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Comment Re:A Breathtaking Report!! (Score 4, Informative) 158

Well, ok. Though there's not much more that I could have written in that short of a space that can teach the subject.

I linked the Calgary Herald / Postmedia News article because it's an astonishingly well-written bit of science journalism that lays it all out superbly – kudos to Randy Boswell. He didn't put *exactly* the same emphasis on exactly the same things that Proemse (the principal author) would have, but it's minor. That's the "public" piece, and it's full of tons of great information.

I also linked the official research article. Unfortunately it's behind a paywall. However, if that's the kind of thing that really turns your crank you probably already have access to it one way or another (in the worst case: via a physical trip to your local university). If you can't, well, correspondence with an author is a time-honored method for obtaining your own copy.

Submission + - Global anoxia ruled out as main culprit in the P-T extinction

Garin writes: The late Permian saw the greatest mass extinction event of all-time. The causes for this extinction are hotly debated, but one key piece of the puzzle has recently been revealed: while the deep-water environments were anoxic, shallower waters showed clear signs of being oxygenated. This rules out global anoxia, and strongly suggests that other factors, such as the Siberian Traps vulcanism, must have played a dominant role.

From the article: "Rather than the direct cause of global extinction, anoxia may be more a contributing factor along with numerous other impacts associated with Siberian Traps eruption and other perturbations to the Earth system.”

See the full research article (behind a paywall) here.

Comment Re:So how does it work? (Score 1) 135

Nah, he's not wrong. But neither are you.

Seismic processing is about as embarrassingly parallel as it comes. Just about every processing step can be split up into e.g. single shot record steps, taking advantage of assumed linearity in wave equations. Furthermore, most production industrial imaging codes weren't actually using my original example of a full finite difference solution until quite recently, and instead they were using algorithms that have been developed for decades under the limitations of very old computers. Sure, some of the big shops have full blown "proper" HPC, shared-ram setups, etc. However, it's common to see much more simplistic parallelization with very ad-hoc clusters being used.

In short, there are loads of processing shops that run off-the-shelf servers on gigabit ethernet, and they do a good business with it. Heck, there are loads of processing shops out there that do a good business running relatively crude time migrations.

Comment Re:So how does it work? (Score 5, Informative) 135

Seismic imaging. Imagine solving a wave equation (acoustic, elastic, or worse) over a 3D grid many kilometers on a side with grid spacing on the order of meters. Imagine you're doing it with a strong high-order finite-difference code. Calculate for tens of thousands of timesteps. Now repeat that entire thing thousands of times for a given full survey.

No matter how much computer you have, it's never nearly enough for seismic imaging.

Comment Re:Public access? (Score 1) 135

No, the public won't see these results as a rule, at least not right away (while it's still commercially valuable to protect as a secret), though strictly speaking it depends on the countries involved. Nor would it matter for property value, as the "land owners" usually don't own the mineral rights in most places. Furthermore, this setup will be used probably mostly for marine/offshore seismic imaging, ie not much land involved.

Submission + - Portrait of a Superproductive Programmer (

Esther Schindler writes: "Hollywood portrayals of computing superstars are more rooted in comic-book super-heroics than the realities of software development. Except that in programming, superpowers do exist. As Cameron Laird explains, Fabrice Bellard has them. Bellard is "a serial achiever," responsible for well over a dozen open source tools (such as TinyCC Boot Loader) and computer science/math OhBoy moments (he set world record for calculation of the digits of pi in 2009). This article gives an overview of Bellard's work and contemplates what makes one programmer so much more productive than another."

Submission + - Supermoon Saturday night (

watermark writes: About every 28 years a "supermoon" occurs. This is when the moon's orbit is closest to earth at the same time as a full moon. Saturday night will be the biggest, brightest full moon you will see in the next 28 years.

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Wireless Voting

RabidRabbit23 writes: I volunteer for a non-profit that organizes Model UN conferences for high school students. We need a quick and low cost way to record votes done by the students in large committees. There will be two or three committees with about 200 students in each. We need to be able to record yes, no or abstention vote and must be able to identify each student's vote. We looked into radio response clickers but it is very expensive to buy 400-600 clickers. They cost about $40 at university bookstores, which is way out of our budget, but we don't know what kind of discount we could get by buying directly from the manufacturer. We do have wireless internet but we do not have enough bandwidth to support everyone using a laptop. Does the Slashdot community have any suggestions for a better way to record the students' votes?
Social Networks

The New Reality of Gaming 122

Hugh Pickens writes "Video games used to be about fighting aliens and rescuing princesses, writes Rohin Dharmakumar in Forbes, but the most popular games today have you tilling your farm, hiring waiting staff and devising menus for your restaurant or taking your pets out for walks while maintaining cordial relations with the neighbors. 'Reality, it would seem, is the new escapism.' Video games of the pre-social network era were mostly played by boys or young men but 'now the core audience of social network games are girls and young women,' says Alok Kejriwal, founder and CEO of games2win, an online gaming company. The tipping point in the US came in 2008 when women outnumbered men on the Internet. Combined with millions of parents and grandparents who're new to the Internet, the traditional face of the gamer is changing from that of a 25-year-old male to a band stretching from 16 to 40 years comprising men and women in almost equal numbers, says Sebastien de Halleux, one of the co-founders of Playfish, who predicts that someone is going to create a social game very shortly that pulls in a billion dollars a year. Gaming for this new set of players is less about breathtaking graphics, pulsating sound or edge-of-the-seat action and more about strengthening existing real world relations through frequent casual gaming. 'Think of these games as a sandbox where everybody has the same tools, yet everyone achieves different results,' says de Halleux."

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