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Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Anachronistic computational devices? 1

tgibson writes: For some time I have been thinking about designing and delivering a one- or two-credit course on the use of computational devices that are either no longer used or are given short shrift due to technological advances. Examples include the abacus, slide rule, and astrolabe. More exotic examples might include the Antikythera mechanism, the E6B flight computer or even archaeoastronomical sites. I would also like to have some of the simpler, unavailable tools 3D-printed for the students and incorporate them into activities.

Although I have been accumulating a list of such devices and other background material, I'm sure there are many "must-haves" I am unaware of. What anachronistic computational devices would be well-suited for such a course?

Submission + - How fast do gravitational waves travel? 1

StartsWithABang writes: When Einstein’s theory was first proposed as an alternative to Newtonian gravity, there were a number of subtle but important theoretical differences noted between the two. Einstein’s theory predicted gravitational redshift, time delays, bending of light and more. But what was perhaps most remarkable is that unlike Newton’s gravity, Einstein’s general relativity predicted an entirely new phenomenon: gravitational radiation. Much like how charged particles moving in a magnetic field accelerate and emit radiation in the form of photons, masses moving in a gravitational field accelerate and emit radiation in the form of gravitational waves, or ripples in the fabric of space itself. Even though these waves move at c, the speed of light in a vacuum, the expanding Universe carries them even farther, as these ripples ride atop the fabric of our expanding spacetime.

Submission + - Sen. Ted Cruz wants minimum H-1B wage of $110,000 (computerworld.com)

dcblogs writes: U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, has morphed from a vocal supporter of the H-1B program to a leading critic of it. He has done so in a new H-1B reform bill that sets a minimum wage of $110,000 for H-1B workers. By raising the cost of temporary visa workers, Cruz is hoping to discourage their use. Cruz also wants to eliminate Optional Practical Training Program (OPT). The co-sponsor of this bill, The American Jobs First Act of 2015, is U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who called the OPT program "a backdoor method for replacing American workers."

Submission + - How synchronized hammer strikes could generate nuclear fusion (ted.com)

Eloking writes: Our energy future depends on nuclear fusion, says Michel Laberge. The plasma physicist runs a small company with a big idea for a new type of nuclear reactor that could produce clean, cheap energy. His secret recipe? High speeds, scorching temperatures and crushing pressure. In this hopeful talk, he explains how nuclear fusion might be just around the corner.

Submission + - The Next Gold Rush Will Be 5,000 Feet Under the Sea, With Robot Drones

merbs writes: In Papua New Guinea, one well-financed, first-mover company is about to pioneer deep sea mining. And that will mean dispatching a fleet of giant remote-operated robotic miners 5,000 feet below the surface to harvest the riches scattered across ocean floor. These mammoth underwater vehicles look like they’ve been hauled off the set of a sci-fi film—think Avatar meets The Abyss. And they'll be dredging up copper, gold, and other valuable minerals, far beneath the gaze of human eyes.

Submission + - Where are the scholarships for young women studying STEM?

An anonymous reader writes: Long time slashdot reader with a question. My Daughter is college age and enrolled in Computer Science 4yr degree in the US. I am surprised her and the school are unable to find scholarships considering all the chatter I see encouraging this path. Maybe readers have been through this recently and have some advise to share.

Submission + - What Might Amazon's $50 Fire Tablet Inspire?

theodp writes: Surprisingly, says Ars Technica's review of Amazon's $49.99 Fire tablet, it doesn't suck. "There's simply very little reason to spend more when you can get 90 percent of the functionality for a fraction of the price," writes Mark Walton. "The only real niggle right now with the Fire Tablet is the display (and the camera, if you really want to take photos with your tablet). Once budget tabs start coming with 1080p displays as standard, the writing really will be on wall. For now, the Amazon Fire Tablet is the budget tablet to beat." Forget about Bill Gates's dream of putting a computer in every home — at a price of $49.99 ($41.66 if you buy 5 and get 1 free), many could now put a computer in every bathroom. Beyond that, any thoughts on what a $50 tablet price point might inspire in education, gaming, and other areas?

Submission + - Engineers create the blackest material yet (phys.org)

schwit1 writes: Researchers have created the blackest least reflective material ever made, using as inspiration the scales on the all-white cyphochilus beetle. The result was a an extremely tiny nanoparticle rod resting on an equally tiny nanoparticle sphere (30 nm diameter) which was able to absorb approximately 98 to 99 percent of the light in the spectrum between 400 and 1,400nm, which meant it was able to absorb approximately 26 percent more light than any other known materialâ"and it does so from all angles and polarizations.

Submission + - NASA Picks Winners for 3D-Printed Mars Habitat Design Contest (space.com)

schwit1 writes: NASA has picked the three winners in a design contest for 3D-printed habitats that could help future astronauts live on Mars.

The $25,000 first prize in NASA's 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge Design Competition went to Team Space Exploration Architecture and Clouds Architecture Office for the "Mars Ice House" design, which looks like a translucent, smooth-edged pyramid.

The design contest is the first milestone in NASA's 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge, an effort to encourage the development of technologies that could enable dwellings to be built using 3D printers and locally available resources on Mars and other locales away from Earth.

Submission + - The Polymath: Lowell Wood is America's New Top Inventor (bloomberg.com)

pacopico writes: It's taken more than 80 years, but someone has finally overtaken Thomas Edison as America's top inventor. The dude is named Lowell Wood, and he was once behind the infamous "Star Wars" space laser project and a protege of Edward Teller. Wood seems to be using his powers more for good these days and has become the right hand inventor for Bill Gates and his philanthropic endeavors. He's making efficient nuclear reactors, universal vaccines and anti-concussion football helmets. Quite the life.

Submission + - Hear the recordings Google stores of voice commands you've said to your phone (betanews.com)

Mark Wilson writes: OK Google, Siri, and Cortana all make it possible to control a phone simply by speaking to it. In the case of Google, what you might not be aware — it's hardly something the company shouts about — is that recordings of every command, question, and request are stored online.

Listening back through these could well be interesting, embarrassing, perhaps even nostalgic. You can step back in time and remind yourself of trips abroad, fun nights out, and the like, but you might also be concerned about privacy. If you would rather these recordings were not stored online, you can delete them; here's how.

Pay a visit to the Voice & Audio Activity section of your Google account and you'll probably find a lengthy list of recordings stretching back months.

Submission + - Clinton home servers had ports open

Jim Efaw writes: Hillary Clinton's home servers had more than just the e-mail ports open directly to the Internet. The Associated Press discovered, by using scanning results from 2012 "widely available online", that the clintonemail.com server also had the RDP port open; another machine on her network had the VNC port open, and another one had a web server open even though it didn't appear to be configured for a real site. Clinton previously said that her server featured "numerous safeguards", but hasn't explained what that means. Apparently, requiring a VPN wasn't one of them.

Submission + - How to explain the KGB's amazing success identifying CIA agents in the field? (salon.com)

schwit1 writes: As the Cold War drew to a close with the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, those at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, finally hoped to resolve many long-standing puzzles.

The most important of which was how officers in the field under diplomatic and deep cover stationed across the globe were readily identified by the KGB. As a consequence, covert operations had to be aborted as local agents were pinpointed and CIA personnel compromised or, indeed, had their lives thrown into jeopardy.

How could these disasters have happened with such regularity if the agency had not been penetrated by Soviet moles? The problem with this line of thought was that it did not so much overestimate CIA security as underestimate the brainpower of their Russian counterparts.

Submission + - The enemy of my enemy is my friend (theguardian.com)

grrlscientist writes: Tiny hummingbird eggs and babies are a favourite snack for nest-robbing jays, so what’s a mother hummingbird to do to protect her family? According to a study published recently in the journal, Science Advances, the hummingbird cleverly builds her nest near or under a hawk nest. The reason for this seemingly risky behaviour? When hawks are nesting nearby, jays forage higher above the ground to avoid being attacked from above by the hungry hawk parents. This elevation in the jays’ foraging height creates a cone-shaped jay-free safe area under the hawk nests where mother hummingbirds, their babies and nests, enjoy dramatically increased survival rates.

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