mblase writes: The Blue Waters supercomputer will be officially opened for business this Thursday at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (known to Slashdotters as the birthplace of the original Mosaic web browser and the fictional HAL-9000). At a maximum speed of 11.6 petaflops, plus a 300-petabyte storage system, it will (probably) be the third-fastest supercomputer in the world. It almost wasn't completed when IBM pulled out halfway through the project, but persistence paid off. According to NCSA, the machine has already been performing useful research in biochemistry, meteorology, earth science, and more running at just 15% capacity.
mblase writes: SpaceX and NASA have been working hard to make this weekend's launch happen--and that has meant navigating the cultural differences between this small, young startup and the huge veteran space agency. The relationship involves daily calls and emails between people who live in two different worlds: age versus youth, bureaucracy versus a flat startup-like structure, and a sense of caution versus a desire to move forward quickly. But they both have an almost religious belief in the need for humans to venture forth into space, a geeky love for rockets, technical know-how--plus, they both need each other to succeed.
mblase writes: The results from the 2000 and 2004 United States Presidential Election suggested that it can be difficult to predict the winner of the presidential election based on popular vote. In fact, it is possible that the popular vote and the electoral college vote can lead to significantly different results. This web site provides up-to-the-minute estimates for the probability that the two presidential candidates (Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) and Senator John McCain (R-AZ)) win the election, the expected number of Electoral College votes for each candidate, and the probability that each candidate will win 300 or more Electoral College votes. (Further mathematical analysis of the Electoral College is discussed in this now-classic article from Discover magazine.)
mblase writes: An unspecified plaintiff is asking for unspecified damages from Apple in a lawsuit charging them with creating an illegal monopoly with their FairPlay DRM. Apple said that "the suit, filed in July, centers on Apple's use of a copy-protection system that prevents iTunes music and video from playing on rival devices. As well, songs bought elsewhere aren't easy to play on iPods." Apparently someone hasn't heard you can still rip music from CDs for listening on any MP3 player on the market.