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Comments

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Pickens Calls Off Massive Wind Farm In Texas

u-bend Re:Good. (414 comments)

I do what I can. It occurred to me too that maybe people were just really tired of that line.

more than 5 years ago
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Pickens Calls Off Massive Wind Farm In Texas

u-bend Re:Good. (414 comments)

"Nucular". It's pronounced "nucular".

Which received the following rating:

(Score:-1, Troll)

Hard to believe the mod missed the Simpsons reference.

more than 5 years ago

Submissions

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Women avoid "abnormal" babies more often t

u-bend u-bend writes  |  more than 5 years ago

u-bend writes "Discovery is running a story about the surprising results of a study in which men and women were presented with pictures of "cute" and "abnormal" (i.e. babies with cleft palate Down's Syndrome, etc.), it was the women who clicked through the "abnormal" pictures faster. Interesting summary bits from the article:

Psychiatrists from the Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital, who were studying perceptions of beauty, had expected women to spend more time than men cooing over pictures of extra-cute babies. Nope.

and

This time 13 men and 14 women were shown 80 photos of babies, 30 of whom had abnormal facial features such as a cleft palate, Down syndrome or crossed eyes. Participants rated each baby's attractiveness on a scale of zero to 100, and used keystrokes to make the photo stay on the screen longer or disappear faster.

I keep using quoty fingers around "cute" and "abnormal" because I think that there needs to be much further controlled research and because these definitions are arbitrary. Glaringly subjective material aside, it's an interesting finding."
Link to Original Source

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Cancer Breathalizer May Help in Early Diagnoses

u-bend u-bend writes  |  more than 6 years ago

u-bend writes "Blow into a specially designed tube outfitted with mirrors and bombarded by a laser which examines "every molecule a patient exhales in a single breath," and your doctor may be able to detect the early symptoms of cancer, diabetes, asthma, and other illnesses.
Such is the claim of University of Colorado researcher Jun Ye:

"This technique can give a broad picture of many different molecules in the breath all at once," Jun Ye, who led the research at the University of Colorado, said in a statement.
Ye's team at a joint institute of the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the university developed a new technique, called cavity-enhanced direct optical frequency comb spectroscopy.
When animals and people breathe out, they exhale not only gases that are not needed, such as carbon dioxide, but also compounds that result from the metabolism of cells.
A link to the abstract for the original submission by Ye's team, as well as a PDF of the study, can be found here."

Link to Original Source
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Apple updates iPhone and iPod Touch

u-bend u-bend writes  |  more than 6 years ago

u-bend writes "Apple has released new, higher capacity models of the iPhone and iPod Touch. The new iPhone boasts 16 GB of storage and is priced at $499.00 (the 8 GB model remains at #399.00), and the new iPod Touch has 32 GB, also priced at $499.00. Although the price is still pretty hefty, it indicates that the capacity/price ratio on these wireless flash-based players is starting to move in the right direction."
Link to Original Source
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Meteorite hits Peru, causes mystery illness

u-bend u-bend writes  |  more than 7 years ago

u-bend writes "The Guardian and many others are reporting about a meteorite that struck a remote area of Peru on Saturday. Although details are scant as yet, it now appears that fumes from the impact zone are making locals ill enough to require hospitalization."
Link to Original Source
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u-bend u-bend writes  |  more than 7 years ago

u-bend writes "There's a story at Wired about a new magnetic brain stimulation technology that's expected to soon gain FDA approval. Much less invasive than electroconvulsive therapy, the device stimulates the cortex and associated blood vessels by being placed on the patient's head, in a procedure so mild that patients can get in their cars afterward and drive back to work: 'TMS works by creating an electromagnetic pulse that doesn't disturb the skull or scalp, but can reach two to three centimeters into the brain to stimulate the prefrontal cortex and paralimbic blood flow, increasing the serotonin output and the dopamine and norepinephrine functions.'
The question is, does it work through tinfoil hats as well?"
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u-bend u-bend writes  |  more than 7 years ago

u-bend writes "The International Herald Tribune is running a story about EMI's upcoming takeover by a private equity group. The article states that EMI's stock "soared" after the announcement. Even so, the company's stock finished the day at London's stock exchange at just USD 5.30, or 3.94 Euro, which was about an 8.5% increase.
From the article:
'EMI Group PLC, home to the Beatles and Coldplay, agreed to a 2.4 billion pound (US$4.7 billion; 3.5 billion) takeover by a private equity group on Monday, but the deal raised speculation of an all-out bidding war for the struggling music group.'
Anyone want to speculate what effect this will have on the recent DRM-free decision with Apple?"
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u-bend u-bend writes  |  more than 7 years ago

u-bend writes "Discovery has an article about a massive melt detected in a region of Antarctica previously thought to be virtually impervious to such a climate shift.

From the article:
'A team of scientists from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and the University of Colorado said new satellite imagery had revealed a vast expanse of snow melt in 2005 where it had previously been considered unlikely.

The NASA statement described the findings as "the most significant melt observed using satellites during the past three decades."'

Rather interesting in light of recent discussions about the pros and cons of global warming."
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u-bend u-bend writes  |  more than 7 years ago

u-bend writes "Discovery has an interesting little article about a super-ancient star right here in our galaxy. According to the article, the star could be almost as old as the universe itself.
From the article:
Known as HE1523-0901, the 13.2-billion-year-old star was born half a billion years after the universe exploded into existence, say astronomers.
That unprecedented birthdate was confirmed by using the European Southern Observatory's (ESO) Very Large Telescope to split the star's ultraviolet light into individual wavelengths — like a UV rainbow. In that rainbow, or spectrum, they were able to identify lines that show the presence of heavy elements like uranium and thorium."
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u-bend u-bend writes  |  more than 7 years ago

u-bend writes "In an attempt to combat elephant poaching in the Republic of Congo, a trailside metal detector system is being installed on commonly used poaching routes. If successful, it is hoped that that this method can be used in other poaching hot spots, such as Russia, the Galapagos Islands, and Costa Rica. Better not go camping with old fashioned metal tent pegs.
From the article:
'Endangered animals killed for their skins, meat or tusks may soon have a life-saving technology on their side. A metal-detecting sensor that can be buried alongside oft-used trails help identify weapons and alert authorities to potential poachers.'"
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u-bend u-bend writes  |  more than 7 years ago

u-bend writes "Discovery news has a quick read about the possibilities that methane has as a rocket fuel for future interplanetary exploration, since it's known to exist on other planets.

From the article:
"The trouble with exploring the solar system is that there just aren't any rocket fueling stations out there. That won't be the case if future planet-hopping astronauts are equipped with a new kind of rocket engine which burns two gases that are already in good supply on several other planets: methane and oxygen.""
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u-bend u-bend writes  |  more than 7 years ago

u-bend writes "The Chandra X-ray Observatory has observed an incredibly bright and long-lasting supernova.
From the article:
The brightest stellar explosion ever recorded may be a long-sought new type of supernova, according to observations by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and ground-based optical telescopes. This discovery indicates that violent explosions of extremely massive stars were relatively common in the early universe, and that a similar explosion may be ready to go off in our own galaxy.
A concise Yahoo News version can be found here."

Journals

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Re-imagined Insight to challenge Prius' ascendancy

u-bend u-bend writes  |  more than 6 years ago In what probably amounts to good news for consumers eying a hybrid for their next vehicle purchase, Honda is resurrecting the "Insight" name, this time in the form of a five-seat, Prius-like hatchback. The automaker's announcement included the tantalizing statement that the cost would be "significantly below [that of] hybrids available today," but provided no further details on pricing. Although Honda may have some trouble unseating Toyota's dominance of this particular hybrid market, hopefully the Insight's reintroduction will help to make hybrid cars even more affordable to consumers. This is also welcome news to folks like myself who, after the initial flurry of excitement when the now-retired original Insight was introduced in '99, were left scratching their heads at Honda's hybrid strategy as Toyota picked up their dropped ball and ran with it.

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Popcuts music service aims to split the market difference.

u-bend u-bend writes  |  more than 6 years ago Today on a work break, I read a CNN article about a new online music retailer that rewards its members by giving them a cut of future sales of a song they initially buy. The earlier a song is purchased, the more the person gets paid when it is subsequently purchased. The company is called Popcuts. Although even the CNN article expresses doubt over the long-term efficacy of the business model, I think it's an interesting idea. The founders are trying to strike at a market that doesn't really exist yet in any substantive form, namely one that ideally appeals both to artists and labels who want to sell music, and to fans, who want music for free, or to be somehow invested in the distribution of it.

So, sound business practices (or lack thereof) aside, my interest was piqued, so I uploaded my latest mostly-finished, semi-polished (i.e. probably not going to have too much time to revise, so consider it done for now) song to the service to check it out. For those interested in a service's design and user experience, the artist editor is nice and clean, easy to use, and beats the pants off of some social networking sites I could mention.

The end result? Who knows? I think it's a cool idea though, regardless of whether it works or not. Here's the song, which right now is not available anywhere else, unless you've broken into my backup server at home. It was instantly available in the new items list on the home page as well, but I'm sure it's long since been replaced by newer songs. It will be interesting to see what becomes of this service.

I originally published this on my blog here.

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Near Extinction for Human Race 70k Years Ago

u-bend u-bend writes  |  more than 5 years ago In recent news from a subject that has always casually interested me, it seems that some now believe that the human race nearly became extinct about 70,000 years ago. We've heard human population fluctuation stories before, but this is the first I can recall that involves such a dramatic reduction, which, according to the article, had the population down to as low as 2000 individuals before the species' comeback. Interesting tidbits from the article:

The report notes that a separate study by researchers at Stanford University estimated the number of early humans may have shrunk as low as 2,000 before numbers began to expand again in the early Stone Age.

And:

The migrations of humans out of Africa to populate the rest of the world appear to have begun about 60,000 years ago, but little has been known about humans between Eve and that dispersal.
The new study looks at the mitochondrial DNA of the Khoi and San people in South Africa, who appear to have diverged from other people between 90,000 and 150,000 years ago.

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'Sunshine' is a must-miss... at least for Slashdot crowd.

u-bend u-bend writes  |  more than 7 years ago Well, being a cautious Danny Boyle fan, I went ahead against my best judgment and saw Sunshine this weekend. The premise, about our Sun burning out roughly 50 years from now, and our noble attempts to rekindle it, was suspect from the start, but I thought that Boyle and writer Alex Garland would be coming up with a plot that would make certain tramplings upon the laws of physics as we currently know them at least somewhat swallowable, as they ably did with other scientific Macguffins in 28 Days Later. I was totally wrong. Here are the most obvious physics problems that I can recall off the top of my head:

1. Star of our sun's age and mass dying out billions of years before it's due to (crappy excuse for a crappy premise of a crappy movie).
2. Space-time getting messed up from gravitational acceleration towards an object with the mass of our Sun--this is plain-old silly in my opinion; as far as I know, you'd have to get reasonably close to light speed in order for this to happen--if that were to happen to objects close to the Sun, we'd have bigger fish to fry in our solar system on a daily basis, like what are we going to do about the small black hole we've discovered in the same place as the Sun--bad times all around.
3. Sound in space--I know, this is an old movie convention, but come on, this was exactly the type of movie that should have been trying to be accurate. A rare example of good space physics in a movie is 2001. Serenity is pretty good in this respect too, but its TV series Firefly was even better.
4. The likelihood that we could build a shield that could withstand the heat of the Sun's corona, which in real life is much hotter than the surface. Couple this with the fact that once you're in the corona, anything behind the shield is toast. Moreover, the payload would be vaporized long before it reaches its target.
5. The idea that you could "restart" a star, let alone with a tiny bit of material. I know, it's supposed to be a chain reaction, yadda yadda, but PLEASE, once a star has converted all its fuel to heavier elements such as iron that cannot be used for nuclear fusion, you're done. Find another star and live there, cause yours is not coming back. Jeez, thought everyone knew that, duh.

Those are just the ones that come to mind. I suspect that's just scratching the surface of the physics problems, never mind the problems with the plot (e.g. is it likely that the world's best and most dedicated scientists are all petty, jealous, mean-spirited, and prone to such obvious and gross errors?). Additionally, many of the actors seemed mis-casted, and the dialogue was wooden at best. In fact, the best parts of interaction between the characters were the expository Alien-style sitting-around-the-mess-table sections. It's a shame that this movie didn't inspire or scare the way the Ridley Scott classic did. In case anyone's still planning on seeing this, I won't reveal the big plot turn at the middle of the movie. Suffice it to say that the intended effects--surprise, fear, tension, suspense, as far as I can tell--are not achieved, and I spent the second half of the movie in just as much incredulous boredom as I did the first.

You could ignore all 5 of the above trounces upon physics if the plot turn at the middle of the movie was at all revealing, insightful, or surprising, or showed you something about humanity that you didn't already know, or conspicuously pointed out something in a novel way, or, oh never mind. I've probably wasted even more of my life on this silly movie than is advisable.

Visually and auditorily, the movie is strong. The visual effects are stunning and the sound effects are jarring and effective. But... it's not enough. The implausibilities and shortcomings of the plot and premise outshine (so to speak) the masterful way in which the movie was filmed and edited.

Wikipedia has a good entry about stars, that may be informative, and may ruin your enjoyment of some of these types of plot devices (if you already didn't know these things), but I'd rather know than enjoy--I'm masochistic that way! There's also a good entry about our Sun. The lifecycle section gives you roughly the perspective you need on the scientific follies clumsily employed in the movie. Really, I know it's JUST a plot device, but people should be doing their homework better these days, and much of their target audience is going to know better anyway. If you're going to go ahead and write a movie with this premise, you HAVE to explain why the Sun's having unexpected problems 5 billion or so years before it's supposed to.

I know, lots of this information is known and considered obvious to much of the Slashdot crowd, and my understanding of physics is dwarfed by many of my peers here. But my point is that the movie's plot sucked in a manner that egregiously outweighed my ability to accept the scientific laziness that pervaded the film (a laziness that became so annoying that it began tempting me in my boredom, to construe it as contempt that the writer had for his audience's knowledge of the Universe). For this reason alone--the way in which Garland/Boyle insult their target audience--the film should be ignored, and definitely scores as a must-miss for the Slashdot crowd.

If you'd like to discuss this movie in a non-Slashdot environment for whatever reason, go here.

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