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Comment: Low probability of getting hit by CME (Score 4, Informative) 212

I don't see what the fuss is about. The odds of being hit by a CME have to be quite low. Let's work it out together:
  1. To make the math simple, let's first assume CMEs can be fired in any direction.
  2. For a CME to hit the Earth, it has to occupy the same space as us at the same time.
  3. The Earth is approx 1 AU from the sun at any given time; so to hit the Earth, the CME has to hit a particular spot on a sphere of space 1 AU in radius.
  4. So the probability of a given CME hitting Earth is approximately equivalent to the ratio of half the Earth's surface area (since only half faces the Sun at a time) to the surface area of a sphere with a radius of 1 AU.

Google says:

  1. 1 AU = 149,597,871 km
  2. Surface area of a sphere is 4*pi*r^2, so our orbital sphere has an area of approx 2.8 x 10^17 km^2.
  3. Surface area of the Earth = 510,072,000 km^2, or 5.1 x 10^8 km^2

Therefore the probability of being hit by a given CME is (2.8 x 10^17) / (5.1 x 10^8) = 5.5 x 10^-8, or a 0.0000055% chance.

Now the number of CMEs per year is actually higher than I expected, which I suppose explains why we do in fact get hit between 0 - 70 times per year. However the number of annual large CMEs is quite low, with none of the sites I visited actually agreeing on the number (most seemed to agree it's less than 5 per year in a solar maximum.) Let's say there are 5 per year. That only brings the chance of being hit by one of them up to 0.000028% per year. So if I live to be 100, the chances I'll see one in my lifetime are only 0.0028%.

caveat: These calculations ignore CME cross-section (essentially width and height) and duration (essentially length), since I couldn't find any accurate information on those. If you find those, you can factor them into these calculations by multiplying by the cross-section, multiplying by the % duration that the CME's strength is high, and multipyling by the Earth's average orbital velocity. That will modify the probility to take into account the volume of space the Earth occupies while the CME is traversing the edge of our 1 AU sphere, and how much of the surface of the sphere is touched by the CME.

Comment: Re:Misleading summary (Score 3, Informative) 150

It isn't as if another version was already submitted earlier, perhaps with a better summary for the editors to use:

The accepted story was submitted by itwbennett, and links to a story on I think it's a fair assumption that it was submitted by Amy Bennett, ITworld's Managing Editor. According to her achievements, she's had 2^9 submissions accepted, from which we can conclude that Slashdot editors probably prioritize her submissions. I imagine her submissions are fairly well written, link to a somewhat reputable source, and have already been deemed interesting enough to the IT crowd for a story on ITworld. So they get fast-tracked, and other worthy submissions are reviewed later, deemed to be duplicates, and discarded.

Would be nice if her submissions lead off with the fact that she was the managing editor for ITworld though, just to make it clear that she's just trying to feed traffic to her own site. (Which is a valid action if the story is original and interesting, but should require a disclaimer.)

Comment: Re:Other factors can ease parenting "instinct" in (Score 2) 291

by Walking The Walk (#47107255) Attached to: Parenting Rewires the Male Brain

So far, I haven't been getting much advice that is critical of our plans, except from one person: my very traditional mother, who is probably secretly horrified that my husband is going to stay at home.

I've got two kids and a third due in about 9 weeks. My best advice to parents-to-be is to ignore all the advice you'll get (small joke there.) Everyone you meet will think they know better than you what being a parent will be like, and that they know best how you should raise your child. Many of them will then offer that advice in strong terms, even when you clearly don't want/need it. Listen to them, nod politely, and go on doing it the way you think best.

... perhaps there's a chance that I'll become more maternal. I worry about it.

Annecdotal, but: We both became more maternal/paternal when our son was born. I had trouble bonding the first couple of weeks - they just cry, sleep and poop the first while, and nursing didn't go well (apparently the stats are that 50% of women have trouble with nursing for the first child. Ignore anyone that pressures you for or against nursing - it's your choice to try and for how long.) But taking time to just sit quietly and take care of him, hold him when he's sleeping, stuff like that helped us bond. Looking back now, I do wish I'd taken some videos of us having that quiet bonding time.

So, trust yourself and good luck - it's a hell of a ride, but totally worth it!

Comment: Re:And with that yoiu get POWER! (Score 4, Interesting) 420

... or you use pumps to pressurize a bunch of salt water and use a membrane to filter out the salt. Again pressurizing the water consumes a lot of energy.

Couldn't you just drop a container into the ocean, one with only two openings - one with your membrane for salt water in, the other opening for desalinated water out? The deeper you put it, the more pressure outside the container that pushes the salt water through your membrane. Then you could use a low power pump to slowly remove the clean water through a hose attached to the other opening.

Comment: Re:For those of us not in the US (Score 1) 465

by Walking The Walk (#46898175) Attached to: Lessig Launches a Super PAC To End All Super PACs

PAC is short for Political Action Committee and it is a way of buying politicians. What is boils down to is a way for many people to combine their political contributions into one entity. (sarc) If the PAC supports your issues then that's ok. (/sarc)

If you have enough money to buy politicians in lots of half a dozen, is it a 6-PAC?

If you can only afford a third of that, then it's a 2-Pac.

+ - This 1981 BYTE magazine cover explains why we're so bad at tech predictions->

Submitted by harrymcc
harrymcc (1641347) writes "If you remember the golden age of BYTE magazine, you remember Robert Tinney's wonderful cover paintings. BYTE's April 1981 cover featured an amazing Tinney image of a smartwatch with a tiny text-oriented interface, QWERTY keyboard, and floppy drive. It's hilarious--but 33 years later, it's also a smart visual explanation of why the future of technology so often bears so little resemblance to anyone's predictions. I wrote about this over at"
Link to Original Source

+ - Heartbleed: Revenue Canada breached, 900 SINs leaked 1

Submitted by Walking The Walk
Walking The Walk (1003312) writes "The Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) released a statement yesterday explaining that they had been notified of a breach of their system. The CRA attempted to avoid being compromised by halting online tax returns, taking down Netfile and other related websites affected by Heartbleed. The statement indicates that affected individuals and businesses will receive notification by registered mail, "to ensure that our communications are secure and cannot be exploited by fraudsters through phishing schemes.""

+ - Study Shows American Policy Exclusively Reflects Desires of the Rich->

Submitted by CamelTrader
CamelTrader (311519) writes "A forthcoming paper by Princeton's Martin Gilens and Northwestern's Benjamin Page analyzes policy over the past 20+ years and conclude that policy makers respond exclusively to the needs of people in the 90th wealth percentile. A summary at the Washington Post by Larry Bartels:"
Link to Original Source

+ - With Windows Phone 8.1, Microsoft finally delivers->

Submitted by Velcroman1
Velcroman1 (1667895) writes "Wow. Who knew one-tenth of a number could make such a difference? Windows Phone 8.1, the next version of Microsoft’s smartphone operating system, is now out for early download, and the first reviews are in. And reviewers are really impressed. The upgrade brings a long list of small tweaks, many of which may sound insignificant. But all together they’ve made Windows Phone an OS that worked better in your life than past versions, whihc meant a lot of big and small sacrifices. For the first time, Microsoft may have finally caught up to its rivals. You heard it here first: Windows Phone is finally a good alternative to your iPhone, Galaxy, or Nexus."
Link to Original Source

+ - Mathematicians Use Mossberg 500 Pump-Action Shotgun to Calculate Pi->

Submitted by KentuckyFC
KentuckyFC (1144503) writes "Imagine the following scenario. The end of civilisation has occurred, zombies have taken over the Earth and all access to modern technology has ended. The few survivors suddenly need to know the value of pi and, being a mathematician, they turn to you. What do you do? According to a couple of Canadian mathematicians, the answer is to repeatedly fire a Mossberg 500 pump action shotgun at a square aluminium target about 20 metres away. Then imagine that the square is inscribed with an arc drawn between opposite corners that maps out a quarter circle. If the sides of the square are equal to 1, then the area of the quarter circle is pi/4. Next, count the number of pellet holes that fall inside the area of the quarter circle as well as the total number of holes. The ratio between these is an estimate of the ratio between the area of the quarter circle and the area of a square, or in other words pi/4. So multiplying this number by 4 will give you an estimate of pi. That's a process known as a Monte Carlo approximation and it is complicated by factors such as the distribution of the pellets not being random. But the mathematicians show how to handle these too. The result? According to this method, pi is 3.13, which is just 0.33 per cent off the true value. Handy if you find yourself in a post-apocalyptic world."
Link to Original Source

Comment: "From the Reuters article" - What Reuters article? (Score 1) 202

by Walking The Walk (#46536749) Attached to: Earth Barely Dodged Solar Blast In 2012
The summary says "From the Reuters article", but none of the links point to a story by Reuters. The links go to Nature, Wikipedia and UC Berkeley. The Berkeley article one doesn't mention Reuters; the Nature paper is paywalled, I can't check it's sources without forking over $32, but I would doubt it would rely on a news report as a source.

Comment: Use long exposures then (Score 2) 149

I guess it's back to old school photograhpy then. 100 years ago, photographs of landmarks didn't have people in then unless they were willing to stand perfectly still for 20 minutes or more. So just get a tripod, set up at your chosen landmark, and open the shutter. None of the people moving around will show up in your picture, and if you want to be in your own photo, just walk in front of the camera and strike a pose that you can hold for a half hour or so.

Comment: Protection against seizure by TSA / police? (Score 2) 197

While I agree with others worried that a kill switch could be abused (by carriers / government / MPAA / RIAA / etc), I'm now wondering if it would be a handy way to counter (un)lawful search and seizure of a device by various authorities? Say you're transiting through the US and a TSA agent decides they want to confiscate (and presumably search) your smartphone. If the kill switch is easy to activate (maybe a number you call and enter a code, or via your laptop or friend's smartphone), you could wipe your device before they get the contents.

"We learn from history that we learn nothing from history." -- George Bernard Shaw