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Submission + - NASA: Curiosity has found plastic on Mars ( 2

dsinc writes: Last week Curiosity was able to use its SAM (Sample Analysis at Mars) device to confirm the discovery. A robotic arm with a complex system of Spectral Analysis devices was able to vaporize and identify gasses from the sample, concluding that it is in fact plastic. How plastic formed or ended up on the Martian surface is quite an exciting mystery that sparks many questions. The type of plastic sampled as we know so far can only be formed using petrochemicals, meaning not only that there could possibly be a source of oil on the Red Planet, but that somehow it got turned into plastic. Even more interesting is that oil or petrochemicals used to create this type of plastic are only known to come from ancient fossilized organic materials, such as zooplankton and algae, which geochemical processes convert into oil pointing to the earthshaking evidence that there was once life on mars.

"Right now we have multiple working hypotheses, and each hypothesis makes certain predictions about things like what the spherules are made of and how they are distributed," said Curiosity's principal investigator, Steve Squyres, of Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y. "Our job as we explore Matijevic Hill in the months ahead will be to make the observations that will let us test all the hypotheses carefully, and find the one that best fits the observations."

Submission + - Carl Sagan on team to nuke the moon, Dr. Evil reported jealous (

novakom writes: Apparently during the cold war, one fall back position the US was looking at to ensure mutual ensured destruction was to put nukes on the moon. This would ensure that the US could retaliate against even an effective first strike by the Russians. The first step, of course, would be to detonate a nuke on the moon. And yes, Carl Sagan was on the team (and apparently leaked the info!)

Comment Re:Depends on what you know (Score 1) 449

It's true! For example, of the many things that bother people about the Star Wars prequels, I know many people mention the idea that going from episode 3 to 4, everything gets LESS shiny and impressive. We may accept the Force, FTL on planet-sized space stations, light sabers and everything else, but we KNOW in our GUT (because it is our experience) that new things are nicer and more impressive. Granted this is not even on the top 20 things to hate about the prequels, but it will always bother many people (or at least me).

And save the argument about rebels and limited resources and all that. All the justifying in the world doesn't change the fact that the prequels are new-school designs and the originals are retro style.

Comment Depends on what you know (Score 1) 449

If you know *why* something shouldn't happen, then it bothers you 100 times more. If you don't, you are more likely to accept it and enjoy the explosion or whatever. Since most of us are in fact neither physicists, or mythbusters (though /. obviously has a much higher % than the average), that makes it a lot easier to accept something that physics would not normally allow.

Case in point:
Nothing bothers me more than some hacker logging into a highly encrypted system in 5 seconds and then, having never been in the system, within 15 seconds re-writes the security codes to allow doors to open. Or some other crazy real-life effect. Why? Because I am a programmer, and I know how hard it is to not only get into a system, but to also find the thing you are looking for on that system, and then to make real-life effects occur without undesired side-effects.

But this is a necessary conceit for most tv and movies because generally spending 20 minutes on a montage of poking through someone else's system (assuming you even got in) is not entertaining, and neither is establishing a backstory for a hacker that they somehow know 0-day exploints into every version of every type of server and application ever. So I learn to let it go.

However when it comes to things that I don't fully understand the rules that are being broken, I am much more likely to give leeway, because, again, I just don't know for sure. Sometimes shit happens 1 out of 1000 times, and when it does, it makes for an entertaining movie.

Comment Don't be evil-and they haven't, for the most part (Score 1) 77

As someone who is unfamiliar with this part of the industry, I appreciate the articles and the clarity it brings to the different issues, including Google's probable interest in ITA Software. With that said, I find the conclusion - that Google is primarily interested in offering personalized ticket prices - is, while at least somewhat plausible and certainly disturbing, pretty unlikely. First, there's the whole thing about how that's illegal (though granted, few in the justice department would be able to decipher the technical aspects and come to that conclusion), and second, while Google is getting its hands into everything, I (at least) have yet to see a situation where it's doing it in an actively malicious way that does not benefit the consumer. Search? Makes $, but provides good service. Gmail? Increases market share, but again provides good service. Android certainly has increased competition and innovation in the mobile arena, say what you want about the fragmenting of the platform. Even the Nexus 1 at least tried to do good things with unlocked phones and service competition, despite its hardware and software flaws, and its use of 2.1 probably accelerated the development of current phones like the latest Droid devices. I find it hard to believe that Google would try to actively and maliciously take advantage of consumers in the process of making a buck better than an existing company makes a buck. Is there $ in it for Google? No doubt, but I also don't doubt that there will be a reason for consumers to use the service-there almost has to be, because anything less would hurt Google's reputation, and that would be far more damaging than the failure of almost any possible product they could put out there.

Comment Re:A La Carte (Score 1) 457

$30 for basic (abc, cbs, fox)
$20 for standard (espn, cnn)
$30 for premium (youtube, hulu)
$10 for tech bundle (slashdot, Digg)
$10 for education bundle (anything ending in .edu)
$10 per company for gaming (Blizzard, Activision, EA; say goodbye to anything smaller than Rock*) or $100 for the bundle
$100 for some sanitized and obviously useless branded P2P client
$20 bucks for their version of Google (which just forwards your query to Google and presents the results in a branded window)

Oh, and depending on where you live your ISP may not be able to offer access to some websites due to local rates of use/interest making them less profitable.


Submission + - Google is Comming to your TV in May ( 1

Naznarreb writes: Someone leaked info to WSJ that Google is developing "Android-based television software" for set-top boxes and will be unveiling it to developers at the Google I/O conference in San Francisco May 19 and 20. Sony, Intel and Logitech are reportedly interested int he project.

Submission + - Scientists Use World’s Largest Laser to Make (

ByronScott writes: Researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory believe they’ve come up with a way to use the world'(TM)s largest laser (it’s about 3 football fields long) to trigger a nuclear reaction so powerful that it will make a star form right on the surface of the Earth. To do this they're planning to focus 192 laser beams on a pellet composed of deuterium and tritium, creating a reaction that will burn hotter than the center of the sun and exert more pressure than 100 billion atmospheres. If their endeavors prove fruitful, they'll have succeeded at nuclear fusion — the elusive path to near limitless energy that countless other scientists have been chasing after for decades.

Comment Re:Doesn't the porn industry decide the future? (Score 1) 909

You're right, HD-DVD/Blu-Ray is the first time the adult industry didn't decide the next technology format. Of course, they adapted, you can still buy porn on Blu-Ray. The more interesting thing that the adult industry IS deciding is the NEXT format, which is less a format and more a content delivery device, i.e. internet streaming vs. physical device. The reason why the industry is in such financial crisis right now is the plurality of free streaming content. Even if they manage to control that outlet, the majority of their audience will probably never buy physical content again; the market has spoken on how the public likes to have video delivered. This is reflected in sites like Hulu and the various streaming services individual networks make available. DVD/Blu-Ray/etc sales will continue to fall, and eventually the entertainment industry as a whole finds a way to make video on demand as easy to use as the tv (cable services VOD aren't bad but aren't great).

Short version-porn industry has spoken, and streaming video is the next big thing; the first company to do it right will win.

Comment Re:Show me the data (Score 1) 650

Are you a climate scientist? Or in a related field? If not, then why do we care if YOU specifically verify the science? I'm not saying your process is bad - the data should be published and verified by other climate scientists - but the simple point is that science is hard, which is why we have experts.

I don't ask Steven Hawking to validate Queueing Theory (though I'm sure he could do it), I ask the PhDs who have worked in the field for 20 years. Similarly, you may in fact be a Nobel prize winning Mathematician, but that doesn't mean that something isn't scientifically sound if you can't understand the data and verify the conclusions.

What the report seems to reflect is what happens in every other scientific field-people being dicks to each other to lay claim to being the alpha dog. As we all know, being smart and being egotistical are not two mutually exclusive conditions. The fact that evidence of this behavior has popped up does not invalidate the field; in fact, you could argue that it strengthens it, because it models behavior in established fields.

The point - don't discredit scientific consensus just because you haven't verified it. If you want to discredit it, do the work, become an expert, and prove it.

Comment Sort of no but a whole lot yes (Score 1) 2

So when you say "math", it depends on what you are talking about. Is the average programmer going to implement differential equations? Probably not. There are programs that implement higher level math concepts, but they tend to be outside mainstream programming (with of course some notable exceptions). Even if the program needs it, higher level math tends not to be directly sourced from the programmers; if a company is making that complex a program, they probably have the mathematicians/physicists/etc to give you the necessary equations.

With that all said, what is the foundation for all programming? Logic. What is logic? Math. If you're not good at math, you're probably not that great at logic, and then you're probably going to end up coding overly complex programs that have all sorts of exceptional situations that will eventually need to be cleaned up by someone who is in fact good at math.


Code Bubbles — Rethinking the IDE's User Interface 198

kang327 writes "As Java developers we are used to the familiar file-based user interface that is used by all of the major IDEs. A team at Brown University has developed an IDE for Java called Code Bubbles that makes a fairly radical departure from current IDEs — it is based on fragments instead of files. The idea is that you can see many different pieces of code at once. Fragments can form groups, have automatic layout assistance, wrap long lines based on syntax, and exist in a virtual workspace that you can pan. A video shows reading and editing code, opening different kinds of info such as Javadocs, bug reports and notes, annotating and sharing workspaces, and debugging with bubbles. They report on several user studies that show the system increases performance for the tasks studied, and also that professional developers were enthusiastic about using it. There is also a Beta that you can sign up for."

Submission + - Poll : What Future Technology is most important

novakom writes: 1. Faster Than Light Travel
2. Terraforming
3. Teleportation
4. Invisibility
5. Quantum Computing
6. Mind to Mind Direct Communication
7. Time Travel
8. Death Star
9. Tier 15 WoW gear
10. Insensitive clod auto-detection

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"An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup." - H.L. Mencken