Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?

Comment: I think that will happen naturally (Score 1) 146

by dlenmn (#49608939) Attached to: Empty Landscape Looms, If Large Herbivores Continue to Die Out

I think that the number of humans will naturally decline. The birth rate in the US has been below the replacement rate since the '70s (expect for a year or two right before the '08 financial crisis). The same is true in every industrialized country, and there's no sign of that changing. The economic benefit of having kids is simply much lower in modern economies.

It'll be interesting to see what increasing automation does to population levels. I have the feeling that a lot of jobs will go poof due to automation, and that will further reduce population levels. If so, it won't be fun: there is a ~20 year lag between when the birth rate declines and when the labor force entrance rate declines...

Comment: The ISS is garbage (Score 2) 179

by dlenmn (#49605463) Attached to: NASA Gets Its Marching Orders: Look Up! Look Out!

It's not like NASA's manned space flight program does much better

1) We've been putting humans into low earth orbit for decades. There's not much "expansion of human knowledge" here. Well, they did study ants in space on the ISS recently...
2) ISS is old tech; there's no "improvement" to speak of. Well, they did put a new espresso machine up there recently, right?
3) Unless "development" means "making more of the same thing we already know how to make", then ISS fails again.
4) Maybe the ISS does this, but the main conclusion of the "long-range study" is that, yes, we can keep an inhabited space station in low earth orbit while spending billions of dollars!
5) The ISS does this, but it could also be done by other means at a much lower cost.
6) Nope
7) The ISS is great for this; it's the only way the US still interacts with Russia!
8) "The most effective utilization" Ha!

If you only want to focus on missions that _effectively_ and _efficiently_ fulfill NASA's charter, then a lot of stuff has to go. Since the budget for the ISS is ~$3 billion, I'd focus on that before the climate research -- which is only 1/10th the cost and does a lot more to expand human knowledge of phenomena in the atmosphere. Even if climate research doesn't fit with NASA's charter (debatable), then its work should be moved to another agency -- not axed.

Comment: If NASA isn't supposed to do earth science... (Score 1) 179

by dlenmn (#49605375) Attached to: NASA Gets Its Marching Orders: Look Up! Look Out!

then its earth science division should be moved to NOAA (or whatever is appropriate). I'd be fine with that. However that's not in the plan. Yes, maybe NASA wasn't the right place to study climate science (debatable), but it needs to be done somewhere; simply cutting it is not acceptable.

Moreover, this is hardly the first time a government agency has had mission creep or that multiple government agencies have overlapped. Mission creep/overlap to the tune of $300 million is absolutely nothing; that's not even the cost of three F-35 fighters. (Aside: dollars are the wrong units to measure government spending; government spending should be measured in F-35 fighters. That puts things in perspective -- especially when you realize we're buying ~2,400 F-35s.)

This is simply an attempted at killing government research into climate science -- not an attempted at reorganization.

Comment: The limit means a lot (Score 3, Interesting) 88

by dlenmn (#49598647) Attached to: Humans Dominating Poker Super Computer

I almost did a double-take with this story; a few months ago I read about computers having solved heads-up _limit_ Texas hold’em:

Well, it looks like the computer can win when there is a limit, but humans can still win when there is no limit.

I guess that's not too surprising: the limit really cuts down the number of choices, making a brute-force calculations more practical, and brute-force calculations are what computers do best. Without the restrictions of a limit, the AI needs to be a lot more clever. I wonder how long it'll be until computers win at this.

Comment: Good luck... (Score 1) 29

by dlenmn (#49580937) Attached to: Armadillo Aerospace Resurrected On Kickstarter By the Team Members

How exactly is a $125 k kickstarter supposed to help them get into space? They need millions of $$$ in funding -- which they call "Phase 2 (Funding)" on their kickstarter page. If they have a real shot at the funding they need, then a kickstarter is unnecessary. If they don't have a shot at the funding they need, then a kickstarter is worthless. I hate to be a hater, but I think it's the latter. The business plan sounds like:

1) $125 k Kickstarter
2) ???
3) Space Profit!

I wish them luck...

Comment: They already have batteries good for 10 years... (Score 4, Informative) 622

by dlenmn (#49528653) Attached to: Cheap Gas Fuels Switch From Electric Cars To SUVs

Let me know when Toyota starts shipping hybrid vehicles with batteries that actually retain their ability to recharge to a usable capacity for 10+ years.

They've been shipping those batteries... since 2001. See this 10 year checkup from Consumer Reports:

Moreover, Toyota made it so that you can replace individual battery cells, instead of only being able to replace everything at once. My GF's Prius needed a few cells replaced, and the price was quite reasonable. ($250? I forget the exact number.)

Comment: Calm down about the screenshot in TFA (Score 5, Informative) 64

by dlenmn (#49486255) Attached to: KDE Plasma 5.3 Beta Brings Lot of Improvements

It seems that a number of commenters are blowing their fuses about the screenshot in TFA. The screenshot is of the media center _not_ the desktop. I agree that the media center looks ugly, but IMHO, the actual desktop (i.e. KDE Plasma) looks nice. Look at screenshots of KDE Plasma 5.3 before passing judgement. (No, I won't link to them; use google.)

Comment: Depends who you are nuking (Score 1) 228

by dlenmn (#49337921) Attached to: How Nuclear Weapon Modernization Undercuts Disarmament

Full disclosure: I haven't RTFA, so I don't know who the author thinks will nuke who. However, the responses here mostly assume it would be a nuclear power nuking another nuclear power. As many have pointed out, having precision nukes would not cause that to happen; it's just too risky.

However, I think that precision nukes do increase the chance of a nuclear power nuking a _non_nuclear power. Granted, I don't think the risk is that high, but there are some possible scenarios where a precision nuke could be used -- maybe a major terrorist attack on the US (lead by a hawkish president) by a group based in some remote area. I'm sure other scenarios could give other nuclear powers an itchy trigger finger too. Again, I'm not saying it will happen, but it's more likely with precision nukes than without.

Comment: Needs to be in concentrated deposits (Score 2) 279

by dlenmn (#49119509) Attached to: Intel Moving Forward With 10nm, Will Switch Away From Silicon For 7nm

It's a bit more complicated that that. Even if an element is somewhat abundant but evenly distributed in the earth's crust, then it's difficult to mine. It's only practical to mine something if it's concentrated in some areas. E.g. gold is rare but you can find it in macroscopic flecks or clumps that are concentrated in certain areas. If gold were not concentrated like that but was instead uniformly distributed in the crust, there'd be no economical way to mine it.

That said, it looks like indium is concentrated somewhere: in zinc ores. So large scale production may be possible.

Comment: Citation needed (Score 1) 190

by dlenmn (#49033675) Attached to: Smartphone Theft Drops After Spread of Kill Switches

They're stolen for PARTS.

O RLY? Parting out a bike takes effort and most used bike parts are worth very little. Most stolen bikes are not fancy ones with valuable parts. There simply isn't enough demand for crappy parts to account for the number of crappy stolen bikes; most are sold intact. Having lived in a number of college towns (where there are lots of bikes to be stolen), I know several examples of stolen bikes reappearing intact with a new owner. That's even been the case for expensive bikes, which evidently were not sold for parts. I realize that's anecdotal evidence, but it's not inline with your absurd proposition that the entire point of bike thefts is to sell them for parts.

Comment: That's not what it says... (Score 1) 130

by dlenmn (#48692813) Attached to: 2015 Could Be the Year of the Hospital Hack

Uhhh, that same text basically gives them the right to deny any request you have to amend anything. In particular:

"A covered entity may deny an individual's request for amendment, if it determines that the protected health information... is accurate and complete."

Translation, if they say the record is good, then you have no right to amend it. Guess what they're going to say if you request to amend your record?

Comment: Yes, it's click-bate, but... (Score 1) 165

Yes, it's click-bate, but I agree that there's a rush to connect everything to the internet without thinking about the security consequences; we have enough trouble securing the things already connected to the internet -- never mind an huge influx of cheaply-made, dumb, internet-connected knob turners.

Others have suggested that this isn't new because all technology can and has be used to kill people, but IMHO, the potential for "democratizing" remote and unwanted destruction of physical things is unnerving. Previously, only well-funded governments could pull that shit...

Chairman of the Bored.