0567: "Urgent Mission"

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Chrisfs
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Re: "Urgent Mission" Discussion

Postby Chrisfs » Fri Apr 10, 2009 7:57 pm UTC

Robot apocalypse can be handled in a variety of ways. Fixing the convention is much more important.

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Re: "Urgent Mission" Discussion

Postby Chrisfs » Fri Apr 10, 2009 7:59 pm UTC

Why use "C" for the speed of light. Why use q for charge and Q for reactive Power, I for current, π for 3.14159. They are all just "Names" and names can be anything

C is for cookie. .

That's good enough for me. :D

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Re: "Urgent Mission" Discussion

Postby phantom16 » Fri Apr 10, 2009 8:23 pm UTC

Haha, that one made me laugh pretty good. My roomates didn't get it though until i had to explain the whole backwards thing.

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Re: "Urgent Mission" Discussion

Postby SocialSceneRepairman » Fri Apr 10, 2009 9:32 pm UTC

Diadem wrote:
owenv wrote:
Sk25 wrote:I'm an electronic engineer myself, and I don't see why the sign of an electron's charge should be such a big matter.

Ya but if an electron was positive then that would make protons negative and that would be TERRIBLE

So let's make 'em both positive! That'd be a very interesting sign convention!


Dr. Ray? Is that you?

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Re: "Urgent Mission" Discussion

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Fri Apr 10, 2009 9:56 pm UTC

Hmm, I'm sensing a lack of stupidity. Well I guess I have no choice........

Not funny Randel!! My friend sje46 was killed by electricity! How dare you suggest the thing that ended his life was positive! Electricity is dangerous and wrong! Even Edison eventually realized it!You smug little EE joking about Benjamin Franklin, electricity, and the second amendment! I bet if you had your way we'd have electricity in every house instead of guns!

Worst comic for the 374th consecutive time ever!!

[/stupidity]
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Re: "Urgent Mission" Discussion

Postby YenTheFirst » Fri Apr 10, 2009 11:17 pm UTC

It's a bit off topic, but on the subject of finger binary, specifically endianess:
It seems fairly obvious that the thumb, the finger that gives us an advantage over many other animals, is really the 'most significant digit'. Similarly, the pinky is the 'least signifigant' digit.

Plus, for counting 0-15, I can use the thumb to hold down fingers I don't want popping up.
Using pinky as 2^0 and thumb as 2^4, I can easily count 0-17. The other way around, I run into problems at 9.
Try holding out Just your thumb and ring finger. Very difficult for me, at least. That's 9 if you use the thumb as LSB, and 18 if the pinky is LSB.

Given these reasons, I have to wonder why using the thumb as the least significant seems to be a standard. Using the pinky makes much more sense.


Either way, there's a conflict with 4. :)

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Re: "Urgent Mission" Discussion

Postby fresh » Fri Apr 10, 2009 11:50 pm UTC

can someone explain this to me? I don't get why it matters. yes I realize I should be hanging my head in shame.

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Re: "Urgent Mission" Discussion

Postby fatah2.718 » Sat Apr 11, 2009 12:29 am UTC

The mission should be to go back get them to adopt Planck units. That would make all their calculations for macroscopic scales so fun.

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Re: "Urgent Mission" Discussion

Postby WalkerRiley » Sat Apr 11, 2009 12:45 am UTC

It's reason like this that I dropped electrical engineering and headed off to architecture. Now I get to design it and say "Hey guys! Can this actually be built? I bet you can't figure out how to do it!" and watch em squirm. (To the best of my knowledge, and from experience with several engineers, give them a challenge and they can't back down).
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Re: "Urgent Mission" Discussion

Postby BioTube » Sat Apr 11, 2009 2:15 am UTC

I'd just make sure that the kilogram got a name that showed it was a base unit - if I didn't stop metric from coming in the first place.
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Re: "Urgent Mission" Discussion

Postby Fougare » Sat Apr 11, 2009 2:37 am UTC

WalkerRiley wrote:It's reason like this that I dropped electrical engineering and headed off to architecture. Now I get to design it and say "Hey guys! Can this actually be built? I bet you can't figure out how to do it!" and watch em squirm. (To the best of my knowledge, and from experience with several engineers, give them a challenge and they can't back down).


you may have your EE's mixed with your CE's... but yes, we will not back down from a building challenge, but we will gladly inflate the cost of your building due to "complex and non-standard" methods of building. Worse case scenario we will admit defeat but still charge you for trying, oh, and make the owner force you to change your pretty little design ;) its win win for us.

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Re: "Urgent Mission" Discussion

Postby Hasufel » Sat Apr 11, 2009 4:16 am UTC

darkspork wrote:And while you're at it, tell Benjamin Franklin to never, NEVER tell ANYONE about Daylight Savings Time.

I agree completely. The more I see about Benjamin Franklin, the more I'm convinced he was crazy. Did you know that when he first introduced DST, he wanted to make sure everyone got up by firing cannons?

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Re: "Urgent Mission" Discussion

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Sat Apr 11, 2009 4:22 am UTC

BioTube wrote:I'd just make sure that the kilogram got a name that showed it was a base unit - if I didn't stop metric from coming in the first place.


I was about to go on a rant about how the gram is the base unit in chemistry. Then as I typed I realized I defined could define it in terms of milliliters, cubic centimeters, or moles. The only use of the gram I think think of off the top of my head is that it takes one calorie to heat 1 gram of water 1 degree C. However lay people use the kila-calorie, or the "Calorie". So... yeah, let's do an unprefixed kilogram. While we're at it, let's try to get rid of the need to convert between calories and joules.
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SEE
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Re: "Urgent Mission" Discussion

Postby SEE » Sat Apr 11, 2009 8:15 am UTC

BioTube wrote:I'd just make sure that the kilogram got a name that showed it was a base unit

That would be tricky, since the name was a political decision by people who operated guillotines. The unit was going to be called a Grave, but the French revolutionary regime decided the similarity to the German aristocratic title Graf/Grave was unacceptable.

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Re: "Urgent Mission" Discussion

Postby DVC » Sat Apr 11, 2009 9:02 am UTC

If he's going to fix the positive/negative convention he better fix the colour convention too. The only way I remember that Red is positive for electrical diagrams is by remembering that 'conventional electricity is backwards.'

In just about everything except electricity red is a negative thing.

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Re: "Urgent Mission" Discussion

Postby natturner » Sat Apr 11, 2009 3:28 pm UTC

while we're at it, why dont we change the letter for current from being "I" to something else, that way i dont have to keep switching between i and j in my math and EE classes

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Re: "Urgent Mission" Discussion

Postby J Spade » Sat Apr 11, 2009 6:03 pm UTC

Thank you. This comic defines my frustrations with conventions.

Conventions that don't make sense should be replaced by ones that do, anyway. So that the new convention can serve its purpose sans confusion.

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Re: "Urgent Mission" Discussion

Postby dennisw » Sat Apr 11, 2009 9:27 pm UTC

The reason my future self hasn't come here and given me a time machine is that he's used it to go to the Restaurant at the End of the Universe. Perhaps that's where yours is, too.
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Re: "Urgent Mission" Discussion

Postby Chuff » Sat Apr 11, 2009 9:35 pm UTC

darkspork wrote:And while you're at it, tell Benjamin Franklin to never, NEVER tell ANYONE about Daylight Savings Time.

But given that it's time travel, that would be how he would find out about DST, clearly.
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Re: "Urgent Mission" Discussion

Postby CorwinShiu » Sat Apr 11, 2009 10:49 pm UTC

What if we went back in time and taught Euclid Calculus?

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Re: "Urgent Mission" Discussion

Postby BlueNight » Sun Apr 12, 2009 12:04 am UTC

You poor, deluded fools. Clearly, the best first use for a time machine is to go back to the time when American paper mills decided their conventions, and change "lettersize" to 8.5x12 instead of 8.5x11.

While we're at it, make it all octal. Since the powers of two clearly have some sort of intrinsic mathematical oddity (being the only nonprimes that are not represented in the trapezoidal numbers of three or more rows), let's recognize them. Decimals will be easier. (Sorry, octimals.)
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Re: "Urgent Mission" Discussion

Postby pancake bunny » Sun Apr 12, 2009 12:20 am UTC

what happened to the kayak Image
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Re: "Urgent Mission" Discussion

Postby BioTube » Sun Apr 12, 2009 1:53 am UTC

BlueNight wrote:You poor, deluded fools. Clearly, the best first use for a time machine is to go back to the time when American paper mills decided their conventions, and change "lettersize" to 8.5x12 instead of 8.5x11.

While we're at it, make it all octal. Since the powers of two clearly have some sort of intrinsic mathematical oddity (being the only nonprimes that are not represented in the trapezoidal numbers of three or more rows), let's recognize them. Decimals will be easier. (Sorry, octimals.)
But hex is better for 8-bit-byte computers - octal represents a completely meaningless 3 bits. On a related note, somebody should stop the insane prepanded-zero-means-octal C syntax and replace it with something reasonable(0o?).
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WHY SHOULD ELECTRONS BE POSITIVE?

Postby wbeaty » Sun Apr 12, 2009 2:31 am UTC

Hold on thar! Nobody's asking the question "why should electrons be made positive?"

The typical answer is this, and it's wrong: "Electric current is a flow of electrons." It's a flow of electrons? Says who? Certainly nobody even slightly associated with the physics community says that. Electric current in Proton Conductors is a flow a protons, in electrolytes it's a flow of positive and negative ions going in opposite directions, in semiconductors it's an opposite flow of bound electrons and bound vacancies (holes,) in plasmas it's a flow of electrons and positive ions in opposite directions. In capacitor dielectric it's a change in polarization of warped electron orbitals (yeah, especially in ferroelectrics PZT etc.)

The LHC produces a many-milliampere ion beam.
Do you really think those milliamperes are made of ELECTRONS??????

From my reading, I suspect that all this stuff about "electrons should be positive" originates in the vacuum tube era, and especially in the WWII technician community. Electric current in vacuum tubes is a flow of electrons, and in metal wires it's a flow of electrons. People who are uncomfortable with complicated physics concepts, or who don't want to know what goes on inside batteries or neon signs, they'd love to destroy physics in the name of "making stuff simpler to teach." If we redefine all electric current as being electron flows, then we can more easily teach WWII military school classes in vacuum tube repair.

In other words, the people who want to make electrons positive are the same sort of people who want to force the sci/math communities to redefine Pi as 3.

But if electric current is defined as meaning "electron flow," then we can't explain batteries. Or electroplating. Or nerve impulses, or even the currents that appear inside your body when you touch those high voltage terminals inside your vacuum tube equipment. (Here's something interesting. In grade school textbooks they show batteries and light bulbs with little arrows showing the electric current inside the wires. But they've erased the arrows inside the battery! We all know that the current in the battery electrolyte *must* be the same as the current in the battery connections, yet in grade school they pretend that a battery forms an open circuit, with zero electrolyte current. You can probably guess why.)

Heh. </rant_mode>

Oh, and take a look at my old articles:

WHAT'S THE REAL DIRECTION OF ELECTRIC CURRENT
http://amasci.com/amateur/elecdir.html

FRANKLIN SHOULD HAVE MADE ELECTRONS POSITIVE
http://amasci.com/miscon/eleca.html#frkel

All electricity education articles
http://amasci.com/ele-edu.html
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Re: "Urgent Mission" Discussion

Postby wbeaty » Sun Apr 12, 2009 2:45 am UTC

dennisw wrote:The reason my future self hasn't come here and given me a time machine is that he's used it to go to the Restaurant at the End of the Universe. Perhaps that's where yours is, too.


I figured that there must be some law against it. That's more fun than assuming that it doesn't exist. So... Travellers look but don't touch? Or if you touch, don't get caught. So I put some crumpled kleenex on the desk and thought to myself, "If I have access to time travel, I'll remember this event, and come knock the kleenex off, and only *I* will ever know it happened." It immediately fell off.

Every hair on my entire body stood up.

Ah, but Future Me can only interfere if there's a handly logical explanation. Crumpled kleenex expands. It jerks by itself. It easily rolls the 2" to the edge of the table and falls off, thus producing massive follicular erection in little kids in back 1972.

So I gave up on that, and started trying telepathic contact with future versions, asking to play with incredible future inventions if I promise to tell nobody that I have the "illegal" information. Works great! But I can't TELL anyone about it. :(
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Re: WHY SHOULD ELECTRONS BE POSITIVE?

Postby Your.Master » Sun Apr 12, 2009 4:32 am UTC

wbeaty wrote:In other words, the people who want to make electrons positive are the same sort of people who want to force the sci/math communities to redefine Pi as 3.


That's ridiculously unfair. Redefining Pi to 3 is very imprecise at the very best and extremely wrong in general. You don't even have to leave high school math before it unravels all hope of coherent understanding.

Whereas the choice of sign for electricity is arbitrary. The only reason, the *only* reason to prefer one or the other is to make it simpler to think about, to teach, to work with. Or more difficult, if that's what you want. Your posts seem to show that you want these things more difficult for the common first-encountered case specifically so that it will provoke thought about non-electron flows (but apparently it isn't really working, or you wouldn't have to make the argument).

Now, given that a choice is made, maintaining the status quo is a decent choice, because it does make it simpler (at least in the "short" term of a few generations, and even to some extent in the longer term as the future looks at historical documents). And there might be something to some of your arguments. Others are just insulting.

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Re: "Urgent Mission" Discussion

Postby hotaru » Sun Apr 12, 2009 5:55 am UTC

BlueNight wrote:You poor, deluded fools. Clearly, the best first use for a time machine is to go back to the time when American paper mills decided their conventions, and change "lettersize" to 8.5x12 instead of 8.5x11.

you'd fix the 11 but not the 8.5? surely 8x12 or 9x12 would be a lot better...

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Re: WHY SHOULD ELECTRONS BE POSITIVE?

Postby wbeaty » Sun Apr 12, 2009 9:26 am UTC

Your.Master wrote:
wbeaty wrote:The only reason, the *only* reason to prefer one or the other is to make it simpler to think about, to teach, to work with.


Repeating "only" is a red flag. (Perhaps other reasons do exist?)

I'd agree that redefining electric current to mean "electron flow" is very imprecise, and is very wrong in general. It gives a distorted foundation to our understanding. While making many circuit concepts simpler, it makes other ideas difficult. If your world excludes even the slight possibility positive charge flows, then batteries, semiconductors, etc. are nearly impossible to explain.

I've encountered loads of people online who are certain that "electric current is a flow of electrons." For them, flows of positive charge cannot exist at all, and their desire for positive electrons isn't just aid to thinking. For them, "Conventional Current" is like an abomination; Franklin was wrong in an absolute sense. As you notice, I learned long ago to have almost no respect for them.

But perhaps the "electricity is electrons" belief is on the wane, since I've seen far less of that argument in the last ten years. Maybe the availability of Proton Conductor fuel-cell membranes makes their position less tenable.

So, if someone wants to expend major effort to go back in time and alter Franklin's choice ...what's their motivation? Is it truely because a positive electron would make basic circuitry a bit more understandable, and they want to help kids K-12 grades? Or is their motivation actually coming from a belief that Franklin was simply wrong, and he needs to be corrected?
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Re: WHY SHOULD ELECTRONS BE POSITIVE?

Postby 6453893 » Sun Apr 12, 2009 11:11 am UTC

The "electricity is the flow of electrons" argument is the one you are taught in high school chemistry, and anybody who makes that argument most likely never learned anything about electricity after twelfth grade. I don't see why you take their opinion into account at all.

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Re: "Urgent Mission" Discussion

Postby King Author » Sun Apr 12, 2009 12:54 pm UTC

Hah! I just started reading up on electronics and the first chapter was devoted to explaining this discrepency. I never had any problem with the backwardness, though; if electrons are negative and something gains electrons, it becomes more negative. Never understood what was so difficult to grasp about that. Although it IS annoying that arrows in schematics are "backwards."
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Re: "Urgent Mission" Discussion

Postby BlueNight » Sun Apr 12, 2009 9:11 pm UTC

hotaru wrote:
BlueNight wrote:You poor, deluded fools. Clearly, the best first use for a time machine is to go back to the time when American paper mills decided their conventions, and change "lettersize" to 8.5x12 instead of 8.5x11.

you'd fix the 11 but not the 8.5? surely 8x12 or 9x12 would be a lot better...


The ratio of 8.5x12 is much closer to the square root of two. That means we would be able to fold the paper in half (or double it) without changing the proportion. This is useful in large-scale reproduction. I can't count the number of times a customer has asked me to copy 24X36 blueprints onto 18X24 paper. There's always a huge extra margin because the proportions aren't the same.

Those silly Metric-using people have the advantage that A0 is double the area of A1, but identical in proportion.
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Re: "Urgent Mission" Discussion

Postby bbctol » Sun Apr 12, 2009 9:27 pm UTC

Personally, what makes this one is how calm Franklin is at time-travelers appearing in his room.

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Re: "Urgent Mission" Discussion

Postby TinBromide » Sun Apr 12, 2009 11:31 pm UTC

While I am a computer engineer by major (digital forensics by trade, unemployed by layoff), if i could go back in time, i'd switch the position of the ;' keys with ,.

(the charge made sense once you wrap your mind around the idea of an absence flow. I.E. the electrons leaving a leg is a positive change, nobody likes those electrons anyway)

I mean how many times do you type a ; or : ? There was a long long gap between the formation of the keyboard and the smiley, so do not use that as an excuse (and programming languages don't HAVE to use the ; or :, i think that those symbols were chosen for their uses in programming languages because they were assigned prime real estate). I negate the smiley with the fact that english teachers discourage the use of the ' in the form of contractions (and the ,. work really well sitting next together). So while the ; and : may have seen increased usage, the ' has seen drastic reduction in the same time. (Don't use contractions!). Why devote a prime real estate to a key that 95% of english speakers (and users of english keyboards) do not know how to use correctly?

P.S. I like the rest of the qwerty keyboard, and while studies may say "blah" about dvorak, qwerty is the standard. So I will continue to use qwerty wherever english keyboard layouts are the default (friend's computers, computer labs, laptops, my treo phone, librarys, etc). The path of least resistance is qwerty, not dvorak. Dvorak may be better, faster, and easier in the long run, but as soon as you leave your cube or home setup, you have to switch back to the standard. I prefer ergonomic keyboards, so I know the pain of using a non-standard setup (yes, after a while, rectangular keyboards can get just as foreign as other keyboard layouts).

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Re: "Urgent Mission" Discussion

Postby VelociraptorEvader » Mon Apr 13, 2009 3:57 am UTC

BlueNight wrote:
Those silly Metric-using people have the advantage that A0 is double the area of A1, but identical in proportion.


you mean the silly metric using people? thats only a very large majority of the world officially last time i checked. http://xkcd.com/526/ is a funny one on this subject.
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Re: "Urgent Mission" Discussion

Postby Asbestos2 » Mon Apr 13, 2009 4:22 am UTC

I can't understand all these Electrical Engineers agreeing with this comic. Is it because they don't teach the theory of current in EE degrees?

Current is the flow of positive charge. Measuring the flow of positive charge, rather than negative charge, fits with all standard conventions, because we like to measure positive things, not negative things.

As far as current is concerned, (1) the medium of the charge is irrelevant -- it can be electrons, protons, ions, anything; (2) positive charge moving one way is the same as negative charge moving in the opposite direction.

Now, in a metal wire, which I guess is all they teach about through high school, only the electrons move, and they move in the opposite direction to the current. But so what? In a battery, current is protons moving in the direction of current. In a spark, the current is both positive ions and negative ions moving opposite directions.

The direction of charge has nothing to do with the actual little things moving around. It's not backwards at all. It's only backwards if you think that current is just electrons in wires.

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Re: "Urgent Mission" Discussion

Postby growthmetal » Mon Apr 13, 2009 4:39 am UTC

I've got an idea for how we might actually fix this. We could start calling negatively charged particles "electro-surplussed" and positively charged particles "electro-deficit", replacing + and - with S and D. We would use this terminology for a few decades, until the "negative" and "positive" people either assimilate or retire. Then we could re-introduce "negative" and "positive" sensibly.

Alternative to "electro-surplussed" and "electro-deficit": "electro-overflow" and "electro-underflow".

It seems unlikely that many people will read this. Would it be OK for me to make it into a top-level post?

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Re: "Urgent Mission" Discussion

Postby space_raptor » Mon Apr 13, 2009 5:10 am UTC

XKCD speaks the truth again.
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Re: "Urgent Mission" Discussion

Postby hotaru » Mon Apr 13, 2009 6:35 am UTC

VelociraptorEvader wrote:you mean the silly metric using people? thats only a very large majority of the world officially last time i checked.

yes, very few humans are smart enough not to be used by a silly metric.

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Re: "Urgent Mission" Discussion

Postby TomBot » Mon Apr 13, 2009 6:39 am UTC

super_aardvark wrote:This comic is totally unrealistic. Everyone knows Ben Franklin wouldn't respond the way he does in the comic. He'd obviously say, "Haste makes wa--" before the time-traveller tells him to shut up and says his piece.

lingomaniac88 wrote:
TomBot wrote:I actually think we could save a lot of trouble by going back to just before the first decimal number systems and having them use base 16 instead. You lose the ability to count on your fingers+thumbs...

You could use a variation of finger binary. Each hand can represent one digit, so you can count up to FF16 on two hands. (Here, I am only using four fingers on each hand because four fingers can represent one digit in base 16.)


The whole point of counting on your fingers is that all you have to do is count them. Finger binary would cause all sorts of problems when ordering from the value menu (which side of the hand is the ones place?). And if you're missing a finger, you're really screwed (no thumb? oh, sorry, you can only count even numbers).


The thing is, you wouldn't actually lose any finger-counting abilities with base-16. You can count just as high as before, it's just that you're no longer counting to the first 2-digit number. Finger binary remains just as possible yet impractical as it is today. I say, if you need to order a table for more than A people, you should be talking to the waiter anyway. (Note that if we had base-16 from the start, we would have more digit symbols, and would not need to dip into the alphabet.)

That reminds me, if we can go back that far, we also ought to implement Mark Twain's Plan for xe Impruvmnt of Ingliy Speling. I'm surprised there aren't lolkats for that.

Other things to fix: DOS deciding to use backslashes instead of forward slashes, drive letters, and the \r\n fiasco. Maybe if Bill Gates had been on a business trip to Finland when he needed to provide an OS for IBM...

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hotaru
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Re: "Urgent Mission" Discussion

Postby hotaru » Mon Apr 13, 2009 6:49 am UTC

TomBot wrote:Other things to fix: DOS deciding to use backslashes instead of forward slashes, drive letters, and the \r\n fiasco. Maybe if Bill Gates had been on a business trip to Finland when he needed to provide an OS for IBM...

while we're at it, could we also fix the monolithic kernel thing?
linux being open source is great, but if you want a free operating system with a monolithic kernel, freebsd is better in pretty much every way.
if all the effort that has gone into linux went into minix or hurd instead, windows 2000 would have been the last version of windows ever.

Code: Select all

factorial product enumFromTo 1
isPrime n 
factorial (1) `mod== 1


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