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Indian Police Using Facebook to Catch Scofflaw Drivers 130

New Delhi police have a new weapon in the battle against bad drivers, Facebook. Two months ago the police created a Facebook page that allowed people to inform on others breaking traffic laws, and upload pictures of the violations. The page has more than 17,000 fans, and 3,000 pictures currently. From the article: "The online rap sheet was impressive. There are photos of people on motorcycles without helmets, cars stopped in crosswalks, drivers on cellphones, drivers in the middle of illegal turns and improperly parked vehicles. Using the pictures, the Delhi Traffic Police have issued 665 tickets, using the license plate numbers shown in the photos to track vehicle owners, said the city’s joint commissioner of traffic, Satyendra Garg."

Nuclear Energy Now More Expensive Than Solar 635

js_sebastian writes "According to an article on the New York Times, a historical cross-over has occurred because of the declining costs of solar vs. the increasing costs of nuclear energy: solar, hardly the cheapest of renewable technologies, is now cheaper than nuclear, at around 16 cents per kilowatt hour. Furthermore, the NY Times reports that financial markets will not finance the construction of nuclear power plants unless the risk of default (which is historically as high as 50 percent for the nuclear industry) is externalized to someone else through federal loan guarantees or ratepayer funding. The bottom line seems to be that nuclear is simply not competitive, and the push from the US government to subsidize it seems to be forcing the wrong choice on the market."
Emulation (Games)

Emulation For Preservation of Digital Artifacts 81

An anonymous reader writes "Author Salman Rushdie donated his papers and notes to Emory University a while ago. Not surprisingly, many of Rushdie's original notes, drafts, and correspondence existed in electronic form. Rather than printing them out or converting them to other formats, archivists at the university created an emulated image of Rushdie's old computer, complete with old software. Researchers visiting the archive can read his email in Eudora and his Stickies notes, or read drafts of his books in ClarisWorks. When you leave your legacy to future generations, would you like a virtualized copy of your personal system to be included?"

Mozilla Rolls Out Firefox 3.6 RC, Nears Final 145

CWmike writes "Mozilla has shipped a release candidate build of Firefox 3.6 that, barring problems, will become the final, finished version of the upgrade. Firefox 3.6 RC1, which followed a run of betas that started in early November, features nearly 100 bug fixes from the fifth beta that Mozilla issued Dec. 17. The fixes resolved numerous crash bugs, including one that brought down the browser when it was steered to Yahoo's front page. Another fix removed a small amount of code owned by Microsoft from Firefox. The code was pointed out by a Mozilla contributor, and after digging, another developer found the original Microsoft license agreement. 'Amusingly enough, it's actually really permissive. Really the only part that's problematic is the agreement to "include the copyright notice ... on your product label and as a part of the sign-on message for your software product,"' wrote Kyle Huey on Mozilla's Bugzilla. Even so, others working on the bug said the code needed to be replaced with Mozilla's own."

Mars Images Reveal Evidence of Ancient Lakes 128

Matt_dk writes "Spectacular satellite images suggest that Mars was warm enough to sustain lakes three billion years ago, a period that was previously thought to be too cold and arid to sustain water on the surface, according to research published today in the journal Geology. Earlier research had suggested that Mars had a warm and wet early history but that between 4 billion and 3.8 billion years ago, before the Hesperian Epoch, the planet lost most of its atmosphere and became cold and dry. In the new study, the researchers analysed detailed images from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which is currently circling the red planet, and concluded that there were later episodes where Mars experienced warm and wet periods."

Simulation of Close Asteroid Fly-By 148

c0mpliant writes "NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory have released a simulation of the path of an asteroid, named Apophis, that will come very close to Earth in 2029 — the closest predicted approach since humans have monitored for such heavenly bodies. The asteroid caused a bit of a scare when astronomers first announced that it would enter Earth's neighborhood some time in the future. However, since that announcement in 2004, more recent calculations have put the odds of collision at 1 in 250,000."

Revisiting the "Holy Trinity" of MMORPG Classes 362

A feature at Gamasutra examines one of the foundations of many MMORPGs — the idea that class roles within such a game fall into three basic categories: tank, healer, and damage dealer. The article evaluates the pros and cons of such an arrangement and takes a look at some alternatives. "Eliminating specialized roles means that we do away with boxing a class into a single role. Without Tanks, each class would have features that would help them participate in and survive many different encounters like heavy armor, strong avoidance, or some class or magical abilities that allow them to disengage from direct combat. Without specialized DPS, all classes should be able to do damage in order to defeat enemies. Some classes might specialize in damage type, like area of effect (AoE) damage; others might be able to exploit enemy weaknesses, and some might just be good at swinging a sharpened bit of metal in the right direction at a rapid rate. This design isn't just about having each class able to fill any trinity role. MMO combat would feel more dynamic in this system. Every player would have to react to combat events and defend against attacks."

Yellowstone Supervolcano Larger Than First Thought 451

drewtheman writes "New studies of the plumbing that feeds the Yellowstone supervolcano in Wyoming's Yellowstone National Park shows the plume and the magma chamber under the volcano are larger than first thought and contradicts claims that only shallow hot rock exists. University of Utah research professor of geophysics Robert Smith led four separate studies that verify a plume of hot and molten rock at least 410 miles deep that rises at an angle from the northwest."

Herschel Spectroscopy of Future Supernova 21

davecl writes "ESA's Herschel Space Telescope has released its first spectroscopic results. These include observations of VYCMa, a star 50 times as massive as the sun and soon to become a supernova, as well as a nearby galaxy, more distant colliding starburst galaxies and a comet in our own solar system. The spectra show more lines than have ever been seen in these objects in the far-infrared and will allow astronomers to work out the detailed chemistry and physics behind star and planet formation as well as the last stages of stellar evolution before VYCMa's eventual collapse into a supernova. More coverage is available at the Herschel Mission Blog, which I run."

Comment Re:It's sad that none of it works (Score 1) 238

The CHM is very definitely a "real" museum. It takes as its purpose, the collection and preservation of artifacts and documents. Also as with most real museums, the part on display to the public is a tiny fraction of the whole collection, which comprises some 30,000 cataloged artifacts and even more documents. 99% of those are in a rather amazing warehouse in Milpitas, CA.

Far from being a junkpile, every artifact from single vacuum tubes or circuit boards up to the massive cabinets of the Zuse, is photographed, cataloged and stored on shelving in a climate-controlled space.

Most of the collection is pieces of computers because that's what people and companies donate, often discards and salvage.

Like that 360/91 console that features in the photographs? There is only the console panel; you go around back of it, and see thick bundles of yellow wires that were hacked off with a bolt-cutter when the machine was scrapped. Those lights will never blink again. So, should it be thrown out, or is there some value in preserving and displaying the hacked-off panel?

Comment Re:It's sad that none of it works (Score 1) 238

There are several working restorations at CHM. (1) That 1620 definitely works, I've seen it run. They interfaced a PC to replace the console typewriter, but otherwise it ran. (2) there is a complete, working PDP-1 that is demo'd every month, you can play the orignal spacewar game on its vector CRT, and last Christmas they had a carol sing with PDP-1 synthesizer accompaniment. (3) There is a complete 1950s-era machine room with raised floor containing two complete 1401 systems, along with working 026 keypunches, 085 sorter, and tape drives. These are demo'd monthly also. (4) The restoration of the IBM RAMAC, the original hard disk drive, is nearing completion and should be on display later this year.

All the above proceed slowly because they are 100% volunteer-run. They get minimal funding from CHM and only minimal help from the small paid staff. It takes tens of thousands of donated hours to get one of those old machines running and debugged. There are a myriad of age-induced problems, for example dried-up electrolytic caps, corroded contacts, hardened bearing grease and cracked or flattened rubber rollers, which introduce hard-to-trace problems.

If you live anywhere near Mountain View and know something about one of these machines, your help (or money) would be welcome.

Comment Peas were user discovery (Score 5, Informative) 104

I've spent a lot of hours classifying galaxies at GalaxyZoo. The abstract sense of making a tiny contribution to research gets thin real fast. What keeps me coming back is the surprise factor. You'll click away sorting boring balls and streaks and then up pops a perfect barred-spiral, or a swooshy collision or an oddity that doesn't fit any of the categories, and wakes you up. There are millions of galaxies in the deep-field surveys that are the source, most of them never looked at individually, and you never know what the software will toss up next.

The site has an active and supportive forum community, and it was in the forums that the users -- not the astronomy post-docs who run the site -- first commented on the little green balls, suggested they might represent a unique class, and started collecting them as posts on a thread. There are user-run threads going on for other odd types of galaxy some of which might ultimately turn into research topics as well.

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