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Submission + - Students at UCL discover nearby supernova (

clive_p writes: Students and staff at UCL’s teaching observatory, the University of London Observatory, have spotted one of the closest supernova to Earth in recent decades. At 19:20 GMT on 21 January, a team of students – Ben Cooke, Tom Wright, Matthew Wilde and Guy Pollack – assisted by Dr Steve Fossey, spotted the exploding star in nearby galaxy Messier 82 (the Cigar Galaxy).

The discovery was a fluke – a 10 minute telescope workshop for undergraduate students that led to a global scramble to acquire confirming images and spectra of a supernova in one of the most unusual and interesting of our near-neighbour galaxies.

Comment Re:I believe it (Score 2) 1010

Seen from a European perspective, this linking of anit-evolution with religion is rather strange. The Pope is happy with evolution, so is the Archbishop of Canterbury, and indeed all the mainstream Christian churches. As an aside: how they reconcile their bible and the observable facts doesn't bear inquiring in too closely, but they all claim to accept evolution as scientific fact. So the fact that maybe 50% of europeans call themselves religious isn't incompatible with the fact that something over 80% of europeans accept evolution. I don't understand why things are different in the USA.

Comment Re:Do infra-red contact lenses really exist? (Score 1) 320

Thanks for that comment. I thought that it must be something like that. But a contact lens that blocks out almost all visible light except a tiny bit at the red end must make the user almost without usable sight. Wouldn't someone banging into the furniture in a casino and groping around them all the itme make someone suspicious? I retain a profoud scepticism that that there is anything in this story at all.

Comment Do infra-red contact lenses really exist? (Score 1) 320

I can see that they are for sale, at an extraordinary price, on the web. But that doesn't mean much: it may just be that gullible buyers exist.

The real question is do they really work, and if so how? I'm not aware of any technology that is capable of converting infra-red to visible light except with a significant input of power, which is obviously not available in the case of contact lenses.

Comment Re:Boggle (Score 1) 909

Whatever you do in the US, don't do the metrication half-way like we've done in the UK. We buy gasoline and milk in litres, but beer in pints. If you go to a DIY store you can find some sheets of plywood etc with dimensions stated: 6 feet by 3 feet by 5 mm. People tend to measure their height in feet and inches but their weight in kilograms - that makes the BMI figure quite interesting. We've taken over a century to do our metric conversion, and it's still under way, unfortunately.

Comment Chip-and-pin isn't really the solution (Score 1) 140

As someone who has been forced to use the chip-and-pin system for some years (because I live in the UK) I can tell you that it's not that much more secure. The intrepid researchers in the Computer Science Dept at Cambridge have shown that there are many ways in which it can be compromised. The reason our banks are so keen on chip-and-pin is that if your card is misused you, the customer, have to foot the bill. When we had to sign credit card slips and someone forged your signature it was the bank (or other credit card issuer) which was liable. Shops also like it because the banks charge them a tiny bit less commission. What you in the USA should get rid of is your ridiculous system of requiring input of a zip code at gasoline stations. I can never use my non-US credit card to get gasoline in the US because I don't have a US zip code, and the machines appear to have no fall-back system as an alternative. I can't believe that the system gives you any significant amount of extra security.

Comment Re:It's not "911" in Japan (Score 1) 116

Absolutely right. But you didn't bother to post the only international number, which is 112. This works throughout the EU and in quite a number of other countries besides from land-lines, and on all mobile phones using the GSM system (which is most of them, maybe nearly all). This is the number to teach children, and to use in articles about emergency calls.

Comment Re:..and the actual link is: (Score 3, Interesting) 211

One very useful thing that the new digital text service doesn't have is the accurate time. Old analogue teletext had a display of hours minutes and seconds. New one has only hours and minutes, and because of decoding delays etc. even the minutes don't change right on the 0 seconds point. I have to find another way to check my watch.

Comment Re:Who knew (Score 1) 120

Maybe it's going to be a slow process, but there have quite a number of news stories recently saying that both Visa and Mastercard are going to introduce them quite soon, e.g.,2817,2399772,00.asp For those of us with credit cards issued in other parts of the world, where we have put up with the infernal system for some time, at least it might mean the end of being faced with gas stations insisting that we enter our Zip Code (which we don't have) before we can get gas.

Comment Re:Who knew (Score 1) 120

I would have thought that the change to chip-and-pin cards in the US would have forced most places to invest in new POS infrastructure. That's certainly what has been going on in Europe over the last few years. Restaurants, especially, have had to invest in lots of new wireless POS terminals so they can take their machine to your card at the table. Maybe IBM doesn't think there's much money in all this new hardware, but somebody obviously does.

Submission + - Arise SIR Jonathan Ive ( 1

mariocki writes: Steve Jobs' go-to design man Jonathan Ive, the creator of modern computer design classics such as the iMac, MacBook Pro and iPod/iPhone/iPad, has been awarded a knighthood in the New Year's Honours list taking him from plain old "Mr" straight to "Sir" in one fell swoop. This now puts him in the same league as Paul McCartney, Michael Caine, Bob Geldof and Bill Gates.
Ive said "I discovered at an early age that all I've ever wanted to do is design" and even for Apple haters his designs have done more for personal computer design than the mainstream PC manufacturers could imagine, taking the PC from the geek den into the living room of even the most painfully trendy fashionista.

Comment Only good feature - clamshell design - is lost (Score 1) 208

The only reason I have a current Motorola phone is because it's GSM 4-band (which one needs to use it in North America and the rest of the world), and because it has a clamshell design, which means the buttons don't get pressed by accident when it's in my pocket or a briefcase. Losing the latter, is crazy, as it was the only really good feature, and one which you can't get from otherwise decent phone manufacturers like Nokia. I won't buy a smartphone until they come out with one having a design which protects the display and the buttons when it's in my pocket along with keys, loose change, pocket knife, and whatever.

Comment Re:Only applies to 'unnecessary' personal informat (Score 1) 461

Hopefully gas station pumps can continue to ask for a ZIP rather than a PIN. Just a personal preference.

That is really annoying for those who don' t live in the USA so have no zip code. It means two extra trips to the booth to get your credit card read and approved, and then debited with the actual amount of gas used. Almost all other countries use a PIN number (typically 4 digits) to approve credit card purchases done by machine but machines in the USA don't seem to be able to read them. I can't wait for the USA to catch up with the rest of the world.

But I suppose one can't expect any more of the only part of the world not to use International Standard road signs, A4 paper, 00 as the international dialling prefix, 230/240 volt mains, and metric units.

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