By timothy from Slashdot's it's-a-movie-get-through-it department
A review of Interstellar
at Scientific American that was not entirely flattering of the film's scientific aspects caught the eye of Cal Tech physicist Kip Thorne, who served as a consultant on the movie, and has actually written a book on the physics depicted. He and SciAm writer Lee Billings ended up having a conversation about how the film deals with time travel, black holes, and more
. A slice:I think the laws of physics very probably forbid warp drives and traversable wormholes. The research that has gone on over the past 25 years trying to determine whether its possible all point in negative directions, but it’s not a firmly closed door. So there are two issues here. One is that the laws of physics probably forbid it, but, gee, if they don’t, it would be great to have! The other is that the technology required to make a warp drive or a traversable wormhole is so far, far, far beyond the technology needed for a laser sail or a nuclear-pulse rocket that I would not be in favor of putting any significant resources into trying to develop it.
Now, you may have small amounts of money—tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars—spent on this, but nothing is wrong with that. Peer-review, at least in the United States and in Europe, is too strong for there to be any danger of millions or billions of dollars being spent on these things. The technology required for wormholes is so far removed from our current and plausible near-future capabilities that to throw lots of money at it would almost certainly be a total boondoggle.Read Replies (0)
By timothy from Slashdot's big-red-button department
Space.com (which will also carry live web-cam coverage) reports that the <a>Orion capsule</a> is scheduled for a test flight, sans passengers
, on Thursday, December 4th. For this test flight, Orion will make two orbits of Earth, with the second lap taking the capsule 15 times farther from the planet than the International Space Station. Officials have attached more than 1,000 sensors to the spacecraft to monitor its systems during flight.
Orion will also beam down images from its cameras as it is flying through space. NASA will use the information gathered during the test flight to make improvements to the spacecraft before humans set foot onboard.
The Houston Chronicle has an article with some excellent diagrams
of the planned flight, the Orion capsule itself, as well as some of the technological and political history behind the project.Read Replies (0)
By timothy from Slashdot's what-about-segway department
writes Driverless vehicles are coming. The question is: what form will they take? Uber's management has suggested that, rather than owning our own private autonomous, cars, we'll all be glad to pay Uber by the trip for a private ride in one. But an Italian consultant working on experimental driverless vehicles in Europe thinks that the future will lie with automated buses, because driverless cars, "may be able to go and park themselves out of harm's way, they may be able to do more trips per day, but they will still need a 10 ft wide lane to move a flow of 3600 persons per hour ... their advantages completely fade away in an urban street, where the frequent obstacles and interruptions will make robots provide a performance that will be equal, or worse than, that of a human driver, at least in terms of capacity and density."Read Replies (0)
By timothy from Slashdot's plusses-minuses department
Forbes writer Marco Chiappetta revisits Microsoft's Surface Pro 3
half a year after its U.S. debut, and finds the tablet-laptop hybrid has held up pretty well, but suffers some dings worth knowing about before jumping at holiday sale prices, pointing out a number of scenarios where a full-fledged notebook, even if it’s roughly the same size, will be the better choice. I’ve found that the Surface Pro 3 is ideal for users that will likely fire the machine up when sitting at a desk or when in a conference room-type environment that has a table. The Surface Pro 3’s performance is plenty good for everyday computing and office applications, and the screen is top notch. Using the Surface Pro 3 as a notepad with its stylus is also very useful. In fact, over the course of the device’s life, Microsoft has issued a number of firmware, driver, and OS updates that have improved the overall responsiveness and usefulness of the Surface Pro 3.
For those who want a laptop, though for actual laptop use
, the Surface is an awkward fit. However, a thin, tablet-convertible, touchscreen laptop may appear soon from LG, as well
.Read Replies (0)
By timothy from Slashdot's or-just-whenever department
As reported by The Register, Japan's Hayabusa 2
mission to mine (or at least sample) an asteroid, which was to have been launched Saturday, has been delayed by weather
, until a time no earlier than Monday, Dec. 1st
(and from JAXA's web site
, it appears that Dec. 3rd is the current target):If all goes to plan, the space probe will lift off next month and fly out to asteroid 1999JU3 by mid-2018 using ion engines. The craft will orbit the rock before dropping a bomb onto the surface. The resulting blast should leave a hole [in] the asteroid. The probe will then land and dig around in the rubble for material from below the surface using a "sampler horn". The probe will then take off again and head for home carrying its booty, and is due to return in 2020 or slightly later.Read Replies (0)
By timothy from Slashdot's when-companies-fight department
As reported at SlashGear and Engadget
, One Plus (which has been selling phones running Android-derived Cyanogen Mod rather than Android proper) has won't be selling its phones with Cyanogen Mod to Indian consumers. Instead, according to Slashgear, "When OnePlus launches their device for the Indian market, Cyanogen won't be on it
. Cyanogen has instead chosen to go with Micromax, an OEM more familiar to the Indian market. Cyanogen and Micromax also have an exclusive deal." ZDNet reports that One Plus's One, loaded with Android 5.0 after this kerfuffle, will be available to Indian buyers for a 72-hour period
(already in progress), rather than by invitation only, which had previously been the only option.Read Replies (0)
By timothy from Slashdot's or-any-spouse-reallly department
writes Having just gotten married, I find that for some inexplicable reason my wife doesn't like my huge, noisy, 'ugly' gaming PC being in the living room. I have tried hiding it in a TV cabinet: still too noisy. I have placed it in another room and run HDMI and USB cables, but the propagation delay caused horrible tearing and lag when playing games. Have any other slashdotters encountered this problem? I don't want to buy a console (Steam sales let me game so cheaply), or mess with water cooling. Ideally I would just hide it in the attic, is there some wireless technology that would be fast enough for gaming use? I have become quite attached to 'behemoth.' I have been upgrading him for years and he is the centre of my digital life. I run plex home theatre, media centre, steam, iTunes and air server. Will I have to do my gaming in the spare room? Once I have sorted this small problem going to try and make a case for the efficacy of a projector to replace the television..... it takes up less space, motorized screen could be hidden when not in use, etc.Read Replies (0)
By timothy from Slashdot's battling-baptists-and-bootleggers department
writes Most major American cities have long used a system to limit the number of operating taxicabs, typically a medallion system: Drivers must own or rent a medallion to operate a taxi, and the city issues a fixed number of them. Now Josh Barro reports at the NYT that in major cities throughout the United States, taxi medallion prices are tumbling as taxis face competition from car-service apps like Uber and Lyft. The average price of an individual New York City taxi medallion fell to $872,000 in October, down 17 percent from a peak reached in the spring of 2013, according to an analysis of sales data. "I'm already at peace with the idea that I'm going to go bankrupt," said Larry Ionescu, who owns 98 Chicago taxi medallions. As recently as April, Boston taxi medallions were selling for $700,000. The last sale, in October, was for $561,000. "Right now Uber has a strong presence here in Boston, and that's having a dramatic impact on the taxi industry and the medallion values," says Donna Blythe-Shaw, a spokeswoman for the Boston Taxi Drivers' Association. "We hear that there's a couple of medallion owners that have offered to sell at 425 and nobody's touched them."
< article continued at Slashdot
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