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+ - What If We Lost the Sky?

Submitted by HughPickens.com
HughPickens.com (3830033) writes "Anna North writes in the NYT that a report released last week by the National Research Council calls for research into reversing climate change through a process called albedo modification: reflecting sunlight away from earth by, for instance, spraying aerosols into the atmosphere. But such a process could, some say, change the appearance of the sky — and that in turn could affect everything from our physical health to the way we see ourselves. “You’d get whiter skies. People wouldn’t have blue skies anymore.” says Alan Robock.“Astronomers wouldn’t be happy, because you’d have a cloud up there permanently. It’d be hard to see the Milky Way anymore.”

According to Dacher Keltner, a psychology professor at the University of California, losing the night sky would have big consequences. “When you go outside, and you walk in a beautiful setting, and you just feel not only uplifted but you just feel stronger. There’s clearly a neurophysiological basis for that," says Keltner adding that looking up at a starry sky provides “almost a prototypical awe experience,” an opportunity to feel “that you are small and modest and part of something vast.” If we lose the night sky “we lose something precious and sacred.” “We’re finding in our lab that the experience of awe gets you to feel connected to something larger than yourself, see the humanity in other people,” says Paul K. Piff. “In many ways it’s kind of an antidote to narcissism.” And the sky is one of the few sources of that experience that’s available to almost everybody: “Not everyone has access to the ocean or giant trees, or the Grand Canyon, but we certainly all live beneath the night sky.”

Alan Robock says one possible upside of adding aerosols could be beautiful red and yellow sunsets as “the yellow and red colors reflect off the bottom of this cloud.” Robock recommends more research into albedo modification: “If people ever are tempted to do this, I want them to have a lot of information about what the potential benefits and risks would be so they can make an informed decision. Dr. Abdalati says that deploying something like albedo modification is a last-ditch effort adding that “we’ve gotten ourselves into a climate mess. The fact that we’re even talking about these kinds of things is indicative of that.”"

+ - Mars One does not renew contracts for Robotic Missions->

Submitted by braindrainbahrain
braindrainbahrain (874202) writes "Mars One is, of course, the highly speculative, low credibility project to land humans on Mars after a one-way trip. In 2013 they had announced that two contracts had been awarded to the aerospace industry to develop a Mars orbiter and a Mars lander to carry a science experiment payload to the surface. Both contracts have been completed, but so far, Mars One has no immediate plans to renew the contracts and pursue further development of the crafts."
Link to Original Source

+ - What Do Old Techies Do After They Retire?

Submitted by HughPickens.com
HughPickens.com (3830033) writes "Peter T. Kilborn writes in the NYT about the generation of the baby boomer programmers, engineers, and technical people who are now leaving the bosses, bureaucracies, commutes and time clocks of their workaday careers to tackle something consuming and new, whether for material reward or none at all. “Retirement gives them the opportunity to flex their experience,” says Dr. William Winn speaking of a postchildhood, postfamily-rearing, “third age” of “productive aging” and “positive aging.” Nancy K. Schlossberg calls men and women who exploit the skills of their old jobs “continuers" and those who take up something new “adventurers.” Continuers and adventurers make up the vigorous end of Dr. Schlossberg’s retirement spectrum, opposite those she calls “retreaters” who disengage from life and “spectators” who just watch.

For example, 75-year-old Seth R. Goldstein, with four degrees in mechanical and electrical engineering from MIT and retired for thirteen years, still calls himself an engineer. But where he was previously a biomedical engineer with the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda with 12 patents, he now makes kinetic sculptures in his basement workshop that lack any commercial or functional utility. But his work, some of which is on display at the Visionary Arts Museum in Baltimore, has purpose. Goldstein is pushing the envelope of engineering and hoping to stir the imaginations of young engineers to push their own envelopes. For example "Why Knot?” a sculpture Goldstein constructed, uses 10 electric motors to drive 10 mechanisms to construct a four-in-hand knot on a necktie that it wraps around its own neck. Grasping, pulling, aligning and winding the lengths of the tie, Mr. Knot can detect the occasional misstep or tear, untie the knot and get it right. Unlike Rube Goldberg’s whimsical contraptions, Mr. Goldstein’s is no mere cartoon. It works, if only for Mr. Knot.

According to Kilborn, people like Goldstein don't fit the traditional definition of retirement, which according to Webster's Dictionary means the "withdrawal from one's position or occupation or from active working life. Retirement implies that you're just leaving something; it doesn't reflect that you're going to something," says Schlossberg. "But it is really a career change. You are leaving something that has been your primary involvement, and you are moving to something else.""

+ - Telomere-Lengthening Procedure Turns Clock Back Years in Human Cells-> 2

Submitted by Zothecula
Zothecula (1870348) writes "Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have developed a new procedure to increase the length of human telomeres. This increases the number of times cells are able to divide, essentially making the cells many years younger. This not only has useful applications for laboratory work, but may point the way to treating various age-related disorders – or even muscular dystrophy."
Link to Original Source

+ - Dear Slashdot, How do I engage 5th-8th graders in computing without going crazy? 1

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Slashdot,

I volunteer at a inner-city community after school program focused K-8th grade. Right now, due to the volunteer demographic, we spend most of our activity time in arts and crafts and homework. The 5th-8th students are getting restless with the same activities. I've been asked to spice it up with some electrical wizardry. What I'd like to do is introduce the students to basic jobs skills through computers. My thoughts are that I could conduct some simple hands on experiments with circuits, maybe some bread boards, but ultimately, we're going to take apart a computer and put it back together. How successful this is, will dictate whether or not we will go into programming. However, whatever we do, I want the kids to obtain marketable skills. Anyone know of a curriculum I can follow? Past Wins and Lose Stories?"
Wireless Networking

US Wireless Spectrum Auction Raises $44.9 Billion 91

Posted by Soulskill
from the all-about-the-wireless-benjamins dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The FCC's recent wireless spectrum auction closed on Thursday, and the agency has raked in far more money than anyone expected. Sales totaled $44.89 billion, demonstrating that demand for wireless spectrum is higher than ever. The winners have not yet been disclosed, but the FCC will soon make all bidding activity public. "The money will be used to fund FirstNet, the government agency tasked with creating the nation's first interoperable broadband network for first responders, to finance technological upgrades to our 911 emergency systems, and to contribute over $20 billion to deficit reduction. In addition, the auction brought 65 Megahertz of spectrum to market to fuel our nation's mobile broadband networks. The wireless industry estimates that for every 10 Megahertz of spectrum licensed for wireless broadband, 7,000 American jobs are created and U.S. gross domestic product increases by $1.7 billion."

+ - Computers are evil in early education-> 2

Submitted by nbauman
nbauman (624611) writes "Middle school students who got computers did worse in school. They wasted their time on games, social media, and entertainment (just like adults), according to Susan Pinker in the New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01... Computers only help when they're used by good, trained teachers. Infants who interact with parents do better in school. Screen time reduces interaction with parents.

In the early 2000s, economists tracked the academic progress of nearly one million disadvantaged middle-school students against the dates they were given networked computers. They assessed math and reading skills for 5 years.

“Students who gain access to a home computer between the 5th and 8th grades tend to witness a persistent decline in reading and math scores,” they wrote. The Internet was also linked to lower grades in younger children.

Weaker students (boys, African-Americans) were affected more than others. When their computers arrived, their reading scores fell off a cliff.

Technology has a role in education — but only when it’s perfectly suited to the task, and only when it's deployed as a tool by a terrific, highly trained teacher."

Link to Original Source

+ - Mario Lives! Mario becomes self aware and plays the game himself.->

Submitted by braindrainbahrain
braindrainbahrain (874202) writes "Many Slashdotters are familiar with the Infinite Mario game (developed by none other than Markus Persson aka Notch of Minecraft fame) and the game's close relative Infinite Adaptive Mario. Now, researchers at the University of Tübingen, Germany, have developed an AI Mario, capable of playing the infinite game unaided by human hands. The AI Mario learns about his virtual world, has emotional states and includes speech synthesis to communicate with human observers."
Link to Original Source

+ - Falcon Heavy To Be Reusable: Animation

Submitted by Press2ToContinue
Press2ToContinue (2424598) writes "Despite SpaceX's recent epic fail, aka Elon's RUD (rapid unscheduled disassembly) event, or depending on how you look at it, their most recent almost-success, Falcon Heavy is slated to be the world’s most powerful rocket when it flies, and will also attempt to return it’s core stage and boosters for rapid refurbishment and reuse, as this animation demonstrates. SpaceX is confident its accuracy will be sufficient to park the booster elements on land near the process and re-launch site.

Now with bonus Infographic: SpaceX's Huge Falcon Heavy Rocket: How It Works"

+ - Thirteen Wikipedia editors sanctioned in mammoth GamerGate arbitration case->

Submitted by The ed17
The ed17 (2834807) writes "The English Wikipedia's Arbitration Committee has closed the colossal GamerGate arbitration case. One editor has been site-banned, while another twelve are subject to remedies ranging from admonishments to broad topic bans and suspended sitebans. Arbitrator Roger Davies told the Signpost that the case was complicated by its size and complexity, including 27 named parties and 41 editors presenting roughly 34,000 words worth of on-wiki evidence—a total that does not include email correspondence."
Link to Original Source

+ - A "comet storm" is in our future, and it isn't pretty

Submitted by StartsWithABang
StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "Out beyond the orbit of Neptune, hundreds of thousands of large, icy bodies stably orbit our Sun, held very tenuously by our Solar System's gravity at such great distances. For the most part, these objects leave us alone, but every once in a while, a star passes close enough to our Solar System to perturb them, sending a great number into the inner Solar System and causing a (potentially life-threatening) comet storm. There's a candidate for a huge one a few hundred thousand years from now, and a certain one coming in about 1.4 million years. Comet defense, anyone?"

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