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Comment Re:In Germany... (Score 1) 632

There was also not enough correlation to math, because the problem sets were so basic. I think a lot of kids could be more interested in math through good CS education, where CS gives a good practical application for math. Generally, there's not enough crossover of this kind going on, and neither in Germany nor in the US where I live now, do they take enough advantage in one class of what's being taught in another. It's almost like each of the subjects is in its own vacuum, which gives students very little opportunity to practically use what they're being taught. Practical use is the most important thing in retention, not to mention seeing the sense in learning a specific thing - how often have you heard 'I don't need to learn this, I'll never use it anyway' from a student? I'd think that that's something that would be paid more attention to. CS and math are a good example of this, and one where using the knowledge taught across classes would be relatively easy to do, too.

Comment In Germany... (Score 1) 632

about 24 years ago, our (elective) CS class covered the basics in terms of hardware, and then went straight into programming (BASIC). Starting on IBMs, later moving to Commodore 128s. It did a pretty good job at challenging kids and getting them interested in what can be done with a computer when you know how to program it, although the exercises themselves were a bit mundane and boring if I recall correctly. This started in 7th grade, going all the way through 10th. The progression wasn't quick enough for me - there wasn't enough increase in the complexity and scope of the challenges and exercises in the later grades.
The Military

Navy Planning To Build Laser Cannon In Four Years 195

CowboyRobot writes "The US Navy is months away from requesting bids from contractors to construct a laser weapon for its ships, now that the technology is feasible. 'The key point came last April, when the Navy put a test laser firing a (relatively weak) 15-kilowatt beam aboard a decommissioned destroyer... the Martime Laser Demonstrator cut through choppy California waters, an overcast sky and salty sea air to burn through the outboard engine of a moving motorboat a mile away.'"

Submission + - Bill to expatriate 'enemy' U.S. citizens in commit (govtrack.us) 3

Dodger73 writes: "http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h112-3166 shows the Enemy Expatriation Act, H.R. 3166, introduced by Rep. Charles Dent (R-PA). According to the language posted, it would "add engaging in or supporting hostilities against the United States to the list of acts for which United States nationals would lose their nationality". H.R. 3166 amends the Immigration and Nationality Act by "adding any conflict subject to the laws of war" to the reasons to expatriate U.S. citizens. Full text of the bill here: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h112-3166."

Study Hints Ambient Radio Waves May Affect Plant Growth 298

dwguenther writes "A Lyons (Colorado) area woman with no academic pedigree has published a scientific paper in the International Journal of Forestry Research about the adverse effects of radio waves on aspen seedlings. Katie Haggerty, who lives north of Steamboat Mountain, found in a preliminary experiment done near her house that aspens shielded from electromagnetic radiation were healthier than those that were not. 'I found that the shielded seedlings produced more growth, longer shoots, bigger leaves, and more total leaf area. The shielded group produced 60 percent more leaf area and 74 percent more shoot length than a mock-shielded group,' she said." This was not a definitive study, as its author readily admits — it's hard to see how a double-blind study could even be designed in this area — but it was refereed.

Obama Budget To Triple Nuclear Power Loan Guarantees 373

Hugh Pickens writes "When President Obama said in his State of the Union address on Wednesday that the country should build 'a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants,' it was one of the few times he got bipartisan applause. Now the NY Times reports that administration officials have confirmed their 2011 federal budget request next week will raise potential loan guarantees for nuclear projects to more than $54 billion, from $18.5 billion, and a new Energy Department panel will examine a vastly expanded list of options for nuclear waste, including a new kind of nuclear reactor that would use some of it. The Energy Department appears to be getting close to offering its first nuclear loan guarantee. Earlier this week, Southern Co. Chief Executive David Ratcliffe said the company expects to finalize an application for a loan guarantee 'within the next couple months,' while Scana Corp., which has also applied, is 'a couple months behind Southern' and is hopeful of receiving a conditional award 'sometime in the next months.'"

Grateful Dead Percussionist Makes Music From Supernovas 57

At the "Cosmology At the Beach" conference earlier this month, Grammy-award winning percussionist Mickey Hart performed a composition inspired by the eruptions of supernovae. "Keith Jackson, a Berkeley Lab computer scientist who is also a musician, lent his talents to the project, starting with gathering data from astrophysicists like those at the Berkeley Lab’s Nearby Supernova Factory, which collects data from telescopes in space and on earth to quickly detect and analyze short-lived supernovas. 'If you think about it, it's all electromagnetic data — but with a very high frequency,' Jackson said of the raw data. "What we did is turn it into sound by slowing down the frequency and "stretching" it into an audio form. Both light and sound are all wave forms — just at different frequencies. Our goal was to turn the electromagnetic data into audio data while still preserving the science.'"

Comment Tiny budgets, considering... (Score 1) 157

Think about it. 10-20 hours of gameplay content, a few square miles' worth of environmental models and effects, dozens of characters and animations, matching voiceover and audio content, and the engine, AI and gameplay code to drive it all. Add to that between 20 minutes and an hour's worth of CG movies. Now consider that we're doing this with teams 1/5th the size of what they are for 2-hour movies, at 1/8th of the budget in half the time (exceptions notwithstanding). $50M for the most expensive games doesn't sound too bad compared to $500 for the most expensive movies...

Climate, Habitat Threaten Wild Coffee Species 274

An anonymous reader writes "BBC reports that Dr. Aaron Davis of the Royal Botanical Gardens claims 'almost three-quarters of the world's wild coffee species are threatened, as a result of habitat loss and climate change. "Conserving the genetic diversity within this genus has implications for the sustainability of our daily cup, particularly as coffee plantations are highly susceptible to climate change.'"

"Loud Commercial" Legislation Proposed In US Congress 636

Hackajar writes "Have you ever caught yourself running for the volume control when a TV commercial comes on? Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA) has, and is submitting legislation that would require TV commercials in the US to stay at volume levels similar to the programming they are associated with. From the article: 'Right now, the government doesn't have much say in the volume of TV ads. It's been getting complaints ever since televisions began proliferating in the 1950s. But the FCC concluded in 1984 there was no fair way to write regulations controlling the "apparent loudness" of commercials.'"

French Military Contributes To Thunderbird 3 379

fredboboss sends news about Mozilla's email client Thunderbird 3, whose release we noted last week. "Thunderbird 3 contains code from the French military, which decided the open source product was more secure than Microsoft's rival Outlook. The French government is beginning to move to other open source software, including Linux instead of Windows and OpenOffice instead of Microsoft Office. Thunderbird 3 used some of the code from TrustedBird, a generalized and co-branded version of Thunderbird with security extensions built by the French military."

Engineered Bacteria Glows To Reveal Land Mines 248

MikeChino writes "Sifting through minefields to remove hidden threats is a dangerous, tedious, and expensive process. Scientists at the University of Edinburgh recently announced that they have engineered a strain of bacteria that glows green in the presence of explosives, making mine detection a snap. The new strain of bacteria can be sprayed onto local affected areas or air-dropped over entire fields of mines. Within a few hours the bacteria strain begins to glow wherever traces of explosive chemicals are present."

EPA To Reuse Toxic Sites For Renewable Energy 183

Hugh Pickens writes:"The Daily Climate reports that President Obama and Congress are pushing to identify thousands of contaminated landfills and abandoned mines — 'brownfields' that could be repurposed to house wind farms, solar arrays, and geothermal power plants. Using already disturbed lands would help avoid conflicts between renewable energy developers and environmental groups concerned about impacts to wildlife habitat. 'In the next decade there's going to be a lot of renewable energy built, and all that has to go somewhere,' said Jessica Goad, an energy and climate change policy fellow for The Wilderness Society. 'We don't want to see these industrial facilities placed on land that's pristine. We love the idea of brownfields for renewable energy development because it relieves the (development) pressure on undisturbed places. The Environmental Protection Agency and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory have identified nearly 4,100 contaminated sites deemed economically suitable for wind and solar power development, as well as biomass. Included are 5 million acres suitable for photovoltaic or concentrated solar power development, and 500,000 acres for wind power. These sites, if fully developed, have the potential to produce 950,000 megawatts — more than the country's total power needs in 2007, according to EPA data."

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