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Space

+ - Attack of the Killer Electrons 1

Submitted by
Hugh Pickens
Hugh Pickens writes "At the peak of a magnetic storm the number of highly energetic 'killer electrons' strong enough to damage electronics and human tissue can increase by a factor of more than ten times and they can be dislodged, posing a danger to spacecraft, satellites, and astronauts. Killer electrons can penetrate satellite shielding, so if electrical discharges take place in vital components, a satellite can be damaged or even rendered inoperable. For many years, the mechanism by which killer electrons are produced has remained little understood, in spite of physicists’ attempts at solving this puzzle. Now Astrobiology Magazine reports that data shows that the increase in the creation of a substantial number of killer electrons is due to a two-step process. First, the initial acceleration is due to the strong shock-related magnetic field compression. Immediately after the impact of the interplanetary shock, Earth’s magnetic field lines began wobbling at ultra low frequencies. In turn, these ULF waves effectively accelerate the seed electrons provided by the first step, to become killer electrons. “These new findings help us to improve the models predicting the radiation environment in which satellites and astronauts operate. With solar activity now ramping up, we expect more of these shocks to impact our magnetosphere over the months and years to come,” says Philippe Escoubet, ESA’s Cluster mission manager."
Australia

Good Language Choice For School Programming Test? 407

Posted by timothy
from the 'strailian's-too-difficult dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Australian Informatics Olympiad programming test is being run in a couple of months. I'm an experienced programmer and I'm thinking of volunteering to tutor interested kids at my children's school to get them ready. There will be children of all levels in the group, from those that can't write 'hello world' in any language, to somewhat experienced programmers. For those starting from scratch, I'm wondering what language to teach them to code in. Accepted languages are C, C++, Pascal, Java, PHP, Python and Visual Basic. I'm leaning towards Python, because it is a powerful language with a simple syntax. However, the test has a run-time CPU seconds limit, so using an interpreted language like Python could put the students at a disadvantage compared to using C. Is it better to teach them something in 2 months that they're likely to be able to code in but possibly run foul of the CPU time limit, or struggle to teach them to code in a more complicated syntax like C/C++ which would however give them the best chance of having a fast solution?"

Comment: Re:For those who didn't RTFA (Score 1) 503

by anonymousbob22 (#31145184) Attached to: Bill Gates Responds To Apple iPad

Though it might be easier to type than write, it's easier to draw on a tablet than draw using a mouse, trackpad, or eraser mouse.

I am currently an engineering student and I can't use my laptop to take notes because a large portion of my notes do not translate directly to ASCII text, since a good portion of them will be equations or circuit diagrams (I'm in EE).

Comment: Re:I love slashdot. (Score 1) 332

by anonymousbob22 (#29737975) Attached to: High-Temp Superconductors To Connect Power Grids
Ok: first of all, the voltage GP was probably talking about was the voltage measured from one wire to the other. I.E., one is a reference potential, the other is at reference + 500,000V (for example). Secondly, just because there are no losses does not mean that voltage & current pulses travel instantaneously along a line. They are limited by other characteristics even on a lossless line; you should probably read up on transmission line theory.

The only way to learn a new programming language is by writing programs in it. - Brian Kernighan

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