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Space

Big Dipper "Star" Actually a Sextuplet System 88

Theosis sends word that an astronomer at the University of Rochester and his colleagues have made the surprise discovery that Alcor, one of the brightest stars in the Big Dipper, is actually two stars; and it is apparently gravitationally bound to the four-star Mizar system, making the whole group a sextuplet. This would make the Mizar-Alcor sextuplet the second-nearest such system known. The discovery is especially surprising because Alcor is one of the most studied stars in the sky. The Mizar-Alcor system has been involved in many "firsts" in the history of astronomy: "Benedetto Castelli, Galileo's protege and collaborator, first observed with a telescope that Mizar was not a single star in 1617, and Galileo observed it a week after hearing about this from Castelli, and noted it in his notebooks... Those two stars, called Mizar A and Mizar B, together with Alcor, in 1857 became the first binary stars ever photographed through a telescope. In 1890, Mizar A was discovered to itself be a binary, being the first binary to be discovered using spectroscopy. In 1908, spectroscopy revealed that Mizar B was also a pair of stars, making the group the first-known quintuple star system."
Google

Building Left 4 Dead Maps With Google Sketchup 44

notthatwillsmith writes "If you're a fan of Left 4 Dead and you've ever wanted to build a zombie-filled map of your hometown, office or grocery store, Maximum PC just posted a how-to that shows you how to convert photos of real-world locations into ready-to-play L4D 1 or 2 maps. It's everything you need to know in order to kill zombies with your friends — in the comfort of your own backyard."

Comment Re:he said (Score 3, Insightful) 103

i know that i matter. that you believe you don't matter is your own intellectual failure, not mine, and your resignation to your self-imposed helplessness is a resignation that only affects your sorry ass, and has no bearing on my rights and abilities as a free man of a liberal western democracy, which i fully comprehend, appreciate, enjoy, and practice. if my society fails into fascism, it will be no fault of mine, but by the unfortunate proliferation of weak spineless pessimistic fools like yourself who have already given up before any battle has even been fought

I would offer a correction. -You- don't matter. Your friends, connections, and the relationships you have built matters quite a lot. The article demonstrates that rather well - a lot of attention was generated very quickly. Never fight alone. More of the world is with you than you think.

Comment By Guaranteeing their pay (Score 1) 1698

The reason that deciding who gets healthcare on the basis of ability to pay is that what when demand for medical services goes up, the best way to get more providers of medical services is to increase what they get paid. Under this law, how will they increase the number of medical providers?

Nothing about public insurance prevents private operators - we don't want Canada's system after all - but there are real economic benefits to cutting people who do nothing but run interference against our own productivity out of the economy. Basic math: A rescission worker uses her own labor to interfere with the labor of both the doctor and the patient. Even ignoring the loss of efficiency due to ill laborers, and even assuming the doctor is not spending any time on hold (ha!), every unit of work you pay the person authorizing care interferes with a minimum of two people, for effectively no gain.

This ignores the moral problems involved in paying companies to deny care - denying a straight A surgical student preventative care for cancer, for example (a friend of mine). That only makes sense if you intend to restrict care to society.

Plenty of money available for health providers after we slaughter the hogs in the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. There could easily be a 15% gain in efficiency and a 15% gain in efficiency turns America into a net exporter again.

Transportation

Gigantic Air Gun To Blast Cargo Into Orbit 384

Hugh Pickens writes: "The New Scientist reports that with a hat tip to Jules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon , physicist John Hunter has outlined the design of a gigantic gun that could slash the cost of putting cargo into orbit. At the Space Investment Summit in Boston last week, Hunter described the design for a 1.1-kilometer-long gun that he says could launch 450-kilogram payloads at 6 kilometers per second. A small rocket engine would then boost the projectile into low-Earth orbit. The gun would cost $500 million to build, says Hunter, but individual launch costs would be lower than current methods. 'We think it's at least a factor of 10 cheaper than anything else,' Hunter says. The gun is based on the SHARP (Super High Altitude Research Project) light gas gun Hunter helped to build in the 1990s while at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in California. With a barrel 47 meters long, it used compressed hydrogen gas to fire projectiles weighing a few kilograms at speeds of up to 3 kilometers per second."
Programming

Ted Dziuba Says, "I Don't Code In My Free Time" 619

theodp writes "When he gets some free time away from his gigs at startup Milo and The Register, you won't catch Ted Dziuba doing any recreational programming. And he wouldn't want to work for a company that doesn't hire those who don't code in their spare time. 'You know what's more awesome than spending my Saturday afternoon learning Haskell by hacking away at a few Project Euler problems?' asks Dziuba. 'F***, ANYTHING.'"

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Quantum Mechanics is a lovely introduction to Hilbert Spaces! -- Overheard at last year's Archimedeans' Garden Party

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