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Math

Maths Zeroes in on Perfect Cup of Coffee (bbc.com) 162

One coffee drinker's perfect brew may be another drinker's battery acid. For this reason, and presumably others, mathematicians are zeroing in on the equations behind the taste of drip coffee. From a report on BBC:Composed of over 1,800 chemical components, coffee is one of the most widely consumed drinks in the world. The work by Kevin Moroney at the University of Limerick, William Lee at the University of Portsmouth and others offers a better understanding of the parameters that influence the final product. It had previously been known that grinding beans too finely could result in coffee that is over-extracted and very bitter. On the other hand not grinding them enough can make the end result too watery. "What our work has done is take that [observation] and made it quantitative," said Dr Lee. "So now, rather than just saying: 'I need to make [the grains] a bit bigger,' I can say: 'I want this much coffee coming out of the beans, this is exactly the size [of grain] I should aim for." Dr Lee says he sets his grinder to the largest setting. By doing so, he says: "The grains are a bit larger than you get in the standard grind, which makes the coffee less bitter. Partly because it's adjusting that trade-off between the stuff coming out of the surface and stuff coming out of the interior. When things are larger, you're decreasing the overall surface area of the system. "Also, the water flows more quickly through a coffee bed of large grains, because the water's spending less time in contact with the coffee, helping reduce the amount of extraction too. "If it's bitter, it's because you're increasing the amount of surface area in the grains. Also, when the grains are very small, it's hard for the water to slide between them, so the water is spending a lot more time moving through the grains -- giving it more time for the coffee to go out of solution."
Earth

Study Finds That Athletes Perform Better When Reminded of Their Impending Death (arstechnica.com) 106

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Basketball players that were grimly reminded of their own inevitable demise before playing took more shots and scored more points in a study published in an upcoming issue of Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology. The researchers behind the experiments hypothesize that the pep-talk tactic fits with the established "terror management theory," which proposes that humans are motivated to seek self-esteem, meaning, and symbolic immortality -- in this case becoming a famous athlete -- in order to manage their fear of death. For the study, Helm and colleagues first recruited basketball players to play two back-to-back, one-on-one games with lead researcher Colin Zestcott, another psychologist at the University of Arizona. (The players didn't know that Zestcott was a researcher; they thought he was another study participant.) After the first game, half of the participants were randomly assigned to take a questionnaire on how they felt about basketball. The other half took one about their thoughts on their own death. Those that took the spooky survey saw a 40-percent boost in their individual performance during the second game as compared with their first. Those that took the non-macabre survey saw no change. In a second experiment, participants were given a basket-shooting challenge, which a researcher described to them in a 30-second tutorial. Based on a coin-toss, half the participants got the tutorial while the researcher was wearing a plain jacket. The other half saw the researcher in a T-shirt with a skull-shaped word-cloud made entirely of the word 'death.' The participants' performance on the shooting challenge was then scored by another researcher who didn't know which players saw the death shirt. In the end, players who did see the shirt took more shots, and outperformed by 30 percent, those that just saw the jacket. "We've known from many studies that reminders of death arouse a need for terror management and therefore increase self-esteem striving through performance on relatively simple laboratory tasks," Peter Helm, a study co-author and psychologist at the University of Arizona, said in a news release. "However, these experiments are the first to show that activating this motivation can influence performance on complex, real-world behaviors."
Democrats

Latest WikiLeaks Reveal Suggests Facebook Is Too Close For Comfort With Clinton (hothardware.com) 437

MojoKid writes: As we quickly approach the November 8th elections, email leaks from the Clinton camp continue to loom over the presidential candidate. The latest data dump from WikiLeaks shines a light on emails between Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, John Podesta and Facebook Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg. In one email exchange, dated June 6th, 2015, Sandberg expresses her desire for Clinton to become president, writing to Podesta, "And I still want HRC to win badly. I am still here to help as I can." While that was a private exchange, Sandberg also made her zest for seeing Clinton as the 45th President of the United States publicly known in a Facebook post on July 28th of this year. None of that is too shocking when you think about it. Sandberg has every right to endorse whichever candidate she wants for president. However, a later exchange between Sandberg and Podesta showed that Mark Zuckerberg was looking to get in on the action a bit, and perhaps curry favor with Podesta and the Clinton camp in shaping public policy. Donald Trump has long claimed that Clinton is too cozy with big businesses, and one cannot dismiss the fact that Facebook has a global user base of 1.7 billion users. When you toss in the fact that Facebook came under fire earlier this year for allegedly suppressing conservative news outlets in the Trending News bar, questions begin to arise about Facebook's impartiality in the political race. The report also notes that Sandberg is at the top of the list when it comes to picks for Treasury Secretary, if Clinton wins the election. In an interview with Politico, David Segal, executive director for Demand Progress, said "[Sandberg] is a proxy for this growing problem that is the hegemony of five to ten major Silicon Valley platforms." Lina Khan, a fellow with the Open Markets Program at the New American think tank adds: "If a senior Cabinet member is from Facebook, at worst it could directly interfere [in antitrust actions]. But even in the best of cases there's a real worry that it will have a chilling effect on good-faith antitrust efforts to scrutinize potential anti-competitive implications of dominant tech platforms."
Education

eSports Now a Part of College Athletics 110

jyosim writes: The University of Cincinnati hosted what was possibly the largest-ever collegiate video-game tournament last weekend. At the university, the League of Legends club has become an official club sport, just like rugby or rowing. "What's happening with college e-sports right now is that we're seeing a formalization and institutionalization of what's always been present," said T.L. Taylor, a professor of comparative media studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Graphics

Artists Create a 1000-Year GIF Loop 105

jovius writes: Finnish artists Juha van Ingen and Janne Särkelä have developed a monumental GIF called AS Long As Possible, which loops once per 1000 years. The 12 gigabyte GIF is made of 48,140,288 numbered frames, that change about every 10 minutes. They plan to start the loop in 2017, when GIF turns 30 years old. "If nurturing a GIF loop even for 100 — let alone 3,000 years — seems an unbelievable task, how much remains of our present digital culture after that time?", van Ingen said. The artists plan to store a mother file somewhere and create many iterations of the loop in various locations — and if one fails, it may be easily synchronized with, and replaced by, another. Maybe they should use FLIF instead.
Government

John McAfee On Why He's Running For President 242

Velcroman1 writes: Our government is in a dysfunctional state. It is also illiterate when it comes to technology. Technology is not a tool that should be used for a government to invade our privacy. Technology should not be the scapegoat when we fail to protect our digital assets and tools of commerce. These are matters of priorities." So says John McAfee, offering up a brief explanation into why he's running for president. As noted earlier on slashdot, McAfee has filed paperwork already (PDF) to found a new party.
Android

Android M's Official Name Is Marshmallow 92

An anonymous reader writes: As they've done in the past, Google has revealed the name for the upcoming version of Android with a new statue in front of its headquarters. Android's sixth version will be called Marshmallow. Dave Burke, Android's VP of engineering, unveiled the statue on Twitter. Google has also released the Android 6.0 SDK and the final M preview.
Businesses

Why Military Personnel Make the Best IT Pros 299

Nerval's Lobster writes Every year, approximately 250,000 military personnel leave the service to return to civilian life. When the home front beckons, many will be looking to become IT professionals, a role that, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, is among the fastest growing jobs in the country. How their field skills will translate to the back office is something to ponder. With the advent of virtualization, mobile, and the cloud, tech undergoes rapid changes, as do the skill sets needed to succeed. That said, the nature of today's military—always on the go, and heavily reliant on virtual solutions—may actually be the perfect training ground for IT. Consider that many war-fighters already are IT technicians: They need to be skilled in data management, mobile solutions, security, the ability to fix problems as they arise onsite, and more. Military personnel used to working with everything from SATCOM terminals to iPads are ideally suited for handling these issues; many have successfully managed wireless endpoints, networks, and security while in the field. Should programs that focus on placing former military personnel in civilian jobs focus even more on getting them into IT roles?
Math

Statistician Creates Mathematical Model To Predict the Future of Game of Thrones 127

KentuckyFC writes One way of predicting the future is to study data about events in the past and build a statistical model that generates the same pattern of data. Statisticians can then use the model to generate data about the future. Now one statistician has taken this art to new heights by predicting the content of the soon-to-be published novels in the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R R Martin. The existing five novels are the basis of the hit TV series Game of Thrones. Each chapter in the existing books is told from the point of view of one of the characters. So far, 24 characters have starred in this way. The statistical approach uses the distribution of characters in chapters in the first five books to predict the distribution in the forthcoming novels. The results suggest that several characters will not appear at all and also throw light on whether one important character is dead or not, following an ambiguous story line in the existing novels. However, the model also serves to highlight the shortcomings of purely statistical approaches. For example, it does not "know" that characters who have already been killed off are unlikely to appear in future chapters. Neither does it allow for new characters that might appear. Nevertheless, this statistical approach to literature could introduce the process of mathematical modelling to more people than any textbook.
Shark

NIF Compresses Diamonds With 50 Million Atmospheres of Pressure 81

sciencehabit (1205606) writes The world's largest laser [the National Ignition Facility], a machine that appeared as the warp core in 'Star Trek into Darkness', has attained a powerful result: It's squeezed diamond, the least compressible substance known, 50 million times harder than Earth's atmosphere presses down on us. ... As the researchers report online today in Nature, the x-ray assault nearly quadrupled the diamond's density. "That's a record," Smith [one of the researchers] says. "No one's compressed diamond to that extent before." The blast pulverized the diamond into dust, but before the mineral's destruction the scientists successfully measured its density ... For a billionth of a second, the diamond, which is normally 3.25 times denser than water, became ... 12.03 times denser than water. ... Scientists have speculated that diamond worlds may exist elsewhere. If a solar system arises with more carbon than oxygen, then carbon should soak up the oxygen by forming carbon monoxide, leaving excess carbon to create carbon planets—which, under pressure, become diamond worlds. Thus, Smith says, the new experiment will probe the nature of such planets. They are performing similar experiments with iron in an attempt to understand the properties of super-Earth cores.
Programming

Ask Slashdot: Where's the Most Unusual Place You've Written a Program From? 310

theodp writes: "Michael Raithel was polling the SAS crowd, but it'd be interesting to hear the answers to the programming questions he posed from a broader audience: 1. What is the most unusual location you have written a program from? 2. What is the most unusual circumstance under which you have written a program? 3. What is the most unusual computing platform that you wrote a program from? 4. What is the most unusual application program that you wrote?"
Sci-Fi

EVE Online's Space Economy Currently Worth $18 Million 88

DavidGilbert99 writes: "According to Eyjólfur Guðmundsson, the lead economist of CCP Games, developer of EVE Online, the total amount of ISK (InterStellar Kredits) in the system at the moment is 600 trillion, which equates to about $18 million in real world money — and the economist believes we could learn a lot from how the economy works in the game. There was a massive battle within the game earlier this year, which CCP estimated destroyed between $300,000 and $330,000 worth of game materials. Guðmundsson said, 'In economics there is a big difference between consumption and loss. In EVE, the war is the consumption of the economy. Even though they are giving money away they are not losing value, they are gaining something instead. People were willing to spend that money [in the Battle of B-R5RB] to get this thrill of participating in this battle.'"
Games

What's In a Username? the Power of Gamer Tags 99

An anonymous reader writes "Are pro gamers good because they're good, or just because their usernames make you think they are? New scientific research suggests it may actually be a little bit of both. What's most interesting about this isn't what it says about current players, but how up and coming gamers will choose their own handles in future, both to intimidate opponents — and pull in the audiences that help subsidize their budding careers."
Earth

Introducing a Calendar System For the Information Age 224

First time accepted submitter chimeraha (3594169) writes "Synchronized with the northern winter solstice and the UNIX Epoch, the terran computational calendar contains 13 identical months of 28 days each in addition to a short Month Zero containing only new year's day and a single leap year day every four years (with the exception of every 128 years). The beginning of this zero-based numbering calendar, denoted as 0.0.0.0.0.0 TC, is on the solstice, exactly 10 days before the UNIX Epoch (effectively, December 22nd, 1969 00:00:00 UTC in the Gregorian Calendar). It's "terran" inception and unit durations reflect the human biological clock and align with astronomical cycles and epochs. Its "computational" notation, start date, and algorithm are tailored towards the mathematicians & scientists tasked with calendrical programming and precise time calculation.

There's a lot more information at terrancalendar.com including a date conversion form and a handfull of code-snipits & apps for implementing the terran computational calendar."
Linux

What Are the Weirdest Places You've Spotted Linux? 322

colinneagle writes "Bryan Lunduke recently pulled together a collection of the weirdest places he's found Linux, from installations in North Korea and the International Space Station to a super-computer made out of Legos and computer engineer Barbie. Seen any weird places for Linux not mentioned in this list?"

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