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Comment Re:First programming course? At Stanford?? (Score 2) 255

As someone who has taught classes at top universities (although not Stanford), I just have to say that the answer to this question is a resounding *yes*! In the time since computers because a thing that "everyone can do" (and not just geeks), users have become significantly less geeky. I'm a scientists and I was shocked at the number of incoming *PhD* students who have close to zero programming experience. I'm a crap programmer, but have the basic skills to hack together what I need. A lot of the students I've taught (as well as grad students who were slightly-younger contemporaries of me) had shockingly little (sometimes no) programming experience.

Comment Re:So their measurement of the Hubble constant is (Score 1) 102

It's also possible that this galaxy is not totally in the Hubble Flow. In other words, it might be pulled around by other nearby galaxies/galaxy clusters. All galaxies are affected by this to some extent, but with nearby galaxies (like this one), these gravitationally-caused velocities can be significant compared to the Hubble expansion-caused velocities.

Comment Re:Great Experimental Idea (Score 1) 102

The trouble is that these galaxies aren't that far away (despite the article summary says). They're quite a bit further away than the previous measurements of water masers, but you still need to use Type Ia supernovae to actually get to the distances where this discussion gets interesting. The cool thing about the water masers is that they might allow us to get out a bit further without using another "rung" on the distance ladder, but there is no way that they are going to replace the (much, much more distant) Type Ia supernovae.

Comment Re:Just to clarify the status of ACS... (Score 3, Interesting) 47

Yeah. No one really cares about the SBC. Hopefully they'll fix the rest of the ACS channels on their trip up.

The only good news about this most recent failure is that it's relatively easy to replace the electronics; it was designed to be replaced and is mounted on a door on HST that they were planning on opening anyway. The only concern is that the replacement hasn't been used in over 18 years (i.e. since HST went up). But, the general thought is that the replacement of the data handling computer shouldn't necessarily bump any of the planned parts of SM4. I also think that ACS is above STIS on their priority list, so hopefully ACS is still likely to be fixed.

Apple Laptop Upgrades Costing 200% More Than Dells 935

An anonymous reader writes "C|net is highlighting the astonishing cost of Apple laptop hardware upgrades, compared to Dell — in some instances, Apple is charging 200% more for upgraded components, such as memory and hard disks. Either there's a serious difference in the quality of components being used, or Apple is quite literally ripping off those who aren't able to upgrade hardware themselves."

Xbox Live Disallows Linux, Unix As Keywords 281

shafty023 writes "The Xbox Live online service disallows screen names like LINUXRULES, L I N U X, and other variations of these kinds. Other bloggers are reporting that variants of 'Unix' also result in the message: 'Your motto contains inappropriate language. Please try again.'" If this is an extension of Microsoft's anti-Linux campaign, perhaps it's time they gave it up.

Astronomers Again Baffled by Solar Observations 299

SteakNShake writes "Once again professional astronomers are struggling to understand observations of the sun. ScienceDaily reports that a team from Saint Andrew's University announced that the sun's magnetic fields dominate the behavior of the corona via a mechanism dubbed the 'solar skeleton.' Computer models continue to be built to mimic the observed behavior of the sun in terms of magnetic fields but apparently the ball is still being dropped; no mention in the announcement is made of the electric fields that must be the cause of the observed magnetic fields. Also conspicuously absent from the press releases is the conclusion that the sun's corona is so-dominated by electric and magnetic fields because it is a plasma. In light of past and present research revealing the electrical nature of the universe, this kind of crippling ignorance among professional astrophysicists is astonishing."

Feed Hearts Of Male And Female Rainbow Trout Are Different (

A new study expands upon previous findings that sex differences in cardiac performance and metabolism exist in fish in general, and have now been found to occur in rainbow trout in particular. Female rainbow trout prefer carbohydrates and tolerate lower oxygen levels better than males.

Submission + - Have Wii seen the end of the mouse?

Triple Sec writes: Tech that could put the keyboard and mouse out of service has surfaced in Britain. According to, BT has demoed a USB-based device that enables a user to manipulate a tablet PC or laptop to 'move the cursor, view maps, surf the net or turn the pages of a digital book'. The motion-sensitive device apparently works in a similar way to the Nintendo Wii controllers.

Billion Dollar Handout To Upgrade TVs 663

db32 writes "SFGate has the story of the cutoff date for those rabbit ear antennas that some of us grew up with (Feb. 19, 2009). Now while the story of analog vs. digital TV has been beaten to death, still I think there is something more here. 'The Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration... said it is setting aside $990 million to pay for the boxes. Each home can request up to two $40 coupons for a digital-to-analog converter box, which consumer electronics makers such as RCA and LG plan to produce.' Beyond my disdain for most TV to begin with, I am blown away that with all of our current problems — homelessness and crime on the home front, war fighting and terrorism abroad — our government is seriously going to spend this much money on upgrading peoples' televisions."

Variable Star By Heinlein and Robinson 201

Cam Turner writes "In late August, Slashdot reported that a lost Robert A. Heinlein novel was mere months away from being released. True enough, it was completed and released on October 18th, 2006 by Spider Robinson, himself a distinguished speculative fiction writer. On the back cover, John Varley is quoted as saying "Completing a book from notes by a dead author is almost always a mistake. But apparently Robert A. Heinlein isn't really dead. He was at the side of Spider Robinson as he wrote this book." I'd have to agree. This story is a valuable addition to any speculative fiction collection, even that of a purist Heinlein fan." Read the rest of Cam's review.

He's dead, Jim.