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Submission + - Massive Black Hole Devours Star (

H3xx writes: Astronomers have observed a black hole shredding a star and sending a powerful beam of energy towards Earth. When it was first observed March 28th by the Swift spacecraft, it was thought to be the implosion of an aging star, but is now believed to be the result of a star wandering too close to a black hold, imploding and converting 10% of the star's mass into gamma radiation. The energy burst is still visible by telescope more than two-and-a-half months later, the researchers report in the journal Science.

Submission + - Living Earth Simulator Aims to Simulate Everything ( 1

H3xx writes: An international group of scientists are aiming to create a simulator--nicknamed The Living Earth Simulator--that will collect data from billions of sources and use it to replicate everything happening on Earth, from global weather patterns and the spread of diseases to international financial transactions or congestion on highways. The project aims to advance the scientific understanding of what is taking place on the planet, encapsulating the human actions that shape societies and the environmental forces that define the physical world. Perhaps this is Asimov's concept of Psychohistory come to fruition.

Submission + - Cryosat-2 Returns First Map of Arctic Circle (

H3xx writes: The European Space Agency (Esa) satellite Cryosat-2 was launched in April, carrying one of the highest resolution synthetic aperture radars ever put in orbit. Cryosat's primary mission is to measure sea-ice thickness, which has been in sharp decline in recent decades. Its ability also to map the shape of the sea surface will tell scientists if Arctic currents are changing as a result of winds being allowed to blow more easily on ice-free waters.

Today, radar data from the European satellite has been used to make a map of ocean circulation across the Arctic basin.


Submission + - Comic Sans Makes You Smarter ( 2

H3xx writes: Difficult-to-read fonts make for better learning, according to scientists.

Researchers at Princeton University employed volunteers to learn made-up information about different types of aliens — and found that those reading harder fonts recalled more when tested 15 minutes later. They argue that schools could boost results by simply changing the font used in their basic teaching materials.

The 28 volunteers in the Princeton study were given 90 seconds to try to memorize a list of seven features for three different species of alien. The idea was to re-create the kind of learning in a biology class. Aliens were chosen to be sure that none of the volunteers' prior knowledge interfered with the results.

One group was given the lists in 16-point Arial pure black font, which is generally regarded to be easy and clear to read. The other had the same information presented in either 12-point Comic Sans MS 75% greyscale font or 12-point Bodoni MT 75% greyscale.

If you can't learn to do it well, learn to enjoy doing it badly.