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What Scientists Really Think About Religion 1123

Hugh Pickens writes "The Washington Post has a book review of Science and Religion: What Scientists Really Think by Rice University sociologist Elaine Ecklund, who spent four years doing a detailed survey of 1,646 scientists at elite American research universities. The study reveals that scientists often practice a closeted faith, worrying about how their peers would react to learning about their religious views. 'After four years of research, at least one thing became clear: Much of what we believe about the faith lives of elite scientists is wrong. The '"insurmountable hostility" between science and religion is a caricature, a thought-cliche, perhaps useful as a satire on groupthink, but hardly representative of reality,' writes Ecklund. Unsurprisingly, Ecklund found that 64% of scientists are either atheists (34%) or agnostic (30%). But only five of the 275 in-depth interviewees actively oppose religion; and even among the third who are atheists, many consider themselves 'spiritual.' 'According to the scientists I interviewed, the academy seems to have a "strong culture" that suppresses discussion about religion in many areas,' says Ecklund. 'To remove the perceived stigma, we would need to have more scientists talking openly about issues of religion, where such issues are particularly relevant to their discipline.'"

Project Honey Pot Traps Billionth Spam 118

EastDakota writes "Project Honey Pot today announced that it had trapped its 1 billionth spammer. To celebrate, the team behind the largest community sourced project tracking online fraud and abuse released a full rundown of statistics on the last five years of spam. Findings include: spam drops 21% on Christmas Day and 32% of New Year's Day; the most spam is sent on Mondays, the least on Saturdays; spammers found at least 956 different ways to spell VIAGRA (e.g., VIAGRA, V1AGRA, V1@GR@, V!AGRA, VIA6RA, etc.) in mail received by the Project; and much more."

Behind the 4GB Memory Limit In 32-Bit Windows 756

An anonymous reader points us to a very detailed post by Geoff Chappell, first put up early this year, explaining how the 4GB memory limit commonly bandied about for 32-bit Windows (he is writing mainly about Vista) is more of a licensing preference than an architectural limit. The article outlines how Chappell unlocked his system to use all the memory that is present, but cautions that such hackery is ill-advised for several reasons, including legal ones. "If you want [to be able to use more than 4GB in Vista] without contrivance, then pester Microsoft for an upgrade of the license data or at least for a credible, detailed reasoning of its policy for licensing your use of your computer's memory. ... [C]onsider Windows Server 2008. For the loader and kernel in Windows Vista SP1 (and, by the way, for the overwhelming majority of all executables), the corresponding executable in Windows Server 2008 is exactly the same, byte for byte. Yet Microsoft sells 32-bit Windows Server 2008 for use with as much as 64GB of memory. Does Microsoft really mean to say that when it re-badges these same executables as Windows Vista SP1, they suddenly acquire an architectural limit of 4GB? Or is it that a driver for Windows Server 2008 is safe for using with memory above 4GB as long as you don't let it interact with the identical executables from Windows Vista SP1?"

Facebook Violates Canadian Privacy Law 179

Myriad and a number of other readers passed along the news that the Canadian Privacy Commissioner has made a determination that Facebook violates Canadian privacy law in four different respects. Canada has the highest per-capita facebook participation in the world — about a third of the population — according to coverage in The Star. The EU is also expressing similar privacy concerns, though Canada's action "represents the most exhaustive official investigation of Facebook privacy practices anywhere in the world," says Michael Geist. The CBC's coverage spells out the areas of privacy concern, in particular that nearly a million developers of Facebook apps in 180 countries have full access to the entirety of users' private data. Also of concern: Facebook holds on to your data indefinitely after you quit the site. The BBC notes that Facebook is working with the privacy commission to resolve the issues, and quotes a Facebook spokesman thus: "Overall, we are looking for practical solutions that operate at scale and respect the fact that people come to share and not to hide." (Schneier recently blogged about research on "privacy salience," and cited Facebook's practices among others' as practical examples of how social networking sites have learned not to push the privacy issue in users' faces.)

FCC Reserves the Right To Search Your Home, Any Time 589

mikesd81 writes " reports that you may not know it, but if you have a wireless router, a cordless phone, remote car-door opener, baby monitor or cellphone in your house, the FCC claims the right to enter your home without a warrant at any time of the day or night in order to inspect it. FCC spokesman David Fiske says 'Anything using RF energy — we have the right to inspect it to make sure it is not causing interference.' The FCC claims it derives its warrantless search power from the Communications Act of 1934, though the constitutionality of the claim has gone untested in the courts. 'It is a major stretch beyond case law to assert that authority with respect to a private home, which is at the heart of the Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable search and seizure,' says Electronic Frontier Foundation lawyer Lee Tien. 'When it is a private home and when you are talking about an over-powered Wi-Fi antenna — the idea they could just go in is honestly quite bizarre.'"

Infrared Fibers Can Protect Against Chemoterrorism 71

Hugh Pickens writes "Although most Americans take the safety of their drinking water for granted, ordinary tap water can become contaminated within minutes, says Prof. Abraham Katzir of Tel Aviv University's School of Physics and Astronomy who has developed a fiber-optic system that can detect poisons such as pesticides in water in amounts well below the World Health Organization safety threshold using 'colors' in the infrared spectrum which distinguish between pure and contaminated water. 'With our naked eyes we can't distinguish between pure water and water that contains a small amount of alcohol or acetone. They're all clear,' says Katzir. 'But we can clearly distinguish between liquids using an infrared spectrometer which can distinguish between "colors" in the invisible infrared spectrum.' Connected to a commercial infrared spectrometer, the fibers serve as sensors that can detect and notify authorities immediately if a contaminant has entered a water reservoir, system, building or pipeline. 'Toxic materials are readily available as pesticides or herbicides in the agriculture industry, and can be harmful if consumed even in concentrations as low as few parts per million,' says Katzir. Cities like New York are especially susceptible to a chemoterrorist threat. With many skyscrapers holding water reserves on the top of the building, a terrorist only needs to introduce poison into a tank to wreak havoc. 'A terrorist wouldn't have to kill tens of thousands of people. Only 50 deaths — as horrible as that would be — would cause nationwide panic,' says Katzir."
GNU is Not Unix

Why Linux Is Not Yet Ready For the Desktop 1365

An anonymous reader writes "Every now and then a new- or old-media journalist tries to explain to everyone why Linux is not yet ready for the desktop. However all those men who graduated from their engineering universities years ago have only superficial knowledge about operating systems and their inner works. An unknown author from Russia has decided to draw up a list of technical reasons and limitations hampering Linux domination on the desktop." Some of the gripes listed here really resonate with me, having just moved to an early version of Ubuntu 9.10 on my main testing-stuff laptop; it's frustrating especially that while many seemingly more esoteric things work perfectly, sound now works only in part, and even that partial success took some fiddling.

Microsoft To Banish Memcpy() 486

kyriacos notes that Microsoft will be adding memcpy() to its list of function calls banned under its secure development lifecycle. This reader asks, "I was wondering how advanced C/C++ programmers view this move. Do you find this having a negative impact on the flexibility of the language, and do you think it will restrict the creativity of the programmer?"

Ocean Circulation Doesn't Work As Expected 658

techno-vampire writes with word that a long-accepted model of deep ocean currents is inaccurate. Deep Sea News has a summary of the research, to be published in Nature. The Woods Hole press release has more details. "A 50-year-old model of global thermohaline circulation that predicts a deep Atlantic counter current below the Gulf Stream is now formally called into question by an armada of subsurface RAFOS floats drifting 700 - 1500m deep. Nearly 80% of the RAFOS floats escaped the Deep Western Boundary Current (DWBC), drifting into the open ocean. This confirms suspicions that have been around since the 1990s, and likely plays havoc with global models of climate change."

Windows 7 "Not Much Faster" Than Vista 821

PLSQL Guy writes "Tests of the Windows 7 Release Candidate in a PC World Test Center found that while Windows 7 was slightly faster on our WorldBench 6 suite, the differences may be barely noticeable to users. The PCs tested were slightly faster when running Windows 7, but in no case was the overall improvement greater than 5 percent, considered to be a threshold for when an actual performance change is noticeable to the average user. One of the major complaints about Windows Vista was the fact that it was consistently slower than Windows XP. If Windows 7 can't significantly improve that situation, what chance does it have to convince people to move away from Windows XP?"

FDA Could Delay Adult Stem Cell Breakthroughs 261

destinyland writes "A Colorado medical advocate says, 'The FDA contends that if one cultures stem cells at all...then it's a prescription drug,' in arguing that revolutionary new treatments could be delayed by 20 years — even using cells extracted from your own body. According to the FDA, even therapies that simply re-inject your body's adult stem cells could be prohibited without five years of clinical trials and millions of dollars of research. How useful are cultured stem cells? 'In animal models, they routinely cure diabetes.'"
The Military

Seven Arrested After Protesting Army Video Game Recruiting Center 433

GamePolitics writes "Seven anti-war protesters were arrested in Philadelphia on Saturday during a protest rally and march which targeted the Army Experience Center, a high-tech recruitment center which uses PC and Xbox games and simulations to attract potential recruits. GamePolitics was on hand to cover the protest, and took video of the arrests. A local news station also reported on the rally, and the Peace Action Network released a statement saying, "In its desperate approach to meet recruiting numbers, the military is teaching the wrong values to teenagers. Sugarcoating combat experience with virtual war is a dishonor to those with real war experience."

Soy-Based Toner Cartridges? 389

Jon.Laslow writes "I'm getting a lot of pressure from managers to switch to soy-based toner cartridges for our laser printers because they are 'greener.' The problem is, the only information I can find on them is from sales pitches; and the reviews all seem to be user testimonials. Do you have any experience soy-based printing products? Did you have any issues with them, and how was the print quality?"

The trouble with being poor is that it takes up all your time.