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Ask Slashdot: How To Pick Up Astronomy and Physics As an Adult? 175

Posted by timothy
from the productive-member-of-socety dept.
First time accepted submitter samalex01 (1290786) writes "I'm 38, married, two young kids, and I have a nice job in the IT industry, but since I was a kid I've had this deep love and passion for astronomy and astrophysics. This love and passion though never evolved into any formal education or anything beyond just a distant fascination as I got out of high school, into college, and started going through life on more of an IT career path. So my question, now that I'm 38 is there any hope that I could start learning more about astronomy or physics to make it more than just a hobby? I don't expect to be a Carl Sagan or Neil deGrasse Tyson, but I'd love to have enough knowledge in these subjects to research and experiment to the point where I could possibly start contributing back to the field. MIT Open Courseware has some online courses for free that cover these topics, but given I can only spend maybe 10 hours a week on this would it be a pointless venture? Not to mention my mind isn't as sharp now as it was 20 years ago when I graduated high school. Thanks for any advice or suggestions."
Earth

Blueprints For Taming the Climate Crisis 389

Posted by Soulskill
from the pump-all-of-our-smog-into-the-sun dept.
mdsolar sends this story from the NY Times: Here's what your future will look like if we are to have a shot at preventing devastating climate change. Within about 15 years every new car sold in the United States will be electric. ... Up to 60 percent of power might come from nuclear sources. And coal's footprint will shrink drastically, perhaps even disappear from the power supply. This course, created by a team of energy experts, was unveiled on Tuesday in a report for the United Nations (PDF) that explores the technological paths available for the world's 15 main economies to both maintain reasonable rates of growth and cut their carbon emissions enough by 2050 to prevent climatic havoc. It offers a sobering conclusion: We might be able to pull it off. But it will take an overhaul of the way we use energy, and a huge investment in the development and deployment of new energy technologies. Significantly, it calls for an entirely different approach to international diplomacy on the issue of how to combat climate change.

Comment: Re:laser beam focus? sounds harmful... (Score 1) 198

by fridaynightsmoke (#47345521) Attached to: Overkill? LG Phone Has 2560x1440 Display, Laser Focusing

laser bean for focusing the object for auto detection? will that do harm to our skin,eye,body? radiation is not good to health, now the laser beam, really?

It's true, the combination of dangerous radiation and now us all being exposed to lasers at the same time will mutate our DNA and turn us into lizard people. And that's what THEY want.

Books

Author Charles Stross: Is Amazon a Malignant Monopoly, Or Just Plain Evil? 405

Posted by samzenpus
from the bad-or-really-bad dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Sci-fi author Charles Stross has a post providing insight into Amazon's recent bullying tactics against a major book publishing group. He puts the fight into perspective for the two most important parts of the book market: author and reader. He says: 'Amazon's strategy (as I noted in 2012) is to squat on the distribution channel, artificially subsidize the price of ebooks ("dumping" or predatory pricing) to get consumers hooked, rely on DRM on the walled garden of the Kindle store to lock consumers onto their platform, and then to use their monopsony buying power to grab the publishers' share of the profits. If you're a consumer, in the short term this is good news: it means you get cheap books. But if you're a reader, you probably like to read new books. By driving down the unit revenue, Amazon makes it really hard for publishers—who are a proxy for authors—to turn a profit. Eventually they go out of business, leaving just Amazon as a monopoly distribution channel retailing the output of an atomized cloud of highly vulnerable self-employed piece-workers like myself. At which point the screws can be tightened indefinitely. And after a while, there will be no more Charlie Stross novels because I will be unable to earn a living and will have to go find a paying job. TL:DR; Amazon's strategy against Hachette is that of a bullying combine the size of WalMart leaning on a much smaller supplier. And the smaller supplier in turn relies on really small suppliers like me. It's anti-author, and in the long term it will deprive you of the books you want to read.'"

Comment: I tried ParkMe; (Score 1) 163

First I couldn't find it in the Google Play store. When I searched for it on the desktop, I found the app is "not compatible with any of your devices". Ho-hum.

I tried searching for local parking on the developer's site. They have data for maybe 10% of car parks in central Birmingham, UK; and even then the prices are denoted in US dollars. I don't know whether $4 = £4, or if some exchange rate is being applied.

If I search on Parkopedia, despite the slightly clunky interface not only is every local car park that I know of listed with prices, there are also details of the city street parking zones and their times of operation.

I would suggest that there may be more than one reason a particular parking app is more popular than another.

The Almighty Buck

Can You Buy a License To Speed In California? 325

Posted by Soulskill
from the downside-is-that-you-have-to-be-in-california dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: "Alex Mayyasi reports that in the parking lots of Silicon Valley's venture capital firms, expensive cars gleam in the California sun and a closer look reveals that the cars share a mysterious detail: they nearly all have a custom license plate frame that reads, 'Member. 11-99 Foundation.' Are the Bay Area's wealthy all part of some sort of illuminati group that identifies each other by license plate instead of secret handshakes? The answer is the state highway patrol — the men and women that most people interact with only when getting ticketed for speeding. A number of the frames read 'CHP 11-99 Foundation,' which is the full name of a charitable organization that supports California Highway Patrol officers and their families in times of crisis. Donors receive one license plate as part of a $2,500 'Classic' level donation, or two as part of a bronze, silver, or gold level donation of $5,000, $10,000, or $25,000. Rumor has it, according to Mayyasi, that the license plate frames come with a lucrative return on investment. As one member of a Mercedes-Benz owners community wrote online back in 2002: 'I have the ultimate speeding ticket solution. I paid $1800 for a lifetime membership into the 11-99 foundation. My only goal was to get the infamous 'get out of jail' free license plate frame.'

The 11-99 Foundation has sold license plate frames for most of its 32 year existence, and drivers have been aware of the potential benefits since at least the late 1990s. But attention to the issue in 2006-2008 led the foundation to stop giving out the frames. An article in the LA Times asked 'Can Drivers Buy CHP Leniency?' and began by describing a young man zipping around traffic — including a police cruiser — and telling the Times that he believed his 11-99 frames kept him from receiving a ticket. But the decision was almost irrelevant to another thriving market: the production and sale of fake 11-99 license plate frames. But wait — the CHP 11-99 Foundation also gives out membership cards to big donors. 'Unless you have the I.D. in hand when (not if) I stop you,' says one cop, 'no love will be shown.'"
Earth

IPCC's "Darkest Yet" Climate Report Warns of Food, Water Shortages 703

Posted by timothy
from the c'mon-fellas-lighten-up dept.
The Australian reports that "UN scientists are set to deliver their darkest report yet on the impacts of climate change, pointing to a future stalked by floods, drought, conflict and economic damage if carbon emissions go untamed. A draft of their report, seen by the news organisation AFP, is part of a massive overview by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, likely to shape policies and climate talks for years to come. Scientists and government representatives will meet in Yokohama, Japan, from tomorrow to hammer out a 29-page summary. It will be unveiled with the full report on March 31. 'We have a lot clearer picture of impacts and their consequences ... including the implications for security,' said Chris Field of the US’s Carnegie Institution, who headed the probe.

The work comes six months after the first volume in the long-awaited Fifth Assessment Report declared scientists were more certain than ever that humans caused global warming. It predicted global temperatures would rise 0.3C-4.8C this century, adding to roughly 0.7C since the Industrial Revolution. Seas will creep up by 26cm-82cm by 2100. The draft warns costs will spiral with each additional degree, although it is hard to forecast by how much."

Comment: Re:Homework Assignment For This Story (Score 1) 92

by fridaynightsmoke (#46196919) Attached to: Snowden Docs Show UK's Digital Spies Using Viruses, Honey Traps

The more people that repeatedly search on 'Ambassador's Reception', the more fun the security wonks will have trying to figure out why the spike and which ambassador :)

Of course they all want to watch this 'classic' tv ad... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

Maybe the 'honeytrap' involved bribing people with offers of aspirational confectionary?

United Kingdom

Surrey Hit With Catnado 95

Posted by samzenpus
from the raining-cats-and-more-cats dept.
taikedz writes "A "mini-tornado" brought down trees, damaged property and even lifted cats in the air, an eyewitness has said. Shirley Blay, who keeps horses at the Jolly Blossom Stables on Station Road, Chobham, told BBC Surrey: 'It was a mini-tornado, I can't describe it as anything less. It started with very heavy rain, hailstones and very strong wind and all of a sudden, the wind was very, very strong, to the point of lifting roofs. We've got four feral cats in the yard and they were being lifted off the ground — about 6ft off the ground — they just went round like a big paper bag.' She said the people and animals who were caught up in the storm were uninjured. A spokesman from Valgrays Animal Rescue in Warlingham said: 'It was like something out of a Steven Spielberg film.'

The number of arguments is unimportant unless some of them are correct. -- Ralph Hartley

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