User talk:SteveBaker/archive17

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Jurassic Park: feeding the carnivores

I question the validity of your statement (for which you received a ref desk star -- that's how I came about it) regarding it being a problem to theoretically feed theoretically-existing modern carnivorous dinosaurs a diet of whatever we so desire -- goats, for example, as in the movie. Why do you assert that a T-Rex would not be able to survive with prey like that? DRosenbach (Talk | Contribs) 05:25, 15 January 2010 (UTC)

And this was not to be taken as a question on the validity of your receiving a star :) DRosenbach (Talk | Contribs) 05:26, 15 January 2010 (UTC)
My problem is the reverse: Why on earth would you assume that you COULD?
Carnivorous dinosaurs didn't evolve to eat large amounts of mammal flesh - they evolved to (mostly) eat other dinosaurs. The flesh of modern mammals is very unlike that of (for example) birds and crocodilians (the nearest thing we have to dinosaur meat). There were only the smallest shrew-like mammals in the time of the T-Rex - there is no way that they would form a part of the T-Rex's diet. There is no reason to assume that a dinosaur would be able to survive on a diet of mammal...or even have any interest in chasing down and eating one. The T-Rex in Jurassic park would have been sniffing the air with it's huge and vastly sensitive nose - picking up the scent of the herbivorous dinosaurs elsewhere on the island and trying to chase after them. It had a very tiny brain and probably wouldn't even recognise the scent of goats or humans. It's eyesight was really poor - so it probably wouldn't get excited by their motion any more than it would about the motion of leaves swaying in the wind. Why would it eat a goat or chase a jeep?
The time of the dinosaurs was unimaginably different than today. There was no grass, no flowers, no modern trees in the Jurassic. Ferns and tree-ferns took that slot in the ecology. Animal digestive systems would have worked very differently and who knows what trace elements and vitamins would be present in Triceratops muscle that the T-Rex might need?
Also, people have a strange ideas about what can eat what. I suspect that's mostly because we humans are omnivores - we can eat almost anything and do moderately well on almost any diet - but that's simply not the case for most other animals. Sure, you can feed a pig almost anything and it'll do well. But you can kill a dog by feeding it grapes. You can kill a cat with a tiny amount of chocolate - and someone I know who tried to feed a full-grown female african lion on dog food (long story!) rapidly found out that the dietary needs of lions are not the same as dogs and wound up with a very sick lion. When I was a kid, living in Kenya, I caught a chamelion and kept it as a pet. I had a hard time finding enough insects for it to eat and tried to feed it on little bits of raw ground beef wouldn't touch it - even though it was clearly starving. I don't know that a T-Rex wouldn't touch a goat - or having eaten one whether it would be able to digest it - but the odds of being able to feed your pet T-Rex on goat-meat (with the occasional lawyer as a snack) is (IMHO) rather slim.
But the problem is much more severe for the herbivorous dinosaurs - almost nothing that they ate still exists today. The movie kinda sorta touches on the problem with the sick Triceratops...but in reality, the problem would be much worse than that. It would be like trying to feed a cow on a diet of oak just can't do that.
SteveBaker (talk) 15:58, 15 January 2010 (UTC)
Hope you don't mind me jumping in here. If I recall correctly, in the book they addressed this a bit better. It's been a while since I read it, but I think in the book, even before they learned the truth, Doctors Grant and Sattler had some idea that something very strange was going on at Hammond's under construction dinosaur museum. They got frantic calls in the middle of the night asking them if a baby dinosaur of such-and-such species could eat such-and-such foods.
Of course, it's been a while since I read the book, so maybe I'm just making this all up. :-) APL (talk) 18:58, 15 January 2010 (UTC)
Oh, your story about a chameleon reminded me of people who think that because Venus fly traps are "Carnivorous plants" that means that they can be given any sort of meat. In fact, they can eat insects and spiders, exactly the sorts of critters that might conceivably die in their traps. Venus fly traps are simply not prepared to digest part of a cow, but a surprising number of people have a hard time fully believing that. APL (talk) 19:05, 15 January 2010 (UTC)
Yes - I'd heard that about Venus fly traps too. I did read the book of Jurassic park (before it was a movie, actually) - and I think you're right - there was a little more time spent on discussing these kinds of issue. Also, although it was briefly touched on in the movie, they had to 'patch up' bits of missing Dinosaur DNA with modern frog DNA - and that was the main reason for their downfall. The frog DNA somehow made it possible for the dinosaurs to change sex (a trick that some frogs can evidently manage) - so the park's plan to make all female dinosaurs so they couldn't breed failed. Their computer software was designed to detect when the number of animals on the island fell so that they could detect if any were escaping - but it couldn't detect that the numbers were increasing...and increasing faster than they were escaping. Who knows what inserting random stretched of frog DNA would do to the ability of the T-Rex to subsist on lawyer meat?
SteveBaker (talk) 19:48, 15 January 2010 (UTC)
OK -- I'll buy your apprehension. I suppose it's very weird, though, but I was sort of initially disputing your premise because I was like, "Come on...we saw how the T-Rex acted in the movie, and it didn't seem to have any trouble with eating a goat." Haha...without a true perspective, I guess watching that made me think of it as a given. Sort of the same problem as quoting Wikipedia as a source in another Wikipedia article. Anyway, have a great day. DRosenbach (Talk | Contribs) 05:56, 17 January 2010 (UTC)
That's definitely the cultural downside of super-realistic 3D graphics - people think that what they see must be real - at least as some subconscious level. Everyone now assumes that T-Rex's were ravenous super-killers that could out-run a Jeep - but the evidence is kinda pointing to the fact that they were more the dinosaur equivalent of a vulture - coming in to clean up already-dead animals, relatively slow moving, etc. However, any time a serious paleontologist comes along to report this news, everyone is upset at them because they've been brought up thinking that T-Rex was the ultimate killing machine. Anyone would think that they'd murdered Mickey Mouse or declared that Pluto is no longer a planet! Thanks to Jurassic Park, everyone now assumes that Velociraptors were sleek, 5 foot tall killing machines from the Jurassic that could rip a human apart in seconds - when in fact, they were about the size of a chicken and covered with feathers! (And they were alive during the Cretaceous - NOT the Jurassic.) T-Rex's weren't around in the Jurassic either. They lived 10 million years after the Velociraptor went extinct and 100 million years after the Jurassic. Almost no "fact" that you saw in any of the Jurassic park movies was correct! SteveBaker (talk) 11:59, 17 January 2010 (UTC)
Do you think a goat from now could survive back then? Or what I mean is like a modern cow, with all its stomachs: if we could put one in a time-machine and send it back to the time of T-Rex (Which would not be too outlandish of a concept considering the movie under discussion), would there be anything for the cow to eat? (not that a cow would survive very long with all those giant monsters everywhere, but then again why should any of those peanut brained beasts see a cow as something to eat? I don't think "eat first, ask questions later" is an instinctual urge when confronted by something novel. Not for humans anyway. Usually.) --Neptunerover (talk) 16:00, 17 January 2010 (UTC)
It's the same problem with feeding a Jurassic era herbivore today. Plants have evolved - if anything, faster than animals. A modern cow sent back to the time of the dinosaurs would encounter a world without flowering plants of any kind. That includes grass and all modern trees. About the only plants we'd really recognise would be some kinds of fern and tree-fern. But cows and goats don't really eat fern - so I think they'd have a hard time of it. It's hard to tell though because we only have fossils of those ferns - we don't know whether they contained all of the chemicals that modern herbivores need - or indeed whether they contained things that would be poisonous to cows and goats. SteveBaker (talk) 01:54, 18 January 2010 (UTC)
My first point: I think it's very funny how we have a forum on your talk page, Steve -- the only time a group of editors visits my page to all comment on the same topic is when I'm in trouble for something :)
My second point: I agree with all of the assessments except for the question of how carnivorous dinosaurs could live in modern times -- I mean, for those carnivorous reptiles kept as pets (snakes, iguanas, etc.) that will naturally eat live rodents, I've heard that some can be trained to eat hot dogs -- my point is that the nutrition from a mouse is, in my mind, no different than the nutrition in a cow. Is that untrue? If leopards and lions can exist off of gazelles and zebra, can they also not exist off of pig meat (assuming they don't keep kosher)? I mean, is it really too much to ask of a carnivore to eat another animal that it doesn't recognize? I would say a hungry python would eat a chick, even if it's never encountered one before -- and chicks are way different than rats. DRosenbach (Talk | Contribs) 13:49, 19 January 2010 (UTC)
I think Steve's main point was that even if the T-Rex could be convinced to hunt or scavenge modern meat, there's no telling if it would be able to digest it, and if it could digest it would it be wholly sustaining? Most T-Rex probably went their entire lives without eating even a single mammal. How would their guts react to a mammal-only diet? Do they depend on some vitamin or protein found only in dinosaur meat?
Think of a cat eating canned dog food. Cats' and dogs' preferred diets are pretty similar, but most brands of dogfood will not sustain a cat.
All meat is not interchangeable. Especially not meat from different classes of animal, and separated by zillions of years.
For all we know, T-Rex might have been the carnivore equivalent of a Koala, able to digest only a single species of prey!
On the other hand, if they really were scavengers, or at least partial scavengers, that's a point in their favor, most modern scavengers are relatively flexible food-wise. And Jurassic Park's scientists were pretty clever, that goat might have been injected with all sorts of T-Rex sustaining synthetic vitamins. APL (talk) 17:32, 19 January 2010 (UTC)
Yep - exactly. Neither cats nor dogs do well on each other's diets - and they are a gnat's whisker apart in the evolutionary tree compared to T.Rex. Both cats and dogs have the same range of foods available to them in the wild - but a dog and a T.Rex don't have a single item in common. The Koala is a good example - the Giant Panda is another. Panda's literally have 99% of their diet coming from just a handful of species of bamboo - and all efforts by Western zoos to get them to eat something cheaper have failed. Panda's definitely couldn't survive in the Jurassic because bamboo is a grass and grasses didn't exist back then. Even modern reptiles are a LONG way from T.Rex in evolutionary time - if any descendants of T.Rex still exist - they are birds. If I had been making the Jurassic Park movie, I'd have had the T.Rex eating alligators...which are probably the only large modern animals that were around in T.Rex's time...but we have no clue what evolution has done to the alligator over the past 65 million years - it's possible that even they have changed their body chemistry enough to make them inedible to T.Rex. But that would certainly have made the sequence more dramatic - and would certainly have been more plausible. It's worse even than that though - humans can't live for long without a thriving community of bacteria in our gut, helping us to digest things that we couldn't manage on our own. With a reconstructed T.Rex having no appropriate Cretacious gut flora, it might not even be able to digest Parasaurolophus meat. SteveBaker (talk) 19:00, 19 January 2010 (UTC)
As to your other point, I hope that if Steve finds it aggravating he'd tell all us interlopers to buzz off. APL (talk) 17:34, 19 January 2010 (UTC)
It's OK - we don't seem to have a Ref Desk section for asking questions relating to flaws in the Jurassic Park movie! I could just do a page-move if it would help!  :-)
We should probably discourage people from asking questions on Ref Deskers talk pages though because they don't get adequate exposure to all of the smart people on the desk - and they may not be properly recorded & archived for posterity. I don't mind people using my Talk page for interesting stuff - but perhaps any followups to this thread should be phrased in the form of a question and stuck on the science ref desk. SteveBaker (talk) 19:00, 19 January 2010 (UTC)
BTW, When I finish my time machine I'm going to take this conversation as proof that the T-Rex is completely safe for humans to be around. I'm going to hold SteveBaker responsible if I get eaten.
(With my luck I'll probably discover that hatchling T-Rex eat mammals all the time as snacks and the grownup ones are thrilled to find an adult-sized version of their favorite treat.) APL (talk) 00:11, 20 January 2010 (UTC)
That's fair. But you must understand that if the T.Rex swishes you and your oh-so-delicate time-machine out of the way with it's ton and a half of muscular tail at around 30kph - steps sideways and impales you on it's 20cm claws - just before squishing you under it's 7.2 metric tons of body weight - then grabs you with it's saw-edged 30cm teeth - crushing you with it's 6.4kN bite force - and then spits you out as inedible...then I will of course be unable to accept any responsibility.  :-P SteveBaker (talk) 00:31, 20 January 2010 (UTC)

Refdesk query

Hi Steve, just wanted to ask you a question about something that's been going on the reference desks. I'm a fairly inexperienced Wikipedian so I'm gravitating to someone who seems to know a good deal about the Science helpdesks and WP in general.

I've been lurking the helpdesk for a while, and one IP user in particular seems to have made quite a few posts: This is all fine, but I've noticed a registered user, Killspammers, seems to write in a very similar manner, asks vaguely similar questions, and doesn't sign his posts either. The bit that concerns me is that in the IP's question about a gun, Killspammers encourages other people to answer the IP user's questions. From what I've been able to ascertain from the IP's questions, he's quite vulnerable, so I'm a little worried that he might either get picked up in a harsh manner for using, in effect, two identities, or that he gets into sockpuppetry at some point in the future. This might not be any of my business, so please put me right if I'm in the wrong. Will watch your talk page as you prefer. Cheers, Brammers (talk) 17:27, 19 January 2010 (UTC)

I agree that from examination of the writing style alone, it's almost certain that they are the same person, but:
  1. It's not actually mandatory to sign your posts - we ask that people do, but failing to do so isn't any kind of Wiki-offense.
  2. Sock puppets are not actually illegal either - so long as you don't abuse them - and I see no evidence of abuse. WP:SOCK covers our position - and it says that having two accounts (without good reason) is not encouraged - and that abusive use of two or more accounts is called sockpuppetry. This is only one account - and it's not being abused - so technically, it's not a sockpuppet at all.
  3. Looking at the contributions for those two accounts, it's likely that this user edited anonymously until sometime yesterday - then decided that they were going to be here for a while and created an account. Since the Killspammers account was created (10am yesterday) there hasn't been a single post from the IP account. (last post 7am yesterday).
  4. Anything relating to guns scares the bejeesus out of me - but he's asking for some quite legitimate advice and that's a very good sign.
So I don't see any problem here. Perhaps we should encourage Killspammers to please sign his/her posts in future - you might want to offer a friendly suggestion on his/her talk page - but that's about it.
SteveBaker (talk) 18:36, 19 January 2010 (UTC)

Thanks for the quick reply. I didn't mean to come across as critical of Killspammers — the signing-posts thing was just an observation of similarities. Thank you also for your advice and showing your reasoning so I can learn from it. I'll drop him a hello later, and there's no way I'd bite him. I must admit the gun thing alarmed me too, because I was still at primary school when the UK handgun ban came into force, so have no idea of the intricacies of old firearms. I'm sure there must be quite a few Webleys at the bottom of wardrobes around the country, but still... Brammers (talk) 19:08, 19 January 2010 (UTC)

Sorry - I didn't mean to imply that you might bite him - but you said you were fairly inexperienced in the ways of the Wiki - so I thought it best to err on the side of caution! I am a fellow Brit - and I'm happy that we have the handgun ban. But here in the USA (especially in Texas, where I live), owning and shooting a gun is a very routine matter and Killspammer's question would not be in any way considered dangerous...unless of course he happened to be planning on meeting some spammers anytime soon! If you visited here, I think you'd be as shocked as I was to find that they sell guns and ammunition in many supermarkets! (WalMart and KMart for example). SteveBaker (talk) 19:16, 19 January 2010 (UTC)

On the common Cuckoo

Wow, are the cuckoo questions common on that reference desk page, or what? Always remember that ignoring a strange question is better than any attempt to answer it, except for maybe redirecting it. Take it from me, arguing only encourages them.
As it so happens, I can speak cuckoo a little bit, so if there's ever any maddeningly cuckoo question that you don't want to get mad about on the desk, you could see if I'm around by leaving a talkback/(help with ref desk nut) on my talk page. --Neptunerover (talk) 04:32, 20 January 2010 (UTC)

Um - you are the guy who thinks gravity equals time - right? Mmmm'K. SteveBaker (talk) 04:35, 20 January 2010 (UTC)
Do you think it takes only one hemisphere to be able to comprehend such a thing? One must be able to Möbiate. --Neptunerover (talk) 05:08, 20 January 2010 (UTC)
Yeah - whatever - you can stop leaving messages on my talk page now. I really don't need to talk to you. SteveBaker (talk) 05:12, 20 January 2010 (UTC)
Hey, incidentally I found something about 'time cube' written in a form I found easier to skim, and it took me no time to realize it is something which belongs in the category of hateful things, alongside other crap requiring not even a moment's glance, such as the philosophy of Hitler or Jeffery Dahmer, etc. Focusing on horrible things is absolutely not a requirement in life, and so I don't do it. I do what I can to not promote hate in any form.
I think the idea of there being any conspiracies is itself a conspiracy because there are no conspiracies. However, invoking the idea of conspiracy makes great fiction (see X-Files). Something I doubt you got before due to it's reference to an obscure film, was when I mentioned a Prison Guard overhearing an Inmate conversation, which led him to wonder if the inmates were conspiring to escape. What the guard doesn't realise though, is that when an inmate refers to having "fed the Warden", what he means in 'jailhouse code language' is that he just went #2 and flushed the toilet. So what I said there was extremely off the hook and funny, especially considering the seriousness of the debate we were having. (I was trying to get you to laugh, but of course you would've had to have seen the movie.) --Neptunerover (talk) 10:41, 27 January 2010 (UTC)

Is money based on fear?

This subject is closed. Comment deleted - please see Wikipedia_talk:Reference_desk SteveBaker (talk) 05:04, 20 January 2010 (UTC)

I'm guessing you might have seen or one of his socks posing the same nonsense about "counterfeits" over on one of the other ref desks. I'm also guessing he's going to bounce from one to another until he gets blocked. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 06:03, 20 January 2010 (UTC)

Oh, I see. It's the 71.100 guy discussed on the talk page. Il garbagio. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 06:27, 20 January 2010 (UTC)

wherefore art thou, energy?

This was a very good read. I just finished part of a physics module for university, and they didn't have anything quite that eloquent to say about energy, :-) Maedin\talk 11:11, 24 January 2010 (UTC)

concerning what is being nice

I had that sarcasm aimed right at you Steve. I can't believe it went over your head. How could I have missed? Maybe I'm judging the distance wrong or something. --Neptunerover (talk) 07:37, 25 January 2010 (UTC)

See Asperger syndrome. SteveBaker (talk) 14:49, 25 January 2010 (UTC)
Hey, I'm real sorry if I'm getting you correctly with what you mean. I have friends with Asperger's, and the last thing I would want to do is cause them to think that I was somehow making fun of them when I meant nothing more than just plain fun. I assure you I mean no ill will toward you, and if I ever tease anyone, it's out of a sense of humor because I find life so funny (sometimes). I try to get other people to smile, if I do anything. That's my excuse anyway, even if it doesn't always work. --Neptunerover (talk) 15:29, 25 January 2010 (UTC)
Incidentally, Steve, the Perseveration article mentions Asperger syndrome, but I didn't see the term used in the Asperger Syndrome article. Perseveration can be my tendency (you may have noticed). Peace --Neptunerover (talk) 05:59, 26 January 2010 (UTC)
Wikipedia - The free encyclopedia that anyone can edit. I added it to the list of symptome in the AS article. I have no clue why it wasn't there before. SteveBaker (talk) 13:21, 26 January 2010 (UTC)
I added some references to the ABI article, which previously lacked any. --Neptunerover (talk) 07:19, 27 January 2010 (UTC)
The trick to living with that aspect of Asperger's is to focus that ability (and curse) to productive use. So instead of becoming the 'planet colors guy' or the present 'continental drift guy' who annoy the heck out of RefDesk people by repeatedly demanding more and more ridiculous detail about a subject that cannot truly matter to them - instead find something that has a productive outcome and aim that tenacious unbreakable concentration on something that has benefit to you.
I've gone both ways:
  1. Look at the Mini Moke article, for example. I took it over (several years ago) when it was just about one paragraph. I knew very little about the car - I bought every book ever written on the thing (including a children's "Minny the Moke" coloring book!), I trawled eBay for 40 year old magazines that I knew had articles about it - and I bought toy Mini Mokes that are $100 collectors' items. I drove 500 miles to visit a guy who owns one to take photos for the article! The article was propelled up to WP:FA status and made the Wikipedia front page (you probably NO idea how hard it is to be one of the best ~1000 articles out of three million!). When I had exhausted every possible line of enquiry and hit that goal of getting the article onto the front page - I dropped it and lost all interest in it overnight - and now (through my inattention to subsequent bad edits) it's been de-listed as an FA. I'm now probably the world's leading expert on one of the most obscure cars on the planet! But did it do me any good? No! It cost me a year of my life and a lot of money - and a bunch of brain cells that are now full of useless trivia!
  2. However, in my job (I write software for computer games) - we needed a new graphics engine which is normally at least a 5 man-year job. I promised to do it by myself in one year - and I've just hit that target. It's hard to be modest about that. It's nothing short of amazing that one guy could do that. Nobody who does not have Asperger's could keep up that degree of focus and concentration for that long. I'm getting a promotion to team leader as a result. Now THAT is a positive outcome.
So the trick is to try to notice when you're about to derail into a "Mini Moke" year - and try to find something more productive to do instead. Sadly, that's not an easy thing to do...but that's what it takes to turn around a mental condition that can be a liability into something that makes for a productive, prosperous and useful life. SteveBaker (talk) 13:17, 26 January 2010 (UTC)
What I see there is that you had a goal and stuck to it. When you accomplished that goal, you therefore abandoned it with good reason: Done. Whether or not you actually planned out the goal and set it from the start, you fell into it and enjoyed it for what it was. There's no sense dwelling on it any more if you think of it as anything other than a vast accomplishment, because that's like lying to yourself and devaluing your previous tremendous efforts. --Neptunerover (talk) 13:54, 26 January 2010 (UTC)
Well, perhaps - but the sum total of human knowledge added to was very small indeed - for a large expenditure of effort. Realistically - it wasn't worth it. If I'd spent a year hitting "Random article" and fixing typo's instead - the encyclopedia would have been much better off and my brain would be full of more useful knowledge (although an awful lot of it would have been about Japanese railway stations!) SteveBaker (talk) 14:05, 26 January 2010 (UTC)
I did that, but they chased me out of here. =) The issue there was me using my user space here as an original thinking scratch pad, which goes against the no personal wiki rule that never got directly pointed out to me. The idea of webhost to me still sounds like a sight whose purpose is to benefit others. There's no simple explanation to be found in any of those webhost articles. I'm always after the simplest explanation. Occam's razor says why ask why if there's already a simple explanation? I extrapolate that to mean why bother going through a complex explanation when there's very likely to be a simpler one? And therefore I go looking for a simple answer at the ref desk. "Momma always said, 'Simple is as simple does.'"-(forest gump) --Neptunerover (talk) 14:23, 26 January 2010 (UTC)
Firstly: Please stop sticking your posts inside my posts! It's REALLY annoying!
Secondly: You cannot use Wikipedia as your own personal web site. It's simply not allowed. Having a Wikipedia account is a privilage, not a right - and if you abuse the rules, you'll eventually get banned from the site. Please don't argue about that - those are the facts. Your own personal ramblings belong on your own personal website or on some other place that doesn't mind "original research"...or, better still, they should be in a file on your local hard drive. This web site is for writing an encyclopedia. It's not here to provide disk space for your personal use. Failure to understand this rather important point will simply get you into more trouble here.
Thirdly: If you want to make an impact in physics and cosmology then the steps are as follows:
  1. Learn some math and basic physics.
  2. Study the works of all of the great physicists - subscribe to some scientific journals - or get them from your local library.
  3. Pick a sub-discipline and start with some simple ideas...DO NOT start with "what makes the entire universe tick"!
  4. Look for an aspect within everything you've learned in (1), (2) and (3) that is inadequately understood by the scientific community.
  5. Start building on what is already known and understood and attempt to fill the gap.
What doesn't work is starting at step zero (understanding NOTHING) and attempting to invent an entire new basis for everything - including things that are already very well researched and understood. I don't mean to be nasty about this - but it can only help you to understand: When you presented your ideas on the ref desk - and admitted that you didn't understand math, or what other people have learned and proven so painstakingly over the years - you come across as a total raving lunatic - OK? I'm sure you aren't a total raving lunatic - but that's how you came across. Here's some kid who thinks he has an entire revolutionary new cosmology who hasn't so much as glanced at the math and physics that's been so carefully built up by generations of REALLY smart people over the last 200 years! If you truly can't understand enough math and don't have the perseverence to find out about what all of the other physicists have figured out so carefully - then you should find some other area of interest in life because doing useful work in physics is all about studying what other people have done and doing LOTS of complicated math. It is literally a waste of your time to start in with a grand theory of everything - because without the necessary background education, it's 100% certain to be 100% wrong! Sadly, a lot of people make this same mistake - and these are the crazed nut-jobs who think they've invented a perpetual motion machine - or a way to make a car run on water or do 10,000 miles on a gallon of gas - when a totally elementary application of actual, real physics would have proved them wrong. There is a guy on the ref.desk right now who claims to have invented a machine that can (in effect) see into the future. He doesn't seem to understand statistics - and this is the core of his delusion. Please don't end up like those people. You either have to study carefully FIRST (and it doesn't come easily - it's going to be hard work) - or, if you absolutely can't - then find something else to do with your life. SteveBaker (talk) 15:38, 26 January 2010 (UTC)
I didn't realize we were both trying to post at the same time before. I didn't notice if you had made any new posts since I began replying, and, being relatively new to this manner of conversation, I didn't know a better way to assign a given reply to a specific paragraph of your previous post, and so I therefore inserted the post within your post without knowing how irritating such a maneuver would be to you, and so I apologize; I didn't mean it. --Neptunerover (talk) 06:34, 27 January 2010 (UTC)
Secondly, having a personal website was never my intention, for apparently a 'wiki' is something that a person can have on their own computer at home. I didn't know that. I didn't even know what 'wiki' meant beyond its being somehow related to the name of this encyclopedia. This was the first place I ever found it, and being able to write my notes and immediately link to anything in the encyclopedia made it seem the perfect place for me to do my studies and try to put together 'a' with 'b'. It took me some time to notice the 'no personal wikis' part of the rule that kept being pointed out to me, at which point I wondered to myself, "what's a 'wiki' supposed to be?" So then I looked up wiki, and I went ah-ha! It was so simple: I was taking personal notes. (Those damn webhost pages make no sense, I'm telling you. Not from what I can tell anyway) --Neptunerover (talk) 06:34, 27 January 2010 (UTC)
If you have a machine on the 'net' (or at least running a local HTTP server like Apache) with MySQL and PHP installed - then installing MediaWiki (the software that Wikipedia runs on) is very simple. I have my own 'private' Wiki here - mine is set up so you need an account on it to edit - and I've set up the account creation system so only the sysadmin (ie me) can create new accounts. In effect, anyone can read it but only people I create accounts for can edit it. I set another one up for the car club I run - it has slightly different rules for that system, only people who have an account can create new accounts - so any existing club member can invite someone else to join - but you can't get an account (and therefore can't edit) unless someone invited you to be a member and created an account for you. Also, MediaWiki has a bazillion plugins - when you first install it without any, you'll find that many of the features of Wikipedia are missing. On the other hand, there are a bunch of plugins that Wikipedia doesn't use that you can add. SteveBaker (talk) 13:57, 27 January 2010 (UTC)
That sounds totally cool. I should look into something like that. I know I'm allowed some space through my internet provider, where I can keep backups or I don't really know what all I can do with it. --Neptunerover (talk) 16:40, 27 January 2010 (UTC)
Most ISP's won't let you install software on their computers (for obvious reasons) - some ISP's (mine included - I use have a simple control panel that lets you install software that they approve using a really simple GUI. If you have that then you're good to go...if not - then probably not. SteveBaker (talk) 17:33, 27 January 2010 (UTC)
Thirdly, I consider myself a generalist, and getting too deep into specifics is not my goal. I believe in an overall pattern, and when this pattern is understood, all the lower patterns within it make sense. Perhaps I'm thinking of a crystallization from the top down, whereas the different fields of study are each their own crystals pointing up. In any case, there is a density of specifics between anything we want to study, and just how narrowly we wish to get into specifics decides the width of our perspective. I try for a very wide perspective. I go for a 360° view, however that may be measured. --Neptunerover (talk) 06:34, 27 January 2010 (UTC)
Believe me though, I've been around the block. I'm not gonna make any claims about space battles like Roy at the end of Blade Runner, but I know right where he's coming from. --Neptunerover (talk) 06:34, 27 January 2010 (UTC)
Well, sadly, that approach isn't going to work. You're basically guessing about these "patterns" - then piling mountains of ideas on top of something that simply isn't true. Building castles on foundations of jello. "Making sense" isn't enough. Most of how the universe works doesn't "make sense" - the idea that an electron can just magically 'jump' from one place to another - even through a solid object seems entirely nonsensical - but if it weren't true then the memory in the computer you are reading this message on wouldn't work! The problem is that are tiny ape-descendent brains are designed for things that move no faster than a thrown spear or a charging mastodon - and at scales ranging from maybe the thickness of a hair to the distance to the horizon. We have a hard time understanding things that go beyond those limits. Common sense is the worst possible guide to "how things work". That's why nobody got anywhere with figuring all of this out until "The Scientific Method" came along. Theories of the universe have to match the actual universe - and yours don't - which makes them useless...and far, FAR worse than useless when you start to inflict them on other people. This is how the loonies get started and how we end up with junk like Time Cube - and it's a total waste of human brainpower. It's very sad. Unfortunately - following the scientific method is the only way forward and "top down" doesn't work because unless everything is grounded in established fact and experimental results, what you get is just what your poorly honed ape-descendant senses tell you...and it's wrong! SteveBaker (talk) 13:57, 27 January 2010 (UTC)
Sounds like you may have missed my latest MFD. TreasuryTag's attempt to further my destruction on Wikiedia collapsed at his feet. The nominated article itself deals with some areas I felt were missing from the common sense article (admittedly it has changed much since the initial nomination, but it has been clearly labeled as "under construction" since well before the MFD. It's way better now, though still not perfect, which is a requirement of my perfectionism. Common sense itself doesn't make sense though, so measuring anything by it is folly. --Neptunerover (talk) 17:15, 27 January 2010 (UTC)
It looks like you passed that MfD because the page you created looks like it might be someone trying to put together a serious article in a 'sandbox' environment rather than merely explaining his/her personal point of view as you did in the previous MfD victims. However, adding any significant content that is merely your own opinion could easily get it posted on MfD again - clearly at least a couple of people are patrolling your "User contributions" list - and there is no limit to the number of times a page can be put up on MfD. SteveBaker (talk) 17:37, 27 January 2010 (UTC)
Hey, I love chess! APL made a lawyer reference in his edit summary following my reverse characterization of what he had just said, and I commented about that reference on APL's talk page here. ("I ain't no lawyer! Your Momma's a lawyer!"--No, not really anything like that!)
  • time cube is comparable to the narrowest conceivable point of view directed straight into the ground. It's total crap, but I can see the basis where the *whoever it is* gets all twisted up and goes into some dark narrow tunnel of reality, and the only way he's going to get any light in there is if he draws others in there with him. It's exactly like a 'Hitler' who needs followers. Rousing strong emotions such as contempt, suspicion and hate can gain followers who don't know any better than to be angry about life. These innocents (by relative standards of not knowing any better) are the ones who give power to the hate monger/prince of darkness leading them. But a prince of darkness is only as powerful as the ones giving him his power. --Neptunerover (talk) 17:15, 27 January 2010 (UTC)
  • I beg of you to please never bring up time cube in reference to me or my ideas again, please. Please feel free to call me weird, misguided, wrong, or whatever, but Not that, pleeease(?). --Neptunerover (talk) 17:15, 27 January 2010 (UTC)
  • Incidentally, I can't be a TC; I don't have a single follower! --Neptunerover (talk) 17:35, 27 January 2010 (UTC)


Just a heads up. Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/SuperTuxKart just showed up on my watch list. Dunno if you care or not. APL (talk) 23:51, 25 January 2010 (UTC)

Thanks for the heads-up. Since I had a hand in the development history of this game, I should recuse myself from the discussion. If there are any specific points that need to be verified about the truth or otherwise of article, please let me know (but WP:NOR would probably make that unlikely). SteveBaker (talk) 00:06, 26 January 2010 (UTC)

Image help

Hello Mr. Baker - I recalled your name as an image expert from the Drew Smith fiasco, and wanted to see if you could help with some unrelated image questions swirling around in my head.

  • It all started with a purported logo for the Federalist Party here. This logo looks strange to me for a number of reasons, including the bad crop job on the left and bottom, as well as the odd fade/blur on the top. I can't imagine any logo of that period having such a blur.
  • Looking at this users contribs, I also see this which claims to be a B/W photo of the original paiting. To me, this looks to be a color scan of a book which contained a B/W photo. Not sure what (if anything) that does to the copyright claim).

These are not major problems, and if I get no reply from the user who added the logo to Federalist_Party I may just remove it - however given the other question about this user's images I thought I'd ask an expert. I appreciate any time you may have to take a look and let me know if you think anything looks fishy. Thanks.  7  05:20, 28 January 2010 (UTC)

The federalist logo just looks like a bad effort to fix an image gotten from someplace else - the white line between the logo and the shadow looks like someone tried to improve the sharpness of the image with a 'sharpen' filter. It's pretty poor - but I don't know what else to say about it. If we can replace it - or if it's not used anyplace then I'd delete it...but if we need it for the encyclopedia and there is nothing better out there then we either need to get someone to redraw it - or we should keep it. I don't know whether the shadow behind the object would be a typical stylistic thing for logos of that era...I'm no historian.
The photo certainly looks like a scan from a page of a book because you can see the page curl over on the right. Plus, who takes black and white photos of colored paintings and adds a colored bar over to the right of it?! So yeah - I agree it's definitely taken from a book. From the flatness of the page edge on the right, I'd say it was scanned on a flatbed scanner rather than photographed...but I might be wrong about that. That's probably breaking copyright laws because when you print a photo in a book, there are TWO copyrights to be considered. The copyright of the original painting (which has presumably expired) and the copyright on the book (which may or may not have expired). So this is definitely mis-labelled and it's quite possibly a copyvio - depending on the age of the book it came from. SteveBaker (talk) 15:17, 28 January 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for your insight. I've posted a note to the commons copyright helpdesk to see what should be done with the book scan.  7  23:22, 28 January 2010 (UTC)


I gave some thought to what you said, and I came up with this.

Before I go inventing a wheel (or a wheel network), I think it's a good idea to first ask around and see if anyone else has ever heard of the present design I have in mind, just in case it could save me some time. I think there's no greater waste of time than in re-inventing the wheel, while there's no greater waste of brain capacity than in knowing all the details of all the specifications for all the wheels. Such details are not required in order to see that the wheels are turning together. Rather than learning all the intricate details of how each individual wheel design works, I prefer to accept that the wheels are there, while my concern is in how the wheels turn. There's looking at how all the different wheels work together, and then there's looking at the individual wheels themselves to see what makes them spin. Generalist v. Specialist. Does that make sense? --Neptunerover (talk) 08:15, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
Enough people have told you that it won't work and why. And enough people have told you that we already have superbly well proven science - backed up by solid math and experimental evidence. You would not be so much re-inventing the wheel as attempting to make triangular wheels work when we already know that circular wheels are by far the best possible solution. It's perfectly possible that nobody ever thought of making triangular wheels before - but there is an amazingly good reason for that! If someone had tried (and, inevitably, failed) to make a triangular wheel, we'd probably never have heard of it because people do not generally publish their failures. So we don't know whether or not you are the first person to think of that - but it doesn't matter because we know in advance that you'd fail. Of course it's your time and your brain - but it seems like an awful waste of time. SteveBaker (talk) 19:47, 29 January 2010 (UTC)


Hello. This message is being sent to inform you that there currently is a discussion at Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/Incidents regarding an issue with which you may have been involved. Thank you. --Neptunerover (talk) 03:16, 1 February 2010 (UTC)

Augmented Reality

Oooo! Please explain about the nose issue. That sounds good. When we do full VR simulations that don't use datagloves we get the occasional person who gets into a mild freak-out about not being able to see their hands. ("Ah! Where are my hands! I can't see my hands!" "Here, grab this tool, you can see the tool, right?" "Yea! But it's just floating there! Where are my hands?!?") I'm positive we've never had nose-related complaints, though. I'd be interested in knowing what triggered people's uncomfortableness with it.

Surprisingly, For sims that use gloves but not full-body markers, people are cool ... I don't think I've ever seen anyone who was bothered by having hands that weren't connected to arms. Some psychologist could probably write a paper on why that is. (Although just today a coworker was telling me about a black guy who was bothered by our simulated hands, which are white.) APL (talk) 06:39, 5 February 2010 (UTC)

Draw gloves!
The nose thing is weird. I was on the graphics team - not in the human factors group - so I don't know where they got that from. But they first had the system set up with a sufficiently wide field of view that there was no "gap" in the graphics in either eye when you looked to the extreme left or right because the googles were snug up against the nose...between your eye and your nose. The reports they were getting about people feeling uncomfortable or sick in the simulator actually went up when they improved the field of view! How they figured out that it was the "missing nose" problem, I'm not sure. I believe they initially fixed the problem initially by putting some black tape over the bottom-right corner of the lefthand screen and the bottom-left corner of the righthand screen to block out light that would normally be occluded by your nose - and that worked. We discussed for a while drawing a graphical nose - but in the end, the lenses were moved out away from the guys' face and even though the optics were collimated, that was considered a vast improvement by the end-users. The L3 helmets are not just used by test subjects and experimenters - they are used for actual training of real pilots. Those guys sometimes spend many hours in the simulator at a time - so user comfort is a paramount issue.
I wonder whether the reason you aren't getting complaints is one of those "uncanny valley" things where the more realistic you make the virtual world, the more people are upset by smaller problems. All the while you can't see your hands - maybe the nose thing is such a small issue that it doesn't come up in their top ten things to complain about.
I don't work at L3 anymore - so there is nobody I can ask about that.
SteveBaker (talk) 13:54, 5 February 2010 (UTC)
That probably explains why we've never heard a nose complaint. We've never done the sort of work where those sorts of ultra-wide angle head-mounts was worth their phenomenal expense, (Not to mention having to deal with how touchy they are.) We've used some hi-res helmets in the past, but never the wide angle ones.
People must adapt to not having pixels that far inwards, but are weirded out by being able to see through where their nose ought to be. That's fascinating. It never would have even occurred to me that that would be an issue. Thanks.
APL (talk) 16:43, 5 February 2010 (UTC)
There are probably a whole pile of neurons somewhere in your visual cortex that are dedicated to helping you to ignore your nose. When the nose disappears - maybe they freak out and start sending who-knows-what garbage on to the rest of your brain. SteveBaker (talk) 21:25, 5 February 2010 (UTC)

Great RD answer

Steve, I thought you did a fine job of giving a complete and accurate answer while suiting it to the apparent level of sophistication of the questioner. Bravo. Edison (talk) 20:11, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

Asperger Syndrome

Information.svg If you are affiliated with some of the people, places or things you have written about in the article Asperger syndrome, you may have a conflict of interest. In keeping with Wikipedia's neutral point of view policy, edits where there is a conflict of interest, or where such a conflict might reasonably be inferred, are strongly discouraged. If you have a conflict of interest, you should avoid or exercise great caution when:

  1. editing or creating articles related to you, your organization, or its competitors, as well as projects and products they are involved with;
  2. participating in deletion discussions about articles related to your organization or its competitors; and
  3. linking to the Wikipedia article or website of your organization in other articles (see Wikipedia:Spam).

Please familiarize yourself with relevant policies and guidelines, especially those pertaining to neutral point of view, verifiability of information, and autobiographies.

For information on how to contribute to Wikipedia when you have a conflict of interest, please see our frequently asked questions for organizations. Thank you. DaiZengarSmite evil 22:54, 12 February 2010 (UTC)

I suggested to Zombolt that the first template above was inappropriate on several grounds. He did not seem inclined to agree with me, and added another one. He has now been blocked for a lot of similar silliness, and this whole topic can be safely deleted. I leave it in your hands. Bielle (talk) 23:48, 12 February 2010 (UTC)
Actually, you could argue that he has a point - but if you look at the edits I made to the article, I don't think they are of any great concern. Just a typical round of WikiGnoming in an article I happened to point to in a ref-desk answer. Coming from a serious, established and respected editor, I'd have to think carefully about what I did - but coming from this guy who seems to have an unreasonable hatred of people afflicted with Aspergers...Meh. SteveBaker (talk) 00:03, 13 February 2010 (UTC)
Another good idea is not to template the regulars. The very notion seems silly: only Athiests may edit the article about God, for instance. No Christian may edit an article related to Christianity, and no Jew may edit an article about Judaism or Israel or the Holocaust. No Brit may edit an article about their monarchs, empire, or wars, and no neurotypical persons may edit articles related to neurotypical psychological functioning, if Zengar_Zombolt has his way. "Conflict of interest" rules should not apply only to those with Asperger's Syndrome. Edison (talk) 00:31, 13 February 2010 (UTC)
True enough - I didn't say I agreed with him - only that you could argue that he has a point (not sucessfully though...IMHO!). But it is a tricky matter - there is a thin line between COI and letting the experts in a particular field edit articles relating to their expertise. Also, if you force only people who have no interest whatever in Japanese Railway stations to edit those articles, I think Wikipedia would be an intellectual desert in about a week! SteveBaker (talk) 00:41, 13 February 2010 (UTC)
Not quite an intellectual desert, Steve. We'd still have Bart. Bielle (talk) 00:50, 13 February 2010 (UTC)
Re: the notion that "Only people who have no interest in or connection to some subject may edit articles about it." Well, I have created article about 19th century State Senators from Maine, Ambrose Abbott and George Herbert Babb and I have never been there or had any interest in the place or its history, and I created an article about a fish I never caught, ate, or even heard of, American plaice. There could be an encyclopedia of sorts edited only by disinterested parties with no interest in or connection to the articles, but it would be skimpy and anemic. Edison (talk) 00:55, 13 February 2010 (UTC)
Well, yes. I'll confess to writing articles about things I know NOTHING about - but most of the major work I've done has been about subjects that interest me. But now I actually read the COI template above, I see:
" should avoid or exercise great caution when:"
  1. editing or creating articles related to you, your organization, or its competitors, as well as projects and products they are involved with;
  2. participating in deletion discussions about articles related to your organization or its competitors; and
  3. linking to the Wikipedia article or website of your organization in other articles (see Wikipedia:Spam).
I'm not sure which of those things Zombolt thinks I'm likely to be guilty of...maybe editing on behalf of the secret society of Asperger sufferers? (Boy - those meetings would be weird!) SteveBaker (talk) 01:03, 13 February 2010 (UTC)
It is interesting how the perception of COI differs across different subjects. I recall a while back a (serious) proposal was put in place suggestion on Irish people should have a voice in determining the name of the article of their state. Meanwhile, a (very experienced) editor tried to argue the scientists should not be permitted to edit animal testing because they have a COI (in as much they have an interest in the subject because it keeps them in jobs). Aspergers is a particularly interesting situation, because some of the characteristics of the syndrome could mimic the symptoms of COI editing (i.e. an abnormally intense focus on the Asperger article). It could be quite a tricky situation to deal with, actually. Rockpocket 01:03, 13 February 2010 (UTC)
Yes - it's perfectly possible that an Asperger sufferer could get latched onto it like that - and that could certainly rise to the level of concern. But in my case, I added one linked word ("perseveration") to the list of symptoms on Jan 26th...that's the only edit I ever did! I fail to see how adding that was in my personal interest. SteveBaker (talk) 01:39, 13 February 2010 (UTC)
No, of course not. In this case the only conflicted editor was the one dishing out the warnings. Rockpocket 04:51, 13 February 2010 (UTC)