Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?

Scientists Breeding Super Bees 248

Elliot Chang writes "Over the last five years the world's honey bee population has been steadily dwindling, with many beekeepers citing 2010 as the worst year yet. In order to save these extremely important insects, scientists are working on breeding a new super honey bee that they hope will be resistant to cold, disease, mites and pesticides. If all goes well, the new and improved insect will continue to pollinate our crops for years to come."

Computer Learns Language By Playing Games 133

Frans Faase writes "By basing its strategies on the text of a manual, a computer infers the meanings of words without human supervision. The paper Learning to Win by Reading Manuals in a Monte-Carlo Framework (PDF) explains how a computer program succeeds in playing Civilization II using the official game manual as a strategy guide. This manual uses a large vocabulary of 3638 words, and is composed of 2083 sentences, each on average 16.9 words long. By this the program improves it success rate from 45% to 78% in playing the game. No prior knowledge of the language is used."

Scientists Give NASA Planetary Marching Orders 145

coondoggie writes "The community and team of scientists that help NASA prioritize space missions has come out with its exploration recommendations for the next decade: get to Mars, explore one of Jupiter's moons and study Uranus. From the report: 'The gas giants Jupiter and Saturn have been extensively studied by the Galileo and Cassini missions, respectively. But Uranus and Neptune represent a wholly distinct class of planet. While Jupiter and Saturn are made mostly of hydrogen, Uranus and Neptune have much smaller hydrogen envelopes. The bulk composition of these planets is dominated instead by heavier elements; oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur are the likely candidates. What little we know about the internal structure and composition of these "ice giant" planets comes from the brief flybys of Voyager 2. So the ice giants are one of the great remaining unknowns in the solar system: the only class of planet that has never been explored in detail.'"

Microsoft Claims 'We Love Open Source' 464

jbrodkin writes "Everyone in the Linux world remembers Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's famous comment in 2001 that Linux is a 'cancer' that threatened Microsoft's intellectual property. While Microsoft hasn't formally rescinded its declaration that Linux violates its patents, at least one Microsoft executive admits that the company's earlier battle stance was a mistake. Microsoft wants the world to understand, whatever its issues with Linux, it no longer has any gripe toward open source."

Portal On the Booklist At Wabash College 203

jamie passes along this quote from a post by Michael Abbott at The Brainy Gamer: "This year, for the first time, a video game will appear on the syllabus of a course required for all students at Wabash College, where I teach. For me — and for a traditional liberal arts college founded in 1832 — this is a big deal. Alongside Gilgamesh, Aristotle's Politics, John Donne's poetry, Shakespeare's Hamlet, and the Tao Te Ching, freshmen at Wabash will also encounter a video game called Portal. "
Input Devices

Apple Launches New Magical Trackpad, 12 Core Macs 432

theappwhisperer writes "The Magic Trackpad is basically a larger version of the MacBook Pro touchpad, with 80% more surface area for all your swiping and pinching. The entire surface acts as a button, so it's also a possible mouse replacement. And all of the expected gestures are here: two-finger scrolling, pinch to zoom, fingertip rotation, and three- and four-finger swipes. You can enable and disable gestures at your discretion from System Preferences." They also launched 12-core Mac Pros coming in August.

Hard Drive With Clinton-Era Data Missing From Nat'l Archives 180

CWmike writes "An external hard drive that's believed to contain nearly 1TB of data from the Clinton Administration is missing from the US National Archives and Recording Administration (NARA). The drive includes more than 100,000 Social Security numbers and home addresses of people who visited or worked at the White House. Among those whose information is on the list is one of then-Vice President Al Gore's three daughters. The drive also contained details on the security procedures used by the Secret Service at the White House, as well as event logs, social gathering logs, political records and other information from the Clinton administration. Rep. Darrell Issa, (R-Calif.) said the Archives was in the process of converting information from the drive to a digital records system when it apparently disappeared. The hard drive was apparently removed from a secure storage area to a workplace where at least 100 'badge-holders' had access to it, Issa noted."

Comment My upgrade to Parallels 4 was nearly identical (Score 1) 195

A terrible upgrade process that took forever and resulted in VMs that ran so slow I couldn't even install Parallels tools without timing out. Support tickets and forum posts failed to get a useful response.

I switched to VMWare 2 (free after competitive upgrade) and will never go back.

For those people making posts about why run Windows in a VM, I would respond that I think all software developers should run each of their projects in a separate VM (as I do) to prevent contamination of the OS's. I run 3-5 VMs at once, all running Visual Studio, with different projects in each. The freedom of this also allows me to use the best tool to host the VMs, surf the internet, read my mail and do everything else, except write software for MS based clients, in Mac OS X.

BitTorrent For Enterprise File Distribution? 291

HotTuna writes "I'm responsible for a closed, private network of retail stores connected to our corporate office (and to each other) with IPsec over DSL, and no access to the public internet. We have about 4GB of disaster recovery files that need to be replicated at each site, and updated monthly. The challenge is that all the enterprise file replication tools out there seem to be client/server and not peer-to-peer. This crushes our bandwidth at the corporate office and leaves hundreds of 7Mb DSL connections (at the stores) virtually idle. I am dreaming of a tool which can 'seed' different parts of a file to different peers, and then have those peers exchange those parts, rapidly replicating the file across the entire network. Sounds like BitTorrent you say? Sure, except I would need to 'push' the files out, and not rely on users to click a torrent file at each site. I could imagine a homebrew tracker, with uTorrent and an RSS feed at each site, but that sounds a little too patchwork to fly by the CIO. What do you think? Is BitTorrent an appropriate protocol for file distribution in the business sector? If not, why not? If so, how would you implement it?"
It's funny.  Laugh.

The Greatest Scientific Hoaxes? 496

Ponca City, We love you writes "The New Scientist has an amusing story about the seven greatest scientific hoaxes of all time. Of course, there have been serious cases of scientific fraud, such as the stem cell researchers recently found guilty of falsifying data, and the South Korean cloning fraud, but the hoaxes selected point more to human gullibility than malevolence and include the Piltdown Man (constructed from a medieval human cranium); a ten-foot "petrified man" dug up on a small farm in Cardiff; fossils 'found' in Wurzburg, Germany depicting comets, moons and suns, Alan Sokal's paper loaded with nonsensical jargon that was accepted by the journal Social Text; the claim of the Upas tree on the island of Java so poisonous that it killed everything within a 15-mile radius; and Johann Heinrich Cohausen's claim of an elixir produced by collecting the breath of young women in bottles that produced immortality. Our favorite: BBC's broadcast in 1957 about the spaghetti tree in Switzerland that showed a family harvesting pasta that hung from the branches of the tree. After watching the program, hundreds of people phoned in asking how they could grow their own tree but, alas, the program turned out to be an April Fools' Day joke." What massive scientific hoaxes/jokes have other people witnessed?

Algorithms Can Make You Pretty 288

caffeinemessiah writes "The New York Times has an interesting story on a new algorithm by researchers from Tel Aviv University that modifies a facial picture of a person to conform to standards of attractiveness. Based on a digital library of pictures of people who have been judged 'attractive,' the algorithm finds the nearest match and modifies an input picture so it conforms to the 'attractive' person's proportions. The trick, however, is that the resultant pictures are still recognizable as the original person. Here's a quick link to a representative picture of the process. Note that this is a machine-learning approach to picture modification, not a characterization of beauty, and could just as easily be used to make a person less attractive." Note: As reader Trent Waddington points out, the underlying research was mentioned in an earlier story as well.

Ford To Introduce Restrictive Car Keys For Parents 1224

thesandbender writes "Ford is set to release a management system that will restrict certain aspects of a car's performance based on which key is in the ignition. The speed is limited to 80, you can't turn off traction control, and you can't turn the stereo up to eleven. It's targeted at parents of teenagers and seems like a generally good idea, especially if you get a break on your insurance." The keys will be introduced with the 2010 Focus coupe and will quickly spread to Ford's entire lineup.

Work expands to fill the time available. -- Cyril Northcote Parkinson, "The Economist", 1955