eldavojohn writes "The New York Review of Books has an article penned by Steven Weinberg lamenting the future of physics, cosmology and this era of 'big science' in which we find ourselves. A quote from Goldhaber sums up the problem nicely, 'The first to disintegrate a nucleus was Rutherford, and there is a picture of him holding the apparatus in his lap. I then always remember the later picture when one of the famous cyclotrons was built at Berkeley, and all of the people were sitting in the lap of the cyclotron.' The article is lengthy with a history of big physics projects (most painfully perhaps the SSC) but Weinberg's message ultimately comes across as pessimism laced with fatalism — easily understandable given his experiences with government funding. Unfortunately he notes, 'Big science has the special problem that it can't easily be scaled down. It does no good to build an accelerator tunnel that only goes halfway around the circle.' Apparently this article mirrors his talk given in January at the American Astronomical Society. If not our government, will anyone fund these immense projects or will physics slowly grind to a halt due to fiscal constraints?"
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Hugh Pickens writes "Reproductive biologist David Bainbridge writes that with the onset of wrinkles, love handles, and failing eyesight we are used to dismissing our fifth and sixth decades as a negative chapter in our lives. However recent scientific findings show just how crucial middle age has been to the success of our species and that with the probable existence of lots of prehistoric middle-aged people, natural selection had plenty to work on. 'We lead an energy-intensive, communication-driven, information-rich way of life, and it was the evolution of middle age that supported this,' writes Bainbridge, adding that middle age is a controlled and preprogrammed process, not of decline, but of development. 'When we think of human development, we usually think of the growth of a fetus or the maturation of a child into an adult. Yet the tightly choreographed transition into middle age is a later but equally important stage in which we are each recast into yet another novel form' — resilient, healthy, energy-efficient and productive. 'The middle aged may not have been able to outrun the prey, but they were really good at working out where it might be hiding and dividing up the spoils afterwards.' Although some critics say that middle age is a construct of the middle aged, Bainbridge asserts that one key role of middle age is the propagation of information. 'All animals inherit a great deal of information in their genes; some also learn more as they grow up. Humans have taken this second form of information transfer to a new level. We are born knowing and being able to do almost nothing. Each of us depends on a continuous infusion of skills, knowledge and customs, collectively known as culture, if we are to survive. And the main route by which culture is transferred is by middle-aged people showing and telling their children — as well as the young adults with whom they hunt and gather — what to do.'"
benrothke writes "While Julius Caesar likely never said 'Et tu, Brute?' the saying associated with his final minutes has come to symbolize the ultimate insider betrayal. In The CERT Guide to Insider Threats: How to Prevent, Detect, and Respond to Information Technology Crimes, authors Dawn Cappelli, Andrew Moore and Randall Trzeciak of the CERT Insider Threat Center provide incontrovertible data and an abundance of empirical evidence, which creates an important resource on the topic of insider threats. There are thousands of companies that have uttered modern day versions of Et tu, Brute due to insidious insider attacks and the book documents many of them." Read on for the rest of Ben's review.
AstroPhilosopher writes "The U.S. Supreme Court will hear an appeal from a Thai student who was fined $600,000 for re-selling textbooks. Trying to make ends meet, the student had family members in Thailand mail him textbooks that were made and purchased abroad, which he then resold in the U.S. It's a method many retailers practice every day. 'Discount sellers like Costco and Target and Internet giants eBay and Amazon help form an estimated $63 billion annual market for goods that are purchased abroad, then imported and resold without the permission of the manufacturer. The U.S.-based sellers, and consumers, benefit from the common practice of manufacturers to price items more cheaply abroad than in the United States. This phenomenon is sometimes called a parallel market or grey market.'"
Fluffeh writes "The World Bank is taking steps toward greater transparency. It announced recently that it would be instituting a new 'Open Access policy for its research outputs and knowledge products' beginning July 1. The policy's full title is 'World Bank Open Access Policy for Formal Publications,' and the Bank says it will apply to 'manuscripts and all accompanying data sets... that result from research, analysis, economic and sector work, or development practice... that have undergone peer review or have been otherwise vetted and approved for release to the public; and... for which internal approval for release is given on or after July 1, 2012,' as well as the final reports prepared by outside parties for the Bank. Over 2,100 books and papers from 2009-2012 are already available in the repository"
New submitter waferthinmint asks "What is the best book for my son to use to teach himself to program? He wants to study on his own but everything seems to assume an instructor or a working theoretical knowledge. He's a bright kid but the right guide can make all the difference. Also, what language should he start with? When I was in HS, it was Basic or Pascal. Now, I guess, C? He has access to an Ubuntu box and an older MacBook Pro. Help me Slashdot; you're our only hope."
stoolpigeon writes "It is a well known fact that the United States has an obesity problem. There are numerous causes that ultimately lead to an imbalance in the ratio between the number of calories taken in to the number of calories burned. The size of the American diet industry is another good indicator of how widespread the problem has become. Clay Johnson believes that the issues the U.S. has with food have become mirrored in how we consume information." Read below for the rest of stoolpigeon's review.
You recently got the chance to ask a group of MIT researchers questions about fusion power, and they've now finished writing some incredibly detailed answers. They discuss the things we've learned about fusion in the past decade, how long it's likely to take for fusion to power your home, the biggest problems fusion researchers are working to solve, and why it's important to continue funding fusion projects. They also delve into the specifics of tokamak operation, like dealing with disruption events and the limitations on reactor size, and provide some insight into fusion as a career. Hit the link below for a wealth of information about fusion.
linjaaho writes "Three major textbook publishers have sued a startup company making free and open textbooks, citing 'copyright infringement,' as the company is making similar textbooks using open material. From the article: 'The publishers' complaint takes issue with the way the upstart produces its open-education textbooks, which Boundless bills as free substitutes for expensive printed material. To gain access to the digital alternatives, students select the traditional books assigned in their classes, and Boundless pulls content from an array of open-education sources to knit together a text that the company claims is as good as the designated book. The company calls this mapping of printed book to open material "alignment" — a tactic the complaint said creates a finished product that violates the publishers' copyrights.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Amazon doesn't show off prototypes unless it is pretty confident about the tech, so you may be surprised to find the next Kindle is probably going to have a front-lit display. The lighting tech comes from a company they purchased back in 2010 called Oy Modilis. It specialized in such lighting and has patents related to whatever Amazon decided to use. The display is meant to be lit in a blue-white glow, and if it's anything like Flex lighting probably won't impact battery life too much. The question is, does anyone really want or need a light for their Kindle?"
An anonymous reader writes "I was looking at multimedia players from brands such as SumVision, Noontec and Western Digital. They all seem to be some device which accepts a USB hard-drive and commands from an IR remote control, and throws the result over HDMI. I have my own idea of what a hardware multimedia player should do (e.g. a personalized library screen for episodes, movies and documentaries; resume play; loudness control; etc.). I also think it will a good programming adventure because I will have to make the player compatible with more than a few popular codecs. Is this an FPGA arena? Or a mini-linux tv-box? Any advice, books or starting point to suggest?" There certainly have been a lot of products and projects in this domain over the years, but what's the best place to start in the year 2012?
New submitter artciousc writes with news that Amazon is dodging taxes in the UK. From the article: "Regulatory filings by parent company Amazon.com with the U.S. securities and exchange commission show the tax inquiry into the UK operation, which sells nearly one in four books sold in Britain, focuses on a period when ownership of the British business was transferred to a Luxembourg company." Clever trick there: "The UK operation avoids tax as the ownership of the main Amazon.co.uk business was transferred to a Luxembourg company in 2006. The UK business is now owned by Amazon EU Sarl and the UK operation is classed only as an 'order fulfilment' business." The HMRC is investigating the legality.
New submitter Volanin writes "The e-book versions of the Harry Potter series are being released through Pottermore, and J.K. Rowling has chosen to do a number of interesting things with them, including releasing them without DRM restrictions. 'One of the encouraging things about the Pottermore launch is that the books will be available on virtually every platform simultaneously, including the Sony Reader, the Nook, the Kindle and Google's e-book service. ... even Amazon has bowed to the power of the series and done what would previously have seemed unthinkable: it sends users who come to the titles on Amazon to Pottermore to finish the transaction.'"
New submitter MatthewVD writes "Boing Boing's Maggie Koerth-Baker, author of Before The Lights Go Out, writes that the era of giant hydroelectric projects like the Hoover Dam has passed. But the Department of Energy has identified 5,400 potential sites for small hydro projects of 30 MWs or less. The sites, in states as dry as Kansas, represent a total 18,000 MW of power — enough to increase by 50 percent America's hydro power. Even New York City's East River has pilot projects to produce power from underwater turbines. As we stare down global warming and peak oil, could small hydroelectric power be a key solution?"