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Comment Do We Need Dark Matter? (Score 1) 85

As I understand it, dark matter is our best guess at explaining an observation of mass via gravitational lensing and other effects where there is not enough visible matter to account for it. What I never see mentioned, and perhaps there's a good reason for this unbeknownst to me, is the possibility that this phenomenon exists independent from any matter, just as we do observe it. It seems to suggest that without matter space time would be flat across the entire universe. Why isn't it possible that space time is inherently imperfect, with it's own curvatures independent of mass? I've never seen this question asked, or answered. Maybe I've been looking in the wrong places, though. Can someone enlighten me?

Comment Cursive Should Have Died With The Quill (Score 1) 523

"The origin of the cursive method is associated with practical advantages of writing speed and infrequent pen lifting to accommodate the limitations of the quill. Quills are fragile, easily broken, and will spatter unless used properly." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C... Modern pens, obviously, suffer none of these drawbacks. The idea that writing in cursive is somehow quicker with modern pens is dubious at best. The real reason cursive stuck around so long more likely lies in our tendency for traditionalism. I would guess the generation of teachers who are eschewing the instruction of cursive in favor of typing skills had themselves been forced to learn cursive in their youth and likely thought "I will never need to use this outside of school." They would have been correct with that assertion.

Comment Re:Finally! (Score 1) 59

We are completely and totally fucked as a species if we do not figure out how to live independently of Earth. That means manned spaceflights. That means colonization of the Moon, Mars, and possibly elsewhere. The sooner we begin this work the better chance our species has for survival. The trouble is getting our current anti-science government to believe it.

Comment Looking Down the Barrel (Score 1) 307

As I understand it in order to sustain catastrophic, life eradicating damage from a GRB you need to be looking directly down the "barrel of the gun" so to speak, or rather directly in the line of fire emanating from the star's poles. This forms a fairly narrow beam of intense energy that decreases with distance. It doesn't seem that likely to me that 90% of life supporting planets in the universe would find themselves in just this predicament.

Comment Why did they bother? (Score 3, Interesting) 264

Who seriously expected the physics of a marble rolling on a rubber sheet to exactly match the physics of a planetary body in orbit? Who thought the analogy was ever meant to make that statement? It's still a pretty good analogy for giving a layperson the gist of how gravity works, and I seriously doubt it was ever meant to do any more than just that.

Submission + - 'Lazarus Project' Ressurects Extinct Frog Species-> 1

AbsoluteXyro writes: Extinct since 1983, the Gastric Brooding Frog (the only frog to give birth through it's mouth) has been given a new lease on life. The 'Lazarus Project' at the University of Newcastle has achieved a major milestone by successfully cloning a living embryo of the long dead frog. Unfortunately, the embryo didn't survive long. Using somatic-cell nuclear transfer with genetic material from well preserved specimens and the deactivated eggs of a related species of frog, the researchers believe it won't be long until this unique frog is hopping again.
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Submission + - Aaron Swartz's Estate Seeks Release of Documents

theodp writes: The Boston Globe reports that the estate of Aaron Swartz filed a motion in federal court in Boston Friday to allow the release of documents in the case that has generated national controversy over the US attorney's aggressive pursuit of a stiff sentence. The Court filing suggests that the US attorney's office is still up for jerking Aaron around a little posthumously, seeking what his lawyers termed overbroad redactions, including names and titles that are already publicly known. Swartz's family also seeks the return of his seized property. Last week, Swartz's girlfriend accused MIT of dragging its feet on investigating his suicide. Meanwhile, Slate's Justin Peters asks if the Justice Department learned anything from the Aaron Swartz case, noting that Matthew Keys, who faces 25 years in prison for crimes that include aiding-and-abetting the display of humorously false content, could replace Swartz as the poster boy for prosecutorial overreach.

Submission + - Earthquakes Deposit Gold in Fault Zones->

sciencehabit writes: Gold deposits may be created in a flash—literally. Along fault zones deep within Earth's crust, small cavities filled with fluids rich in dissolved substances such as gold and silicate minerals can expand suddenly to as much as 130,000 times their former size during a major earthquake, a new analysis suggests. In such circumstances, pressure drops accordingly, driving a process the scientists call flash evaporation. And when the pressure in the cavity suddenly drops, so does the solubility of minerals in the water there. Along with substantial quantities of quartz, large earthquakes could deposit as much as 0.1 milligrams of gold along each square meter of a fault zone's surface in just a fraction of a second Typical rates of seismicity along a fault, such as the San Andreas fault zone shown in the main image, could generate a 100-metric-ton deposit of gold in less than 100,000 years.
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Submission + - Cassini Discovers First River On Another World->

AbsoluteXyro writes: NASA's Cassini orbiter, which has been dutifully exploring the Saturn system since 2004, has captured images of the first river ever observed on another world — and it's a biggun. 200 miles of flowing hydrocarbons meandering down a valley in the north polar region of Saturn's moon Titan, emptying into the awesomely named Kraken Mare — itself a body of liquid roughly the size of the Mediterranean Sea back on Earth. But don't think of going for an extraterrestrial skinny dip quite yet, temperatures on Titan average a brutally cold 290 degrees below zero (Fahrenheit).
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Submission + - Cops Pirate 100's of DVDs, Get Slap on Wrist->

AbsoluteXyro writes: Apparently, the big FBI warning we all see whenever you pop in a DVD does not apply to the fuzz. From KTTC.com — "In mid-2009, former Houston County digital network administrator Lindsay Pierce saw what he calls "suspicious activity" at the Sheriff's Office. "The county owns a duplicator that will make five discs at a time that we use for court cases and things like that, and I had replaced four or five drives and that seemed unusual. I actually saw one of the people involved actually making movies," Pierce said. Kevin Kelleher was a Houston County Commissioner for 16 years. He says he brought the issue before the county board a number of times. "I've given them evidence that I had that showed that members of the Houston County Sheriff's Department were in fact copying DVDs. Not just ones or twos, but hundreds," Kelleher said. FBI agents from Rochester confirmed that they looked into the allegations. They said they spent an hour in Caledonia before deciding the case didn't fall within their federal prosecuting guidelines. No one in the case has yet been charged with any criminal wrongdoing. But the county gave written reprimands to the county's finance director. The Houston County Attorney's Office says the case is closed."
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Neckties strangle clear thinking. -- Lin Yutang