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So with my fever brain thinking about my feverish mom I was reading some stuff on the interwebs that suggested that taking paracetamol / acetaminophen for fever may actually be harmful because it's suppressing an adaptive immune response that helps your body get rid on infections. That makes some sense from an evolutionary point of view (why else would fever be preserved across many different animal species?). However my mom had her fever treated with paracetamol in the hospital the last few days, and when I asked my GP she said it made no significant difference in your body's ability to fight the infection.
Does anyone have a clearer breakdown of the evidence in either direction?
General Discussion / Scary.jpg
October 31, 2022, 08:21:23 PM
'Tis All Hallows' Eve!

Post all your creepy and disturbing images here. No actual real life violence or anything like that please. Other spooky and horror-y stuff also welcome.

Sorry but you are not allowed to view spoiler contents.
Sent to me by my cousin with the caption "Omg? US acknowledges UFOs and asks for report":

I don't see anything new here, really, so not sure why this is a thing again now?
Skepticism / Science Talk / Thylacine spotted?
February 22, 2021, 03:02:41 PM
A biologist friend of mine sent me this. Supposedly a family of three thylacines (aka tasmanian tigers) has been spotted in Tasmania:

Not sure what to make of this. Of course, it would be awesome if true, but I'm a bit weary of supposed extinct animal spottings (as I assume everyone on this forum probably is). They are releasing a picture on March 1st (which has been sent to the Hobart museum in New Zealand for assessment and confirmation). Is anyone familiar with this guy?

For anyone who doesn't know what a thylacine is:

TV & Movies / Annoying movie and TV tropes
January 01, 2021, 03:26:49 PM
What movie and TV clichés annoy you the most?

I have tons, as I watch way too many movies, but one that irritated me tonight was on the latest episode of ST: Discovery. Two characters are on a time sensitive mission of some sort. They have mere seconds before they are discovered by the bad guys, as indicated by sounds of approaching forces, and are forced to split up for whatever reason. They then take their sweet ass time to argue about whether to actually do so, and then some more to say their goodbyes, when in reality they should be moving as fast as possible.

I get the cinematic effect of having that goodbye moment, but whenever I encounter this in any tense scene it just has me yelling at the screen: "FFS what are you doing?! You have no time for this shit. Just GO, go NOW!".
TV & Movies / The Stand (2020)
December 25, 2020, 09:07:43 PM
Anyone else seen the first few episodes of this? I just watched the first episode and I don't know how I feel about it. It's not too bad, especially for a King adaptation... The performances are OK, it has some of the right atmosphere (although the magical side of things seems a bit out of place somehow), the visuals look fine, it looks about right for the book... but man, there's definitely something off about it. The editing is pure lunacy. Without any warning they jump years back and forth in time and it's done in a way that feels downright bizarre at times. Like one moment two people look like they are about to go on some long epic road trip adventure, and then in the very next shot it's x months later and they're all part of a community. And then all of a sudden it turns into a kind of dream sequence, and now I am unclear as to whether any of that actually happened, or whether it's all in Harold's mind - but it feels like it shouldn't be unclear.
I was reading up on Russia, and I can't say I'm surprised that their numbers are likely an underestimate. The article suggests the real number is about 26,000, whereas the official count is around 15000. I'm actually surprised the real number isn't bigger, given how many cases they have.

Anyway, it occurred to me it might be good to have a thread dedicated to exposing governments (big and small) who are misrepresenting the number of coronavirus deaths, be it on purpose or through incompetence, and the tricks they are using. I didn't see a thread like that yet, so I figured I'd make one! Please post such cases when you learn of them.

For my own country, the Netherlands, I checked the official death toll of ~6100 against the excess deaths figure a while back. The excess deaths figure (as compared to the mean of 2017-2019) gave me a number exceeding 10,000. This is likely the result of our low testing rate. I'll try not to speculate about whether that's a malicious act by our market-liberal lead government, or one of simple incompetence.
Skepticism / Science Talk / Moon UFOs
April 07, 2020, 02:46:37 PM
I wonder what these are:

Could be satellites I suppose, or some small captured asteroids maybe? Or I suppose it could just be fake (or space aliens).

Although satellites might be a stretch; according to the guy who sent it, supposedly based on comparison to the known size of the crater, they're 6-10km in size.
TV & Movies / Odd movie ideas?
July 10, 2019, 08:54:57 PM
I guess the title says it all.

I've been slightly addicted to Wildlife SOS this past week, and I realized today that someone really needs to make a movie about emaciated humans being taken in by a benevolent aliens to be nursed back to health and released into the wild. I think it would make a fine comedy and/or drama.

Although it might just be the beer talking.
General Discussion / Phantom units?
April 17, 2019, 04:26:19 PM
So my previous company was based in the U.S., and they have a phantom units plan. I was awarded some when I worked there but as far as I recall there wasn't much explanation of what it meant. Now the company is getting sold, and so apparently these units are going to be paid out a little over two months from now. I don't know much about this stuff, and tbh I'm not expecting to get much out of it, but I'm still kind of curious what it means and how it generally works?
I've heard these terms used almost interchangeably before, and it seems that Wahhabists identify as Salafists. But it seems that, other than sharing a desire to return to the fundamentals of the religion (and specifically the way of life of the first few generations of Muslims, al-Salaf al-Salih, the "pious predecessors"), the two are quite distinct historically and have only recently merged into the modern form that we see in Saudi Arabia (and elsewhere) today. Given this fact, I suppose there must be points of contention between the Wahhabist and non-Wahhabist Salafist groups, but I'm not sure what they are, or even what some of the other Salafi groups are. Does anyone have an answer to this? What doctrinal tennets set Wahhabists apart from the rest (and I mean something a bit more specific than "they follow the teachings of Abd al-Wahhab")?

EDIT: Also, I'm kind of curious how the Taliban fit into all of this. I've read that they are Salafist, but are they at all doctrinally related to Wahhabists as well?
TV & Movies / Dialogue misinterpretations
October 01, 2017, 04:49:35 PM
Tonight I'm watching Penny Dreadful, and in it the character of Dorian Gray is a pansexual socialite who has recently had a homosexual affair on the show. At one point I am slightly distracted by my own thoughts and only half listening, and the following dialogue takes place:

Lily: "What things you must do here. So much empty space to fill up with your... adventures."
Dorian: "But you like adventures."
Lily: "Who doesn't? You're a very interesting man Dorian. You can't be as pure as your face suggests."
Dorian: "And are you? As for the room, I find diversions to fill it. I've held balls, as you know."

Maybe it was the fact that I was a little distracted, maybe it was the quasi suggestive dialogue, but for a full ten seconds, I kind of cocked my head and went "wait, did he just start talking about balls? That's pretty blatant", totally blanking on the "social dance event" meaning of that term. Once I realized my mistake, it took me about a full minute to stop chuckling. I guess I'm still a 13 year old boy at heart.
So, I'm less of a computer vision guy than a machine learning guy, and I've run into the following problem, for which my google-fu is failing me:

I have a camera hanging or standing at a known height, at known angles, with a known field of view (all with small error margins, of course, but lets ignore those for now). Assume that there's no radial lens distortion. The floor of the room that this camera is observing is otherwise flat and level. What I need is to reconstruct the position of any point I click on on the floor in the 2D image, in real-world coordinates, along that floor, relative to the camera. Of course, the y coordinate is always the same since the point is always at floor level.

My linear algebra and geometry are a bit rusty, so I'm not sure how to do the calculation beyond a vague feeling about how it probably involves using the intersection between a virtual line projected out from the camera at an angle that goes through the point (and thus the floor, which is at a known distance along the vertical axis relative to the camera). Is anyone here who is good with coordinate frame transformations and projections and the like who could help me out with this?

Of course, if you know of a python library that can do this for me, that would be ideal.


Oh, and actually, I need the reverse problem solved as well; if I have a position on the real-world ground relative to the camera, I need to find the image coordinates for that point (so that I can draw it onto the camera image), given the same information as in the problem above about the camera.
TV & Movies / IMDB shutting down their message boards
February 15, 2017, 02:15:44 PM
Is anyone else here active on IMDB? The message boards there closing really upsets me. I've been on that site and those boards since at least 2002. I mostly use the site for the message boards and my own ratings (and maybe look up a movie maker's other works). The discussions I had on the board for Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed with creationists prompted me to renew my interest in science and skepticism, which lasts until this day. It's how I found the SGU. It may sound weird, but in a very real sense, the IMDB message boards literally changed my life and my outlook on the world and the way I view myself in very profound ways. It's true that there were some popular boards that were infested with trolls (which they claim is why they're shutting them down), but there were very many interesting discussions and facts there. It seems incredibly wasteful.
OK, so Independence Day: Resurgence has a scene in which a giant spaceship lands on earth, covering the North Atlantic. The spaceship "has its own gravity" (well duh! That must be one of the most scientifically awkward lines ever spoken by a scientist character in a scifi movie), and it is pulling up all of the buildings underneath it (they subsequently fall back down to earth because apparently things that have landed on the Earth stop having gravity in this ridiculous movie universe).

Anyway, the movie is silly, but it made me wonder what actually would happen... Would you feel a sense of diminished weight as the spaceship drew closer? Today I went looking, and I came across this article in Wired that runs through the calculations of how heavy a spaceship would have to be to be able to do this, and they come up with a figure of 3.7 x 1018 kg, or "about the mass of many of the large asteroids with a radius of around 70 km" when the spaceship is at an altitude of 5000m.

Setting aside the issue of building structural integrity, this immediately set off my BS alarm... This would mean that something standing on the earth is being pulled on harder by a moderately sized asteroid that is actually further away from the thing that is being pulled on, than by the earth with which it is in direct contact? As far as I can tell, their error is in implicitly assuming that all of the earth's mass is concentrated in a point at the center of the earth (which can be used as an approximation if the two objects are much further apart than their radius, but not if they are this close together - which is actually pointed out in the article). Can anyone with knowledge of physics comment on the calculations? Did I spot the error correctly? What would be the correct calculation? In other words, how does one handle a case where you can not treat the mass of an object as concentrated in a single point?
Erik Verlinde's paper Emergent Gravity and the Dark Universe has been getting a great deal of media attention here in Holland (probably because he is Dutch), but it doesn't seem to have gotten as much exposure abroad.  My gut feeling is that this is just one of those many papers and that it is probably getting more attention than it really deserves (since that is true for almost all such hyped papers), but I'd like an expert opinion on that nontheless (and preferably several). Does anyone have any good resources discussing the paper in the appropriate scientific context that are (at least somewhat) readable by a layman?
I went to this site to vote for a blog, and noticed that the SGU is nominated for best podcast! Unfortunately you do have to register to vote, but meh.
Randi spoke in The Netherlands yesterday evening. While I was unable to get a ticket (}|:ó() the lecture can be watched online here:

(in MS Silverlight)

A warning: the sound quality isn't very good. Still: Enjoy!
It's kind of an old vid (2006), but I'm too lazy to search and check if it has already been posted, especially since it's 5:30 in the morning here:

Optical Camouflage (Invisible Cloak)

I'm highly skeptical, particularly because it's from 2006 and they are showing off an actual cloak, wrinkles and all. Looks more like a projection on a green cloak / object to me. But hey, if it's real, I'm gonna place a mass order for my robot army!
Anyone know more about this one?
Jeez, it was about time fellas. Anyway, it's a good summary of the various claims and rebuttals out there.

It's worth noting that they also give a number of citations in the IPCC, something I tried to estimate a while back (I inferred that there were between 10000 and 20000). The number they give is 18000 citations.
A climate skeptic pointed out this Guardian article:
Leaked climate change emails scientist 'hid' data flaws
I read it, and then noticed this link in the sidebar:
How the 'climategate' scandal is bogus and based on climate sceptics' lies

What's weird is that these were two articles posted within 3 hours of one another, which were apparently written by the same author. Finally, I then found that he's published a third article in between these two that seems to contradict much of what he's saying in the first one... None of the articles explicitly refer to what has changed for Pearce in those three hours time. What's up with this? Simple sensationalist reporting? It's pretty weird.
Skepticism / Science Talk / Go green, slugger
February 01, 2010, 03:23:59 PM
Maybe this has been posted before since it's a few weeks old, but here goes:

Have you ever asked a pesky Darwinist how the religion of evolution could possibly be falsified? Did they respond with "well, we might find something like a rabbit in the cambrian, or an animal with cell walls or chloroplasts"?

Well hold on to your hats folks. We had the bacterial flagellum, we had the ica stones, and now we have...

The photosynthesizing sea slug!

There. Darwinism falsified.

God 1
Darwin 0

Take that evil Darwinist Nazi commies!

(Also, here's the technical nitty gritty if anyone's interested:
Hi guys,

I wrote this primer a while back while debating creationists on another message board. I was educating myself on the topic at the time, and I basically turned my notes from various sources (first and foremost a teaching company course taught by Robert Hazen - I can recommend both that course and his book Genesis - but augmented with info from a variety of other sources) into a summary of the most prominent hypotheses that have played a role in this field. I figured that this might be interesting to some people here as well, so I hope it'll be useful. I apologize for the poor sourcing (it wasn't really written for a scientific public), though I've tried to refer to the names of the researchers that have played a key role. I might fix that problem at a later time, but it'll probably be several months from now.
If you find any factual errors, or think that I overlooked something important, please let me know.
Hope you'll find it useful: