War, earthquakes, and broken washers are all unavoidable events for which a carrier should not be liable if travel is delayed according to Southwest Airlines. Southwest quietly updated their act of God list a few weeks ago to include mechanical problems with the other horrors of an angry travel god. From the article: "Robert Mann, an airline industry analyst based in Port Washington, NY, called it 'surprising' that Southwest, which has a reputation for stellar customer service, would make a change that puts passengers at a legal disadvantage if an aircraft breakdown delays their travel. Keeping a fleet mechanically sound 'is certainly within the control of any airline,' Mann said. 'Putting mechanical issues in the same category as an act of God — I don't think that's what God intended.'"
Garrett Fox writes "University of Cincinnati researchers describe a method of getting photosynthesis from a high-surface-area foam containing enzymes that produce sugar using light and CO2 (abstract). Oddly, the foam itself is derived from a species of frog. More interesting is that the technique doesn't use whole cells or apparently even chloroplasts. The researchers claim 'chemical conversion efficiencies approaching 96%,' as well as tolerance for deliberately high-CO2 environments."
longacre writes "An amateur video of the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger explosion has been made public for the first time. The Florida man who filmed it from his front yard on his new Betamax camcorder turned the tape over to an educational organization a week before he died this past December. The Space Exploration Archive has since published the video into the public domain in time for the 24th anniversary of the catastrophe. Despite being shot from about 70 miles from Cape Canaveral, the shuttle and the explosion can be seen quite clearly. It is unclear why he never shared the footage with NASA or the media. NASA officials say they were not aware of the video, but are interested in examining it now that it has been made available."
An anonymous reader writes "Researchers at the California Academy of Sciences traversed four continents and two oceans to uncover 94 new species in 2009, proving that while sometimes in this digital age the world can feel like a small place, much of it has yet to be explored. Among the 94 discoveries were 65 arthropods, 14 plants, 8 fishes, 5 sea slugs, one coral, and one fossil mammal. Why does it matter? As Dr. David Mindell, Dean of Science and Research Collections at the Academy, explained, 'Humans rely on healthy ecosystems, made up of organisms and their environments. Creating a comprehensive inventory of life on our planet is critical for understanding and managing resources. Yet a great many life-forms remain to be discovered and described.'"
drewtheman writes "New studies of the plumbing that feeds the Yellowstone supervolcano in Wyoming's Yellowstone National Park shows the plume and the magma chamber under the volcano are larger than first thought and contradicts claims that only shallow hot rock exists. University of Utah research professor of geophysics Robert Smith led four separate studies that verify a plume of hot and molten rock at least 410 miles deep that rises at an angle from the northwest."
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Coryoth writes "While California is suffering from critical shortage of mathematics and science teachers, Kentucky is considering two bills that would give explicit financial incentives to math and science students and teachers. The first bill would provide cash incentives to schools to run AP math and science classes, and cash scholarships to students who did well on AP math and science exams. The second bill provides salary bumps for any teachers with degrees in math or science, or who score well in teacher-certification tests in math, chemistry and physics. Is such differentiated pay the right way to attract science graduates who can make much more in industry, or is it simply going to breed discontent among teachers?"
An anonymous reader writes "The RIAA is once again revising their lawsuit strategy, and will now be sending college students and others "pre-lawsuit letters." People will now be able to settle for a discount. How nice."
acroyear writes "A court in Belgium has found that Google's website caching policies are a violation of that nation's copyright laws. The finding is that Google's cache offers effectively free access to articles that, while free initially, are archived and charged for via subscriptions. Google claims that they only store short extracts, but the court determined that's still a violation. From the court's ruling: 'It would be up to copyright owners to get in touch with Google by e-mail to complain if the site was posting content that belonged to them. Google would then have 24 hours to withdraw the content or face a daily fine of 1,000 euros ($1,295 U.S.).'"
An anonymous reader writes "The Chosonilbo reports that several government ministries in South Korea are advising users not to install Windows Vista, at least until popular online services can be made compatible. The problem is that ActiveX is pervasive in the Korean webspace, employed by everyone from web games to online banking. Upgrading to Vista is expected to render many of these services unusable. Portions of the popular "Hangul" word processor, a major competitor to Office in that country, are also not functioning under Vista. The Ministry of Information is planning to publish compatibility information for popular websites, and urging users to carefully research the implications of upgrading."
doom writes "I think they call them "exit polls" because people bolt for the exits when you mention them, but I'm still fascinated by the subject myself, and this book is one of the reasons why. In Was the 2004 Presidential Election Stolen?, the central focus is, of course, on the infamous exit-poll discrepancies of the 2004 US Presidential election; but the authors also put it into context: they discuss the 2000 election, the irregularities in Ohio in 2004, the electronic voting machines issues, and the media's strange reluctance to report on any of these problems. Further, in the chapter "How did America really vote?", they compare the indications of the raw exit-poll data to other available polling data. Throughout, Freeman and Bleifuss do an excellent job of presenting arguments based on statistical analysis in a clear, concise way." Read the rest of doom's review
At a dinner honoring those who stand up for freedom of speech, former House speaker Newt Gingrich issued his opinion that the idea of free speech in the U.S. needs to be re-examined in the interest of fighting terrorism. Gingrich said a "different set of rules" may be needed to reduce terrorists' ability to use the Internet and free speech to recruit and get out their message. The article has few details of what Gingrich actually said beyond the summary above, and no analysis pointing out how utterly clueless the suggestion is given the Internet's nature and trans-national reach.
Robotech_Master writes, "Long-time Slashdot veterans will remember Jon Katz, the editorial writer whose Slashdot articles invariably generated heated controversy. It appears he may have the last laugh; how many of the Slashdot posters who ridiculed him went on to be played by Jeff Bridges in a movie? From the article: 'In his new book, "A Good Dog: The Story of Orson," Katz chronicles the life and death of the lovable but troubled border collie that transformed his life. It continues the story begun in Katz's last book, "A Dog Year," now being made into a movie starring Jeff Bridges as Katz.' Katz critics may get a chuckle out of the plot synopsis for the film: 'A man having a mid-life crisis has his life turned upside down when he takes in a border collie crazier than he is.'" The film should be released in late 2007.