An anonymous reader writes "The Australian Informatics Olympiad programming test is being run in a couple of months. I'm an experienced programmer and I'm thinking of volunteering to tutor interested kids at my children's school to get them ready. There will be children of all levels in the group, from those that can't write 'hello world' in any language, to somewhat experienced programmers. For those starting from scratch, I'm wondering what language to teach them to code in. Accepted languages are C, C++, Pascal, Java, PHP, Python and Visual Basic. I'm leaning towards Python, because it is a powerful language with a simple syntax. However, the test has a run-time CPU seconds limit, so using an interpreted language like Python could put the students at a disadvantage compared to using C. Is it better to teach them something in 2 months that they're likely to be able to code in but possibly run foul of the CPU time limit, or struggle to teach them to code in a more complicated syntax like C/C++ which would however give them the best chance of having a fast solution?"
HipToday writes "As posted on the OpenBSD Journal, OpenSSH 5.4 has been released: 'Some highlights of this release are the disabling of protocol 1 by default, certificate authentication, a new "netcat mode," many changes on the sftp front (both client and server) and a collection of assorted bugfixes. The new release can already be found on a large number of mirrors and of course on www.openssh.com.'"
Physicist Sean Carroll has built up a bit of a name for himself by tackling one of the age old questions that no one has been able to fully explain: What is time? Earlier this month he gave an interview with Wired where he tried to explain his theories in layman's terms. "I’m trying to understand how time works. And that’s a huge question that has lots of different aspects to it. A lot of them go back to Einstein and spacetime and how we measure time using clocks. But the particular aspect of time that I’m interested in is the arrow of time: the fact that the past is different from the future. We remember the past but we don’t remember the future. There are irreversible processes. There are things that happen, like you turn an egg into an omelet, but you can’t turn an omelet into an egg."
astroengine writes "Assuming you had an interstellar spaceship, how would you navigate around the galaxy? For starters, you'd probably need a map. But there's billions of stars out there — how complex would that map need to be? Actually, Samuel Arbesman, a research fellow from Harvard, has come up with a fun solution. He created the 'Milky Way Transit Authority (MWTA),' a simple transit system in the style of the iconic London Underground 'Tube Map.' (Travel Tip: Don't spend too much time loitering around the station at Carina, there's some demolition work underway.)"
An anonymous reader writes "One of the basic utilities supplied with any operating system is a desktop calculator. These are often simple utilities that are perfectly adequate for basic use. They typically include trigonometric functions, logarithms, factorials, parentheses and a memory function. However, the calculators featured in this article are significantly more sophisticated with the ability to process difficult mathematical functions, to plot graphs in 2D and 3D, and much more. Occasionally, the calculator tool provided with an operating system did not engender any confidence. The classic example being the calculator shipped with Windows 3.1 which could not even reliably subtract two numbers. Rest assured, the calculators listed below are of precision quality."
Given that early benchmarks of the Lucid Lynx were less than encouraging, Phoronix decided to take the latest alpha out for a spin and has set it side-by-side with an early look at Fedora 13. "Overall, there are both positive and negative performance changes for Ubuntu 10.04 LTS Alpha 2 in relation to Ubuntu 9.10. Most of the negative regressions are attributed to the EXT4 file-system losing some of its performance charm. With using a pre-alpha snapshot of Fedora 13 and the benchmark results just being provided for reference purposes, we will hold off on looking into greater detail at this next Red Hat Linux update until it matures."
Matt_dk writes "Spectacular satellite images suggest that Mars was warm enough to sustain lakes three billion years ago, a period that was previously thought to be too cold and arid to sustain water on the surface, according to research published today in the journal Geology. Earlier research had suggested that Mars had a warm and wet early history but that between 4 billion and 3.8 billion years ago, before the Hesperian Epoch, the planet lost most of its atmosphere and became cold and dry. In the new study, the researchers analysed detailed images from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which is currently circling the red planet, and concluded that there were later episodes where Mars experienced warm and wet periods."
An anonymous reader writes "I am currently looking to move from text editing with vim to a full fledged IDE with gdb integration, integrated command line, etc. Extending VIM with these capabilities is a mortal sin, so I am looking for a linux based GUI IDE. I do not want to give up the efficient text editing capabilities of VIM though. How do I have my cake and eat it too?"
c0mpliant writes "NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory have released a simulation of the path of an asteroid, named Apophis, that will come very close to Earth in 2029 — the closest predicted approach since humans have monitored for such heavenly bodies. The asteroid caused a bit of a scare when astronomers first announced that it would enter Earth's neighborhood some time in the future. However, since that announcement in 2004, more recent calculations have put the odds of collision at 1 in 250,000."
Theosis sends word that an astronomer at the University of Rochester and his colleagues have made the surprise discovery that Alcor, one of the brightest stars in the Big Dipper, is actually two stars; and it is apparently gravitationally bound to the four-star Mizar system, making the whole group a sextuplet. This would make the Mizar-Alcor sextuplet the second-nearest such system known. The discovery is especially surprising because Alcor is one of the most studied stars in the sky. The Mizar-Alcor system has been involved in many "firsts" in the history of astronomy: "Benedetto Castelli, Galileo's protege and collaborator, first observed with a telescope that Mizar was not a single star in 1617, and Galileo observed it a week after hearing about this from Castelli, and noted it in his notebooks... Those two stars, called Mizar A and Mizar B, together with Alcor, in 1857 became the first binary stars ever photographed through a telescope. In 1890, Mizar A was discovered to itself be a binary, being the first binary to be discovered using spectroscopy. In 1908, spectroscopy revealed that Mizar B was also a pair of stars, making the group the first-known quintuple star system."
supersloshy writes Today Mozilla released Thunderbird 3. Many new features are available, including Tabs and enhanced search features, a message archive for emails you don't want to delete but still want to keep, Firefox 3's improved Add-ons Manager, Personas support, and many other improvements. Download here."
diegocg writes "Linus Torvalds has officially released the version 2.6.32 of the Linux kernel. New features include virtualization memory de-duplication, a rewrite of the writeback code faster and more scalable, many important Btrfs improvements and speedups, ATI R600/R700 3D and KMS support and other graphic improvements, a CFQ low latency mode, tracing improvements including a 'perf timechart' tool that tries to be a better bootchart, soft limits in the memory controller, support for the S+Core architecture, support for Intel Moorestown and its new firmware interface, run-time power management support, and many other improvements and new drivers. See the full changelog for more details."
Researchers from the School of Medicine at the University of California have shown that the more germs a child is exposed to, the better their immune system in later life. Their study found that keeping a child's skin too clean impaired the skin's ability to heal itself. From the article: "'These germs are actually good for us,' said Professor Richard Gallo, who led the research. Common bacterial species, known as staphylococci, which can cause inflammation when under the skin, are 'good bacteria' when on the surface, where they can reduce inflammation."
PhreakOfTime writes "According to Bill Livingston and Matt Penn of the National Solar Observatory in Tucson, Arizona, sunspot magnetic fields are waning. The two respected solar astronomers have been measuring solar magnetism since 1992. Their technique is based on Zeeman splitting of infrared spectral lines in radiation emitted by iron atoms in the vicinity of sunspots. Extrapolating their data (PDF) into the future suggests that sunspots could completely disappear within decades." To motivate their interest the researchers mention the Maunder Minimum, which occurred beginning in 1645 and coincided with the coldest part of the so-called "Little Ice Age." Sunspot counts during this period were as low as 1/1,000 of the numbers seen in modern times.