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Anti Terror Honor System 74

Fortunately for us, the FAA has imposed the honor system as our next best defense against terrorism. Hopefully this will allow them to increase the volume of non-bladder liquid I'm allowed to take on planes.

Astronomers Discover 33 Pairs of Waltzing Black Holes 101

Astronomers from UC Berkeley have identified 33 pairs of waltzing black holes, closing the gap somewhat between the observed population of super-massive black hole pairs and what had been predicted by theory. "Astronomical observations have shown that 1) nearly every galaxy has a central super-massive black hole (with a mass of a million to a billion times the mass of the Sun), and 2) galaxies commonly collide and merge to form new, more massive galaxies. As a consequence of these two observations, a merger between two galaxies should bring two super-massive black holes to the new, more massive galaxy formed from the merger. The two black holes gradually in-spiral toward the center of this galaxy, engaging in a gravitational tug-of-war with the surrounding stars. The result is a black hole dance, choreographed by Newton himself. Such a dance is expected to occur in our own Milky Way Galaxy in about 3 billion years, when it collides with the Andromeda Galaxy."

Apple Orders 10 Million Tablets? 221

Arvisp writes "According to a blog post by former Google China president Kai-Fu Lee, Apple plans to produce nearly 10 million tablets in the still-unannounced product's first year. If Lee's blog post is to be believed, Apple plans to sell nearly twice as many tablets as it did iPhones in the product's first year."

Comment Turn off the audio (Score 3, Interesting) 186

I found the audio to be distracting, whereas the video display gives me positional awareness, and I can look at it when I choose to, not when the box decides to say something. I found I was much more relaxed when I found how to turn off the audio.

So I guess having both at the same time is the real problem.

Comment Re:pffff (Score 1) 137

You'd think that somebody that's light-years ahead when it comes to parallel processing would rule the roost in the Top 500 supercomputer list. I'm sure there's a good explanation, though....just waiting to hear it. :)

To get on the Top 500 list your machine is measured against the LINPACK benchmark. It's not the best benchmark for parallel performance, so in many cases nobody has bothered.

Comment Interactions in Understanding the Universe (I2U2) (Score 1) 314

I'm working on a science education project called I2U2, which is looking for teachers like you.

The main idea of the project is to give students (and their teachers) direct access to data from major physics experiments, along with access to grid computing resources so that they can do interesting investigations with those data. We have access to data from the CMS test-beam, as well as Monte Carlo data simulating CMS itself. We will have real data from CMS once the LHC turns on. We have access to environmental data from LIGO, the gravitational wave detection experiment (not the gravitational wave data itself, I'm afraid; but there's still cool things you can do with the seismometers and other sensors). And we have an array of several hundred cosmic ray detectors in place in schools across the US (and a few abroad) from Fermilab's QuarkNet project (

All this data can be used for inquiry-driven projects which the students design themselves, with guidance from their teachers and materials we are preparing for the teachers. These 'e-Labs' are not scripted labs (though we do provide a general structure for developing those investigations), they are an opportunity to do real inquiry with real data. And yes, this will include tools to let you track your students' contributions and progress.

We will be doing some teacher workshops this summer, and we need some teachers to be beta testers. If you are interested in that, or in the project in general, check us out at We are not set up for production yet, so please excuse that it's not very polished, but it should be possible to learn a bit more about the project from that site.

The Internet

Quebec ISP To Terminate Subscribers Over Copyright 290

An anonymous reader writes "Quebecor, which owns Quebec's biggest ISP, has thrown in with Hollywood interests by arguing for the 'graduated response' approach that would kick off subscribers based on three allegations of infringement. The company told Canada's telecom regulator that net neutrality rules are not needed since content blocking has social benefits, including the potential for a three-strikes-and-you're-out policy."

Comment Re:How do you give odds for that? (Score 1) 397

Also, what are the odds the particle doesn't exist AND they find it?

Actually, that's what I expect to happen.

In the Standard Model the Higgs is a fundamental particle. And it is a scalar particle (spin 0). There are no other fundamental particles in Nature that have spin-0, and there are good reasons to expect that they cannot exist. So what I think will happen is they will find something which behaves much like the Higgs in the Standard Model. But it turns out it's not fundamental. Only that part of the discovery comes later.

So I'd say the best odds are that the Higgs of the Standard Model does not exist, yet they find something that behaves almost exactly like it


Submission + - nonresponsive script

Grand Facade writes: Why, of most all of the pages I browse regularly, is Slashdot so slow to build the page? And what is the script that fails/stalls/becomes nonresponsive on a good number of Slash pages? Firefox/Sea Monkey Mac or Windows?

Comment Re:Dangers of EHR (Score 3, Insightful) 182

The danger of an Electronic Health Record is that it may perpetuate mistakes which of course do happen and any mistakes can carry on and lead to more problems.

It cuts both ways. With electronic records some cross-checks are possible, such as checking prescribed drugs for interactions, or perhaps even checking that the symtoms and/or treatment really match the diagnosis.

Comment What are the error bars? (Score 1) 544

What are the error bars? Don't say 37,000 to 361. That's the variation between different theoretical scenarios. But real results have to be based on experimental inputs, not just theoretical guesswork.

The usual way of computing error bars is to look at the statistical variation of the data, to infer a distribution of likelihood for the results. Problem is, we have only ONE data point (i.e. us), so the variance of the inputs is infinite.

Even if you estimate 37,000 civilizations in our galaxy, how many are within 100 light years of us? Based just on the ONE data point we have, they would have developed radio and TV within the last 100 years, so we could only hope to detect them if they are within about 100 light years. Plus or minus infinity.

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