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! ×

Comment That's not what van der Waals is! (Score 5, Informative) 74

TFS says that vdW interactions are interactions between polar molecules... that's absolutely false! The reason water has a high surface tension is due to hydrogen bonding, which is a combination of polar interactions and charge transfer. The reason that polar molecules attract is entirely due to electrostatic reasons... electric dipoles aligning causing favorable interactions. Van der Waals interactions are when NON-polar molecules spontaneously polarize one another to form instantaneous dipoles, which attract electrostatically. The key here is that vdW attractions occur even in molecules that do not have any static dipole... the dipole-dipole interactions are dynamic and fluctuating. One of the hallmarks of vdW interactions are their asymptotic behavior. Charge-charge interactions die off as r^-1. Dipole-dipole interactions die off as r^-3. vdW interactions die off as r^-6.

Comment Re:Functional equivalence can/may be sufficient. (Score 1) 154

This analogy isn't really appropriate. Organisms are not programs, and the operation of DNA and proteins cannot be considered something along the lines of an API call. Life is an emergent phenomenon, and mutations that do nothing but change the rate at which proteins get phosphorylated can cause diseases as complicated as cancer. This is particularly true of developing organisms. We don't really have a firm grasp on how differences in mitochondrial DNA can affect the growth of organisms, so we can't say with certainty that these "Lazarus" frogs can truly be considered an extinct species brought back to life.

Comment Inter-node communication (Score 4, Informative) 160

What do you intend to use for inter-node communication? Gigabit ethernet? You need to realize that latency in inter-node communication can cause *extremely* poor scaling for non-trivial parallelization. Scientific computing clusters typically use infiniband or something like it, which has extremely slow latency, but the equipment will cost you a pretty penny. If you are interested in doing computations across multiple computing nodes, you should really setup just two nodes and benchmark what kind of speed increase there is between running the job on a single node and on two nodes. My guess is that you are going to get significantly less than a 2x speedup. It is entirely possible that the calculation will be *slower* on two nodes than on just one. Of course, if you are just running a massive number of unrelated calculations, then inter-node communication becomes much less important, and this won't be an issue.

Comment Re:It's not arbitrary. (Score 1) 270

I am not claiming that reality is subjective. I am claiming that the fact that there is not a consensus as to what behaviour is considered acceptable is evidence that no one person can believably claim to have a privileged view as to what *is* correct. Reality is clearly not subjective, but ones interpretation of reality is, by definition. So, while you claim that certain behaviours are not healthy or acceptable, it ultimately comes down to being able to prove that the actions you are condoning (namely, prohibition of certain online content such as bestiality and violent pornography, as well as social stigmatization of obesity) will have a positive effect on society. And it is at this point that it comes down to what one values more, the sanctity of freedom of expression, or the need to preserve your personal sense of "morality" or "wholesomeness". Ultimately, YOU are the one who is pushing your personal and arbitrary standards on others by encouraging legislation that outlaws certain types of information.

With regards to obesity, you point out that it is a scientific fact that obesity leads to health problems. That is all well and good, but my point was that who are *you* to *judge* others for their life choices? Smoking is also extremely unhealthy, but I don't go around pointing fingers at and chastising people for choosing to smoke. It is not your place to tell people what they should and should not do with their own body. Yes, people should be made aware of the consequences of their choices, but discriminating against them for making life choices that you find unsavoury is not acceptable.

Comment Re:I support discrimination against the obese (Score 1) 270

I don't think that Kielistic was trying to imply that you believe that homosexuality, mixed-race relations, etc are unhealthy or bad. S/he was pointing out that if you asked 10 different people what behaviour is unhealthy and should be banned, you would get 10 different answers. Who are you to decide that X should be banned, but Y should be allowed? Moreover, who are you to judge people who are considered by society's standards to be overweight?

Submission + - Facebook Banter More Memorable Than Lines from Recent Books (

sciencehabit writes: Scientists have found that, when it comes to mental recall, people are far more likely to remember the text of idle chitchat on social media platforms like Facebook than the carefully crafted sentences of books. The team gathered 200 Facebook posts from the accounts of undergraduate research assistants, such as "Bc sometimes it makes me wonder" and "The library is a place to study, not to talk on your phone." They also randomly selected 200 sentences from recently published books, gathered from free text on Sentences included, "Underneath the mass of facial hair beamed a large smile," and "Even honor had its limits." Facebook posts were one-and-a-half times as memorable as the book sentences. The researchers speculate that effortless chatter is better than well-crafted sentences at tapping into our minds' basic language capacities—because human brains evolved to prioritize and remember unfiltered information from social interaction.

Comment Re:"H1N1" (Score 1) 368

I don't think naming it the "Mexican Flu" is going to hurt the tourism to Mexico any more than the knowledge that the strain did, in fact, originate in Mexico and the massive number of reported cases in Mexico already have. And besides, as I mentioned, there is a precedent.

Comment "H1N1" (Score 5, Insightful) 368

I admit I'm not the most knowledgeable about this topic, but I *do* know that H1N1 is not a very specific name for this influenza strain. In the past, we have named influenza outbreaks such as these after their country of origin (see Spanish Flu, Hong Kong Flu, Asian Flu), and in light of this I think a more appropriate name would be "Mexican Flu".

Slashdot Top Deals

Reality must take precedence over public relations, for Mother Nature cannot be fooled. -- R.P. Feynman