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Submission Summary: 0 pending, 22 declined, 1 accepted (23 total, 4.35% accepted)

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Submission + - A Billion More Years of Earth

Nefarious Wheel writes: I've been following our Martian rovers raptly, as evidence mounts for water, the effects of water, and the possibility that life existed on Mars perhaps a billion years ago.

Which all leads to the question — If a similar rover were to visit the Earth a billion years from now, would it be able to detect that life ever existed here?

Submission + - The 1% vs. The Queen's List 1

Nefarious Wheel writes: When Her Majesty, the Queen of England's finances were so rich they threatened to take too much money out of circulation, Parliament took over the management of her funds and put her on the "Queen's List". It's a drawing account, good for a yacht or two here and there and the extra silverware butler if you need one. She's still quite rich — most of London owed her rent, and she can throw the odd grand wedding if she wants...

What if we did that to the (say) top 100 billionaires — let the country take over the management of their money, let them buy whatever they want (with the exception of a few things like nuclear centrifuges, small armies, congressmen, corporations, judges, things like that). Let them buy whatever they want out of their fund otherwise, no real restrictions on amount beyond that. Put them on oh, call it "The Treasury List".

Would that fix the disparity between the 1% — 99% ?

Submission + - New, cheaper Solar-Hydrogen catalytic process (

Nefarious Wheel writes: "A group of researchers has taken another step towards directly converting solar energy into fuel, in this case, hydrogen. A new system that converts light and water into hydrogen is less expensive than many others, and the photoelectrochemical platform it uses is more reactive, efficient, and has a much longer lifetime."

Submission + - Are online jam sessions feasible?

Nefarious Wheel writes: "Crowdsourcing an idea here.

What if there was a single internet portal people could use for online musical jam sessions? A place for people to continually make live music together — but live music only? I imagine something that would be a combination of Ventrilo with a "vote to kick" option similar to WoW dungeon finder groups (kicking would bounce wrong players to another Vent channel perhaps) and a moderating system similar to Slashdot, where high-karma moderators could bump players from one jam session into another (if the other players in that session permit, with "no response" equal to "let them jam"). You'd need a way to isolate players contributions (hold mouse down on player's icon to change volume, perhaps) and some sort of hardware standards and some sort of equalisation scheme. You'd have two classes of participants, Players and Audience. The whole thing could be funded by contributions toward a download of the last x minutes of play.

What say you, Slashdotters? Can we take over the music business again?"

Submission + - What makes a beautiful machine? 1

Nefarious Wheel writes: "One of the great perks of the company where I work is a huge variety of technical magazines in the coffee room, often having to do with industrial machinery, the aircraft industry, logistics, the world of the intensely practical application. Leafing through these I'm struck by how some very mundane machinery is really very beautiful. I guess form follows function, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but — why are some machines just simply beautiful to look at? Is it a case of things attracting us for monkey reasons, or intelligence crossing the barrier to emotion because of some line drawn by an artist masquerading as an engineer? Why is the nacelle of a commercial jet, a scanning electron microscope, a magnet of the LHC beautiful, when it was designed entirely to suit a practical purpose?"

Submission + - Conroy won't tame 'wild west' web | The Australian (

Nefarious Wheel writes: "An editorial in The Australian contains a rebuttal to Stephen Conroy's attempt to introduce a blacklist filter to Internet content in Australia. No news to us, the children won't be saved, we'll all be annoyed, and it will be abused. But it's interesting that this high profile national paper has come out and said what's on all our minds. This article is definitely not a gift to Conroy's re-election campaign."

Submission + - How to put an invention into the public domain 1

Nefarious Wheel writes: "I have a couple of inventions — mechanical devices, based on physical principles — that I believe could transform certain aspects of industry. The trouble is, I can't afford to file patents, and even if I could I'm not sure that would be the best way for these devices to be made available as widely as I'd like. Is there some way to publish the details of these innovations in the public domain in such a way as to protect them from being snaffled away by some patent troll? I'd be happy with a contribution (or simple attribution) model for recompense, which could be zero to whatever, but that's not as important to me as getting the ideas out there for anyone who wants to use them. This isn't copyright, and I know of no patent equivalent to creative commons.

In short, what's the best way to protect an invention against someone filing a patent on it, short of patenting the device yourself? Can this be done?"

Submission + - Climate specialist for White House science advisor

Nefarious Wheel writes: "According to Reuters John Holdren is to become the new White House science advisor.

A Harvard University physicist, Holdren is a climate specialist and former president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The President-Elect evoked the Kennedy-era New Frontier imagery in professing the importance of science and technology, mentioning the lunar landings, sequencing the human genome in his introduction.

Here's hoping for more science and less political science in the new administration. We can only hope."
Data Storage

Submission + - Extremely long term data storage

Nefarious Wheel writes: Strange ideas day. Was thinking of economical but extremely long-term storage, longer than you can depend on a magnetic domain to remain uncorrupted by stray fields. This line of thought resulted in this odd question:

Given the paper, machining and electronics technology available today, and ignoring magnetic and ink based solutions, how much data could you reliably store on a punched paper card? I'm sure the medium could hold more than the 80 to 96 bytes per unit of the past.

If you think about it, books from 800AD onward (such as the Book of Kells) are still with us, and hold considerable detail. It's unlikely we could expect that sort of data lifespan with today's media. But the sort of paper used for US Form 5081 could be with us for a very long time, given proper care and containment. So, how much data could you punch into a standard 80 column sized card before it became structurally unusable?

Submission + - UK Tax officials lose details of 25M Taxpayers

Nefarious Wheel writes: Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs has admitted to losing the details of 25 million individuals, with 7.25 million U.K. families potentially affected. "This is the biggest privacy disaster by our government," said Jonathan Bamford, assistant information commissioner.

In a speech to Parliament on Tuesday, the chancellor of the exchequer, Alistair Darling, told of the loss of two discs containing the details of everybody in the U.K. who claims and receives child benefits. Story at

Submission + - Fluid state switches given a boost by bubbles

Nefarious Wheel writes: (From Physics News) Microfluidics is the science of carrying out fluid chemical processing on a chip whose channels are typically millimeters or microns across. In such a constricted space, viscosity becomes large, and the fluid flow can slow way down, thus limiting the kind of mixing or testing that can be done. Physicists at the University of Twente in the Netherlands, however, use tiny exploding bubbles to speed things up.See movie at d_cavitation.html/. the Twente scientists are the first to achieve flow visualization at rates of a million frames per second at a size scale of 100 microns.

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