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We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).

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Comment: Re:What if... (Score 1) 118

by frisket (#49499385) Attached to: The Origin of the First Light In the Universe

Doesn't quantum theory mean that the above can all be true at the same time?

In any case, all the models are theories anyway. We can prove individual factlets (for some given values that seem to hold true for us here and now), but we have no clue at all about how the facts stand up elsewhere or elsewhen, so we can have no idea if the theories would also hold up there and then.

It's turtles all the way down...

Space

The Origin of the First Light In the Universe 118

Posted by timothy
from the was-just-born-there dept.
StartsWithABang writes Before there were planets, galaxies, or even stars in the Universe, there really was light. We see that light, left over today, in the form of the Cosmic Microwave Background, or the remnant glow from the Big Bang. But these photons outnumber the matter in our Universe by more than a-billion-to-one, and are the most numerous thing around. So where did they first come from? Science has the answer.
Robotics

Drought and Desertification: How Robots Might Help 113

Posted by timothy
from the droids-you're-looking-for dept.
Hallie Siegel writes Groundwater levels in California's Central Valley are down to historic lows and reservoirs have been depleted following four consecutive years of severe drought in the state. California is set to introduce water rationing in the coming weeks, and though the new rationing rules will focus on urban areas and not farms for the time being, they serve as a warning bell to farmers who will inevitably need to adapt to the effects of climate change on food production. John Payne argues that long term solutions are needed to help make agriculture drought resistant and looks at some of the ways that robotics might help.
The Internet

Researchers Developing An Algorithm That Can Detect Internet Trolls 278

Posted by samzenpus
from the don't-forget-the-fire dept.
An anonymous reader writes Researchers at Cornell University claim to be able to identify a forum or comment-thread troll within the first ten posts after the user joins with more than 80% accuracy, leading the way to the possibility of methods to automatically ban persistently anti-social posters. The study observed 10,000 new users at cnn.com, breitbart.com and ign.com, and characterizes an FBU (Future Banned User) as entering a new community with below-average literacy or communications skill, and that the low standard is likely to drop shortly before a permanent ban. It also observes that higher rates of community intolerance are likely to foster the anti-social behavior and speed the ban.
Power

The Myth of Going Off the Power Grid 279

Posted by Soulskill
from the tell-that-to-my-hamster-wheel-colony dept.
Lasrick writes: Dawn Stover uses Elon Musk's announcement that Tesla will soon be unveiling plans for a battery that could power your home as a starting point to explore the idea that "going off the grid" is going to solve climate change. "The kind of in-house energy storage he is proposing could help make renewables a bigger part of the global supply. But headlines announcing that a Tesla battery 'could take your home off the grid' spread misconceptions about what it takes to be self-sufficient — and stop global warming." Stover worries that shifting responsibility for solutions to climate change from governments to individuals creates an 'every-man-for-himself' culture that actually works against energy solutions and does little to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions. Instead, "smart grid" technology would be much more efficient: "With a smarter grid, excess electricity generated by solar panels and wind turbines could be distributed to a network of on-the-grid home and car batteries. Some utilities have also experimented with using home water heaters as an economical substitute for batteries."
Communications

Ask Slashdot: What Would a Constructed Language Have To Be To Replace English? 624

Posted by Soulskill
from the good-source-control-and-versioning dept.
Loren Chorley writes: The idea of constructing a language capable of replacing English has fascinated me for a long time. I'd like to start a project with some of my own ideas and anyone who's interested, but I'd really like to hear what the Slashdot community thinks on the topic first. Taking for granted that actually replacing English is highly unlikely, what characteristics would the new language need? More specifically: How could the language be made as easy as possible to learn coming from any linguistic background? How could interest in the language be fostered in as many people as possible? What sort of grammar would you choose and why? How would you build words and how would you select meanings for them, and why? What sounds and letters (and script(s)) would you choose? How important is simplicity and brevity? How important are aesthetics (and what makes a language aesthetic)? What other factors could be important to consider, and what other things would you like to see in such a language?
Earth

"Brontosaurus" Name Resurrected Thanks To New Dino Family Tree 68

Posted by timothy
from the usps-has-a-stopped-geologic-clock dept.
sciencehabit writes In, the U.S. Postal Service issued colorful dinosaur stamps, including one for Brontosaurus. Paleontologists and educators loudly protested that the correct scientific name for the iconic beast was Apatosaurus—a fact that even lay dino aficionados and many 8-year-olds took pride in knowing. But now, a dinosaur-sized study of the family tree of the Diplodocidae, the group that includes such monstrous beasts as Apatosaurus, Diplodocus, and Barosaurus, finds that USPS got it right: The fossils originally called Brontosaurus show enough skeletal differences from other specimens of Apatosaurus that they rightfully belong to a different genus. The study, published online this week in the journal PeerJ, brings the long-banished name back into scientific respectability as a genus coequal with Apatosaurus.
The Military

How the Pentagon Wasted $10 Billion On Military Projects 370

Posted by Soulskill
from the and-not-a-single-lightsaber-to-show-for-it dept.
schwit1 writes: In the past decade, the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency has wasted $10 billion on defense projects that were either impractical and impossible. It's hard to choose a single quote showing the absurd stupidity of these projects — the article is filled with too many to choose from. Read it all and weep. However, here's one quote that typifies the attitude:

"Henry A. Obering III, a retired director of the Missile Defense Agency, said any unfulfilled expectations for SBX and the other projects were the fault of the Obama administration and Congress — for not doubling down with more spending. 'If we can stop one missile from destroying one American city,' said Obering, a former Air Force lieutenant general, 'we have justified the entire program many times over from its initiation in terms of cost.'"

We get the government we deserve. Until we stop electing candidates (from either party) who promise pork, we will continue to get pork, and waste, and a society that is steadily going bankrupt.
The Almighty Buck

Build Your Own Satellite For Less Than $30K 49

Posted by samzenpus
from the on-the-cheap dept.
schwit1 writes An industry of new cubesat builders can now build satellites for anyone for any reason for very little money. From the article: "The miniaturization of technology allows people to do more with less hardware, said Chad Anderson, the managing director of Space Angels Network, an investment house specializing in the space industry. That industry, he said, was worth $300bn (£200bn) last year. Constellations of smaller satellites, like those suggested as tracking devices for planes over oceans, are now a possibility. 'The launch costs are coming down and people leveraging today's technology are able to do more with less and launch less mass to orbit. The price point has come down to where start-ups and entrepreneurs can really make an impact on the scene for the first time,' he said." When the first tiny satellite launch companies arrive, expect this industry to blossom at an astonishing rate.
The Internet

Why Is the Internet Association Rewarding a Pro-NSA Net-Neutrality Opponent? 157

Posted by samzenpus
from the keep-your-enemies-closer dept.
First time accepted submitter erier2003 writes The decision to give a major award to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is curious given McCarthy's many questionable stances on Internet-freedom issues. For one thing, the California congressman is an avowed opponent of net neutrality. In May 2014, as the Federal Communications Commission debated new net neutrality rules, McCarthy—then the House Majority Whip, the chamber's third-highest-ranking member—signed a House GOP letter to the FCC warning that Title II regulation represented "a counterproductive effort to even further regulate the Internet."

Comment: How is the delivery made? (Score 3, Interesting) 213

I don't get this. What happens when the drone arrives at my address? Does it ring the doorbell and wait? Does it go round the back and leave it on the back porch if I'm out? (I'm in a low-crime neighbourhood where this is possible.) Or will it leave it with my neighbour, as instructed?
Earth

Experts: Aim of 2 Degrees Climate Goal Insufficient 442

Posted by samzenpus
from the keeping-it-cool dept.
An anonymous reader points out that a long held goal of keeping the Earth's average temperature from rising above 2 degrees Celsius might not be good enough. "A long-held benchmark for limiting global warming is 'utterly inadequate,' a leading U.N. climate scientist declared. Keeping the Earth's average temperature from rising past 2 degrees Celsius – a cap established by studies in the early 1970s – is far too loose a goal, Petra Tschakert, a professor at Penn State University and a lead author of an assessment report for the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, said in a commentary published in the journal Climate Change Responses. Already, with an average increase of just 0.8 degrees Celsius, she wrote, 'negative impacts' are 'widespread across the globe.' Tschakert called for lowering the warming target to 1.5 degrees Celsius."

You will have a head crash on your private pack.

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