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  • Ken Ham's Ark Torpedoed With Charges of Religious Discrimination

    McGruber writes: Back on February 4, "Science Guy" Bill Nye debated Creationist Kenneth Alfred "Ken" Ham. That high-profile debate helped boost support for Ham's $73 million "Ark Encounter" project, allowing Ham to announce on February 25 that a municipal bond offering had raised enough money to begin construction. Nye said he was "heartbroken and sickened for the Commonwealth of Kentucky" after learning that the project would move forward. Nye said the ark would eventually draw more attention to the beliefs of Ham's ministry, which preaches that the Bible's creation story is a true account, and as a result, "voters and taxpayers in Kentucky will eventually see that this is not in their best interest."

    In July, the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority unanimously approved $18.25 million worth of tax incentives to keep the ark park afloat. The funds are from a state program that allows eligible tourism attractions a rebate of as much as 25 percent of the investment in the project. Since then, the Ark Park's employment application has became public: "Nestled among the requirements for all job applicants were three troubling obligatory documents: 'Salvation testimony,' 'Creation belief statement,' and a 'Confirmation of your agreement with the AiG statement of faith.' (AiG is Answers in Genesis, Ham's ministry and Ark Encounter's parent company.)"

    That caused the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet to halt its issuance of tax incentives for the ark park. Bob Stewart, secretary of the cabinet, wrote to Ham that "the Commonwealth does not provide incentives to any company that discriminates on the basis of religion and we will not make any exception for Ark Encounter, LLC." Before funding could proceed, Stewart explained, "the Commonwealth must have the express written assurance from Ark Encounter, LLC that it will not discriminate in any way on the basis of religion in hiring." The ark park has not yet sunk. It is "still pending before the authority" and a date has not yet been set for the meeting where final approval will be considered.

    451 comments | about a month ago

  • Creationism Conference at Michigan State University Stirs Unease

    sciencehabit writes "A creationist conference set for a major research campus — Michigan State University (MSU) in East Lansing — is creating unease among some of the school's students and faculty, which includes several prominent evolutionary biologists. The event, called the Origins Summit, is sponsored by Creation Summit, an Oklahoma-based nonprofit Christian group that believes in a literal interpretation of the Bible and was founded to "challenge evolution and all such theories predicated on chance." The one-day conference will include eight workshops, according the event's website, including discussion of how evolutionary theory influenced Adolf Hitler's worldview, why "the Big Bang is fake," and why "natural selection is NOT evolution." News of the event caught MSU's scientific community largely by surprise. Creation Summit secured a room at the university's business school through a student religious group, but the student group did not learn about the details of the program—or the sometimes provocative talk titles — until later.

    1007 comments | about 1 month ago

  • Xanadu Software Released After 54 Years In the Making

    redletterdave writes: "'Project Xanadu,' designed by hypertext inventor Ted Nelson to let users build documents that automatically embed the sources they're linking back to and show the visible connections between parallel webpages, was released in late April at a Chapman University event. Thing is, development on Xanadu began in 1960 — that's 54 years ago — making it the most delayed software in history. 'At its simplest, Xanadu lets users build documents that seamlessly embed the sources which they are linking back to, creating, in Nelson's words, "an entire form of literature where links do not break as versions change; where documents may be closely compared side by side and closely annotated; where it is possible to see the origins of every quotation; and in which there is a valid copyright system - a literary, legal and business arrangement - for frictionless, non-negotiated quotation at any time and in any amount." The version released on the internet, named OpenXanadu, is a simple document created using quoted sections from eight other works, including the King James Bible and the Wikipedia page on Steady State Theory.'"

    90 comments | about 6 months ago

  • Religion Is Good For Your Brain

    Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Sheila M. Elred writes in Discovery Magazine that a recent study has found that people at risk of depression were much less vulnerable if they identified as religious. Brain MRIs revealed that religious participants had thicker brain cortices than those who weren't as religious. 'One of the worst killers of brain cells is stress,' says Dr. Majid Fotuhi. 'Stress causes high levels of cortisol, and cortisol is toxic to the hippocampus. One way to reduce stress is through prayer. When you're praying and in the zone you feel a peace of mind and tranquility.' The reports concluded that a thicker cortex associated with a high importance of religion or spirituality may confer resilience to the development of depressive illness in individuals at high familial risk for major depression. The social element of attending religious services has also been linked to healthy brains. 'There's something magical about socializing,' says Fotuhi. 'It releases endorphins in the brain. It's hard to know whether it's through religion or a gathering of friends, but it improves brain health in the long term.'" (Read more, below.)

    529 comments | about 8 months ago

  • Apollo 8 Astronaut Re-Creates 1968 Christmas Broadcast To Earth

    Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "AP reports that standing by a part of the Apollo 8 spacecraft he once rode, retired astronaut James Lovell read the 1968 Christmastime broadcast from the day he and two others became the first humans to orbit the moon marking the 45th anniversary of the orbit and the famous broadcast. 'The idea of bringing people together by a flight to the moon where we encompassed everybody in our thoughts is still very valid today,' says Lovell. 'The words that we read are very appropriate.' Millions tuned in on Dec. 24, 1968, when Frank Borman, Bill Anders and Lovell circled the moon. A television camera on board took footage of the crater-filled surface as the astronauts read Bible verses describing the creation of Earth. They circled 10 times and began reading from the Book of Genesis on the last orbit. 'It's a foundation of Christianity, Judaism and Islam,' Lovell said of choosing Genesis. 'It is the foundation of most of the world's religions. ... They all had that basis of the Old Testament.' Lovell says at the time the astronauts weren't sure who would be listening and how the broadcast would be taken. The famous "Earthrise" photo was also taken during the mission. Lovell closed with the same message the astronauts did in 1968. 'From the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas and God bless all of you, all of you on the good Earth.'"

    152 comments | about a year ago

  • King James Programming

    Jah-Wren Ryel writes "What do you get when you train a Markov chain on the King James Bible and a copy of Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs? King James Programming — a tumblr of auto-generated pseudo-scripture (or pseudo-compsci lessons). Some examples: -- 'The LORD is the beginning (or prefix) of the code for the body of the procedure.' -- 'More precisely, if P and Q are polynomials, let O1 be the order of blessed.' -- ''In APL all data are represented as arrays, and there shall they see the Son of man, in whose sight I brought them out.'"

    184 comments | about a year ago

  • 1.5 Million Pages of Ancient Manuscripts Online

    New submitter LordWabbit2 sends this quote from an AP report: "The Vatican Library and Oxford University's Bodleian Library have put the first of 1.5 million pages of ancient manuscripts online. The two libraries in 2012 announced a four-year project to digitize some of the most important works of their collections of Hebrew manuscripts, Greek manuscripts and early printed books. Among the first up on the site Tuesday, are the two-volume Gutenberg bibles from each of the libraries and a beautiful 15th-century German bible, hand-colored and illustrated by woodcuts. ... The Vatican Library was founded in 1451 and is one of the most important research libraries in the world. The Bodleian is the largest university library in Britain."

    79 comments | about a year ago

  • Google Raises Campaign Funds For Climate Change Denier

    HonorPoncaCityDotCom writes "Alex Altman reports at Time Magazine that Google recently hosted a fundraiser for Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe, one of the Senate's most conservative Republicans and a staunch opponent of EPA regulations. Inhofe authored a treatise called 'The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future,' thinks the Bible disproves global warming, and once denounced the 'arrogance' of scientists who suggest that 'we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate.' What prompted Google to host a fund raiser where attendees shelled out up to $2,500 for lunch with Inhofe? A data center that Google operates in Pryor, Oklahoma. 'Google runs a significant operation that provides around 100 jobs,' says Rusty Appleton, Inhofe's campaign manager. 'The Senator had an opportunity to tour the facilities in May of last year, and is committed to ensuring that Oklahoma remains a great place to do business.' A Google spokesperson says the company regularly hosts fundraisers for candidates of all stripes, even when Google disagrees with some of their policies — as it does with Inhofe on climate change. This explanation didn't wash with the activists outside Google's D.C. headquarters near K Street. "

    365 comments | about a year ago

  • The Amish Are Getting Fracked

    An anonymous reader writes "Old school meets business school. From the New Republic: 'The Amish interpretation of the Christian bible prohibits the use of the courts: Except in rare circumstances, the Amish do not sue. This has created a unique problem in the region. Home to the largest Amish community in the world, Eastern Ohio sits squarely on top of the Utica and Marcellus Shale formations, which contain billions in oil and gas recoverable through advances in hydraulic fracturing technology, or fracking ... When it comes to the oil and gas industry, this means that any agreement an Amish farmer makes with a company is, for the farmer, practically unenforceable. A rare case in which the plaintiffs were Amish suggests that Ohio's oil and gas companies know this and have been willing to take advantage.'"

    367 comments | about a year and a half ago

  • NIMH Distances Itself From DSM Categories, Shifts Funding To New Approaches

    New submitter Big Nemo '60 writes with news that the National Institute of Mental Health is seeking to modernize the diagnosis of mental illness through the use of neuroscience, genetics, etc. From the article: "The world's biggest mental health research institute is abandoning the new version of psychiatry's 'bible' — the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — questioning its validity and stating that 'patients with mental disorders deserve better.' This bombshell comes just weeks before the publication of the fifth revision of the manual, called DSM-5." More importantly, they are going to be shifting funding to research projects that seek to define new categories of mental illness using modern medical science, ignoring the current DSM categorizations: "The strength of each of the editions of DSM has been 'reliability' .. The weakness is its lack of validity. Unlike our definitions of ischemic heart disease, lymphoma, or AIDS, the DSM diagnoses are based on a consensus about clusters of clinical symptoms, not any objective laboratory measure. In the rest of medicine, this would be equivalent to creating diagnostic systems based on the nature of chest pain or the quality of fever. ... NIMH has launched the Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) project to transform diagnosis by incorporating genetics, imaging, cognitive science, and other levels of information to lay the foundation for a new classification system. ... It became immediately clear that we cannot design a system based on biomarkers or cognitive performance because we lack the data. In this sense, RDoC is a framework for collecting the data needed for a new nosology. But it is critical to realize that we cannot succeed if we use DSM categories as the 'gold standard.' ... Imagine deciding that EKGs were not useful because many patients with chest pain did not have EKG changes. That is what we have been doing for decades when we reject a biomarker because it does not detect a DSM category. We need to begin collecting the genetic, imaging, physiologic, and cognitive data to see how all the data — not just the symptoms — cluster and how these clusters relate to treatment response."

    185 comments | about a year and a half ago

  • Creationist Bets $10k In Proposed Literal Interpretation of Genesis Debate

    HungWeiLo writes "A California man who believes the literal interpretation of the Bible is real is offering $10,000 to anyone who can successfully debunk claims made in the book of Genesis in front of a judge. Joseph Mastropaolo, the man behind this challenge, is to put $10,000 of his own money into an escrow account. His debate opponent would be asked to do the same. They would then jointly agree on a judge based on a list of possible candidates. Mastropaolo said that any evidence presented in the trial must be 'scientific, objective, valid, reliable and calibrated.' For his part, Mastropaolo has a Ph.D. in kinesiology and writes for the Creation Hall of Fame website, which is helping to organize the minitrial. It's also not the first such trial he's tried to arrange. A previous effort, known as the 'Life Science Prize,' proposed a similar scenario. Mastropaolo includes a list of possible circuit court judges to oversee the trial and a list of those he challenged to take part on the evolutionary side of the debate."

    1121 comments | about a year and a half ago

  • Dr. Robert Bakker Answers Your Questions About Science and Religion

    Yesterday we ran the first half of Dr. Robert Bakker's essay in response to your questions. Below you'll find the second part which focuses on the history of science and religion, and the patron saint of paleontology, St. Augustine of Hippo. A big thanks goes out to Dr. Bob for his lengthy reply.

    388 comments | about a year and a half ago

  • Statistics Key To Success In Run-and-Gun Basketball

    theodp writes "Two decades before Moneyball hit the Big Screen, Coach David Arseneault of tiny Grinnell College came up with a unique style of run-and-gun basketball that he called The System, the principles of which were subjected to statistical analysis in Keys to Success in a Run-and-Gun Basketball System, a paper for the 2011 Joint Statistical Meetings. Well, as they say, sometimes The System works. On Tuesday, biochem major Jack Taylor, just three games into his career as a Grinnell College basketball player, made national news when he poured in 138 points — yes, 138 points — in a 179-104 victory over Faith Baptist Bible College. Even LeBron and Kobe were impressed. The old NCAA Division III record of 89 was set last year by Taylor's Grinnell teammate, Griffin Lentsch. Taylor's feat also bested what was deemed to be the unbeatable overall NCAA scoring record of 113 points, set by NCAA Division II performer Clarence 'Bevo' Francis of Rio Grande in 1954."

    97 comments | about 2 years ago

  • Einstein Letter Critical of Religion To Be Auctioned On EBay

    cheesecake23 writes "In an admirably concise piece in The Atlantic, Rebecca J. Rosen summarizes Einstein's subtle views on religion and profound respect for the inexplicable, along with the news that a letter handwritten by the legendary scientist that describes the Bible as a 'collection of honorable, but still primitive legends' and 'pretty childish' will be auctioned off on eBay over the next two weeks. Bidding will begin at $3 million."

    414 comments | more than 2 years ago

  • Ask Slashdot: What Books Have Had a Significant Impact On Your Life?

    gspec writes "A little background about me: 36-year-old computer engineer working in the Bay Area. While I bring in a comfortable salary, I consider myself an underachiever, and my career is stagnant (I have only been promoted four times in my 12-year career). I have led a couple projects, but I am not in any sort of leadership/management position. I realize I need to do something to enhance my career, and unfortunately, going back to school is not an option. One thing I can do is to read more quality books. My question: which books, of any type or genre, have had a significant impact on your life?"

    700 comments | more than 2 years ago

  • The Strange Nature of the Nigerian App Market

    zacharye writes "With 100 million mobile subscribers, Nigeria stands among leading mobile markets in the world. Its mobile content sector is quite fascinating — this is a market where $100 apps can debut at the No.3 position on Apple's list of top iOS apps. Bible and Quran apps are a major feature of the Nigerian mobile content market. The evergreen 'Message Bible' was launched globally in December 2009 at almost the same time as 'Angry Birds.' While the raging avians achieved greater global success, 'Message Bible' was a smash in Nigeria, recently returning again to No.15 among the top grossing iPhone apps. In the United States, the app didn't even crack the top 600 at its peak."

    110 comments | more than 2 years ago

  • Saudi Arabia Objects To Proposed .gay gTLD, Among Others

    Qedward writes "The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has objected to a variety of new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) ranging from .porn and .sexy to .wine and .bar and .bible, according to records of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). The organisation said in June it had received 1930 applications for gTLD 'strings,' of which 911 came from North America and 675 from Europe. Saudi Arabia's Communication and Information Technology Commission, the IT and communications regulator, has objected to the .gay string and asked ICANN to refuse the application for the new gTLD. 'Many societies and cultures consider homosexuality to be contrary to their culture, morality or religion,' CITC said. 'The creation of a gTLD string which promotes homosexuality will be offensive to these societies and cultures,' it added."

    459 comments | more than 2 years ago

  • Holy iPad Slayer! Company Releases World's First Christian Tablet

    Velcroman1 writes "Steve Jobs worshippers need not apply. But if you're looking to get in God's good graces, or you're simply in the market for a family-friendly tablet, you may want to check out Family Christian's Edifi. Billed as the world's first Christian tablet, its genesis came with the inevitable intersection of technology and religion, according to Brian Honorable, a technology supervisor at Family Christian, the group that sells the tablet. 'We wanted to be able to offer our customers the ability to use our Holy Bible application, which has 27 different English translations of the Bible,' Honorable said."

    326 comments | more than 2 years ago

  • The Space Command Team Answers Your Questions

    Last week you got a chance to ask the team behind Space Command about their project and all things sci-fi. Marc Zicree, Doug Drexler, David Raiklen, and Neil Johnson were nice enough to put down the blasters and answer a handful of your best questions. David even answered one of his own! Read below to see what they had to say.

    32 comments | more than 2 years ago

  • Technology For the Masses: Churches Going Hi-Tech

    theodp writes "More and more, reports the Chicago Tribune, churches are embracing the use of tablets and smartphones during services. At Trinity United Church of Christ on Chicago's South Side, the Rev. Otis Moss III preaches from his iPad. 'There was a time in the church when the Gutenberg Bible was introduced,' notes early adopter Moss. 'There was a severe concern among ministers who were afraid the printed page would be such a distraction if you put it in the hands of people in worship.' Tech-savvy churchgoers are also on board. 'In the service, when they say to pull out Bibles, I pull that phone out,' Ted Allen Miller said of using his Android smartphone at Willow Creek Community Church."

    249 comments | more than 2 years ago

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