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Ask Slashdot: Are We Witnessing the Decline of Ubuntu?

sheepe2004 Re:Only time will tell... (631 comments)

What are the major flaws in Mint 15 that you mention? I've recently upgraded to it on one of my computers and it seems very similar to previous versions.

about a year ago

Middle-Click Paste? Not For Long

sheepe2004 Re:Two independent cut and paste clipboards is gre (729 comments)

Emacs has the kill ring: press one button to paste the last thing you cut/copied, press another afterwards to cycle through the clipboard history.

So with cua-style copy/paste keybindings it would go something like: select first part, Ctrl-C, select second part, Ctrl-C. Move to target, Ctrl-V, Alt-V to paste first part, Ctrl-V to paste second part.

Of course the problem is you can only use it inside emacs (as usual with emacs...). Maybe it's possible to create a program to do this in X/Wayland?

about a year ago

Doubleclick Cofounder Responds to Patent Troll by Filing Extortion Lawsuit

sheepe2004 Re:I have mixed feelings about this. (225 comments)

The patent troll's target isn't Doubleclick, it's a newer startup called FindTheBest which looks (from a quick glance at the site) much less "evil".

about a year ago

Plasmonic Nanostructures Could Prove a Boon To Solar Cell Technology

sheepe2004 Re: incredibly small (107 comments)

But they are nanometres thick as well. Say the structures are ~30nm high and assume that half the surface is covered in gold for the sake of simplicity. Then the volume of gold per m**2 is 15e-9 (m**3) = 0.015 (cm**3)

Density of gold is approx 19.30 g cm**-3 so it needs ~0.3g to make 1 m**2 of material.

Price of gold is around $40/g so that's about $12 per metre squared of material.

I had trouble finding reliable estimates of current prices but they seem to be in the range $300-$1500 per square metre. So if the gold can make it perform better it is certainly worth it.

about a year ago

Ultrasound Waves Used To Increase Data Storage Capacity of Magnetic Media

sheepe2004 No relation to NAND flash (25 comments)

The part about NAND flash is a complete misinterpretation of the press release by computerworld's journalists. The actual press release says

It should also be possible to create a solid state memory device with no moving parts to implement this technology, researchers said. Unlike conventional hard-disk drive storage, solid state memory would offer durability.

They are talking about a magnetic solid state drive of some description. Completely unrelated to NAND flash except for the lack of a spinning disk.

I think this sort of filtering research press releases through multiple non-technical writes is a big problem for science reporting. The scientists say one thing, then the university press release people try to rewrite it to make it more sound more important than it is. Then journalists try to re-write parts of the press release (without understanding it) so that they can publish it as "their own" story.

The end result is like chinese whispers: confusing and often wrong.

about a year and a half ago

When a Primary Source Isn't Good Enough: Wikipedia

sheepe2004 Odd but necessary (333 comments)

As a comment on the ars technica article pointed out

Do you want George Lucas to go edit the Wiki pages on Star Wars and note that Greedo always shot first? Enforcing a secondary source means he first has to convince some citable source that it's what happened, which provides a check that Wikipedia's crowdsourced model on its own can't.

about 2 years ago

Among Others Wins Hugo For Best Novel

sheepe2004 Re:Many voters don't read all novels (115 comments)

A lot of voters don't seem to read all the novels - so a substantial number vote for what they've read and they've only read what they already know they will like.

I was about to mod this as insightful until I realised I hadn't read all the comments and I only have one mod point left.

about 2 years ago

Widely Used Antibacterial Chemical May Impair Muscle Function

sheepe2004 Re:What was the dose? (252 comments)

No. Assuming a person is 70kg and 0.5g per tube:
(70*12.5e-3)/0.5 = 1.75

But for a child it's more like half a tube of toothpaste...

about 2 years ago

Widely Used Antibacterial Chemical May Impair Muscle Function

sheepe2004 Re:What was the dose? (252 comments)

From the (free to view) abstract:

TCS acutely depresses hemodynamics and grip strength in mice at doses 12.5 mg/kg i.p., and a concentration 0.52 M in water compromises swimming performance in larval fathead minnow.

From the paper itself (pg. 5)

Typical routes of exposure to TCS (oral, dermal) are sufcient in bringing the compound into systemic circulation (38, 39). Importantly, one study reported plasma Cmax of nearly 1 M within 1–3 h after administering a 4-mg oral dose in human subjects (38).

So the doses used could quite possibly be meaningful, I'm no biologist though...

about 2 years ago

High-Performance Monolithic Graphene Transistors Created

sheepe2004 Re:Something missing in the explanation (99 comments)

I read the article (I know it's not considered good form here on Slashdot), and there seems to be a discrepancy: this is described as being a graphene transistor, but the gate uses silicon carbide as the semiconductor. So it seems like a better description would be a hybrid graphene/semiconductor transistor. Is this correct?

If it is a hybrid then what are the limitations and how is it better then current all semiconductor circuits? As far as I know (not very much) there is no reason to build silicon carbide integrated circuits, so why would anyone want to use SIC with graphene? Is this a step to something more useful?

I'm not trolling, I just want to get a better understanding.

Yes. They have only used graphene for the gates and contacts, not the channel itself, so a hybrid graphene/SiC transistor would probably be a better description.

As for advantages over existing technology: as far as I know the switching speed is dependent on the channel material, NOT the gate etc. So these transistors will (afaik) be no faster than a normal SiC transistor. All the hyperbole about graphene transistors being is only in the linked news article and not in the paper. In fact the final conclusion of the paper is:

The concept's particular strength, however, lies in the following property: within the same processing steps, many epitaxial graphene transistors can be connected by graphene strip lines along with graphene resistors and graphene/SiC Schottky diodes, and therefore complex circuits can be built up. As a special feature of graphene in contrast to semiconductors, we anticipate that even a complete logic is feasible.

On the other hand this is still interesting for other reasons:
1) They have demonstrated large scale integration of graphene. If we can get a bandgap in graphene without sacrificing too much mobility then combined with this kind of work we have a complete graphene chip.
2) Another thing they emphasise in the paper is the simplicity of the lithography process. Simpler lithography means it's easier to go smaller. Smaller features = better chips.

TL;DR - the news article is bullshit, the real result is interesting but not revolutionary (yet).

more than 2 years ago

World's First Biodegradable Joint Implant Grows New Joints

sheepe2004 Re:Why aren't we already using bone made bones? (102 comments)

As I understand it the problem is in the other stuff that surround the cells (disclaimer: I only did one very short course on tissue engineering).

Basically it's a chicken and egg problem: the stem cells need a good structure to grow in but the structure needs to be created by the cells. A solution is to create an implant which allows the cells to grow within it and then gracefully degrades as it is replaced by the natural bone/collagen etc. which seems to be what these guys have done.

It's a difficult (materials science) problem because there are a lot of requirements. For example it needs to be as tough as bone but break down after a reasonable amount of time. It needs to be non-toxic (before and after breaking down). It of course needs to be cheap(ish) and reasonably easy to mass produce. Anyway there's much more information here.

more than 2 years ago

New Technique Promises Much Faster Hard Drive Write Speeds

sheepe2004 Re:So how do they know if they actually wrote it (148 comments)

Because the actual research that has been done is fundamental physics. For better or worse news articles always talk up the applications rather than the science.

more than 2 years ago

Russian Scientist Claims Signs of Life Spotted On Venus

sheepe2004 Re:Here's a Single Picture (272 comments)

I love how the Daily Mail article ends with an entirely relevant picture of "Mekon, ruler of Venus" from a comic book shouting "DESTROY DAN DARE!".

more than 2 years ago

IBM Shrinks Bit Size To 12 Atoms

sheepe2004 Re:12 atoms? Go smaller! (135 comments)

That's pretty much how RAM and flash memory works at the moment, only the extra electrons are inside a capacitor/transistor rather than an atom so you can actually read and write the memory.

more than 2 years ago

IBM Shrinks Bit Size To 12 Atoms

sheepe2004 Re:Bad article (135 comments)

Gah posted this as AC by mistake.

more than 2 years ago

Cosmic Antimatter Excess Confirmed

sheepe2004 Re:Dark matter or antimatter? (113 comments)

I'm not a particle physicist but, from wikipedia:

The main theoretical characteristics of a WIMP are:
Interaction only through the weak nuclear force and gravity, or at least with interaction cross-sections no higher than the weak scale;
Large mass compared to standard particles (WIMPs with sub-GeV masses may be considered to be light dark matter).

more than 2 years ago

Cosmic Antimatter Excess Confirmed

sheepe2004 Re:Anti-matter vs. dark matter (113 comments)

I'm guessing you didn't RTFA? They are not saying that antimatter is dark matter.

They have detected a large and unexpected amount of antimatter.
Dark matter collisions (theoretically) can create large amounts of antimatter.
So one possible explanation for the antimatter is that two dark matter particles collided.

more than 2 years ago


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