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Earth

The Search For the Mount Everest of Caves 233

NoMeansYes writes "An interview with James Tabor, author of the new best-selling book Blind Descent, introduces a pair of accomplished scientists — American Bill Stone and Ukranian geologist Alexander Klimchouk — who are the two most prominent figures in extreme caving. Both have figured prominently in the ongoing quest to discover the deepest cave on earth. Tabor describes what conditions are like inside supercaves like Cheve (-4,869 feet) and Krubera (-7,188 feet), before discussing Stone and his far-reaching technological innovations. These include the Posideon Discovery Rebreather and NASA's ENDURANCE. Extreme caving probably won't remain underground (so to speak) much longer, however. The article notes that James Cameron is planning to release a 3D film next year about extreme cave divers."
Games

How Game Gimmicks Break Immersion 228

The Moving Pixels blog has brief discussion of how gimmicky game mechanics often break a player's sense of immersion, making it painfully obvious that he's simply jumping through carefully planned hoops set up by the developers. The author takes an example from Singularity, which has a weapon that can time-shift objects between a pristine, functional state and a broken, decayed state. Quoting: "The core issue with this time control device is that it's just not grand and sweeping enough. It doesn't feel like it's part of a world gone mad. Instead it's just a gameplay tool. You can only use it on certain things in certain places. You can 'un-decay' this chalkboard but not that desk. You can dissolve that piece of cover but not most of the walls in the game. The ultimate failure of such cheap tricks is that they make the game world less immersive rather than more compelling. The world gets divided into those few things that I can time shift, that different set of things I can levitate, and that majority of things that I can't interact with at all. ... I'm painfully aware that all that I'm really doing is pushing the right button at the right place and time. Sure, that's what many games are when you get down to it, but part of the artistry of game design comes from trying to hide this fact."
Canada

Alberta Scientists Discover Largest-Ever Cache of Dinosaur Bones 154

Cryolithic writes "The largest cache of dinosaur bones ever found has been unearthed in Alberta. From the article: '... officials at the Royal Tyrrell Museum say the Hilda site provides the first solid evidence that some horned dinosaur herds were much larger than previously thought, with numbers comfortably in the high hundreds to low thousands. ... Rather than picturing the animals as drowning while crossing a river, a classic scenario that has been used to explain bonebed occurrences at many sites in Alberta, the research team interpreted the vast coastal landscape as being submerged during tropical storms or hurricanes. With no high ground to escape to, most of the members of the herd drowned in the rising coastal waters. Carcasses were deposited in clumps across kilometers of ancient landscape as floodwaters receded.'"
Math

First Self-Replicating Creature Spawned In Conway's Game of Life 241

Calopteryx writes "New Scientist has a story on a self-replicating entity which inhabits the mathematical universe known as the Game of Life. 'Dubbed Gemini, [Andrew Wade's] creature is made of two sets of identical structures, which sit at either end of the instruction tape. Each is a fraction of the size of the tape's length but, made up of two constructor arms and one "destructor," play a key role. Gemini's initial state contains three of these structures, plus a fourth that is incomplete. As the simulation progresses the incomplete structure begins to grow, while the structure at the start of the tape is demolished. The original Gemini continues to disassemble as the new one emerges, until after nearly 34 million generations, new life is born.'"
Image

Fine Print Says Game Store Owns Your Soul Screenshot-sm 262

mr_sifter writes "UK games retailer GameStation revealed that it legally owns the souls of thousands of customers, thanks to a clause it secretly added to the online terms and conditions for its website. The 'Immortal Soul Clause' was added as part of an attempt to highlight how few customers read the terms and conditions of an online sale. GameStation claims that 88 percent of customers did not read the clause, which gives legal ownership of the customer's soul over to the UK-based games retailer. The remaining 12 percent of customers however did notice the clause and clicked the relevant opt-out box, netting themselves a £5 GBP gift voucher in the process."
Space

New Europe-Wide Radio Telescope To Look For ET 49

astroengine writes "A new radio telescope is under construction, consisting of 44 stations (each consisting of several antennae) spread across Europe. The pan-European Low Frequency Array is half built and already returning unprecedented observations of cosmic radio sources. The best thing is, when it's complete, SETI will be able to use the array to seek out transmitting extraterrestrial civilizations in these untapped low radio frequencies."
Programming

Graph-View of Collaborative Development At GitHub 14

VindictivePantz writes "In an interesting graphical view on collaborative development, FlowingData writes: 'GitHub is a large community where coders can collaborate on software development projects. People check code in and out, make edits, etc. Franck Cuny maps this community (with Gephi), based on information in thousands of user profiles.'"
Input Devices

New I/O Standard Bids To Replace Mini PCI Express 31

DeviceGuru writes "LinuxDevices reports that a group of companies today unveiled — and demonstrated products based on — a tiny new PCI Express expansion standard. Although it's somewhat larger than the PCI Express Mini Card, the tiny new 43mm x 65mm FeaturePak card's high density 230-pin edgecard connector provides twice the number of PCI Express and USB 2.0 channels to the host computer, plus 100 lines dedicated to general purpose I/O, of which 34 signal pairs are implemented with enhanced isolation for use in applications such as gigabit Ethernet or high-precision analog I/O. While FeaturePaks will certainly be used in all sorts of embedded devices (medical instruments, test equipment, etc.), the tiny cards could also be used for developing configurable consumer devices, for example to add an embedded firewall/router or security processor to laptop or notebook computers, or for modular functionality in TV set-top-boxes and Internet edge devices." The president of Diamond Systems, which invented the new card, said "Following the FeaturePak initiative's initial launch, we intend to turn the FeaturePak specification, trademark, and logo over to a suitable standards organization so it can become an industry-wide, open-architecture, embedded standard" (but to use the logo you have to join the organization).
Handhelds

TI-Nspire Hack Enables User Programming 88

An anonymous reader writes "Texas Instruments' most recent, ARM-based series of graphing calculators, the TI-Nspire line, has long resisted users' efforts to run their own software. (Unlike other TI calculator models, which can be programmed either in BASIC, C, or assembly language, the Nspire only supports an extremely limited form of BASIC.) A bug in the Nspire's OS was recently discovered, however, which can be exploited to execute arbitrary machine code. Now the first version of a tool called Ndless has been released, enabling users, for the first time, to write and run their own C and assembly programs on the device. This opens up exciting new possibilities for these devices, which are extremely powerful compared to TI's other calculator offerings, but (thanks to the built-in software's limitations) have hitherto been largely ignored by the calculator programming community."
Government

Leak Shows US Lead Opponent of ACTA Transparency 164

An anonymous reader writes "Throughout the debate over ACTA transparency, the secret copyright treaty, many countries have taken public positions that they support release of the actual text, but that other countries do not. Since full transparency requires consensus of all the ACTA partners, the text simply can't be released until everyone is in agreement. A new leak from the Netherlands fingers who the chief opponents of transparency are: the United States, South Korea, Singapore, and Denmark lead the way, with Belgium, Germany, and Portugal not far behind as problem countries."
Cellphones

Apple Bans Jailbreakers From the App Store 507

Hugh Pickens writes "Adam Mills writes in the Examiner that Apple has been cutting off access to the iTunes App Store for iPhone hackers and jailbreakers. Sherif Hashim, the iPhone developer who successfully hacked the iPhone OS 3.1.3 and unlocked the 05.12.01 baseband for iPhone 3GS and 3G devices, discovered he'd been cut off and twittered: '"Your Apple ID was banned for security reasons," that's what i get when i try to go to the app store, they must be really angry.' Another hacker, iH8Sn0w, who is behind the Sn0wbreeze tool, confirms that his account has also been deactivated even though iH8sn0w's exploit had only been revealed to Dev Team, the group responsible for the PwnageTool. 'It is kind of surprising that two people associated with jailbreaking have had this happen to them so soon after one another, but it's too early to say if this is a campaign that Apple is starting up,' writes Mills."
Graphics

64-Bit Flash Player For Linux Finally In Alpha 172

Luchio writes "Finally, a little bit of respect from Adobe with this alpha release of the Adobe Flash Player 10 that was made available for all Linux 64-bit enthusiasts! As noted, 'this is a prerelease version,' so handle with care. Just remove any existing Flash player and extract the new .so file in /usr/lib/mozilla/plugins (or /usr/lib/opera/plugins)."
Transportation

Porsche Unveils 911 Hybrid With Flywheel Booster 197

MikeChino writes "Porsche has just unveiled its 911 GT3 R Hybrid, a 480 horsepower track vehicle ready to rock the 24-hour Nurburgring race this May. Porsche's latest supercar will use the same 911 production platform available to consumers today, with a few race-ready features including front-wheel hybrid drive and an innovative flywheel system that stores kinetic energy from braking and then uses it to provide a 160 horsepower burst of speed. The setup is sure to offer an advantage when powering out of turns and passing by other racers."
Science

Europe's LHC To Run At Half-Energy Through 2011 194

quaith writes "ScienceInsider reports that Europe's Large Hadron Collider will run at half its maximum energy through 2011 and likely not at all in 2012. The previous plan was to ramp it up to 70% of maximum energy this year. Under the new plan, the LHC will run at 7 trillion electron-volts through 2011. The LHC would then shut down for a year so workers could replace all of its 10,000 interconnects with redesigned ones allowing the LHC to run at its full 14 TeV capacity in 2013. The change raises hopes at the LHC's lower-energy rival, the Tevatron Collider at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois, of being extended through 2012 instead of being shut down next year. Fermilab researchers are hoping that their machine might collect enough data to beat the LHC to the discovery of the Higgs boson, a particle key to how physicists explain the origin of mass."

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