By Soulskill from Slashdot's aliens-with-chipmunk-voices department
An anonymous reader writes: Phil Plait reports on new research into exoplanets that came to an unexpected and non-obvious conclusion. Throughout the galaxy, astronomers have been finding exoplanets they call "warm Neptunes" — bodies about the size of Neptune, but which orbit their parent star more closely than Mercury orbits the Sun. When astronomers looked at spectra for these planets, they found something surprising: no methane signature (PDF). Methane is made of carbon and hydrogen, and it's generally assumed that most large, gaseous planets will have a lot of hydrogen. But this class of exoplanet, being significantly smaller than, say, Jupiter, may not have the mass (and thus the gravity) to hold on to its hydrogen when it's heated by the close proximity to the star. The result is that the atmosphere may be largely made up of helium instead. If so, the planet would look oddly colorless to our eyes, very unlike the planets in our solar system.Read Replies (0)
By timothy from Slashdot's I-suspect-it's-just-a-time-warner-problem department
According to Reuters, foreigners in North Korea who formerly had online access via the country's 3G network have now been blocked from using it
, in the wake of a fire at Pyongyang's Koryo Hotel
, though it was not immediately clear whether the two events are related. Vox.com has an interesting look into what internet access is like for North Koreans
, but as the linked Reuters report explains, access is in general much freer for resident as well as visiting foreigners.Read Replies (0)
By timothy from Slashdot's emergent-order department
:Hundreds of CubeSats
have been launched to Earth orbit since 2003
. Now, though, two of the small-form-factor craft are set for a deeper space mission
. According to Spaceflight Now,The twin CubeSat mission, known as Mars Cube One, will launch on an Atlas 5 rocket in March 2016 with NASA’s InSight lander. The CubeSats will relay status signals from InSight as the landing probe descends through the atmosphere, eliminating potential delays in verifying the success of the mission. ... Each Mars Cube One, or MarCO, CubeSat spacecraft measures 14.4 inches (36.6 centimeters) by 9.5 inches (24.3 centimeters) by 4.6 inches (11.8 centimeters) when closed up for launch, according to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which announced details of the mission Friday.
The standardized and small CubeSat has made satellite design and launching accessible to schools and others; going to Mars costs a lot more (in this case it's a "$13 million secondary mission"), but it could conceivably put interplanetary probes possible for deep-pocketed universities or corporations.Read Replies (0)
By timothy from Slashdot's handy-dandy-forms department
writes with news from The Consumerist that the FCC has updated its consumer help center with a revamped form for complaining about an unsatisfactory ISP. From the article: Among the issues concerned consumers can complain about, the form now contains "open internet/net neutrality," right there alphabetically between "interference" and "privacy." So what, specifically, qualifies as a net neutrality violation you can complain about? The FCC has guidance for that, too. In general, paraphrased, it's a problem if there's:
Blocking: ISPs may not block access to any lawful content, apps, services, or devices.
Throttling: ISPs may not slow down or degrade lawful internet traffic from any content, apps, sites, services, or devices.
Paid prioritization: ISPs may not enter into agreements to prioritize and benefit some lawful internet traffic over the rest of it on their networks.Read Replies (0)
By timothy from Slashdot's talent-moves department
writes: In his new book Will College Pay Off? , Wharton professor Peter Cappelli argues that banking on a specialized degree's usefulness is risky, especially since one reason some jobs are in high demand is that no one predicted that they would be. "A few generations ago," notes Cappelli, "the employers used to look for smart or adaptable kids on college campuses with general skills. They would convert them to what they wanted inside the company and they would retrain them and they'd get different skills. They're not doing that now. They're just expecting that the kids will show up with the skills that the employer needs when the employer needs them. That's a pretty difficult thing to expect, because of these kinds of problems. So the employers now are always complaining that they can't get the people they need, but it's pretty obvious why that's not happening." On CS-as-a-major, Cappelli says, "If you look at most of the people who are in computer programming, for example, they have no IT degree-they just learned how to program. Maybe they had a couple of courses in it, maybe they were self-taught. In Silicon Valley, the industry was built with only 10 percent of the workforce having IT degrees. You can do most of these jobs with a variety of different skills. I think what's happening now is that people have come to think that you need these degrees in order to do the jobs, which is not really true. Maybe what these degrees do for you is they shorten the job training by a bit, but that's about it. And you lose a bunch of other things along the way." One wonders what Cappelli might think of San Francisco's recent decision to pick a preschool curriculum based on where today's tech jobs are, echoing President Obama's tech industry-nurtured belief that "what you want to do is introduce this [coding] with the ABCs and the colors."Read Replies (0)
By timothy from Slashdot's from-a-long-winter's-nap department
writes with this news from the BBC: The European Space Agency (ESA) says its comet lander, Philae, has woken up and contacted Earth. Philae, the first spacecraft to land on a comet, was dropped on to the surface of Comet 67P by its mothership, Rosetta, last November. It worked for 60 hours before its solar-powered battery ran flat. The comet has since moved nearer to the sun and Philae has enough power to work again, says the BBC's science correspondent Jonathan Amos. An account linked to the probe tweeted the message, "Hello Earth! Can you hear me?"
Watch this space for some more links to follow. Update: 06/14 13:39 GMT by T
: From the ESA's Rosetta blog:When analysing the status data it became clear that Philae also must have been awake earlier: "We have also received historical data - so far, however, the lander had not been able to contact us earlier," [according to project manager Dr. Stephan Ulamec.] Now the scientists are waiting for the next contact. There are still more than 8000 data packets in Philae’s mass memory which will give the DLR team information on what happened to the lander in the past few days on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
Read Replies (0)