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College Board Puts Code.org In Charge of AP CS Program

Fri, 05/15/2015 - 08:39
theodp writes: "The College Board," reports GeekWire, "is endorsing Code.org as a coursework and teacher training provider for its upcoming AP Computer Science Principles course and will help Code.org fund the teacher training work required to establish new computer science classes." So what's the catch? "Schools that commit to using the [new] PSAT [8/9 assessment] to identify middle school students who have potential for success in computer science will be eligible to receive curriculum, training, and funding for programming classes." The organization is bankrolled by some of tech's wealthiest leaders and their corporations. Code.org board member Brad Smith, Microsoft's General Counsel, proposed the idea of "producing a crisis" to advance Microsoft's "two-pronged" National Talent Strategy to increase K-12 CS education and the number of H-1B visas. Just months thereafter, nonprofit organizations Code.org and Mark Zuckerberg's FWD.us, which is lobbying for H-1B reform, were born.

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Kepler Observes Neptune Dancing With Its Moons

Fri, 05/15/2015 - 07:57
New submitter Liquid Tip writes: NASA's K2 mission has the capability to stare continuously at a single field of stars for months at time. A new video shows K2 observations spanning 70 days from November, 2014 through January, 2015 reduced to a time-lapse of 34 seconds. During this time, we see some distant members of our Solar System passing through the K2 field-of-view. This includes some asteroids and the giant outer planet Neptune, which appears at day 15. A keen-eyed observer will also notice an object circling Neptune: its large moon, Triton, which orbits every 5.8 days. The fainter moon Nereid can be seen tracing Neptune's motion.

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Galaxies Die By Slow "Strangulation"

Fri, 05/15/2015 - 07:14
HughPickens.com writes: BBC reports that results of a study of the spectrum of light emitted by 23,000 red, passive galaxies and 4,000 blue, star-forming ones shows that when galaxies stop making stars, their death is usually a slow process that chokes them of the necessary cool gases over about four billion years. Astronomers surveyed thousands of galaxies, living and dead, to assess whether the transition is rapid or slow. In the dead galaxies they detected high levels of metals, which build up during star formation and point to a slow strangulation process. "Metals are a powerful tracer of the history of star formation: the more stars that are formed by a galaxy, the more metal content you'll see," says Dr Yingjie Peng. "So looking at levels of metals in dead galaxies should be able to tell us how they died." Astronomer Andrea Cattaneo from the Observatoire de Paris compares this tell-tale evidence to the high levels of carbon dioxide seen in a strangled human body. "During [strangulation], the victim uses up oxygen in the lungs but keeps producing carbon dioxide, which remains trapped in the body," wrote Dr Cattaneo. "Instead of building up CO2, the strangled galaxies accumulate metals — elements heavier than helium — produced by massive stars." On average, living, star-forming galaxies were four billion years younger than the dead ones. This matches the amount of time that the astronomers calculate would be needed for the galaxies to burn up their remaining gas supply during the strangulation. "This is the first conclusive evidence that galaxies are being strangled to death," says Peng. "What's next though, is figuring out what's causing it. In essence, we know the cause of death, but we don't yet know who the murderer is, although there are a few suspects."

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A Plan On How To Stop Sexism In Science

Fri, 05/15/2015 - 06:29
StartsWithABang writes: If there's nothing else that science has to offer, it's this elegant notion: that anyone, anywhere, at anytime, can investigate and uncover the mysteries and workings of the Universe simply by asking it the right questions in the right ways, listening to its answers, and putting the pieces together for themselves. Anyone can do it. Only, for various and sundry reasons, not everyone gets to do it. Some people don't have the economic ability, some don't have the sustained drive or interest, and some simply can't cut the mustard. But some people — some really, really good people — are driven from their passions for a sad, simple and completely unnecessary fact: that they were treated in unacceptable ways that they refused to just accept. And in a great many cases, that unacceptable treatment came simply because of their gender. Sexism sometimes looks like what you expect, and sometimes not. Here's one opinion on what we can all do about it to create the world we really want: where science really is for everyone.

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Scientists Discover First Warm-Blooded Fish

Fri, 05/15/2015 - 04:34
sciencehabit writes: The opah lives in the dark, chilly depths of the world's oceans, using heated blood to keep warm. It's the first fish found to be fully warm-blooded. Certain sharks and tuna can warm regions of their body such as swimming muscles and the brain but must return to the surface to protect vital organs from the effects of the cold. The opah on the other hand, generates heat from its pectoral muscles, and conserves that warmth thanks to body fat and the special structure of its gills. “It’s a remarkable adaptation for a fish,” says Diego Bernal, a fish physiologist at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth.

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Are We Entering a "Golden Age of Quantum Computing Research"?

Fri, 05/15/2015 - 02:06
Lashdots writes: Last month, an elite team at IBM Research team announced an advance in quantum computing: it had built a four-qubit square lattice of superconducting qubits, roughly one-quarter-inch square, that was capable of detecting and measuring the two types of quantum computing errors (bit-flip and phase-flip). Previously, it was only possible to address one type of quantum error or the other. The next step is to correct quantum errors. In a blog post, Mark Ritter, who oversees scientists and engineers at IBM's T.J. Watson Research Laboratory, wrote: "I believe we're entering what will come to be seen as the golden age of quantum computing research." His team, he said, is "on the forefront of efforts to create the first true quantum computer." But what would that mean, and what other big next steps are there?

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