Ian Paul Freeley writes: Controversy has erupted after a departmental email from faculty to astrophysics graduate students was leaked. Key tips for success in grad school include, 'However, if you informally canvass the faculty (those people for whose jobs you came here to train), most will tell you that they worked 80-100 hours/week in graduate school. No one told us to work those hours, but we enjoyed what we were doing enough to want to do so...If you find yourself thinking about astronomy and wanting to work on your research most of your waking hours, then academic research may in fact be the best career choice for you.' Blogosphere reaction has ranged from disappointed to concern for the mental health of the students. It also seems that such a culture coupled with the poor job prospects for academics is continuing to drive talent away from the field. This has been recognized as a problem for over 15 years in the Astronomy community, but little seems to have changed. Any tips for those of us looking to instigate culture change and promote healthy work-life balance?
Here are the key details about this week's Slashdot anniversary party in Portland, Oregon:
BridgePort Brewpub / 1313 NW Marshall Street / Portland, OR 97209 / (503) 241-3612 / October 18, 2012 / 8 PM - 10 PM
BridgePort Brewpub is open to all ages. They have a full dinner menu with entrees ranging from about $10 to $20. Vegetarian and vegan options are readily available. Bring ID if you look under the age of 30 and plan to buy beer.
Hugh Pickens writes writes: "The Washington Post reports that a new vehicle could soon be zooming out of James Bond’s garage — or pond — as the Quadski, a one-person all-terrain vehicle that doubles as a personal watercraft, is being billed by its makers as the first high-speed, commercially available amphibious vehicle. Scheduled to go on sale in the U.S. by the end of this year for around $40,000, the four-cylinder, BMW-supplied engine, can drive up to 45 miles per hour on land and do a brisk 45 miles per hour in the water (video). “You just drive straight into the water, quite fast, and keep on going. It’s sort of magic,” says Alan Gibbs, the founder of Gibbs Sports Amphibians. The company is also preparing to introduce the Phibian, a 30-foot long, 6.5-ton model, and the Humdinga, a 22-foot, 3.5-ton model, which are both intended for the military and first responders. The company plans to produce 20 Quadskis per day with 150 employees when the plant is in full operation and expects to sell around 1,000 Quadskis in the first year “We’ll respond to how the market develops,” says Gibbs. “We wouldn’t be doing it without being very confident people will love them.”"
SuperCharlie writes: Effective November 1st, 2012, PayPal is updating its user agreement requiring any disputes between you and PayPal to be settled by binding, "final" arbitration. According to user notifications, you have until December 1st, 2012 to opt out, however, no facilities or links to do so are provided.
b30w0lf writes: It is commonly understood that crystals exist in a state of matter that is periodic in space. Meanwhile, relativistic physics tells us that we should think of time as being a physical dimension, given similar status to the other spacial dimensions. The combination of these two ideas has lead researchers at the University of Kentucky and MIT to propose special manifestations of matter which would be periodic in both space and time, dubbed “time crystals.” Time crystals would continually transition between a set of physical states in a kind of perpetual motion. Note: the articles stress that this kind of perpetual motion in no way violates the established laws of thermodynamics.
While time crystals remain theoretical, methods have been proposed for creating them. The most obvious application of time crystals is the creation of very precise clocks; however, other applications to time crystals have been proposed, ranging from quantum computing to helping us understand certain cosmological models.
scsurfer writes: NetBase (http://www.netbase.com) is providing a real-time analysis of Twitter sentiment towards the US presidential and vice presidential candidates. It should be interesting to watch during the debates on October 16 and 22.
kkleiner writes: "Starting in 1899, a commercial artist named Jean-Marc Côté and other artists were hired to create a series of picture cards to depict how life in France would look in a century’s time. Sadly, they were never actually distributed. However, the only known set of cards to exist was discovered by Isaac Asimov, who wrote a book in 1986 called “Futuredays” in which he presented the illustrations with commentary. What’s amazing about this collection is how close their predictions were in a lot of cases, and how others are close at hand."
An anonymous reader writes: "... inventor has come up with a way to make a bicycle almost entirely out of cardboard — and so inexpensively that he thinks retailers would only need to charge about $20 for one."
An anonymous reader writes: What's the opposite of a silver lining? A hypothesis floating around in the scientific community, and published in PLoS One, argues that our big brain is the reason that humans are so prone to cancer. The huge brains in humans are responsible for humans' long lives, which is why we are able to spend so much time lavishing attention on our children and learning new things. But the downside is that the lack of apoptosis may put humans at risk for tumors, since the destruction of malfunctioning cells would lower the risk of cancer. "Reduced apoptotic function is well known to be associated with cancer onset,"
arun84h writes: A new energy law, which will apply in the European Union, has the power to limit sale of discrete components deemed "energy inefficient". GPU maker AMD is worried this will affect future technology as it becomes available, as well as some current offerings. From TFA:
"According to data NordicHardware has seen from a high level employee at AMD, current graphics cards are unable to meet with these requirements. This includes "GPUs like Cape Verde and Tahiti", that is used in the HD 7700 and HD 7900 series, and can't meet with the new guidelines, the same goes for the older "Caicos" that is used in the HD 6500/6600 and HD 7500/7600 series. Also "Oland" is mentioned, which is a future performance circuit from AMD, that according to rumors will be used in the future HD 8800 series. What worries AMD the most is how this will affect future graphics cards since the changes in Lot 3 will go into effect soon. The changes will of course affect Nvidia as much as it will AMD."
Is this the beginning of the end for high-end GPU sales in the EU?
sciencehabit writes: Science Magazine has crowned the winner of its annual "Dance Your Ph.D." contest. Scientists from around the globe are invited to submit videos of themselves interpreting their graduate thesises in dance form. The results are often hilarious--and highly entertaining--and this year is no exception. This year's winner is Peter Liddicoat, a materials scientist at the University of Sydney in Australia, whose "Evolution of nanostructural architecture in 7000 series aluminium alloys during strengthening by age-hardening and severe plastic deformation" is interpreted as a performance that employs juggling, clowning, and a big dance number—representing the crystal lattices that he studies with atomic microscopy.
sciencehabit writes: Astronomers using NASA's Kepler spacecraft have spotted an alien solar system with five planets whose orbits could all fit inside a region that's just a quarter the size of Mercury's path. The planets are somewhat larger than Earth, and all five make Mercury, the sun's fastest planet, which whirls around our star every 88 days, seem like a laggard. Their years are just 1.0, 3.1, 4.6, 7.1, and 9.5 days long, so they're the perfect place to reside if you like frequent birthday parties—and can stand the heat.
fangmcgee writes: Reno-based First Warning Systems is working on a new bra that could detect if you are developing breast cancer. Integrated sensors and a data controller regularly monitor your breasts and can watch for irregularities which may signal the growth of tumors. Tests so far are showing that the bra is far superior and may be able to detect cancerous growth up to 6 years sooner than self-exams or mammograms.
Esther Schindler writes: "Scott Fulton wrote two in-depth articles about the current state of Agile development, based on research from two computer scientists about what developers really do, rather than what the developers might like to think they do. And, as the newscasters teasers say, the results might surprise you. (Don't worry. Nobody is saying that Agile Sucks. This is more about how it's being used in the real world, and what successful Agile teams have in common.)
First, in “Agile” Often Isn’t, Scott looked at the cultural effects of Agile methodologies on workforces. The researchers made two unanticipated discoveries, he reports: One, companies adopting Agile actually struggle more to cope with the side-effects. Two, development teams that succeed in producing better products and pleasing customers aren’t exactly using Agile after all. For example:
Entitled “Agile Undercover,” the first report from Hoda and her colleagues demonstrated conclusively that Agile development teams were failing to communicate with their customers — not just occasionally, but mainly. And in order to ameliorate the impact of these failures, teams and their companies were making active, intentional efforts to keep customers in the dark about their development practices, including their schedules of deliverables....
“Teams are very keen on pleasing their customers, and it’s hard for them to bring up issues with customer collaboration,” Hoda tells me. So to keep the customer at bay and out of their hair, development teams hire or appoint a customer proxy. An ambassador, if you will. Or, to be more truthful, a sales associate.
The second article, Is Teamwork Dead? A Post-Agile Prognosis, looks more at the dichotomy of "team success." Culturally, when we "win," we tend to give credit to the team ("Gosh, it wasn't just me...") but when a project fails, there's an assumption it's one person's fault, even if we don't look for a scapegoat. Making a team more than a bunch of people in the same room is a special skill, and one that Agile methodologies rely on — remember the part about self-organizing teams? "Though they may not go about this process consciously or intentionally, individual group members employing Agile for the first time, Hoda’s team found, tend to adopt one of six roles," Scott reports, such as mentor, coordinator, and promoter.
See if the research agrees with your Agile experience."
Dupple writes: The IC3 has been made aware of various malware attacking Android operating systems for mobile devices. Some of the latest known versions of this type of malware are Loozfon and FinFisher. Loozfon is an information-stealing piece of malware. Criminals use different variants to lure the victims. One version is a work-at-home opportunity that promises a profitable payday just for sending out email. A link within these advertisements leads to a website that is designed to push Loozfon on the user's device. The malicious application steals contact details from the user’s address book and the infected device's phone number.
The shadow of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is back in Europe. It is disguised as CETA, the Canada-European Union and Trade Agreement.
A comparison of the leaked draft Canada-EU agreement shows the treaty includes a number of the same controversial provisions, specifically concerning criminal enforcement, private enforcement by Internet Service Providers (ISPs), and harsh damages.
coondoggie writes: "This had to be one hell of a ride. The CIA today said it added a pretty cool item to its museum archives — the instruction card for officers being plucked off the ground by a contraption that would allow a person to be snatched off the ground by a flying aircraft without the plane actually landing."
alen writes: "The FCC is now allowing cable companies to encrypt free OTA channels that they also rebroadcast over their networks.
"The days of plugging a TV into the wall and getting cable are coming to an end. After a lengthy review process, the FCC has granted cable operators permission to encrypt their most basic cable programming."
Soon the only way to receive free OTA channels via your cable company will involve renting yet another box or buying something like Boxee"