Instant Messaging With Neutrinos
Of course it is a stunt. You're only reading about it because the main goal of the MINERvA experiment, measuring neutrino cross-sections, wouldn't make slashdot. Let's enjoy the impractical communications stuff. Meanwhile, you can be sure the actual physics research continues, unreported in the "popular" channels.
Instant Messaging With Neutrinos
Neutrinos can collide with other neutrinos. Thing is, it's just really rare. The probability for a neutrino to interact with normal matter is small. The probability for it to interact with other neutrinos is smaller still. But it is non-zero. The only time when you're likely to be able to measure this kind of interaction is during a supernova, when the dying star makes an incredible number of neutrinos all at once.
Kickstarter-Like Service For Charities?
They don't allow you to use kickstarter for charity. It's only for creative projects.
The Strange Case of Solar Flares and Radioactive Decay Rates
This is a really interesting story to think about, and I don't want to completely dismiss this as rubbish, but there are several red flags.
For one, consider the headlining scientist. The professor whose photo appears in the article is Peter Sturrock. If you read his wikipedia page, you will find it is mostly dedicated to his work on pushing for UFO study to be mainstreamed. Interesting.
He actually has a reputation for looking for patterns in old data. He has done this to the Homestake neutrino data and also the Super-Kamiokande neutrino data. He did not work on either experiment.
The biggest red flag is that no hypothesis was tested. This is not science. If you find a pattern in old data, you should design a new experiment, with a hypothesis to test, and see if it holds. If you look through the mountains of old data, you will find patterns in it. You can find patterns in anything if you look hard enough. See, for example, predictions from the Bible.
Until someone designs an experiment to test this hypothesis that increased neutrino flux changes decay rates, predicts how it will happen, and looks for and finds it, don't get too excited.
Tsunami Warning From Space?
They used to use warning sirens for that sort of thing. Far more low tech, but quite cheap, and a single siren can be heard for quite a distance. Just put them near the shore. Now, it's not nearly as cool as the satellite, but it would work if people are indoors and not looking out the window.
Fermilab Detects "Doubly Strange" Particle
Exactly. CDF and D0 are separate collaborations at Fermilab using the same proton beam. Because they do not share a detector, and they independently do their own analyses, it is an excellent check against incorrect results.
South Carolina To Give 1 Laptop Per School Child
I am tremendously frustrated by this. Pennsylvania is doing a similar thing for high school students. What this amounts to is a redistribution of education funds, and there will inevitably be cuts to programs that need the money. Pennsylvania cut the Governor's Schools of Excellence program, which cost a tiny fraction of the laptop program, along with others. I sincerely hope that students and parents in South Carolina will be extremely vocal to save the programs which are important, because politicians tend not to vote against giving computers to kids, since it looks popular.
Favorite on-screen calculator?
I realize it isn't for everyone, but ROOT is my calculator.
It's an open source object oriented data analysis program. Runs right in the terminal, quite fast, does arithmetic just like C++. It's definitely overkill for most people, and the really useful features of ROOT take a while to learn. But I need to use it for my research anyway, so...there you go!
What Spoils a Game For You?
I find that I enjoy games more when they surprise me. They can surprise me in terms of story (Metal Gear Anything, I played MGS3 with intentionally avoiding spoilers, it was well worth it, I didn't do that for MGS2), or in terms of fun gameplay mechanics (Mario Galaxy, Katamari Damacy), or just by being a better game than I expected (Zack and Wiki, Okami, World of Goo). The surprises are in different ways, so having them spoiled comes in different ways.
For a very story heavy game, like a Final Fantasy or Metal Gear, the plot twists are what you should hide. Gameplay mechanics, I'm fine with.
For a game where you're supposed to be constantly impressed by the gameplay mechanics (say...Zelda), you shouldn't spoil everything you can do in the game. It should suffice in the review to say that the reviewer was impressed with what mechanics are available.
For a puzzle game, obviously, don't spoil the puzzles.
And for any game, don't hype it beyond what it is. Sometimes I'll play a game after hearing a tremendous amount of hype about it, and I'll be disappointed, not because it was a bad game, but because the pleasant surprise of how good the game is is ruined.
As a general rule to the reviewer, consider what about the game you enjoyed because it surprised you. If this occurs more than a few hours into the game, and it isn't critical in making a decision to purchase the game, leave it out of the review. Let the player be pleasantly surprised. If you want to say something like "Mario saves the princess", that's ok. We knew that was coming anyway.
Microsoft Feared Mac Vs. Vista In '05
Let's be fair, I think he has a point, that the number of consumers who upgrade Microsoft operating systems is relatively small. I base this on the number of people I know who are still using Windows XP, or even older systems. With the average useful lifetime of a computer these days being not so much longer than the difference between OS releases, it doesn't make too much sense to upgrade the operating system.
Unless, of course, you're a mac or linux user. And in that case, I believe it's motivated by the shorter OS release cycle, and the (at least in Linux case) lower cost of upgrading.
Duke Demands Proof of Infringement From RIAA
Now, if only Duke could retroactively do this. I know one of the people at Duke who got bullied into paying the RIAA money last year. Being an international student, he felt he couldn't risk having a lawsuit on his record, so he paid a few thousand dollars, stressed out about it, and I do believe his grades suffered as a result.
Duke has a Law school. Why doesn't it (and other similar schools) just make defending students against the RIAA part of the law school curriculum? Sounds like great practice, and it would do some good!
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