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Submission + - Turtle Urinates from Its Mouth (sciencemag.org)

sciencehabit writes: Talk about having a potty mouth. When Chinese soft-shelled turtles to relieve themselves, they just open wide, according to a new study. Researchers thought it was a little odd that, when the turtles were on dry land, they would stick their heads in puddles and swish water around in their mouths. The scientists thought maybe something else was going on besides respiration, so they bought Chinese soft-shelled turtles at a market in Singapore and found ways to collect their urine, like attaching a flexible latex tube to each one's underside. They found that the animals were getting rid of the vast majority of their urea, a major component of urine, through their mouths instead of their hind ends. The team speculates that this might be because animals have to drink a lot of water to make urine, which can be unhealthy in the saltier waters where these turtles spend some of their time. If they're just rinsing the water around in their mouths, they avoid having to get rid of all that salt.

Submission + - Elephant Hair Acts as Pin Fins for Cooling (vice.com) 1

derekmead writes: A new paper from Conor Myhrvold, Howard Stone, and Elie Bou-Zeid of Princeton, published in PLoS One, shows that elephants’ sparse hair actually acts as pin-shaped cooling fins, which helps the giant animals dissipate heat more effectively. The hair works by creating more area for heat to be released, while also also pushing heat away from the animal’s body where wind flow is less impeded.

The team calculated the heat transfer coefficients for measured values of elephants’ smooth skin (around ears, for example) and rough skin (on the legs), both with and without hair. They found that, at high wind speeds, the convection effect of the wind overpowered any surface differences. But at low wind speeds, when convection effects are lower and elephants have more trouble shedding heat, the team found that hair acted as pin-shaped cooling fins, which increased convection cooling efficiency by as much as 24 percent. For elephants dealing with huge thermal loads, that’s an important difference.


Submission + - Mysterious Algorithm Was 4% of Trading Activity Last Week (cnbc.com) 1

concealment writes: "A single mysterious computer program that placed orders — and then subsequently canceled them — made up 4 percent of all quote traffic in the U.S. stock market last week, according to the top tracker of high-frequency trading activity. The motive of the algorithm is still unclear.

The program placed orders in 25-millisecond bursts involving about 500 stocks, according to Nanex, a market data firm. The algorithm never executed a single trade, and it abruptly ended at about 10:30 a.m. ET Friday."


Submission + - Check your phone bill: You're probably being overcharged for data (extremetech.com)

MrSeb writes: "A recent study conducted by UCLA professor Chunyi Peng shows that carriers generally count data usage correctly, but those customers who commonly use their device in areas with weak signal strength or to stream audio or video are often overcharged. Peng and three other researchers used data gleaned from an app installed on Android smartphones on two different carriers. The issue appears to be in how the system is set up to count data usage. Under the current scenario, data is charged as it is sent from the carrier’s network to the end user. What does not exist is a system to confirm whether the packets are received, and thus preventing charges for unreceived data. Peng demonstrated this in two extreme circumstances. In one case, 450 megabytes of data was charged to an account where not a single bit of it had been received. On the flipside, Peng’s group was able to construct an app which disguised data transfers as DNS requests, which are not counted by the carriers as data usage. Here they were able to transfer 200 megabytes of data without being charged. Overall, the average overcharge is about 5-7% for most users. While that does not seem like much, with unlimited plans gone and data caps in style that could pose potential problems for some heavy data users. Could you be going over your data allotment based on data you never received? It’s quite possible."

Submission + - Soviet moon lander discovered water on moon in 1976 (tech-stew.com)

techfun89 writes: "Luna-24 was the last Soviet mission to the moon. It returned to Earth with water-rich rock samples from beneath the lunar surface only to be ignored by the West. New research uncovers this story from obscurity.

Arlin Crotts, a professor in the Department of Astronomy of Columbia University in New York City found that the Soviets found evidence of water in the 1970s, in particular the Luna-24 sample-return mission. During this mission the Soviets drilled 2 meters into the lunar surface and extracted 300 grams of rock then returned to Earth. This was an impressive feat for its time. Analysis showed the rock was made up of 0.1 percent water. This result was published in 1978 to the Russian journal Geokhimiia. There was an English version but wasn't widely read in the West."


Submission + - Battery-powered plasma flashlight makes short work of bacteria (gizmag.com)

cylonlover writes: An international team of scientists has created a handheld, battery powered device that has been shown to effectively rid skin of bacteria in an instant by blasting it with plasma. The plasma flashlight, which shouldn’t be confused with a plasma torch that will damage much more than bacteria if used on the skin, could provide a convenient way for paramedics and military personnel to deal with harmful bacteria in the field. The self-contained device is powered by a 12 V battery and doesn’t require any external gas feed or handling system. The plume of plasma it generates is between 20-23C (68-73.4F), so it won’t damage the skin. It is also fitted with resistors to stop it heating up and becoming too hot to touch. Its creators say it can also be easily manufactured at a cost of less than US$100 per unit.

I like work; it fascinates me; I can sit and look at it for hours.