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Science

Colliding Particles Can Make Black Holes After All 269

Posted by Soulskill
from the act-now-while-supplies-last dept.
cremeglace writes with this excerpt from ScienceNOW: "You've heard the controversy. Particle physicists predict the world's new highest-energy atom smasher, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) near Geneva, Switzerland, might create tiny black holes, which they say would be a fantastic discovery. Some doomsayers fear those black holes might gobble up the Earth — physicists say that's impossible — and have petitioned the United Nations to stop the $5.5 billion LHC. Curiously, though, nobody had ever shown that the prevailing theory of gravity, Einstein's theory of general relativity, actually predicts that a black hole can be made this way. Now a computer model shows conclusively for the first time that a particle collision really can make a black hole." That said, they estimate the required energy for creating a black hole this way to be roughly "a quintillion times higher than the LHC's maximum"; though if one of the theories requiring compact extra dimensions is true, the energy could be lower.
The Almighty Buck

Why the IRS Should Automatically Fill In Returns With What It Knows 613

Posted by Soulskill
from the because-addition-is-mentally-taxing dept.
theodp writes "An article in the NY Times begins, 'In the digital age, filing income tax returns should be a snap. Important data from employers and financial institutions has already been sent to government computers. Yet taxpayers are still required to perform the chore of preparing a return from scratch, in many cases paying a software company for the privilege.' Why, if your needs are simple, can't you just download forms pre-filled with whatever data the IRS has received about you, make any necessary adjustments, and automatically get the IRS calculation of your taxes? Sounds reasonable, but the IRS rejected the President's proposal to give taxpayers the option to do so as 'not feasible at this time' due to delays in the receipt of W-2 and 1099 data. However, California managed to offer a pre-filled state tax return, which cost only 34 cents to process compared to $2.59 to process a traditional paper return. Despite the success of the pilot, meager funds have been allotted for the program due to the strength of its political opponents — 'principally, Intuit' — according to the state controller. Intuit argues it would be a 'conflict of interest for government to be both tax collector and tax preparer.'"

Comment: Re:Purpose (Score 2, Insightful) 252

by robw810 (#29233085) Attached to: Slackware 13.0 Released

I won't say this for sure, but my first reaction is "YDIW." If one follows the instructions for upgrading from one release to the next, there won't be an "critically damag[ed] libraries" or "reinstall[ing] from scratch" at all. Granted, the docs are generally better since the 11.0 days (sorry, I have to toot my own horn with that), but even before then, they were good enough.

Comment: Re:Suggestion for slackware team (Score 1) 252

by robw810 (#29233041) Attached to: Slackware 13.0 Released

Heh, maybe I'm being dense (perhaps that's excusable after the last few weeks), but I'm not convinced that you're disagreeing with me. Anyone who is familiar with unix/linux at all, or is looking to switch to unix/linux, will immediately recognize Slackware as a linux-based operating system. Perhaps I wasn't clear about it, but my main point was "If grandma doesn't recognize Slackware as being a unix-like OS, then grandma doesn't need to know."

Comment: Re:What about Moneydance? (Score 1) 291

by robw810 (#28357555) Attached to: MS Money Poll

Agreed on moneydance - I've been using it since 2004. It's a java app, but it doesn't seem "heavy" at all, and the great benefit here is that I can run it on my linux machines, my wife can run it on her Windows machine, and we can both use the same data file (which is on the home network file server).

Comment: Re:Is it still for geeks only? (Score 1) 164

by robw810 (#28042733) Attached to: 64-Bit Slackware Is Alive

http://slackware.osuosl.org/slackware-8.1/ChangeLog.txt -- last update was 20 February 2009 :-)

This isn't definitive, but lots of "patches" aren't patches -- they're upgrades to later releases due to upstream not providing actual patches. Sometimes that's not a problem (the new release actually is ABI-stable with the older one, or the fix is easy to backport), but in other cases, the choice is either to "fix" the security problem (which often isn't *much* of a problem anyway) or to *break* the application/library (or something else that uses it).

Generally speaking, if a security issue is serious *and* it affects a network-facing service *and* it's feasible to fix, then it's fixed in $release/patches/

-RW

Operating Systems

+ - Slackware for x86_64!

Submitted by
robw810
robw810 writes "From Slackware.com:

[tap tap tap]... Is this thing on? ;-)

Ready or not, Slackware has now gone 64-bit with an official x86_64 port being maintained in-sync with the regular x86 -current branch. DVDs will be available for purchase from the Slackware store when Slackware 13.0 is released. Many thanks go out to the Slackware team for their help with this branch and a special thank you to Eric Hameleers who did the real heavy lifting re-compiling everything for this architecture, testing, re-testing, and staying in-sync with -current.

We've been developing and testing Slackware64 for quite a while. Most of the team is already using Slackware64 on their personal machines, and things are working well enough that it is time to let the community check our work.

We'd like to thank the unofficial 64 bit projects for taking up the slack for us for so long so that we could take our time getting everything just right. Without those alternatives, we would have been pressured to get things out before they were really ready.

As always — have fun!

Pat and the Slackware crew"

Nothing is more admirable than the fortitude with which millionaires tolerate the disadvantages of their wealth. -- Nero Wolfe

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