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Submission + - The Truth is Out There: Snowden's greatest leak yet

Biff Stu writes: NPR reports that Snowden delivered the scoop of the century to Iran's FARS news agency. The story reported by FARS reveals that the evil space aliens, a.k.a. "Tall Whites," who where responsible for the rise of Nazi Germany turned their attention to the United States after the fall of the Third Reich. These aliens have secretly been calling the shots in the USA since the Eisenhower administration.

Perhaps the real news here is that with Ahmadinejad out they are saying the Nazis were the bad guys and they're not denying the holocaust--but it's probably dangerous to read too much into something this goofy.

Submission + - U.S. Science Agencies Get Some Relief in 2014 Budget (

sciencehabit writes: The ghost of former President George W. Bush permeates the 2014 budget that Congress released this week. His presence is good news for physical scientists, but less cheery for biomedical researchers, as Congress reserved some of the biggest spending increases for NASA and the Department of Energy. The National Institutes of Health, meanwhile, got a $1 billion increase that is drawing mixed reviews from research advocates.

Comment Re:So what (Score 4, Insightful) 258

Exactly my thought. If an F-22 went down over Lake Ontario on a training mission, we would have a dead pilot, and lost $150 million aircraft, which can't be replaced. The F-22 loss might have been noted on CNN, but certainly wouldn't have been /. worthy. So, here we lost a $12.5 million aircraft, which can be replaced, and nobody dies. Somehow, I doubt that the submitter and the /. editors are pro-drone, but I see this story and think that, to the extent that I actually give a shit, it makes an excellent argument for drones.

Comment Re: I hope (Score 1) 353

OK. I like Kevin Bacon. He's starred in some good flicks. I think that Tremors is an under appreciated film, and did you know that he was the one with the "Thank you sir! May I have another?" line in Animal House. He even has that whole Bacon Number thing going for him. But come on, there's a point where being a fan turns into a sick obsession, and I think you're treading dangerously close to that line.

Comment Could be some dumbass thieves (Score 3, Interesting) 166

Quite a few years ago I was hanging out in Egypt at a Red Sea resort with my girlfriend. Now I can hang on a lounge chair on a beach for a few hours, but that's about all can take before I want to get up and do something. So, I decided to take a tour boat out to the coral and go snorkeling. When the boat got to the coral reefs, they dropped their anchor right on the reef, which pissed me off. The captain explained that the government had installed permanent mooring buoys in order to preserve the coral, but these had been stolen by thieves.

Now, fiber cable doesn't have the same resale value as copper, but then try to explain that to a third world dumbass thief.

Comment Re:Let me fix that for you... (Score 4, Interesting) 205

The disappointment in the high energy physics community is over what comes next. For many decades, high energy physicists have been building bigger and bigger colliders. Each collider has left some unanswered questions justifying the next giant collider. If the standard model seems to fit all the data and there's no clear question to be answered by the next collider, then what's next for high energy physics? All the "new physics," dark matter and dark energy, is coming from astrophysics these days, and they need telescopes, not colliders.

Comment So Which Web Site is the Kevin Bacon Equivalent? (Score 4, Interesting) 185

It's got to be a reasonably good, well-liked site, but not a mega-site like Google or Facebook.

How about or

I would say /., but by its nature, /. has too many connections to be used for a Kevin Bacon number equivalent. Conversely, The Onion probably doesn't link to enough stuff.

I vote for

Comment Temperature requires equilibrium, not continuum (Score 2) 204

Maxwell-Boltzmann statistics, and the field of statistical mechanics in general, work quite well with quantized systems. As an example, if you look at Boltzmann's definition of entropy: S = k ln W, where W is the possible number of microstates that can contribute to the system, you can see how statistical mechanics does a good job of handling quantized energy levels. Likewise, the Maxwell-Boltzman distribution does a fine job of describing the population distribution of an equilibrium ensemble of molecules / atoms / whatever with discrete quantized energy levels. The critical term here is equilibrium. If the system is not in equilibrium, such as a laser, then one can argue that it's temperature (at least for the degrees of freedom where there's a population inversion) is not well defined.

The thing that makes the Science paper really interesting is that the negative temperature is observed in the motional degrees of freedom where you normally think about a continuum of energies, and where you seldom have the necessary isolation from other degrees of freedom to prepare such exotic states. The key here is that Bose-Einstein condensate have coherent, quantized motional degrees of freedom that are highly decoupled from the rest of the universe.

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What we anticipate seldom occurs; what we least expect generally happens. -- Bengamin Disraeli