By EditorDavid from Slashdot's not-a-black-hole department
"Scientists possibly detected an entirely different type of gravitational wave," writes schwit1. "Gossip over potential detection of colliding neutron stars has astronomers in a tizzy," reports Nature:
Astrophysicists may have detected gravitational waves last week from the collision of two neutron stars in a distant galaxy -- and telescopes trained on the same region might also have spotted the event. Rumours to that effect are spreading fast online, much to researchers' excitement. Such a detection could mark a new era of astronomy: one in which phenomena are both seen by conventional telescopes and 'heard' as vibrations in the fabric of space-time. "It would be an incredible advance in our understanding," says Stuart Shapiro, an astrophysicist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign...
The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) in Louisiana and Washington state has three times detected gravitational waves -- ripples in the fabric of space-time -- emerging from colliding black holes. But scientists have been hoping to detect ripples from another cosmic cataclysm, such as the merger of neutron stars, remnants of large stars that exploded but were not massive enough to collapse into a black hole.
One astronomer tweeted last week that "merging neutron-neutron star is the initial call," while Nature adds that the same rumor had already been circulating privately, according to "some astronomers who do not want to be identified."
Friday Ligo announced cautiously that "We are working hard to assure that the candidates are valid gravitational-wave events, and it will require time to establish the level of confidence needed to bring any results to the scientific community and the greater public. We will let you know as soon we have information ready to share."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's sharing-the-software department
As in past years, "Open source is professionalizing, and employers are seeking staff with demonstrable skills," says the executive director of the Linux Foundation, describing the results of a new study with Dice.com. An anonymous reader quotes ZDNet:
The three most common positions that they're looking to fill are developer, DevOps engineer, and systems administrator, according to the study, and "a growing number of companies (60 percent) are looking for full-time hires, compared with 53 percent last year.
"Nearly half (47 percent) of companies will pay for employees to become open-source certified."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's great-firewall department
An anonymous reader quotes Phys.org:
China is about to launch the Jinan Project, the world's first unhackable computer network, and a major milestone in the development of quantum technology... the network is planned to be fully operational by the end of August 2017... By launching the network, China will become the first country worldwide to implement quantum technology for a real life, commercial end. It also highlights that China is a key global player in the rush to develop technologies based on quantum principles, with the EU and the United States also vying for world leadership in the field.
The network, known as a quantum key distribution (QKD) network, is more secure than widely used electronic communication equivalents. Unlike a conventional telephone or internet cable, which can be tapped without the sender or recipient being aware, a QKD network alerts both users to any tampering with the system as soon as it occurs. This is because tampering immediately alters the information being relayed, with the disturbance being instantly recognisable. Once fully implemented, it will make it almost impossible for other governments to listen in on Chinese communications... It will be the world's longest land-based quantum communications network, stretching over 2,000 km.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's drinking-without-driving department
An anonymous reader quotes SFGate:
Thanks to the Prime Now service, Amazon will now deliver booze to the home, failing house party, mundane family brunch, or other occasion of Prime members in the Bay Area. While Prime Now (a delivery service that comes with a $99 annual Prime membership) is available in 30 different cities across the U.S., the alcohol delivery service can only be accessed in a select 12 of those 30, including San Francisco... Two-hour delivery on booze is free of charge, but if you find yourself in a truly desperate situation, one-hour delivery is available for an extra $7.99. ID's are checked upon delivery by couriers. A minimum of $30 is required for a delivery, which shouldn't be a problem to hit seeing that prices are slightly higher than standard for what you'd find in your corner liquor store. $26 for a 12-pack of Coronas, $15 for a six-pack of Angry Orchard, and $23 for a bottle of chardonnay, for example... Delivery hours match those of regular Prime Now services, which run from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Amazon is competing with local liquor-delivery services in the Bay Area, according to the article, as well local services in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Amazon began testing liquor deliveries in March in two Ohio cities, then slowly began rolling it out to more, according to Food & Wine magazine (which has a complete list of the 12 cities). "Unlike other markets such as Seattle, which was the first to get alcohol delivery via Prime Now back in 2015, and Manhattan, which just got Prime Now alcohol delivery this past June, Portland can only order beer and wine, and not spirits, through the service. If Portlanders want spirits in a hurry, they'll have to hunt it down a different way like some sort of bourbon-loving caveman."
Amazon is also testing two-hour liquor deliveries in Los Angeles, Chicago, Minneapolis, San Diego, and Richmond, Virginia.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's 26-years-young department
To celebrate Linux's 26th anniversary, the Linux Foundation tweeted a picture of Tux on a birthday cake, and linked to an essay on OpenSource.com by FreeDOS founder Jim Hall:
My first Linux distribution was Softlanding Linux System (SLS) 1.03, with Linux kernel 0.99 alpha patch level 11. That required a whopping 2MB of RAM, or 4MB if you wanted to compile programs, and 8MB to run X windows... To celebrate, I reinstalled SLS 1.05 to remind myself what the Linux 1.0 kernel was like and to recognize how far Linux has come since the 1990s.
"Getting X windows to perform was not exactly easy..." Hall writes, adding "the concept of a desktop didn't exist yet." Meanwhile Phoronix celebrated by republishing that fateful email Linus Torvalds sent on August 25, 1991. And Fossbytes shared the most recent statistics about modern-day Linux's 20 million lines of code from the Linux Foundation:
During the period between the 3.19 and 4.7 releases, the kernel community was merging changes at an average rate of 7.8 patches per hour; that is a slight increase from the 7.71 patches per hour seen in the previous version of this report, and a continuation of the longterm trend toward higher patch volumes.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's coulda-shoulda-woulda department
New submitter stikves shares a report from Eurogamer: Ex-Valve writer Marc Laidlaw, who worked on Half-Life, Half-Life 2 and its episodic expansions, has published a summary of the series' next chapter on his blog. Titled, "Epistle 3," it details Gordon Freeman's next adventure. Except, likely for copyright issues, the whole story has been genderswapped. So Laidlaw's tale speaks of Gertrude Fremont, Alex instead of Alyx, Elly instead of Eli, and so on. Naturally, Laidlaw's blog is currently down due to traffic, although you can read a backup of the page on Archive.org, or on Pastebin, where the names have been corrected.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's video-on-demand department
A federal court ruled that video-on-demand streaming service, VidAngel, which enables the filtering of objectionable content to make it family friendly, is breaking U.S. copyright law. Ars Technica reports: VidAngel buys movie discs and decrypts and rips them. It then streams versions that allow customers to filter out nudity, profanity, and violence. In doing so, it breached the performance rights of Disney, Lucasfilm, 20th Century Fox, and Warner Brothers, the court ruled. VidAngel purchased a disc for every stream it sold, some 2,500 titles in all. "Star Wars is still Star Wars, even without Princess Leia's bikini scene," the opinion said. Just because objectionable content is removed, that doesn't necessarily transform the content enough to allow this type of behavior under a fair use analysis, the court wrote Thursday. VidAngel also unsuccessfully argued that it was protected under the Family Movie Act (FMA) of 2005. That legislation allows the cracking of encryption to remove objectionable content so long as no fixed copy of the altered version is created. The court didn't agree, however, because VidAngel didn't have the permission in the first place to stream the content.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's changing-landscape department
Henry Fountain reports via The New York Times (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source): The Arctic is warming about twice as fast as other parts of the planet, and even here in sub-Arctic Alaska the rate of warming is high. Sea ice and wildlife habitat are disappearing; higher sea levels threaten coastal native villages. But to the scientists from Woods Hole Research Center who have come here to study the effects of climate change, the most urgent is the fate of permafrost, the always-frozen ground that underlies much of the state. Starting just a few feet below the surface and extending tens or even hundreds of feet down, it contains vast amounts of carbon in organic matter -- plants that took carbon dioxide from the atmosphere centuries ago, died and froze before they could decompose. Worldwide, permafrost is thought to contain about twice as much carbon as is currently in the atmosphere. Once this ancient organic material thaws, microbes convert some of it to carbon dioxide and methane, which can flow into the atmosphere and cause even more warming. Scientists have estimated that the process of permafrost thawing could contribute as much as 1.7 degrees Fahrenheit to global warming over the next several centuries, independent of what society does to reduce emissions from burning fossil fuels and other activities. In Alaska, nowhere is permafrost more vulnerable than here, 350 miles south of the Arctic Circle, in a vast, largely treeless landscape formed from sediment brought down by two of the state's biggest rivers, the Yukon and the Kuskokwim. Temperatures three feet down into the frozen ground are less than half a degree below freezing. This area could lose much of its permafrost by midcentury.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's first-evidence department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Science Magazine: Trigonometry, the study of the lengths and angles of triangles, sends most modern high schoolers scurrying to their cellphones to look up angles, sines, and cosines. Now, a fresh look at a 3700-year-old clay tablet suggests that Babylonian mathematicians not only developed the first trig table, beating the Greeks to the punch by more than 1000 years, but that they also figured out an entirely new way to look at the subject. However, other experts on the clay tablet, known as Plimpton 322 (P322), say the new work is speculative at best. Consisting of four columns and 15 rows of numbers inscribed in cuneiform, the famous P322 tablet was discovered in the early 1900s in what is now southern Iraq by archaeologist, antiquities dealer, and diplomat Edgar Banks, the inspiration for the fictional character Indiana Jones.
Now stored at Columbia University, the tablet first garnered attention in the 1940s, when historians recognized that its cuneiform inscriptions contain a series of numbers echoing the Pythagorean theorem, which explains the relationship of the lengths of the sides of a right triangle. (The theorem: The square of the hypotenuse equals the sum of the square of the other two sides.) But why ancient scribes generated and sorted these numbers in the first place has been debated for decades. Mathematician Daniel Mansfield of the University of New South Wales (UNSW) realized that the information he needed was in missing pieces of P322 that had been reconstructed by other researchers. He and UNSW mathematician Norman Wildberger concluded that the Babylonians expressed trigonometry in terms of exact ratios of the lengths of the sides of right triangles, rather than by angles, using their base 60 form of mathematics, they report today in Historia Mathematica.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's there's-a-new-sheriff-in-town department
"Data is clearly the new oil," says Jonathan Taplin, director emeritus of the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab and the author of Move Fast and Break Things: How Google, Facebook and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy. While oil was the world's most valuable resource, it has been surpassed by data, as evidenced by the five most valuable companies in the world today -- Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft and Google's parent company Alphabet. CBC.ca reports: What "the big five" are selling -- or not selling, as in the case of free services like Google or Facebook -- is access. As we use their platforms, the corporate giants are collecting information about every aspect of our lives, our behavior and our decision-making. All of that data gives them tremendous power. And that power begets more power, and more profit. On one hand, the data can be used to make their tools and services better, which is good for consumers. These companies are able to learn what we want based on the way we use their products, and can adjust them in response to those needs. Access to such sweeping amounts of data also allows these giants to spot trends early and move on them, which sometimes involves buying up a smaller company before it can become a competitive threat. Pasquale points out that Google/Alphabet has been using its power "to bully or take over rivals and adjacent businesses" at a rate of about "one per week since 2010." But it's not just newer or smaller tech companies that are at risk, says Taplin. "When Google and Facebook control 88 per cent of all new internet advertising, the rest of the internet economy, including things like online journalism and music, are starved for resources." Traditionally, this is where the antitrust regulators would step in, but in the data economy it's not so easy. What we're seeing for the first time is a clash between the concept of the nation state and these global, borderless corporations. A handful of tech giants now surpass the size and power of many governments.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's collusive-ties department
A South Korean court on Friday sentenced Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Jay Y. Lee to five years in jail on charges connected to the corruption scandal that led to former President Park Geun-hye's ouster. The Korea Herald reports: The Seoul Central District Court convicted Samsung's de facto heir of bribing former President Park Geun-hye and her close friend Choi Soon-sil in return for the government's help in tightening his control over Samsung Group, saying he was in position to benefit most from the bribery scheme. Lee, who has been detained since February, was found guilty of all five charges -- bribery, embezzlement, concealment of criminal proceeds, illegal transfer of assets overseas and perjury. The court said Lee and Samsung executives offered large bribes to the president, who held "immense power and the ultimate authority," and embezzled company funds, hid assets overseas and concealed profits from criminal acts in the process, all expecting a favor in the form of Samsung Group's smooth leadership transition. Lee is the first member of Samsung Group's ownership family to be sentenced to jail. He is set to appeal the decision. "The essence of the case is collusive ties between political power and capital power," presiding Judge Kim Jin-dong said. "As Samsung executives, they had a great deal of negative impact on society and the economy."Read Replies (0)