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New Kind of Metal Theorized To Be In the Earth's Lower Mantle

base_chakra A documentary for context (117 comments)

"The Core" is a recent, hour-long documentary that provides some illustrative background (and CG) for the iron crystal theory, and explains some of the major difficulties in drilling below the crust. It's an episode of Horizon , a long-running science documentary series. You can watch the entire episode in 720p on YouTube.

more than 3 years ago

What You Eat Affects Your Genes

base_chakra Re:Truly Remarkable (249 comments)

Since it is such a potentially high profile experiment...

As you alluded, the import of this study is not the demonstration that food affects gene expression. That premise is the basis of the science of nutrigenomics, a discipline that is revolutionary and tremendously exciting, but which precedes this experiment. Similarly, it has been known for several years that dietary microRNA affects gene expression.

Obviously, Discover Magazine is a popular magazine, not a scientific journal. TFA introduces the reader to dietary microRNA as a regulator of gene expression, but falls short of contextualizing the research within nutrigenomics.

more than 3 years ago

Massive Diamond Found Orbiting Pulsar

base_chakra What just happened? (204 comments)

Look at the supernova; now at the white dwarf; back to the pulsar; magnetic fields; back to the white dwarf. Is it condensing? What's the period of the pulsar? Look again. The star is now diamonds.

more than 3 years ago

Amazon Automatic Pricing Lists Book At $23M

base_chakra Great book! (147 comments)

How many slashdotters clicked the link not just to see a high selling price, but because the book actually sounds damned interesting?

more than 3 years ago

Piracy Is a Market Failure — Not a Legal One

base_chakra The people (591 comments)

Piracy evidences the unstoppable propagation of art and ideas within and across cultures. To characterize it as a "market failure" only acknowledges the failure of the economically powerful to co-opt and monetize this particular mode of circulation. Even if media prices plummeted to lows that media companies would consider unthinkable, piracy would continue because the impetus to subvert would remain, and the demand for alternative distribution methods, file formats, and content would survive.

more than 3 years ago

Toshiba Develops 3-D Monocle

base_chakra ObSimpsons (69 comments)

[While watching Jersey Shore and Big Brother]

"That's my third monocle this week; I simply must stop being so horrified."

more than 3 years ago

Plastic Made From Fruit Rivals Kevlar In Strength

base_chakra Re:What else is in it? (181 comments)

It's not a garbage island. It's tiny flecks of plastic which sometimes are maybe dense enough to form sludge. The whole garbage-land myth is a great let down.

Yeah, it's a major let down. I mean, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is the size of Texas, but people can't even walk on it, and the denser debris doesn't even float. Bummer! And the smaller North Atlantic Garbage Patch is more than 3,000 miles long, but doesn't even have the decency to constitute a land bridge?! After those let downs, the Indian Ocean Garbage Patch hardly even seems worth mentioning, especially when so much trash washes onto islands anyway. Why bother looking for "garbage islands" when the garbage just comes to us?

more than 3 years ago

Plastic Made From Fruit Rivals Kevlar In Strength

base_chakra Re:What else is in it? (181 comments)

As oil prices keep increasing, alternatives like this (combined with newer tech) become much more cost-effective.

So, as we exhaust cheap energy, it becomes more cost-effective to turn to production that consumes even more energy?

more than 3 years ago

Ask Slashdot: How/Where To Start Watching Dr. Who?

base_chakra Wrap around (655 comments)

This question delights my nerd gland, since I endeavoured to watch all 695 episodes of the classic Who. I started in 2008. The pace and writing of the new series are very different from "classic" Doctor Who.

Because there are so few landmarks of linearity from one Doctor to the next, I think it's safe to start with whichever Doctor you like best. Since I have good memories of watching Tom Baker episodes when I was a boy, I started with Robot, the first Baker serial. I didn't want to have to wait ages and ages to get to the Baker stuff, and I also didn't want to end on the sour notes of McCoy and McGann. Starting with Baker and then looping back to Hartnell also meant that I would conclude with the transition from Pertwee to Baker, which was perfect.

I'm now halfway through the Troughton years (Doctor #2). It's pretty arduous slogging through the lost episodes, but you get used to it. I took a break from Who for a while and finished Blake's 7.

My personal ranking:
1. Tom Baker (a Doctor who's fun, has presence, conveys brilliance, and shines despite the show's meager budget)
2. Hartnell (the most dignified and patient doctor; the gentleman scientist)
3. Pertwee (grey pompadour ftw. He might climb this list someday.)
4. Davison (hypertensive fun. Cricketing whites 24/7.)
5. Troughton (too bad many of his episodes are boring)
6. Colin Baker (a bit angry and dysfunctional)
7. McGann (what a wimp!)
8. McCoy (utter retardation)

more than 3 years ago

Bing Becomes No.2 Search Engine at 4.37%

base_chakra Re:Editing is a lost art (366 comments)

The correct form is, of course, Bing done overtook Yahoo.

more than 3 years ago

Consumers Buy Less Tech Stuff, Keep It Longer

base_chakra How many people here could fix that 5-yr-old Mac? (507 comments)

Patti Hauseman stuck with her five-year-old Apple computer until it started making odd whirring noises and occasionally malfunctioning before she bought a new computer for Christmas — actually, a refurbished one.

How many people here could have easily fixed Patti Hauseman's old Mac? How many people here even need to consider the symptoms for more than two seconds in order to think of all the probable causes? Now think of all that waste. Now think of all those extremely grateful people you could help by volunteering your services. What if the computer breaks down, and mom and can't even afford to buy a used one? These are common problems with easy solutions.

Whirring noise and occasional malfunctioning. When the machine still worked, the hard drive might have been failing. A fan might have become clogged, and eventually seized. Many of us even like fixing these things (as long as we're not overwhelmed by relatives' requests). Of course, there's also teaching, installing OSS, donating hardware, and so on.

So, how to start? A few ideas:

  • Idealist.org is an international posting board for volunteer and job opportunities.
  • Freecycle is an international clearinghouse for people requesting and/or offering gratis goods and services.
  • Volunteer networks like VolunteerMatch (USA), Volunteering Australia, Volunteering England, and so on make it very easy to match your skills and interests to active projects
  • Local computer volunteer centers, such as InterConnection in Seattle, Washington
  • Post a bulletin at your local grocery market. Many supermarkets and most community markets have notice boards for such things.

I started thinking about this a year ago when I was in a charity shop in Los Angeles. A man was buying his grandson a used computer, and the boy was so excited. The grandfather didn't know anything about computers, and the boy was just beginning to learn. This shop has an employee just for the computer section, but that's rare. The grandfather asked the shop assistant lots of questions while the enthusiastic grandson tried the demo PCs. The assistant helped them to find something they could afford, although many of the displays for sale had major defects, and some of the PCs were unnecessarily noisy. I still wonder what kind of computing experience that boy and his family have now.

more than 3 years ago

Intel 310 Series Mini SSDs Now Shipping, Benchmark

base_chakra Mine came with... (121 comments)

... a free sample of K-Y Jelly.

Well, I'm off to the airport.

more than 3 years ago

For Mac Developers, Armageddon Comes Tomorrow

base_chakra Stand by puckering (429 comments)

"the traditional Mac developers better stick their heads between their legs and kiss those price points goodbye."

Where are these price points exactly?

about 4 years ago

JBI's Plastic To Oil Gets Operating Permit

base_chakra Re:Just what we need... (223 comments)

In other words, it doesn't clean the air. (Of course it doesn't!) You have to hand it to doublespeak. Marketing copywriters are managing to convince some people that automobile exhaust is more breathable than air. Astonishing.

more than 4 years ago

How much TV do you watch in a week, on average?

base_chakra The Video Consumer Mapping Study (385 comments)

When people self-report their media consumption, they tend to underestimate (or under-report) the amount of TV they watch. The Video Consumer Mapping Study (VCM), the largest study of video consumption to date, also documented this tendency.

Even for the well-intentioned, it's easy to underestimate. While participants in the VCM commonly under-reported by 25%, I find it especially interesting when a person under-reports by a very large amount—like 80%. There is a social stigma about watching television. Some people feel shame about it, and may even be aware that television is part of a coping strategy in their lives—one of the factors in television addiction.

But the VCS is a media study, not a sociopsychological one. It has a lot of fascinating data about American's viewing habits. Do people watch more TV or less if they own a DVR? Do most people watch alone or with others? How many people watch more video online than on television? It's in there.

So maybe reading the study will make you feel better about watching TV. Or maybe, like Jerry Mander, author of Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television , you feel more depressed and concerned as you think about the impact of TV-viewing on our bodies, brains, and societies.

I'm very fond of Peep Show . But I can't shake this nagging awareness that time I spend consuming is time taken away from creating.

more than 4 years ago

WikiLeaks Calls For Assange To Step Down

base_chakra Re:*Everybody* is guilty of something ... (565 comments)

Having read the article, I see a significant discrepancy between the headline and the text.

Jonsdottir is doing more than "commenting as an... activist". She presumes to speak in behalf of the WikiLeaks network, although her assertions are not corroborated on wikileaks.org.

Wikileaks.org is the mouthpiece of the organization. In the WikiLeaks spirit of full disclosure of primary documents, see the WikiLeaks blog post dated 21 August, 2010 (which, at this writing, remains the most recent).

Also, Jonsdottir cites no empirical "reason to think" the accusation is plausible. When evaluating statements in the media, we must all think critically rather than prejudicially. Look beyond the claims to the evidence.

more than 4 years ago

Chinese Company Seeks US Workers With 125 IQ

base_chakra Autism spectrum (553 comments)

There is a big difference between missing nonverbal signals, and being incapable of apprehending nonverbal communication. It's a grossly untrue stereotype that people of great cognitive ability lack emotional intelligence and street smarts (social intelligence). Such a discrepancy, savantism, is rare. That many autistic people are savants is another untrue stereotype. Asperger syndrome, one of the autism spectrum disorders, is more common. Like all ASDs, Asperger syndrome is a developmental disorder, not a proclivity.

We live in an age in which incidence of pervasive developmental disorders such as autism (including Asperger syndrome) is on a troubling rise. To help put it into perspective, the autistic population is greater than the population of people with IQs higher than 140. It's much easier to accept Asperger symptoms as "normal" when they occur in so many people.

So why are autism spectrum disorders more prevalent now? The prevailing theory is that autistic people have one of various genetic weaknesses that make them more susceptible to environmental toxins (such as mercury) that impair brain development. Industrialization exposes people to much higher levels of these toxins than in pre-industrial society. Bigger picture: this is sociobiological evolution in action. Social evolution precedes biological evolution. This is just one way in which the industrial lifestyle is affecting our species.

more than 4 years ago

Microsoft Out of Favor With Young, Hip Developers

base_chakra Alternative headline (775 comments)

"Microsoft Accepted by Old/Curmudgeonly"

more than 4 years ago


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