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Submission + - Experts Say Hitching a Ride in an Airliner's Wheel Well Is Not a Good Idea 2

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: Hasani Gittens reports that as miraculous as it was that a 16-year-old California boy was able to hitch a ride from San Jose to Hawaii and survive, it isn't the first time a wheel-well stowaway has lived to tell about it. The FAA says that since 1947 there have been 105 people who have tried to surreptitiously travel in plane landing gear world-wide on 94 flights — with a survival rate of about 25 percent. But agency adds that the actual numbers are probably higher, as some survivors may have escaped unnoticed, and bodies could fall into the ocean undetected. Except for the occasional happy ending, hiding in the landing gear of a aircraft as it soars miles above the Earth is generally a losing proposition. According to an FAA/Wright State University study titled “Survival at High Altitudes: Wheel-Well Passengers,” at 20,000 feet the temperature experienced by a stowaway would be -13 F, at 30,000 it would be -45 in the wheel well — and at 40,000 feet, the mercury plunges to a deadly -85 F (PDF). "You’re dealing with an incredibly harsh environment,” says aviation and security expert Anthony Roman. “Temperatures can reach -50 F, and oxygen levels there are barely sustainable for life.” Even if a strong-bodied individual is lucky enough to stand the cold and the lack of oxygen, there’s still the issue of falling out of the plane. “It’s almost impossible not to get thrown out when the gear opens,” says Roman.

So how do the lucky one-in-four survive? The answer, surprisingly, is that a few factors of human physiology are at play: As the aircraft climbs, the body enters a state of hypoxia—that is, it lacks oxygen—and the person passes out. At the same time, the frigid temperatures cause a state of hypothermia, which preserves the nervous system. “It’s similar to a young kid who falls to the bottom of an icy lake,” says Roman. "and two hours later he survives, because he was so cold."

Submission + - US Government Issues Subpoenas for Twitter and Yahoo Users. Why? It's Secret! (aclu.org)

An anonymous reader writes: The freedom-hating liberals at the ACLU write: In three separate recent cases, the government has sent a grand jury subpoena to Yahoo or Twitter and requested a gag order from a magistrate judge, attempting to bar these tech companies from informing the customers in question. Seems legit.

Submission + - Reinventing the Axe (geek.com)

Nerval's Lobster writes: The axe has been with us for thousands of years, with its design changing very little during that time. After all, how much can you really alter a basic blade-and-handle? Well, Finnish inventor Heikki Karna has tried to change it a whole lot, with a new, oddly-shaped axe that he claims is a whole lot safer because it transfers a percentage of downward force into rotational energy, cutting down on deflections. "The Vipukirves [as the axe is called] still has a sharpened blade at the end, but it has a projection coming off the side that shifts the center of gravity away from the middle. At the point of impact, the edge is driven into the wood and slows down, but the kinetic energy contained in the 1.9 kilogram axe head continues down and to the side (because of the odd center of gravity)," is how Geek.com describes the design. "The rotational energy actually pushes the wood apart like a lever." The question is, will everyone pick up on this new way of doing things?

Submission + - The Ethical Dilemmas Today's Programmers Face

snydeq writes: As software takes over more of our lives, the ethical ramifications of decisions made by programmers only become greater. Unfortunately, the tech world has always been long on power and short on thinking about the long-reaching effects of this power. More troubling: While ethics courses have become a staple of physical-world engineering degrees, they remain a begrudging anomaly in computer science pedagogy. Now that our code is in refrigerators, thermostats, smoke alarms, and more, the wrong moves, a lack of foresight, or downright dubious decision-making can haunt humanity everywhere it goes. Peter Wayner offers a look at just a few of the ethical quandaries confronting developers every day. 'Consider this less of a guidebook for making your decisions and more of a starting point for the kind of ethical contemplation we should be doing as a daily part of our jobs.'

Submission + - Administration ordered to divulge legal basis for killing Americans with drones

An anonymous reader writes: In a claim brought by The New York Times and the ACLU, the Second US Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the administration must disclose the legal basis for targeting Americans with drones. From the article: 'Government officials from Obama on down have publicly commented on the program, but they claimed the Office of Legal Counsel's memo outlining the legal rationale about it was a national security secret. The appeals court, however, said on Monday that officials' comments about overseas drone attacks means the government has waived its secrecy argument. "After senior Government officials have assured the public that targeted killings are 'lawful' and that OLC advice 'establishes the legal boundaries within which we can operate,'" the appeals court said, "waiver of secrecy and privilege as to the legal analysis in the Memorandum has occurred" (PDF).

Submission + - Later, Baby: Will Freezing Your Eggs Free Your Career? (businessweek.com)

Lasrick writes: Really interesting piece by Emma Rosenblum about women freezing their eggs in order to take "biological clock" pressure off while they pursue careers: 'Not since the birth control pill has a medical technology had such potential to change family and career planning. The average age of women who freeze their eggs is about 37, down from 39 only two years ago... And fertility doctors report that more women in their early 30s are coming in for the procedure. Not only do younger women have healthier eggs, they also have more time before they have to use them.'

Submission + - Next-Gen Intel "Alpine Ridge" Thunderbolt Controller Detailed (techpowerup.com)

An anonymous reader writes: The controller leverages PCI-Express gen 3.0 to double bandwidth of the interface. It will launch around the same time as Intel's next-generation Core "Skylake" processors (some time in 2015), and in a typical implementation, will be wired to the CPU's root-complex, and not that of the PCH. With PCIe 3.0 x4 or PCIe 3.0 x2 links at its disposal, the controller can push data at a staggering 40 Gbps. The link can also ferry DisplayPort, HDMI 2.0, and USB 3.0 data through its link layer. That bandwidth should enable you to plug in up to two Ultra HD displays, apart from your storage array.

Submission + - Venus' crust heals too fast for plate tectonics

An anonymous reader writes: Without plate tectonics, carbon would build up in the atmosphere. Venus, which does not have tectonics, shows the results: an atmosphere that is 96 percent carbon dioxide. It's toxic. Yet Venus is about the same size and composition as our planet, so why doesn't it have plate tectonics? Some researchers made a model to explore how Earth initiated plate movements, and these same researchers made one model of its neighbor for comparison. A 1.5-billion-year-old Earth and a similarly aged Venus were modeled as a hot, mushy material made of tiny particles of rock. The model uses physics at the one-millimeter rock grain scale to explain how the whole planet behaves. According to David Bercovici, a geophysicist at Yale who was an author on the paper, the model also shows how plate tectonics emerged on Earth but not on her twin.

Submission + - Boeing's Phantom Badger Packs a Lot of Combat Vehicle Into a Small Package (gizmag.com) 2

Zothecula writes: The US military fields some pretty impressive vehicles, but they aren't worth much if they don’t fit on the aircraft intended to transport them. Last month, the US Navy removed one obstacle when it cleared the Boeing Phantom Badger combat support vehicle for transport inside a V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft. After a battery of tests, including form-fit checks, pressure tests and structural evaluations of over four G’s, the modular vehicle was a step closer to deployment by the US Marine Corps and US Air Force Special Operations.

Submission + - Oklahoma Moves To Discourage Solar and Wind Power

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: Paul Monies reports at NewsOK that Oklahoma's legislature has passed a bill that allows regulated utilities to apply to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to charge a higher base rate to customers who generate solar and wind energy and send their excess power back into the grid reversing a 1977 law that forbade utilities to charge extra to solar users. "Renewable energy fed back into the grid is ultimately doing utility companies a service," says John Aziz. "Solar generates in the daytime, when demand for electricity is highest, thereby alleviating pressure during peak demand."

The state’s major electric utilities backed the bill but couldn’t provide figures on how much customers already using distributed generation are getting subsidized by other customers. Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. and Public Service Co. of Oklahoma have about 1.3 million electric customers in the state. They have about 500 customers using distributed generation. Kathleen O’Shea, OG&E spokeswoman, said few distributed generation customers want to sever their ties to the grid. “If there’s something wrong with their panel or it’s really cloudy, they need our electricity, and it’s going to be there for them,” O’Shea said. “We just want to make sure they’re paying their fair amount of that maintenance cost.” The prospect of widespread adoption of rooftop solar worries many utilities. A report last year by the industry’s research group, the Edison Electric Institute, warns of the risks posed by rooftop solar (PDF). “When customers have the opportunity to reduce their use of a product or find another provider of such service, utility earnings growth is threatened,” the report said. “As this threat to growth becomes more evident, investors will become less attracted to investments in the utility sector.”

Submission + - AMD Not Trying To Get Its Chips Into Low-Cost Tablets (itworld.com)

jfruh writes: While Intel is going after low-end Android tablets in a big way chipmaking x86 rival AMD is taking a more judicious approach, looking to focus on the high end. "This idea of contra revenue is foreign to us," said AMD's CEO, referring to Intel's strategy of selling chips at a loss to boost market share. But will Intel's vast resources keep AMD in its niche?

Submission + - The Eloi Are Evolving (telegraph.co.uk)

TchrBabe writes: In a new twist reminiscent of HG Wells "The Time Machine", current children are growing up without the requisite physical skills that you would expect. Instead of playing with toys, the use of tablets, smart phones, and other electronic devices as "teaching aids" and babysitters is limiting their physical dexterity. So by extrapolation, the digital divide could lead to the stratification of society on another level — those who can compute, and those who can "do". Sounds like the Eloi and the Morlocks aren't that far behind.

Submission + - Leak: Amazon Phone With 3D Display (itworld.com)

itwbennett writes: Apparently Amazon thinks we want 3D screens on our phones. Yesterday Boy Genius Report leaked images of what is supposed to be a phone coming from Amazon (BGR has all the nitty-gritty — and not yet official in any way — specs). The phone apparently has six cameras.... One on the back and one on the front for traditional photos and selfies. Then there are 4 more on the front that are intended to do facial tracking in order to properly display a 3D user interface. As blogger Peter Smith points out, 'that's an improvement over the 3DS which requires you to hold the device in the 'sweet spot' for the 3D effect to work properly.' But it also sounds like an expensive system both in terms of hardware and processing cycles.

Submission + - The EPA admits it doesn't have the data to justify its environmental regulations (frontpagemag.com) 1

schwit1 writes: In a stunning admission, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy revealed to House Science, Space and Technology Committee chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) that the agency neither possesses, nor can produce, all of the scientific data used to justify the rules and regulations they have imposed on Americans via the Clean Air Act.

The EPA was subpoenaed by Congress for the data it uses, and they responded to say that what they have doesn’t really provide any proof that their regulations are necessary. But they then add that they are going to continue imposing their regulations anyway.

Submission + - U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions Fall 10% Since 2005, but HFC's still a problem (reuters.com)

SpankiMonki writes: U.S. greenhouse gas emissions fell nearly 10 percent from 2005 to 2012, more than halfway toward the U.S.'s 2020 target pledged at United Nations climate talks, according to the latest national emissions inventory.

Meanwhile, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) saw a dramatic rise of over 309 percent during the reporting period. Although the US and China recently agreed to reduce HFC production, the two countries accounted for the bulk of the increase in HFC emissions over the reporting period.

HFC use and emissions are rapidly increasing as a result of the phaseout of ozone-depleting substances (ODS) and growing global demand for air conditioning. Although safe for the ozone layer, the continued emissions of HFCs – primarily as alternatives to ODS and also from the continued production of HCFC-22 – will have an immediate and significant effect on the Earth’s climate system. Without further controls, it is predicted that HFC emissions could negate the entire climate benefits achieved under the Montreal Protocol.

Programmers used to batch environments may find it hard to live without giant listings; we would find it hard to use them. -- D.M. Ritchie