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Submission + - Winston Churchill's Scientists writes: Nicola Davis writes at The Guardian that a new exhibition at London’s Science Museum tiitled Churchill’s Scientists aims to explore how a climate that mingled necessity with ambition spurred British scientists to forge ahead in fields as diverse as drug-discovery and operational research, paving the way for a further flurry of postwar progress in disciplines from neurology to radio astronomy. Churchill "was very unusual in that he was a politician from a grand Victorian family who was also interested in new technology and science,” says Andrew Nahum. “That was quite remarkable at the time.” An avid reader of Charles Darwin and HG Wells, Churchill also wrote science-inspired articles himself and fostered an environment where the brightest scientists could build ground-breaking machines, such as the Bernard Lovell telescope, and make world-changing discoveries, in molecular genetics, radio astronomy, nuclear power, nerve and brain function and robotics. “During the war the question was never, 'How much will it cost?’ It was, 'Can we do it and how soon can we have it?’ This left a heritage of extreme ambition and a lot of talented people who were keen to see what it could provide."

According to Cambridge Historian Richard Toye, Churchill was a “closet science-fiction fan” who borrowed the lines for one of his most famous speeches from H. G. Wells — to depict the rise of Hitler's Germany. "It's a bit like Tony Blair borrowing phrases from Star Trek or Doctor Who," says Toye. A close friend of Wells, Churchill said that The Time Machine was “one of the books I would like to take with me to Purgatory”. Wells and Churchill met in 1902 and several times thereafter, and kept in touch in person and by letter until Wells' death in 1946. "We need to remember that there was a time when Churchill was a radical liberal who believed these things," Toye adds. "Wells is often seen as a socialist, but he also saw himself as a liberal, and he saw Churchill as someone whose views were moving in the right direction."

Submission + - 2014 - Hottest Year on Record (

Layzej writes: Data from three major climate-tracking groups agree: The combined land and ocean surface temperatures hit new highs this year, according to the United States' National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the United Kingdom's Met Office and the World Meteorological Association.

If December's figures are at least 0.76 degrees Fahrenheit (0.42 degrees Celsius) higher than the 20th century average, 2014 will beat the warmest years on record, NOAA said this month. The January-through-November period has already been noted as the warmest 11-month period in the past 135 years, according to NOAA's November Global Climate Report. Scientific American reports on five places that will help push 2014 into the global warming record books.


Why the First Cowboy To Draw Always Gets Shot 398

cremeglace writes "Have you ever noticed that the first cowboy to draw his gun in a Hollywood Western is invariably the one to get shot? Nobel-winning physicist Niels Bohr did, once arranging mock duels to test the validity of this cinematic curiosity. Researchers have now confirmed that people indeed move faster if they are reacting, rather than acting first."

NASA Tests All-Composite Prototype Crew Module 67

coondoggie writes "With an eye toward building safer, lighter and tougher spacecraft, NASA said today its prototype space crew module made up of composite materials handled tests simulating structural stresses of launch and atmospheric reentry. The idea behind NASA's Composite Crew Module project is to test new structural materials for possible future NASA spacecraft. According to NASA, composite materials are being looked at because they are stiff and lightweight and can be formed into complex shapes that may be more structurally efficient. In space travel, where every additional pound of weight drives costs higher, any weight savings provides increased payload capacity and potentially reduces mission expense."

A fanatic is a person who can't change his mind and won't change the subject. - Winston Churchill