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Comment Better yet, don't use uTorrent at all. (Score 1) 275

As so many in this thread have mentioned, there's lots of worthy alternatives: qBittorrent, Deluge, Transmission, that are open-source, and are not bundled with malware. I'm not going to use an older version of a program produced by a bunch of sociopathic scumbags pulling this dishonest bullshit. I'm going elsewhere.

Submission + - Earth Gets Another Quasi-Moon 1

The Bad Astronomer writes: Astronomers have found a new asteroid, 2014 OL339, that is a quasi-moon of the Earth. Discovered accidentally earlier this year, the 150-meter asteroid has an orbit that is more elliptical than Earth's, but has a period of almost exactly one year. It isn't bound to Earth like a real moon, but displays apparent motion as if it did, making it one of several known quasi-moons.

Submission + - Astronomers find what may be the closest exoplanet so far

The Bad Astronomer writes: Astronomers have found a 5.4 Earth-mass planet orbiting the star Gliese 15A, a red dwarf in a binary system just 11.7 light years away. Other exoplanets candidates have been found that are closer, but they are as yet unconfirmed. This is more evidence that alien planets are common in the galaxy.

Submission + - New Mars crater spotted in before-and-after pictures

The Bad Astronomer writes: The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spotted a new crater on the surface of Mars, and, using before-and-after pictures, the impact date has been nailed down to less than a day — it happened on or about March 27, 2012. The crater is 50 meters or so in size, and surrounded by smaller craters that may have been caused by smaller impacts due to the incoming meteoroid breaking up. Several landslides were spotted in the area as well, possibly due to the shock wave of the impact.

Submission + - Astronomers determine the length of day of an exoplanet

The Bad Astronomer writes: Astronomers have just announced that the exoplanet Beta Pic b — a 10-Jupiter-mass world 60 light years away -— rotates in about 8 hours. Using a high-resolution spectrometer and exploiting the Doppler shift of light seen as the planet spins, they measured its rotation velocity as 28,000 mph. Making reasonable assumptions about the planet's size, that gives the length of its day. This is the first time such a measurement has been achieved for an exoplanet.

Submission + - Astronomer discovers nearby brown dwarf literally as cold as ice

The Bad Astronomer writes: Using data from the orbiting WISE and Spitzer infrared space telescopes, an astronomer has discovered a brown dwarf that is just 7.2 light years away, making it the seventh closest known interstellar object to the Sun. Not only that, it's cold ; its temperature is likely 240-260 Kelvin, well below the freezing point of water. It's literally as cold as ice.

Submission + - Earth-sized planet discovered in its star's habitable zone

The Bad Astronomer writes: Astronomers have announced the discovery of Kepler-186f, a very nearly Earth-sized planet in its star's habitable zone. The planet is the fifth in a system of five orbiting a red dwarf star 500 light years away, and is located in the region where liquid water could exist on its surface. It's not know if this planet is Earth-like — that is, with water and air and the potential for life — but it's the closest we've yet seen where one could be like our own planet.

Submission + - Object seen in skydiver's helmetcam unlikely to be a meteorite 3

The Bad Astronomer writes: The viral video showing what looked like a meteorite falling past a skydiver made quite a splash, with many people assuming it was true. However, further analysis shows that it's also perfectly consistent with being a small (1-3 cm) rock that fell out of the parachute itself, which is a far more likely explanation.

Comment Re:Ummm, probably not (Score 1) 142

That analysis was done here: (it's not in English, but google translate does a decent job). He makes a distance estimate based on speed, which itself is based on the assumption it's a falling rock at terminal velocity. But the distance, speed, and time it takes to cross the FOV are related, and if you make a stab at speed you can get distance and vice versa.

Comment Re:Ummm, probably not (Score 1) 142

Yes, the apparent speed is the biggest argument against it being something packed in the 'chute, I'd think. If the skydiver were still decelerating hard after the parachute opened, the rock could appear to move rapidly, but even then it appears to come from farther away than the parachute. I'm still looking into this, and will have my own thoughts posted tomorrow on my blog.

Comment Re:Use Class Rank (Score 1) 264

That's the problem with people who think that knowing a subject makes it possible to get every answer correct. Some of the best courses I took had questions on exams that were not possible to answer correctly without access to a supercomputer and a few hundred CPU months, where the instructor was looking for depth of knowledge and technique rather than "the right answer". It makes me wonder if those that advocate for absolute grading have ever had to do anything difficult in their lives. Or ever considered that two exams on exactly the same material could have different difficulties.

It's also not true that scores are proportional to knowledge. An obvious example is the multiple choice, multiple answer test where negative scores are quite possible.

Typically I design upper division exams for an average of 50%. I could easily design for 84% "standard," but it would tell me and my students less, because there would be less distinction at the upper end. It would be more difficult for students to know what they do and don't understand well. Yet you would have me punish my students for making the people with As work a little harder and maybe learn a little more.

Comment GPA isn't the problem, Grades are. (Score 1) 264

The problem is that grades are arbitrary. The instructor defines them, and the universities and the students pressure instructors to give higher grades in lower division courses. Instead of arbitrary grades, assign lower division grades by quintile. Top 20% A, Bottom 20% F. It's enough to maintain student competition, gets rid of the "easy graders". For higher division, drop the lowest grades, with F being giving to a small percentage at the option of the instructor. Mid division would be ABCD quartiles. Upper division ABC. Graduate AB.

If it's possible for a student to get a degree by taking only "easy" courses, that's a problem with the design of the major curriculum.

A right is not what someone gives you; it's what no one can take from you. -- Ramsey Clark