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Submission + - Nazi Budda Came from Space (bbc.co.uk)

mattaw writes: "This "Indiana Jones" style story of Nazi's acquiring this ancient historical statue from Tibet began when scientist Ernst Schafer working for Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS was commissioned to search Tibet for ancient "Aryan" evidence. Himmler was said to believe the Aryan race originated in Tibet and was keen to recover objects from the area.

The icing on the cake is that the statue is made of real meteorite and that scientists have been able to identify the actual one as the Chinga meteorite that fell in the border region of eastern Siberia and Mongolia about 15,000 years ago."


Submission + - Nazi Buddha Came From Outer Space

Hugh Pickens writes writes: "BBC reports that scientists say a 1,000-year old ancient Buddhist statue with a swastika on its stomach that was recovered by a Nazi expedition in the 1930s was originally carved from a highly valuable meteorite that crashed about 15,000 years ago in the border region of eastern Siberia and Mongolia. And although it may seem that the story of this priceless object owes more perhaps to an Indiana Jones film script than sober scientific research, the "Iron Man" was discovered in Tibet in 1938 by German scientist Ernst Schafer whose expedition was supported by the Nazis, in particular by Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS who believed the Aryan race originated in Tibet and was keen to recover objects from the area. The German and Austrian scientists who worked on the Iron Man were surprised to be able to trace the statue to a specific event in meteorite history. "I was absolutely sure it was a meteorite when I saw it first, even at 10 meters" says Geologist Elmar Buchner . "It is rich in nickel, it is rich in cobalt. Less than 0.1% of all meteorites and less than 1% of iron meteorites are ataxites, so it is the rarest type of meteorites you can find." Chemistry tests show the 23-pound statue's iron matches fragments of the "Chinga" meteorite field found near the Tibetan-Mongolian border in 1913 by gold prospectors. The material's hardness comes from its high iron content in addition to containing some 16 percent nickel."

Comment FYI: Something worth be paid for is hard to learn (Score 1) 527

Good grief - how far have we come?

"The middle school years are critical for students in reaching conclusions regarding their own skills and aptitudes,"

Yes educators should make things understandable, yes we should make learning fun but there is a whole big nasty world of hungry people who would kill for the chance to "reach conclusions about their own skills...".

Where are the parents or schools telling students that engineering, maths and science can make the difference between having a job and not? Because at the end of the day those students need to get the cold hard fact: Do something useful and get paid, or hope somebody else will just give you a living. Presumably they don't expect to be hungry no matter what happens.

N.B. please reread the "Yes educators should make things understandable, yes we should make learning fun" line before replying.

Comment A word on statistical errors... (Score 1) 747

I can see a lot of people talking about error bars on graphs and the traditional 95% confidence intervals but typically they don't write as if they have understood them. So to help /.'s general understanding:

A 95% error bound merely means that the author thinks, based off several (possibly) sound assumptions, that what we are saying could arise by chance in 5% of cases.

If the graph has datapoints that fit within a 95% bounded line then all you can say is "this data didn't arise by chance in 19 out of 20 cases if the datapoints lie within this bounded path". Typically this 95% probability isn't per point, i.e. when you look at the graph you can't take the fact that each point lies within the bound as repeated 95% probabilities correctly turning out which would combine to a much higher confidence.

In the hopes that this helps,

Richard Feynmann has a lot to say about this, and is well worth listening to.

Comment Suspected limitations (Score 2, Interesting) 175

Obvious limitations from the demo:

1) Objects must be sitting on a consistent(ish) surface with a low rate of change compared to the object. Desk, Chair, Bathroom, Wall, Hubcap, etc.

2) It doesn't handle strong shadows (or they are not showing us it doing so).

3) It makes the greatest amount of mistakes with the shadows anyway.

Please add anything I missed to future posts.

I would like to see it erase a boat from a choppy sea where there are 5-7 waves for the length of the boat as I expect that to be a pathological case. I would also like to see it erase a discolouration rather than a very different object to see its behaviour. Cool technology though!


Submission + - Computing in the new world: Scaling to 1e6+ Cores (blogspot.com) 2

mattaw writes: In my* blog post I describe a system designed to test a route to the potential future of computing. What do we do when we have computers with 1 million cores? What about a billion? How about 100 billion?

None of our current programming models or computer architecture models apply to machines of this complexity (and with their corresponding component failure rate and other scaling issues). The current model of coherent memory/identical time/everything can route to everywhere just can't scale to machines of this size. So where did the scientists** at the University of Manchester (including Steve Furber one of the ARM founders) and the University of Southampton turn for a new model? They took one straight out of their own heads. Quite literally: their brains.

Our brains just don't work like any computers we currently make. Our brains have a lot more than 1 million processing elements (more like the 100 billion), all of which don't have any precise idea of time (vague ordering of events maybe) nor a shared memory and not everything routes to everything else but anyone who argues the brain isn't a pretty spiffy processing system ends up looking pretty silly (assuming they have one). In effect modern computing bears as much relation to biological computing as the ordered world of sudoku does to the statistical chaos of quantum mechanics.

Read the article*** to see a preview of the brain turned into hardware (and of course you will read all the papers from Manchester's website before posting won't you). Who says science is boring?

* Note the subtle declaration of interest. I also work at the University of Southampton, UK.
** I am not and have never been one of these mighty people trying to change the world. I claim no credit. At best I helped some of the PhD students and staff with a few bits and bobs plus the odd ARM development kit.
*** No free lunch here /. You may have to actually read the source article.


Submission + - Paris to Install Hydroturbines on the River Seine (inhabitat.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Paris recently announced plans to infuse its grid with renewable energy by installing eight hydroelectric turbines in the waters of the River Seine. An urban ecology study of the French waterways has already been conducted and has identified four potential sites along the river’s path, and the city is currently seeking proposals from companies to provide possible solutions and technologies. The city hopes to have the hydro turbines installed early next year.

Submission + - And I thought it would be cool to Egg M$'s Ballmer

mattaw writes: I thought I would enjoy watching this video clip of Steve Ballmer getting egged, however it was a lot less cool than I hoped. From the article: "Steve Ballmer, the CEO of Microsoft, was heckled and had eggs thrown at him during a lecture to university students at the Corvinus University in Budapest."

Submission + - British nukes were protected by bike locks (bbc.co.uk)

mattaw writes: From an article in the BBC's Newsnight program: Until 1998 the RAF nuclear bomb was protected by a bike lock.

After the Americans implemented coded arming systems their was an attempt to get these fitted to the British systems however this was rejected by the Navy with the following statement:

"It would be invidious to suggest... that Senior Service officers may, in difficult circumstances, act in defiance of their clear orders".

That's alright then.

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