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Comment Re:Really? (Score 2) 214

Worse than that. Suppose their research 'proves' that you can catch 333 whales 'sustainably'. Is their research then complete? Sadly no. They can come back and research a higher number. When the outcome of the research could only be to allow you to undertake an illegal activity then it should never take place. Meanwhile any whale meat that is a by-product should be incinerated. Total sham and embarrassing to see a country acting in this way.

Comment Re:Now, THERE's a tourist attraction... (Score 1) 85

There is no "laser beam". Reflection from the ring particles would be quite random in direction rather than directed like from a mirror. Most ring particles are small, likely to be rough and oriented pretty randomly. Sure it would be brighter when it is more face on but that is just a result of the greater amount of bright area that is visible. The moon shows a relatively flat image to us rather than an obvious sphere for the same reason. The surface is composed of randomly oriented rough particles so light scatters pretty equally in all directions irrespective of the angle of the average surface to an observer. Within the star system and assuming pretty much co-planar planetary orbits, unless the axis of the ring system lies in the same plane as that of the location from which you are observing from, the axis can never actually point at you. Chances are high that the axis is not co-planar. Still it would be an awesome sight. Uranus has an axial tilt of 97.77 degrees so it is close to being in the plane of the ecliptic but a little off. It is thought to be the result of a massive collision early in the Solar System formation. While it would be spectacular, the actual amount of radiation and the frequency ranges in the reflected light would be visible but far from damaging. Hold your hand up and feel the lack of heat from a full moon at night. Sunlight is about 500,000 times more powerful than full moon light. Finally, it is a very long way from Earth so 'we' are not going to be in any danger at all. It was only detected through blocking the host star's light. It might make a good observing target when it is in opposition but still don't expect clear Saturn-like images until we build a multi-kilometer sized telescope (or equivalent).

Comment Re:This war is hundreds of years old. (Score 1) 260

The war is indeed hundreds of years old:

The silk trade was so valuable that anyone who tried to take silkworm eggs or mulberry seeds out of China was put to death. Then in 552 AD, two monks smuggled silkworm eggs to Constantinople, and silk production spread worldwide. Now that the secret’s out, we can safely talk about how silkworms and humans make luxurious silk cloth.

-- http://indianapublicmedia.org/amomentofscience/secrets-of-silk-production/

"The invention of gunpowder is usually attributed to Chinese alchemy, and is popularly listed as one of the "Four Great Inventions" of China. The invention was made perhaps as early as during the Tang Dynasty (9th century), but certainly by the Song Dynasty (11th century). Knowledge of gunpowder spread throughout the Old World as a result of the Mongol conquests of the 13th century. It was employed in warfare to some effect from at least the 14th century, although the development of effective artillery took place during the 15th century, and firearms came to dominate Early Modern warfare in Europe by the 17th century.

-- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_gunpowder

Perhaps the same for paper, printing, rockets, fine china, glazing? Not sure about bronze and iron working.

Then there are all of the traditional medicines and biodiversity around the world that is being trawled for patentable medical applications.

Comment Hardened Impactor vs Lander (Score 1) 156

Given the enormous problems and inherent risks of landing a sophisticated probe in working condition, I wonder if it wouldn't be better to first send some quite dumb but very robust impactors. Gather basic information and then plan a longer duration mission.

It is possible to make some pretty durable basic sensors, batteries and a transmitter. Have a solid rocket final stage to decelerate on the way in so that they are not vaporised on impact. Launch a cluster that separate on the way and adjust slightly their trajectories to come in staggered over time and spread over distance. Camera view on the way down.

Then spend the $5B or whatever it takes to get a more capable lander / rover / driller onto the surface in working condition.

First Person Shooters (Games)

Gamer Plays Doom For the First Time 362

sfraggle writes "Kotaku has an interesting review of Doom (the original!) by Stephen Totilo, a gamer and FPS player who, until a few days ago, had gone through the game's 17-year history without playing it. He describes some of his first impressions, the surprises that he encountered, and how the game compares to modern FPSes. Quoting: 'Virtual shotgun armed, I was finally going to play Doom for real. A second later, I understood the allure the video game weapon has had. In Doom the shotgun feels mighty, at least partially I believe because they make first-timers like me wait for it. The creators make us sweat until we have it in hand. But once we have the shotgun, its big shots and its slow, fetishized reload are the floored-accelerator-pedal stuff of macho fantasy. The shotgun is, in all senses, instant puberty, which is to say, delicately, that to obtain it is to have the assumed added potency that a boy believes a man possesses vis a vis a world on which he'd like to have some impact. The shotgun is the punch in the face the once-scrawny boy on the beach gives the bully when he returns a muscled linebacker.'"
The Internet

The Puzzle of Japanese Web Design 242

I'm Not There (1956) writes "Jeffrey Zeldman brings up the interesting issue of the paradox between Japan's strong cultural preference for simplicity in design, contrasted with the complexity of Japanese websites. The post invites you to study several sites, each more crowded than the last. 'It is odd that in Japan, land of world-leading minimalism in the traditional arts and design, Web users and skilled Web design practitioners believe more is more.'"

Steampunk Con Mixes In More Maker Fun 50

California has once again been blessed with another steampunk convention, this time to be held in Emeryville, CA on March 12-14 as the "Nova Albion Steampunk Exhibition." This year's event promises to mix in much more of the DIY/maker flavor for a greater hands-on feel. Steampunk has been gaining much broader appeal in recent months with the continued growth of maker communities, and the many delightful varieties of music and literature. The con will feature, among other things, a 2 day track of 2-hour how-to, hands-on, and interactive workshops gear towards makers, DIY-ers, mad scientists, and evil geniuses. Of course, if you are an evil genius you probably don't need a workshop except as a gathering for potential test subjects.

Breaking the Squid Barrier 126

An anonymous reader writes "Dr. Steve O'Shea of Auckland, New Zealand is attempting to break the record for keeping deep sea squid alive in captivity, with the goal of being able to raise a giant squid one day. Right now, he's raising the broad squid, sepioteuthis australis, from egg masses found in seaweed. This is a lot harder than it sounds, because the squid he's studying grow rapidly and eat only live prey, making it hard for them to keep the squid from becoming prey themselves. If his research works out, you might one day be able to visit an aquarium and see giant squid."

Music By Natural Selection 164

maccallr writes "The DarwinTunes experiment needs you! Using an evolutionary algorithm and the ears of you the general public, we've been evolving a four bar loop that started out as pretty dismal primordial auditory soup and now after >27k ratings and 200 generations is sounding pretty good. Given that the only ingredients are sine waves, we're impressed. We got some coverage in the New Scientist CultureLab blog but now things have gone quiet and we'd really appreciate some Slashdotter idle time. We recently upped the maximum 'genome size' and we think that the music is already benefiting from the change."

PhD Candidate Talks About the Physics of Space Battles 361

darthvader100 writes "Gizmodo has run an article with some predictions on what future space battles will be like. The author brings up several theories on propulsion (and orbits), weapons (explosives, kinetic and laser), and design. Sounds like the ideal shape for spaceships will be spherical, like the one in the Hitchhiker's Guide movie."

Are Complex Games Doomed To Have Buggy Releases? 362

An anonymous reader points out a recent article at Gamesradar discussing the frequency of major bugs and technical issues in freshly-released video games. While such issues are often fixed with updates, questions remain about the legality and ethics of rushing a game to launch. Quoting: "As angry as you may be about getting a buggy title, would you want the law to get involved? Meglena Kuneva, EU Consumer Affairs Commissioner, is putting forward legislation that would legally oblige digital game distributors to give refunds for games, putting games in the same category in consumer law as household appliances. ... This call to arms has been praised by tech expert Andy Tanenbaum, author of books like Operating Systems: Design and Implementation. 'I think the idea that commercial software be judged by the same standards as other commercial products is not so crazy,' he says. 'Cars, TVs, and telephones are all expected to work, and they are full of software. Why not standalone software? I think such legislation would put software makers under pressure to first make sure their software works, then worry about more bells and whistles.'"

Comment Re:EMP Testing (Score 1) 884

.. What is interesting, is that I have asked people who won't fly because they fear crashing, if they are afraid of planes falling on them.. no one ever said they were, but there are probably more planes flying over most people per year than flights taken by them.

And I would reply: If you are on a plane and it crashes anywhere along its route then it is bad for you. If you are on the ground and a plane on a route that passes over you crashes somewhere along that route then you are probably fine.

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"Card readers? We don't need no stinking card readers." -- Peter da Silva (at the National Academy of Sciencies, 1965, in a particularly vivid fantasy)