Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?

Should Cities Install Moving Sidewalks? 698 698

theodp writes "The real problem nowadays is how to move crowds,' said the manager of the failed Trottoir Roulant Rapide high-speed (9 km/h) people mover project. 'They can travel fast over long distances with the TGV (high-speed train) or airplanes, but not over short distances (under 1 km).' Slate's Tom Vanderbilt explores whether moving walkways might be viable for urban transportation. The first moving sidewalks were unveiled at Chicago's 1893 Columbian Exposition, and at one point seemed destined to supplant some subways, but never took root in cities for a variety of reasons. Vanderbilt turns to science fiction for inspiration, where 30 mph walkways put today's tortoise-like speed ranges of .5-.83 m/s to shame. In the meantime, Jerry Seinfeld will just have to learn to live with 'the people who get onto the moving walkway and just stand there. Like it's a ride.'"

Bacteria Could Survive In Martian Soil 90 90

Dagondanum writes "Multiple missions have been sent to Mars with the hopes of testing the surface of the planet for life — or the conditions that could create life. The question of whether life in the form of bacteria (or something even more exotic) exists on Mars is hotly debated, and still lacks a definitive yes or no. Experiments done right here on Earth that simulate the conditions on Mars and their effects on terrestrial bacteria show that it is entirely possible for certain strains of bacteria to weather the harsh environment of Mars." Perhaps this is something that will be tested further in a few years by the Mars Science Lab, also known as "Curiosity" and (as reader Nova1021 points out) "the Mars Action Hero."

Fly Me To Which Moon? 183 183

Hugh Pickens writes "NASA and the European Space Agency are expected later this week to settle an ongoing debate on whether to send a robotic mission to Jupiter's moon Europa or Saturn's moon Titan. Both are difficult places to get to — a mission to either would cost several billion dollars/euros to build and execute — and both have become alluring targets in the quest to learn whether Earth alone supports life. On the one hand, Europa is believed to have liquid oceans beneath its frozen crust which (on Earth at least) are a source of life-supporting chemistry. Scientists would like to scan Europa's surface for bits of material that may have seeped up from beneath the ice. 'Imagine if there were microbes entrained in material that has exuded onto the surface of Europa and they've been sitting there for maybe three million years,' says planetary scientist Dr. Brad Dalton. On the other hand, Titan has two enticing features in the search for life: liquids on the surface, and a thick atmosphere that can be used to slow down a spacecraft and help put it into orbit. Titan's surface water is locked into the crust as ice, but scientists suspect there may be a subsurface ocean where water mingles with ammonia. The mission will not get to the launch pad before 2020. 'It's unfortunate that there has to be a decision,' says NASA/JPL astrobiologist Dr. Kevin Hand. 'It's important to go to both. They are both such amazing and tantalizing worlds in terms of finding life.'"

Extinct Pyrenean Ibex Cloned 249 249

jamie points out a story in the Telegraph about a project to clone the Pyrenean Ibex (known also as bucardo), a species that went extinct in 2000. Before the last known member of the species died, scientists took tissue samples to begin a project to clone the animal. "Using techniques similar to those used to clone Dolly the sheep, known as nuclear transfer, the researchers were able to transplant DNA from the tissue into eggs taken from domestic goats to create 439 embryos, of which 57 were implanted into surrogate females. " Now, for the first time, one of them has survived the gestation period, living for seven minutes after birth. One of the researchers said, "The delivered kid was genetically identical to the bucardo. In species such as bucardo, cloning is the only possibility to avoid its complete disappearance."

Comment Re:Lack of knowledge not an excuse (Score 1) 440 440

School officials are afraid of everything. The school I work at has blocked slashdot because they say students can use it to find out how to "hack the system".

They also call notepad a "hacker's tool" and don't allow students access to it... unless they know how to open any .txt file which brings up notepad.

I think that everyone in a school setting needs more tech training, students and teachers. Let people learn and explore and face to consequences of their own actions rather than locking everything so tight it barely resembles a computer.

The Science and Physics of Back To the Future 436 436

overthinkingit writes "A scientist has tried to apply serious math and physics, including the Law of Cosines, to analyze how the DeLorean in Back to the Future travels through both Time AND Space: 'in order to pull off the kind of time travel we see in the Back To The Future trilogy — the kind where the traveler is transposed in time, but remains stationary in the same relative position to where he/she left — the DeLorean would have to be an outstanding space ship, in addition to its already laudable work as a time-ship. According to Doc Brown's stopwatch, Einstein the dog travels precisely one minute into the future on this first jump, arriving, relative to their frame of reference, at the same location he left. But how far has this reference frame itself traveled during that one minute?'"

Hardware Is Cheap, Programmers Are Expensive 465 465

Sportsqs points out a story at Coding Horror which begins: "Given the rapid advance of Moore's Law, when does it make sense to throw hardware at a programming problem? As a general rule, I'd say almost always. Consider the average programmer salary here in the US. You probably have several of these programmer guys or gals on staff. I can't speak to how much your servers may cost, or how many of them you may need. Or, maybe you don't need any — perhaps all your code executes on your users' hardware, which is an entirely different scenario. Obviously, situations vary. But even the most rudimentary math will tell you that it'd take a massive hardware outlay to equal the yearly costs of even a modest five person programming team."

Opera Mini Not Rejected From iPhone (Yet) 202 202

danaris writes in to inform us that John Gruber has done some digging on the reported rejection from the App Store of Opera Mini, and has written up his findings. Some choice excerpts: "My understanding, based on information from informed sources who do not wish to be identified because they were not authorized by their employers, is that Opera has developed an iPhone version of Opera Mini — but they haven't even submitted it to Apple, let alone had it be rejected. ... If what they've done for the iPhone is [to get] a Java ME runtime running on the iPhone — it's clearly outside the bounds of the iPhone SDK Agreement. ... What Opera would need to do to have a version of Opera Mini they could submit to the App Store would be to port the entire client software to the C and Objective-C APIs officially supported on the iPhone. It could well be that even then, Apple would reject it from the App Store on anti-competitive grounds — but contrary to this week's speculation, that has not happened."

Submission + - Old Software or Open Source? 7 7

Pakled writes: I teach a high school multimedia course. We were scheduled to get new software this year but due to several pointy haired bosses, no software was ordered. The software I have to teach is Flash 5, Dreamweaver 2000, Photoshop 7 and (god help me) Movie Maker. The question is: is it better to teach old commercial software or their open source counterparts (Komposer, Gimp, etc.)?

Is the steep learning curve and slightly less uniform design worth a little student frustration to teach them software written in the past 5 years?

Any program which runs right is obsolete.