By Soulskill from Slashdot's no-problem-just-launch-another-one department
sciencehabit writes "The Curiosity rover will definitely find evidence of an advanced civilization if it lands safely on Mars. That's because rock samples the rover drills are likely to be contaminated with bits of Teflon from the rover's machinery, NASA announced during a press teleconference. The bits of Teflon can then mix with the sample, which will be vaporized for analysis. The problem for the scientists is that Teflon is two-thirds carbon — the same element they are looking for on Mars."
Fortunately, this problem isn't a showstopper: "...there are still mitigation steps to take if SAM's analysis is potentially compromised
. Contaminant production appears to be stronger in the drill's percussion mode, when it pounds powerfully and rapidly on Martian rock. So ratcheting the percussion down, or switching over to the more gentle rotary mode, may make the issue more manageable. If that doesn't work, the MSL team could just take the drill out of commission, solely scooping soil instead of also boring into rock. Curiosity could still access the interior of some Martian rocks by rolling over them with its wheels, Grotzinger said. But all in all, he's confident that the team will figure things out in the next month or two."Read Replies (0)
By samzenpus from Slashdot's set-phasers-to-inform department
you got a chance to ask the team behind Space Command
about their project and all things sci-fi. Marc Zicree
, Doug Drexler
, David Raiklen
, and Neil Johnson
were nice enough to put down the blasters and answer a handful of your best questions. David even answered one of his own!
Read below to see what they had to say.Read Replies (0)
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's better-luck-next-year department
writes with news on the FY2013 allocation of H-1B visas. From the article: "As of June 1, the government had issued 55,600 standard H-1B visas out of the annual allotment of 65,000, according to United States Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS). The feds also issued 18,700 H-1B visas reserved for graduates of advanced degree programs in the U.S., out of 20,000. " CowboyRobot continues, "Last year work visas did not run out until late November, but this year the pool of visas is almost entirely claimed and it's still only June. One interpretation of this is that the tech industry is hiring much more actively than it was a year ago. Some companies, such as Microsoft, have been lobbying to increase the number of available visas (currently limited to 65,000) while others argue that offering visas to foreign workers reduces job prospects for Americans."
A bit more from the article: "Industry lobby group Partnership for A New American Economy last month released a study that claims the U.S. will face a shortage of 224,000 tech workers by 2018 unless immigration rules are loosened."Read Replies (0)
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's arm-the-lawsuit-cannon department
First time accepted submitter discussM
tipped us to a story about a recently granted patent in which "a system and method preventing unauthorized access to copyrighted academic texts
is provided in which trademark licenses, discussion boards, and grade content are integrated into a web-based system that aligns the interests of teaching professionals, students, and publishers while also enhancing the overarching academic mission to create and disseminate knowledge." Quoting Torrent Freak: "As part of a course, students will have to participate in a web-based discussion board, an activity which counts towards their final grade. To gain access to the board students need a special code
, which they get by buying the associated textbook." But don't worry too much, from Ars: "Beyond the legal questions, other experts suggested forcing students to buy texts through such a system is unlikely to be implemented
. Professors have few incentives to make it more difficult and to compel students even more than they already are to buy textbooks, digital or analog. (A 2011 survey from UC Riverside found that 78 percent of undergraduates 'bought fewer books, bought cheaper books or read books on reserve to help meet expenses.')"Read Replies (0)