MatthewVD writes "Some time in the next decade, the Voyager probes will run out of juice and finally go silent after almost a half century of exploration. John Rennie writes that the lack of any meaningful effort to follow up with a mission to interstellar space shows the "fragile, inconsistent state of space exploration." It's particularly frustrating since the Voyagers have tantalized astronomers with a glimpse into about how the sun's magnetic field protects us from (or exposes us to) cosmic rays. Have we gone as far as we're willing to go in space?"
Slashdot stories can be listened to in audio form via an RSS feed, as read by our own robotic overlord.
An anonymous reader writes "The open source Nouveau driver, a reverse-engineered incarnation of NVIDIA's official proprietary driver for Linux, has reached its biggest milestone. The Nouveau driver is now being considered stable within the Linux kernel and leaving the staging area, with the pledge of a stable ABI. Phoronix has summarized the state of the Nouveau driver, which works fine if you don't care about performance or are fine with running hardware that's a few generations old."
CowboyRobot writes "For decades, rapid increases in storage, processor speed, and bandwidth have kept up with the enormous increases in computer usage. That could change however, as consumption finally outpaces the supply of these resources. It is instructive to review the 19th-century Economics theory known as Jevons Paradox. Common sense suggests that as efficiencies rise in the use of a resource, the consumption goes down. Jevons Paradox posits that efficiencies actually drive up usage, and we're already seeing examples of this: our computers are faster than ever and we have more bandwidth than ever, yet our machines are often slow and have trouble connecting. The more we have, the even more we use."
Hugh Pickens writes "Natalie Wolchover says even the most die-hard skeptics among us believe in magic. Humans can't help it: though we try to be logical, irrational beliefs — many of which we aren't even conscious of — are hardwired in our psyches. 'The unavoidable habits of mind that make us think luck and supernatural forces are real, that objects and symbols have power, and that humans have souls and destinies are part of what has made our species so evolutionarily successful,' writes Wolchover. 'Believing in magic is good for us.' For example, what do religion, anthropomorphism, mysticism and the widespread notion that each of us has a destiny to fulfill have in common? According to research by Matthew Hutson, underlying all these forms of magical thinking is the innate sense that everything happens for a reason. And that stems from paranoia, which is a safety mechanism that protects us. 'We have a bias to see events as intentional, and to see objects as intentionally designed,' says Hutson. 'If we don't see any biological agent, like a person or animal, then we might assume that there's some sort of invisible agent: God or the universe in general with a mind of its own.' According to anthropologists, the reason we have a bias to assume things are intentional is that typically it's safer to spot another agent in your environment than to miss another agent. 'It's better to mistake a boulder for a bear than a bear for a boulder,' says Stewart Guthrie. In a recent Gallup poll, three in four Americans admitted to believing in at least one paranormal phenomenon. 'But even for those few of us who claim to be complete skeptics, belief quietly sneaks in. Maybe you feel anxious on Friday the 13th. Maybe the idea of a heart transplant from a convicted killer weirds you out. ... If so, on some level you believe in magic.'"
astroengine writes "Astronomers believe they have found a second distant planet around Fomalhaut, a bright young neighbor star, and that the far-out world — like its sister planet — is shepherding and shaping the star's ring of dust. If confirmed, theorists have some work to do explaining how the planet, believed to be a few times bigger than Mars, ended up 155 times as far away from its parent star as Earth is to the sun. 'We're learning a lot about planets that are close to their stars, but that is not the full picture. We also want to know about systems where planets are very far out. By considering near-, far- and mid-range, we can get a complete picture of planet formation,' University of Florida astronomer Aaron Boley said." There was another fascinating bit of news about Fomalhaut a few days ago: "ESA’s Herschel Space Observatory has studied the dusty belt around the nearby star Fomalhaut. The dust appears to be coming from collisions that destroy up to thousands of icy comets every day."
New submitter thunderdanp writes with news that a company called Worlds Inc. has filed a patent suit against Activision Blizzard, targeting World of Warcraft and the Call of Duty series. The patents in question describe a "System and Method for Enabling Users to Interact in a Virtual Space." Worlds Inc. is quite glad that "their" technology has "helped the businesses of virtual worlds gaming and the sale of virtual goods to grow into a multibillion-dollar industry" — but now they want a cut.
An anonymous reader writes "Following on the heels of the FCC and U.S. mobile carriers finally announcing plans to create a national database for stolen phones, a group of iPhone users filed a class action lawsuit against AT&T on Tuesday claiming that it has aided and abetted cell phone thieves by refusing to brick stolen cell phones. AT&T has '[made] millions of dollars in improper profits, by forcing legitimate customers, such as these Plaintiffs, to buy new cell phones, and buy new cell phone plans, while the criminals who stole the phone are able to simply walk into AT&T stories and 're-activate' the devices, using different, cheap, readily-available 'SIM' cards,' states their complaint. AT&T, of course, says the suit is 'meritless.'"
New submitter cb_is_cool writes "From the Beeb: 'The Pentagon has put in an order for prototype contact lenses that give users a much wider field of vision. The lenses are designed to be paired with compact heads up display units — glasses that allow images to be projected onto their lenses.' Hopefully, any mugger within 50 yards will have a red status bar above his head. 'The central part of each lens sends light from the HUD towards the middle of the pupil, while the outer part sends light from the surrounding environment to the pupil's rim. The retina receives each image in focus, at the same time."
McGruber writes "The New York Times has the sad story of Jack B. Palmer, an employee of Infosys, the giant Indian outsourcing firm. 17 months ago, Mr. Palmer made a quiet internal complaint that Infosys was committing visa fraud by bringing 'in Indian workers on short-term visitor visas, known as B-1, instead of longer-term temporary visas, known as H-1B, which are more costly and time-consuming to obtain.' Since making his complaint, Mr. Palmer 'has been harassed by superiors and co-workers, sidelined with no work assignment, shut out of the company's computers, denied bonuses and hounded by death threats.'"
jjp9999 writes "Bethesda announced they're bringing Kinect support to Skyrim. It doesn't sound like this will include motion detection. Rather, it will be around voice commands — tons of voice commands. It supports dragon shouts, trading, navigation, switching weapons, and a whole lot of other features that usually require you to assign hotkeys or to sort through menus. They also gave a brief hint at new content, stating they've 'been hard at work on creating the first set of game add-ons that will be exclusive to the Xbox 360. This additional content will add new quests, locations, features, and much more to the world of Skyrim.'"
itwbennett writes "Chinese officials said Thursday that 210,000 online posts and 42 websites have been taken down since mid-March in a government crackdown on rumors. In addition, 6 people were detained for allegedly fabricating rumors saying that military vehicles were in Beijing and that the city was in trouble."
pcritter writes "With the Oracle v. Google trial date set for next Monday, the Judge has asked Google and Oracle to take a position on whether a programming language is copyrightable. This presumably relates to whether Google violated copyright by using a variant of the Java language and its APIs in the Android framework. Oracle, who thinks it can be, has used J.R.R. Tolkein's Elvish language as an examples (PDF) of a language that can be copyrighted. Google disagrees (PDF)."
New submitter Canazza writes "According to Develop, 'PC games giant Valve wants to "invent whole new gaming experiences" and is looking for people to help create new hardware, the Washington studio has confirmed. Off the back of a wave of speculation that the studio is building its own games console – a rumour which Valve has not specifically denied – the company now appears to be increasing capacity of its hardware development division.' Is Valve designing a new console? Or is this an expansion of its biometric controls research? Either way, something big is going down at Valve."
omega6 sends this excerpt from The Star: "The Supreme Court of Canada struck down Friday warrantless wiretap powers that police have in cases of emergency. ... Ruling in a 2006 British Columbia kidnapping case, the country’s top court said a 1993 provision of the Criminal Code is unconstitutional because there is no accountability or oversight for the warrantless searches, either to the person wiretapped or in reports to Parliament. The unanimous ruling was written by rookie judges Michael Moldaver and Andromache Karakatsanis. The case revolves around police intercepting the calls of the family of Peter Li, the kidnap victim."
New submitter boner writes "In a follow-up to an earlier Slashdot story, scientists at the Technical University of Delft in the Netherlands yesterday published their findings that they have indeed found the Majorana particle. The announcement on the university website provides both a summary of the academic paper (PDF) and background of this groundbreaking discovery. Quoting: 'Majorana fermions are very interesting – not only because their discovery opens up a new and uncharted chapter of fundamental physics; they may also play a role in cosmology. A proposed theory assumes that the mysterious ‘dark matter, which forms the greatest part of the universe, is composed of Majorana fermions. Furthermore, scientists view the particles as fundamental building blocks for the quantum computer.'"