By yaelk from Slashdot's happy-leap-year department
StartsWithABang writes: The need for a February 29th, once every four years, doesn't just give us an extra day this year, but it keeps the calendar from drifting and failing to align with the seasons. Even so, the scheme we have worked out today, where years divisible by 4 but not those divisible by 100 unless also divisible by 400 get an extra day, isn't perfect, and will get worse as time goes on. The current misalignment between our calendar and the actual Earth's orbit is big enough that we'll be off by a day every 3,200 years, but bigger news is that the Earth's rotation rate is changing, as our day lengthens and our spin slows down. In another 4 million years, we won't need leap days at all, and if we extrapolate backwards, we can find that early Earth had a day that lasted just 6.5 hours.Read Replies (0)
By timothy from Slashdot's but-so-charming department
HughPickens.com writes: Alexander Burns and Maggie Haberman write in the NYT that with his enormous online platform of six million followers, Donald Trump has used Twitter to badger and humiliate those who have dared cross him during the presidential race, latching on to their vulnerabilities, mocking their physical characteristics, personality quirks and, sometimes, their professional setbacks. Trump has made statements that have later been exposed as false or deceptive — only after they have ricocheted across the Internet. For example, Cheri Jacobus, a Republican political strategist, did not think she had done anything out of the ordinary: On a cable television show, she criticized Donald J. Trump for skipping a debate in Iowa in late January and described him as a "bad debater." Trump took to Twitter, repeatedly branding Jacobus as a disappointed job seeker who had begged to work for his campaign and had been rejected. "We said no and she went hostile," Trump wrote. "A real dummy!" Trump's campaign manager told the same story on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." For days, Trump's followers replied to his posts with demeaning, often sexually charged insults aimed at Jacobus, including several with altered, vulgar photographs of her face.Read Replies (0)
By whipslash from Slashdot's washington-we-have-a-problem department
An anonymous reader writes: During a congressional hearing Thursday, former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin had harsh words for the space agency and the space policy crafted by President Obama's administration. Under the Obama administration's guidance, NASA has established Mars as a goal for human spaceflight and said that astronauts will visit the red planet by the 2030s. However, a growing number of critics say the agency's approach is neither affordable nor sustainable.
On Thursday, Griffin, administrator of NASA from 2005 to 2009, joined those critics. The United States has not had a serious discussion about space policy, he testified, and as a result, the space agency is making little discernible progress. NASA simply cannot justify its claims of being on a credible path toward Mars, he added.Read Replies (0)