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Submission + - Carl Sagan papers donated by 'Family Guy' creator (

dsinc writes: Seth MacFarlane once included a gag on his animated TV comedy "Family Guy" about an "edited for rednecks" version of Carl Sagan's "Cosmos," featuring an animated Sagan dubbed over to say that the earth is "hundreds and hundreds" of years old.
Jokes aside, his admiration for Sagan runs deep.
The Library of Congress announced Wednesday that, thanks to MacFarlane's generosity, it has acquired the personal papers of the late scientist and astronomer, who spoke to mass audiences about the mysteries of the universe and the origins of life. While MacFarlane never owned Sagan's papers, he covered the undisclosed costs of donating them to the library.


Submission + - Grad Student Wins Alan Alda's Flame Challenge (

eldavojohn writes: Scientists have long been criticized of their inability to communicate complex ideas adequately to the rest of society. Similar to his questions on PBS' Scientific American Frontiers, actor Alan Alda wrote to the Journal of Science with a proposition called The Flame Challenge. Contestants would have to explain a flame to an eleven year old kid and the entries would be judged by thousands of children across the country. The winner of The Flame Challenge is quantum physics grad student Ben Ames whose animated video covers concepts like pyrolysis, chemiluminescence, oxidation and incandescence boiled into a humorous video complete with song. Now they are asking children age 10-12 to suggest the next question for the Flame Challenge. Kids out there, what would you like scientists to explain?

Submission + - Secret BBC documents reveal flimsy case for DRM (

mouthbeef writes: "The Guardian just published my investigative story on the BBC and Ofcom's abuse of secrecy laws to hide the reasons for granting permission for DRM on UK public broadcasts. The UK public overwhelmingly rejected the proposal, but Ofcom approved it anyway, saying they were convinced by secret BBC arguments that couldn't be published due to "commercial sensitivity." As the article shows, the material was neither sensitive nor convincing — a fact that Ofcom and the BBC tried to hide from the public."

Machines take me by surprise with great frequency. - Alan Turing