Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Get HideMyAss! VPN, PC Mag's Top 10 VPNs of 2016 for 55% off for a Limited Time ×
The Almighty Buck

Indiana University Researchers Get $1 Million Grant To Study Memes 126

An anonymous reader writes with news that the NSF has just awarded a group of researchers a grant to study the life cycle of memes. "Indiana University is receiving nearly $1 million in federal grant money to investigate the genesis, spread, and demise of Internet memes. The grant from the National Science Foundation awards four Indiana researchers $919,917 to for a project called Truthy that will, as the grant's abstract explains, "explore why some ideas cause viral explosions while others are quickly forgotten." (And yes, in case you're wondering, the name was inspired by Stephen Colbert's neologism "truthiness.") The government-funded research is aimed at identifying which memes are organic and which ones are mere astroturf. "While the vast majority of memes arise in a perfectly organic manner, driven by the complex mechanisms of life on the Web, some are engineered by the shady machinery of high-profile congressional campaigns," Truthy's About page explains."
Space

Astronomers Search For Dyson Spheres of Alien Civilizations 686

Hugh Pickens writes "An article by Ross Andersen makes note of Freeman Dyson's prediction in 1960 that every civilization in the Universe eventually runs out of energy on its home planet, a major hurdle in a civilization's evolution. Dyson argued that all those who leap over it do so in precisely the same way: they build a massive collector of starlight, a shell of solar panels to surround their home star. Last month astronomers began a two-year search for Dyson Spheres, a search that will span the Milky Way, along with millions of other galaxies. The search is funded by a sizable grant from the Templeton Foundation, a philanthropic organization that funds research on the 'big questions' that face humanity, questions relating to 'human purpose and ultimate reality.' Compared with SETI, a search for Dyson Spheres assumes that the larger the civilization, the more energy it uses and the more heat it re-radiates. If Dyson Spheres exist, they promise to give off a very particular kind of heat signature, a signature that we should be able to see through our infrared telescopes. 'A Dyson Sphere would appear very bright in the mid-infrared,' says project leader Jason Wright. 'Just like your body, which is invisible in the dark, but shines brightly in mid-infrared goggles.' A civilization that built a Dyson Sphere would have to go to great lengths to avoid detection, building massive radiators that give off heat so cool it would be undetectable, a solution that would involve building a sphere that was a hundred times larger than necessary. 'If a civilization wants to hide, it's certainly possible to hide,' says Wright, 'but it requires massive amounts of deliberate engineering across an entire civilization.'"
NASA

NASA Wants To Make Tractor Beams a Reality 91

intellitech sends this quote from a NASA news release: "Tractor beams — the ability to trap and move objects using light — are the stuff of science fiction, but a team of NASA scientists has won funding to study the concept for remotely capturing planetary or atmospheric particles and delivering them to a robotic rover or orbiting spacecraft for analysis." Reader Bob the Super Hamste adds, "The article along with the BBC's coverage discuss briefly three methods of how this can be done with lasers. The first method called 'optical tweezers,' in which a molecule is trapped where two beams cross (PDF). However, it requires an atmosphere to work. The second method using solenoid beams has already worked in the laboratory (PDF). The third method using Bessel beams has yet to be experimentally proven."
Space

PG&E Makes Deal For Solar Power From Space 392

N!NJA writes "California's biggest energy utility announced a deal Monday to purchase 200 megawatts of electricity from a startup company that plans to beam the power down to Earth from outer space, beginning in 2016. Solaren would generate the power using solar panels in Earth orbit and convert it to radio-frequency transmissions that would be beamed down to a receiving station in Fresno, PG&E said. From there, the energy would be converted into electricity and fed into PG&E's power grid."

Slashdot Top Deals

IF I HAD A MINE SHAFT, I don't think I would just abandon it. There's got to be a better way. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.

Working...