Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?

Comment: Re:straight from the OMFG NO dept (Score 1) 364

by Panoramix (#47734411) Attached to: "MythBusters" Drops Kari Byron, Grant Imahara, Tory Belleci


Personally, the only reason I watched sometimes was Kari Byron. I'll keep an eye on what she does next.

I do wish Hyneman and Savage luck. I like them, really, just not enough to actively follow what they do. If they come up with something interesting and get people talking, I'll check it out. But I feel the Mythbusters are about to bust the myth that people will watch a programme that lets go of their young and winsome cast members.

Comment: Re:Crash and colonise (Score 1) 233

by Panoramix (#43033117) Attached to: Dennis Tito's 2018 Mars Mission To Be Manned

Oh yes, mineshafts, I love that one, let's do that as well, sign me up. What's the required men to women ratio, again, doc?

So what you're saying is, it would be (1) more boring than ISS, and (2) quite a bit more dangerous. I'm sure both are true - discovery and exploration have always been very risky, and this would be unprecedented so I'm sure it won't be a walk in the park. I'm not sure, but I don't think it would be boring and dangerous enough to be impossible. I am sure, though, that that hasn't stopped us before.

A colony on Mars won't be self-sufficient for a very long time, even if they get their water from the planet, and produce their own oxygen and grow their vegetables and stuff. It may take a century or more, if we ever manage to have factories there, to produce parts and things they'll need. But to use your own words: "It would take infinitely long if you never start."

What I don't get is why you seem to assume that it's one thing or the other. It seems to me that you're implying that, if we send a manned mission to Mars, we won't develop better technology here. We can do both. It could be that we will solve the transport issue before we solve self-sufficiency away from Earth, or it can happen the other way around, I don't think you, me, or anyone else can predict now how it'll play out. So predicating the solution of a hard problem on solving another first, that may be less or maybe much more difficult, does seem a tad self-defeating. Especially when I don't see a hard dependency, both problems can be tackled at the same time, without waiting.

Anyroad, gotta get to work. Some quick notes I thought of while reading your post, that I have no time now to edit into a proper reply:
* You get used to email, really, and you don't need low latency to stay in touch with friends, and get movies and videogames. Or, radical notion here, books.
* It could be that very earthly jobs, like in the military or law enforcement or what you have, are riskier anyway, it's not as if we don't take risks every day (we as a species, I mean.. felt embarrassed and a bit ashamed about that "we", from the comfort of my safe living room).
* It's not about repopulating Earth, it's about survival of the species by any means necessary, even if it means evolving to live elsewhere and that we can't go back. Mars is certainly harder than Earth, it probably won't be viable, but we'll want to try other places eventually. Out there, away from the solar system. And hey, we have to start somewhere, and Mars seems easy enough. Considering.
* Good luck with PETA letting you send a couple monkeys. Mark me words, it'll be easier to send humans anyway. Heh.
* To the AC asking why should we care... that doesn't even deserve an answer. We'll get extinct one day, guaranteed, but we're going to go down fighting, because that's who we are. Humanity ftw.


Comment: Re:Crash and colonise (Score 2) 233

by Panoramix (#43031901) Attached to: Dennis Tito's 2018 Mars Mission To Be Manned

Um. Alright. I wasn't really commenting on Tito's plan, but rather on MichaelSmith's notion of a one-way trip, at the start of this thread (which, btw, has been proposed, seriously). But sure, let's get serious if you want.

I do see a point in sending meatbags to Mars. Not for the sake of a flyby, or that joke about the flag, but ultimately to attempt to live in Mars for extended periods of time. Staying in Mars, in some sort of habitat, establish a permanent presence in another planet. I think achieving this should be considered a more pressing issue than it actually seems to be. I'll come back to this in a minute. But a flyby may be useful, to assess what exactly it takes to get there.

First though, I'm not sure you've got your numbers right. Valeri Polyakov stayed 14 months aboard that tin can, Mir. Sergei Krikalev (who's spent 800+ days in space) stayed 10 months while the USSR dissolved. Aleksandr Kaleri has spent almost as long - he was in the ISS couple years ago (and the man is 56 btw). And so on. Now of course there have been side effects, both physiological and psychological, but, to my knowledge none incapacitating, and none permanente in the long-term. So I'm not quite sure, when you say "Humans cannot sit in a tin can for two years and retain sanity", what are you basing this opinion on? I'm not an expert, but given these numbers, well. To me, it sounds very hard alright, but not impossible, or even unrealistic.

You also said, "We already had ground simulations of the flight, and they were generally unsatisfactory". Could you elaborate? I only know of Mars-500, an experiment conducted by a few years ago where they isolated a crew to simulate a trip to Mars. I recall they all completed the experiment, no one went bonkers aboard and started killing the others, really. I seem to recall there were issues concerning lack of sleep, which of course is serious and needs addressing. It may be part of the reason why ISS astronauts take sleeping pills now. In any case, experiments like Mars-500, valuable as they are, can't simulate microgravity or what I think will be the worst issue, radiation. So I do see a point in those lab rats in a tin can, harsh as the whole notion is.

I hear you on that part about research, that's always a necessity. But I don't think there's a reason why it must be one or the other, we could have a manned mission *and* research into new technologies. Thing is, and again I may be misinformed, but I don't think we're even close to develop technology that could cut the flight time substantially. I mean, we don't even have the science, the theoretical groundwork, on which to base such a technology. Travel to Mars in a day or two, you say? Come on, man, get real. That's going to take a very, very long time to achieve, and I don't think we should wait that long.

The reason why I see this is a pressing matter is: I think it's paramount for us, as a species, to hedge our bets, as it were. To make living in another planet, if not economical or practical, at least feasible. Because we don't know when the next Chixculub rock is going to hit, we don't know when we'll face a pandemic that wipes life on Earth, it can happen any time. And I think it would be immensely valuable to know that such a scenario wouldn't necessarily mean the extinction of the species.

Comment: Re:Crash and colonise (Score 2) 233

by Panoramix (#43031255) Attached to: Dennis Tito's 2018 Mars Mission To Be Manned

I think the point is, if you're going to put people on a rocket and shoot them to Mars, in the understanding that, no matter what happens, they're going to die there, won't ever see Earth again, it might just be easier to find takers, and generally to sell this idea to the public, if you aim for 60+ aged who already lived their lives here.

I know people that age who are still in great shape, and maybe some would be willing to set off for one last adventure. Who knows. Tough one, that.


+ - Naked scammers blackmail men on web->

Submitted by innocent_white_lamb
innocent_white_lamb writes: Police in Singapore have received many reports of a blackmail ring that uses attractive women to seduce men via webcam/chat. "They would commence a webcam conversation with the victims and initiate cybersex by undressing themselves first before persuading the male victims to appear nude or perform sexual acts in front of the webcams", according to the Singapore Police Force. The victim then received an email and/or phone call demanding $50,000.
Link to Original Source

+ - Borat used for Patent prior art->

Submitted by Kurofuneparry
Kurofuneparry writes: "Rarely does patent law meet pop culture so hilariously. But it gets to a more important point: An invention cannot be patented if there has been a public disclosure of said invention prior to the date of filing." Not exactly a tech patent, but it does comically display the kind of prior art searches that are often being done so poorly in the tech industry by the over-burdened patent office. After talking about how a "scrotal support garment" patent is invalidated by the Borat movie, the article also mentions a case involving Apple last year as well as a case in which the Bible was used for prior art.
Link to Original Source

+ - Scientists get plastic from trees->

Submitted by
amigoro writes: "Scientists have found a method to replace crude oil as the root source for plastic, fuels and scores of other industrial and household chemicals with inexpensive, nonpolluting renewable plant matter. They directly converted sugars ubiquitous in nature to an alternative source for those products that make oil so valuable, with very little of the residual impurities that have made the quest so daunting."
Link to Original Source

+ - IBM loses tapes with former employees' data->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: I was an intern with IBM ten years ago and just today received a letter informing me that tapes containing my and other former employees' data (including social security numbers) were lost on February 23, 2007 while being transported by a vendor. IBM is offering free membership with the ID TheftSmart Enhanced Identity Theft Restoration and Continuous Credit Monitoring program from Kroll Inc for one year for everyone affected. It just goes to show that no matter how long it's been, your personal information in someone else's hands is never safe.

The full text of the letter can be found here.

Link to Original Source

+ - Kodak unveils brighter CMOS color filters->

Submitted by brownsteve
brownsteve writes: Eastman Kodak Co. unveiled what it says are "next-generation color filter patterns" designed to more than double the light sensitivity of CMOS or CCD image sensors used in camera phones or digital still cameras. The new color filter system is a departure from the widely used standard Bayer pattern — an arrangement of red, green and blue pixels — also created by Kodak. While building on the Bayer pattern, the new technology adds a "fourth pixel, which has no pigment on top," said Michael DeLuca, market segment manager responsible for image sensor solutions at Eastman Kodak. Such "transparent" pixels — sensitive to all visible wavelengths — are designed to absorb light. DeLuca claimed the invention is "the next milestone" in digital photography, likening its significance to ISO 400 color film introduced in the mid-1980's.
Link to Original Source

+ - Baby monitor picks up NASA's live shuttle video

Submitted by Digitus1337
Digitus1337 writes: FTA: "Since Sunday, one of the two channels on Natalie Meilinger's baby monitor has been picking up black-and-white video from inside the space shuttle Atlantis. The other still lets her keep an eye on her baby. Live video of the mission is available on NASA's Web site, so it's possible the monitor is picking up a signal from somewhere. "It's not coming straight from the shuttle," NASA spokeswoman Brandi Dean said. "People here think this is very interesting and you don't hear of it often — if at all." Meilinger silenced disbelieving co-workers by bringing in a video of the monitor to show her class on Tuesday, her students' last day of school. At home, 3-month-old Jack and 2-year-old Rachel don't quite understand what their parents are watching." Full story available here.

+ - Fun With Redistricting!->

Submitted by
CrabbMan writes: ""The Redistricting Game" was developed at the University of Southern California to help teach voters that "mapmakers" can have more control over an election outcome than candidates or issues. Politically engineered redistricting, which can protect incumbents and party dominance even if voters are inclined differently, was most recently a hot topic in a Supreme Court decision last year and in the political fall of former GOP top dog Tom DeLay. Lawmakers concerned "the system is out of whack" invited the game's developers to the Hill yesterday."
Link to Original Source

+ - Pidgin 2.0 Released

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: After nearly two years of development, Pidgin 2.0 has finally been released! Originally called Gaim, Pidgin is a powerful and robust open source instant messaging client that supports many protocols. Pidgin 2.0 features a completely redesigned interface with attractive new icons and and a new status management system that was designed for optimal usability. Pidgin 2.0 also adds support for universal buddy icon management and smooth-scroll functionality for conversation windows. A comprehensive review at Ars Technica explores the new features in Pidgin 2.0 and demonstrates how to use the new D-Bus bindings with Python to make Pidgin's status system send updates to Twitter.

Reactor error - core dumped!