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Submission Summary: 0 pending, 6 declined, 108 accepted (114 total, 94.74% accepted)

+ - Interview: Ask Linus Torvalds a Question

samzenpus writes: Linus Torvalds, the man behind the development of the Linux kernel, needs no introduction to Slashdot readers. Recently, we talked about his opinion on C++, and he talked about the future of Linux when he's gone. It's been a while since we sat down with Linus to ask him questions, so he's agreed to do it again and answer any you may have. Ask as many questions as you'd like, but please keep them to one per post.

+ - Apple's "Spring Forward" Event Debuts Apple Watch and More

samzenpus writes: There was a lot of news at Apple's Spring Forward keynote today. Here's a list of some of the most eye-catching announcements.
  • HBO Now standalone streaming service coming to Apple TV and iOS apps in early April for $14.99 a month.
  • Lowered price of Apple TV to $69.
  • Apple Pay accepted at up to 100,000 Coca-Cola machines by the end of the year.
  • ResearchKit Announced: Is open source and allows medical researchers to create apps, and use the iPhone as a diagnostic tool.
  • New MacBook: Lightest ever at 2 pounds, 13.1mm at its thickest point. 2304x1440 display, consumes 30% less energy. Fanless, powered with Intel's Core M processor. 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0. and 9 hours of web browsing battery life. Supports many protocols through one connector USB-C. Ships April 10, starting at $1,299.
  • iOS 8.2 is available today
  • Apple Watch: Accurate within 50ms of UTC. Read and delete email, built-in speaker and mic so you can receive calls. It tracks your movement and exercise. Use Apple Pay, play your music, use Siri and get any notification you get on iPhone today. 18 hour battery life in a typical day. Sport model starting at $349, stainless steel price: $549-$1049 for 38mm, 42mm is $599-$1099, and gold edition starting at $10k. Pre-orders begin April 10th, available April 24th.

+ - Interviews: Alexander Stepanov and Daniel E. Rose Answer Your Questions

samzenpus writes: Alexander Stepanov is an award winning programmer who designed the C++ Standard Template Library. Daniel E. Roseis is a programmer, research scientist, and is the Chief Scientist for Search at A9.com. In addition to working together, the duo have recently written a new book titled, From Mathematics to Generic Programming. Earlier this month you had a chance to ask the pair about their book, their work, or programming in general. Below you'll find the answers to those questions.

+ - Interviews: Ask Jonty Hurwitz About Art, Engineering, and Math

samzenpus writes: Jonty Hurwitz is an artist with a degree in engineering who says, "each one of his pieces is a study on the physics of how we perceive space and is the stroke of over 1 billion calculations and algorithms." Recently, his nano sculpture project drew a lot of attention. With help from the Weizmann Institute of Science and using a 3D printing technique by the Institute of Microstructure Technology at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Hurwitz created a number of sculptures that were so small they could fit in the eye of a needle, or on a human hair. Jonty has agreed to answer any questions you have big or very small. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post.

+ - Interviews: Ask the Hampton Creek Team about the future and science of food

samzenpus writes: Hampton Creek is a food technology company that makes food healthier by utilizing a specially made egg substitute in food products. The company was selected by Bill Gates to be featured on his website in a story called, The Future of Food, and has raised $30 million in funding. Hampton Creek's latest product is called, Just Cookies, which is an eggless chocolate chip cookie dough, but it is their eggless mayo that has been in the news lately. Unilever, which manufactures Hellmann's and Best Foods mayonnaise, is suing Hampton Creek claiming that the name Just Mayo is misleading to consumers. Named one of Entrepreneur Magazine’s 100 Brilliant Companies and one of CNBC’s Top 50 Disruptors, Hampton Creek has picked up some impressive talent including the former lead data scientist at Google Maps, Dan Zigmond. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, Dan and the Hampton Creek team have agreed to answer any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post.

+ - Interviews: Ask Adora Svitak About Education and Women In STEM and Politics

samzenpus writes: Adora Svitak is a child prodigy, author and activist. She taught her first class on writing at a local elementary school when she was 7, the same year her book, Flying Fingers was published. In 2010, Adora spoke at the TED Conference. Her speech, "What Adults Can Learn from Kids", has been viewed over 3.7 million times and has been translated into over 40 different languages. She is an advocate for literacy, youth empowerment, and for the inclusion of more women and girls in STEM and politics. 17 this year, she served as a Youth Advisor to the USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, DC. and is a freshman at UC Berkeley. Adora has agreed to take some time from her books and answer any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post.

+ - Interviews: Ask Rachel Sussman About Photography and The oldest living things

samzenpus writes: Rachel Sussman is a photographer whose work covers the junction of art, science, and philosophy. Perhaps her most famous work is the "Oldest Living Things in the World" project. Working with biologists, she traveled all over the world to find and photograph organisms that are 2,000 years old and older. Sussman gave a TED talk highlighting parts of the project including a clonal colony of quaking aspen 80,000-years-old and 2,000-year-old brain coral off Tobago's coast. Rachel has agreed to put down her camera and answer any questions you may have about photography or any of her projects. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post.

+ - Interview: Ask Executive Director Andrew Lewman About Tor and Privacy

samzenpus writes: Andrew Lewman wears many hats: biologist, domestic violence advocate, programmer, Executive Director of the Tor project and a member of the board of directors. He works to preserve the right to speak and read freely online by fighting laws and technology that threaten anonymity. Just how hard that has become is much clearer now that the NSA's interest in Tor has become public. Andrew has agreed to give us some of his time and answer any questions you might have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post.

+ - "Car Talk" co-host Tom Magliozzi dies at age 77

samzenpus writes: Many outlets are reporting the death of Tom Magliozzi, co-host of the long-running weekly National Public Radio show Car Talk . Tom and his brother Ray ran a repair shop in the '70s and in 1987 landed their radio gig. They were known as "Click and Clack the Tappet Brothers." The show stopped recording two years ago and is currently airing old episodes. Tom died of complications from Alzheimer's at age 77.

+ - Interviews: Ask Robert Ballard about Ocean Exploration

samzenpus writes: A former Navy officer and a professor of oceanography at the University of Rhode Island, Robert Ballard is one of the most famous ocean explorers in the world. He is best known for his discoveries of hydrothermal vents, the Titanic, and the German battleship the Bismarck. Ballard is the “Explorer-in-Residence” for the National Geographic Society. He works extensively on exploration through telepresence capabilities and distance learning programs including the JASON Project, which reaches more than 1 million students. His latest work involves the Ocean Exploration Trust, the organization that manages his exploration ship the E/V Nautilus. The ship carries with it two ROVs named Hercules and Argus that explore the seafloor in real-time online. Dr. Ballard has just concluded the 2014 season and has agreed to answer your questions. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post.

+ - Interviews: Ask Warren Ellis a Question

samzenpus writes: Warren Ellis is an acclaimed British author of comics, novels, and television who is well known for his sociocultural commentary. The movies Red, and Iron Man 3 are based on his graphic novels. In addition to numerous other comic titles he started a personal favorite, Transmetropolitan. Ellis has written for Vice, Wired UK and Reuters on technological and cultural matters, and is co-writing a video project called Wastelanders with Joss Whedon. Warren has agreed to give us some of his time to answer any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post.

+ - Why My LG Optimus Cellphone Is Worse Than It's Supposed To be

samzenpus writes: Bennett Haselton writes My LG Optimus F3Q was the lowest-end phone in the T-Mobile store, but a cheap phone is supposed to suck in specific ways that make you want to upgrade to a better model. This one is plagued with software bugs that have nothing to do with the cheap hardware, and thus lower one's confidence in the whole product line. Similar to the suckiness of the Stratosphere and Stratosphere 2 that I was subjected to before this one, the phone's shortcomings actually raise more interesting questions — about why the free-market system rewards companies for pulling off miracles at the hardware level, but not for fixing software bugs that should be easy to catch. Read below to see what Bennett has to say.

+ - Ask Dr. Andy Chun About Artificial Intelligence

samzenpus writes: Dr. Andy Chun is the CIO for City University of Hong Kong, and is instrumental in transforming the University to be one of the most technology-progressive in this region. He serves as an advisor on many government boards including the Digital 21 Strategy Advisory Committee, an advisory group on information technology matters in Hong Kong. His research work on the use of Artificial Intelligence has been honored with numerous awards, and his AI system keeps the subway in Hong Kong running and repaired with an amazing 99.9% uptime. Dr. Chun has agreed to give us some of his time in order to answer your questions. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.

+ - FCC Public Comment Period For Net Neutrality Ends Tomorrow, July 15

samzenpus writes: The deadline for the FCC’s public comment period on their proposed net neutrality rule is coming up fast. The deadline to let the FCC know what you think is tomorrow, July 15. A total of 647,000 comments have already been sent. Google, Facebook, Netflix, Amazon and other tech companies are making a final push for net neutrality saying that the FCC decision, "shifts the balance from the consumers' freedom of choice to the broadband Internet access providers' gatekeeping decisions." The Consumerist has a guide to help you through the comment process, so make sure your voice is heard.

+ - Interview: Edward Stone talks about JPL and space exploration

samzenpus writes: We recently had a chance to sit down with Former Director of JPL, Edward Stone, and ask him about his time as a project scientist for the Voyager program and the future of space exploration. In addition to our questions, we asked him a number of yours. Read below to see what professor Stone had to say. Samzenpus: I'm sure you had great hopes for Voyager but did you or others working on the program dream that it would be so successful or travel so far?

Stone: Well, Voyager One is in interstellar space today. The date that we're using as the time when it left the solar bubble was August 25, 2012. Voyager 2 is coming along behind; and we don't know exactly when [it will enter interstellar space] because it's going through a somewhat different location from what Voyager 1 did. So it may be several more years, it really could be sooner, or it could be later. We had hopes, of course that we would reach interstellar space, but none of us knew how big the bubble is or was and none of us knew that the spacecraft could survive for so many decades that it took to get there. But we had hoped and we had planned for this day.

Samzepus: How would you structure the space program now to support long-term goals of interstellar flights like this? Do you think this is as important as studying things closer to home?

Stone: Well, I think there are clearly a number of important frontiers still to be explored in the solar system. The ones, which are easiest to talk about, are those which involve liquid water because here on Earth wherever there is liquid water, there is microbial life. We know that there's liquid water underneath the icy crust of Europa. We know there is liquid water under the icy crust of Enceladus, a moon of Saturn. We know that the atmosphere of Titan doesn't have liquid water but it has a chemical constituency similar to what was here on Earth before life evolved. So there are really key places in the solar system. Mars, we know, had water at one time. The only question is there still water somewhere on the planet or how deep is it? And is there any evidence of past life? if we could find the liquid water then we would want to know is there any evidence of extant life.

Samzenpus: Speaking of Europa, there's been all sorts of numbers thrown about with the proposed Europa mission. Do you think that mission will actually happen in my lifetime?

Stone: I certainly hope that there will be another mission to Europa which can fly by perhaps a number of times rather than going into orbit, which is flying by and then zipping out to get out of the radiation environment and then dive back in so that one can look at Europa. As you know, the Hubble space telescope has shown evidence that there are actually plumes in the South Polar Region of Europa, which is not really a surprise. It's just that they had never been seen before.

by symbolset

If Dawn finds Ceres as water rich as we expect, do you think that will kick off an asteroid mining gold rush?

Stone: Yeah, I don't know that, but I think the mining aspects are probably longer off. What I think it will do is further increase interest and understanding of these bodies, which are out there. And obviously, in the long run, protecting the Earth from them. So I think that there is still a lot that still can be done about asteroids. We're just beginning to explore them.

Samzenpus: Do you think we'll see a Uranus or Neptune orbiter?

Stone: Well, I hope so, but that's certainly not in the next couple of decades because we know there's Mars and then there's Europa. Titan is a very, as I say, a very important opportunity, and Enceladus is something people are talking about. I think they will tend to take priority if one can develop a mission that looks feasible.

by icer1024

During each era of space exploration, going back to the mid-1970's, a manned mission to Mars has been "just 20 years away". At many points over the past 40 years, a variety of factors have converged ensure that a manned Mars mission remained just over the horizon. Even this past month, in NASA Chief Bolden's recent statements, Mars continues to be "just 20 years away", citing a need to stop at an Asteroid on the path to Mars", and budget constraints as reasons that a manned Mars mission remains an unrealized dream. Given Dr. Robert Zubrin's Mars Direct reference mission, and his more recent "transorbital railroad" concept combined with private industry, a manned Mars mission appears to be technically & economically viable — at least more so than at any point in the past 40 years. What's your assessment of Dr. Zubrin's Mars "ecosystem", as it pertains to a manned Mars mission during this 20-year time horizon?

Stone: Well, Mars, I think, is actually is being explored. It's a whole planet. You know, there's as much solid surface area on Mars as there is on Earth. And you can't imagine landing one place on the Earth and claiming to understand Earth as a planet. Once you leave Earth's orbit, it's whole different engineering problem and life is a different problem [out there] than it is in Earth orbit. The moon is in Earth orbit. When you're in Earth orbit, you can get help and you can get home. When you're in the solar orbit, you can't get any help and you can't get home. So, it's a much more challenging activity. And that's the reason it's going to take some time before that's realized. But it's taking the steps to learn how to do it that is important.

Role of human spaceflight
by thor4217

As a national leader in robotic exploration of the solar system, what do you think is the role of human spaceflight in the future? Should NASA be developing a human mission to the Moon, Mars, Europa, and beyond? How should the NASA balance the needs of good science and cost/safety issues versus the romance of human exploration?

Stone: Well, I think the two programs really drive themselves and of course, they drive each other. I think the robotic program clearly has momentum and partly, that's because in the case of Mars, it's there as a precursor to future human space flight. But, it's obviously not an immediate issue. Human space flight is still some decades off before there is a Mars mission. And exactly what the nature of leaving Earth orbit is, is something which will evolve as we learn more about the challenges of building systems to operate for long durations in space and support life, and also the effects of space on humans. I mean, there are really five frontiers of space. There is the physical frontier that's going somewhere, sending something somewhere where nothing has been before. There's the knowledge frontier that's understanding what's out there. There is the technology frontier that is developing the systems you need to do things in space. There's the applications frontier that is using space to better life here on Earth. And then there's the human frontier, which is effective and efficient functioning of humans in the space environment. And that's another huge frontier, which we are just really still beginning to explore. I think there is more we need to learn. We are learning things and there is more that we need to learn in terms of the engineering aspects, that is the technology frontier. It's challenging to leave Earth orbit.

Samzenpus: In your time at JPL, what would you say was the program you're most proud of?

Stone: I think the thing during the 90's was launching Cassini, another large flagship mission, which is doing a great job of exploring Saturn, Saturn's rings, and Titan. But at the same time, we developed the program, which allowed us to get back to Mars every two years rather than every 20 years. And that really has opened up not only Mars, but it's opened up asteroid missions and other missions, which can be done on a smaller scale and done more often.

Samzenpus: What project turned out to be the most difficult for you?

Stone: From a project point of view?

Samzenpus: Yeah.

Stone: Well, it's clear that Voyager has been the most important project and also in many ways, the most challenging because it was the first automated spacecraft that could fly itself and integrate the whole set of instruments we had. It was a challenge to do that in five years. Fortunately, I was just part of a big team that did it and we've been lucky to have both spacecrafts still operational almost 37 years since launch now.

Samzenpus: What do you see as the most promising tech on the horizon and how do you prioritize which breakthroughs are the most promising?

Stone: These frontiers I mentioned are immense. There's not just one thing in each of those frontiers. There are many things. The challenge we have is deciding which ones to do because we can't do everything. We can't even do a little bit of everything. We can just do some things. And the challenge is designing a set of things to do, which step by step we learn how we expand those frontiers and we learn how to do things in space. There are decadal surveys done by the scientific community, which are informed by the state of technology development or the possibility of technology development. They develop a set of recommendations for what to do in planetary science, what to do in astronomy, what to do in Earth sciences, and what to do in heliospheric sciences. Those are four decadal surveys that the community does every 10 years to try to update for the new technology, update for the new knowledge and lay out a plan for the coming decade. And that's the way it's done in the science area.

Next mission?
by thor4217

If you could choose one robotic exploration mission that is not currently in the works, what would it be and why?

Stone: Well, there are many missions, which NASA's trying to do but in the Planetary program, I think the next major mission will be a rover on Mars which will start caching, that is collecting samples and securing them for eventual return. Because ultimately, one does want to return samples from Mars to be able to apply the full technology of Earth-based laboratories to analyzing them.

Samzenpus: Lastly, there's been a lot of political issues with the international space station recently. Do you think we should plan to have our own space station eventually or do you think the politics will work themselves out?

Stone: Well, I'm not really that close to it, but I think we already have a space station; it's a major investment that the world has made. The human frontier really is an important frontier as I have mentioned, and the space station can do a lot with helping understand the effects of space on the human system, if there are any sorts of protocols, which can compensate or counteract those effects. Obviously, there are certain fundamental physics things that can be done in space that you can't easily do when you're on the surface of the Earth. There may well be some observations, which can benefit from being on the station having to do with Astronomy for instance, or high-energy particles.

Hacking's just another word for nothing left to kludge.