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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?"

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"Live or die, I'll make a million." -- Reebus Kneebus, before his jump to the center of the earth, Firesign Theater