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Submission + - Iron-age potters accidentally recorded Earth's magnetic field strength

Solandri writes: We've only been able to measure the Earth's magnetic field strength for about 2 centuries. During this time, there has been a gradual decline in the field strength. In recent years, the rate of decline seems to be accelerating, leading to some speculation that the Earth may be losing its magnetic field — a catastrophic possibility since the magnetic field is what protects life on Earth from dangerous solar radiation. Ferromagnetic particles in rocks provide a long-term history which tells us the poles have flipped numerous times. But uncertainties in dating the rocks prevents their use in understanding decade-scale magnetic field fluctuations.

Now a group of archeologists and geophysicists have come up with a novel way to produce decade-scale temporal measurements of the Earth's magnetic field strength from before the invention of the magnetometer. When iron-age potters fired their pottery in a kiln to harden it, it loosened tiny ferromagnetic particles in the clay. As the pottery cooled and these particles hardened, it captured a snapshot of the Earth's magnetic field. Crucially, the governments of that time required pottery used to collect taxed goods (e.g. a portion of olive oil sold) to be stamped with a royal seal. These seals changed over time as new kings ascended, or governments were completely replaced after invasion. Thus by cross-referencing the magnetic particles in the pottery with the seals, researchers were able to piece together a history of the Earth's magnetic field strength spanning from the 8th century BCE to the 2nd century BCE. Their findings show that large fluctuations in the magnetic field strength over a span of decades are normal.

Submission + - The Dune Reboot Has Found Its Director (bleedingcool.com)

The Grim Reefer writes: It has been rumored for a while that Legendary Pictures had been courting Sicario and Arrival director Denis Villeneuve for their upcoming Dune reboot. Now in under 140 characters, Brian Herbert (son of Dune author Frank Herbert) has confirmed that the contracts have all been signed, and Villeneuve will be directing.

It's official — Legendary Pictures has signed the very talented Denis Villeneuve to direct the exciting new DUNE series film project. — Brian Herbert (@DuneAuthor) February 1, 2017

Back in late November, we’d reported on Legendary having secured the rights to the Dune series of novels from the Frank Herbert estate. The deal gives Legendary the option for both film and television rights worldwide. Brian’s tweet implies that Villeneuve will be attached to the film project, and we’ll keep an eye out for any news on around the TV front. It seems that studios are looking to go wider than a single format lately, with Lionsgate developing the Kingkiller Chronicles simultaneously for both TV and Film.

Submission + - Adblock-Blockers 'Ineffective', Adblocking Up 30% Globally In Two Years

An anonymous reader writes: A new survey reveals that the countermeasures taken by various publishers in response to the rise of adblocking cause nearly three-quarters of users to simply abandon the sites which block adblockers. The report, from pro-ad organisation Playfair, estimates that adblocking has risen by 30% in two years, and by 40% in Asia in 2016 alone. The report predicts that a growing trend towards pre-service agreements by providers and hardware manufacturers will cause adblocking usage to rise further, practically becoming a 'default' position, unless the ad industry responds practically to users' dislike of unpopular ad formats such as unskippable video and autoplaying audio ads.
Science

One in Five of Us May 'Hear' Flashes of Light (theguardian.com) 134

One in five people is affected by a synaesthesia-like phenomenon in which visual movements or flashes of light are "heard" as faint sounds, according to scientists. From a report on The Guardian: The findings suggest that far more people than initially thought experience some form of sensory cross-wiring -- which could explain the appeal of flashing musical baby toys and strobed lighting at raves. Elliot Freeman, a cognitive neuroscientist at City University and the study's lead author, said: "A lot of us go around having senses that we do not even recognise." More florid forms of synaesthesia, in which disparate sensory experiences are blended, are found in only about 2-4% of the population. To a synaesthete, the number seven might appear red, or the name Wesley might "taste" like boiled cabbage, for instance. The latest work -- only the second published on the phenomenon -- suggests that many more of us experience a less intrusive version of the condition in which visual movements or flashes are accompanied by an internal soundtrack of hums, buzzes or swooshes. Since movements are very frequently accompanied by sounds in everyday life, the effect is likely to be barely discernible.

Submission + - Location of mysterious Fast Radio Burst events pinpointed (bbc.com)

Netdoctor writes: Fast Radio Bursts (FRB) are massively powerful short-lived radio bursts from far-away sources, and so far a number of theories exist on what generates them. Recently several were detected in the same general location, which adds to the mystery, as any of these pulses would be powerful enough to destroy a source. Since this group of FRBs were detected with single radio telescope dishes, the exact location was difficult to pinpoint. BBC reports here with results from the Very Large Array in New Mexico being trained on the source.

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Is Computing As Cool And Fun As It Once Was? 1

dryriver writes: I got together with old computer nerd friends the other day. All of us have been at it since the 8-bit / 1980s days of Amstrad, Atari, Commodore 64 type home computers. Everybody at the meeting agreed on one thing — computing is just not as cool and as much fun as it once was. One person lamented that computer games nowadays are tied to internet DRM like Steam, that some crucial DCC software is available to rent only now (e.g. Photoshop) and that many"basic freedoms" of the old-school computer nerd are increasingly disappearing. Another said that Windows 10's spyware aspects made him give up on his beloved PC platform and that he will use Linux and Android devices only from now on, using consoles to game on instead of a PC because of this. A third complained about zero privacy online, internet advertising, viruses, ransomware, hacking, crapware. I lamented that the hardware industry still hasn't given us anything resembling photorealistic realtime 3D graphics, and that the current VR trend arrived a full decade later than it should have. A point of general agreement was that big tech companies in particular don't treat computer users with enough respect anymore. What do Slashdotters think? Is computing still as cool and fun as it once was, or has something "become irreversibly lost" as computing evolved into a multi billion dollar global business?

Submission + - 6 mysterious radio signals have been detected coming from outside our galaxy (sciencealert.com)

schwit1 writes: Back in March, scientists detected 10 powerful bursts of radio signals coming from the same location in space. And now researchers have just picked up six more of the signals seemingly emanating from the same region, far beyond our Milky Way.

"We report on radio and X-ray observations of the only known repeating fast radio burst source, FRB 121102," the team wrote in The Astrophysical Journal.

"We have detected six additional radio bursts from this source: five with the Green Bank Telescope at 2 GHz, and one at 1.4 GHz with the Arecibo Observatory, for a total of 17 bursts from this source."

The team can't pinpoint the exact location of FRB 121102, but based on the specific way their lower frequencies are slowed, they can tell they came from a long way away, far beyond the Milky Way. And that gives us some pretty important clues about what could be causing the events.

Interestingly, it also contradicts the evidence we have on FRB coming from within our own galaxy.

Currently, the leading hypothesis for the source of the Milky Way's FRB is the cataclysmic collision of two neutron stars, which forms a black hole. The idea is that as this collision happens, huge amounts of short-lived radio energy are blasted out into space.

But the repeating nature of these distant signals, all coming from the same place, suggest that can't be the case — at least for these particular FRB.

Submission + - Verizon Refuses To Brick the Samsung Note 7 (theverge.com)

caferace writes: According to this article at The Verge, Verizon has refused to push out the Samsung "No-Charge" update.

"...Today, Samsung announced an update to the Galaxy Note 7 that would stop the smartphone from charging, rendering it useless unless attached to a power charger. Verizon will not be taking part in this update because of the added risk this could pose to Galaxy Note 7 users that do not have another device to switch to. We will not push a software upgrade that will eliminate the ability for the Note 7 to work as a mobile device in the heart of the holiday travel season. We do not want to make it impossible to contact family, first responders or medical professionals in an emergency situation.."

Submission + - Pebble ends production, ceases support (getpebble.com)

phorm writes: In a notice to Kickstarter backers, pebble has stated that — following the acquisition by Fitbit — they will no longer promote, manufacture, or sell devices. Further, while existing functionality may continue, it is likely to be degraded and warranty support will no longer be provided. This includes any recently shipped Pebble models. For those that were eagerly awaiting shipment of Pebble Time 2 and other newer devices, those devices will not ship at all. Pebble has indicated refunds will be made within 4-8 weeks. Those expecting their money may not want to hold their breath, however, because a contradictory statement made by to backers by email says that refunds will be made via Kickstarter by March 2017.

Submission + - SPAM: Waterloop

Scribbler'sEmporium writes: A team of 150 University of Waterloo students revealed, what they call, the world’s first functional pneumatic levitation system for the Hyperloop. They are one of 22 teams competing for SpaceX’s International Hyperloop Competition.
Link to Original Source

Submission + - Level 3 under DDOS (chicagotribune.com)

Archangel Michael writes: From The Linked Article:

Parts of the internet were down across the U.S. and in the U.K. Wednesday morning, as service provider Level 3 Communications reported an outage.

Level 3, which provides internet and voice services to businesses, said the company did not yet know the cause of the outage, which temporarily disrupted or slowed service to some customers.

"Our technical team is looking into this issue to determine the cause. Our priority is to ensure the reliability of our network and services. We will provide updates as more information becomes available," Nikki Wheeler, senior director of media relations, wrote in an email.

Submission + - Strange signals from star survey may be evidence of intelligent life (iop.org)

Okian Warrior writes: A recent paper reporting on strange artifacts in the spectra of 234 stars is raising eyebrows in the Astronomical community.

A Fourier transform analysis of 2.5 million spectra in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey was carried out to detect periodic spectral modulations. Signals having the same period were found in only 234 stars overwhelmingly in the F2 to K1 spectral range. The signals cannot be caused by instrumental or data analysis effects because [various reasons...]

Finally, we consider the possibility, predicted in a previous published paper, that the signals are caused by light pulses generated by ETI to makes us aware of their existence. We find that the detected signals have exactly the shape of an ETI signal predicted in the previous publication and are therefore in agreement with this hypothesis. The fact that they are only found in a very small fraction of stars within a narrow spectral range centered near the spectral type of the Sun is also in agreement with the ETI hypothesis. However, at this stage, this hypothesis needs to be confirmed with further work.


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