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Submission + - Citi report: slowing global warming would save tens of trillions of dollars->

Layzej writes: Citi Global Perspectives & Solutions (GPS), a division within Citibank (America’s third-largest bank), recently published a report looking at the economic costs and benefits of a low-carbon future. The report considered two scenarios: “Inaction,” which involves continuing on a business-as-usual path, and Action scenario which involves transitioning to a low-carbon energy mix.

One of the most interesting findings in the report is that the investment costs for the two scenarios are almost identical. In fact, because of savings due to reduced fuel costs and increased energy efficiency, the Action scenario is actually a bit cheaper than the Inaction scenario. Coupled with the fact the total spend is similar under both action and inaction, yet the potential liabilities of inaction are enormous, it is hard to argue against a path of action.

But there will be winners and losers: The biggest loser stands to be the coal industry, where we estimate cumulative spend under our Action scenario could be $11.6 trillion less than in our Inaction scenario over the next quarter century, with renewables, wind and nuclear (as well as energy efficiency) the main beneficiaries.

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Submission + - Human induced climate change is shifting major climate zones->

GregLaden writes: Human caused climate change is changing the size and location of major climate zones, according to a new study just out.

It isn't just that climate zones move north; more complicated than that.

The most tropical of the tropical zones does not change much, semi-arid and arid zones expand a lot at the expense of areas that are important for agriculture. Overall this indicates a general bummer rather than good news.

This study confirms what other's have shown, but adds that there may be accelerated change in coming decades.

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Comment Back in the day... (Score 1) 53

I was in college at CWRU when Viking was launched, and still there when it landed. After launch and during transit, the engineering teams are pretty much on hiatus, so some go on the talk circuit. I went to see one of the Viking engineers came to the Wade Museum at the CWRU campus to give a talk on the design and engineering of the lander.

Later, after Viking had had its first peeks at Mars, Carl Sagan went on tour with the findings. I went and saw the presentation on campus at the Amasa Stone Chapel.

More recently, after Spirit and Opportunity had given their first batch of results, one of the scientists was touring a book (at least partly a picture book) of the results, and came to the UVM campus. Saw that, too.

Submission + - The 2015 Underhanded C Contest has begun->

Xcott Craver writes: The 8th Underhanded C Contest is now underway. The goal of the Underhanded C Contest is to write C code that is as readable, clear, innocent and straightforward as possible, but which performs some malicious function that is not obvious from looking at the source code. This year's challenge is based on a real problem in joint development for nuclear treaty verification, and the prize is $1000.
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Submission + - The NSA's Philosopher->

An anonymous reader writes: In 2012, the NSA decided it needed an in-house ethicist to write about the philosophy of surveillance. They searched within the organization for a candidate, finally giving the job to an analyst who had abandoned a writing career that hadn't worked out. The Intercept got its hands on some of his writings: "The columns answer a sociological curiosity: How does working at an intelligence agency turn a privacy hawk into a prophet of eavesdropping?" At one point, the analyst wrote, "We probably all have something we know a lot about that is being handled at a higher level in a manner we’re not entirely happy about. This can cause great cognitive dissonance for us, because we may feel our work is being used to help the government follow a policy we feel is bad." The article analyzes this man in detail, including his life history and his personal blog — it's a strange coupling of invasiveness and anonymization, for they take steps to avoid revealing his identity. The article's author correctly notes (while the NSA does not) that surveilling somebody doesn't mean you really know them.
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Submission + - SPAM: Functioning brain follows famous sand pile model

thelanrecoke writes: In 1999 Danish scientist Per Bak made the startling proposal that the brain remained stable for much the same reason a sand pile does; many small avalanches hold it at a balance point, where — in the brain's case — information processing is optimized. Now scientists have showed for the first time that a brain receiving and processing sensory input follows these dynamics.
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Submission + - Disney backs off plan to have its IT staff train their H1B replacements->

helixcode123 writes: Apparently in response to backlash, Disney has reversed their plan to replace U.S. workers with foreign replacements. According to one employee “We were told our jobs were continuing and we should consider it as if nothing had happened until further notice.”
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Submission + - The Weak Force does more than just cause radioactive decays

StartsWithABang writes: There are four known fundamental forces: gravitation, electromagnetism, the strong nuclear force and the weak nuclear force. But while we often speak of gravitation as an attractive force between masses (or anything with energy), of the electric force as charged particles attracting or repelling, of quarks and gluons attracting one another and keeping nuclei bound together, we describe the weak force as “responsible for radioactive decay.” Is this right? Shouldn’t the weak force, you know, be a force? Shouldn’t there be a weak charge and attraction or repulsion based on that charge? As it turns out, there ought to be one, but due to the fact that it’s less than one-millionth the strength of the electromagnetic interaction, we were unable to measure it. Until 2013, that is, when we did for the first time!

Submission + - Pornhub is going to make a porn film in space->

schwit1 writes: In one small thrust for man and one giant leap for mankind, two people are set to have sex in space for the first time in human history, but for porn not procreation — Pornhub is crowdfunding a space mission to shoot an adult film in low-Earth orbit.

The site hopes to launch the mission and shoot Sexplorations in 2016, covering the pre and post-production costs itself but seeking $3.4 million from IndieGogo crowdfunders.

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Comment Robots ahead of time... (Score 1) 46

The next step is to realize that we should be sending a robotic mission with this stuff a few years earlier. That way whenever the first people get there, they'll find a cleared landing field and radio guidance towers, as well as a place to stay after they debark.

Of course the fly in the ointment is that you send robots and have them spend a few years building your base. Then someone else comes in before you and claims "rights of salvage" over all of that "abandoned property" they just found.

Submission + - At Zappos.com, "No Bosses" Management Style Not For Everyone

schnell writes: From The Washington Post: "In March, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh issued an ultimatum of sorts to his employees. If they didn't feel like they could get behind the company's radical new management system—in which there are no traditional managers or job titles—he would give them until April 30 to decide whether they wanted to leave in exchange for at least three months' severance. Now that the deadline has passed, it turns out that 210 employees, or about 14 percent of the online retailer's 1,500 workers, have taken Hsieh up on it."

The anti-?)management style Zappos has adopted, created by a programmer and called "holacracy" must sound like a dream to some. Still, it doesn't seem to be working out for everyone. Is this a matter of personal preference, or is there really no organizational structure that will truly make everyone happy?

Comment Re:He's also an interesting candidate for this (Score 2) 395

I'm generally in favor of free market capitalism, but sometimes I'm not sure that's what I'm seeing right now. I also think that problems arise when revenue and profit become the number one goal, especially at the expense of the products and services that are supposedly being sold for that revenue and profit.

As long as we're going to reinvent the wheel again, we might as well try making it round this time. - Mike Dennison