mernilio writes "According to UPI: 'A Massachusetts school district superintendent said a memo banning sixth graders from carrying pencils was written without district approval. North Brookfield School District interim Superintendent Gordon Noseworthy said Wendy Scott, one of two sixth-grade teachers at North Brookfield Elementary School, did not get approval from administrators before sending the memo to all sixth-grade parents, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette reported Thursday. The memo said students would no longer be allowed to bring writing implements to school. It said pencils would be provided for students in class and any students caught with pencils or pens after Nov. 15 would face disciplinary action for having materials 'to build weapons.'"
Velcroman1 writes "On October 26, 2,000 Norwegians watched the sun set. The next time they'll see it rise? Sometime in February. Extended nighttime is an annual occurrence for the residents of Longyearbyen, Norway — Earth's northernmost town. Located at 78 degrees north latitude in the Arctic circle, Longyearbyen experiences a phenomenon called Polar Night, in which the town remains in perpetual darkness for four months each winter. To lighten up the seemingly endless night, Philips has started an experiment called 'Wake Up the Town.' And anyone who's complained about the brief daylight hours in winter will want to know how it works."
MMBK writes "NASA TV recently produced six movie-trailer parodies about current projects for a 'themed exhibit at an international conference.' But for the most part, the attempt remains pretty corny, far, far away from the imaginative, inspiring work of space artists like Bruce McCall."
seanonymous writes "A study from University of Washington claims that babies think robots are human, so long as the robots are friendly. No word on what evil robots are thought to be. From the article: 'At 18 months old, babies have begun to make conscious delineations between sentient beings and inanimate objects. But as robots get more and more advanced, those decisions may become harder to make. What causes a baby to decide a robot is more than bits of metal? As it turns out, it takes more than humanoid looks — babies rely on social interaction to make that call.'"
RIM doesn't have the encryption keys to data traveling over individual BES servers, so they will not cave and couldn't even if they wanted too.
DMandPenfold writes "A multi-billion dollar European Union IT research fund will help study the behavior of three-legged dogs, it has been revealed. The fund will support extensive studies into how three-legged dogs move. There is a particular focus on how the dogs balance and function, given their missing limb."
dmbkiwi writes "The latest in the 4.x series of the KDE Software Compilation is due to be released in early August 2010. With the first beta of this release recently unleashed, I thought I'd download the openSuse packages and see what 4.5's got in store for us."
vlangber writes "Joel Spolsky wrote a famous blog post back in 2000 called 'Things You Should Never Do, Part I,' where he wrote the following: '[T]he single worst strategic mistake that any software company can make: They decided to rewrite the code from scratch.' Here is a story about a software company that decided to rewrite their application from scratch, and their experiences from that process."
cremeglace writes "A Harvard University physicist has come up with a new way to cool parts of the planet: pump vast swarms of tiny bubbles into the sea to increase its reflectivity and lower water temperatures. 'Since water covers most of the earth, don't dim the sun,' says the scientist, Russell Seitz, speaking from an international meeting on geoengineering research. 'Brighten the water.' From ScienceNOW: 'Computer simulations show that tiny bubbles could have a profound cooling effect. Using a model that simulates how light, water, and air interact, Seitz found that microbubbles could double the reflectivity of water at a concentration of only one part per million by volume. When Seitz plugged that data into a climate model, he found that the microbubble strategy could cool the planet by up to 3C. He has submitted a paper on the concept he calls “Bright Water" to the journal Climatic Change.'"
PipianJ writes "A recent preprint posted on arXiv by Vadim Bobylev presents some startling new numbers about a future close pass of one of our stellar neighbors. Based on studies of the Hipparcos catalog, Bobylev suggests that the nearby orange dwarf Gliese 710 has an 86% chance of skirting the outer bounds of the Solar System and the hypothesized Oort Cloud in the next 1.5 million years. As the Oort Cloud is thought to be the source of many long-period comets, the gravitational effects of Gliese's passing could send a shower of comets into the inner Solar System, threatening Earth. This news about Gliese 710 isn't exactly new, but it's one of the first times the probability of this near-miss has been quantified."
Roland Piquepaille writes "Snowflakes have been puzzling mathematicians for about four centuries. Still, scientists have never been able to fully explain snowflake shapes. For example, is this true that their six-pointed structure reflect an underlying crystal structure? Now, two U.S. mathematicians have developed software that simulates 3-D snowflakes. And they discovered that even 'no two snowflakes are truly alike,' they're very similar to each other. In fact, the real mystery is why they are not more different from each other. But read more for additional references and beautiful images of 'snowfakes' as the researchers called them."