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South Pole Telescope Data Places Better Limit on Neutrino Mass 25

An anonymous reader writes an excerpt from a press release by the University of Chicago: "Analysis of data from the 10-meter South Pole Telescope is providing new support for the most widely accepted explanation of dark energy — the source of the mysterious force that is responsible for the accelerating expansion of the universe." The research resulted in three papers involving new constraints on the mass of neutrinos, a measurement of the angular power spectrum of the CMB, and a catalog of newly discovered galaxy clusters. The data lends a bit more support to the cosmological constant theory of dark energy.

Submission + - Genetically Engineered Bacteria Could Help Fight Climate Change (

sciencehabit writes: As humans warm the planet by releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, some researchers believe that capturing CO2 and trapping it in buried rocks could lower the risk of catastrophic climate change. Now a team of researchers has shown that bacteria can help the process along. They can even be genetically modified to trap CO2 faster, keeping it underground for millions of years.

Comment Been There, Done That (Score 1) 424

Word for word, I thought your submission was something I wrote. I've been there, done that, so it is possible. The mess I inherited took me 6 MONTHS to fully comprehend and formulate all plans of attack. Meanwhile, I was trying to fix and maintain what I could.

To tackle the whole problem, where did I start? Everywhere, frankly. There was no one starting point. Everything was affecting everything else. I did my best to get written down exactly what was running on each server, including running daemons, system crontab, and all user crontabs. Basically, build a list of what exactly you can determine. Then, try to get into the mindset of your predecessor and try to understand why (as best you can) to see if that sheds some light on what else may be lurking out there.

I didn't get bogged down in formal documentation because I knew I would have to rebuild everything. I took copious notes and drew pictures of what I thought were the processes of the system, but this documentation was just for my own benefit. Once I could identify unneeded processes, I shut them down or side-stepped them and hoped I didn't break anything; if I did, that was just more information at my disposal. Other processes I simplified and consolidated where I could. Eventually, the system got more and more comprehensible.

Once I "got" everything that was going on, I built a fresh new setup that focused on simplicity and efficiency. This is when I focused on documentation. I kept the legacy system dormant but available, just in case.

Now, we have a darn good system in place. I used virtualization to segregate different services and to enhance security. Maintenance is now preventative. Management is happy because they can now grow the business without everything imploding. The focus of my work today is building new products and services. I hope my successor doesn't complain.


Inducement To Piracy, Adobe Style 272

S Vulpy writes "A post at the Social Science Research Council's website talks about how piracy greases the wheels of the Adobe Creative Suite marketplace by making it easier to deal with Adobe breaking compatibility between versions. Quoting: '... such incompatibility doesn’t involve exotic functionality, just straight text layout into columns and boxes. The kind of stuff that has been core functionality of publishing software since the early 1990s. Translate this dilemma to Brazil or Russia, where incomes are a fraction that of the US and you get a very simple outcome: massive piracy of Adobe products. In fact, go through this process in the last month of a 4-year project on a deadline and one could understand becoming extremely sympathetic to such a perspective. This, as we’ve argued, is not a defect of the Adobe business model, it is the business model.'"

Submission + - Astronomers Search for Earth-Like Planet Next Door ( 1

Adam Korbitz writes: "Back in March I posted about a team of researchers at the University of California-Santa Cruz who have proposed a computer model that predicts Alpha Centauri -- the star closest to our own Sun — may harbor at least one Earth-like terrestrial planet orbiting within the habitable zone of one of the system's component stars. Astronomers hope they may be able to detect such planets, if they exist, in the relatively near future using the well-established radial velocity method that measures the wobble caused by planets as they orbit their host stars.

The hunt for that Earth-like planet around Alpha Centauri B is now underway in Chile.

According to the NASA/JPL website Planet Quest:

At a little over four light years from Earth, the sunlike star Alpha Centauri B — actually a member of a three-star system — is our sun's closest neighbor and practically a stone's throw away in celestial terms.

[The] planet-hunting team is using a telescope in Chile to keep an eye on the star for the next three years, in order to collect enough data to determine whether or not the next Earthlike planet lies next door.

Such a planet would be too small to see, but its gravity will pull on its host star, making it rock back and forth in a way that the telescope can detect. With NASA funding, they're also working on simulations that may be able to predict how a solar system could have formed around our cosmic neighbor.

I wish them success. Other searches for a planet around the nearest star, Proxima Centauri, have so far yielded nothing — but the quest continues.

You can read the full Planet Quest article here.



Submission + - Steve Jobs Takes Medical Leave

Bastian227 writes: "A quick word on NPR and a letter from Steve Jobs on Apple's website indicates that Jobs will 'take a medical leave of absence until the end of June'. He also states, 'During the past week I have learned that my health-related issues are more complex than I originally thought'. Tim Cook will be responsible for daily operations, though Jobs will remain involved with major strategic decisions."

Comment Privacy vs. Open Records (Score 1) 485

There is an assumption of privacy at universities; however, the university I worked for was subject to the public's open records requests. When requested, our IT department had to hand over the email of any employee (maybe student?). I believe this is a federal law (in the US).

Expanding on that concern, I wonder if online services allow IT departments to perform what is necessary for open records requests, or would that be a violation of TOS?

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