By Soulskill from Slashdot's look-an-article-about-actual-clouds department
Most climate scientists agree that the Earth's climate is getting warmer, but models predicting the severity of the temperature rise span a (relatively) broad range. One big reason for this is the difficulty in modeling things like cloud cover and how different air masses mix and move around each other
."Specifically, they have differences in how water-rich air at the bottom of the atmosphere gets mixed with the layers immediately above it. In some cases, this mixing increases rapidly as the temperature rises, effectively drying out the lower atmosphere and suppressing cloud formation there. This in turn would enhance the warming effect. In others, the increase in mixing is more gradual, limiting the impact of warming on clouds. The former produces a higher climate sensitivity; the latter a lower one. ... So, the authors turned to the atmosphere, using data to determine the relative importance of these processes (abstract). In the end, they find that the models that dry out the lower atmosphere more quickly are likely to get the process right. And, in these models, the mixing increases the drying rate in the lower atmosphere by about five to seven percent for each Kelvin the Earth's temperature increases. In contrast, the rate of evaporation, which adds moisture to the lower atmosphere, only increases by two percent for each Kelvin. Thus, the lower atmosphere dries out, cloud formation there is suppressed, and the planet warms even further. How much more will it warm? Quite a bit."Read Replies (0)
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's i've-got-an-inchoate-hunch department
AHuxley writes "The American Civil Liberties Union sought to challenge the U.S. legal 'border exemption' three years ago. Can your laptop be seized and searched without reasonable suspicion at the border? A 32 page decision provides new legal insight into legal thinking around suspicionless searches: your electronic devices are searchable and seizable for any reason at the U.S. border. The ACLU may appeal. Also note the Kool-Aid comment: 'The report said that a reasonable suspicion standard is inadvisable because it could lead to litigation and the forced divulgence of national security information, and would prevent border officers from acting on inchoate "hunches," a method that it says has sometimes proved fruitful.'"
It's even legal for them to copy the contents of your laptop for no reason at all, just in case they need to take a peek later. A bit of context from the ACLU: "The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Pascal Abidor, a dual French-American citizen who had his laptop searched and confiscated at the Canadian border ... Abidor was travelling from Montreal to New York on an Amtrak train in May 2010 when he had his laptop searched and confiscated by customs officers. Abidor, an Islamic Studies Ph.D. student at McGill University, was questioned, taken off the train in handcuffs, and held in a cell for several hours before being released without charge. When his laptop was returned 11 days later, there was evidence that many of his personal files had been searched, including photos and chats with his girlfriend."Read Replies (0)
By Soulskill from Slashdot's anything-but-the-truth department
Mars729 writes "GUIs are walled gardens in that features available in one piece of software is not available to other pieces of software. However, there is software out there with command-line options that can make software features accessible to power users and programmers. Some important ones I have uncovered are:
Exiftool: A command-line application that can read/write almost any kind of metadata contained in almost any filetype
Imagemagick: This and similar software like GraphicsMagick is a full-feature toolkit for displaying, converting and editing image files.
Irfanview: Like Imagemagick but faster, although it has much fewer features.
FFMpeg: For video files
VLC: For audio and video files
Aspell: A command line spell checker
Google Static Maps API: A URL with coordinates, markers, zoom levels and other options to show a custom map from Google Maps. (I just uncovered this: no need to learn KML!)Less useful but still useful are command shells. These provide file management mostly. I believe some of them may allow for sending and retrieving email messages. Also useful but less accessible and with a steeper learning curve are software with APIs and scripting. Examples would be Visual Basic for Applications in office software and groovy scripting for Freeplane. What else is out there?"Read Replies (0)
By Soulskill from Slashdot's just-put-it-on-amtrak department
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "The LA Times reports that the small town of Casselton, North Dakota dodged a bullet after being partially evacuated when a train carrying crude oil collided with another train, setting off a large fire and explosions. Officials received a report at 2:12 p.m. of a train derailing about a mile west of Casselton, a city of 2,432 people about 20 miles west of Fargo. At some point, another train collided with the derailed train, belonging to the BNSF Railway, carrying more than 100 cars loaded with crude oil. The explosions and fire erupted after cars from a grain train struck some of the oil tank cars. 'A fire ensued, and quickly a number of the cars became engulfed,' said Sgt. Tara Morris of the Cass County Sheriff's Office, adding that firefighters had managed to detach 50 of the 104 cars but had to leave the rest. This was the fourth serious accident involving trains hauling crude in North America this year. In July, an unattended train with 72 tank cars carrying crude oil from North Dakota's Bakken shale fields rolled downhill and set off a major explosion in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, killing 47 people. The accidents have put a spotlight on the growing reliance on rail to move surging oil production from new fields in Texas, North Dakota and Colorado. U.S. railroads are moving 25 times more crude than they did in 2008, often in trains with more than 100 tank cars that each carry 30,000 gallons. Though railroads have sharply improved their safety in recent years, moving oil on tank cars is still only about half as safe as in pipelines, according to Eric Smith, associate director of the Tulane University Energy Institute. 'You can make the argument that the pipeline fights have forced the industry to revert to rail that is less safe,' says Smith. One problem is that the trains go through small towns with volunteer fire departments, not well schooled in handling a derailment and explosion. Casselton Mayor Ed McConnell says it is time to 'have a conversation' with federal lawmakers about the dangers of transporting oil by rail. 'There have been numerous derailments in this area,' says McConnell. 'It's almost gotten to the point that it looks like not if we're going to have an accident, it's when.'"Read Replies (0)