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Skydiver To Break Sound Barrier During Free-Fall 311

Hugh Pickens writes "Over fifty years ago, American Joe Kittinger made history by leaping from a balloon at 102,800 ft, and although many have sought to repeat the feat, all have failed. Now, BBC reports that Austrian extreme sportsman Felix Baumgartner will try to break the long-standing record for the highest ever parachute jump, skydiving from a balloon sent to at least 120,000 ft, and it is likely that 35 seconds into in his long free-fall of more than five minutes, he will exceed the speed of sound — the first person to do so without the aid of a machine. 'No-one really knows what that will be like,' says Baumgartner. Although challenges in the endeavor include coping with freezing temperatures and ultra-thin air, a key objective for Baumgartner will be to try to maintain a good attitude during the descent and prevent his body from going into a spin and blacking out. 'The fact is you have a lot of different airflows coming around your body; and some parts of your body are in supersonic flow and some parts are in transonic flow. What kind of reaction that creates, I can't tell you,' adds Baumgartner."

The Voynich Manuscript May Have Been Decoded 320

MBCook sends word on a possible solution to the mystery of the Voynich Manuscript, which we last visited nearly 6 years ago. "The Voynich Manuscript has confounded attempts to decode it for nearly 100 years. A person named Edith Sherwood, who has previously suggested a possible link to DaVinci, has a new idea: perhaps the text is simply anagrams of Italian words. There are three pages of examples from the herb section of the book, showing the original text, the plaintext Italian words, and the English equivalents. Has someone cracked the code?"

Comment Re:Brakes (Score 1) 1146

When brakes get really hot, the pad material starts to turn directly into gas and causes the pads to "float."

This is not true. Brake fade is caused by the hydraulic fluid boiling, thereby turning an incompressible fluid into a compressible one, thereby greatly reducing the amount of force applied to the pads.

Yes, the GP is true. This is why in sport and high performance applications you often find cross-drilled brake rotors. While the holes do provide some additional surface area to the rotor which promotes cooling, their primary purpose is to give the gas somewhere to go & thereby allow greater pad-to-rotor friction.

That's not to say that brake fluid doesn't boil, however boiling brake fluid is usually caused by the demand for braking force exceeding the components' ability to dissipate heat away from the caliper, or excessive moisture being present in the brake fluid.

Comment Re:As the crow flies (Score 1) 289

After some training, these people can actually learn to read, and investigations into the brain show that parts of the vision system indeed retrieve their input from the tongue, a taste organ.

Hmm, I'm going to be extremely pedantic and point out that although the tongue is typically considered a "taste organ", they're not using the sense of taste. The tongue is just as much a part of your sense of touch as any other part of your body (well, most any part...), and that's the sense which is being utilized in this case.

Comment Re:Paper bills = accountability (Score 1) 285

You could save the online bills to your computer. Many of them are available as PDFs. But, yes, it requires a certain discipline on your part rather than just having them show up in the mail.

I also agree with other posters that companies don't generally do this to go "green", but to make a buck. That is why T-Mobile's plan sounds more offensive.


Submission + - Don't Like DeadLocks? Kill the Threads (

An anonymous reader writes: Don't like deadlocks, data races and traffic accidents? Kill the threads. If we want to get rid of all the nasty problems that plague concurrent software, then we must get rid of the threads. Multithreading is the second worst thing to have happened to computing. The worst is the algorithm proper, the mother of all threads and of everything that is bad with software. We have become addicted to a hopelessly flawed paradigm. Our multithreaded software systems are full of bugs (hidden or otherwise) and they are hard to program. But the problem is far more serious than this. The algorithmic model is the reason that we can't prevent over 43,000 people from dying in traffic accidents every year. And that's just the US statistics. There is a better way to do things. Let me explain.

Submission + - GPS Transitions to new Control System

gsfprez writes: It took us a long time, but the Air Force has finally moved off of the 1970's mainframe GPS control system and is now running on a new Unix-based Control System called AEP — Architecture Evolution Plan (its not a very good name is it? /Zoot). Its important to remember that current GPS satellites are pretty Miss South Carolina as far as satellites go. They're bascially solar powered iPod shuffles with atomic clocks that simply playback whatever we upload into them at a precise rate. They don't actually have any idea where they are — its the control system here at Schriever that does. So, the benefits of a modern, easy-to-maintain control system are legion — especially to US taxpayers. First of all, we hire 20 & 30-somethings like me instead of having to hire TRON-somethings at 4 times the price to operate and mantain the systems because we've actually heard of Solaris (wtf is jovial?) and the storage devices we now use aren't just 60's b-movie sci-fi props. (Yes, the old system actually uses 9-tracks.) Also, the new system will be a lot cheaper to support and modify since Sun stocks things like SATA drives while diging up Saturday Night Fever-era DASDs isn't as simple as a trip to AEP will also allow us to be ahead of the curve: we're basically good to go to fly the new IIF birds. There's other goodness as well, like redundancy, yada, yada, but I like my job, and don't want to get fired because i said something i'm not supposed to.
The Courts

Submission + - Couple who catch cop speeding could face charges.

a_nonamiss writes: "A Georgia couple, apparently tired of people speeding past their house, installed a camera and radar gun on their property. After it was installed, they caught a police office going 17MPH over the posted limit. They brought this to the attention of the local police department, and are now being forced to appear in front of a judge to answer to charges of stalking.

from the article:

The Sipples allegedly caught Kennesaw police officer Richard Perrone speeding up to 17 mph over the speed limit. Perrone alerted Bartow authorities, who in turn visited the Sipples' home to tell them Perrone intended to press charges against them for stalking.
I have the utmost respect for most law enforcement. They have a difficult, dangerous and mostly thankless job to do, but shouldn't they be held accountable for casually breaking the very same laws they are supposed to be enforcing? Additionally, shouldn't we, as citizens, have the right to be able to bring this to someone's attention without having to face laughably bogus charges for our efforts?"
The Internet

Submission + - Canadian ISPs Send Thousands of Copyright Notices

An anonymous reader writes: The CBC reports that Canadian Internet service providers are passing along thousands of copyright infringement notifications from U.S. copyright lobby groups such as the Business Sofware Alliance to subscribers under a system called notice and notice. Michael Geist comments that unlike the U.S. takedown approach, the Canadian system is proving effective while protecting privacy and free speech.

Submission + - History repeating itself in Microsoft vs Apple DRM

lawman508 writes: Back in the early 80's, WinTel won the battle for the desktop by allowing anyone (who paid a fee), to deploy their own PCs. While Apple technology was arguably better, the sheer volume of WinTel PC vendors and software drew most users to that platform, leading to its eventual dominance.

Are we seeing the same thing happening today with the recently announced Microsoft PlayReady technology?

Microsoft PlayReady " is a new multimedia content access technology optimized to meet the needs of mobile operators and handset manufacturers for digital entertainment and commerce... technology will be available as a well-documented porting kit with source code, so it can be deployed on any mobile hardware or software platform, including low-end devices. Optimized implementations for several popular handset platforms will be available from PacketVideo in its software products for mobile phones

I think the key aspect of this announcement lies in the fact that Microsoft is allowing anyone to use it, on any device. As opposed to Apple, that only allows their DRM to run on the iTunes platform.

Are we seeing history repeat itself here?

Will the Microsoft Zune eventualy dominate over the Apple iPOD, not through "superior" technology, but purely on the virtue that so many vendors and developers will work with it?

Submission + - hotmail bouncing forwards

hakonhaugnes writes: "It appears that Hotmail has yesterday changed a policy in the system, now seemingly classifying every email forwarded in as "Obscene" or blocked for "policy reasons".

Here is what Hotmail returns when receiving an email forwarded from another address:

xxxxxx at Connected to but sender was rejected. Remote host said: 550 Your e-mail was rejected for policy reasons on this gateway. Reasons for rejection may be related to content such as obscene language, graphics, or spam-like characteristics (or) other reputation problems. For sender troubleshooting information, please go to Please note: if you are an end-user please contact your E-mail/Internet Service Provider for assistance.

Does anyone know why this was implemented and how to reach Hotmail on this?

If anyone from Hotmail is reading this, please contact me on info at nic dot name. It's a big issue for our users, and right now we can only encourage them to use another email like Yahoo or Gmail.."

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