Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Earth

Can Civilization Reboot Without Fossil Fuels? 363

Posted by Soulskill
from the time-to-start-breeding-dinosaurs dept.
An anonymous reader writes: We often talk about our dependence on fossil fuels, and vigorously debate whether and how we should reduce that dependence. This article at Aeon sidesteps the political bickering and asks an interesting technological question: if we had to rebuild society, could we do it without all the fossil fuels we used to do it the first time? When people write about post-apocalyptic scenarios, the focus is usually on preserving information long enough for humanity to rebuild. But actually rebuilding turns out to be quite a challenge when all the easy oil has been bled from the planet.

It's not that we're running out, it's that the best spots for oil now require high tech machinery. This would create a sort of chicken-and-egg problem for a rebuilding society. Technological progress could still happen using other energy production methods. But it would be very slow — we'd never see the dramatic accelerations that marked the industrial age, and then the information age. "A slow-burn progression through the stages of mechanization, supported by a combination of renewable electricity and sustainably grown biomass, might be possible after all. Then again, it might not. We'd better hope we can secure the future of our own civilization, because we might have scuppered the chances of any society to follow in our wake."
Earth

The Last Time Oceans Got This Acidic This Fast, 96% of Marine Life Went Extinct 417

Posted by Soulskill
from the it's-not-easy-being-green dept.
merbs writes: The biggest extinction event in planetary history was driven by the rapid acidification of our oceans, a new study concludes (abstract). So much carbon was released into the atmosphere, and the oceans absorbed so much of it so quickly, that marine life simply died off, from the bottom of the food chain up. That doesn't bode well for the present, given the similarly disturbing rate that our seas are acidifying right now. A team led by University of Edinburgh researchers collected rocks in the United Arab Emirates that were on the seafloor hundreds of millions of years ago, and used the boron isotopes found within to model the changing levels of acidification in our prehistoric oceans. They now believe that a series of gigantic volcanic eruptions in the Siberian Trap spewed a great fountain of carbon into the atmosphere over a period of tens of thousands of years. This was the first phase of the extinction event, in which terrestrial life began to die out.
China

Chinese Scientists Plan Solar Power Station In Space 226

Posted by samzenpus
from the or-you-know-stop-polluting-so-much dept.
knwny points out this lofty proposed power plan in China. "The battle to dispel smog, cut greenhouse gases and solve the energy crisis is moving to space. If news reports are to be believed, Chinese scientists are mulling the construction of a solar power station in a geosynchronous orbit 36,000 kilometres above ground. The electricity generated would be converted to microwaves or lasers and transmitted to a collector on Earth. If realized, it will surpass the scale of the Apollo project and the International Space Station and be the largest-ever space project."
Government

New Bill Would Repeal Patriot Act 188

Posted by Soulskill
from the would-also-bake-cookies-for-every-citizen dept.
schwit1 points out a new piece of bipartisan legislation that aims to repeal the Patriot Act and the FISA Amendments Act, which the NSA has used to justify broad domestic surveillance. House Representatives Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Mark Pocan (D-WI) introduced the bill yesterday, calling it the Surveillance State Repeal Act (PDF). Pocan said, "This isn't just tinkering around the edges. This is a meaningful overhaul of the system, getting rid of essentially all parameters of the Patriot Act." The bill also attempts to dramatically strengthen whistleblower protections, so situations like Edward Snowden's and Thomas Drake's don't happen in the future. This legislation is not expected to get the support of Congressional leaders, but supporters hope it will at least inspire some debate about several provisions of the Patriot Act coming up for renewal in June.
Government

To Avoid NSA Interception, Cisco Will Ship To Decoy Addresses 296

Posted by timothy
from the name-is-smith-john-smith dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this news snipped from The Register: Cisco will ship boxes to vacant addresses in a bid to foil the NSA, security chief John Stewart says. The dead drop shipments help to foil a Snowden-revealed operation whereby the NSA would intercept networking kit and install backdoors before boxen reached customers. The interception campaign was revealed last May. Speaking at a Cisco Live press panel in Melbourne today, Stewart says the Borg will ship to fake identities for its most sensitive customers, in the hope that the NSA's interceptions are targeted. 'We ship [boxes] to an address that has nothing to do with the customer, and then you have no idea who, ultimately, it is going to,' Stewart says.
Security

Panda Antivirus Flags Itself As Malware 99

Posted by Soulskill
from the self-fulfilling-prophecy dept.
An anonymous reader writes An update to a number of Panda antivirus programs Wednesday mistakenly flagged core files as malware, putting them in quarantine. In doing so, the antivirus system ceased working. Panda's free antivirus, retail 2015 service, and its enterprise cloud-based antimalware service are all affected. The company took to Twitter to warn users: "Please, don't reboot PCs. We'll keep you posted." In an advisory, Panda said the erroneous signature file was "repaired immediately," but warned under certain conditions it is possible for the "incident to persist."
Bitcoin

California Looking To Make All Bitcoin Businesses Illegal 224

Posted by samzenpus
from the your-money-is-no-good-here dept.
An anonymous reader writes A new law has been proposed in California that would effectively outlaw all Bitcoin-related businesses that don't first get "permission." The details are vague within the bill itself, which is part of what makes it dangerous. If you're doing anything with virtual currency, you may have to go line up in Sacramento to get permission first.
Science

Researchers Nearly Double the Size of Worker Ants 99

Posted by Soulskill
from the why-would-you-do-this dept.
sciencehabit writes: Researchers have nearly doubled the size of a handful of Florida ants by chemically modifying their DNA, rather than by changing its encoded information. The work may help explain how the insects—despite their high degree of genetic similarity—grow into the different varieties of workers needed in a colony.
Censorship

Indian Gov't Wants Worldwide Ban On Rape Documentary, Including Online 356

Posted by timothy
from the oh-that'll-work dept.
An anonymous reader writes India's far-right Hindu Nationalist government headed by Narendra Modi has banned telecasting and viewing online of a BBC documentary on the 2012 Delhi rape which shocked the nation. The documentary consists interviews of the rapist Mukesh Singh, his lawyers and the victim's parents seems to expose the male dominant nature of Indian society. Indian government is now attempting to ban the documentary worldwide. Critics of the Indian government's action has accused it of not addressing issues women face and instead trying to hide the dirty secrets of its culture from the world. Some Indian websites have also reported that the views expressed by the rapist are echoed by policemen, lawyers and politicians of the nation. So far the government's attempt to ban the video online is with mixed success.

An elephant is a mouse with an operating system.

Working...