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Music By Natural Selection 164

maccallr writes "The DarwinTunes experiment needs you! Using an evolutionary algorithm and the ears of you the general public, we've been evolving a four bar loop that started out as pretty dismal primordial auditory soup and now after >27k ratings and 200 generations is sounding pretty good. Given that the only ingredients are sine waves, we're impressed. We got some coverage in the New Scientist CultureLab blog but now things have gone quiet and we'd really appreciate some Slashdotter idle time. We recently upped the maximum 'genome size' and we think that the music is already benefiting from the change."

Aussie Scientists Find Coconut-Carrying Octopus 205

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from an AP report: "Australian scientists have discovered an octopus in Indonesia that collects coconut shells for shelter — unusually sophisticated behavior that the researchers believe is the first evidence of tool use in an invertebrate animal. The scientists filmed the veined octopus, Amphioctopus marginatus, selecting halved coconut shells from the sea floor, emptying them out, carrying them under their bodies up to 65 feet (20 meters), and assembling two shells together to make a spherical hiding spot. ... 'I was gobsmacked,' said Finn, a research biologist at the museum who specializes in cephalopods. 'I mean, I've seen a lot of octopuses hiding in shells, but I've never seen one that grabs it up and jogs across the sea floor. I was trying hard not to laugh.'"

Super-Earths Discovered Orbiting Nearby, Sun-Like Star 242

likuidkewl writes "Two super-earths, 5 and 7.5 times the size of our home, were found to be orbiting 61 Virginis a mere 28 light years away. 'These detections indicate that low-mass planets are quite common around nearby stars. The discovery of potentially habitable nearby worlds may be just a few years away,' said Steven Vogt, a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UCSC. Among hundreds of our nearest stellar neighbors, 61 Vir stands out as being the most nearly similar to the Sun in terms of age, mass, and other essential properties."

Comment Social factor? (Score 1) 614

Could it be that people that use allot of items containing these substances also have a more feminine culture they pass on to their children? As far as 106 girls for each 100 buys being born, could it be connected to a changing lifestyle in some way, like women choosing to get pregnant later because of careers? Could it be that having plenty of food tweaks our fertility to produce more women and less men, and vice versa? I have no clue, just suggesting... (:

Comment Back to school myself, but it's not easy (Score 1) 783

I've started studying again after about five years of IT work. Its been a mixed experience, especially the financial side of it, and also to marshal the motivation to keep going at times. I'm on a study project that will take me seven years total, but once done I will (hopefully) have a secure high income job as a medical doctor.

So, I'm moving away from IT to deal MORE with people. I found the most enjoyable part of my old job to be working with the users of the projects we implemented, and especially holding courses and design workshops.

As for dealing with the financial side of going back to school - this is hard. Quite simply hard. But also surprisingly rewarding at times as well. I now find I'm proud I can survive on much less, and also not having access to all the latest kit made me aware of how addictive it can be to buy things. It's almost as if it provides a kind of escapism, always buying a new gadget. Now cannot, and it's okay.

The biggest problem I feel though, is that I can no longer keep up with my girlfriends lifestyle. Her life is more like my old, with more travel, going out with people and buying things. Mine is locked to my studies, and I cannot afford expensive pastimes like going out for dinner allot.

At the same time, to immerse myself in the science courses I'm currently taking can be very rewarding, and its good to have a project in life with a definite goal down the line to work towards.

But have no illusion this is easy - a solid job you know well with a high income is very very comfortable. But sometimes you have to move out of your comfort zone to progress I guess. I'm mostly happy to be away from IT.

Real Time Strategy (Games)

Achron — an RTS With Time Travel 141

An anonymous reader writes "As much as I'm looking forward to StarCraft 2, there's a new RTS gaming tech that has me even more enthused. The Escapist Magazine has posted interviews and footage of the upcoming 'meta-time strategy game' Achron, which was announced at GDC earlier this year. It's a multiplayer RTS where you can send things through time. The official site has some gameplay footage as well, and it looks like their tech is useful outside of gaming."

Comment In one way, a sign of improvement? (Score 1) 256

Maybe this can be interpreted as a sign that DNA technology is getting affordable and widespread the same way photo manipulation is now relatively easy with widespread access to image technologies like Photoshop. In the case of images, we can more easily fake them, but we also benefit from more advanced visual design around us.

Comment Re:Forget the books (Score 1) 1146

At the same time, it's not always easy to be constantly present and self-reflecting in relationships over long periods of time. I think plenty of intelligent people get into trouble with their marriages, cheat and what not.

To continue the WoW example: setting of time for your partner may seem like an obvious thing, but day-to-day living and routines that change slowly over time sometime makes it hard to see how little time you spend together etc. Career gets in the way, hobby projects and other social commitments.

I think the value of books on things like partnerships are highest when they function as a "remind-to-review" thing for things that ARE important, but that easily slip away. Do you spend enough time with you wife? Have you told her you love her recently? Did something to strengthen you relationships in the past three months? Painfully obvious, but also easy to forget.

Also, I completely agree with you on honest, open and calm. I'm personally very happy I found a girl who has all those qualities (:
PlayStation (Games)

Ads Retroactively Added To Wipeout HD, Soon Others 299

An anonymous reader writes "American users of Wipeout HD might have noticed that there's an advertisement showing up all of a sudden during loading, both during online and offline play. This, according to a poster on the well-known gaming forum NeoGAF, is being done covertly. The writer suspects that the display software was installed during update 2.01, and the ad-content is now being snuck in. Gamasutra has a story on the company responsible for the software to deliver these ads, Double Fusion, which said it plans to launch in-game advertising in 'another handful' of PS3 games by the end of the year. So, what's next? Can we look forward to fighting the Kool-Aid Man and zombified Mars bars in Uncharted, or is there anything that can be done to hinder companies from adding advertisements retroactively, without the customer's prior knowledge?"

Comment Problem with the phone or the network? (Score 1) 495

If a few rouge iPhones are capable of messing up the cellphone network, then isn't that a general problem with the network rather than if the user has access to all the settings of the device? I mean, build a few phone-like devices in your garage, set them all to go off at a certain time, then drive around and drop the "bombs" near different towers. Why is the iPhone anything special?

Comment Re:Real vs Fake (Score 1) 172

My guess is that over the past 500 years, bad authorities have killed, injured of messed up the lives of far more people than other criminals.

Some examples:

  • loss of property
  • assassination, jailing for political activity
  • extermination for ethnic reasons
  • suppression (violent or otherwise) of groups
  • war

Yes, crime sucks and should be fought, but bad politicians are more far more scary.

Comment Re:Real vs Fake (Score 1) 172

I suspect some small percentage people ARE affected by games, but I think allowing these games is much less dangerous to society than allowing authorities to limit your access to media and entertainment (to the extent it is done in authoritarian regimes, where the authorities are the real gangsters - but they don't allow movies about that either, do they? Hmmm...).
First Person Shooters (Games)

From Doom To Dunia — the History of 3D Engines 117

notthatwillsmith writes "It's difficult to think of a single category of application that's driven the pace of desktop hardware development further and faster than first-person shooters. Maximum PC examined the evolution of FPS engines, looking back at the key technologies that brought games from the early sprite-based days of Doom to the fully 3D-rendered African Savannah as rendered by Far Cry 2's Dunia engine. It's truly amazing how far the state of the art has moved in the last 16 years."

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