people turn on American football, they think they're seeing an equivalent to rugby, because that's what they're used to. They see the constant stopping of plays and all the padding and think, "This is stupid. Anyone would know in a second that rugby is a far superior sport." What they don't understand is that while American football evolved from rugby, it turned into a completely different type of sport. You can't watch it with a rugby mindset. American football is all about the play-calling by the coaching staffs -- it's kind of like a combination between rugby and chess. If people talk after an American football game, they're more likely to talk about the play-calling than the action on the field. "What a brilliant move to call an onside kick to open the second half!" "How they be so stupid as to call a screen pass when the other team hadn't blitzed all day!" "I told you they should have punted on fourth-and-1!" Etc. An American who came upon rugby on the TV (unlikely unless he was traveling) would probably say, "This is so stupid! They're all just running around without direction! Where's the strategy?" He would have to learn not to watch the game with an American-football mindset. -- Mwalcoff (talk) 23:23, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
(ec) Yes, nicely put. Though I do think it's a bit unfortunate that play-calling and strategy is now openly done by the staff rather than the players. When my father played, it was a player on the field, usually but not always the quarterback, who handled that. In fact, when you subbed in, you couldn't talk to anyone for one play, to make sure you weren't carrying strategy in from the coaches. (My dad played end, but sometimes was the play caller, because of the coach's respect for his strategic sense.)
There's a saying that to play football, you have to be smart enough to play the game, but not so smart as to realize that it's a bad idea. It is certainly one of the worst sports to take up if your goal is to be walking around pain-free at the age of 55. --Trovatore (talk) 02:32, 8 July 2010 (UTC)
Totally inappropriate soapbox forum, with no effect but to elicit taunts of "My country's sport is better than your country's sport!" This thread should be collapsed so there is more room for appropriate threads. Edison (talk) 02:29, 8 July 2010 (UTC)
It's only sports, it's not the middle east crisis. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 00:07, 9 July 2010 (UTC)
A lot of people in the UK like and follow American football very seriously.The games are shown on TV and 1 game a season(maybe 2 in future) are actually played at Wembley stadium.
As I write this, the World Cup final, the most important soccer game for the next 4 years, is in "extra time", and no one outside the officials has a clue when regulation will end and the inevitable fungo-hitting contest, er, shootout will occur. Shameful. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 20:39, 11 July 2010 (UTC)

Bottom line: What needs to be done to clean up the Gulf?[edit]

It appears that there is a lot of stalling going on Reticuli88 (talk) 22:19, 6 July 2010 (UTC)

That is the billion-dollar question. Reality suggests that nobody actually knows the answer at this point, the blathering of pundits aside. I find very little reason to think that a complete affordable workable solution would be known but not be put into action at this point; thus, I conclude that nobody has a complete affordable workable solution. Note that there may be "solutions" that are complete but not affordable, or affordable but not workable, etc, etc. Certainly we're seeing many things that are affordable and workable but far from complete. — Lomn 22:23, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
The long-term solution is straightforward—nature will eventually clean itself; dilution overpowers all (with the exception of run-away problems). It's the question about what short-term things one wants to do, and what one can do that would have any significant effect. --Mr.98 (talk) 00:50, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
Well, I wanted to agree with our OP - but when I searched for evidence, I found that it's not true. Let's break this down to the various stages of the process:
  • When the oil is on the water, you can skim it off, burn it, or use chemical dispersants. Dispersants are pretty damaging to the sub-sea wildlife. Burning it produces thick black choking smoke - and doesn't work when the oil has be floating around for a while - or in high seas. Skimming is the best answer and they have something like 1000 ships in the area doing one or the other of those things - but the spill currently covers 2500 square miles - and new oil is still spewing out - so that's a gigantic task and no amount of effort will get it all. Most of those ships are converted fishing boats - which helps to keep the boat crews working - but means that the actual amount of oil they can scoop is somewhat limited.
  • To try to stop oil from reaching the beaches and estuaries, you can deploy booms - there isn't enough boom in the entire world to cover the roughly 800 miles of coastline. BP bought and deployed every available section of boom that was for sale - and they are paying the companies that make boom to buy more machinery to quadruple their production - but that's not something that can happen quickly. They have three factories out in Florida repairing damaged boom - which is a full-time job because booms are liable to be damaged in 6' waves. People who claimed that BP had piles of boom that wasn't being deployed were seeing damaged boom that was stacked waiting for repair. However, all the boom in the world won't stop the oil in 6' seas - so this is too is only a partial solution.
  • They have crews out on the ocean inspecting every incoming ship to see if it's oil fouled and they are spraying the oil off of those that are and doing more complicated decontamination procedures for more serious cases. That stops oil from incoming ships from getting closer to the shores...but adds yet more nasty chemicals into the ocean.
  • When the oil hits the beaches, it's pretty much a manual job to clean the stuff up - as of mid-June there were over 20,000 people employed on that task and they are evidently still recruiting. There are about 1000 people employed and another 1000 volunteers cleaning birds and turtles - but I've heard that they don't have enough work to keep them all busy because more birds are coming in dead than alive.
  • When oil hits the wetlands, marshes and everglades, there is very little (if anything) that can be done. It's widely agreed that going in there with boats, machinery or even just a lot of people will do more harm than good, dispersants will kill the plants for 100% sure, so that won't work. The idea of making sand burms to block the oil was initially thought to be a smart idea - but with high seas they are ineffective - and in any case there is concern that constructing them causes yet more destruction by undermining the ocean bottoms and stopping the tidal waters from getting nutrients into these places. Basically the best thing you can do is nothing at all.
You need to recalibrate your expectations.
If we look at the history of this kind of thing, getting it shut off in 6 months would be an utter miracle given that the underwater gusher in the Ixtoc I oil spill took the Pemex oil company 9 months to shut off - and that was a much smaller flow at lower pressures and in just 120' of water!
The cleanup is going to take a decade or more. The Exxon Valdez oil spill - which was much less oil and in an equally environmentally sensitive area. That happened in 1989 and despite an army of cleaners, the amount of oil on the beaches declined by only 4% per year.
The fisheries may never recover. A study done 20 years after Exxon Valdez concluded that it would take another 30 years for the area to recover fully. However, that was entirely a surface spill - this one is characterized by layers of sub-surface oil propagating along at depth...we have literally no idea what that will do. We know that some species of deep-water algae will prosper by consuming the oil - but will consume most of the oxygen in the water as a consequence and then be poisonous to animals that eat algae. That suggests a much worse situation than the Exxon spill.
The bottom line is that the only thing that could have been done to substantively improve this situation would have been to not have the disaster in the first place - or to have pre-drilled relief wells on a "just in case" basis - or any number of things that seem obvious with 20/20 hindsight. Given that it's too late for any of those things, we're basically screwed.
But claiming that not enough is being done is a bit of a stretch I think. I recommend going into this with an open mind and reading [8]
SteveBaker (talk) 02:46, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
Just curious here: Why was the site of the sunken rig not surrounded with booms and the skimmer ships sent in, back in April (within a week or so of the initial explosion)? If they has done that the slick wouldn't have spread to 2500 sq miles, it wouldn't be threatening 800 miles of coastline, and they wouldn't have had to order the boom makers to step up production 4-fold. While it might not have caught all the oil, or the layers of sub-surface oil, but it would certainly made it much easier to begin to clean it up. Astronaut (talk) 08:05, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
The oil is coming up from a mile underwater. By the time it eventually reaches the surface, the current and tides have spread it out over a very large area. Plus, boom only works in calm water - and that far out at sea, it's rarely calm enough for the boom to be effective. SteveBaker (talk) 04:30, 8 July 2010 (UTC)
There are currently three major problems or risks posed by the oil spill. One is that in the event of a hurricane passing through the area, which is rather likely this season, BP will have to evacuate its premises, causing 2.5 million gallons of crude oil to spill into the Gulf every day. At this rate, numerous dead zones would be created in the Gulf, creating the risk for red tides and explosive blooms in the population of jellyfish. Another problem is the build-up of methane, and in fact 40% of the matter being released from the oil well is methane, which would be a powerful greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, and may contribute to the methane clathrate problem. One final issue is that ocean currents could carry the oil into the Gulf Stream, where the spill would be much more difficult to control, and dispersants would do more harm than good. Once the oil leaves the Gulf, it will be dilute but has the potential to spread worldwide very quickly. I recently suggested here the use of piston valves to control more of the oil flowing out, but the matter of fact is that BP is simply not reacting to new ideas suggested by the public. ~AH1(TCU) 22:01, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
I'm not sure the clathrate gun theory applies here. If I understand you correctly, you are suggesting that enough gas will be released to measurably raise the temperature of the Earth via greenhouse effects, which is not reasonable in my opinion. TastyCakes (talk) 23:01, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
The problem with ideas from the general public is that they just aren't very good. The situation out there, 5,000' below the surface of the sea is a really alien environment and things happen that 'common sense' just isn't prepared for. SteveBaker (talk) 04:30, 8 July 2010 (UTC)
There certainly is some stalling going on, contrary to what the essay above claims. Last Thursday an article in the Wall Street Journal listed a handful of things that could have been done but weren't, and even a few that still could be done but have been prohibited. Two notable ones from that list are:
  • The EPA has a limit of 15ppm of oil in discharged water. In normal times, this rule controls the amount of pollution that can be added to relatively clean ocean water. Some of the skimmers and tankers could eliminate most of the oil from seawater, but not enough to meet 15ppm -- and so far the EPA has been unwilling to relax this restriction, even temporarily.
  • The Jones Act restricts foreign ships from operating in US coastal waters. Many foreign contries have ships and technologies that would greatly advance the cleanup. So far, the US has refused to waive the restrictions of this law and allow these ships to participate in the effort.
The Taiwanese-owned "A Whale" (the 10-story high ship which can remove almost as much oil in a day as has been removed in total so far), as of last week was steaming towards the Gulf, hoping it will receive Coast Guard and EPA approval before it arrives. It will not be able to do the job it was designed for without relaxing rules 1 and 2.
The link, from last week: http://finance.yahoo.com/banking-budgeting/article/109983/why-is-the-gulf-cleanup-so-slow?mod=bb-budgeting
DaHorsesMouth (talk) 22:25, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
There is some confusion around the Jones Act. Here Thad Allen seems to say the Jones act hasn't impacted anything, but as has been pointed out the WSJ reported that the act was indeed stalling aid. TastyCakes (talk) 23:01, 7 July 2010 (UTC)

In general, I agree with Steve: everything within reason that can be done is being done. I think it's pretty likely that there will be new rules come out of this requiring the drilling of relief wells simultaneously with any deep water drilling. The public will demand change, but an outright ban is likely not on the table and there don't seem to be any other ways to add another layer of protection against such a blowout/BOP failure. TastyCakes (talk) 23:08, 7 July 2010 (UTC)

Yeah - I think we need to carefully examine the whole business of pre-drilled relief wells and having blow-out-preventers that actually work - and taking other measures such as adequate fire extinguishing capability on the rigs themselves. But none of that helps the present situation. The problem is that this kind of thing really doesn't happen very often and it's highly likely that we'd be writing a law to protect ourselves from something that will never happen again anyway. If you look back through List of oil spills, you'll see that almost all of them are either failed land-based pipelines or problems with ships colliding or running aground...the risk of another Exxon Valdiz is much greater than that of another deep water well disaster. Realistically, that's the issue we should be most concerned about.
As a general principle, we need to stop using fossil fuels anyway - I'd rather that the government spend it's efforts into attacking the problem at source rather than messing around with laws about relief wells and blowout preventers. After all, the pollution in the gulf covers maybe 5,000 square kilometers of Earth's 361 million square kilometer ocean surface. Globally speaking, it's utterly negligable. However, the damage done by fossil fuels due to global climate change affects every single square kilometer of both land and ocean - and it's a lot harder to clean up once you've screwed up the upper atmosphere. SteveBaker (talk) 04:30, 8 July 2010 (UTC)
From what American movies have taught me, it will not be fixed until Sylvestor Stallone goes down there and sprays it with several thousand bullets from his over-sized machine gun. 92.24.181.157 (talk) 11:33, 9 July 2010 (UTC)
Not always. It might be Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis or James Bond that does the bullet spraying... Googlemeister (talk) 20:53, 9 July 2010 (UTC)
Incorrect, James Bond would shoot it once with a silencer while wearing a dinner jacket. 92.29.123.127 (talk) 22:53, 9 July 2010 (UTC)
No, silly! It's 5,000' below sea level! Bond will be wearing a wetsuit over his dinner jacket and will take out the pipe with a harpoon gun...at some point he will be attacked by a shark - but that's OK because 'the girl' still has that 8" knife strapped to her thigh. SteveBaker (talk) 04:47, 10 July 2010 (UTC)

Napoleon[edit]

How tall was Napoleon? --138.110.206.99 (talk) 23:46, 6 July 2010 (UTC)

He was 5'7, not really short at all (especially given that people were generally shorter back then due to poor nutrition). See Napoleon#Image. He did become very fat later in his career, which will have made him appear shorter. Cod Lover Oil (talk) 23:54, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
5'7"? That's the same height as Empoleon... --138.110.206.99 (talk) 00:11, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
I once read he was 5'2" or 62 inches. However, if one takes 62 French pouces (each 2.71 cm compared to the 2.54 cm long British inches), you get 1.68 m (about 5'7" in British and US measures). Astronaut (talk) 05:31, 7 July 2010 (UTC)

Fail-deadly systems outside the military[edit]

Are there any real situations outside the military (and other armed security forces) where some technology or procedure is designed to fail-deadly, imposing an automatic punishment on whoever is likely to have caused the failure? Not necessarily something that would hurt anyone or physically destroy stuff, but something that would have an obvious negative effect on the (perceived) guilty party. Cod Lover Oil (talk) 23:50, 6 July 2010 (UTC)

How about those dye packs they put in bags of money at banks to spray blue stuff over whoever steals them? Maybe the snake nut can as punishment for people who try to eat your nuts? SteveBaker (talk) 00:47, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
Security measures at banks are arranged by armed security forces so do not qualify. Any non-lethal non-military Booby trap such as some Practical joke devices sets up a situation where an easily lured person causes a negative effect on themself. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 10:26, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
Several years back (in the nineties) when I was in primary school, there was this plague of kids peeing in swimming pools. The authorities responded with some chemical mixed with the water that was supposed to colour the urine or water around the culprit red once they had started peeing. At that time (I was half the age I am now) we were awed and it was heavily discussed, however, having never seen the actual effect with my eyes, I cannot say whether this was actually implemented. The stuff Steve mentions is/was (supposed to be) used with postmen bearing larger sums of money (it is still commonplace here for postmen to deliver i. e. old age benefit money to the elderly on a monthly basis, as many, many people don't have a bank account), but from what I discovered (by asking) this is usually not the case. --Ouro (blah blah) 11:14, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
Snopes says nopes to there being any reality to the pool pee chemicals. Just a story told to scare kids. --Mr.98 (talk) 11:23, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
Oh. --Ouro (blah blah) 17:55, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
For me the essence of "fail deadly" is the not that it is a booby trap but that it is a mechanism by which the presumed absence of something puts into effect negative consequences. The only example I can think of in a civilian sector at the moment is in the transport of nuclear materials. At least in the 1970s (I assume there is something similar today), if you were transporting an armored car full of plutonium from a reprocessing plant to somewhere else, a guard on the truck had to call in every two hours on a schedule to say that they hadn't been hijacked. The goal of this was that if the van was hijacked, they'd miss their call, and they'd know that something was up and send out a million cops. That's "fail-deadly" in the classic sense. I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't used for other, similarly valuable cargo as well, especially in days when long-range, persistent communications were difficult. (Today you'd just use cell phones or satellite communications, I'd imagine).
Going from that example, the other thing that comes to mine are various forms of software licensing control. I use programs through my university which need to "phone home" periodically to make sure that I am still properly licensed to use them. (It has to do with the way the university bulk-licenses the software.) Presumably if the software can't phone home at the right time, it'll close itself down. That's fairly "fail-deadly" as well.
The classic movie example is the cop or spy or criminal saying, "If they don't hear from me in an hour, they kill the hostage/rush in with guns/say disparaging things about your mother."
I see this kind of distinction as important and quite different than a regular booby trap or just imposed set of consequences. "Fail-deadly" is about a system that is supposed to operate in a specific way and if it fails to operate, negative consequences start into motion. So not like most booby traps or snake nut cans at all (which are just deliberate traps). The goal of a "fail-deadly" system is to keep functioning in the non-failing state, ideally. The punishment is a secondary effect. --Mr.98 (talk) 11:30, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
I've more commonly heard the term "Dead man's switch" used for what you've described. -- 140.142.20.229 (talk) 18:13, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
Right, but generally a dead man's switch is meant to be fail-safe, not fail-deadly. So if I'm driving a train and I have a heart attack, in a fail-safe system, the train would stop. In a fail-deadly system, the train would purposefully explode and kill everyone on it. :-) In the context of nuclear war/military things, fail-deadly systems are, as far as I can tell, always dead man switches of some sort. (The classic case being the Soviet's Perimeter, which is not quite the Doomsday Machine it is often taken to be, but does have a fail-deadly component.) --Mr.98 (talk) 22:14, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
Jenga? Googlemeister (talk) 14:43, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
First thing that comes to mind are satellite launches with built-in self destruct mechanisms. If the rocket goes off course it destroys itself. I'm not sure how common these are, but I know at least some non-military launches have them. (Ariane 5 Flight 501 for example.)
On the more consumer side, there are flash drives that destroy themselves after a certain number of failed password attempts. [9] APL (talk) 15:53, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
Those are both pretty good suggestions that don't incorporate obvious dead man switches. --Mr.98 (talk) 22:15, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
Hmmm - something like a watchdog timer in mission-critical computer software - which is a hardware timer that counts down over several seconds and then reboots the computer (thereby "killing" and restarting the software). When the software is working correctly, it resets the timer (say) 100 times a second so the computer isn't ever reset...but if something goes wrong and the software doesn't make the deadline, it's killed and restarted completely automatically. SteveBaker (talk) 04:00, 8 July 2010 (UTC)
That is fail-deadly for the fault condition but fail safe for the system. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 18:34, 8 July 2010 (UTC)
How about a negative fail-deadly? "Unless so and so happens, this component will fail, rendering the whole thing inoperable?" For example, many years ago, I was working as a freelance programmer, and had a client who was a notorious slow pay. So I programmed it to stop working and instead issue the message "Call me" at a certain date. (After it happened once, the problem with the slow pay disappeared.) --jpgordon::==( o ) 19:50, 9 July 2010 (UTC)
Is that like phoning a newspaper with "There's a bomb set to go off in 24 hours unless we get what we want" ? Cuddlyable3 (talk) 08:52, 10 July 2010 (UTC)