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Space

Life Could Have Evolved 15 Million Years After the Big Bang, Says Cosmologist 312

KentuckyFC writes "Goldilocks zones are regions around stars that are 'just right' for liquid water and for the chemistry of life as we know it. Now one cosmologist points out that the universe must have been through a Goldilocks epoch, a period in which warm, watery conditions could have existed on almost any planet in the entire cosmos. The key phenomenon here is the cosmic background radiation, the afterglow of the Big Bang which was blazing hot when it first formed. But as the universe expanded, the wavelength of this radiation increased, lowering its energy. Today, it is an icy 3 Kelvin. But somewhere along the way, it must have been between 273 and 300 Kelvin, just right to keep water in liquid form. According to the new calculations, this Goldilocks epoch would have occurred when the universe was about 15 million years old and would have lasted for several million years. And since the first stars had a lifespan of only 3 million years or so, that allows plenty of time for the heavy elements to have formed which are necessary for planet formation and the chemistry of life. Indeed, if live did evolve a this time, it would have predated life on Earth by about 10 billion years."
Robotics

Emotional Attachment To Robots Could Affect Battlefield Outcome 194

vinces99 writes "It's becoming more common to have robots sub for humans to do dirty or sometimes dangerous work. But researchers are finding that, in some cases, people have started to treat robots like pets, friends or even as an extension of themselves. That raises a question: If a soldier attaches human or animal-like characteristics to a field robot, can it affect how they use the robot? What if they 'care' too much about the robot to send it into a dangerous situation? Julie Carpenter, who just received a doctorate in education from the University of Washington, wanted to find out. She interviewed Explosive Ordnance Disposal military personnel – highly trained soldiers who use robots to disarm explosives – about how they feel about the robots they work with every day. What she found is that troops' relationships with robots continue to evolve as the technology changes. Soldiers told her that attachment to their robots didn't affect their performance, yet acknowledged they felt a range of emotions such as frustration, anger and even sadness when their field robot was destroyed. That makes Carpenter wonder whether outcomes on the battlefield could potentially be compromised by human-robot attachment, or the feeling of self-extension into the robot described by some operators."

Comment Re:Why Koch and not Soros? (Score 5, Informative) 238

Is it because the Koch is considered evil by the left while Soros is a saint?

Seriously, did you even read the article? (I know, I know, this is /., what on earth am I thinking.) That's a rhetorical question, of course - you wouldn't ask the question you asked if you'd read the article. Then again, that seems to also be true of quite a few people who replied to you, so you're hardly alone.

Koch is the subject because an earlier article, by the same author, had listed Koch as one of nearly 600 people who appeared to have exceeded campaign contribution limits. Turns out this was incorrect - an error due in large part to the disasterously poor state of data on contributions by major donors. The whole damned article is both exonerating Koch and explaining where the original analyis went wrong. It's about Koch because Koch's company took the time to contact the author, work with him to identify where and how some of the erroneous data came about, and help set the record straight. If one of the other nearly 600 donors listed had done the same, this follow-up article might easily have been about someone other than Koch.

It's got nothing to do with "evil", "good", "bad", etc, except inasmuch as the FEC data is manifestly "bad", and woefully inadequate for even the FEC themselves to determine who may be breaking campaign finance laws. If you want to get upset about the article, get upset about the real point - that nobody has sufficient information to tell whether major contributors on either side of the political aisle are breaking the law. (And there were plenty of Dem donors in the original article if you take the time to read it. I apologize in advance to you that Soros wasn't on the list. Well, that's not true - there's two Soroses (Sori?) on the lists - just that <Jedi>these are not the Soroses you're looking for</Jedi>)

So untwist your knickers, grab a beer, chill out, then try actually reading the article.

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