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Science

NASA, NOAA Analyses Reveal Record-Shattering Global Warm Temperatures In 2015 (nasa.gov) 507

vikingpower writes: Earth's 2015 surface temperatures were the warmest since modern record keeping began in 1880, according to independent analyses by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Globally-averaged temperatures in 2015 shattered the previous mark set in 2014 by 0.23 degrees Fahrenheit (0.13 Celsius). Only once before, in 1998, has the new record been greater than the old record by this much. The British Met office also reports on the same phenomenon, even forecasting that global temperatures are very soon going to reach the one-degree-Celsius marker. According to Stephen Belcher, Director of the Met Office Hadley Centre, "We've had similar natural events in the past, yet this is the first time we're set to reach the 1 C marker and it's clear that it is human influence driving our modern climate into uncharted territory."
Technology

Help Is On the Way In the War Against Noisy Leaf Blowers 228

HughPickens.com writes: Perry Stein writes in the Washington Post that the fight against noisy leaf blowers is gaining momentum, in part, because residents are framing it as a public health issue. Two-stroke engine leaf blowers mix fuel with oil and don't undergo a complete combustion, emitting a number of toxins, like carbon monoxide and nitrous oxide, which their operators inevitably inhale. Municipalities throughout the country have moved to ban them. "You find two-stroke engines in poorer countries because they're cheap," says James Fallows citing a 2004 National Institutes of Health study showing that two-stroke engines on two- and three-wheeled vehicles in Delhi, India, account for a significant amount of air pollution. "You don't find them in richer countries because they're so dirty and polluting." In Washington DC leaf blowers can't exceed 70 decibels as measured from 50 feet away. (A normal conversation is typically about 60 decibels.) Haskell Small, a composer and concert pianist who is helping to lead the leaf-blower battle in Wesley Heights, describes the sound as "piercing." "When I try to compose or write a letter, there is no way for me to listen to my inner voice, and the leaf blower blanks out all the harmonic combinations."

But help is on the way. A new generation of leaf blowers is more environmentally friendly as the emergence of battery-powered leaf blowers takes us closer to the Holy Grail of equipment that is both (1) powerful and (2) quiet. Fallows supports the notion of a kind of trade-in program, where loud, old leaf blowers are exchanged for the less offensive kind. Ted Rueter, founder of Noise Free America, facilitated one such scheme. In the heat of his front lawn dispute with his neighbor, he offered a solution. "If you agree to use them, I will buy you two new leaf blowers," Rueter told his neighbor. "The offer was accepted and the noise level in his front yard was restored to a peaceful level," says Lawrence Richards. "When it comes to the balancing act of protecting landscaping jobs while reducing noise and emissions, it helps that someone was willing to pay for progress."

Submission + - Peak Oil Predictions Proven Wrong (battleswarmblog.com)

Nova Express writes: Remember how some economists and environmentalists confidently predicted "peak oil" sometime in the 2000s? (Slashdot ran numerous stories on the idea.) It turns out that those predictions of peak oil were wrong. Thanks to improved technology, fracking, shale oil, and declining demand, the world is now going through an oil glut that has prices down around $30 a barrel. "Once again the market has proven much better at adaptation than erroneous neo-Malthusian thinking. Anyone telling you they know exactly how things will unfold should be treated with severe skepticism. The future’s not ours to see."
GNU is Not Unix

The FSF Is 30 Years Old; Where Should They Go From Here? (fsf.org) 231

An anonymous reader writes: The Free Software Foundation is conducting a survey to gather feedback on where they should be focusing their efforts over the next five years. Should they concentrate on IP issues, UX issues, or something else? Is their stance on Free Software versus Open Source a battle that's already lost, and should they compromise? What do users think an ideal world would look like in 2020? And how miserable could things get? Without the FSF (and GNU), today's computing landscape would sure look a lot different.

Comment Or they could, you know, abandon Communism (Score 1, Insightful) 108

And instead embrace freedom and allow their impoverished citizens embrace freedom and capitalism, and exchange information that way.

The reason that "Cuba has little Internet infrastructure" is because communism is a colossal economic and political failure. Free capitalism economies offer a much better model for getting out of poverty and building out an information infrastructure.

The Internet

Cuba's Nationwide Sneakernet: a Model For Developing Nations? 108

lpress writes: Cuba has little Internet infrastructure, but they have a well-organized sneaker net called El Paquete Semanal (the weekly packet). El Paquete distributes a terabyte of digital entertainment nationwide every week using portable drives. The system is reliable and the organization is said to be Cuba's largest private employer, but it is technically illegal and the content is pirated. A legitimatized Paquete would save scarce Internet resources for other applications. El Paquete is also a possible model for other developing nations. Vox has a short documentary about the system.
Power

As Sea Levels Rise, Are Coastal Nuclear Plants Ready? (nationalgeographic.com) 302

mdsolar writes with this National Geographic story about the danger of rising sea levels to low-lying power plants across the country. According to the story: "Just east of the Homestead-Miami Speedway, off Florida's Biscayne Bay, two nuclear reactors churn out enough electricity to power nearly a million homes. The Turkey Point plant is licensed to continue doing so until at least 2032. At some point after that, if you believe the direst government projections, a good part of the low-lying site could be underwater. So could at least 13 other U.S. nuclear plants, as the world's seas continue to rise. Their vulnerability, and that of many others, raises serious questions for the future."

Comment UK doesn't seem to care about ACTUAL Child Rape (Score -1) 53

More than 1,400 children were raped over a period of years by a ring of Pakistani Muslim men in Rotherham, and UK policed couldn't be arsed to care about it over fears political correctness might end their careers. (And Rotherham wasn't the only one. There were similar Muslim rape rings in Oxfordshire and Manchester.) What on earth make you think they're going to drop everything over information sexual predators might possibly use later?

Communications

DHS Deployed Plane Above San Bernardino To Scoop Up All Phone Calls After Attack (dailymail.co.uk) 147

schwit1 writes: Federal investigators looking into the San Bernardino massacre deployed a spy plane overhead after the attacks in an apparent attempt to find additional suspects. The Department of Homeland Security is said to have put up the single engine craft over the California city and ordered it to make repeated circles overhead. The craft would likely have been equipped with Dirtbox technology which can scan tens of thousands of phones in one go to identify suspects. The report adds to the intrigue about whether or not there were accomplices in the San Bernardino attacks, which took place last Wednesday and were the worst terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11.

Comment Anonymous Has Already Done This (Score 5, Funny) 69

At least at a certain level, with Anonymous taking out thousands of pro-Islamic State Twitter accounts with Operation Tango Down. Now that's just one service, and nothing prevents them from signing on again. But you can slow momentum and make it harder for supporters of terrorism to broadcast their views to supporters without reprisals, and also limit or prevent coordinated action.

Best of all, it's possible to do it merely for Terms of Service violation, without government action.

Of course, to actually defeat terrorists, you have to kill them faster than terror organizations can create new terrorists, and to dry up their financial support (of which the Islamic State has plenty in "moderate" Sunni states...)

Comment Want to calculate nuclear yield? Buy Glasstone (Score 3, Interesting) 61

If you want to calculate nuclear yields, I suggest picking up a copy of Samuel Glasstone's The Effects of Nuclear Weapons (that's an Amazon link, but there are a fair number of used copies floating around). I have the revised 1962 edition.

Be sure to pick up a copy that still has the yield computer wheel in the back of the book.

Also, this web page lets you map nuclear bursts using Google maps, and seems to be heavily based on Glasstone.

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