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When did you learn how to code?

astroengine Late bloomer... (3 comments)

I was 23 when I was confronted with an unforeseen component of my PhD that required me to adapt an old FORTRAN 77 (!) program. The learning curve was steep, and from that moment on I truly appreciated the need for coding to be taught at an early age. Up until that point my university (UK) only offered optional classes on programming. It should be an essential part of education well before university level. It's like any language; the earlier you learn it, the more fluent you become.

about 2 years ago
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I go through keyboards ...

astroengine Letter erosion (341 comments)

When "A" wears away, it's time for a new keyboard, typically.

more than 2 years ago
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Superflares Found on Sun-like Stars

astroengine Correct version (1 comments)

A previous submission on the same topic was posted accidentally with the incorrect URL. This is the correct version. Apologies!

more than 2 years ago
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Near-Earth Asteroid Discovered Via Crowdsourcing

astroengine Re:Automate (21 comments)

It is automated, but only to a point. FTA: "...the telescope scans the sky automatically, looking for any errant chunks of space rock. When an asteroid candidate is identified, the data must be reviewed by a human before the discovery is made."

more than 3 years ago
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Poll: Would you take a one way ticket to Mars?

astroengine Choice 1, but only if.... (1 comments)

...I know there are Martian microbes. Nothing like ending your life as fertilizer.

about 4 years ago
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NYT claims Slashdot losing relevance in social web

astroengine Re:Losing referred traffic... (3 comments)

Very true -- my stats will attest to that. A massive Digg spike = thousands of visitors who can't be bothered to read the title. A modest surge in Slashdot traffic = a steady flow of visitors over a longer period who read the title, first sentence (shocker!), first paragraph, and (dare I say it?) the whole article, taking several minutes to do so.

more than 4 years ago
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NYT claims Slashdot losing relevance in social web

astroengine Not on my watch (3 comments)

As a publisher myself, this article pretty much contradicts my experience with Slashdot. True, traffic can be variable, but there's a thriving community here that understands what sci-tech news actually IS. Also, if an article goes popular on /., I find many of the mainstream sites pick the story up from here. If I want to read endless articles about Facebook's latest privacy conundrum or get my daily dose of lolcats, then I'd pop over to Digg. Slashdot isn't the same model as the "other" social media sites, and it may not be relevant to many, it is certainly relevant to a huge number of sci-tech-savvy contributors.

more than 4 years ago
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Pizza Lovers Suffer Data Breach From Hell

astroengine It's a concern... (164 comments)

I'd hate it if half of New Zealand knew how much pizza I eat.

more than 4 years ago
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Wikimedia Foundation receives $2m Google grant

astroengine But is it sustainable? (3 comments)

Sure, it's awesome Wikipedia is getting sizable grants, donations and gifts, but how long can the foundation be sustained in this way? Wikipedia, despite its flaws, has become a permanent feature of the web, but it seems there is always a campaign to raise more funds... perhaps Google ads will be the future.

more than 4 years ago
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Pluto — a Complex and Changing World

astroengine Because... (191 comments)

...planets have surfaces. Pluto has a surface, therefore it's a planet.

more than 4 years ago
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AAAS reaffirms position on climate change

astroengine But the deniers will keep rumbling (1 comments)

It's great to finally see the big organizations taking on "Climategate", but unfortunately, this whole scenario will continue to be harked by global warming deniers because, quite franky, screaming "conspiracy" is all they've got.

more than 4 years ago
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Beamed Space Solar Power Plant To Open In 2016?

astroengine Wouldn't it be cheaper if... (512 comments)

...a company sold roof tiles with embedded solar panels, market them as 'green', get government tax breaks for anyone participating in the scheme, feed the power collected into the national grid... and *tada* we can collect more energy than a space solar satellite. It's safer, more practical, cheaper and certainly less stupid than thinking space solar is going to become a reality by 2016...

more than 5 years ago
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'Stoned wallabies make crop circles'

astroengine Wallaby hoaxers (1 comments)

The same way most crop circles are made, then.

more than 5 years ago

Submissions

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LHC's 'Heart' Starts Pumping Protons Before Restart

astroengine astroengine writes  |  yesterday

astroengine (1577233) writes "While on its long road to restart, yet another milestone was reached at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) over the weekend. Protons were generated by the LHC’s source and blasted through a ‘daisy-chain’ of smaller accelerators before being intentionally smashed into a metaphorical brick wall. The particle beam didn’t reach the LHC’s famous 17 mile (27 kilometer) accelerator ring, they were stopped just short, but the event was used to begin calibration efforts of the massive experiment’s detectors before the whole system is powered back up again early next year. “These initial tests are a milestone for the whole accelerator chain,” said the LHC’s chief engineer Reyes Alemany Fernandez. “Not only was this the first time the injection lines have seen beams in over a year, it was also our first opportunity to test the LHC’s operation system. We successfully commissioned the LHC’s injection and ejection magnets, all without beam in the machine itself.”"
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Philae's Batteries Have Drained, Comet Lander Sleeps

astroengine astroengine writes  |  about two weeks ago

astroengine (1577233) writes "In the final hours, Philae’s science team hurried to squeeze as much science out of the small lander as possible. But the deep sleep was inevitable, Rosetta’s lander has slipped into hibernation after running its batteries dry. This may be the end of Philae’s short and trailblazing mission on the surface of Comet 67P, but a huge amount of data — including data from a drilling operation that, apparently, was carried out despite concerns that Philae wasn’t positioned correctly — was streamed to Rosetta mission control. “Prior to falling silent, the lander was able to transmit all science data gathered during the First Science Sequence,” said Stephan Ulamec, Philae Lander Manager. “This machine performed magnificently under tough conditions, and we can be fully proud of the incredible scientific success Philae has delivered.”"
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Comet Sings a Mysterious Song to Rosetta

astroengine astroengine writes  |  about two weeks ago

astroengine (1577233) writes "As if to celebrate tomorrow’s landing of Philae on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the European Rosetta mission has detected a mysterious signal coming from the 2.5 mile-wide lump of ice and rock. The mission has five instruments in the Rosetta Plasma Consortium (RPC) that measure the plasma environment surrounding the comet. Plasma is a charged gas and the RPC is tasked with understanding variations in the comet’s activity, how 67P’s jets of vapor and dust interacts with the solar wind and the dynamic structure of the comet’s nucleus and coma. But when recording signals in the 40-50 millihertz frequency range, the RPC stumbled on a surprise — the comet was singing."
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'Revolutionary' New View of Baby Planets Forming Around a Star

astroengine astroengine writes  |  about three weeks ago

astroengine (1577233) writes "Welcome to HL Tauri — a star system that is just being born and the target of one of the most mind-blowing astronomical observations ever made. Observed by the powerful Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile, this is the most detailed view of the proto-planetary disk surrounding a young star 450 light-years away. And those concentric rings cutting through the glowing gas and dust? Those, my friends, are tracks etched out by planets being spawned inside the disk. In short, this is the mother of all embryonic star system ultrasounds. But this dazzling new observation is so much more — it’s a portal into our solar system’s past, showing us what our system of planets around a young sun may have looked like over 4 billion years ago. And this is awesome, because it proves that our theoretical understanding about the evolution of planetary systems is correct. However, there are some surprises. “When we first saw this image we were astounded at the spectacular level of detail,” said Catherine Vlahakis, ALMA Deputy Program Scientist. “HL Tauri is no more than a million years old, yet already its disc appears to be full of forming planets. This one image alone will revolutionize theories of planet formation.”"
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SpaceShipTwo's Rocket Engine Did Not Cause Fatal Crash

astroengine astroengine writes  |  about three weeks ago

astroengine (1577233) writes "It wasn’t SpaceShipTwo’s hybrid rocket motor — which was flying on Friday with a new type of fuel — that caused the fatal crash, the head of the accident investigation agency said late Sunday. The ship’s fuel tanks and its engine were recovered intact, indicating there was no explosion. “They showed no signs of burn-through, no signs of being breached,” Christopher Hart, acting chairman of the National Transportation and Safety Board, told reporters at the Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, Calif. Instead, data and video relayed from the ship show its hallmark safety feature — a foldable tail section designed for easy re-entry into the atmosphere from space — was deployed early, causing the in-flight break-up."
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SpaceShipTwo Pilot Named; Branson Vows to 'Move Forward Together'

astroengine astroengine writes  |  about three weeks ago

astroengine (1577233) writes "Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson has arrived in the Mojave Desert, Calif., in the wake of the tragic explosion and crash of the company’s SpaceShipTwo vehicle. The rocket-propelled space plane was completely destroyed Friday morning during a test flight. One of the two test pilots, employed by SpaceShipTwo development company Scaled Composites, was killed and the second pilot was rushed to a local hospital where he is described as having “major injuries.” A spokeswoman for Kern’s County Coroner’s Office told the Los Angeles Times that project engineer and test pilot Michael Alsbury died in the accident. Alsbury was 39-years-old and had been working with Scaled for 14 years. The second pilot, who was able to parachute to safety, has not been named."
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Two Exocomet Families Found Around Baby Star System

astroengine astroengine writes  |  about a month ago

astroengine (1577233) writes "Scientists have found two families of comets in the developing Beta Pictoris star system, located about 64 million light-years from Earth, including one group that appears to be remnants of a smashed-up protoplanet. The discovery bolsters our theoretical understanding of the violent processes that led to the formation of Earth and the other terrestrial planets in the solar system. “If you look back at the solar system when it was only 22 million years old, you might have seen phenomena that’s a like more like what’s happening in Beta Pic,” astrophysicist Aki Roberge, with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., told Discovery News."
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Mars Orbiter Beams Back Images of Comet's Surprisingly Tiny Nucleus

astroengine astroengine writes  |  about a month ago

astroengine (1577233) writes "The High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on board NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has become the first instrument orbiting Mars to beam back images of comet Siding Spring’s nucleus and coma. And by default, it has also become the first ever mission to photograph a long-period comet’s pristine nucleus on its first foray into the inner solar system. Interestingly, through analysis of these first HiRISE observations, astronomers have determined that the icy nucleus at the comet’s core is much smaller than originally thought. “Telescopic observers had modeled the size of the nucleus as about half a mile, or one kilometer, wide,” writes a NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory news release. “However, the best HiRISE images show only two to three pixels across the brightest feature, probably the nucleus, suggesting a size less than half that estimate.”"
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Saturn's 'Death Star' Moon May Hide Subsurface Ocean

astroengine astroengine writes  |  about a month ago

astroengine (1577233) writes "With its heavily cratered, geologically dead surface, Saturn's moon Mimas was considered to be scientifically boring. But appearances can be deceiving. Using data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft, new research shows something strange inside Mimas that is causing the moon to sway as it orbits around the ringed gas giant. Computer models point to two possibilities. First is that Mimas, which is about 250 miles in diameter, has an oblong or football-shaped core, a clue that the moon may have formed inside Saturn’s ice rings. The second option is that Mimas has a global ocean located 16 miles to 19 miles beneath its icy crust."
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Mars' Atmosphere is Leeching Out Into Space

astroengine astroengine writes  |  about a month and a half ago

astroengine (1577233) writes "Early results from NASA’s recently arrived MAVEN Mars spacecraft show an extensive, tenuous cloud of hydrogen surrounding the red planet, the result of water breaking down in the atmosphere, scientists said Tuesday. MAVEN, an acronym for Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, arrived on Sept. 21 to help answer questions about what caused a planet that was once warm and wet to turn into the cold, dry desert that appears today. “It’s measurements like these that will allow us to estimate the escape rate of hydrogen from the Martian atmosphere to space today. It’s an important measurement to make because the hydrogen ... comes from water lower down in the atmosphere,” MAVEN scientist Mike Chaffin, with the University of Colorado, Boulder, told reporters on a conference call."
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Rosetta Stalks Dark Comet in Stunning New Space Selfie

astroengine astroengine writes  |  about a month and a half ago

astroengine (1577233) writes "At a distance of only 10 miles from comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko’s surface, the European Rosetta mission has captured yet another dazzling self portrait with the dark comet lurking in the background. But the orbiter couldn’t have snapped this “selfie” without the help of a little friend — the attached Philae lander that is currently undergoing preparations for its historic comet surface landing in November."
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NASA Eyes Crew Deep Sleep Option for Mars Mission

astroengine astroengine writes  |  about 2 months ago

astroengine (1577233) writes "A NASA-backed study explores an innovative way to dramatically cut the cost of a human expedition to Mars — put the crew in stasis. The deep sleep, called torpor, would reduce astronauts’ metabolic functions with existing medical procedures. Torpor also can occur naturally in cases of hypothermia. “Therapeutic torpor has been around in theory since the 1980s and really since 2003 has been a staple for critical care trauma patients in hospitals," aerospace engineer Mark Schaffer, with SpaceWorks Enterprises in Atlanta, said at the International Astronomical Congress in Toronto this week. "Protocols exist in most major medical centers for inducing therapeutic hypothermia on patients to essentially keep them alive until they can get the kind of treatment that they need.” Coupled with intravenous feeding, a crew could be put in hibernation for the transit time to Mars, which under the best-case scenario would take 180 days one-way."
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The 'Man in the Moon' was Created by Mega Volcano

astroengine astroengine writes  |  about 2 months ago

astroengine (1577233) writes "Whenever you look up at the near side of the moon, you see a face looking back at you. This is the “Man in the Moon” and it has inspired many questions about how it could have formed. There has been some debate as to how this vast feature — called Oceanus Procellarum, which measures around 1,800 miles wide — was created. But after using gravity data from NASA’s twin GRAIL spacecraft, researchers have found compelling evidence that it was formed in the wake of a mega volcanic eruption and not the location of a massive asteroid strike."
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Solar System's Water is Older Than the Sun

astroengine astroengine writes  |  about 2 months ago

astroengine (1577233) writes "Next time you’re swimming in the ocean, consider this: part of the water is older than the sun. So concludes a team of scientists who ran computer models comparing the ratios of hydrogen isotopes over time. Taking into account new insights that the solar nebula had less ionizing radiation than previously thought, the models show that at least some of the water found in the ocean, as well as in comets, meteorites and on the moon, predate the sun’s birth."
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Curiosity Finds a Weird 'Ball' on Mars

astroengine astroengine writes  |  about 2 months ago

astroengine (1577233) writes "This recent photographic example of the Martian surface by NASA rover Curiosity's Mastcam camera was uploaded to the mission’s photo archive on sol 746 (Sept. 11). While compiling a mosaic of images of the surrounding landscape, the rover captured a rather un-Mars-like shape atop a rocky outcrop. There’s a perfect-looking sphere sitting proudly on a flat rock surface. It’s dusty, but under that dust it appears a little darker than the surrounding rock. At first glance it looks like an old cannonball or possibly a dirty golf ball. But knowing that Mars is somewhat lacking in the 16th Century battleship and golf cart departments, there was likely another answer. According to MSL scientists based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., the ball isn’t as big as it looks — it’s approximately one centimeter wide. Their explanation is that it is most likely something known as a “concretion.” Other examples of concretions have been found on the Martian surface before — take, for example, the tiny haematite concretions, or “blueberries”, observed by Mars rover Opportunity in 2004 — and they were created during sedimentary rock formation when Mars was abundant in liquid water many millions of years ago."
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Indian Mars Mission Beams Back First Photographs

astroengine astroengine writes  |  about 2 months ago

astroengine (1577233) writes "India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) got straight to work as it closed in on Martian orbit on Tuesday — it began taking photographs of the Red Planet and its atmosphere and surface as it slowed down to reach its ultimate destination. After a two day wait, those first images are slowly trickling onto the Internet. And they’re beauties!"
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Mystery Signal Could be Dark Matter Hint in ISS Detector

astroengine astroengine writes  |  about 2 months ago

astroengine (1577233) writes "Analysis of 41 billion cosmic rays striking the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer particle detector aboard the International Space Station shows an unknown phenomena that is “consistent with a dark matter particle” known as a neutralino, researchers announced Thursday. Key to the hunt is the ratio of positrons to electrons and so far the evidence from AMS points in the direction of dark matter. The smoking gun scientists look for is a rise in the ratio of positrons to electrons, followed by a dramatic fall — the telltale sign of dark matter annihilating the Milky Way’s halo, which lies beyond its central disk of stars and dust. However, “we have not found the definitive proof of dark matter,” AMS lead researcher Samuel Ting, with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and CERN in Switzerland, wrote in an email to Discovery News. “Whereas all the AMS results point in the right direction, we still need to measure how quickly the positron fraction falls off at the highest energies in order to rule out astrophysical sources such as pulsars.” But still, this new finding is a tantalizing step in the dark matter direction."
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Rosetta's Lander Philae Snaps Mind-Blowing Comet Selfie

astroengine astroengine writes  |  about 3 months ago

astroengine (1577233) writes "You’d be hard-pressed to find a more impressive “selfie” than this! Attached to the European Space Agency's comet-chasing spacecraft Rosetta, the Philae lander opened one of its robotic eyes when the mission was orbiting comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko at a distance of only 50 kilometers (31 miles) on Sunday. With two high-contrast exposures, the lander captured one of Rosetta’s solar panels in the foreground with the comet behind."
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Space Station's 'Cubesat Cannon' has Gone Rogue

astroengine astroengine writes  |  about 3 months ago

astroengine (1577233) writes "Last night (Thursday), two more of Planet Lab’s shoebox-sized Earth imaging satellites launched themselves from aboard the International Space Station, the latest in a series of technical mysteries involving a commercially owned CubeSat deployer located outside Japan’s Kibo laboratory module. Station commander Steve Swanson was storing some blood samples in one of the station’s freezers Friday morning when he noticed that the doors on NanoRack’s cubesat deployer were open, said NASA mission commentator Pat Ryan. Flight controllers at the Johnson Space Center in Houston determined that two CubeSats had been inadvertently released. “No crew members or ground controllers saw the deployment. They reviewed all the camera footage and there was no views of it there either,” Ryan said."
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Welcome to Laniakea, Our New Cosmic Home

astroengine astroengine writes  |  about 3 months ago

astroengine (1577233) writes "Using a new mapping technique that takes into account the motions — and not just the distances — of nearby galaxies, astronomers discovered that the Milky Way is located in the suburb of a massive, previously unknown super-cluster they named Laniakea, a term from Hawaiian words meaning “immeasurable heaven.” Actually, Laniakea’s girth is measurable, though difficult to conceptualize. The super-cluster spans 520 million light-years in diameter, more than five times larger than the cluster previously believed to be the Milky Way’s cosmic home."
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