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Comment There's an obvious alternative explanation (Score 4, Informative) 277

Babies have been getting bigger for a long time.

This is well documented in medical literature:

- "These findings suggest that US and Canadian babies are getting bigger" https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/p...
- "We conclude that Canadian infants are getting bigger" https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/p...
- "Results presented in this study demonstrate that even when migratory effects are eliminated, a secular increase in birth weight is observed" https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/p...

Comment Some back of the envelope calculations. (Score 1, Informative) 477

Bearing in mind that all this is just a fun exercise, and there's no reason to believe that the 1.2 mN/kW thrust will scale to megawatts of power, here's how long it would take to get to Mars if this finding scales to a practical spaceship drive:

  • Assume solar panels in space can give you 2.5kW per square meter, and a hypothetical spacecraft has a 20 x 40 meter solar array giving 2 MW
  • 1.2 mN/kW == 1.2 N/MW, so at 2MW you're getting 2.4 Newtons of thrust.
  • Let's say that the craft weighs 100 tonnes, that gives an acceleration of 0.000024 meters per second squared, or about 20 hours to get to walking speed.
  • Mars is 225 million km away.
  • Putting those numbers into this nifty space travel calculator, it'll take 6 years to get to mars, including acceleration and deceleration. Or 2 years if you can get the craft mass down to 10 tonnes.

Comment Ever the optimist is our Elon (Score 5, Interesting) 426

There's a history of visionaries predicting utopian scenarios including a greater share of leisure time as a result of automation. John Maynard Keynes famously predicted a 15 hour working week.

It's based on the idea that there's a certain amount of work that needs to be done, and once it's automated people have nothing to do. However, the work that really that "needs" to be done was automated away during the Agricultural Revolution in the 1700's and 1800's. 90% of the work we're doing now (and probably closer to 100% of slashdotters' work) doesn't *need* to be done, but we do it anyway.

What the visionaries don't take into account is that the top two levels of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs don't work like the bottom two levels. The first small part of our work fulfils the basic needs like food water and shelter, then we carry on working in pursuit of higher needs, such as prestige and a sensation that we're fulfilling our potential. These needs are relative to what everyone else is accomplishing.

This is why people will carry on working long weeks long after automation takes away their manual labour jobs. In fact, automation has lead to longer working weeks, as manual labour is replaced with office work that can physically be done for longer. People will work for as long as they can to compete with their peers

Back to Elon's preiction. What will actually happen is that in the short term, people laid off as a result of automation will suffer and be angry, and in the long term the economy will adjust to the excess supply of cheap labour and invent new ways to use it, not necessarily as pleasant as the old manual jobs.

Comment Re:non-news is non-news (Score 5, Informative) 159

All modern NAND flash memory does "quasi-RAID". Writes are split across all chips in parallel, so the larger the capacity, the more chips, the faster the write speed. Check out any USB thumb drive with various capacities - larger models of the same line will be faster.

That said, 128GB should only be 4 times faster than 32GB, so if these figures are correct then the 32GB units are also using lower spec memory.

Comment [citation needed] (Score 5, Insightful) 282

This article is just a list of game-changing technologies coupled to unsourced assertions that these were derided as toys when they were first introduced.

I don't recall a widespread opinion that color monitors, sound cards, digital cameras, wireless networking or AI were "toys" when first introduced. If anything, I recall and endless stream of over-hyped articles about how they heralded the second coming of Christ.

Comment This is ridiculous (Score 0) 222

Sure, have a healthy suspicion of anything you hear from the government, but these complaints just don't make sense.

>> These hidden officials also claim that American and British agents were unmasked and had to be rescued, but not a single one is identified

What, so you expect the government to publish the names of former covert agents previously operating in hostile countries? How about their home address while we're at it?

>> There is speculation that Russia and China learned things from obtaining the Snowden files, but how could these officials possibly know that, particularly since other government officials are constantly accusing both countries of successfully hacking sensitive government databases

One of the whole points of an intelligence organisation is to know what the 'enemy' knows and how they got that information. There are loads of ways you can find out how knowledge came about, such as observing coincidental timing (china discovers several things at the same time what were all in unreleased snowden files), asking your source, or obtaining secret documents from your opponent describing how the information was obtained.

Comment For those who don't know what this TSYNC thing is (Score 5, Informative) 46

The linux seccomp feature provides application sandboxing. Chrome uses it to sandbox tabs from each other and native plugins from the rest of the system.

Seccomp is accessed through the seccomp (2) system call. The SECCOMP_FILTER_FLAG_TSYNC flag is an option to seccomp (2) that transparently synchronises the effect of the call across all sandboxed threads.

Comment Re:Can someone who knows about astronomy fill me i (Score 4, Informative) 129

OK I answered my own question with some googling.

The age of the exoplanet is not independently derived, but instead, taken from the age of the host star. This too can be difficult to determine. For isolated stars, there are precious few methods (such as gyrochronology) and they generally have large errors associated with them. Thus, instead of looking for isolated stars, astronomers searching for young exoplanets have tended to focus on clusters which can be dated more easily using the main sequence turn off method.


Comment Re:Functionally, No. (Score 4, Informative) 188

Except that GCHQ is a UK government organisation, and in the UK Sovereign Immunity only protects the monarchy. People can and do sue the government for not adhering to the law, in a process called judicial review: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judicial_review_in_English_law That said, I don't think any lawsuit would be successful.

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