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Medicine

Computer Modeling Failed During the Ebola Outbreak 193

the_newsbeagle writes: Last fall, the trajectory of the Ebola outbreak looked downright terrifying: Computational epidemiologists at Virginia Tech predicted 175,000 cases in Liberia by the end of 2014, while the CDC predicted 1.4 million cases in Liberia and Sierra Leone. They were way off. The actual tally as of January 2015: A total of 20,712 cases in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone combined, and in all three countries, the epidemic was dying down. But the modelers argue that this really wasn't a failure, because their predictions served as worst-case scenarios that mobilized international efforts.

Comment Unicomp makes quality keyboards (Score 1) 147

I agree, Unicomp keyboards are hard to beat thanks to their buckling spring switches. And the price is awesome: $80 or so for a keyboard that feels *solid*. Compare to at least $120 for most Cherry-based keyboards. I use mine in a software development office (cubicles) and I don't have complains. To the contrary, other developers and sysadmins have bought their own Unicomp after typing a few test lines. Too bad the poster posted as AC, this is a very thoughtful post.
Crime

Obama: Maybe It's Time For Mandatory Voting In US 1089

HughPickens.com writes CNN reports that when asked how to offset the influence of big money in politics, President Barack Obama suggested it's time to make voting a requirement. "Other countries have mandatory voting," said Obama "It would be transformative if everybody voted — that would counteract money more than anything," he said, adding it was the first time he had shared the idea publicly. "The people who tend not to vote are young, they're lower income, they're skewed more heavily towards immigrant groups and minority groups. There's a reason why some folks try to keep them away from the polls." At least 26 countries have compulsory voting, according to the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. Failure to vote is punishable by a fine in countries such as Australia and Belgium; if you fail to pay your fine in Belgium, you could go to prison. Less than 37% of eligible voters actually voted in the 2014 midterm elections, according to The Pew Charitable Trusts. That means about 144 million Americans — more than the population of Russia — skipped out. Critics of mandatory voting have questioned the practicality of passing and enforcing such a requirement; others say that freedom also means the freedom not to do something.
Encryption

Obama Says He's 'A Strong Believer In Strong Encryption' 220

An anonymous reader writes: U.S. President Barack Obama spoke with Re/code recently on a variety of topics relating to technology. The talk included the president's thoughts on encryption, which has been a controversial subject in tech circles lately after government officials (including Obama himself) have publicly complained about default encryption in modern communication tools. In the interview, he says he's a "strong believer in strong encryption," adding, "I lean probably further on side of strong encryption than some in law enforcement." Obama puts it another way, more bluntly: "There's no scenario in which we don't want really strong encryption." However, the president says the public itself is driving concern for leaving law enforcement a way in: "The first time that an attack takes place in which it turns out that we had a lead and we couldn't follow up on it, the public's going to demand answers."

Comment No pure oxygen (Score 4, Insightful) 116

Having a gun inside a thin-walled spacecraft filled with oxygen sounds crazy,

Having a spacecraft filled with pure oxygen sounds and is crazy. The Apollo 1 fire (1967) showed just how crazy it is. Which is why they don't do it anymore. Neither ISS nor the Russian capsules have a pure oxygen atmosphere. In fact, the ISS atmosphere is ground-level pressure with 20% oxygen. Only the EVA suits have a low-pressure, high-oxygen breathable mix.

Communications

NJ Museum Revives TIROS Satellite Dish After 40 Years 28

evanak writes TIROS was NASA's Television Infrared Observation Satellite. It launched in April 1960. One of the ground tracking stations was located at the U.S. Army's secret "Camps Evans" Signals Corps electronics R&D laboratory. That laboratory (originally a Marconi wireless telegraph lab) became the InfoAge Science Center in the 2000s. [Monday], after many years of restoration, InfoAge volunteers (led by Princeton U. professor Dan Marlowe) successfully received data from space. The dish is now operating for the first time in 40 years! The received data are in very raw form, but there is a clear peak riding on top of the noise background at 0.4 MHz (actually 1420.4 MHz), which is the well-known 21 cm radiation from the Milky Way. The dish was pointing south at an elevation of 45 degrees above the horizon.

Submission + - The missing piece of the smart home revolution: The operating system ->

An anonymous reader writes: As these technologies sense and and react to changes in your environment, there are obvious parallels to computer operating systems, which receive input and return output. What does the “operating system” for the smart home of the future look like?
Link to Original Source

Submission + - WSJ refused to publish Lawrence Krauss' response to "Science Proves Religion".

Kubla Kahhhn! writes: Recently, the WSJ posted a controversial piece "Science Increasingly Makes a Case for God", written by non-scientist and darling of the apologist crowd, Eric Metaxas. Noted astrophysicist Lawrence Krauss wrote a simple and clear retort in a letter to the editor, which the WSJ declined to publish. Is it an example of the kind of "fair and balanced reporting" we can expect, now that Wall Street Journal is owned by Rupert Murdoch?

Submission + - 'Disco clam' lights up to scare predators away->

sciencehabit writes: When predators get close, the bright, orange-lipped “disco clam” flashes them to scare them off. But it's not just the light that's important. Researchers have found that the clam has sulfur in its fleshy lips and tentacles and suspect that, like another clam species that drop tentacles laden with sulfuric acid to deter predators, the disco clam's sulfur also gets converted into a distasteful substance. The flashing may warn predators away, similar to the bright orange of a monarch butterfly warning birds of its toxic taste.
Link to Original Source

Comment Re:These crazy archeologist... (Score 1) 276

I "escorted" a precious cargo on a flight once. It was in a padded plastic case looking a lot like this one. We simply bought a seat for the case! It was not an antique, it was a motherboard tester prototype. We simply couldn't risk getting one of these protos damaged or lost.

Comment These crazy archeologist... (Score 3, Insightful) 276

From the paternalist, condescending article: Beyond firearms, of course, TSA officers encounter an extremely wide variety of other prohibited items at airport checkpoints, including ... an unloaded cannon.

Because archeologist or collectors should absolutely check in priceless historical artifacts! It's not like baggage handler would steal anything, or the airlines would lose luggage, ho ho, how silly.

Hey, this thing was a firearm once, right? So it's totally justified, innit? Even though the picture even shows that the thing is rusty, unable to fire, and very old.

Do you know how funny it is in Dilbert cartoon when the PHB adopts a tone of condescending smugness to assert misinformed, ill-reasoned opinions? Well, somehow, these bureaucrats don't manage to make it funny.

The Media

Skeptics Would Like Media To Stop Calling Science Deniers 'Skeptics' 719

Layzej writes: Prominent scientists, science communicators, and skeptic activists, are calling on the news media to stop using the word "skeptic" when referring to those who refuse to accept the reality of climate change, and instead refer to them by what they really are: science deniers. "Not all individuals who call themselves climate change skeptics are deniers. But virtually all deniers have falsely branded themselves as skeptics. By perpetrating this misnomer, journalists have granted undeserved credibility to those who reject science and scientific inquiry."
Education

Google Suggests Separating Students With 'Some CS Knowledge' From Novices 307

theodp writes To address the challenge of rapidly increasing CS enrollments and increasing diversity, reports the Computing Education Blog, Google in November put out an RFP to universities for its invite-only 3X in 3 Years: CS Capacity Award program, which aims "to support faculty in finding innovative ways to address the capacity problem in their CS courses." In the linked-to RFP document, Google suggests that "students that have some CS background" should not be allowed to attend in-person intro CS courses where they "may be more likely to create a non-welcoming environment," and recommends that they instead be relegated to online courses. According to a recent NSF press release, this recommendation would largely exclude Asian and White boys from classrooms, which seems to be consistent with a Google-CodeCademy award program that offers $1,000 bonuses to teachers who get 10 or more high school kids to take a JavaScript course, but only counts students from "groups traditionally underrepresented in computer science (girls, or boys who identify as African American, Latino, American Indian or Alaska Native)." The project suggested in the Google RFP — which could be worth $1.5 million over 3 years to a large CS department — seems to embrace-and-extend a practice implemented at Harvey Mudd College years ago under President Maria Klawe, which divided the intro CS offering into separate sections based upon prior programming experience to — as the NY Times put it — reduce the intimidation factor of young men, already seasoned programmers, who dominated the class. Google Director of Education and University Relations Maggie Johnson, whose name appears on the CS Capacity RFP, is also on the Board of Code.org (where Klawe is coincidentally an Advisory Board member), the K-12 learn-to-code nonprofit that has received $3+ million from Google and many millions more from other tech giants and their execs. Earlier this week, Code.org received the blessing of the White House and NSF to train 25,000 teachers to teach CS, stirring unease among some educators concerned about the growing influence of corporations in public schools.

Comment Best source(s) about your work on sunk submarines? (Score 2) 40

Your work on a certain luxury liner is very well documented. However, it's harder to find details about your work to locate and study the wrecks of U.S.S. Thresher and U.S.S. Scorpion.

How much of this is still classified? What good publicly available source(s) would you recommend to learn more about these missions?

If mathematically you end up with the wrong answer, try multiplying by the page number.

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