Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


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 Re:Opinions on the Pirate Party (Score 1) 188

Another comment on the "affecting policies" question:

It is indeed interesting to watch that the pirates did already have quite a notable effect on german politic after they won seats in Berlin last year. The position of the leading party (CDU) on things like ACTA didnt change 100%, but you could see many of the politicians changing their arguments pretty quickly after that first election.

And this is not the first time this has happened. The green party which sometimes got up to 25% in nationwide polls and was in the government for some years, did have that same effect on the two big parties. Without the green party it would not be so "mainstream" today for all parties to be very close to each other on ecology politics.


Comment Re:Ugh (Score 1) 188

Another reader from Germany, I wanted to point out that germany does have a history of big problems arising out of a badly designed purely proportional representation with no 5% hurdle. This was in the so called Weimarer Republic before Nazi ruling and is claimed to be one of the (smaller) contributing factors to NSDAP gaining ground. The parliament was at that time split between so many very small parties that coalitions we changing by the day and the government was very unstable.

So the current "post nazi" system was designed with this problem in mind and is now a hybrid. The democracy in germany still has some problems though. Most notably the fact that there are too many elections because of the extreme federal nature, constantly interrupting politicians and looking too much on their popularity instead of concentrating on their work.


Submission + - NASA: Asteroid did not kill the dinosaurs (

Meshach writes: NASA is now saying that the dinosaurs were not killed by a giant asteroid. Turns out that the asteroid impact suspected to be the culprit hit the Earth 20 million years earlier then previously thought meaning that its consequences were long gone when the extinction took place. This news makes the ultimate reason behind the dinosaur's demise unknown.

Comment Re:and given that assumption is now questioned... (Score 1) 246

Depends on what is the purpose of what? If intelligent life is the rare and special thing and all that space is just the necessary byproduct you could also see it as making our lifes just the more special.
Not necessarily a depressing thought.

As much as I love the idea of living in a universe with many civilisations and crawling with life, it could ironically actually devalue the way people think of OUR world and our place in the universe.

In the end I think both outcomes can be mindboggling :)

Comment Re:and given that assumption is now questioned... (Score 1) 246

Isn`t it equally fascinating if we were in fact alone and not necessarily make a god or fate responsible?
If intelligent life was so common I always wonder why we didnt see any self replicating drones visiting us yet?
Think about how much time they had to and only one civilisation had to build them.

Fascinating either way...

Comment Re:Please explain (Score 1) 246

Some factors can be tested and calculated in a simulation. Example: We have a very large planet far out in our solar system that catches objects that could otherwise collide with earth, therefore changing the timespan between extinction level events upwards far enough for intelligent life / civilizations to develop. Check. How likely do solar systems have things of the size of Jupiter that far out?

But for the majority of factors it is pointless to argue from the cause towards the effect unless you understand how exactly intelligent life develops. We know how much time it roughly took and we know that only one species has made that leap yet.

On many other contributing factors you can only argue backwards from observing our existing world: Earth has an exceptionally large moon (relative to earths size) and it therefore makes sense to look at this factor as a possible contribution to our existence.

Making a simulation of a process that we dont understand is not science IMO.

Comment Re:and given that assumption is now questioned... (Score 3, Insightful) 246

I think you misunderstood. The uniqueness is not in the fact that it has a moon but in its extraordinary size (in relation to the planet size). That IS quite unique and it may be essential to life development. Or it may not... IMO its a strange approach to try to solve this question with a simulation. The outcome seems to depend on lots of factors whose influence on the development of intelligent life are just not known yet. Without knowing how intelligent life develops a simulation seems like just guesswork.

Comment Re:Seems just as safe as ever... (Score 1) 1148

I agree that it is a tough requirement for a plant to withstand an 8.8 earthquake, but it is ignorant to not expect such a quake in that region. If such a quake "only" hits every 200 years then it still means to 1:4 chance within the typical lifespan of one reactor. A tsunami in combination with a strong quake also is hardly surprising in a location like that. Also it is normal for such reactors to be in use for 40 or more years. If you call for new reactors they can only be financed if again they too will be used for at least 40 years. In summary: I now judge CURRENT nuclear reactors as less safe than I "hoped for" a few days ago.

Comment Hubble should be scientifically correct.... (Score 0) 114

If I want artistic freedom, I can watch video games or movies (where lots of hubble images end up anyway). So the more scientifically correct you can get, the better. Using non natural colors is OK, but even then it would be good if every movie / image would identify which colors are original and what is artistic freedom. I suspect a large number of people believe that many artistically colored images show normal spectrum images. -Bernd

Submission + - Want to feel old even if you're not? Read this. (

crimeandpunishment writes: Phones with cords? What are those? E-mail? It's way too slow. The annual Beloit College Mindset List is out....showing what pop culture and technology items are ancient history to incoming college students. 75 items are on this year's list. Dirty Harry, Beavis & Butthead, and the hot potato over Dan Quayle's spelling gaffe? All were big deals....but not to this year's college freshman class.

Space Exploration Needs Extraterrestrial Ethics 162

An anonymous reader writes "Professor Andy Miah notes there's already international government policies taking hold on outer space — and a need for new ethical guidelines. 'For instance, what obligations do we owe to the various life forms we send there, or those we might discover? Can we develop a more considerate approach to colonizing outer space than we were able to achieve for various sectors of Earth?' And what rights do astronauts have? 'Could our inevitable public surveillance of their behavior become too much of an infringement on their personal privacy?' But more importantly, professor Miah notes that 'the goods of space exploration far exceed the symbolic value,' pointing out that 'A vast amount of research and development derives from space exploration ... For example, the United Kingdom's 2007 Space Policy inquiry indicated that the creation of space products contributes two to three times their value in GDP.'"

Comment ghosts identified (Score 1) 3

News from the twilight zone... the ghosts are inside the bed sheets ;-) I have to correct myself here. After some more experiments I did indeed found a way to wake up the GHOSTS... And that is indeed by just shaking the blanket and then quickly making lots of images with a flashlight. Surprisingly it sometimes leads to exactly the same pattern. Thanks for the hint!

Slashdot Top Deals

Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurence of the improbable. - H. L. Mencken