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Comment: Link to the full article, freely available ... (Score 4, Informative) 21

by StupendousMan (#49483471) Attached to: Spitzer Space Telescope Finds New Planet

... thanks to arXiv:

This event is VERY interesting and unusual because the microlensing event was observed from two very different places: on Earth, and from the Spitzer Space Telescope, which is many millions of km away from the Earth. Gravitational lensing occurs when a background star and a lensing star line up exactly in the same direction, as seen from an observer. Because Spitzer was so far away, it saw the lensing star line up with the background star first; then, as the lensing star moved in its orbit around the center of the Milky Way, the lensing star eventually lined up with the background star as seen from Earth, about 18 days later.

This lag in time between two widely separated observers seeing a lensing event will help us to figure out exactly how the two stars involved in the event were moving, and where they are, and other properties. Since most telescopes are located on Earth, in basically the same place, we almost never get this extra information.

Rah, rah, Spitzer! Rah, rah, OGLE!

Comment: We just covered this paper in our class last week (Score 2) 43

by StupendousMan (#49469163) Attached to: Tracking the Weather On an Exoplanet

I'm co-teaching a graduate course on exoplanets, and we talked about this paper in one of our meetings last week. Here's the link to our discussion of "spectroscopy of exoplanet atmospheres:"

You can read all our materials at


Comment: Link to the full article, freely available (Score 5, Informative) 199

The summary has a link to a paywalled article (silly Ethan). The full article is freely available to all on the arXiv preprint server:

I'm peripherally involved with the supernova field, though I study only the nearby examples. There has been for years the understanding that IF a difference should arise between the nearby events that we can study well, and the distant events which appear dimly and vaguely, AND if we did not realize that such a difference existed, THEN we could reach incorrect conclusions.

Scientists in the field have worried about this for years. It's not a sudden new realization.

It's very pleasant to see that a space telescope -- SWIFT -- which was built to study one type of object (gamma ray bursts) has turned out to provide vital information on a different type (supernovae). Since it is in space, it can detect ultraviolet light, and so show us that some nearby supernovae emit different amounts of ultraviolet light, even though they appear similar in the optical region. This UV difference hints at differences in chemical composition between supernovae, which may indeed be significant when we try to study very distant events with other telescopes.

Fortunately, light from those distant events is redshifted into the optical regime, so we can use very large ground-based telescopes to see the same UV light and compare it to the nearby events.

It's a very interesting field to follow: things change on timescales of 3-5 years. And yes, we are more aware of the uncertainties in the business than some news articles might imply.

Comment: Re:Frist Psot (Score 1) 323

Randal Monroe pretty much has this to say about the "freedom of speech" argument: "... but someone once said that defending a position by citing free speech is sort of the ultimate concession; you're saying that the most compelling thing you can say for your position is that it's not literally illegal to express ."

I will never take an argument like yours seriously ever again. I will defend free speech, but I will not side with folks who use it to be jerks, which is what cyberbullying is.

Comment: Third init needed - freedom is cool. (Score 1) 522

by xtronics (#48172911) Attached to: Debian Talks About Systemd Once Again

I love Debian - this messy debate is what freedom looks like. We should embrace it. This is how real progress is made.

That being said. The evolution of an init system is still needed, and there are some major problems with both systems - thus it is obvious that there is an opportunity for a third system that is more elegant than either of these two.

I think the debate has shown that neither way is correct and that a third way - probably more evolutionary and less draconian will emerge.

syselegant ? sys-e for short?

Comment: And the idea that there are no natural sources ? (Score 1) 70

by xtronics (#48117385) Attached to: Antiperspirants Could Contribute to Particulate Pollution

Fine particles are also made by natural events - wind erosion - wave erosion - water freezing - form long before man walked on earth. Why is everything man does seen with 'brown-colored-glasses?

"could be a potential source."

This sure sounds like grant seeking behavior rather than science.

Comment: For radio alinement there is nothing better. (Score 1) 155

by xtronics (#48117313) Attached to: Liking Analog Meters Doesn't Make You a Luddite (Video)

In this application, the accuracy isn't important - and you are adjusting for a peak value or null. Digital meters try to compensate with a bar graph, but it just isn't the same. And I don't like analogs here out of nostalgia.

I use both kinds of meters - analog meters are poor at accuracy, but if I have to peek circuits, I'm going to use an old analog meter.

There is one more advantage to analog meters - they are low impedance compared to the fancy meters - and that can fool the user if there is electromagnetic noise. Different tools for different jobs.


Google Receives Takedown Request Every 8 Milliseconds 155

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the can-we-just-fix-copyright-already dept.
Via TorrentFreak comes news that Google is now being asked to remove one million links per day (or an average of one takedown notice every 8ms). In 2008, they received one takedown request approximately every six days. From the article: The massive surge in removal requests is not without controversy. It’s been reported that some notices reference pages that contain no copyrighted material, due to mistakes or abuse, but are deleted nonetheless. Google has a pretty good track record of catching these errors, but since manual review of all links is unachievable, some URLs are removed in error. ... The issue has also piqued the interest of U.S. lawmakers. Earlier this year the House Judiciary Subcommittee had a hearing on the DMCA takedown issue, and both copyright holders, Internet service providers, and other parties are examining what they can do to optimize the process. In the meantime, the number of removal requests is expected to rise and rise, with 10 million links per week being the next milestone.

Comment: Re:Um, they're going to be awful this year (Score 2) 31

by StupendousMan (#47635801) Attached to: The Meteors You've Waited All Year For

When the Moon is full, it rises at sunset and sets at sunrise. Each day, the Moon rises (and sets) about one hour later. So, 2 or 3 days after the full Moon, the Moon will rise 2 or 3 hours after sunset, and set 2 or 3 hours after sunrise.

Which means that, after midnight, the Moon will be high in the sky, ruining the view of the Perseids. It will not "set several hours before dawn."

In short, the response above is wrong.

Comment: False alarm -- just a normal background source (Score 5, Informative) 129

by StupendousMan (#47107299) Attached to: The Andromeda Galaxy Just Had a Bright Gamma Ray Event

The team which announced the event has now figured out that it wasn't interesting after all:

NUMBER: 16336
SUBJECT: Swift trigger 600114 is not an outbursting X-ray source
DATE: 14/05/28 07:57:12 GMT
FROM: Kim Page at U.of Leicester

K.L. Page, P.A. Evans (U. Leicester), D.N. Burrows (PSU), V. D'Elia (ASDC) and A. Maselli (INAF-IASFPA) report on behalf of the Swift-XRT team:

We have re-analysed the prompt XRT data on Swift trigger 600114 (GCN Circ. 16332), taking advantage of the event data.

The initial count rate given in GCN Circ. 16332 was based on raw data from the full field of view, without X-ray event detection, and therefore may have been affected by other sources in M31, as well as background hot pixels. Analysis of the event data (not fully available at the time of the initial circular) shows the count rate of the X-ray source identified in GCN Circ. 16332 to have been 0.065 +/- 0.012 count s^-1, consistent with the previous observations of this source [see the 1SXPS catalogue (Evans et al. 2014):

We therefore do not believe this source to be in outburst. Instead, it was a serendipitous constant source in the field of view of a BAT subthreshold trigger.

This circular is an official product of the Swift-XRT team.

Better luck next time.

Comment: For reference, here's one of the current systems (Score 4, Informative) 38

by StupendousMan (#46454985) Attached to: NASA Offers Bounty For Improved Asteroid Detection Algorithms

If you're interested in the current state of the art, read this article from the Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (April 2013). It describes the hardware and software used by the Pan-STARRS team to detect asteroids automatically in data taken with their 1.8-meter telescope on Hawaii and its 1.4-gigapixel CCD camera.

Comment: Re:Because it works (Score 2) 860

by olegm (#46407991) Attached to: Microsoft's Attempt To Convert Users From Windows XP Backfires

This will be one of the few times you'll hear this, but Microsoft did too good a job creating XP.

Correction: They did a good job *FIXING* Windows XP.

If you recall the "instant infection" days where you couldn't install XP and run updates without getting infected. I had a people I helped over the phone who followed the procedure:
1. Install XP
2. Download the SP2 ISO
3. Burn the ISO to disk
4. Start over because they were compromised while downloading the ISO.
5. Install XP, then SP2 via CD.

If I was able to get them a CD I would, but many of my friends where college were in different states, or even different countries, and this was quicker than waiting for a CD in the mail.

Comment: Re:Good (Score 2, Interesting) 156

by xtronics (#46158153) Attached to: Kansas Delays Municipal Broadband Ban

As a non believer that actually lives in Kansas - I find my Christian neighbors to have more respect for my beliefs than the socialist leftists have. Tolerance needs to work in all directions.

In the end - I have the choice of 4 ISP providers in my town - setting up cartels would prevent that. Life is good here - we don't need bigots here - stay on the coasts.

You can't have everything... where would you put it? -- Steven Wright