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Microsoft

Journal Journal: MS copies feature, then patents it

Michael Kölling, a senior lecturer at the University of Kent and one of the developers of BlueJ, an educational development environment, realized last year that Microsoft had copied one of the BlueJ features into Visual Studio. Flattery, right? Well, recently he was informed that Microsoft has filed a patent describing the very same feature.

Michael's blog entry describing this here

Announcements

Submission + - Dinosaur extinction - meteor not to blame?

The Fun Guy writes: "Recent microfossil evidence casts fresh doubt as to whether an asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs. Prof. Gerta Keller of Princeton University: "We now have evidence that the Chicxulub impact occurred about 300,000 years before the end of the Cretaceous and thus didn't cause the mass extinction and, in fact, didn't cause any species to go extinct." These findings were presented during the October 2006 meeting of the Geological Society of America."
Censorship

Submission + - ABC warned over blogger shutdown

An anonymous reader writes: Remember the story about ABC/Disney shutting down a blogger who criticized them? I am glad to announce that the tables have just turned on them. Electronic Frontier Foundation has warned them to drop the case against www.spockosbrain.com. If they fail to comply immediately, EFF has threatened to sue them for (a) misrepresentation of liability under DMCA, and (b) engaging in unlawful, unfair and fraudulent business practices.

This chilling abuse of DMCA to silence critics has gone on for long enough. I am glad EFF is fighting for the rights of bloggers around the world. I hope they manage to teach ABC a lesson in fair use.
Space

Submission + - New ice age theory: Sun's dimmer switch

amigoro writes: "Most believe that the ice ages are the result of subtle changes in Earth's orbit, known as the Milankovitch cycles. According to an embargoed article to appear on Nature, one scientist think that is not the case. Robert Ehrlich of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, has developed a model of the sun which hypothesizes a dimmer switch inside the sun that causes its brightness to rise and fall on timescales of around 100,000 years — exactly the same period as between ice ages on Earth.

He extended the work of earlier scientists who calculated that magnetic fields in the sun's core could produce small instabilities in the solar plasma. These instabilities would induce localised oscillations in temperature, and his model shows that whilst most of these oscillations cancel each other out, some reinforce one another and become long-lived temperature variations oscillating around its average temperature of 13.6 million kelvin in cycles lasting either 100,000 or 41,000 years. Ehrlich says that random interactions within the sun's magnetic field could flip the fluctuations from one cycle length to the other.

The main problem with Milankovitch cycles is that they can't explain how the ice ages go from 100,000 year cycle to 41,000 year cycle. But they cycles predicted by Ehlrich's model are bang on with the observations."

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