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Submission + - Malaysian Police: VX nerve gas killed N Korea leader's brother in airport attack (reuters.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Malaysian police have announced their finding that Kim Jong Nam, half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jon Un, was killed by assassins using VX nerve gas in an attack in the busy Kuala Lumpur airport. Malaysian authorities plan to decontaminate the airport and other sites visited by the attackers. Police are holding the two female attackers, one of whom was affected by the chemical agent, as well as two other men. They are seeking seven more North Koreans connected to the case. VX is the most toxic of the nerve gasses and the UN has declared it a weapon of mass destruction. The manufacture and stockpiling of more than 100 grams of VX per year is prohibited by the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993. It has no commercial uses. The Malaysian police are trying to discover if it was smuggled into their country, or manufactured there. The Malaysian government has recalled its ambassador to North Korea for consultation. North Korea is blaming the death of Kim Jong Nam on Malaysia. North Korea is believed to have major stockpiles of chemical weapons, and is alleged to conduct experiments on prisoners and social undesirables.

Submission + - Film studios seek to block Australians from acessing 41 pirate websites (computerworld.com.au)

angry tapir writes: A group of film studios is undertaking what is set to be the most significant use so far of Australia's anti-piracy laws, which allow rights holders to apply for court orders that can compel ISPs to block their customers from accessing certain piracy-linked sites. A pair of rights holders last year successfully obtained court orders forcing Australia's most popular ISPs to block a handful of sites including The Pirate Bay. Now Village Roadshow wants to have 41 more sites blocked

Comment Re:It's just a power grab (Score 1) 72

Wait, do, do you think that an 80% failure rate is good just because there are courts with HIGHER rates?

Let me slow it down for you:

Only about 1.01% of the circuit court's rulings go to Supreme Court. By definition, these are cases that SCOTUS has looked at and seen enough of a problem that they granted a writ of certiorari. If they didn't see a problem, they'd just bounce it back.

So, of the 1% that goes to SCOTUS, 80% of those are overturned and 20% are affirmed. That means the true rate of 9th Circuit cases being overturned is closer to 0.8%, not 80%.

I mentioned Breitbart, because you will only find this spurious claim of "The 9th Circuit gets overturned 80% of the time" will only be found in websites that cater to alt-Right jackoffs. And they will never mention that the courts with the highest rates of being overturned are in solid red states.

Now, do we have some clarity on this issue?

You're still looking bemused. Let me put it more simply: 80% of the 9th Circuit's rulings are not overturned, you stupid sonofabitch.

Comment Re:It's just a power grab (Score 2) 72

Bwahaha, you mean the fucking Ninth Circuit? The one that, on appeal to the Supreme Court, gets overturned a whopping 80 percent of the time? Yeah, I think any court with that kind of failure rate should be disbanded, as well.

There's some supreme nuttery going on out in California these days...

I often see this repeated by people who don't know shit.

First of all, when the Supreme Court takes a case, it overturns the Appeals Court decision in over 70% of the cases. They only grant a writ of certiorari in cases where they see an issue and it usually means they will be overturned. And despite what you read on Breitbart, the 9th Circuit is not the most overturned Appeals circuit. Kentucky/Ohio/Michigan's 6th Circuit has that distinction with an 87 percent rate of being overturned. Then comes Alabama/Florida/Georgia's 11th Circuit with a record of 85 percent. But the fact is, if your case goes to the Supreme Court, it's odds-on that it will be overturned.

6th Circuit - 87 percent;

11th Circuit - 85 percent;

9th Circuit - 79 percent;

3rd Circuit - 78 percent;

2nd Circuit and Federal Circuit - 68 percent;

8th Circuit - 67 percent;

5th Circuit - 66 percent;

7th Circuit - 48 percent;

DC Circuit - 45 percent;

1st Circuit and 4th Circuit - 43 percent;

10th Circuit - 42 percent.

Submission + - The race for autonomous cars is over. Silicon Valley lost. (autoblog.com)

schwit1 writes: Up until very recently the talk in Silicon Valley was about how the tech industry was going to broom Detroit into the dustbin of history. Companies such as Apple, Google, and Uber — so the thinking went -were going to out run, out gun, and out innovate the automakers. Today that talk is starting to fade. There's a dawning realization that maybe there's a good reason why the traditional car companies have been around for more than a century.

Last year Apple laid off most of the engineers it hired to design its own car. Google (now Waymo) stopped talking about making its own car. And Uber, despite its sky high market valuation, is still a long, long way from ever making any money, much less making its own autonomous cars.

To paraphrase Elon Musk, Silicon Valley is learning that "Making rockets is hard, but making cars is really hard." People outside of the auto industry tend to have a shallow understanding of how complex the business really is. They think all you have to do is design a car and start making it. But most startups never make it past the concept car stage because the move to mass production proves too daunting.

Comment Re:Only Tech? (Score 1, Insightful) 139

The major headlines in America today (Feb 23rd) are not about war, famine, or plague, but about whether school restroom usage policy should be decided by the federal government, or left up to locals. I don't mean to belittle the issue, but that is hardly an existential crisis for humanity.

Yet it appears to be a focus of the current government.

Comment Re:Maybe (Score 1) 183

The short of it, Jupiter moves things around; it's very good at scattering other bodies, even large ones. First it dragged outer populations into the inner solar system, then scattered inner solar system material out, and then on its retreat pulled outer solar system material back in. It's actually a very big deal that it did that, as it brought ice into the inner solar system.

Comment Good luck with that. (Score 1) 308

"I want a program that shows what our competitors' pricing will be tomorrow. Sort it so both name and price are always in ascending order. Email the output as plain text to the following 27 people, but only Joe and I should have the ability to edit it. Make the keyboard give a mild electric shock to managers in stores more than 10% more expensive than their regional competitors. And it should run exclusively in The Cloud, but not require internet access for any of its functionality."

I wish I was joking.

Comment Re:motivation (Score 3, Insightful) 169

What happens is that when people don't get punished for the first few things, they start to realize that the normal limits don't apply, and the bad sorts start pushing the envelope.

You have just described our entire political and economic system. The "bad sorts" have pushed the envelope right to the top..

Comment Re:Maybe (Score 1) 183

1. "Adjective nouns" need to have similarity to "noun" but aren't necessarily a subset. Gummy bears aren't a subset of bears either.

Gummy bears are not a scientific term. Besides, the IAU itself already uses the word dwarf in this manner. Dwarf stars, dwarf galaxies... but carved out an inexplicable exception for dwarf planets.

I'd like to see a citation on this. I highly doubt that you can simulate the formation of a solar system where multiple Mars analogues can coexist in the same orbit

False equivalency. There's a difference between "two Mars sized planets existing in the same orbit" and "Mars' orbit having been cleared". And more to the point, the biggest problem with the concept of Mars clearing its orbit is that its orbit was already largely cleared when it formed. According to our best models, Jupiter reached all the way in to around where Mars' orbit is today, and had cleared almost everything to around 1 AU. Earth and Venus accreted from planetesimals between each other. Mars accreted from planetary embryos ejected to the space in-between Earth and Jupiter. Without Jupiter's migration, simulations produce an Earth-sized Mars and several planetary embryos in the asteroid belt on eccentric / high inclination orbits, something akin to the situation between Neptune and Pluto - except with the embryos nearly Mars-sized.

3. In a geological sense yes. But the current definition of planets is based on orbital mechanics, after which Earth is a lot closer to Jupiter than to Ceres/Pluto.

Huh? By what aspect of orbital mechanics? By semimajor axis and velocity, Earth is much closer to Ceres than Jupiter. Are you talking inclination and eccentricity? Then we should boot Mars in favour of low inclination / eccentricity asteroids.

4. Hydro-static equilibrium as a dividing line is way worse. There are roughly 100 TNOs where we don't really know whether they are elliptical.

Hydrostatic equilibrium can be very easily estimated based on mass, which can be approximately deduced within a range of feasible albedos and densities, and very accurately deduced if the body has a moon. By contrast, it's almost impossible to estimate neighborhood clearing to any distance beyond Neptune, or at all in the case of extrasolar planets. Which, to reiterate, the IAU definition says aren't planets, even though they have an extrasolar planet working group.

We'd have to visit each and every one of them with a probe just to put them in the proper category.

This is utter nonsense.

Meanwhile, it's completely clear which bodies qualify for the "clearing its orbit" rule.

No, it's not. We have virtually no clue what lies in the outer reach of our solar system. As we speak there's a search for a new planet that could be as big as an ice giant. It's a huge open question as to whether it would have cleared its neighborhood, and it will be very difficult to ascertain.

All currently qualifying planets have roughly 99% or more of the mass in their orbit in themselves. Ceres has 30%.

You seem to have some weird concept going on that "semimajor axis = orbit". Ceres has nothing of significance in its orbit. The asteroids are not all in the same orbit. They're certainly more likely to cross each others orbits, but that's not the same thing.

And again, since you apparently missed it: the reason that the inner solar system is largely cleared except for the asteroid belt (and the reason that the latter exists) is Jupiter. Mars did not clear its own neighborhood.

5. The definition should be mutable. Why should a planet that gets ejected keep counting as a planet?

You seriously have to ask why something that hasn't changed but is in a different location shouldn't suddenly be declared to be something entirely different? If you take a rabbit to Canada does it suddenly become a dwarf rabbit?

6. I highly doubt life could form in a non-cleared orbit.

Once again, you're stuck on this misconception that the only orbital parameter that exists is the semimajor axis. And also apparently a notion that stable orbital resonances don't exist.

Orbits can come in a wide range of forms. If you want to see how crazy they get, check out Epimetheus and Janus ;)

As for a life bearing celestial in orbit around another (gas giant) planet: I don't think anybody feels bad about calling that one a moon? As in "Yavin 4".

The funny point with your example being, that whenever you illustrate a large round (hydrostatic equilibrium) moon in sci-fi - Star Wars, Star Trek, Avatar, whatever - people invariably keep calling it a planet and having to correct themselves. We inherently recognize "large, round object with relevant gravity = planet", and have to shoehorn our minds into not using that term.

7. "Within each other's periapsis and apoapsis" seems like a reasonable enough definition that neither Ceres nor Pluto qualify for.

Once again, you ignore most orbital elements (seriously, stop right now and go read the Wikipedia article on orbital elements). We don't live in a 2D solar system. And your notion is oversimplified even for 2D.

All of this, let alone other aspects such as mass ratios, resonance, metastability, etc. And it gets even more complicated when you view the solar system not as a 2-body problem but a multi-body problem. Then things like horseshoe orbits, Lagrangian points, etc come into play.

8. Yes that's silly but that'll probably be changed easily enough and has no effect on Pluto.

1) It's over a decade later. Where's the fix?
2) It's just a symptom of how horribly hasty and ill-thought-out their action was.

9. How are you planning to ascertain hydro-static equilibrium for an exoplanet if we can't even do it for Varuna.

What are you talking about? Varuna is the size of Ceres. The fact that it hasn't been declared a dwarf planet by the IAU is again a symptom of the IAU's dysfunction on this issue. See #18. By contrast, we'd have no snowball's chance in hell of identifying all potential orbit crossers for it.

The fact that you bring up Varuna makes me think that you feel it shouldn't be a planet because it's an oblate spheroid. If so, that just reveals yet another problem with your understanding: you need to go look up the definition of hydrostatic equilibrium. Hint: if Varuna wasn't an oblate spheroid, then it wouldn't be in hydrostatic equilibrium.

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