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Submission + - When Science Mattered

Hugh Pickens writes: "I remember growing up in the late 1950's, listening to space launches played over the school intercom at Washington Elementary, and two years later being put into the first math class at junior high to study SMSG's new math, but what I remember most was the sense of urgency from teachers and parents that America "catch up." The New York Times is running a story on those heady days after Sputnik when scientists warned that the cold war would be fought with slide rules, not rifles and Congress rushed to pass the National Defense Education Act to stimulate the advancement of education in science, mathematics, and foreign languages. If you've seen the movie October Sky, you remember what it was like when space first captured the country's imagination and teachers pushed us to pursue our dreams. For me, studying math and science from grade school to college was a natural progression everyone encouraged and I count myself lucky that my personal interests happened to coincide with the nation's. What support did you get in your early years to study science, how did it make a difference in your life, and what can we do today to encourage our kids and grandkids?"

Submission + - Water Detected On Distant Planet

s31523 writes: "For the first time, water has been detected in the atmosphere of a distant planet, named HD 209458b. Earlier attempts to locate water failed, and according to the article, "Other scientists reported in February they were unable to find evidence of water in this planet's atmosphere, as well as in another Jupiter-like planet". The article claims details of the findings are published in the Astrophysical Journal "

Submission + - The Sun, not Man, is Causing Global Warming

Sterling D. Allan writes: "There are plenty good reasons to go green. Global warming isn't one of them. A 76-minute documentary produced in England and published on YouTube destroys the arguments put forward by Al Gore and other activists who lay the primary blame for Global Warming at the feet of mankind. According to the documentary, CO2 historically lags earth mean temperatures by several hundred years. The lock-step relationship is between solar activity and earth temperatures. Man's contribution is puny in comparison. The earth has seen temperatures much warmer than today in previous cyclical periods."

Submission + - Global Warming- A swindle?

An anonymous reader writes: A few days ago the BBC aired a show in the UK under the title "The Global Warming Swindle" (which soon after became available for download from sites like the Pirate Bay). In a nutshell, a panel of people with apparently solid credentials in the discipline of climatology claim the following: 1) Gore gets it back to front in "An Inconvenient Truth": Although there seems to be a correlation between increased atmospheric temperature and CO_2 levels, the increase in CO_2 concentration is caused by the temperature increase — not the other way around. 2) Humanity's contribution to CO_2 levels in the atmosphere is negligible when compared with natural phenomena such as volcano activity and the oceans — by far the major contributor. 3) There is a clear correlation (as far as historic data is available — some 400 years worth of it) between solar activity and atmospheric temperature increase. 4) The abundance of clouds (which is indirectly determined by solar activity) has a direct influence on atmospheric temperature — above and beyond what realistic CO_2 levels can do. 5) Some scientists (it's not clear how many) who contributed to the recent United Nations' IPCC report explicitly asked that body to withdraw their names from the report, on the grounds of their disagreement with its contents. Apparently the IPCC would not comply without further pressure or even threats of legal action. 6) By imposing stringent restrictions on exploitation of some natural sources of currently cheap energy (oil, coal) and pushing them towards using currently expensive and inefficient ones (solar, wind) instead, western countries are putting a break to the economic development of Third World nations. 7) There is a vested interest in the media to magnify the nature of climate-related problems (this one is very easy to believe, for the media have a tendency to exaggerate everything) and also in climate research circles — the jobs of thousands of people depend on the current global warming scare (apparently the resources allocation for this kind of research has ballooned from some $170M a year in the US in the early 90s to some $2B now). In the face of it, the show is a pretty thorough debunking of the global warming claims that one can witness on the media daily. It would be interesting to see how members of the global warming camp refute this, other than dismissing it as the makings of scientists prostituted to corporate interests (which might, or might not, be true, regardless of the quality of the data) or resorting to personal attacks and summary dismissal, without attempting to contest the evidence on a rational basis, like Greenpeace and other groups have done with Lomborg's "The Skeptical Environmentalist". Feedback from contributors to this forum is very welcome.

Submission + - What's new in study of human evolution?

je ne sais quoi writes: MSNBC/Newsweek has an informative article summarizing a lot of the recent advancements in tracing the evolution of modern humans. From the article:

Unlike the earlier wave of Homo erectus into Asia a million years ago, the first modern humans, the ancestors of everyone today, departed Africa about 66,000 years ago... These pilgrims were strikingly few. From the amount of variation in Y chromosomes today, population geneticists infer how many individuals were in this "founder" population. The best estimate: 2,000 men. Assuming an equal number of women, only 4,000 brave souls ventured forth from Africa. We are their descendants.
The article emphasizes that evolution is not necessarily linear, in that a given trait might show up multiple times before being used by a successful species. We've come a long way from the old story of humanoid evolution that goes in a more or less linear chain from Australopithicus to Homo Sapiens.

Feed Crackdown: Med Marijuana Clinics (

Oversight has been lax on medical marijuana clinics in California and who can grow the dope for medical purposes. But cities are halting new clinics and the DEA is targeting those with iffy practices. By the Associated Press.

United States

Journal Journal: Where do they hide the RFID thingy? 3

Passport finally showed up in the mail. I don't think it has the RFID chip in it. No mention of it anywhere on the paperwork that came back with it or any obvious places that bulge or won't bend.

Did they run out of the new RFID ones? There's no logo on mine, so I'm guessing they stopped putting them out or ran out. Either way, I'm glad to have a good ol' fashioned one.


Submission + - FBI Admits Abuse of Patriot Act to Obtain Info

SydShamino writes: CNN, the Associated Press and others are reporting that an independent audit of the FBI revealed "serious misuse" of power to acquire private information granted in the Patriot Act. FBI Director Robert Mueller has accepted responsibility for problems and says they are being corrected, but Congress has already called for hearings. There's no word yet on criminal charges against anyone in the FBI who might have broken the law.

Submission + - Physics falling into own black hole

dspart writes: "At the risk of blowing my own trumpet, I'd appreciate feedback on a couple of thoughts re. the future of physics, computer science and AI. They're itemised on, but to summerise: (1) String theory is going nowhere; all kinds of attempts are being made to shoe-horn new observations into accepted theories, resulting in complex proposals which maintain causality from one observer's POV but not others' POVs. (2) There seems to be a much better model to explain the universe."

Submission + - Tracking System to Nab Tor Pedophiles

Huskies3565 writes: Amidst concerns that pedophiles are using public Tor (the Onion Router) servers to trade in child pornography, Metasploit founder HD Moore is building a tracking system capable of pinpointing specific workstations that searched for and downloaded sexual images and videos of kids. Moore has come up with a series of countermeasures that include using patched Tor servers and a decloaking engine to detect the exact location of a pedophile within an organization or residence.

Submission + - NASA first - astronaut fired

davidwr writes: In an unprecedented move for an unprecedented situation, NASA fired now-former astronaut Lisa Nowack. Ms. Nowack is facing charges of attempted kidnapping related to an incident earlier this year.
Ms. Nowack is a Navy officer and remains so.

Submission + - Hybrid Recommendation

whisper_jeff writes: I finally had the chance to watch Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth and it got me thinking (which all good documentaries should do and this was a good documentary). One thing it got me thinking about was hybrid cars, which are becoming more and more popular. I was wondering if slashdot readers had any insights into good hybrids that are worth taking a serious look at. Which are most effecient? Which maintain high performance while cutting emissions? Which cut operating costs drastically to offset the higher purchase price of the hybrid technology? Which, all things considered, are worth considering?
The Courts

Submission + - I violated copyright law. Now what?

An anonymous reader writes: I am US-based and have recently been doing part-time subcontracting work for a friend in the UK who runs her own small marketing firm. She sells a complete branding/identity plan and if that includes a web site refresh, she calls me. The clients do not know who or where I am, or even that the work is being subbed. Like many designers, I often use Corbis and other photo merchants to mock up layouts for review. It is legal to download images ("comps") from Corbis to use offline for the this purpose. If the client likes the design/images, I get a quote from the photo vendor and the client has the option to purchase. If the price is too high, which it often is with Corbis, I turn to less expensive or free alternatives.

One of her clients, for whom I recently designed a site, just received a $25,000 invoice from a law firm in London representing Corbis, who claimed their content was on the client's site. The client of course was frantic when they received the bill and called my marketing friend, who called me. I investigated and sure enough, there were images on the site that were rightfully the property of Corbis, which I put there. In this instance I neglected to swap out the comps with legal images I purchased for the client from another online source before I made the site live. As a designer I respect content rights and did not, would not, maliciuosly steal images. The client and my friend had no idea.

I moved quickly to correct the situation — scrubbed the site and looked through other clients' sites to make sure nothing else had gotten through. I called Corbis and told their legal department what happened and they told me I would have to deal with the law firm, who handles "all our overseas affairs." I then sent a certified letter to the law firm telling them what happened in an attempt to exonerate the client, and by default, my friend. That was today.

I quoted the images in question on the Corbis site and the total would have been about $800. I did my due-googling and in the spectrum of copyright infringement, I want to believe I'm closer to the speeder than I am the serial-killer. Other photo houses (Getty) send out cease and desist letter and it's done. There is mention of similar situations on some forums, especially in the UK, but I can't seem to find any precedent as to what my fate might be. Does anyone have any idea? I made about $1,000 for the site about a year ago, and as much as it would pain me, would be willing to give that up to make this go away. But something tells me this is going to get ugly.

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