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Submission + - UK Declassifies 1992 UFO Files, 2 Sightings Legit?->

geddes writes: Fox News, the BBC, CNN, AP and AFP are all reporting on UFO sightings in England that came to light when the UK declassified their UFO files from 1986-1992 this weekend. There are hundreds of sightings, most silly, but two or three have gotten attention from the press. The most interesting is the account of U.S. Pilot Milton Torres whose jet was scrambled by the RAF over the city of Norwich, England. He was ordered to launch his full compliment of 24 of his missiles at a UFO the size of an aircraft carrier. Just before he launched the missiles, the object disappeared from his radar. Later he reported that he was told that what he saw was "top secret" and that he was never to discuss it again. The complete set of files are available online, providing a treasure trove that could keep any basement conspiracy theorist happy for weeks.
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Comment Re:Facebook has already "jumped the shark" (Score 5, Insightful) 155

I think you are wrong about that. Social networking sites have a huge amount of "stickyness" because of the network. In the end, the value of a social networking site to the user is the size of the network. Social Networks are tricky things, there is no way that me and all of my facebook friends will collectively decide that facebook isn't doing it anymore and we'll move to twitter. For example, I signed up for twitter cause the concept and feature set seemed cool, but I never went back after more than two times because I only had two friends on it. On the other hand, I think maybe one example of a social networking app falling is AOL Instant Messenger. AIM used to be the way everyone I knew IMed. around 1998 it exploded. However, in the past two years I have noticed that more and more of my friends are depending on GChat, and aren't signing on to IM anymore. About 25% of my friends now have abandoned AIM and moved onto GChat. I think the two reasons this happened are 1) the horribly bloated AIM software that is just unpleasent to use. 2) GChat sort of snuck in as an automatically activated feature of GMail and people started seeing their friends just showing up on their list. Remarkably though, AIM still, after 9 years, has three quarters of my IM contacts.

Submission + - The sky is falling! Meteor shower peaks Sunday eve->

The Bad Astronomer writes: "Well, it may be death to my server to submit two articles at once, but I was shocked to see nothing on /. about the Perseid meteor shower, which peaks Sunday night. I have some simple advice on how to watch it, for those of you who can actually venture away from the computer and get outside. No tech, no gadgets, just you and the sky, and little bits of rock and ice impacting our atmosphere at 60 kps."
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Rare Meteor Event to Inform on Dangerous Comets 64

David Shiga writes "September 1, 2007 may be a once in a lifetime opportunity to see a rare meteor shower called the alpha Aurigids, New Scientist reports. Unlike better-known displays like the Perseids that occur every year on the same date, the alpha Aurigids have only been spotted three times before, in 1935, 1986, and 1994. NASA's Peter Jenniskens predicts they will return again this year, only to disappear again for the next 50 years. Meteor showers are caused by debris shed from comets, and the rarity of the alpha Aurigids is due to the exceptionally infrequent passes of its parent comet through the inner solar system, just once every 2000 years. Studying the alpha Aurigids could help astronomers turn these rare showers into an advance warning system for long period comets with potentially dangerous orbits, which would be hard to spot ahead of a collision with Earth."

Sense of Smell Tied To Quantum Physics? 169

SpaceAdmiral writes "A controversial theory that proposes that our sense of smell is based not on the shape of the molecules that enter our nose but on their vibrations was given a boost recently when University College London researchers determined that the quantum physics involved makes sense. The theory, proposed in the mid-1990s by biophysicist Luca Turin, suggests that electron tunneling initiates the smell signal being sent to the brain. It could explain why similarly shaped molecules can have very different smells, and molecules with very different structures can smell similar." Turin has now formed a company to design odorants using his theory, and claims an advantage over the competition of two orders of magnitude in rate of discovery. The article concludes, "At the very least, he is putting his money where his nose is."

Kent State's Facebook Ban for Athletes 248

Most commenting readers scoffed at Kent State University's new policy (noted on Slashdot yesterday) forbidding athletes from using profiles on Facebook. The arguments offered (legal, moral, and practical) mostly berated the school for limiting their students to no good end, but some thought-provoking comments exposed at least some complexities which make the issue less clear-cut than a straightforward case either of censorship or contractual freedom. Read on for a sampling of the comments which typified the conversation.

Senate Passes Patriot Act Renewal 705

IAmTheDave writes "The Senate has passed a renewal of the Patriot act, 89-10, after two extensions caused by months of negotiations. The only thing standing in the way of a full renewal is a House vote, expected to pass next week. The renewal comes with some privacy protections attached, however, some worry they are only cosmetic. Some lawmakers who voted for the package acknowledged deep reservations about the power it would grant to any president. "Our support for the Patriot Act does not mean a blank check for the president," said Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada, who voted to pass the bill package. Certain lawmakers supported passing the bill even though they were still wary about it - Arlen Specter urged his colleagues to pass it even as he promised to introduce a new measure and hold hearings on how to fix it. Terrorism aside, the bill also includes new legislation that has almost nothing to do with terrorism, like one measure, which would make it harder for illicit labs to obtain ingredients for methamphetamine by requiring pharmacies to sell nonprescription cold medicines only from behind the counter. I know that people like Arlen Specter promise further hearings - but why pass what you know is flawed?"