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Comments

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Interview: Ask Richard Stallman What You Will

Adolf Hitroll Why don't you do it on Kuro5hin instead?$ (480 comments)

I hear there are only crap informercial for closetted ghery asstards on that silly excuse for a web site. Even Taco had some more to offer instead of that junk.

about 8 months ago
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Codemasters' Website Hacked

Adolf Hitroll yawn. (76 comments)

how is that news?
it's like suggesting there'd be more than a handful of intellectuals on crapdot.

more than 3 years ago
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GUI Revolutions: From Flashing Bulbs To Windows 8

Adolf Hitroll what about guitse? (120 comments)

it's like windows: stinks like poo and looks empty.

gaytse is like osx.

more than 3 years ago
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Judge Puts Righthaven Cases In Colorado On Hold

Adolf Hitroll I'M AS MAD AS HELL (36 comments)

And I Am Not Gonna Take This Anymore!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(fuck Taco&the lameness filter)

more than 3 years ago
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HP Advances Next-Gen Memory Technology

Adolf Hitroll I AM MAD AS HELL!!! (70 comments)

AND I AM NOT GONNA TAKE THIS ANYMORE !!!

asdf
asdfasdfasdf

asdfasdff

asdf
asdf
sdfasfg

more than 3 years ago
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16-Year-Old Discovers Potential Treatment For Cystic Fibrosis

Adolf Hitroll What's a soulskill? (236 comments)

Are you one of these religious nuts, or some kind of goth?
Or a mix of these?
Or just an idiot?

more than 3 years ago
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NASA Fires Up Jet Fuel That Tastes Like Chicken

Adolf Hitroll who tasted that? (147 comments)

that's as stupid as self-proclaimed nerds can be.

more than 3 years ago
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7.4-Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Off Japan; Tsunami Alert Issued

Adolf Hitroll scribble on... wtf? (313 comments)

Lemme get that straight: you consider slashdot to be like a restroom wall?

Says a lot about you, my dear.

more than 3 years ago
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7.4-Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Off Japan; Tsunami Alert Issued

Adolf Hitroll It was just me. (313 comments)

Actually Slashdot has a tendency to log me out inadvertently, you jackass.

What about you add some of the flick's pictures on your autobiographic web site?

more than 3 years ago
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Book Review: Learning ExtJS 3.2

Adolf Hitroll no way. (46 comments)

this review is idiotic.

more than 3 years ago
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CIA Shows Off (Formerly) Super-Secret Spy Goodies

Adolf Hitroll if only... (100 comments)

btw, title is incomplete: CIA also loves to sell^H^H^Hhow some more modern warfare to the public...

So, I'd say, what about taking the CIA executives (and staff) and sending them back to the shithole superstitious fucktards also name the Promised Land.

more than 2 years ago
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Python 3.2 Released

Adolf Hitroll great. (164 comments)

so, does that mean that /. editors finally stopped sucking steve jobs' dick?

more than 3 years ago
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I'd rather my paycheck be denominated in ...

Adolf Hitroll Re:Swiss Francs baby (868 comments)

This doesn't count, given the poll title: my paycheck is already in my beloved CHF :)

more than 3 years ago
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Should Colleges Ban Classroom Laptop Use?

Adolf Hitroll yes (804 comments)

it has statistically been proven that people remember better what they read on paper than on a screen.

more than 3 years ago
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JBI's Plastic To Oil Gets Operating Permit

Adolf Hitroll Re:Someday (223 comments)

Do you mean continent?

BTW, that's what you get when you let fucking sodas define your personality: very little of these bottles are drunk by thirsty people.

more than 3 years ago

Submissions

Adolf Hitroll hasn't submitted any stories.

Journals

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Why /. need the -1 gang.

Adolf Hitroll Adolf Hitroll writes  |  more than 4 years ago

We can only afford to post once, sometime twice a day.
We can only afford to react carefully to something we think desserves it. We also tend to prefer visible spots: fp, or fp'child.
We don't have karma to lose so we won't post something pleasing, unlike these bunch of genY me-too-ers that keep chanting the same lame convictions.

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Improve /. : give me godlike mod rights!

Adolf Hitroll Adolf Hitroll writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Moderation has reached a new low: I started the most interesting thread of yesterday and, because of my name (I guess some similarly named fuck made it to a terror-watch list), they keep insinuating I'm flamebaiting no-livers...

What about giving me godlike mod right so that I can make this board much better for intelligent people instead of just politically correct for no-life self-proclaimed nerds?

Taco? Do you read me? This is a serious offer.

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Al Gore's "Global asswiping"

Adolf Hitroll Adolf Hitroll writes  |  more than 6 years ago

A mathematical proof that there is no "climate crisis" has been published in debate on global warming in Physics and Society, a scientific publication of the 46,000-strong American Physical Society.
The published paper reveals that:

  • The IPCC's 2007 climate summary overstated CO2's impact on temperature by 500-2000%;
  • CO2 enrichment will add little more than 1 F (0.6 C) to global mean surface temperature by 2100;
  • Not one of the three key variables whose product is climate sensitivity can be measured directly;
  • The IPCC's values for these key variables are taken from only four published papers, not 2,500;
  • The IPCC's values for each of the three variables, and hence for climate sensitivity, are overstated;
  • "Global warming" halted ten years ago, and surface temperature has been falling for seven years;
  • Not one of the computer models relied upon by the IPCC predicted so long and rapid a cooling;
  • The IPCC inserted a table into the scientists' draft, overstating the effect of ice-melt by 1000%;
  • It was proved 50 years ago that predicting climate more than two weeks ahead is impossible;
  • Mars, Jupiter, Neptune's largest moon, and Pluto warmed at the same time as Earth warmed;
  • In the past 70 years the Sun was more active than at almost any other time in the past 11,400 years.

Also note that Al Gore co-owns a carbon emission parts resselling company...

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Fuck "Watchmen"

Adolf Hitroll Adolf Hitroll writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Who cares about that, it's just a fucking movie and the novel itself was just a bunch of entwined stories, each with a boring plot, as well as unsympathetic characters. Not only that but this movie would also be done by the cretin who shat his lack of talent upon Miller's "300"...

So what, the movie won't come because Ameritards love their political system and the way it allow the bigger guys to screw the smaller and, eventually, other big guys when they can.

So, instead of whinning about how having that movie coming too late will destroy your lives, why don't you just focus on what's real, such as that beginning war in Georgia which is due to your overlords' cupidity and not to the Russians'?

Fuck you.

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Is this pornography?

Adolf Hitroll Adolf Hitroll writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Altough my screen name is trollish, the question I'm about to ask is not.

Do you consider this picture (warning: Goatse link!, but this is my point) to be pornographic?

Let's get through it: Shocking? Yes. It's the intended purpose. Graphical? Yes. Disgusting? well, the first time, it sure is. Sexual? This is where I don't know.

I truely desire to have an answer to this question: is the goatse pornographic? and... btw... please state whether you own a cat or not while answering.

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$1 Billion in suspicious stock activity reminiscent of pre-9

Adolf Hitroll Adolf Hitroll writes  |  more than 7 years ago

This is here.

29 August 2007: In the weeks preceding the 2001 attacks on America, there were very significant financial warning signs that something big - and bad - could be about to happen. Huge surges in purchases of "put options" on stocks of United Airlines and American Airlines, the two airlines used in the attacks, and "put options" on Merrill Lynch & Co., and Morgan Stanley, stocks of two financial services companies hurt by the attack were noted. Put options are essentially "bets" that a stock or stock index will drop on or before a certain date; the larger the drop, the bigger the gain for the purchaser of the option.

Fast forward to the present day, and we have the same type of trading that took place in the days that preceded the 9/11 attacks - but on a larger scale. Nearly $1 billion of "put options" have been purchased, basically betting that Standard and Poor's 500 index will fall significantly by the third Friday in September. A large number of these options have also been purchased calling for 50% decline by September 21, 2007. For example, a 5% drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average would be the current equivalent of about 670 points. A decline of 11% would equal about 1,470 points in today's market. Obviously, larger drops, such as a 50% decline, would cause an unprecedented market collapse. Money would be made for the purchaser(s) of the put options - but the same purchaser(s) stand to lose over $1 BILLION in the investment if the market remains relatively static through September 21, 2007.

The questions are: who can stand to lose $1 BILLION, who will gain in the wake of such a devastating collapse, who are the investors, and what do they know that we don't?

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Ken Foster, innocent, will be executed in Texas today

Adolf Hitroll Adolf Hitroll writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Although he is innocent, ten years ago Kenneth Foster was sentenced to death. If the state of Texas doesn't admit to its macabre mistake, on August 30th he will be executed, never having committed even the slightest crime.
YOU have the power to make that stop... or not to care.

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Porn Industry Jumps on Web 2.0 Bandwagon

Adolf Hitroll Adolf Hitroll writes  |  more than 7 years ago

I had to save this before it got canned by Kuro5hin's pruritans...

By dylank in Internet
Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 09:22:40 PM EST
Tags: pr0nfest, technology (all tags)

Ten years ago it seemed that the adult industry was a major force driving Internet technology. Somehow they slipped behind the curve as the various Web 2.0 buzz-words took off, offering the same types of sites with nothing more than glitzier graphics, despite fundamental changes in the way people were using the Internet. That's finally beginning to change, however, with a new crop of adult-oriented sites which finally realize that the Internet is not simply a tool for pushing their content to consumers.

The first example is a search engine, EveKnows.com. Like Google, it uses a spider to gather content, so it's not (yet) become a haven of spammers. It sets itself apart by using RSS to distribute search results. Users can type in any term imaginable (and thanks to the Popular Search Cloud, you can see there are some pretty... erm... interesting... things people are searching for) and use their browser's RSS reader to watch for updates to the search results. For something like adult models, this seems to be a singularly well-suited tool, but it's surprising that larger engines haven't picked up on this. Using Web 2.0 technologies, EveKnows has changed the search engine from something you visit into something that (unobtrusively) visits you.

Another site to see the shift in usage is PornoTube, essentially a version of YouTube for, well, porn. Unlike EveKnows, the emphasis here is on user-supplied content--the same focus which drives the majority of mainstream Web 2.0 sites. PornoTube doesn't really break any new ground technology-wise, but it is a great example of the adult industry struggling to catch up to the way people expect modern web sites to behave.

Two other sites are also basically copies of popular mainstream pages: SocialPorn purports to be the Digg of adult content, while WikiAfterDark is closely modeled on the ubiquitous Wikipedia. Much like with PornoTube, these of-age dopplegangers show the pervasiveness of user-centric, Web 2.0 interaction.

Conspicuously absent from this list are non-free sites. Granted, the idea of nearly-viral, user-submitted content doesn't jive with the practice of monthly subscription costs, but this may also illustrate a rift between the old-school, big adult entertainment players and new, tech-savvy upstarts. Whether these new sites take off and replace the traditional, static model of adult pay-sites remains to be seen, but it should be an interesting fight. If nothing else, we all stand to gain some free pr0n from the deal. ;)

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Odd Japanese sex toys

Adolf Hitroll Adolf Hitroll writes  |  more than 7 years ago

This is what the wiser Japaneses play with on Friday evenings. This changes from all all the /. 'tards and their Star Trek shite...

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Fuck /. mods

Adolf Hitroll Adolf Hitroll writes  |  more than 11 years ago

THIS was a flamebait.
It has been modded until +5 Funny.

Then, 2-3 days later, it got downmodded to +3 (mostly anonymous cowfarts who found it was overrated).

Anyway, thanks to the now obsolete cliffy2000 for biting in my troll *that* funny way.
He should have been upmodded instead of me as he made my day :-D

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The return to Afghanistan, by Robert Fisk

Adolf Hitroll Adolf Hitroll writes  |  more than 12 years ago

source

     

President George Bush's "war on terror" reached the desert village of Hajibirgit at midnight on 22 May. Haji Birgit Khan, the bearded, 85-year-old Pushtu village leader and head of 12,000 local tribal families, was lying on a patch of grass outside his home. Faqir Mohamed was sleeping among his sheep and goats in a patch of sand to the south when he heard "big planes moving in the sky". Even at night, it is so hot that many villagers spend the hours of darkness outside their homes, although Mohamedin and his family were in their mud-walled house. There were 105 families in Hajibirgit on 22 May, and all were woken by the thunder of helicopter engines and the thwack of rotor blades and the screaming voices of the Americans.

Haji Birgit Khan was seen running stiffly from his little lawn towards the white-walled village mosque, a rectangular cement building with a single loudspeaker and a few threadbare carpets. Several armed men were seen running after him. Hakim, one of the animal herders, saw the men from the helicopters chase the old man into the mosque and heard a burst of gunfire. "When our people found him, he had been killed with a bullet, in the head," he says, pointing downwards. There is a single bullet hole in the concrete floor of the mosque and a dried bloodstain beside it. "We found bits of his brain on the wall."

Across the village, sharp explosions were detonating in the courtyards and doorways of the little homes. "The Americans were throwing stun grenades at us and smoke grenades," Mohamedin recalls. "They were throwing dozens of them at us and they were shouting and screaming all the time. We didn't understand their language, but there were Afghan gunmen with them, too, Afghans with blackened faces. Several began to tie up our women - our own women - and the Americans were lifting their burqas, their covering, to look at their faces. That's when the little girl was seen running away." Abdul Satar says that she was three years old, that she ran shrieking in fear from her home, that her name was Zarguna, the daughter of a man called Abdul-Shakour - many Afghans have only one name - and that someone saw her topple into the village's 60ft well on the other side of the mosque. During the night, she was to drown there, alone, her back apparently broken by the fall. Other village children would find her body in the morning. The Americans paid no attention. From the description of their clothes given by the villagers, they appeared to include Special Forces and also units of Afghan Special Forces, the brutish and ill-disciplined units run from Kabul's former Khad secret police headquarters. There were also 150 soldiers from the US 101st Airborne, whose home base is at Fort Campbell in Kentucky. But Fort Campbell is a long way from Hajibirgit, which is 50 miles into the desert from the south-western city of Kandahar. And the Americans were obsessed with one idea: that the village contained leaders from the Taliban and Osama bin Laden's al-Qa'ida movement.

A former member of a Special Forces unit from one of America's coalition partners supplied his own explanation for the American behaviour when I met him a few days later. "When we go into a village and see a farmer with a beard, we see an Afghan farmer with a beard," he said. "When the Americans go into a village and see a farmer with a beard, they see Osama bin Laden."

All the women and children were ordered to gather at one end of Hajibirgit. "They were pushing us and shoving us out of our homes," Mohamedin says. "Some of the Afghan gunmen were shouting abuse at us. All the while, they were throwing grenades at our homes." The few villagers who managed to run away collected the stun grenades next day with the help of children. There are dozens of them, small cylindrical green pots with names and codes stamped on the side. One says "7 BANG Delay: 1.5 secs NIC-01/06-07", another "1 BANG, 170 dB Delay: 1.5s." Another cylinder is marked: "DELAY Verzagerung ca. 1,5s." These were the grenades that terrified Zarguna and ultimately caused her death. A regular part of US Special Forces equipment, they are manufactured in Germany by the Hamburg firm of Nico-Pyrotechnik - hence the "NIC" on several of the cylinders. "dB" stands for decibels.

Several date stamps show that the grenades were made as recently as last March. The German company refers to them officially as "40mm by 46mm sound and flash (stun) cartridges". But the Americans were also firing bullets. Several peppered a wrecked car in which another villager, a taxi driver called Abdullah, had been sleeping. He was badly wounded. So was Haji Birgit Khan's son.

A US military spokesman would claim later that US soldiers had "come under fire" in the village and had killed one man and wounded two "suspected Taliban or al-Qa'ida members". The implication - that 85-year-old Haji Birgit Khan was the gunman - is clearly preposterous.

The two wounded were presumably Khan's son and Abdullah, the taxi driver. The US claim that they were Taliban or al-Qa'ida members was a palpable lie - since both of them were subsequently released. "Some of the Afghans whom the Americans brought with them were shouting 'Shut up!' to the children who were crying," Faqir Mohamed remembers.

"They made us lie down and put cuffs on our wrists, sort of plastic cuffs. The more we pulled on them, the tighter they got and the more they hurt. Then they blindfolded us. Then they started pushing us towards the planes, punching us as we tried to walk."

In all, the Americans herded 55 of the village men, blindfolded and with their hands tied, on to their helicopters. Mohamedin was among them. So was Abdul-Shakour, still unaware that his daughter was dying in the well. The 56th Afghan prisoner to be loaded on to a helicopter was already dead: the Americans had decided to take the body of 85-year-old Haji Birgit Khan with them.

When the helicopters landed at Kandahar airport - headquarters to the 101st Airborne - the villagers were, by their own accounts, herded together into a container. Their legs were tied and then their handcuffs and the manacle of one leg of each prisoner were separately attached to stakes driven into the floor of the container. Thick sacks were put over their heads. Abdul Satar was among the first to be taken from this hot little prison. "Two Americans walked in and tore my clothes off," he said. "If the clothes would not tear, they cut them off with scissors. They took me out naked to have my beard shaved and to have my photograph taken. Why did they shave off my beard? I had my beard all my life."

Mohamedin was led naked from his own beard-shaving into an interrogation tent, where his blindfold was removed. "There was an Afghan translator, a Pushtun man with a Kandahar accent in the room, along with American soldiers, both men and women soldiers," he says. "I was standing there naked in front of them with my hands tied. Some of them were standing, some were sitting at desks. They asked me: 'What do you do?' I told them: 'I am a shepherd - why don't you ask your soldiers what I was doing?' They said: 'Tell us yourself.' Then they asked: 'What kind of weapons have you used?' I told them I hadn't used any weapon.

"One of them asked: 'Did you use a weapon during the Russian [occupation] period, the civil war period or the Taliban period?' I told them that for a lot of the time I was a refugee." From the villagers' testimony, it is impossible to identify which American units were engaged in the interrogations. Some US soldiers were wearing berets with yellow or brown badges, others were in civilian clothes but apparently wearing bush hats. The Afghan interpreter was dressed in his traditional salwah khameez. Hakim underwent a slightly longer period of questioning; like Mohamedin, he says he was naked before his interrogators.

"They wanted my age and my job. I said I was 60, that I was a farmer. They asked: 'Are there any Arabs or Talibans or Iranians or foreigners in your village?' I said 'No.' They asked: 'How many rooms are there in your house, and do you have a satellite phone?' I told them: 'I don't have a phone. I don't even have electricity.' They asked: 'Were the Taliban good or bad?' I replied that the Taliban never came to our village so I had no information about them. Then they asked: 'What about Americans? What kind of people are Americans?' I replied: 'We heard that they liberated us with [President Hamid] Karzai and helped us - but we don't know our crime that we should be treated like this.' What was I supposed to say?"

A few hours later, the villagers of Hajibirgit were issued with bright-yellow clothes and taken to a series of wire cages laid out over the sand of the airbase - a miniature version of Guantanamo Bay - where they were given bread, biscuits, rice, beans and bottled water. The younger boys were kept in separate cages from the older men. There was no more questioning, but they were held in the cages for another five days. All the while, the Americans were trying to discover the identity of the 85-year-old man. They did not ask their prisoners - who could have identified him at once - although the US interrogators may not have wished them to know that he was dead. In the end, the Americans gave a photograph of the face of the corpse to the International Red Cross. The organisation was immediately told by Kandahar officials that the elderly man was perhaps the most important tribal leader west of the city.

"When we were eventually taken out of the cages, there were five American advisers waiting to talk to us," Mohamedin says. "They used an interpreter and told us they wanted us to accept their apologies for being mistreated. They said they were sorry. What could we say? We were prisoners. One of the advisers said: 'We will help you.' What does that mean?" A fleet of US helicopters flew the 55 men to the Kandahar football stadium - once the scene of Taliban executions - where all were freed, still dressed in prison clothes and each with a plastic ID bracelet round the wrist bearing a number. "Ident-A-Band Bracelet made by Hollister" was written on each one. Only then did the men learn that old Haji Birgit Khan had been killed during the raid a week earlier. And only then did Abdul-Shakour learn that his daughter Zarguna was dead.

The Pentagon initially said that it found it "difficult to believe" that the village women had their hands tied. But given identical descriptions of the treatment of Afghan women after the US bombing of the Uruzgan wedding party, which followed the Hajibirgit raid, it seems that the Americans - or their Afghan allies - did just that. A US military spokesman claimed that American forces had found "items of intelligence value", weapons and a large amount of cash in the village. What the "items" were was never clarified. The guns were almost certainly for personal protection against robbers. The cash remains a sore point for the villagers. Abdul Satar said that he had 10,000 Pakistani rupees taken from him - about $200 (130). Hakim says he lost his savings of 150,000 rupees - $3,000 (1,900). "When they freed us, the Americans gave us 2,000 rupees each," Mohamedin says. "That's just $40 [25]. We'd like the rest of our money."

But there was a far greater tragedy to confront the men when they reached Hajibirgit. In their absence - without guns to defend the homes, and with the village elder dead and many of the menfolk prisoners of the Americans - thieves had descended on Hajibirgit. A group of men from Helmand province, whose leader is Abdul Rahman Khan - once a brutal and rapacious "mujahid" fighter against the Russians, and now a Karzai government police commander - raided the village once the Americans had taken away so many of the men. Ninety-five of the 105 families had fled into the hills, leaving their mud homes to be pillaged.

The disturbing, frightful questions that creep into the mind of anyone driving across the desert to Hajibirgit today are obvious. Who told the US to raid the village? Who told them that the Taliban leadership and the al-Qa'ida leadership were there? Was it, perhaps, Abdul Rahman Khan, the cruel police chief whose men were so quick to pillage the mud-walled homes once the raid was over? For today, Hajibirgit is a virtual ghost town, its village leader dead, most of its houses abandoned. The US raid was worthless. There are scarcely 40 villagers left. They all gathered at the stone grave of Zarguna some days later, to pay their respects to the memory of the little girl. "We are poor people - what can we do?" Mohamedin asked me. I had no reply. President Bush's "war on terror", his struggle of "good against evil" descended on the innocent village of Hajibirgit.

And now Hajibirgit is dead.

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Happy Birthday

Adolf Hitroll Adolf Hitroll writes  |  more than 12 years ago Today is Hiroshima's Birthday, Paul Tibbets still sleeps okay and GwB even thinks about him when it comes to nuking the Iraqi.
I think you, american (doesn't desserve the upper case A), are doomed.

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An interesting story on Slashdot : here

Adolf Hitroll Adolf Hitroll writes  |  more than 12 years ago

143-Year-Old Problem Still Has Mathematicians Guessing
By BRUCE SCHECHTER

n the early years of the 20th century, the great British mathematician Godfrey Harold Hardy used to take out a peculiar form of travel insurance before boarding a boat to cross the North Sea. If the weather looked threatening he would send a postcard on which he announced the solution of the Riemann hypothesis. Hardy, wrote his biographer, Constance Reid, was convinced "that God - with whom he waged a very personal war - would not let Hardy die with such glory."

The Riemann hypothesis, first tossed off by Bernhard Riemann in 1859 in a paper about the distribution of prime numbers, is still widely considered to be one of the greatest unsolved problems in mathematics, sure to wreath its conqueror with glory - and, incidentally, lots of cash. Two years ago, to celebrate the millennium, the Clay Mathematics Institute announced an award of a million dollars for a proof (or refutation) of the hypothesis.

Whether in pursuit of glory, cash ("prizes attract cranks," one mathematician sniffed) or pure mental satisfaction, more than a hundred of the world's leading mathematicians came to New York City recently to attend an unusual conference at New York University's Courant Institute. While most math conferences are devoted to presenting completed work, this one was held for mathematicians to swap hunches, warn of dead ends and get new ideas that could ultimately lead to a solution.

"One of the things we hope to do is to consolidate the approaches," said Dr. Brian Conrey, a professor of mathematics at Oklahoma State University and executive director of the American Institute of Mathematics, a private group that organized the meeting with support from the Courant Institute and the National Science Foundation. "We're looking for brand-new ideas with which to open the door."

There was a guarded optimism among the mathematicians that promising new ideas were being put forward, but in mathematics prognostication is a dangerous game. Hardy, for example, rated the Riemann hypothesis less difficult than Fermat's conjecture, which Dr. Andrew Wiles of Princeton solved in 1993, after working for seven years in secrecy. Dr. Wiles, as it happens, dropped in on the conference, but when asked if this meant he was now attacking the hypothesis he shrugged and said, "Well, it's a spectator sport, you know."

As in all sports, it helps to know the rules of the game. Riemann made his hypothesis in the course of a 10-page paper he wrote on the distribution of prime numbers that is considered to be one of the most important papers in the history of number theory, a history that stretches back more than 2,500 years.

Prime numbers are numbers that are divisible only by one and themselves - they are the atoms of arithmetic, for any number is either a prime or a product of primes. The first few primes are 2, 3, 5, 7, 11 and 13 - but despite their simple definition the prime numbers appear to be scattered randomly amid the integers.

There is no simple way to tell if a number is prime, and that is the basis for most modern encryption schemes. Solving the hypothesis could lead to new encryption schemes and possibly provide tools that would make existing schemes, which depend on the properties of prime numbers, more vulnerable.

Despite the random occurrence of individual primes, the primes themselves were found to follow a remarkably simple distribution. In 1792, when he was 15, Karl Friedrich Gauss decided to examine the number of primes less than a given number. He discovered that the primes became, on average, sparser the further out he looked and that this dwindling obeyed a simple, logarithmic law. He had no idea why this was so, but it was intriguing.

In 1859, Riemann, who had been a student of Gauss, took up the question of the distribution of primes in his only paper on number theory. With that paper he revolutionized the field, as he had the fields of geometry (his math became the basis for Einstein's theory of gravitation) and several other branches of mathematics. What Riemann discovered was a way of using the properties of a relatively simple function to count the primes.

What was so remarkable about Riemann's zeta function was that it somehow took a question about prime numbers - those discrete atoms of simple arithmetic, things easy to imagine - and put it in terms of a far larger and more esoteric class of numbers known as complex numbers. Complex numbers are a generalization of the familiar decimal numbers that mathematicians call the real numbers.

While the real numbers can be thought of as points on an infinite line, the complex numbers are points on a plane. One axis of this complex plane corresponds to the real numbers, and the other corresponds to the "imaginary" numbers - which were introduced so that negative numbers could have square roots, and are no more imaginary than real numbers. A function like Riemann's zeta function is simply a rule that takes a point on this plane and sends it to some other point.

By moving the problem to the complex plane Riemann had access to a whole new set of powerful mathematical tools, many of which he had developed himself. What was going on with the primes turned out to be a shadow of what was going on in this more general world.

Riemann showed that if he knew where the value of his zeta function went to zero he would be able to predict the distribution of the primes. He was able to prove that aside from some "trivial" zeros - located at -2, -4, -6, and so on and thus easily included in his equations - the zeros of the zeta function all lay within a strip one unit wide running along the imaginary axis.

Somehow the distribution of these zeros mirrored or encoded the distribution of the prime numbers. Riemann guessed that all of the zeros ran along the middle of the critical strip like the dotted line on a highway. Nobody is sure why he made this guess, but it has proven to be inspired. Over the past few decades billions of zeros of the zeta function have been calculated by computer, and every one of them obeys Riemann's hypothesis.

Most of the conference attendees would be shocked if a stray zero were found and Riemann was proven wrong. They would agree with John Frye, the chief executive of Frye's Electronics and a math major who used his fortune to found the mathematics institute. "I think we would have a better chance of finding life on Mars than finding a counter-example," he said.

But the field is rife with examples of hypotheses that seem to be true but are subsequently proven to fail at numbers beyond the reach of any conceivable computer. Only a mathematical proof, based on logic, can handle questions of the infinite.

Still, calculating the zeros of zeta is not an idle pursuit. In 1972, Hugh Montgomery, a mathematician at the University of Michigan, investigated the statistical distribution of the zeros. He found that they were scattered randomly but seemed to repel each other slightly - they did not clump together. On a trip to the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton he showed his result to the physicist Freeman Dyson.

By sheer luck, Dr. Dyson was one of the few people in the world who would have recognized that the Montgomery results looked just like recent calculations on the energy levels of large atoms. The coincidence was so striking that it forged a new and still mysterious bridge between quantum physics and number theory. The connection was one of many pursued at the conference, though Dr. Montgomery does not think this work will lead directly to a solution. "It only gives us clues," he said.

Other clues abounded at the conference, some tantalizing, such as possible linkages to the theories Dr. Wiles developed to solve the Fermat conjecture. But mathematical proofs are extremely delicate structures that can vanish at the merest touch.

Dr. Peter Sarnak, from the Institute for Advanced Study, spoke to the meeting about a promising approach that he and his colleagues have been pursuing. Just as Riemann attacked the problem of the primes by generalizing the zeta function to the complex plane, Dr. Sarnak and many others have been looking at families of functions of which Riemann's zeta function is just one relative. Each of these functions has its own Riemann hypothesis. "Of course," Dr. Sarnak acknowledged, "often the reason you generalize is that you're stuck."

But generalization also has its rewards. While the Riemann hypothesis does not have very many applications, the generalized version, if true, would solve hundreds of important mathematical problems.

When Dr. Wiles sat down in his attack to solve Fermat's conjecture, his path, though it would require genius to traverse, was clear: recent results had indicated the most promising direction to travel. Mathematicians at the conference agreed that there was no such clear evidence of a trail head for the Riemann hypothesis, a challenge they called both frustrating and exhilarating.

"The Riemann hypothesis is not the last word about things," Dr. Montgomery said. "It should be the first fundamental theorem. We're in a kind of logjam right now because we can't prove the fundamental theorem."

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Slashdot moderation suggestion (nothing to do with Corel)

Adolf Hitroll Adolf Hitroll writes  |  more than 12 years ago I have a simple idea regarding slashdot moderation :

It should cost more moderation points to upmod an already highly modded (>=+3) post or to downmod a post that has already been modded to 0.

perl code :

#!/bin/perl

print "From     Vote    Cost            From    Vote    Cost\n";
for ($i = -1 ; $i < 6 ; $i ++) {
  print " $i    +1      " . cost($i, 1) . "             ";
  print " $i    -1      " . cost($i, -1) . "\n";
}

exit 0;

sub cost {
  $from = shift;
  $vote = shift;
  $cost = int(abs((3 + $vote * ($from - 1.5)) / 4) +1 );
  return $cost;
}

which displays as a result:
From    Vote    Cost            From    Vote    Cost
-1     +1      1                -1     -1      2
0      +1      1                0      -1      2
1      +1      1                1      -1      1
2      +1      1                2      -1      1
3      +1      2                3      -1      1
4      +1      2                4      -1      1
5      +1      2                5      -1      1

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one week later

Adolf Hitroll Adolf Hitroll writes  |  more than 12 years ago

I am at work, waiting for some cluster tests to complete.
After a one week holiday, I visit crapdot.
The stories are amazingly lame (sci-fi crap, tv, what microsoft did years ago, etc.).
I wonder why people dare to subscribe, is this addiction a legal thing ?
I think slashdot destroyed the meaning of "nerd".

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