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Mathematicians Study Effects of Gerrymandering On 2012 Election290

Posted by samzenpus
from the fix-is-in dept.
HughPickens.com writes Gerrymandering is the practice of establishing a political advantage for a particular party by manipulating district boundaries to concentrate all your opponents' votes in a few districts while keeping your party's supporters as a majority in the remaining districts. For example, in North Carolina in 2012 Republicans ended up winning nine out of 13 congressional seats even though more North Carolinians voted for Democrats than Republicans statewide. Now Jessica Jones reports that researchers at Duke are studying the mathematical explanation for the discrepancy. Mathematicians Jonathan Mattingly and Christy Vaughn created a series of district maps using the same vote totals from 2012, but with different borders. Their work was governed by two principles of redistricting: a federal rule requires each district have roughly the same population and a state rule requires congressional districts to be compact. Using those principles as a guide, they created a mathematical algorithm to randomly redraw the boundaries of the state's 13 congressional districts. "We just used the actual vote counts from 2012 and just retabulated them under the different districtings," says Vaughn. "If someone voted for a particular candidate in the 2012 election and one of our redrawn maps assigned where they live to a new congressional district, we assumed that they would still vote for the same political party."

The results were startling. After re-running the election 100 times with a randomly drawn nonpartisan map each time, the average simulated election result was 7 or 8 U.S. House seats for the Democrats and 5 or 6 for Republicans. The maximum number of Republican seats that emerged from any of the simulations was eight. The actual outcome of the election — four Democratic representatives and nine Republicans – did not occur in any of the simulations. "If we really want our elections to reflect the will of the people, then I think we have to put in safeguards to protect our democracy so redistrictings don't end up so biased that they essentially fix the elections before they get started," says Mattingly. But North Carolina State Senator Bob Rucho is unimpressed. "I'm saying these maps aren't gerrymandered," says Rucho. "It was a matter of what the candidates actually was able to tell the voters and if the voters agreed with them. Why would you call that uncompetitive?"

Ubisoft Apologizes For Assassin's Creed137

Posted by samzenpus
from the mea-culpa dept.
BarbaraHudson writes in with the latest in the Assassin's Creed Unity debacle. This time it's good news. "As an acknowledgment of the botched launch of Assassin's Creed Unity, Ubisoft has offered free additional content to everyone who purchased the title, cancelled the game's season pass and offered a free game to users who purchased the pass. The anticipation for Assassin's Creed Unity was such that the myriad of bugs and technical issues experienced at launch felt like an even greater slap in the face for gamers. In a blog posted yesterday, Yannis Mallat, CEO of Ubisoft Montreal & Toronto said: 'Unfortunately, at launch, the overall quality of the game was diminished by bugs and unexpected technical issues. I want to sincerely apologize on behalf of Ubisoft and the entire Assassin's Creed team. These problems took away from your enjoyment of the game, and kept many of you from experiencing the game at its fullest potential.'"

Renewables Are Now Scotland's Biggest Energy Source173

Posted by samzenpus
from the going-green dept.
AmiMoJo writes Government figures revealed that Scotland is now generating more power from "clean" technologies than nuclear, coal and gas. The combination of wind, solar and hydroelectric, along with less-publicized sources such as landfill gas and biomass, produced 10.3TWh in the first half of 2014. Over the same period, Scotland generated 7.8TWh from nuclear, 5.6TWh from coal and 1.4TWh from gas, according to figures supplied by National Grid. Renewable sources tend to fluctuate throughout the year, especially in Scotland where the weather is notoriously volatile, but in six-month chunks the country has consistently increased its renewable output.

Researchers Discover an "Off Switch" For Pain In the Brain72

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-didn't-feel-that dept.
concertina226 writes Scientists working together from several international universities have discovered that it is possible to block a pathway in the brain of animals suffering from neuropathic pain, which could have a huge impact on improving pain relief in humans. So far, the most successful ways to treat chronic pain from a pharmacological point of view are to create drugs that that interact or interfere with various channels in the brain to decrease pain, including adrenergic, opioid and calcium receptors. However, there is another way – a chemical stimulator called adenosine that binds to brain receptors to trigger a biological response. Adenosine has shown potential for killing pain in humans, but so far, no one has managed to harness this pain pathway successfully without causing a myriad of side effects. Led by Dr Daniela Salvemini of SLU, the researchers discovered that by activating the A3 adenosine receptor in the rodents' brains and spinal cords, the receptor was able to prevent or reverse pain from nerve damage (the cause of chronic pain).

Ask Slashdot: Best Drone For \$100-\$150?104

Posted by samzenpus
from the eye-in-the-sky dept.
andyring writes With Christmas fast approaching, and me being notoriously hard to buy for, I thought a camera drone would be great to suggest for Christmas. But the options are dizzying, and it's nearly impossible to find something and know it'll be decent. What are Slashdotters suggestions/recommendations/experiences with a basic camera drone in the \$100-150 range? Looks like all of them do video but I'm more interested in high-res stills although that may be a moot point.

Scientists Develop "Paint" To Help Cool the Planet134

Posted by samzenpus
from the it's-getting-hot-in-here dept.
AaronW writes Engineers at Stanford University have developed an ultrathin, multilayered, nanophotonic material that not only reflects heat away from buildings but also directs internal heat away using a system called "photonic radiative cooling." The coating is capable of reflecting away 97% of incoming sunlight and when combined with the photonic radiative cooling system it becomes cooler than the surrounding air by around 9F (5C). The material is designed to radiate heat into space at a precise frequency that allows it to pass through the atmosphere without warming it.

Google Should Be Broken Up, Say European MPs212

Posted by samzenpus
from the breaking-things-up dept.
An anonymous reader is one of many to send word that the European Parliament has voted 384 to 174 in favor of unbundling search engines from other commercial services in order to ensure competition. "The European Parliament has voted in favor of breaking Google up, as a solution to complaints that it favors is own services in search results. Politicians have no power to enforce a break-up, but the landmark vote sends a clear message to European regulators to get tough on the net giant. US politicians and trade bodies have voiced their dismay at the vote. The ultimate decision will rest with EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager. She has inherited the anti-competitive case lodged by Google's rivals in 2010. Google has around 90% market share for search in Europe. The Commission has never before ordered the break-up of any company, and many believe it is unlikely to do so now. But politicians are desperate to find a solution to the long-running anti-competitive dispute with Google."

+ - Google should be broken up, say European MPs

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "The European Parliament has voted in favour of breaking Google up, as a solution to complaints that it favours is own services in search results. Politicians have no power to enforce a break-up, but the landmark vote sends a clear message to European regulators to get tough on the net giant. US politicians and trade bodies have voiced their dismay at the vote. The ultimate decision will rest with EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager. She has inherited the anti-competitive case lodged by Google's rivals in 2010. Google has around 90% market share for search in Europe. The Commission has never before ordered the break-up of any company, and many believe it is unlikely to do so now. But politicians are desperate to find a solution to the long-running anti-competitive dispute with Google."

Posted by samzenpus
from the here-they-are dept.
A few days ago you had a chance to ask the people at Hampton Creek about about their products and the science of food. Below you'll find the answers to your questions from a number of Hampton Creek employees.

Wikipedia's "Complicated" Relationship With Net Neutrality126

Posted by samzenpus
from the playing-favorites dept.
HughPickens.com writes Brian Fung writes in the Washington Post that Wikipedia has been a little hesitant to weigh in on net neutrality, the idea that all Web traffic should be treated equally by Internet service providers such as Comcast or Time Warner Cable. That's because the folks behind Wikipedia actually see a non-neutral Internet as one way to spread information cheaply to users in developing countries. With Wikipedia Zero, users in places like Pakistan and Malaysia can browse the site without it counting against the data caps on their cellphones or tablets. This preferential treatment for Wikipedia's site helps those who can't afford to pay for pricey data — but it sets the precedent for deals that cut against the net neutrality principle. "We believe in net neutrality in America," says Gayle Karen Young, adding that Wikipedia Zero requires a different perspective elsewhere. "Partnering with telecom companies in the near term, it blurs the net neutrality line in those areas. It fulfills our overall mission, though, which is providing free knowledge."

Facebook and Google also operate programs internationally that are exempted from users' data caps — a tactic known somewhat cryptically as "zero rating". Facebook in particular has made "Facebook Zero" not just a sales pitch in developing markets but also part of an Internet.org initiative to expand access "to the two thirds of the world's population that doesn't have it." But a surprising decision in Chile shows what happens when policies of neutrality are applied without nuance. Chile recently put an end to the practice, widespread in developing countries, of big companies "zero-rating" access to their services. "That might seem perverse," says Glyn Moody, "since it means that Chilean mobile users must now pay to access those services, but it is nonetheless exactly what governments that have mandated net neutrality need to do."

Australia Elaborates On a New Drift Model To Find MH370142

Posted by samzenpus
from the still-looking dept.
hcs_\$reboot writes Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared on Saturday, 8 March 2014, while flying from Malaysia to Beijing with 239 people on board. And 8 months later, after millions of dollars invested in a gigantic search operation, there is still no sign of the aircraft. Now, Australia is developing a new model to predict where the debris of the missing MH370 could wash up. Authorities had initially predicted that the plane's wreckage could drift and come ashore on Indonesia's West Sumatra island after about 4 months of Flight MH370's disappearance. "We are currently working... to see if we can get an updated drift model for a much wider area where there might be possibilities of debris washing ashore," search co-ordinator Peter Foley told reporters in Perth.

UK Announces Hybrid Work/Study Undergraduate Program To Fill Digital Gap106

Posted by samzenpus
from the get-a-job dept.
An anonymous reader writes The UK's Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey today revealed a new scheme where undergraduates will be able to avoid student fees and student loans by working for companies for three years whilst simultaneously undertaking academic studies with participating universities, resulting in a degree at the end of their successful involvement in the scheme. The British government will fund two-thirds of the cost of tuition and the host employer the remainder. The "Digital Apprenticeship" scheme will remunerate students at an unspecified level of pay, and though details are currently sketchy, is reported to obviate the need for student loans. The initiative is targeting the skills gap in the digital sector, particularly in the field of web-development and technical analysis.

BT Blocking Private Torrent Sites?77

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-site-for-you dept.
An anonymous reader writes This weekend both BT and Sky implemented the new changes, making it harder for their subscribers to reach these sites. Interestingly, however, BT appears to have gone above and beyond the court order, limiting access to various other sites as well. Over the past several days TorrentFreak has received reports from several users of private torrent sites who get an 'error blocked' message instead of their favorite sites. These include the popular IPTorrents.com and TorrentDay.com trackers, as well as scene release site Scnsrc.me. IPTorrents and Torrentday are significant targets. Although both sites require prospective users to obtain an invite from a current member (or from the site itself in exchange for cash), they have over a hundred thousand active users. The error displayed when BT subscribers try to access the above URLs is similar to that returned when users to try access sites covered by High Court injunctions.

Consortium Roadmap Shows 100TB Hard Drives Possible By 2025195

Posted by samzenpus
from the in-the-future dept.
Lucas123 writes An industry consortium made up by leading hard disk drive manufacturers shows they expect the areal density of platters to reach 10 terabits per square inch by 2025, which is more than 10 times what it is today. At that density, hard disk drives could conceivably hold up to 100TB of data. Key to achieving greater bit density is Heat-Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR) and Bit Patterned Media Recording (BPMR). While both HAMR and BPMR will increase density, the combination of both technologies in 2021 will drive it to the 10Tbpsi level, according to the Advanced Storage Technology Consortium (ASTC).