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Submission + - Yes, physicists can code!

Jace Harker writes: At a startup pitch event in Santa Monica last week, one investor asked us:

"How did you guys manage to build the codebase for Authorea since you're all physicists?"

The answer is that physicists write code too. Ha!

As a matter of fact, it's not only physicists. Today most computational biologists, medical researchers, and virtually any scholar who works with data will learn to code. Yes, even psychologists, social scientists, and digital humanists are coders now.

I don't think that being a physicist gives you a passport for being a great developer (I am not, for example), but there are some very basic characteristics of physicists that make them likely to be good developers.

Submission + - Public-Friendly Open Science

Jace Harker writes: "The public has often a hard time understanding research and its relevance to society. One of the reasons for this is that scientists do not spend enough time communicating their findings outside their own scientific community," writes Authorea Chief Scientist Matteo Cantiello. "It’s ironic and somewhat frightening that the discoveries and recommendations for which society invests substantial economic and human capital, are not directly disseminated by the people who really understand them."

Cantiello goes on to propose a "Public-Friendly Open Science bundle": scientists who publish a paper should also draft and publish a press release, layperson's summary, and/or YouTube video.

Should scientists be more responsible for communicating their results directly to the public? Or should this role be left to science journalists?

Submission + - The Statistical Likelihood of Steph Curry's Ridiculous Shooting Streak

Jace Harker writes: The best 3-point shooters in the NBA hit around 40% of their attempts, with Kyle Korver leading the way at nearly 50%. But these numbers occur against NBA-level defenses. What would these guys shoot under little or no pressure, i.e. what do they shoot in practice?

It was recently reported that Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors hit 77 3-pointers in a row and 94 out of 100 total in a practice session. We're going to use this to estimate his 3-point shooting percentage in two different ways: the easy (wrong) way, and the not-so-easy right way.

Submission + - Eric Peterson is doing an AmA about the new Descent (

elfindreams writes: Eric Peterson is doing a Reddit AmA answering questions about the new Descent game Descent: Underground which is being kickstarted right now (

Submission + - Why Amnesty International uses Booktype 2.0 for report publishing (

An anonymous reader writes: Human rights NGO Amnesty International, a movement of more than seven million people, released its Annual Report for 2014-15 at the end of February. This 500+ page print book is published simultaneously in English, French, Spanish, and Arabic, and translated into 12 other languages by local teams. It is composed of 160 detailed chapters written by regional experts on the human rights situation in most of the countries of the world.

Richard Swingler, Global Production Services Manager at Amnesty's International Secretariat in London, knew that conventional publishing workflows weren't scaling to meet the challenges of a world in which a diverse range of reading and interchange formats are required. This factor is combined with the constant requirement of ensuring that Amnesty's reports are accurate, consistent, and up-to-date. Over the northern hemisphere's winter of 2014-15, the authors and translators had to work to a condensed timetable while producing new output formats, including XML for Adobe InDesign and XHTML for the Amnesty International websites.

Swingler led the search for a tool that would handle a structured, XML-based workflow with as much automation as possible while remaining easy to use for book contributors.

Submission + - Researchers identify 'tipping point' between quantum and classical worlds (

wjcofkc writes: If we are ever to fully harness the power of light for use in optical devices, it is necessary to understand photons — the fundamental unit of light. Achieving such understanding, however, is easier said than done. That's because the physical behavior of photons — similar to electrons and other sub-atomic particles — is characterized not by classical physics, but by quantum mechanics.

Now, in a study published in Physical Review Letters, scientists from Bar-Ilan University have observed the point at which classical and quantum behavior converge. Using a fiber-based nonlinear process, the researchers were able to observe how, and under what conditions, "classical" physical behavior emerges from the quantum world.

Submission + - The Software Legacy of the Planck Mission (

An anonymous reader writes: The Planck mission to survey the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) has not only advanced our understanding of the Universe, it also created advanced software systems for data analysis. Three interrelated software packages, which were developed at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics (MPA) specifically for the Planck mission, are now publicly available for use in other projects: the basic Planck simulation package to generate mock observations with Planck and other CMB experiments, the “ProC” workflow engine to define and execute scientific data analysis workflows, and the data management component “DMC” to store and organize the results of complex data processes.

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Building a Home Media Center/Small Server in a Crawlspace 4

An anonymous reader writes: I've decided it's time for me to build a separate machine specifically for use as a Media Center/Small Home Server.
My wife and I haven't had cable TV in years, instead relying entirely on Netflix, other streaming sites, and hard copies we've bought over the years. Having just finished ripping our entire media collection (CDs, DVDs, and even our Vinyls and VHS with the help of a capture card and some sweet digital voodoo) to a couple HDDs, I'm feeling froggy. Up until now we've been using WDTV Live, and it's been pretty snazzy, but I want to upgrade to a dedicated media machine instead of piggybacking off of my office computer. It'll be a Windows based machine utilizing Plex, and it's going in the crawlspace of the house.

The crawlspace in question is unfinished, but I do have a dry concrete slab down there where I can put/mount/assemble something. Cooling won't be an issue obviously, and I am keeping a close eye on hardware specs with regards to moisture. It is still a crawlspace though...

My Question(s) being:
* What would be a good setup to to house the hardware? Priorities being to safeguard against moisture, vermin, and dirt.
          — Modified PC Tower?
          — Rack?
          — Build an enclosure?
          — Something I haven't considered?

Please assume I'm stubborn and absolutely dead-set on putting it in the crawlspace to avoid the discussion devolving into the "best" place to put a media machine. Any advice or ideas are very much appreciated, Thank you /.

Submission + - LaTeX is Dead

Jace Harker writes: For decades, LaTeX was the tool of choice for writing scientific articles. But LaTeX's strength and weakness is its focus on the "page" as a unit of content. In today's web-centric world, is LaTeX still useful? Or will it be replaced by other, better writing systems?

Submission + - New Zealander Creates the World's Smallest Working Drill, Just 17 x 7.5 x 13mm

ErnieKey writes: A man from New Zealand, named Lance Abernethy has created what he believes is the world's smallest working cordless drill. Measuring just 17mm tall, 7.5mm wide, and 13mm long, it holds a 0.5mm twist drill and can drill through soft objects. He created it from scratch using a 3D printer and a hearing aid battery.

Submission + - Authorea, Collaborative Web Editor for Academics, runs on Pi

Jace Harker writes: When I was in grad school, I wished there was a better way to write papers. Who wants to email Word files back and forth, merge LaTeX changes, or manually format (and re-format) references?

Enter NY-based startup Authorea. It's a web-based freemium collaborative LaTeX and Markdown editor with handy features like one-click reference search and import, realtime author chat, and over 80 journal and publisher styles you can export to LaTeX, Word, or PDF. It also supports data-publishing features like live embedded iPython Notebooks.

For more awesome, in honor of Pi Day, one of the dev team showed he can get the entire site and test suite up and running on a Raspberry Pi 2!

(Full disclosure: I work at Authorea and think it's pretty cool.)

Submission + - Time to migrate to GitHub as Google Code closes (

Mark Wilson writes: After nine years, Google Code is closing down. Starting today, it is no longer possible to create new projects, and over the course of the coming ten months, the service will be mothballed. Google Code was Google's attempt to help the open source community by offering somewhere to host projects, but the growth of the likes of GitHub and Bitbucket has taken its toll and Google Code has filled up with spam and abuse.

Competition in the world of project hosting has become fierce, and Google feels it's time to pass on the baton rather than fighting for attention. Google has itself moved many of its own open source projects to GitHub. Don't panic if you’re not quite ready to jump ship — there's still a little time to play with.

Submission + - US Wind Power Is Expected to Double in the Next 5 Years

merbs writes: The US Department of Energy anticipates that the amount of electricity generated by wind power to more than double over the next five years. Right now, wind provides the nation with about 4.5 percent of its power. But an in-depth DOE report released today forecasts that number will rise to 10 percent by 2020—then 20 percent by 2030, and 35 percent by 2050.

Submission + - Google is closing Google Code (

Kohenkatz writes: Citing increasing spam and abuse, as well as the rise of Github and Bitbucket, Google has announced the closure of Google Code. Effective today, Google Code is no longer accepting new projects, and it will become read-only in August. After that, tarballs of all project data will be available until June 2016. To help project owners migrate, Google has added an "Export to Github" button to every project.

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"There is no statute of limitations on stupidity." -- Randomly produced by a computer program called Markov3.