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Big Dipper "Star" Actually a Sextuplet System 88

Theosis sends word that an astronomer at the University of Rochester and his colleagues have made the surprise discovery that Alcor, one of the brightest stars in the Big Dipper, is actually two stars; and it is apparently gravitationally bound to the four-star Mizar system, making the whole group a sextuplet. This would make the Mizar-Alcor sextuplet the second-nearest such system known. The discovery is especially surprising because Alcor is one of the most studied stars in the sky. The Mizar-Alcor system has been involved in many "firsts" in the history of astronomy: "Benedetto Castelli, Galileo's protege and collaborator, first observed with a telescope that Mizar was not a single star in 1617, and Galileo observed it a week after hearing about this from Castelli, and noted it in his notebooks... Those two stars, called Mizar A and Mizar B, together with Alcor, in 1857 became the first binary stars ever photographed through a telescope. In 1890, Mizar A was discovered to itself be a binary, being the first binary to be discovered using spectroscopy. In 1908, spectroscopy revealed that Mizar B was also a pair of stars, making the group the first-known quintuple star system."

Treading the Fuzzy Line Between Game Cloning and Theft 235

eldavojohn writes "Ars analyzes some knockoffs and near-knockoffs in the gaming world that led to problems with the original developers. Jenova Chen, creator of Flower and flOw, discusses how he feels about the clones made of his games. Chen reveals his true feelings about the takedown of Aquatica (a flOw knockoff): 'What bothers me the most is that because of my own overreaction, I might have created a lot of inconvenience to the creator of Aquatica and interrupted his game-making. He is clearly talented, and certainly a fan of flOw. I hope he can continue creating video games, but with his own design.' The article also notes the apparent similarities between Zynga's Cafe World and Playfish's Restaurant City (the two most popular Facebook games). Is that cloning or theft? Should clones be welcomed or abhorred?"

Comment Re:AGC could multitask 8 jobs at once! (Score 1) 220

1Ghz processor (thats 1000 times faster than the apollo CPU) in a netbook is not enough for poor Windows 7 to run more than 3 applications at a time.

A bit like comparing an apple to a Ferrari. The only real-time graphical display that the LM had was the window, and they weren't surfing bloated flash-enabled websites while typing up a damage per second spreadsheet in OpenOffice. The uses for computers have changed dramatically in 40 years, and even though the 3 application limit is horseshit, you cannot compare the 8 "tasks" that the AGC could handle to 3 applications in Windows 7. The thread count on my windows 7 test PC (which admittedly is not a netbook) currently stands at 221 while idlely sitting there with no applications open...

Comment Re:Bush-era? (Score 4, Interesting) 167 Patriot Act was supported 98-1 in it's senate vote at the time it was passed. The only senator who voted against it was Russ Feingold - D (Wis). It was vastly inferior to what the Bush administration had asked for, and this pissed Bush off. As I keep saying to all the people blasting Obama for making the economy worse (and trust me I did not vote for him)the president signs the bills into law, but the 535 members of congress draft them, ratify them, and present them for signature. If you are so upset with it, I'd suggest that you blame them.

Comment Re:Game engine rendered cinematics.. (Score 1) 57

I agree. In games where immersion is part of the gameplay, cut-scenes give the player imformation as to their purpose for doing a certain task, or backgound on a historical event that gives a basis for all future actions. World of Warcraft does a good job of this with several of the boss encounters in instances and raids. Some are slightly annoying in their length (Culling of Stratholme) but they all tell a part of the story that would otherwise be missed if you were forced to just read it in-game, and it helps to immerse the player in the experience. And especially with WoW, the vast majority of cutscenes are rendered by the game engine, and are somewhat interactive, in that I can /gasp at Arthas as he condemns an entire city to death...

Comment Re:Linux users (Score 1) 993

You are headed in the right direction, but to rid yourself of the dandruff problem once and for all you'll need to move out of the basement and into a loft, start shopping at the Gap, and flip up your collar. And if you're shirts don't have a collar to flip, start over at step 1...

Comment How is this Microsoft's fault? (Score 2, Insightful) 476

I am no lover of Microsoft, but I fail to see how they are at fault here. If I went to the Chrysler dealership and leased a fleet of cars for my company, and then the company went belly up, I'd still owe for those cars. They wouldn't care that the company was gone; they'd want their money from whoever leased the cars. Or at the very least they'd want their cars back plus the contract breaking fees. It's hard to give software back...

Understanding is always the understanding of a smaller problem in relation to a bigger problem. -- P.D. Ouspensky