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Comment: Take a Hint from Atoms (Score 1) 811

by darenw (#47847933) Attached to: 3 Recent Flights Make Unscheduled Landings, After Disputes Over Knee Room

One thing they haven't tried yet is hexagonal packing. Any physicist, chemist or minerologist can tell you hexagonal is denser packing than rectangles.

Even better, pack in those passengers in three dimensions, Face Centered Cubic lattices and all that. Of course, this works best for spherical passengers.

+ - IT Jobs Take Summer Swan Dive 1

Submitted by snydeq
snydeq (1272828) writes "The IT job hiring bump earlier this year wasn't sustained in July and August, when numbers slumped considerably, InfoWorld reports. 'So much for the light at the end of the IT jobs tunnel. According to job data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as analyzed by Janco Associates, the IT professional job market has all but lost the head of steam it built up earlier this year. A mere 3,400 IT jobs were added in August, down from 4,600 added for July and way down from the 13,800 added in April of this year. Overall, IT hiring in 2014 got off to a weak start, then surged, only to stumble again.' Anybody out there finding the IT job market discouraging of late and care to share their experiences?"

+ - Army can't track spending on $4 billion system to track spending

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 (797399) writes "Our government in action: An inspector general has found that the Army was unable to track the spending on a project designed to help the Army track spending.

As of this February, the Army had spent $725.7 million on the system, which is ultimately expected to cost about $4.3 billion. The problem, according to the IG, is that the Army has failed to comply with a variety of federal laws that require agencies to standardize reporting and prepare auditable financial statements. “This occurred because DOD and Army management did not have adequate controls, including procedures and annual reviews, in place to ensure GCSS-Army compliance with Treasury and DOD guidance,” the IG report concludes.

"

+ - Music Training's Cognitive Benefits Could Help "At-Risk" Students

Submitted by AthanasiusKircher
AthanasiusKircher (1333179) writes "In recent years, emphasis on standardized testing and basic skills has forced many schools to cut back on things like arts and extracurricular activities. A study out this week from Northwestern University hints that schools may be hurting "at-risk" kids even more by cutting such programs. Just two years of music lessons were shown to have significant effects on brain activity and language processing which the researchers argue could help close achievement gaps between at-risk students and more affluent students. Aside from better brain response to language observed in the lab, practical effects of the interventions were readily apparent: 'Leaders at Harmony Project approached the researchers after the non-profit observed that their students were performing much better than other public school students in the area. Since 2008, over 90 percent of high school seniors who participated in Harmony Project’s free music lessons went on to college, even though the high school dropout rates in the surrounding Los Angeles areas can reach up to 50 percent.' Note that this is only one of several ongoing studies showing significant cognitive benefits for music training among at-risk students; an article last year from The Atlantic gives a more detailed summary of related research."

+ - Lifeform out of the "Tree of Life" found off the coast of Australia->

Submitted by Taco Cowboy
Taco Cowboy (5327) writes "A mushroom-shaped sea animal discovered off the Tasmanian coast back in 1986 has defied classification in the tree of life

A team of scientists at the University of Copenhagen says the tiny organism does not fit into any of the known subdivisions of the animal kingdom. The organisms, which were originally collected in 1986, are described in the academic journal Plos One. Such a situation has occurred only a handful of times in the last 100 years

The authors of the paper recognise two new species of mushroom-shaped animal: Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides. Measuring only a few millimetres in size, the animals consist of a flattened disc and a stalk with a mouth on the end. The authors of the article note several similarities with the bizarre and enigmatic soft-bodied life forms that lived between 635 and 540 million years ago — the span of Earth history known as the Ediacaran Period. Those organisms, too, have proven difficult to categorise and some researchers have even suggested they were failed experiments in multi-cellular life

During a scientific cruise in 1986, scientists collected organisms at water depths of 400m and 1,000m on the south-east Australian continental slope, near Tasmania. But the two types of mushroom-shaped organisms were recognised only recently, after sorting of the bulk samples collected during the expedition. "Finding something like this is extremely rare, it's maybe only happened about four times in the last 100 years," said co-author Jorgen Olesen from the University of Copenhagen

The new organisms are multicellular but mostly non-symmetrical, with a dense layer of gelatinous material between the outer skin cell and inner stomach cell layers. The researchers did find some similarities to other animal groupings, such as the Cnidaria — the phylum that comprises corals and jellyfish — and the Ctenophora, which includes the marine organisms known as comb jellies. But the new organisms did not fulfil all the criteria required for inclusion in either of those categories. Dr Olesen said the new animals could either be a very early branch on the tree of life, or be intermediate between two different animal phyla

One way to resolve the question surrounding Dendrogramma's affinities would be to examine its DNA, but new specimens will need to be found. The original samples were first preserved in formaldehyde and later transferred to 80% alcohol, a mode of treatment that prevents analysis of genetic material. Accordingly, the team's paper in Plos One calls for researchers around the world to keep an eye out for other examples. "We published this paper in part as a cry for help," said Dr Olesen. "There might be somebody out there who can help place it""

Link to Original Source

+ - White House Names Google's Megan Smith As CTO->

Submitted by itwbennett
itwbennett (1594911) writes "The White House has named long-time Google executive Megan Smith as the government's new CTO, in charge of improving technology and the use of data across agencies. Smith most recently served as vice president at Google's tech lab, Google[x]. She previously served as CEO of PlanetOut, helped design early smartphone technologies at General Magic and worked on multimedia products at Apple Japan in Tokyo. She holds bachelor's and master's degrees in mechanical engineering from MIT, and just might be, as noted in a previous Slashdot post, the first US CTO worthy of the title. Also on Thursday, the White House named Alexander Macgillivray, a former general counsel and head of public policy at Twitter, as deputy U.S. CTO."
Link to Original Source

+ - Privacy Vulnerabilities in Coursera, Including Student Email Addresses

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Coursera, the online education platform with over 9 million students, appears to have some serious privacy shortcomings. According to one of Stanford's instructors, 'any teacher can dump the entire user database, including over nine million names and email addresses.' Also, 'if you are logged into your Coursera account, any website that you visit can list your course enrollments.' The attack even has a working proof of concept. A week after the problems were reported, Coursera still hasn't fixed them."

+ - Hypersonic Missile Testing Should be Banned Now, Before They Actually Work-> 1

Submitted by Lasrick
Lasrick (2629253) writes "Mark Gubrud has a fascinating piece arguing for the US to lead the way in calling for a ban on the testing of hypersonic missiles, a technology that the US has been developing for decades. China has also started testing these weapons, which proponents optimistically claim would not be used to deliver nuclear weapons. Russia, India, and a few other countries are also joining in the fray, so a ban on testing would stop an arms race in its tracks. Good discussion of the two types of hypersonic technology, and whether that technology has civilian applications."
Link to Original Source

+ - MS urging people to ignore strong passwords-> 2

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft appears to be making a concerted effort to get people to ignore decades of advice on complex passwords. Wired has a piece about Cormac Herley, a Principal Researcher at MS, saying "burdening users with choosing stronger passwords seems like a big waste of effort." http://www.wired.com/2014/08/p... (Original paper "strength above that needed to withstand online guessing is effectively wasted": http://research.microsoft.com/...).
Separately, Roger Grimes, a Principal Analyst at MS, has an opinion piece in Infoworld “Why you don't need long, complex passwords” arguing that password guessers “aren’t even measurable noise in most environments.” http://www.infoworld.com/d/sec..."

Link to Original Source

+ - How Big Telecom Smothers Municipal Broadband

Submitted by Rick Zeman
Rick Zeman (15628) writes "The Center for Public Integrity has a comprehensive article showing how Big Telecom (aka, AT&T, Comcast, Charter, Time Warner) use lobbyists, paid-for politicians, and lawsuits (both actual and the threat thereof) in their efforts to kill municipal broadband. From the article: "The companies have also used traditional campaign tactics such as newspaper ads, push polls, direct mail and door-to-door canvassing to block municipal networks. And they’ve tried to undermine the appetite for municipal broadband by paying for research from think tanks and front groups to portray the networks as unreliable and costly. " Unfortunately, those think tanks and front groups are also paid for by the companies."

+ - Fish raised on land give clues to how early animals left the seas->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "When raised on land, a primitive, air-breathing fish walks much better than its water-raised comrades, according to a new study. The landlubbers even undergo skeletal changes that improve their locomotion. The work may provide clues to how the first swimmers adapted to terrestrial life. The study suggests that the ability of a developing organism to adjust to new conditions—its so-called developmental plasticity—may have played a role in the transition from sea to land."
Link to Original Source

+ - Northrop Grumman Gives Early Look at its XS-1 Experimental Spaceplane Design->

Submitted by Zothecula
Zothecula (1870348) writes "Northrop Grumman, in partnership with Scaled Composites and Virgin Galactic, has unveiled the preliminary design it is developing as part of DARPA’s XS-1 Spaceplane project. Looking like a windowless update of a 1960s Dyna Soar orbiter, it’s the next step in producing launch systems that will dramatically reduce the costs of getting into orbit."
Link to Original Source

+ - Google Wants To Test Driverless Cars in a Simulation->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Google has been testing its autonomous vehicles on U.S. roads for a while now. In fact, they're required to, by law. "California's regulations stipulate autonomous vehicles must be tested under "controlled conditions" that mimic real-world driving as closely as possible. Usually, that has meant a private test track or temporarily closed public road." It's easy enough to test a few prototypes, but whenever autonomous cars start being produced by manufacturers, it'll become a lot more complicated. Now, Google is lobbying to change that law to allow testing via computer simulation. Safety director Ron Medford said, "Computer simulations are actually more valuable, as they allow manufacturers to test their software under far more conditions and stresses than could possibly be achieved on a test track." Google spokeswoman Katelin Jabbari said, "In a few hours, we can test thousands upon thousands of scenarios which in terms of driving all over again might take decades." Shee adds that simulator data can also easily provide information on how human behavior creeps into driving. "It's not just about the physics of avoiding a crash. It's also about the emotional expectation of passengers and other drivers." For example, when one of Google's computer-controlled cars is cut off, the software brakes harder than it needs to, because this makes the passengers feel safer. Critics say relying heavily on simulation data is flawed because it doesn't take into account how other cars react to the computer's driving."
Link to Original Source

+ - Finding an ISIS Training Camp Using Google Earth->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Terrorist organization ISIS has been in the news a lot lately for their hostile activities in Iraq and Syria. They've also been very active online posting propaganda on various social networking sites to try to recruit more members. Frequently, they'll have pictures of themselves in nondescript locations — but even carefully selected images give clues to their real location. Citizen journalists at Bellingcat analyzed a group of these photos, comparing buildings and bridges in the background to images from Google Earth. With very little to go on, they were able to pinpoint the location of a terrorist training camp."
Link to Original Source

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