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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."

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.

Comment Re:Hmmm (Score 1) 136

Can we get the guys at Atheist Shoes to do the same :)

I know, I know - somewhere out there some wannabe genious is chortling to themselves saying "Silly /.er, won't the only cameras they get back be the ones in boxes that were actually delivered? If the box goes missing, the camera inside the box will also go missing!"

Fie upon such notions, I say - fie! This is what your so-called "classical" physics leads young and impressionable minds to believe. Alas, the sorry state of education these days. Woe unto you, sad people with your childish "linear time" and "cause and effect" view of the world. Truly, I weep for the youth of today.

As anyone with even a cursory understanding of quantum mechanics knows (and I speak from experience, for I myself am possessed of a quite cursory understanding of QM), once a package has entered the US Postal system, it can only be described in quantum mechanical terms. True, once it has been delivered you can ascertain its position, thereby collapsing its waveform. But prior to delivery, packages are in a superposition - simultaneously both potentially deliverable and potentially lost. Until the package is observed by the recipient, it's impossible to say with certainty what its current state is. It may be on the delivery truck on its way to your house. It might still be at the post office, possibly propping open the door to the break room for a week or two. It may have fallen out of an airplane in a freak decompression incident and landed in a corn field in Kansas. Oh poor limited "classical" minds - your package either "lost" or "delivered". Marvel at the vast vistas of non-delivery available to the quantumly trained! Our undelivered packages exist in an infinite array of intrigue and adventure, potentially scaling Everest, going 10 rounds in bare-knuckled fisticuffs with a half-man half-shark mutant, sitting under a pine tree at the Time's Square Macey's Christmas display window - all these and more, before potentially appearing on our doorsteps.

Still, there remains the so-called "Atheist Shoe Paradox" - how do you track the journey of a camera in a box when the box has yet to be delivered? Again, with a cursory understanding of quantum mechanics, the answer is obvious. One camera is insufficient. You need two cameras. And two cats. Cats, as we all know, have special quantum mechanical properties. So, attach a camera to the collar of each cat. Next, vigorously rub the cats together, so that they become quantumly entangled. (If they are long-haired cats, they may also become physically entangled, which is undesirable - based on my own experience, I recommend sticking with short-haired felines for quantum experimentation.) Place one cat in the shoebox, seal it (but remember airholes!), and bring it to the Post Office. The second cat remains at your home. (Or, given the possessive nature of cats, you now remain at the cat's new home.) Since the cats were quantumly entangled while wearing cameras, you can now use the camera on your resident cat to view the pictures taken by the camera on the shoebox cat. Voila! Paradox avoided and problem solved.

Solutions like this come from thinking outside the box, even if what you're thinking about is inside a box.

Comment Re:Some other relevant stories (Score 2) 270

Don't forget, the Post also claimed 12 dead. For about 18 hours.

To be fair though, they got three of the victims' names right. They were only wrong about Elvis, JFK, Amelia Earhart, and the 6 space aliens accompanying them having been killed. (And The Post *did* print a retraction the next morning, noting that 3 aliens had been slightly wounded by debris but were recoving fine in a secret government hospital located in a forgotten branch of Boston's subway system, whereas the remaining aliens and celebrities had departed hours earlier to visit the White House and drink beers on the veranda with President Obama.)

So just lighten up about The Post already. It's not like they just make stuff up and slap it onto their front page without doing basic fact-checking.

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