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Submission + - How does a self-driving car even know if it is on a road? (

An anonymous reader writes: Before a self-driving car can consider the problem of identifying obstacles, it first has to be sure that it is even on a road. In the potential absence of GPS and network-based services, an Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) either needs tagged information to help define the limits of the road area — and this may not be current enough to address diversions and other anomalies — or else local access to the kind of Convolutional Neural Network which is improbable for autonomous commercial vehicles. A new paper [] seeks to address the current shortcomings of road-identification by providing context to areas of doubt in incoming images from the driver's point of view.

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Storing family videos and pictures for posterity? 2

jalvarez13 writes: I'm in my early 40's and I will become a dad in less than a month. Until now I've been quite happy with a Canon Powershot S110 for taking pictures and video, but now I'm thinking in longer terms. If some of you have already thought or done something about this, what did you consider when buying photo/video equipment? I guess there are important decisions you made about to image quality, file formats, storage type, organising and labelling software, etc.

I'm also wondering if there are any other technologies (stereoscopic cameras?) that I haven't thought about and may be interesting to look at.

Submission + - Cops must get warrant for Stingray Use (

Earthquake Retrofit writes: The NPR website has an interesting story that the Justice Department says it will beef up legal requirements for using cell-site simulators. It includes a rare picture of the device and refers to them as dirt boxes.

Submission + - Ada and Her Legacy

nightcats writes: Nature has an extensive piece on the legacy of the "enchantress of abstraction," the extraordinary Victorian-era computer pioneer Ada Lovelace, daughter of the poet Lord Byron. Her monograph on the Babbage machine was described by Babbage himself as a creation of...

“that Enchantress who has thrown her magical spell around the most abstract of Sciences and has grasped it with a force that few masculine intellects (in our own country at least) could have exerted over it”

Ada's remarkable merging of intellect and intuition — her capacity to analyze and capture the conceptual and functional foundations of the Babbage machine — is summarized with a historical context which reveals the precocious modernity of her scientific mind:

By 1841 Lovelace was developing a concept of “Poetical Science”, in which scientific logic would be driven by imagination, “the Discovering faculty, pre-eminently. It is that which penetrates into the unseen worlds around us, the worlds of Science.” She saw mathematics metaphysically, as “the language of the unseen relations between things”; but added that to apply it, “we must be able to fully appreciate, to feel, to seize, the unseen, the unconscious”. She also saw that Babbage's mathematics needed more imaginative presentation.

Submission + - Another Neurodegenerative Disease Linked To A Prion (

MTorrice writes: A new study concludes that a brain protein causes the rare, Parkinson’s-like disease called multiple systems atrophy (MSA) by acting like a prion, the misbehaving type of protein infamously linked to mad cow disease. The researchers say the results are the most definitive demonstration to date that proteins involved in many neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, exhibit prionlike behavior: They can misfold into shapes that then coax others to do the same, leading to protein aggregation that forms neurotoxic clumps. If these other diseases are caused by prionlike proteins, then scientists could develop treatments that slow or stop disease progression by designing molecules that block prion propagation.

Submission + - NASA to 'lasso' a comet to hitchhike across the solar system

evilviper writes: Traveling around space can be hard and require a lot of fuel, which is part of the reason NASA has a spacecraft concept that would hitch a free ride on one of the many comets and asteroids speeding around our solar system at 22,000 miles per hour (on the slow end). Comet Hitchhiker, developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, would feature a reusable tether system to replace the need for propellant for entering orbit and landing on objects.

The spacecraft would first cast an extendable tether toward the object and attach itself using a harpoon attached to the tether. Next, it would reel out the tether while applying a brake that harvests energy while the spacecraft accelerates. This allows Comet Hitchhiker to accelerate and slowly match the speed of its ride, and keeping that slight tension on the line harvests energy that is stored on-board for later use, reeling itself down to the surface of the comet or asteroid. A comet hitchhiker spacecraft can obtain up to ~10 km/s of delta-V by using a carbon nanotube (CNT) tether, reaching the current orbital distance of Pluto (32.6 AU) in just 5.6 years.

Unfortunately rocket scientists apparently don't read the opinions of Anonymous Cowards on the internet, or else they'd know from discussions last year that it simply won't work. It seems that the idea defies "basic orbital mechanics" and "makes no sense".

Nobody said computers were going to be polite.