Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


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Submission + - Conundrums of Classical Physics (

lee1 writes: Classical physics remains a vibrant arena of active research. Its foundations and the fundamental problems posed by several of its subfields still engage the imaginations of thousands of physicists throughout the world. And like all areas in active development, it attracts contention and controversy to this very day.

Submission + - Has Lockeed Martin Solved the Energy Problem? ( 1

lee1 writes: "Lockeed’s Charles Chase has created a bit of excitement by claiming that the Skunkworks team is on the verge of solving the world’s energy problem with a new type of fusion device. We are not provided very many details — it is cylindrical, and the plasma is heated by RF. Apparently it works because the imposed magnetic confinement field is very clever. Unfortunately, the history of clever fusion ideas is littered with the corpses of magnetic field configurations that were almost perfect, except for one little hole."

Submission + - Photoshop Goes Open Source (

lee1 writes: "Where by 'Photoshop' I mean version 1.0.1, released for the Macintosh in 1990, and where by 'open source' I mean downloadable without charge if you execute the "Computer History Museum Software License Agreement". This would seem to make it open source, free as in beer, but not quite free as in speech — but I'm no expert. About 75% of the code is in Pascal, 15% is in 68000 assembler language, and the rest is data. The article features interesting screenshots of Photoshop running on an ancient black and white Macintosh — where by 'black and white' I do not mean greyscale. Much of the interface has not changed. There is also a code assessment by the 'Chief Scientist for Software Engineering at IBM Research Almaden' who admires the almost entirely uncommented code greatly, saying 'This is the kind of code I aspire to write.'"

Submission + - Microsoft's Creepy Retail Experience ( 1

lee1 writes: "The author peers into a Microsoft store and spies a sea of Microsoft employees, vastly outnumbering the few customers. Later, he notices an animated crowd of civilians surrounding a Microsoft display. But it's not the product that they're excited about."

Submission + - Reading and calculating with your unconscious (

lee1 writes: "Using special techniques that present information to one eye while hiding the information from the conscious mind (my masking it with more distracting imagery presented to the other eye), researchers have shown two new and very unexpected things: we can read and understand short sentences, and we can perform multi-step arithmetic problems, entirely unconsciously. The results of the reading and calculating are available to and influence the conscious mind, but we remain unaware of their existence. While we have known for some time that a great deal of sensory processing occurs below the surface and affects our deliberative behavior, it was widely believed until now that the subconscious was not able to actually do arithmetic or parse sentences."

Submission + - Gmail Tampers with Outgoing Email (

lee1 writes: ""Imagine the confusion, inconvenience, and possible embarrassment that could be created if the operator of an smtp server decided, unilaterally and without advertisement, to deviate from the published standards and expected behavior by tampering with your email. Imagine if they silently changed the From: header to a different address; one that belonged to someone else, one that was not supposed to be publicly known, or one that is not monitored? Google does exactly this."

Submission + - Was the Eighth-century Jump in C14 Caused by a supernova? (

lee1 writes: "This is a great story about how the internet, combined with projects to digitize historical artifacts, can allow a prepared mind to make new connections and create new knowledge.

Jonathon Allen, an undergraduate biochemistry major, heard about the mysterious jump in C14 levels in the growth rings of Japanese trees from 774 C.E. from a Nature podcast. After Googling for a while, he was able to connect this mysterious phenomenon with the description, in an 8th century chronicle, of what may have been a supernova. The chronicle was digitized as part of the Yale’s Avalon Project."


Submission + - Making music based on pi can not be copyrighted (

lee1 writes: "In a decision handed down on Pi Day, a US District Court has ruled that
the mathematical constant pi can not be copyrighted. The claim of
copyright was brought by one 'mathematical musician' against another;
both had created pieces of music based on the ratio of a circle's
circumference to its diameter. The judge sensibly opined that 'Pi is a
non-copyrightable fact, and the transcription of pi to music is a
non-copyrightable idea.'"


Submission + - Quatum Dots in the Brain? (

lee1 writes: "Quantum dots are nanometer-sized, light-sensitive, semiconducting
particles. Researchers at the University of Washington have discovered
that when these particles are in proximity to a nerve cell, shining
light on the dots causes the neurons' ion channels to open and the
nerve cell to fire. This opens up a new vista of possible treatments for
various brain disorders. The dots can be implanted by coating them with
molecules with an affinity for the targeted tissues and injecting them
into the bloodstream. After that, the main problem will be to figure out
how to shine light into the brain. But there are high hopes for the
treatment of retinal disorders, where this problem is, obviously,
already solved."


Submission + - Wikileaks stops publishing classified files (

lee1 writes: "Wikileaks has had to cease publishing classified files due to what the
organization calls a "blockade by US-based finance companies" that, according
to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has "destroyed 95% of our revenue." Assange
also opined that "A handful of US finance companies cannot be allowed to decide
how the whole world votes with its pocket." According to Assange the group was
taking "pre-litigation action" against the financial blockade in Iceland,
Denmark, the UK, Brussels, the United States and Australia. They have also
filed an anti-trust complaint with the European Commission."

Submission + - DA critiques Gizmodo emails ( 1

lee1 writes: "After the police broke in to a Gizmodo editor’s home and collected emails from computers found there as part of the investigation of the stolen 2010 iPhone prototype, the DA petitioned the court to withdraw the search warrant, because it violated a law intended to protect journalists. Nevertheless, the DA, rather than apologize for the illegal search and seizure, issued a critique of the seized emails, commenting that they were ‘juvenile’ and that ‘It was obvious that they were angry with the company about not being invited to [...] some big Apple event [...] this is like 15-year-old children talking [...] They talked about having Apple right where they wanted them and they were really going to show them.'"

Submission + - Chinese Research Journals Plagued by Plagiarism (

lee1 writes: "When a Chinese research journal became the first in China to be
subjected to CrossCheck text analysis software, it was found to be chock
full of plagiarised articles. 31 percent of papers were discovered to
be characterised by unreasonable copying and plagiarism overall, with
40% in computer science and life sciences. Part of the explanation is
thought to lie in certain aspects of Chinese culture, which emphasizes
rote memorization and repetition and regards the copying a teacher's
work as a learning technique. Also, the rigid hierarchical nature of
Chinese academic beauracracies means that an accusation of misconduct
directed at a high-ranking researcher by an underling will not be taken


Submission + - Prosecuted For Critical Twittering (

lee1 writes: "The Electronic Frontier Foundation is trying to urge a
federal court to block what they claim is the
unconstitutional use of the federal anti-stalking law to
prosecute a man for posting criticism of a public figure to
Twitter. The law was orginally targeted against crossing
state lines for the purpose of stalking, but was modified in
2005 to make the 'intentional infliction of emotional
distress' by the use of 'any interactive computer service' a
crime. The prosecution’s theory in this case is that using
Twitter to criticize a public figure can be a criminal act
if the person’s feelings are hurt."

Submission + - The Autistic Mouse (

lee1 writes: "Some autistic children are known to possess a mutation in a particular gene. Scientists have genetically engineered a mouse to have the same mutation, and claim that it exhibits autistic behaviors, as well as abnormal brain chemistry. In social interaction experiments, the mouse either avoided normal interactions or became inappropriately aggressive, behaviors that the Johns Hopkins researchers claim is similar to social behavior in autistic humans."

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