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


Forgot your password?
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 Internet speed test! ×

Journal Journal: Strange ban hosting was suspended which strangely coincided with the wave of attacks from right-wing and Jewish tabloids. The attacks happened, in turn, after a regular commentary at the forums of this website on the deaths of British soldiers in Afghanistan (cheers).

I cannot figure out what to think of this: whether it was a coincidence or there was a relation.

Please visit the website, read the suspension notice and tell me what you think.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Idiocy in Nature

Read the comments. They make sense. The article does not.

Nature is going increasingly insane by publishing utter crap like this.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Experts unveil 'cloak of silence' 1


Being woken in the dead of night by noisy neighbours blasting out music could soon be a thing of the past.

Scientists have shown off the blueprint for an "acoustic cloak", which could make objects impervious to sound waves.

The technology, outlined in the New Journal of Physics, could be used to build sound-proof homes, advanced concert halls or stealth warships.

Abstract to original peer-reviewed paper:

This work proposes an acoustic structure feasible to engineer that accomplishes the requirements of acoustic cloaking design recently introduced by Cummer and Schurig (2007 New J. Phys. 9 45). The structure, which consists of a multilayered composite made of two types of isotropic acoustic metamaterials, exactly matches the conditions for the acoustic cloaking. It is also shown that the isotropic metamaterials needed can be made of sonic crystals containing two types of material cylinders, whose elastic parameters should be properly chosen in order to satisfy (in the homogenization limit) the acoustic properties under request. In contrast to electromagnetic cloaking, the structure here proposed verifies the acoustic cloaking in a wide range of wavelengths; its performance is guaranteed for any wavelength above a certain cutoff defined by the homogenization limit of the sonic crystal employed in its fabrication.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Technology school in India names monkey god chairman 1

Hanuman, the popular god known for his strength and valor, has been named official chairman of the recently opened Sardar Bhagat Singh College of Technology and Management in northern India, a school official said Saturday.

The position comes with an incense-filled office, a desk and a laptop computer. Four chairs will be placed facing the empty seat reserved for the chairman and all visitors must enter the office barefoot, said Vivek Kangdi, the school's vice chairman.

The Sardar Bhagat Singh College in Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state, awards bachelor's degrees in engineering and management. The school opened last year.

User Journal

Journal Journal: "Buddhists"

Here we go. Adherents of the favorite religion of westerners throw rocks at police in Manhattan.

"Stop the killing in Tibet!" several hundred protesters shouted after the clash with police, who had tried to contain the crowd after some picketers began throwing the rocks.

Hopefully next time I will be unwillingly dragged into debates about _my_ religion, Islam, and when I will be inevitably shoved in my face Buddhism this and Buddhism that, I will remember that.

Please remind me when did resident Muslims of USA (residents, not foreigners) last time throw rocks in demonstrations... Did they ever do that?

User Journal

Journal Journal: Genome of a Yoruban male sequenced

Nature tells us that (I am hesitant to copy/paste it because of copyright issues), a San Diego biotech Illumina sequences complete genome of a male member of Yoruban tribe (Nigeria). This is first African genome sequenced. Unfortunately, the data has not been released yet. More of it comes in the Advances in Genome Biology and Technology conference in Marco Island, Florida Alas, the abstracts are not online yet.

User Journal

Journal Journal: "lark" or a "night-owl" is largely determined by genes

BBC reports:
Dr Simon Archer, University of Surrey:

It now appears that virtually all cells in the body have their own ticking circadian clock, including skin cells

Original article:

Research in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that skin cells can be used to measure the speed of a person's body clock.


Human beings exhibit wide variation in their timing of daily behavior. We and others have suggested previously that such differences might arise because of alterations in the period length of the endogenous human circadian oscillator. Using dermal fibroblast cells from skin biopsies of 28 subjects of early and late chronotype (11 "larks" and 17 "owls"), we have studied the circadian period lengths of these two groups, as well as their ability to phase-shift and entrain to environmental and chemical signals. We find not only period length differences between the two classes, but also significant changes in the amplitude and phase-shifting properties of the circadian oscillator among individuals with identical "normal" period lengths. Mathematical modeling shows that these alterations could also account for the extreme behavioral phenotypes of these subjects. We conclude that human chronotype may be influenced not only by the period length of the circadian oscillator, but also by cellular components that affect its amplitude and phase. In many instances, these changes can be studied at the molecular level in primary dermal cells.

Some (easy to play with) circadian oscillator models(search for "CircClock") could be found in BioModels Database. There are couple of open source command line "model players" to do the simulation:

Some models I tried have beautiful 24 hour cycle in them, but you can change reaction coefficients and see how it affects the period of model oscillations. It is very interesting to see how random changes of parameters by order of magnitude quite often do not break the oscillating character of the model.


Journal Journal: One or six giraffe species?

BBC reports that

a report in BMC Biology uses genetic evidence to show that there may be at least six species of giraffe in Africa." ...

"Using molecular techniques we found that giraffes can be classified into six groups that are reproductively isolated and not interbreeding," David Brown, the lead author of the study and a geneticist at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), told BBC News.


"The results were a surprise because although the giraffes look different, if you put them in zoos, they breed freely."

User Journal

Journal Journal: "Coalition forces" won't touch nacrodealers heaven

CNN reports about operations of British troops against Taliban:

The operation will not touch Helmand's poppy fields, which supply much of the world's opium and its more potent derivative, heroin. That could antagonize the 2 million farmers whose livelihoods depend on growing poppy, something the alliance wishes to avoid.

'Cause you know, more people die from Taliban than from drugs.

User Journal

Journal Journal: U.S. Charges Guantanamo Detainee with murder 1

U.S. Charges Guantanamo Detainee:

Omar Khadr, now 20, allegedly joined the Taliban in Afghanistan and threw a grenade that killed a U.S. Green Beret soldier in July 2002.

And now

The U.S. military charged him with murder, attempted murder, providing support to terrorism, conspiracy and spying under rules for military trials adopted last year and first used to try David Hicks, the Australian sentenced to nine months in prison after pleading guilty.

I guess this is a consequence of not applying status of prisoners of war to the Guantanamo prisoners of war. By its striking similarity to what happens in war between countries this charge illustrates the outraging absurd disregard to the obvious: soldiers of armies that fight each other are killed. That is what happened in 2001: US army attacked Afghanistan and there was a war and there is absolutely no reason for not applying Geneva convention to people who fought the American invasion of Afghanistan.

The fact that Guantanamo prisoners of war are prisoners of war became an elephant in a room, nobody even talks about it anymore.

There are no "enemy compatants". Somebody has to tell Jourdain's of neocon cabal that they are speaking in prose.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Chimps lead "evolutionary" race

News column by Hopkin in Nature reports that chimps' genes are more "positively selected" than humans' and conludes that chimps are "more evolved".

Positive selection

occurs when natural selection favors a single allele and therefore allele frequency continuously shifts in one direction.

How is that leads to "more evolved"??? It is just says that for humans natural selection does not matter much. That is why we have so many maniacs with guns and aircraft carriers.

And, by they way, the original article in PNAS is not even online yet. Somebody had a backdoor pass.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Joan of Arc's relics exposed as forgery

Perfume experts help unmask remains as Egyptian mummy.

The relics of St Joan of Arc are not the remains of the fifteenth-century French heroine after all, according to European experts who have analysed the sacred scraps. Instead, they say the relics are a forgery, made from the remains of an Egyptian mummy.

Joan was burned at the stake in 1431 in Rouen, Normandy. The relics were discovered in 1867 in a jar in the attic of a Paris pharmacy, with the inscription "Remains found under the stake of Joan of Arc, virgin of Orleans". They were recognized by the Church, and are now housed in a museum in Chinon that belongs to the Archdiocese of Tours.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Music execs criticise DRM systems

Almost two-thirds of music industry executives think removing digital locks from downloadable music would make more people buy the tracks, finds a survey.


User Journal

Journal Journal: What about this buttonless cellphones idiocy? 2

I have a Samsung i730, it has both options: real buttons and simulated. Despite the fact that real buttons are really small and very inconvenient they still beat those ridiculous simulated once.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Wikipedia as news

Did anybody notice how fast the info on Wikipedia is updated?

When Altman (some film director) died, there was two full pages of changes at that day (11/21/2006) the first being posted at 16:31, 21 November 2006 the next day, while, say Reuter's report came out on Tue Nov 21, 2006 11:51am ET.

Does anyone use the Wikipedia as their source of news?

Slashdot Top Deals

The amount of time between slipping on the peel and landing on the pavement is precisely 1 bananosecond.