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Comment Re:Just what we needed (Score 2) 96

As a C++ programmer, I don't know if I'll ever use "concepts" in my own code.

That said, I'm nevertheless very much looking forward to them becoming part of the language, if only so that when I do something wrong when using an STL class, the compiler can come back with an error that tells me what I did wrong, rather then five pages of incomprehensible gibberish.

Many C++ features are like this, aimed not primarily at the average C++ user, but rather at the STL developers.

Comment Re:Since they determined autopilot wasn't to blame (Score 1) 185

The smart ones already had great driving records. It is the stupid ones you are protecting with this technology.

Being smart doesn't protect you from stupid people's actions -- you can be a perfect driver and still get rear-ended by someone who never saw you slow down because they were texting.

This technology protects stupid people and the smart people who have to share the roads with them.

Comment Re:Since they determined autopilot wasn't to blame (Score 1) 185

For a small fraction of what is spent on personal vehicle ownership, we could have pretty amazing public transportation that would satisfy the needs of nearly every city & suburb dweller. And that would naturally lead to fewer serious accidents.

Also for a small fraction of what is spent on fast food, people could buy and cook healthy vegetarian meals for themselves, that would satisfy the nutritional needs of nearly every citizen. And that would naturally lead to fewer cases of heart disease and obesity.

Unfortunately, what people want is not always the same as what would theoretically work the best. In this case, most people want private cars, and they have made that preference clear through both their spending and their voting patterns. Barring the advent of some kind of benign dictatorship, a transition to all-public-transit won't happen anytime soon.

Comment Re:Intelligent design (Score 0) 166

These researchers may be trying to apply the wrong methods to a device that is almost certainly the product of a higher power.

That may well be the case, but if so, it's also quite clear that the higher power used evolution and natural selection as his development tool.

If human brains had just been magic'd into existence by divine fiat, there would be no reason for them to look like a specialized version of the brains of earlier hominids (which in turn look like specialized versions of the brains of earlier mammals, and so on for as far back as you care to look).

Comment Re:Catastrophic man-made global warming (Score 2) 277

Perhaps, perhaps not. Venus is still very poorly understood. In its high temperature environment its conditions are largely self-sustaining (preventing the sequestration of CO2 in rock), although it's also unstable, prone to broad temperature and pressure swings. It also appears to have undergone a global resurfacing event about 300-500mya, if that gives a clue as to how unstable the planet as a whole is. ;) We don't know what caused it, or really anything about it. Part of the planet's properties are now a result of it having lost its water rather than being a cause, such as its hard crust. Obviously its lack of a magnetic field is responsible for its loss of water, but we don't know exactly when or why it disappeared (there are of course theories... I had always just assumed it was the slow rotation rate, but the last research I read suggested that not enough to account for it). Other issues as to how Venus ended up as it did may be related to size - although it's only a bit smaller than Earth, that may be the initial factor that set its fate in motion - for example, its lithosphere in general appears to be thicker and higher viscosity on Earth, which could have hindered or prevented plate tectonics, and thus subduction of carbonates.

Either way, it's a mess now at the surface (though rather comfy ~55km up ;) ). And I'm not so sure I buy into some of the proposed ways to fix it (terraforming). For example, some have suggest mass drivers ejecting the atmosphere. Let's just say you can pull it off, and then you start building oxygen in the atmosphere - what happens next? The crust is something like 7-9% FEO; it's going to rust away whatever oxygen you make in short order.

Interestingly, I'd argue that this is possibly the salvation to Sagan's airborne-microbe concept for terraforming Venus. The main criticism is that if you engineered some sort of carbon-sequestering microbe on Venus (or artificial equivalent), you'd end up with a deep surface layer of graphite surrounded by some hugely hot, dense oxygen layer, and the atmosphere would explode. But that would never happen; at Venus surface temperatures and pressures, the surface rocks would rust away the oxygen as fast as it was created, even in tiny quantities, with the wind blowing the dust around to collect at low/eddy areas. So you're laying down bands of carbon and iron oxide as you burn through the planet's iron buffer. Where have we seen this before? Right, Earth, ~2,3 billion years ago, banded iron formations. Just like on Earth, you'd eventually burn through the iron and start to accumulate oxygen. But by then the graphite is already underground, buried in iron dust.

It's not a fast process. But it has precedent. Microbes already rusted at least one planet, and that planet's surface conditions weren't nearly as favorable for rusting as Venus's.

Comment Re:Catastrophic man-made global warming (Score 1, Troll) 277

I don't know how China managed to melt so much arctic ice, leading to the absurd situation that just a couple days before the winter solstice this year I went on a hike through the snowless mountains in Iceland among chirping songbirds digging for worms. All I have to say to China about this is: Best. Conspiracy. Ever. Well played, China. Well played.

Comment Re:News from other countries... (Score 2) 45

Well, when it comes to space budgets....

NASA: $19,3B
ESA: $5,8B
Roscosmos: ~$2B/yr
JAXA: $2,0B
CNSA: $0,5B official / $1,3B est.
ISRO: $1,2B

It's not just US bias that leads to most stories coming from NASA. NASA really does spend the most on space research and exploration, by large margins.

Still, the public perception is that NASA's budget is far more than it actually is.

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