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Submission + - Massless particle discovery could radically accelerate electronics ( 1

An anonymous reader writes: An exotic particle theorized more than 85 years ago has finally been discovered. Dubbed the "Weyl fermion", it is a strange but stable particle that has no mass, behaves as both matter and anti-matter inside a crystal, and is claimed to be able to create completely massless electrons. Scientists believe that this new particle may result in super-fast electronics and significant inroads into novel areas of quantum computing.

There are two types of particles that make up the universe and everything in it: fermions and bosons. In simple terms, fermions are all the particles that make up matter (for example, electrons), and bosons are all the particles that carry force (for example, photons). Ordinarily, fermions such as electrons can collide with each other, losing energy, and no two fermions can share the same state at the same position at the same time. Weyl fermions being massless, however, have no such restrictions.

Submission + - Dragon Capsule Loss Could Have been reduced with thoughtful programming (

ordirules writes: Thoughtful programming could have saved the dragon capsule from its demise.
" Every indication was that, had the software triggered the parachute deployment, Dragon would have survived its fall into the ocean. However, that software has not been used on this Dragon version; it is supposed to be first implemented on the Dragon V2. "

Submission + - Rats forsake chocolate to save a drowning companion (

sciencehabit writes: We’ve all heard how rats will abandon a sinking ship. But will the rodents attempt to save their companions in the process? A new study shows that rats will, indeed, rescue their distressed pals from the drink—even when they’re offered chocolate instead. They’re also more likely to help when they’ve had an unpleasant swimming experience of their own, adding to growing evidence that the rodents feel empathy.

Submission + - ITT Educational Services charged with fraud over student loan program (

mpicpp writes: Things are tense in the world of for-profit colleges.

The latest to face problems is ITT Educational Services, which was charged with fraud Tuesday. The Securities & Exchange Commission said the company’s chief executive and chief financial officer misled investors and auditors with “outright misstatements” and “half-truths” about its student loan program.

ITT Educational Services allegedly created a fraudulent scheme to show that it was doing better financially than it really was. Students had been defaulting on their loans in droves, but CEO Kevin Modany and CFO Daniel Fitzpatrick hid the real cost from investors, the SEC said.

More than 51,000 students take online courses or attend the 135 ITT Technical Institute campuses located in 39 states. ITT also runs the Daniel Webster College in New Hampshire.

The charges comes on the heels of financial problems at Corinthian College, which was recently shuttered, affecting about 74,000 students.

Submission + - Artificial intelligence experts are building the world's angriest robot

An anonymous reader writes: A New Zealand-based technology company is developing the world’s angriest artificial intelligence machine to help big banks, telcos and insurance companies defuse explosive episodes in customer service.
Once complete, the project will simulate hundreds of millions of angry customer interactions that will help companies better understand the behaviours and processes that trigger customer outbursts.
Those who enjoy their Isaac Asimov might be amused (or appalled) that this project carries the name Radiant. In Asimov's work, Prime Radiant predicted how humans might behave in the future.

Submission + - The Mathematician Who Loves Hitting People 1 writes: Kate Murphy writes at NYT about mathematician John Urschel whose latest contribution to the mathematical realm was a paper for the Journal of Computational Mathematics with the impressively esoteric title, "A Cascadic Multigrid Algorithm for Computing the Fiedler Vector of Graph Laplacians." "Believe me, I am aware that terms such as multigrid, Fiedler, and vector are not words that people use in their daily lives," says Urshel.

But as an offensive guard for the Baltimore Ravens, John Urschel regularly goes head to head with the top defensive players in the NFL and does his best to keep quarterback Joe Flacco out of harm's way. "I play because I love the game. I love hitting people," Urshel writes. "There's a rush you get when you go out on the field, lay everything on the line and physically dominate the player across from you. This is a feeling I'm (for lack of a better word) addicted to, and I'm hard-pressed to find anywhere else."

Urschel acknowledges that he has faced questions from NFL officials, journalists, fans and fellow mathematicians about why he runs the risk of potential brain injury from playing football when he has "a bright career ahead of me in mathematics" but doesn't feel able to quit. "When I go too long without physical contact I'm not a pleasant person to be around. This is why, every offseason, I train in kickboxing and wrestling in addition to my lifting, running and position-specific drill work."

Submission + - Samsung pushes the Internet of Things with open ARTIK platform (

Mark Wilson writes: Every company worth its salt is keen to get aboard the Internet of Things bandwagon, and Samsung is no different. Today the company announces its ARTIK platform which it hopes will accelerate the development of IoT apps and hardware for both consumers and the enterprise.

This is more than just a platform announcement, however; Samsung has produced three modules with a variety of integrated features ready to power the next generation of connected devices. The modules are backed up with embedded hardware security and can be tailored to a range of tasks.

Comment Spotting GCJ cheating would be an interesting find (Score 1) 220

Ditto. They also could have researched if submissions in a given (same) GCJ identity have been (or had a high probability of being...) written by two or more different coders...

The submissions' speed of top ranked coders seen in early stages of the GCJ contest always amazed me (compared, of course, with my turtle sluggishness...)


Comment Re:Far too expensive (Score 1) 205

In a few time (a couple of years) I think Julia ( will be a contender. At present is not fully mature for industrial application IMHO (some evolution in syntax is expected, and debugging is ongoing).

Julia is a mix of Matlab, C and a typical scripting language (Perl, Python, Ruby....), wraps several numerical libraries (e.g. LAPACK for 'normal' matrices and SuiteSparse for sparse matrices, BLAS functions, PCRE for regular expressions...) and is prepared from its inception for painless running in parallel platforms. Its loaded with a ton of numerical functions (Bessels, Gammas, etc...) A good JIT compiler makes it run many numerical benchmarks almost as fast as compiled C or Fortran (see examples in the front page of, and also allows for many of the functions in Julia's standard library to be written in Julia instead of in C.

Julia is a Swiss knife for (numerical and scientific) programming in the making. It is open source and free and at present already runs in most platforms.

Comment Re:more direct connection to producers (Score 1) 191

Alibaba has a front end to the final consumer called aliexpress, very similar to ebay. I've already used it 3 or 4 times, and everything went well (expected items and of good quality, good communication, etc...) I was buying sports stuff from Chinese brands, so the risk of getting fakes was low (although there are Chinese fakes of Chinese brands, such as Li Ning sport clothes). Aliexpress even has a scheme of client protection and refunding such as ebay's, which I've never used (I never used ebay's protection service either). And aliexpress is near 100% Chinese sellers and goods, so in the end it is a big Chinese shop.

Regarding prices, most sellers in aliexpress targeting western clients have their prices very similar to ebay, despite here and there you see some savings in the same item - but don't expect more than 20 or 30% except in very rare cases. Indeed I suspect that most ebay's Chinese sellers have also a shop in aliexpress where the goods have prices similar to ebay's.

Submission + - Pablo Escobar's hippos: A growing problem (

schwit1 writes: A wild herd of hippopotamuses that once belonged to a Colombian drug lord are now spreading across the countryside and no one knows what to do with them.

Situated halfway between the city of Medellin and Bogota, the Colombian capital, Hacienda Napoles was the vast ranch owned by the drugs baron Pablo Escobar. In the early 1980s, after Escobar had become rich but before he had started the campaign of assassinations and bombings that was to almost tear Colombia apart, he built himself a zoo.

He smuggled in elephants, giraffes and other exotic animals, among them four hippos – three females and one male. And with a typically grand gesture, he allowed the public to wander freely around the zoo. Buses filled with schoolchildren passed under a replica of the propeller plane that carried Escobar’s first US-bound shipments of cocaine. While Don Pablo masterminded the operations of the Medellin Cartel from his villa on the hill, the locals gazed at the strange animals and even stranger concrete dinosaurs that Escobar built for his son.

When Hacienda Napoles was confiscated in the early 1990s, Escobar’s menagerie was dispersed to zoos around the country. But not the hippos. For about two decades, they have wallowed in their soupy lake, watching the 20sq km (8 sq mile) park around them become neglected and overgrown – and then transformed back into a zoo and theme park, complete with water slides. All the while, the hippos themselves thrived, and multiplied.

The hippos also escaped from the zoo, and because the environmental conditions in Colombia are ideal for these invasive hippos, they are prospering wherever they go.

Submission + - How often do economists commit misconduct? (

schwit1 writes: A survey of professional academic economists finds that a large percentage are quite willing to cheat or fake data to get the results they want.

From the paper’s abstract:

This study reports the results of a survey of professional, mostly academic economists about their research norms and scientific misbehavior. Behavior such as data fabrication or plagiarism are (almost) unanimously rejected and admitted by less than 4% of participants. Research practices that are often considered “questionable,” e.g., strategic behavior while analyzing results or in the publication process, are rejected by at least 60%. Despite their low justifiability, these behaviors are widespread. Ninety-four percent report having engaged in at least one unaccepted research practice.

That less than 4% engage in “data fabrication or plagiarism” might seem low, but it is a terrible statistic. Worse, the other results make me think that the many of the 96% who said they didn’t do this were lying. 40% admit to doing what they agree are “questionable” research practices, while 94% admit to committing “at least one unaccepted research practice.”

In other words, almost none of these academic economists can be trusted in the slightest. As the paper notes, “these behaviors are widespread.”

Comment Re:Is there a 'less nerdy version'? (Score 1) 347

Unless between us and the supernova is some "dark matter" :-) (or something alike) that caused the photons to have the extra delay :-)

Indeed nobody has examined yet, IMHO, the path between us and the SN1987a supernova. Or even its "surroundings" when it was forming: did space time deformation or any other mysterious event occurred?

And if in general science often new knowledge erases old "facts", in Astronomy and Astrophysics that happens almost every day. So we have to take all this novelty with a grain of salt... (remember the recent flop of the particles travelling between CERN-Geneva and Grand Sasso...)

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