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Astronomers Probe Mysterious Gas In Titan's Atmosphere 104 104

sciencehabit writes "A fluorescent glow high in the atmosphere of Titan, Saturn's largest moon, signifies the presence of a gas that astronomers have yet to identify. The glow appears only on the daytime side of the moon at altitudes between 600 and 1250 kilometers, with the largest intensity occurring at an altitude of about 950 km. Detailed analyses reveal that the glow doesn't stem from a problem with the Saturn-orbiting Cassini craft, and it isn't associated with methane or any of the other hydrocarbons already identified as constituents of Titan's atmosphere."

Comment: Re:Is it a general computing device? (Score 1) 577 577

If it can load a program of your choice and run it, it's in the right area as a general purpose computing device, and if it's yours, it's PC.

This definition excludes iPads, as you can only run the programs that Apple allows. It also arguably excludes phones due to the legal restrictions on unlocking with respect to carriers, because how can it really be "yours" if someone else is capable of exerting such control over it?

Comment: Re:Can we speak in clear terms? (Score 1) 412 412

I agree with you that the difference in standards of living is fair game. It strikes me as somewhat disingenuous to say "well, assuming that unsavoury crowd over there wasn't dragging down our scores..." and that is what the review appears to be trying to do in some respects.

But check out the things in the "also noted" summary:

There is an achievement gap between more and less disadvantaged students in every country; surprisingly, that gap is smaller in the United States than in similar post-industrial countries, and not much larger than in the very highest scoring countries.

Achievement of U.S. disadvantaged students has been rising rapidly over time, while achievement of disadvantaged students in countries to which the United States is frequently unfavorably compared – Canada, Finland and Korea, for example – has been falling rapidly.

But the highest social class students in United States do worse than their peers in other nations, and this gap widened from 2000 to 2009 on the PISA.

U.S. PISA scores are depressed partly because of a sampling flaw resulting in a disproportionate number of students from high-poverty schools among the test-takers. About 40 percent of the PISA sample in the United States was drawn from schools where half or more of the students are eligible for the free lunch program, though only 23 percent of students nationwide attend such schools.

So it seems the point is that we actually aren't doing as badly as some like to insist, and that the future isn't quite so gloomy. Well, neither of those are resoundingly optimistic statements, but hey.

Comment: Re:I smell Astro-turf (Score 1) 853 853

How many of you pro-nuke posters would be willing to have a nuclear plant within 20 miles of were you live? How many would be willing to have the toxic waste stored on-site of the plant? I thought so.

I would be willing to have all of that far closer to me than I would like to have a coal plant, which is what nuclear would be intended to replace.

Comment: No win situation (Score 1) 73 73

At first look at the article, I wondered how people would respond to the United States bombing the moon. Then a more careful reading highlighted that we are in fact not "bombing" the moon, to which I immediately thought, "wait, what do you mean we're not bombing the moon? Why the hell not?!"

Maybe that'll just have to be saved for a future mission.

Comment: Re:Snow White Theme (Score 1) 1397 1397

This was the theme used by a school I went to. When the school got a set of laptops the naming scheme for the new computers switched from Snow White dwarves to LotR dwarves, mostly drawing from Bilbo's company. The system was set up where you would ask for the computer you needed by name, but eventually one of the less fun loving teachers decided to give them all numbers and it seemed like the names fell out of convention. This naming scheme is probably fairly common, but it's amusing anyways.

Involving Kids In Free Software Through Games 33 33

SynrG writes "Platinum Arts Sandbox puts into childrens' hands the ability to role play in a 3D world and edit that world using simplified controls. The expressions on the faces of our kids as they played were priceless; both the ups and the downs. I wanted to capture this on video and share it. After having established a rapport with upstream, we took a 20 minute clip of one of our play sessions and gave a copy to them to use to help further their work. Here is the edited result. They were very pleased to have that kind of feedback and found the video valuable for determining where the software still needed improvement and to notice which aspects particularly pleased the children."

More Than Coding Errors Behind Bad Software 726 726

An anonymous reader writes "SANS' just-released list of the Top 15 most dangerous programming errors obscures the real problem with software development today, argues InfoWeek's Alex Wolfe. In More Than Coding Mistakes At Fault In Bad Software, he lays the blame on PC developers (read: Microsoft) who kicked the time-honored waterfall model to the curb and replaced it not with object-oriented or agile development but with a 'modus operandi of cramming in as many features as possible, and then fixing problems in beta.' He argues that youthful programmers don't know about error-catching and lack a sense of history, suggesting they read Fred Brooks' 'The Mythical Man-Month,' and Gerald Weinberg's 'The Psychology of Computer Programming.'"

BLISS is ignorance.