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Comment: Re:Antarctica? (Score 1) 262

by iacvlvs (#32041662) Attached to: Gardening On Mars

There are dozens of reasons to prefer Antarctica as a destination. Mars, in my opinion, has one big advantage: it would decouple the continued existence of humanity from the continued habitability of Earth.

Right now we could be destroyed completely by an asteroid impact, a supervolcano, anything that takes terrestrial conditions out of the relatively narrow band we can survive in. Getting off this rock would reduce the risk of something bad happening and wiping us out. Developing the technology to make a Martian colony self sustaining would widen the band of terrestrial conditions we can survive in.


Humans Nearly Went Extinct 1.2M Years Ago 356

Posted by kdawson
from the pinch-point dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Scientific American has a story on researchers from the University of Utah who have calculated that 1.2 million years ago, at a time when our ancestors Homo erectus, H. ergaster, and archaic H. sapiens were spreading through Africa, Europe, and Asia, there were probably only about 18,500 individuals capable of breeding in all these species together (PNAS paper here). Pre-humans were an endangered species with a smaller population than today's gorillas and chimpanzees. Researchers scanned two completely sequenced modern human genomes for a type of mobile element called Alu sequences, then compared the nucleotides in these old regions with the overall diversity in the two genomes to estimate differences in effective population size, and thus genetic diversity between modern and early humans. Human geneticist Lynn Jorde says that the diminished genetic diversity one million years ago suggests human ancestors experienced a catastrophic event at that time as devastating as the Toba super-volcano in Indonesia that triggered a nuclear winter and is thought to have nearly annihilated humans 70,000 years ago."

Comment: Re:All the universes where the bread missed a busb (Score 1) 478

by iacvlvs (#30016238) Attached to: LHC Shut Down Again — By Baguette-Dropping Bird
Interesting idea. The baguette isn't a huge deal because it won't delay the activation of the Collider but that's only one of the absurd things to happen to it, many of which have caused delays.

If the sheer number of alternate universes is contributing to our survival
and each time we avoid destruction, the number of universes is reduced
then perhaps it would benefit us to seed the multiverse with more universes.

I'm going to be letting HotBits make my decisions for a while. They supply random numbers based on radioactive decay. I'm hoping my experiment will propagate superposition to the macro world and increasing the chance that some instance of me survives whatever nasty unexpected consequences the LHC's activation may have.

Of course one could argue that my our present existence proof that nothing happens in the future that destroys this universe's past.

Giant Ribbon Discovered At Edge of Solar System 251

Posted by kdawson
from the gift-wrapped dept.
beadwindow writes "NASA's IBEX (Interstellar Boundary Explorer) spacecraft has made the first all-sky maps of the heliosphere and the results have taken researchers by surprise. The maps are bisected by a bright, winding ribbon of unknown origin: 'This is a shocking new result,' says IBEX principal investigator Dave McComas of the Southwest Research Institute. 'We had no idea this ribbon existed — or what has created it. Our previous ideas about the outer heliosphere are going to have to be revised.' Another NASA scientist notes, '"This ribbon winds between the two Voyager spacecraft and was not observed by either of them.'"

SA's Largest Telecomms Provider vs. a Pigeon 149 Screenshot-sm

Posted by samzenpus
from the may-the-best-bird-win dept.
dagwud writes "Just a few days after this Slashdot article, South Africa's largest telecoms provider, Telkom (which has been taking flak for years for its shoddy and overpriced service), is being pitted against a homing pigeon to see which can deliver 4GB of call centre data logs quickest over a distance of around 80km (50 miles). According to the official website, the race is set to take place September 10."

Google Patents Its Home Page 390

Posted by timothy
from the to-advance-useful-arts-and-sciences dept.
theodp writes "A week after new USPTO Director David Kappos pooh-poohed the idea that a lower patent allowance rate equals higher quality, Google was granted a patent on its Home Page. Subject to how the design patent is enforced, Google now owns the idea of having a giant search box in the middle of the page, with two big buttons underneath and several small links nearby. And you doubted Google's commitment to patent reform, didn't you?"

How To Prove Someone Is Female? 1091

Posted by kdawson
from the who-can-replace-a-man dept.
krou writes "Caster Semenya won the 800m at the World Athletics Championship in blistering style, leaving her competitors in the dust, but she has been thrown into the midst of a scandal amidst claims that she's not really a woman. According to the many press reports, she's believed to shave, is flat chested, has a very masculine physique, previously preferred playing physical games with boys, and shunned traditional female activities and clothing. Questions about her gender have dogged her entire career. Previously, acceptance that she is a women relied on simple inspection of female genitals. But now the IAAF claim that they want to conduct further tests to see if 'she may have a rare medical condition that gives her an unfair advantage.' An IAAF spokesmen noted that 'The [testing] process was started after Semenya made her startling breakthroughs — a 25-second improvement at 1500m and eight seconds at 800m, just some weeks ago.' I'm curious what the Slashdot community thinks: what can be considered proof of someone being male or female? Is it simply a case of having the right genitals, or are there other criteria that should be used? Is the IAAF right in claiming that someone should be prevented from competing because they have a rare medical or genetic advantage?"

Hacker Destroys, Along With Its Backups 780

Posted by timothy
from the giving-you-the-benefit-of-their-bad-childhoods dept.
el americano writes "Flight Simulator community website Avsim has experienced a total data loss after both of their online servers were hacked. The site's founder, Tom Allensworth, explained why 13 years of community developed terrains, skins, and mods will not be restored from backups: 'Some have asked whether or not we had back ups. Yes, we dutifully backed up our servers every day. Unfortunately, we backed up the servers between our two servers. The hacker took out both servers, destroying our ability to use one or the other back up to remedy the situation.'"

Office 2007SP2 ODF Interoperability Very Bad 627

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the are-you-really-surprised dept.
David Gerard writes "Microsoft Office 2007 SP2 claims support for ODF 1.1. With hard work and careful thinking, they have successfully achieved technical compliance but zero interoperability! MSO 2007sp2 won't read ODF 1.1 from any other existing application, and its ODF is only readable by the CleverAge plugin. The post goes into detail as to how it manages this so thoroughly."
The Military

Mariners Develop High Tech Pirate Repellents 830

Posted by samzenpus
from the scuttle-the-ship dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "NPR reports that owners of ships that ply the dangerous waters near Somalia are looking at options to repel pirates including slippery foam, lasers, electric fences, water cannons and high-intensity sound — almost anything except guns. One defense is the Force 80 squirt gun with a 3-inch nozzle that can send 1,400 gallons a minute 100 yards in any direction. 'It is a tremendous force of water that will knock over anything in its path and will also flood a pirate's ship very quickly,' says Roger Barrett James of the the Swedish company Unifire. Next is the Mobility Denial System, a slippery nontoxic foam that can be sprayed on just about any surface making it impossible to walk or climb even with the aid of a harness. The idea would be to spray the pirate's vessel as it approached, or to coat ropes, ladders, steps and the hull of the ship that's under attack. The Long Range Acoustic Device, or LRAD, a high-powered directional loudspeaker allows a ship to hail an approaching vessel more than a mile away. 'Knowing that they've lost the element of surprise is half the battle,' says Robert Putnam of American Technology Corp. The LRAD has another feature — a piercing "deterrent tone" that sounds a bit like a smoke detector alarm with enough intensity to cause extreme pain and even permanent hearing loss for anyone directly in the beam that comes from the device. But Capt. John Konrad, who blogs for the Web site, says no anti-pirate device is perfect. 'The best case scenario is that you find these vessels early enough that you can get a Navy ship detached to your location and let them handle the situation.'"

Tomorrow's computers some time next month. -- DEC