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NASA

Costs Soar on NASA Communications Upgrade Program 47

Posted by samzenpus
from the more-money dept.
schwit1 writes A new GAO report has found that NASA's effort to upgrade the ground-based portion of its satellite communications system, used by both military satellites and manned spacecraft, is more than 30 percent over budget, with its completion now delayed two years to 2019. Worse, the GAO found that this problem program was actually one of three that have had budget problems. And that doesn't include the disastrously overbudget James Webb Space Telescope. "In its latest assessment of NASA's biggest programs, the U.S. Government Accountability Office identified the Space Network Ground Segment Sustainment (SGSS) as one of three — not counting the notoriously overbudget James Webb Space Telescope — that account for most of the projected cumulative cost growth this year. The others are the Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission, which launched March 12, and the Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite-2, or ICESat-2, mission, the congressional watchdog agency said."

Comment: Misleading Summary (Score 5, Insightful) 681

by estitabarnak (#49108529) Attached to: Bill Nye Disses "Regular" Software Writers' Science Knowledge

Summary is misleading. Nye basically says US as a whole is failing when it comes to educating average people about science. He admits that, sure, we have top top-tier institutions and scientists, but we need to do a better job educating the average person.

Hardly the swipe aimed specifically at Slashdotters that TFS makes it out to be. Furthermore, if we use /. as a case study, given some of the gems I've seen here recently, I think "semi-science-literate" isn't a bad estimate of the average.

Earth

SpaceX Launch of "GoreSat" Planned For Today, Along With Another Landing Attempt 75

Posted by timothy
from the elon-musk-for-the-win dept.
The New York Times reports that SpaceX will again attempt to recover a Falcon 9 launch vehicle, after the recent unsuccessful try; the company believes the lessons from the earlier launch have been learned, and today's launch will be loaded with more hydraulic fluid. This evening, the rocket is to loft the satellite nicknamed "GoreSat," after Al Gore, who envisioned it as a sort of permanent eye in space beaing back pictures of Earth from afar. The purpose of the satellite has evolved, though: Writes the Times: The observatory, abbreviated as Dscovr and pronounced “discover,” is to serve as a sentinel for solar storms: bursts of high-energy particles originating from the sun. The particles from a gargantuan solar storm could induce electrical currents that might overwhelm the world’s power grids, possibly causing continent-wide blackouts. Even a 15-minute warning could let power companies take actions to limit damage.

Comment: Used in conjunction with other sats... (Score 3, Interesting) 25

by estitabarnak (#48951851) Attached to: NASA Launches Satellite To Observe Soil Moisture

I'm excited to see data from this and the atmospheric CO2 satellite which was launched (again) not long ago overlayed. Seeing how CO2 and soil moisture correspond is important for understanding limitations on microbial communities which make up a large part of the global carbon budget. It will be particularly interesting to measure changes to how these correspond over time -- it'd be a great way to get solid data for future modelling and for quantifying changes currently happening.

Also particularly interesting is the ability to monitor changes as a result of permafrost thaw globally. There's currently some discussion whether and where permafrost thaw will be a net C sink or source. Throw in some data from a Leaf Area Index satellite (which is/are also in orbit currently) and you've got some pretty compelling global/landscape data.

Education

The Luxury of a Bottomless Bucket of Bandwidth For Georgia Schools 117

Posted by Soulskill
from the 4k-cat-videos-for-all-students dept.
Lemeowski writes: The IT departments at all the University System of Georgia institutions have a luxury that most CIOs could only dream of — access to about 2,800 miles of free fiber and a private cloud that they an always count on. The private cloud configuration allows the perk of not focusing on bandwith. "Our local CIOs even take some pleasure in telling telecom company representatives, 'If you can beat free, then I'm willing to listen.' That tends to shut down most conversations,"writes USG CIO Curt Carver, who explains how the technology is now becoming an educational equalizer across the state. In 2015, Georgia school districts are expected to have a 33-fold increase in bandwdith available to them through the program. "This will help to flatten the state. No more haves or have-nots in terms of bandwidth going into the school districts."

Comment: Start low or re-educate (Score 1) 280

by estitabarnak (#48613281) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Should a Liberal Arts Major Get Into STEM?

In my position I hire a lot of students for a lab work. I've come to realize that the best workers aren't necessarily the people with STEM majors; the best workers are generally people who are interested and feel a little over their head. I've had many terrible pre-meds, and always had good luck with my English majors. If you're willing to start low in the food web, get a job as a lab technician somewhere (universities are often a decent bet). If you can, prioritize places that look like they have work or instruments that you'd enjoy working on. You can amass a pretty good amount of technical skill from a decent lab job.

If you have higher ambitions for aerospace technologies... probably means going back to school. But that would have meant going back to school regardless of your undergrad degree.

Comment: Why overengineer? (Score 1) 367

I'm sure that it's partially because Slashdot is a high-tech oriented site, but it seems like everyone skips to bizarre schemes before considering any of the really simple, really tame geoengineering options available. There doesn't need to be a fleet of aircraft spaying a mysterious chemical to increase Earth's albedo. There doesn't need to be a techniological marvel at the poles freezing CO2 out of the air. As with most things, simple is better.

Look at endeavors like the Marin Carbon Project (links to published peer-review articles within) which diverts waste, composts it, puts it on managed grasslands and improves plant productivity. Some fraction of the plant biomass gets stored below ground for decades or centuries. The dairy farmers don't need to buy/import as much feed which saves them money (and is an additional CO2 offset). Initial numbers look like 1 ton of CO2 per hectare over a 3 year period from one application.

I'm just not certain why we're looking so hard for lots of difficult solutions when there is so much low-hanging fruit. Some pretty simple changes in management practices (I'm looking at you, agriculture) can go a huge way to not only lowering CO2 emissions, but making land be significant net carbon sinks without compromising productivity.

Disclaimer: In the past I worked with one of the lab groups involved with the Marin Carbon Project.

Facebook

NY Magistrate: Legal Papers Can Be Served Via Facebook 185

Posted by timothy
from the never-friend-a-process-server dept.
New submitter Wylde Stile writes with an interesting case that shows just how pervasive social networking connections have become, including in the eyes of the law. A Staten Island, NY family court support magistrate allowed a Noel Biscoch to serve his ex-wife legal papers via Facebook. Biscoch tried to serve his ex-wife Anna Maria Antigua the old-fashioned way — in person and via postal mail — but his ex-wife had moved with no forwarding address. Antigua maintains an active Facebook account, though, and had even liked some photos on the Biscoch's present wife's Facebook page days before the ruling. The magistrate concluded that the ex-wife could be served through Facebook. If this catches on, I bet a lot of people will end up with legally binding notices caught by spam filters or in their Facebook accounts' "Other" folders.
Democrats

Emails Cast Unflattering Light On Internal Politics of Healthcare.gov Rollout 392

Posted by timothy
from the wanna-be-absolutely-clear dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this report from The Verge linking to and excerpting from a newly released report created for a committee in the U.S. House of Representatives, including portions of eight "damning emails" that offer an unflattering look at the rollout of the Obamacare website. The Government Office of Accountability released a report earlier this week detailing the security flaws in the site, but a report from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform released yesterday is even more damning. Titled, "Behind the Curtain of the HealthCare.gov Rollout," the report fingers the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which oversaw the development of the site, and its parent Department of Health and Human Services. "Officials at CMS and HHS refused to admit to the public that the website was not on track to launch without significant functionality problems and substantial security risks," the report says. "There is also evidence that the Administration, to this day, is continuing its efforts to shield ongoing problems with the website from public view." Writes the submitter: "The evidence includes emails that show Obamacare officials more interested in keeping their problems from leaking to the press than working to fix them. This is both both a coverup and incompetence."
Government

NRC Analyst Calls To Close Diablo Canyon, CA's Last Remaining Nuclear Plant 216

Posted by samzenpus
from the shut-it-down dept.
An anonymous reader writes Michael Peck, who for five years was Diablo Canyon's lead on-site inspector, says in a 42-page, confidential report that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is not applying the safety rules it set out for the plant's operation. The document, which was obtained and verified by The Associated Press, does not say the plant itself is unsafe. Instead, according to Peck's analysis, no one knows whether the facility's key equipment can withstand strong shaking from those faults — the potential for which was realized decades after the facility was built. Continuing to run the reactors, Peck writes, "challenges the presumption of nuclear safety."
Piracy

Rightscorp's New Plan: Hijack Browsers Until Infingers Pay Up 376

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the guilty-until-proven-guilty dept.
A few weeks ago, Rightscorp announced plans to have ISPs disconnect repeat copyright infringers. mpicpp (3454017) wrote in with news that Rightscorp announced during their latest earnings call further plans to require ISPs to block all web access (using a proxy system similar to hotel / college campus wifi logins) until users admit guilt and pay a settlement fine (replacing the current system of ISPs merely forwarding notices to users). Quoting TorrentFreak: [Rightscorp] says 75,000 cases have been settled so far with copyright holders picking up $10 from each. ... What is clear is that Rightscorp is determined to go after "Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, Cable Vision and one more" in order to "get all of them compliant" (i.e forwarding settlement demands). The company predicts that more details on the strategy will develop in the fall, but comments from COO & CTO Robert Steele hint on how that might be achieved. ... "[What] we really want to do is move away from termination and move to what's called a hard redirect, like, when you go into a hotel and you have to put your room number in order to get past the browser and get on to browsing the web." The idea that mere allegations from an anti-piracy company could bring a complete halt to an entire household or business Internet connection until a fine is paid is less like a "piracy speeding ticket" and more like a "piracy wheel clamp", one that costs $20 to have removed.
Security

Password Gropers Hit Peak Stupid, Take the Spamtrap Bait 100

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the bad-strategy dept.
badger.foo (447981) writes Peter Hansteen reports that a new distributed and slow-moving password guessing effort is underway, much like the earlier reports, but this time with a twist: The users they are trying to access do not exist. Instead, they're taken from the bsdly.net spamtrap address list, where all listed email addresses are guaranteed to be invalid in their listed domains. There is a tiny chance that this is an elaborate prank or joke, but it's more likely that via excessive automation, the password gropers have finally hit Peak Stupid.
United States

When Spies and Crime-Fighters Squabble Over How They Spy On You 120

Posted by timothy
from the we-may-or-may-not-have-done-that dept.
The Washington Post reports in a short article on the sometimes strange, sometimes strained relationship between spy agencies like the NSA and CIA and law enforcement (as well as judges and prosecutors) when it comes to evidence gathered using technology or techniques that the spy agencies would rather not disclose at all, never mind explain in detail. They may both be arms of the U.S. government, but the spy agencies and the law enforcers covet different outcomes. From the article: [S]sometimes it's not just the tool that is classified, but the existence itself of the capability — the idea that a certain type of communication can be wiretapped — that is secret. One former senior federal prosecutor said he knew of at least two instances where surveillance tools that the FBI criminal investigators wanted to use "got formally classified in a big hurry" to forestall the risk that the technique would be revealed in a criminal trial. "People on the national security side got incredibly wound up about it," said the former official, who like others interviewed on the issue spoke on condition of anonymity because of the topic’s sensitivity. "The bottom line is: Toys get taken away and put on a very, very high shelf. Only people in the intelligence community can use them." ... The DEA in particular was concerned that if it came up with a capability, the National Security Agency or CIA would rush to classify it, said a former Justice Department official.

Comment: unedited summary (Score 1) 110

I don't normally bitch about editing on summaries but, good heavens, does anyone even read this shit? The same "85% of solar energy..." line is used twice. The final line begins with "i-e" which means "that is," but it doesn't reference anything relevant to scaling. What's the appropriate tag here? !sensical? !edited? !proofed?

I'm probably just burning through karma here, but I like to think that if it's a "legitimate" rage, that the body had a way of rejecting the negative effects.

Comment: Re:And hippies will protest it (Score 1) 396

by estitabarnak (#47247981) Attached to: "Super Bananas" May Save Millions of Lives In Africa

Before CO2 becomes a limiting factor, water and nitrogen come into play. We can fertilize (for a while, anyway), but swings in water availability will make the water part harder.

Even for areas which will become better suited will produce foods will make products that are less nutritious: A recent study published in Nature suggests that in addition to lower levels of iron and zinc, C3 crops produce less protein under increased CO2 conditions. http://www.nature.com/nature/j...

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