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+ - World most dangerous toy 'Gilbert Atomic Energy Lab' goes on display at museum->

Submitted by hypnosec
hypnosec (2231454) writes "The Gilbert Atomic Energy Lab — dubbed as the world's most dangerous toy — has gone on display at the Ulster Museum in Northern Ireland. The toy has earned the title of most dangerous toy because it includes four types of uranium ore, three sources of radiation, and a Geiger counter that enables parents to measure just how contaminated their child had become. The Gilbert Atomic Energy Lab was only available between 1951 and 1952 and was the most elaborate atomic energy educational kit ever produced. The toy was one of the most costly toy of the time retailing at $50 — said to be equivalent to $400 today."
Link to Original Source

+ - Interstellar travel was almost possible, 70k years ago...->

Submitted by mrthoughtful
mrthoughtful (466814) writes "According to the bods at the University of Rochester, 70,000 years ago, a recently discovered dim star (Scholz's star) passed through our Oort cloud, in a near collision with Sol only 52,000 AU distant. Although this is still quite a distance, it is far closer than Proxima Centauri's current 266,000 AU, but still a stretch for Voyager I's 125 AU. Still, maybe the best way to engage in interstellar travel is just to wait until the time is right."
Link to Original Source

Comment: This is -the- Dyson (Score 1) 249

by mrthoughtful (#49074151) Attached to: Game Theory Calls Cooperation Into Question

Dyson is one of my science heros. cf.
He is a notable subversive and a joker. He was once commissioned to write a paper for the US DOD regarding the use of nukes in Vietnam. He is pointing something else out in this paper (already three years old - not news), and it appears the irony is being missed.

Comment: Tiros: first global weather photo (Score 5, Interesting) 28

by mrthoughtful (#48855851) Attached to: NJ Museum Revives TIROS Satellite Dish After 40 Years

Although I personally find the idea of resurrecting an old dish rather 'non-news', Tiros was pretty cool series of satellites. Here is the the first (composite) photo of global weather taken using the infrared cameras on an early Tiros:

Comment: Should have mixed it with Primer. (Score 2) 254

by mrthoughtful (#48764765) Attached to: Heinlein's 'All You Zombies' Now a Sci-Fi Movie Head Trip

IMO, Primer sets the bar for time-travel movies, even though it's deliberately ambiguous. It seems that really, the only 'next step' is to bring out many more of the complex paradoxes that something like Primer begins to address.

For instance, what would happen (not used, but implied, in Primer) if one put an (unoccupied) running box (IIRC Primer only uses collapsed boxes) inside a running box? My guess is that it would allow for arbitrary backward time travel (with the Primer provisio that it would be a branched universe)..

Comment: It's life Jim; but not as we know it (Score 1) 300

by mrthoughtful (#48753423) Attached to: The Search For Starivores, Intelligent Life That Could Eat the Sun

This is all sort of Solaris stuff - and like Lem suggests, we would have no ability to communicate with an organism of that order. (John C Lilly points out that we wouldn't be able to communicate meaningfully with Whales, let alone planetary organisms).

And when imagining living beings that are larger than planets, how can we even be able to begin to define them as alive?. Why aren't stars alive in the first place? If not, what makes them not so? Just because their method of reproduction involves their own death - it's just a little bit exotic is all.


Comment: Re:Not really news. (Score 1) 197

by mrthoughtful (#48646271) Attached to: Quantum Physics Just Got Less Complicated

There's one huge problem with the notion of proof in physics: You never know when your theory might be superseded. You can't make a generalising statement in physics which is essentially formally proven since there is always a possibility that it would be overtaken by a newer one.

So, your cite from tea is pretty meaningless. A 'proof' of this order is noting less than a revised theory, hence my OP

Comment: Re:Exactly why we test all candidates. (Score 1) 276

We do allow our candidates to use the web. We also write the tests specifically for the job at hand. We do NOT penalise for mashing, copying, or even asking for help. What we do penalise is for when someone grabs something and doesn't understand what it is, how it works, and cannot make it 'theirs'.

We also penalise people who copy code from the net and then attempt to pass it off as their own.
We don't monitor the test - we allow the candidate to work against their own clock.

We aren't fearful of hiring wrong people - but we don't have time for them either. We also find it's an extremely good means of filtering out what can be up to 1,000 applications. Those who apply for the job are those who really want to work for us, and are willing to show us their skills.

Our questions tend to be qualitative, which means that it's very hard to 'find the answer on the net'. They will include questions such as (eg for a web designer) - "In what ways could you significantly improve the BBC news website, and why do you think the BBC have not made those improvements already?"

For a (S)CSS engineer, we will be asking questions to demonstrate approaches to carving and presenting a responsive page, based upon a simple flat visual.

For all of these things, there are no right answers, but there are good answers.

The funniest response we once got from a programmer, to about 9 out of 10 of the questions we had on the test for the position he was applying for, was "It's not my department." - needless to say he wasn't shortlisted.

Comment: Re:Exactly why we test all candidates. (Score 3, Interesting) 276

Well, it depends upon the job. As OneSmartFellow correctly divines, a recent post was for a sysadmin / sysops post. We don't require other devs to know what ARP is, but it's always good if they have some idea about the network stack.

We have been repeatedly amazed by the levels of ignorance that IT-qualified candidates have had. One of the most disappointing finds is that very few who have come from university have any substantial programming experience. Likewise, 'hack-a-day' php coders and sql-ers about, but most of them do not know when to apply a left join, some of them don't even know what a key is used for (just think of all that wasted cpu time due to ridiculously poor sql implementations. It makes me shudder).

Regarding the idea of methods for developing a re-usable, maintainable codebase for our work (primarily webwork) - seems to be beyond everyone that we recruit. The team that we have right now is second to none - but we have found that a well-written test reduces the initial number of applicants from about 700 to 800 down to about 10, most of whom we will interview.

Comment: Exactly why we test all candidates. (Score 1, Insightful) 276

The only way that we have found for being able to assess a candidate's suitability for work at our company is to write tests that suit the job, and then ask the candidates to demonstrate their skills. We've had people with all sorts of qualifications relevant to the LAMP architecture not know the basics of regex, sql, bash, etc. Let alone what ARP is.

IMO qualifications in IT aren't really very relevant, other than showing the intent/interests of the individual. Also, as IT is changing so rapidly, by the time a (non-theoretical) qualification has been published, it is pretty much out of date.

My response, as an employer, to this news could be summarised as: 'We never had much credence to the MS qualification in the first place - and now we have none.

"We don't care. We don't have to. We're the Phone Company."