from the leap-from-conclusions dept.
Phil Plait ("The Bad Astronomer") writes with a skeptical take on the recent report that a comet may have narrowly missed earth. According to the linked post from Plait, "When a comet breaks up, it spreads out. Even when intact, the material surrounding a comet can be tens or even hundreds of thousands of kilometers across! Claiming that a comet broke apart, yet managed to constrain its pieces to volume of space less than a few thousand kilometers across strains credulity. Mind you, Bonilla claimed to have seen these objects over the course of two days. That means they would’ve been stretched out along a path that was a million km long at least, yet so narrow that only one observatory on Earth saw them transit the Sun. That is highly unlikely. Worse, the very fact that no one else saw anything makes this claim even less tenable."
Tretarn writes: What Duolingo does is still not 100% clear, but even so, MG’s statement here doesn’t feel too far out. After all, Duolingo is the latest project by Carnegie Mellon University professor Luis von Ahn, with two acquisitions of his research by Google already under his belt: the ESP Game and reCAPTCHA. Duolingo is very much in the same spirit as both these projects in so far as it utilizes human microtasks “for good” — in order to help identify and verify information (images in the first case, digitized text in the second) that computers cannot yet process. We creatures of the Web fill out a lot of CAPTCHAs, and some 750 million users have helped Google’s book digitization efforts by using reCAPTCHA to help correct OCR misreads. Now, with Duolingo, von Ahn hopes to be able to use a similar sort labor in the wonderful and mammoth goal of translating the Web into all major languages.
"As of 4/11/11, I am joining the Sony boycott," GeoHot said in a statement. "I will never purchase another Sony product. I encourage you to do the same. And if you bought something Sony recently, return it. Why would you not boycott a company who feels this way about you? There is much more to come on this blog."