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Comments

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US Government Fights To Not Explain No-Fly List Selection Process

mbone It's because they don't really have one (246 comments)

I would bet serious money that the No Fly List results from inputs from a variety of different agencies applying different and inconsistent rules, or in some cases maybe no rules at all.

3 days ago
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The Executive Order That Led To Mass Spying, As Told By NSA Alumni

mbone YATDRA (180 comments)

Yet Another Decent Thing Destroyed by the Reagan Administration.

I should have known.

4 days ago
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Underground Experiment Confirms Fusion Powers the Sun

mbone Re:1960s??!! You are so funny (140 comments)

Good god man, Hans Bethe worked out the fusion processes in the Sun in the late 1930s.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B...

Yes, but there was no direct observational evidence of it until the Homestake neutrino experiment in the 1960's. Theory is nice, but in physics the experiment's the thing. (And, when the Homestake experiment came up 66% short, there was no shortage of people claiming that Bethe was wrong in one way or another.)

4 days ago
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Underground Experiment Confirms Fusion Powers the Sun

mbone Re:That's not how science works (140 comments)

It is in my experience rare to meet a physicist who cares much about mathematical rigor, or who uses proofs in their work. Occasionally it is important (e.g., in some "no-go" theorems), but I feel certain that most physicists would object to saying that "Mathematical proof is central to much of physics." It is in fact notorious that much of existing physics was done and completed before anything like mathematical rigor (and, thus, proof) was brought to the subject at hand, nor did the achievement of rigor actually change anything much in the physics.

An excellent, and familiar, example, is the Dirac delta function, where it took years before the mathematicians were convinced that such a thing could possibly make sense. Even today, vastly more physics students are taught about Brownian motion than the Ito statistical calculus...

4 days ago
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Google Wins $1.3 Million From Patent Troll

mbone That's all? (35 comments)

Just $ 1.3 million for attorney's fees? And I've been telling clients they should have $ 3 million set aside for fees if they want to pursue a patent lawsuit.

But, I guess this is more breach of contract than a real patent suit, so maybe the "low" fees aren't too surprising.

4 days ago
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Underground Experiment Confirms Fusion Powers the Sun

mbone It's all a matter of energy (140 comments)

It has been known since the 1960's that the Sun produces energy from fusion, but the actual neutrino's observed then (and until now) were high energy electron neutrinos that actually came from relatively unimportant fusion chains (from the standpoint of energy production), not the proton-proton chain though to produce most of the Sun's energy. Since there was a "neutrino problem" (the Sun appeared to produce only 1/3 of the neutrinos predicted by theory), some people did think that for whatever reason the main energy source - the proton–proton chain reaction - was for some reason mostly shut down, presumably as part of some long period oscillation in the Sun's deep interior (although Arthur C Clarke wrote a novel, "The Songs of Distant Earth," in which it was a permanent shutdown of the Sun's fusion, and a prelude to our Sun going supernova). At that time, the inability to directly see the pp chain seemed like a big deal, but since the discovery of neutrino oscillations (which nicely explain the factor of 1/3), and also with solar interior modeling from helioseismology, there has been a pretty solid consensus that the pp chain was running the Sun, even if there was no direct observation of it.

Now it has been proved. In 1990 that would have been a big deal, but now it is more a matter of just being satisfyingly complete in our observations of the Sun.

5 days ago
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Dropbox Caught Between Warring Giants Amazon and Google

mbone AntiTrust (275 comments)

Anyone who doesn't think we need stronger antitrust enforcement is crazy.

about a week ago
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Slashdot Asks: Cheap But Reasonable Telescopes for Kids?

mbone Put you money in the mount (187 comments)

Get the best (Ha-Dec) mount you can. (I would not get an Alt-Az mount for a beginner on a budget.) Most department store type scopes have adequate optics, but very crappy mounts, and that makes for a miserable viewing experience. Get a very sturdy mount with a cheap scope,and then if the kid wants to move up, they have the mount for it.

about two weeks ago
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2 Galileo Satellites Launched To Wrong Orbit

mbone Re:Space upgrade of classic flying problem? (139 comments)

I suspect it will be like the 1999 Mars Climate Orbiter - "what we've got here is a failure to communicate."
 

about two weeks ago
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2 Galileo Satellites Launched To Wrong Orbit

mbone Re:Is it too late? (139 comments)

Most major GPS chip sets now actively filter pulsar noise.

Got a link for that? I know that most pulsar observers filter out GPS and other satnavs (GLONASS sidebands are especially annoying) but I have not heard of GPS receivers having pulsar ephemerides.

 

The thing about pulsars is they are better clocks than what is being launched and they transmit on all frequencies. The ephemeris calculations are much harder but it has be used to 2 meter accuracy and it isn't even limited to working just around earth. I wonder why they spent so much money to duplicate two existing systems that weren't even state of the art when they started. Maybe it was because you can't license pulsar transmissions.

Or maybe because observing pulsars requires a substantially bigger antenna than a hand-held smart-phone - 170 m^2 (and 500 Watts!) for a phased-array radio dipole and 0.1 m^2 for an X-ray Pulsar Nav system in Becker et al. (and the latter could only be used in space, outside the Earth's atmosphere).

about two weeks ago
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2 Galileo Satellites Launched To Wrong Orbit

mbone Re:ugh (139 comments)

The Fregat has a reputation as being an incredibly reliable and accurate upper stage - I have heard of on-orbit accuracies on the order of 100 meters - and there were no initial reports of upper stage technical problems (such as a premature shutdown). That tells me that this is likely to be either a communications problem, or a simple screwup.

about two weeks ago
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2 Galileo Satellites Launched To Wrong Orbit

mbone Re:Stupid metric system (139 comments)

Not quite - it's more that there were a number of different units for different purposes and different locations - inches and feet and rods and yards and chains and furlongs and fathoms, etc. (and these are just for length - there are acres and oxgangs and virgates etc. for area, and on and on). Over time, some of these dropped out and the others got rationalized, leading to a bunch of different ratios.

At least some of the duodecimal units (and I believe all of the base 360 units, such as degrees) are straight from the Babylonians.

about two weeks ago
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2 Galileo Satellites Launched To Wrong Orbit

mbone What a debacle (139 comments)

This will for sure mess up the constellation, which is designed to minimize the times where some places on Earth do not have 4 satellites above the horizon, and also the places where this is going to happen (i.e., coverage gaps over the far South Pacific are likely to be more acceptable than over Northern Europe) . Since these satellites are too low, they will have shorter periods and will thus not be commensurable with the existing constellation, and will drift in and out of place.

You can be sure ESA engineers are busily looking at orbits this weekend, to see what can be salvaged from this debacle. Now, they may be really lucky, and have gotten an orbit where these two satellites can be used to fill a hole in the current constellation. I would bet in that case that both satellites would serve to fill the spots normally filled by one satellite; so at best only one, but if (as is more likely) they are unlucky, two satellites will have to be launched to fill the gaps.

In other words, while these satellites are not a loss, and will be used, new launches are likely to be necessary to make the constellation whole, which will cost as much as if they were lost.

about two weeks ago
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FCC Warned Not To Take Actions a Republican-Led FCC Would Dislike

mbone Re:Correction: (338 comments)

If you think this is somehow mitigated by party affiliation, you REALLY need to stop abusing your prescriptions and hike your way out of fantasy land.

If you truly believe that, you have seriously not been paying attention these last 45 years.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Do You Wish You'd Known Starting Out As a Programmer?

mbone That finance pays better? (548 comments)

Or that none of this will really help get you laid?

about two weeks ago
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Scientists Find Traces of Sea Plankton On ISS Surface

mbone I suspect the Japanese (117 comments)

I suspect the Japanese, and specifically the Japanese resupply modules (and that is not a joke). They are launched near the coast from a culture that makes extensive use of sea-weed; either way there could be contamination with sea plankton.

The idea that plankton could drift by itself up to orbital regions is... interesting. The idea that it could survive a 7 km/sec impact with Station is not; I don't think that is viable on either sense of the term.

about two weeks ago
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Feds: Red Light Camera Firm Paid For Chicago Official's Car, Condo

mbone Pretty obvious (115 comments)

What, you think that these cameras were set up after a careful consideration of how to balance the needs and rights of the citizenry against the desire to improve traffic conditions? No, it's based on lobbying by the camera sales staff, promising easy money in return for a right to prey on the citizenry. This being Chicago, some of the easy money was kicked-back to the local politicians, but the process isn't really that much different in regions where there is enough moral fiber for the state to keep all of the proceeds.

about two weeks ago
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Humans Need Not Apply: a Video About the Robot Revolution and Jobs

mbone Re:perhaps it isn't technology (304 comments)

Restaurants may not have replaced their employees with robots yet, but it's coming: http://money.cnn.com/2014/05/2...

Yes, and if supermarket automation is any guide, what it will really mean is that you will have to bus your own tables.

about two weeks ago
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Sniffing Out Billions In US Currency Smuggled Across the Border To Mexico

mbone Re:What about the CIA? (158 comments)

The CIA doesn't do borders. They use Andrews Air Force Base for that sort of thing. (Or, at least that's the persistent rumor here in DC.)

about three weeks ago
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Sniffing Out Billions In US Currency Smuggled Across the Border To Mexico

mbone Re:Wont matter (158 comments)

Problem here is they are not looking for anything that is evidence of a crime. It is legal to carry money over the border up to a certain amount so, the smell of money doesn't actually indicate any crime, and isn't evidence of any crime.

Won't stop them from seizing it anyway.

about three weeks ago

Submissions

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Mars (One) Needs Payloads

mbone mbone writes  |  about 2 months ago

mbone (558574) writes "Mars One has announced that their first, unmanned, lander, targeted for 2018, needs payloads. Along with their 4 experiments, and a University experiment, they have two payloads for hire :

Mars One offers two payload opportunities for paying mission contributors. Proposals can take the form of scientific experiments, technology demonstrations, marketing and publicity campaigns, or any other suggested payload. “Previously, the only payloads that have landed on Mars are those which NASA has selected,” said Bas Lansdorp, “We want to open up the opportunity to the entire world to participate in our mission to Mars by sending a certain payload to the surface of Mars.”

The formal Request for Proposals for all of this is out now as well."
Link to Original Source

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A Lunar Space Elevator in our (near) Future?

mbone mbone writes  |  about 6 months ago

mbone (558574) writes "After the IAA sponsored a study on the terrestrial space elevator which concluded that it should be possible to build one, in 30 years or so, if that pesky unobtanium for the tether material can be actually invented in that time, now is the time for some press on the Lunar Space Elevator, which has the advantage that existing tether materials (such as Zylon) are strong enough to support it.

A Lunar Space Elevator would be the biggest structure ever made in much the same way as the Great Wall of China is bigger than a kiddie sandbox. The current prototype design (scaled for a deployment in a single SLS launch) would involve 270,000+ km of tether material, stretching from Sinus Medii, past the Lagrange point, deep into cis-lunar space. With all of that string, the prototype payload mass is only 128 kg, but you have to start somewhere, and it could be (and, if it works, would be) built up over time.

The goal is to open the Moon up to mining. Let the games begin!"

Link to Original Source
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Server Sky - internet and computation in orbit

mbone mbone writes  |  about a year ago

mbone (558574) writes "Even if SpaceX and other companies can drastically lower the cost of going to orbit, what are we going to do once we get there? Since the 1970's, NASA has been searching for commercial applications for space, such as making crystals or medicines in zero-gravity, but, except for communications and navigation, space as yet barely figures into commerce, largely because it is expensive to send materials there, and expensive to send finished products back. Now there is Server Sky, which is trying to build on the realization that information is the cheapest product to send to and from space, and that "traditional data centers consume almost 3% of US electrical power, and this fraction is growing rapidly. Server arrays in orbit can grow to virtually unlimited computation power, communicate with the whole world, pay for themselves with electricity savings, and greatly reduce pollution and resource usage in the biosphere." What do slashdotters (who tend to be interested in computation) think? Is there money to be made in putting the cloud above the clouds?"
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Violation of Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle

mbone mbone writes  |  about 2 years ago

mbone (558574) writes "A very interesting paper has just hit the streets (or, at least, Physics Review Letters) about the Heisenberg uncertainty relationship as it was originally formulated about measurements. They find that they can exceed the uncertainty limit in measurements (although the uncertainty limit in quantum states is still followed, so the foundations of quantum mechanics still appear to be sound.) This is really an attack on quantum entanglement (the correlations imposed between two related particles), and so may have immediate applications in cracking quantum cryptography systems. It may also be easier to read quantum communications without being detected than people originally thought."
Link to Original Source
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US Government loses confidence in ICANN

mbone mbone writes  |  more than 2 years ago

mbone (558574) writes "The "no cost" contract between the US Department of Commerce and ICANN over hosting the Internet Assigned Names and Number Authority (IANA) was supposed to be re-let this March. Now, it has been withdrawn, and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) says that "we are cancelling this RFP because we received no proposals that met the requirements requested by the global community." This is a pretty stunning vote of no confidence in ICANN by the US Government, on the eve of the 43rd ICANN meeting in Costa Rica. Speculation is that this is related to the attempts of the ITU-T to take over Internet governance, but it also could be over the new Global top level domains. I am sure we will be hearing a lot more about this in the weeks to come."
Link to Original Source
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Why did the Government cancel the IANA RFP?

mbone mbone writes  |  more than 2 years ago

mbone (558574) writes "Friday afternoon (a classic time to bury bad news), the Department of Commerce put out a laconic cancelation of the zero dollar RFP for IANA, the Internet Assigned Names and Numbers Authority : AMENDMENT 0003 — Request for Proposal (RFP) SA1301-12-RP-IANA is hereby cancelled. The Department of Commerce intends to reissue the RFP at a future date, date to be determined (TBD). This contract may be for zero dollars, but it is a crucial one for the Internet, as it ties IANA, and thus ICANN, the global root for DNS, and such matters as the new global top level domains, to the US Government. Anyone have any idea what is up?"
Link to Original Source
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That's it for IPv4 - it had a good run

mbone mbone writes  |  more than 3 years ago

mbone (558574) writes "The last regular Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) address assignment, a /8, has been handed out, by IANA to APNIC, which will trigger the final distribution of IPv4 space to all of the Registries. So, February 1, 2011, marks the end of business as usual for IPv4. The future holds (hopefully) the wholesale adoption of IPv6 and (probably) a market in IPv4 address space."
Link to Original Source
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Wikileaks looses its DNS

mbone mbone writes  |  more than 3 years ago

mbone (558574) writes "The DNS provider for wikileaks.org, EveryDNS, has booted it off and the site is no longer reachable by name. EveryDNS say on their main web site EveryDNS.net provided domain name system (DNS) services to the wikileaks.org domain name until 10PM EST, December 2, 2010, when such services were terminated. As with other users of the EveryDNS.net network, this service was provided for free. The termination of services was effected pursuant to, and in accordance with, the EveryDNS.net Acceptable Use Policy. I guess that being DOSed is not part of the AUP. http://www.wikileaks.info/ has a list of mirror sites, some of which no longer work, due to wikileak's loss of Amazon.com EC2 hosting."
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Domain Seizures no Hoax

mbone mbone writes  |  more than 3 years ago

mbone (558574) writes "Despite some suspicion, including on slashdot, the seizure of the file linking site rapgodfathers.com and various torrent sites are apparently real, as Eric Holder is having a press conference and has issued a press release touting the seizure of sites "engaged in the illegal sale and distribution of counterfeit goods and copyrighted works."

Among other things, this shows that the DOJ is using both Google Analytics and Piwik Open Source Web Analytics, as there is analytic javascript for both in the index.html on the banned sites. And, based on look at the jpeg used, at least some of the ICE use Macs, as the take-down jpeg was prepared with Adobe Photoshop CS5 for Macintosh on 2010:11:18 09:37:21"

Link to Original Source
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Customs and TSA Raid RapGodFathers Hosting Site

mbone mbone writes  |  more than 3 years ago

mbone (558574) writes "The Torrentfreak site is reporting that DHS and ICE (i.e., Customs) agents arrived at a Dallas datacenter Tuesday with orders to take down the 146,500 member RapGodFathers site (RGF). Equipment was seized, and they report that their domain name is being blocked and is likely to be taken as well. The RGF admins say that the site has no content itself, just links to other sites, and that they always respect DMCA takedown notices. RGF reports on their twitter account (@rapgodfather) that they are looking for "for more offshore hosting to support RapGodFathers."

If the facts are as reported, there are a number of troubling issues about this, not the least of which is why US Customs troubles itself with link-sharing sites in Dallas, far from any US borders."

Link to Original Source
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Robots in space

mbone mbone writes  |  more than 2 years ago

mbone (558574) writes "The crew for this Wednesday's Space Shuttle launch includes a robot bound for the ISS — Robonaut 2, or R2, "the first dexterous humanoid robot in space." For now, it will be deployed on a fixed pedestal inside the station, but the plans include giving it mobility (not that hard in micro-gravity) and taking it outside to help with space walks. Now, the New York Times has an article about "Project M," sending a humanoid robot to the Moon — which at least has its own NASA promotional video.

Is our form really the best there is for space exploration ? Should our robotic explorers look like us, or like the Mars Rovers ?"

Link to Original Source
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Hands on Airport Searches

mbone mbone writes  |  more than 3 years ago

mbone (558574) writes "As it happens I was talking to a TSA person socially today and they brought up their new "aggressive" policy for pat down searches. Now I see it has made the Boston Herald. It will be done for any secondary screening, or if you opt out of the X-ray machines.

They are supposed to feel under a woman's breast and under a man's genitals, and also to feel the separation in a woman's genitals, and likewise into one's bottom. They are apparently not very happy about having to do this, but have been trained on the new technique and will be given performance review demerits if they don't perform properly. (Maybe the TSA will send ringers through security to evaluate performance, I didn't think to ask.)

I have to wonder if it is to convince people to go through the backscatter X-rays now that it is becoming widely known that you can opt out of that. I have a feeling that this will cause a major push-back from the traveling public."

Link to Original Source
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20 meter tsunami in New York after asteroid hit

mbone mbone writes  |  more than 3 years ago

mbone (558574) writes "According to an article in LiveScience, an 200 meter diameter asteroid impact in the Atlantic 2300 years ago may have caused a 20 m (60ft) high tsunami to hit what's now NYC. They have found 30 cm of disturbed sediments in the NYC area with shocked minerals, which is generally regarded as conclusive evidence for a meteor impact. They go on to speculate that 'One possible reason why Indian tribes only moved into the area relatively recently is that the people who were once there were all wiped out'. Of course, it would not be a pretty picture if this were repeated in the same area today."
Link to Original Source
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In Court ? Be careful what you post on Facebook.

mbone mbone writes  |  more than 3 years ago

mbone (558574) writes "Going to Court ? Seeking damages for injuries ? Be careful what you post on Facebook (and, presumably, elsewhere). ! In the first case of its kind (analyzed in the Courtroom strategy blog, a Suffolk County NY Judge allowed a defendant in a personal injury lawsuit to obtain access to the Facebook profile of the plaintiff suing them, saying "Plaintiff has no legitimate reasonable expectation of privacy." You have been warned. I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice, but I would expect this to become common."
Link to Original Source
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Facebook has issues, goes down for some users

mbone mbone writes  |  more than 3 years ago

mbone (558574) writes "Apparently Facebook is having issues, and is intermittently and maybe regionally down. The Wall Street Journal DIgits blogs says that they are having “an issue with a third-party network provider." but it may be more than that. From Northern Virginia, it is possible to pingFacebook servers, but the server throws a "500 Internal Server Error" if you try and conect via http."
Link to Original Source
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Google is testing Airborne Camera Drones

mbone mbone writes  |  about 4 years ago

mbone (558574) writes "According to the German language site WirtschaftsWoche (an English version is available from the IBTimes) Google has purchased a German "Microdrone" for evaluation. These devices can take off, fly a mission and land automatically using GPS, and can carry night vision cameras or even "see through walls" Far IR cameras. Of course, the maker of these drone assures us that they cannot be a "Big Brother der Lufte" because that is "verboten."

Is it just me, or is Google entering into dangerous airspace here ? It seems like the ruckus from a backyard-after-dark addition to Street View could make the legal tussles Google has already encountered with the driving vans seem minor by comparison."

Link to Original Source
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NIAC is Back !

mbone mbone writes  |  more than 4 years ago

mbone (558574) writes "Do you have an idea on how to do space travel right ? Think it could pass peer review ? Well, the NIAC (NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts Program) is back ! In a two day "Industry Forum," the new NASA Chief Technologist, Bobby Braun, described an ambitious new program of NASA initiatives to encourage new thinking and new ideas, including funding for "Game Changing Technologies, and the new NIAC. These new initiatives are explicitly modeled on DARPA, and are an attempt to "push the reset button" on an increasingly hide-bound bureaucracy. I attended the forum, and the reaction from non-NASA participants I talked to was overwhelmingly positive. They also announced 3 new Centennial Challenges. The Centennial Challenges are an X-Prize like program with a total of $ 5 million in new awards, for a successful nanosatellite launch system, an solar-powered electric vehicle capable of night-time operations, and a sample-return robot capable of autonomously retrieving geological samples.

In many ways, NIAC is the most interesting of the new initiatives, as it is specifically intended to deal with blue-sky, just this side of science fiction ideas with a 10+ year development horizon. Selected ideas will get $ 100K for the first year, and can ramp up after that (up to and including flights into space). Space elevators, nuclear propulsion, truly autonomous robots, even things like the search for alien life in the deep biosphere, could be funded if they seem interesting and pass review. (The previous NIAC provided the first serious funding for the space elevator, for example.) Jay Falker, the Program Manager, made it clear that they were not looking for just proposals from established names and big companies, but would welcome participation from all (although only US citizens or companies can get funding). So, there you go slashdotters ! If you have an idea, the technical savvy to back it up, and can wait for the announcement of opportunity (thought to be around October 1), then you have a chance at getting NASA funding to back it up."

Link to Original Source
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Hayabusa returns particles from asteroid

mbone mbone writes  |  more than 4 years ago

mbone (558574) writes "Slashdot readers may remember the long odyssey of the Japanese Hayabusa spacecraft — and the recent Slashdot article entitled "No Samples On Japan's Hayabusa Asteroid Probe."

Well, the BBC now has a story, "Hayabusa capsule particles may be from asteroid." Apparently JAXA (the Japanese Space Agency) has opened the sample container returned to Earth by Hayabusa, and has released "images of tiny dust particles inside the container."

You will note that I titled this story carefully — Hayabusa has now returned particles from the asteroid. Whether they are asteroid particles or pieces of dust brought all the way from Earth remains to be seen, but they were certainly returned from the asteroid — a remarkable technical feat. This announcement, I think, gives considerable hope that these particles are from the near-Earth asteroid, Itokawa, as the Japanese have been very careful in trying to avoid contamination. Even a tiny speck of dust would be very revealing about the asteroid's constitution and possibly its history as well. Kudos to JAXA for a job well done."

Link to Original Source
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Federal Authorities Shut Down 7 Movie Sharing Webs

mbone mbone writes  |  more than 4 years ago

mbone (558574) writes "There is an article in NJ Today on a announcement by the United States Attorney and Homeland Security about the seizure of the domain names of seven sites: TVSHACK.NET, MOVIES-LINKS.TV, FILESPUMP.COM, NOW-MOVIES.COM, PLANETMOVIEZ.COM, THEPIRATECITY.ORG, and ZML.COM, for violations of federal criminal copyright infringement laws. The announcement said that these high volume web sites offered copies of movies such as “The Karate Kid,” “Toy Story 3 and “Sex and The City 2.” ZML.COM, is a “cyberlocker,” the latest target for the MPAA's ire.

Search warrants were also executed on the servers involved with these sites.

So, was this an out and out criminal enterprise, or a bunch of hobbyists ? Or something in between ? I bet the slashdot audience knows."

Link to Original Source
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Jupiter is missing a belt

mbone mbone writes  |  more than 4 years ago

mbone (558574) writes "Jupiter just went through Superior Conjunction (i.e., went behind the Sun as seen from the Earth), so it has been out of view for a while. Now that has returned, it is different — the South Equatorial Belt (SEB) is missing. The SEB has about 10 times the surface area of the Earth, so this is not a small change. Here are a series of photos of Jupiter's new look. The Jupiter Red Spot typically inhabits the southern border of the SEB, but it doesn't seem to be affected by the change. It's a pity that this happened at Superior Conjunction, and that there is no satellite in Jupiter orbit, so details of the change are largely missing.

The SEB has previously gone missing in 1973 and 1990. Since no one really knows what makes the Jovian belts, no one knows why they disappear either. If the belts are really just material from deeper layers coming to the surface, it is possible that the convection has stopped for some reason, or that high altitude clouds have covered it over."

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