ideonexus writes "Republicans in North Carolina are floating a bill that would force planners to only consider historical data in predicting the sea-level rise (SLR) for the state as opposed to considering projections that take Global Warming into account. NC-20, the pro-development lobbying group representing twenty counties along the NC coast, is behind the effort and asserts that the one-meter prediction would prohibit development on too much land as opposed to SLR predictions of 3.9 to 15.6 inches." Scientific American has an acerbic take on the bill.
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
thomas.kane writes "SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft has successfully reentered and is now safely in the waters of the Pacific Ocean after more than 9 days in space. The Dragon capsule became the first commercial spacecraft to dock with the International Space Station on May 25; SpaceX is contracted by NASA for at least 12 more flights in the coming months bringing supplies to the space station and returning science done on board back to Earth." Reader MightyMartian adds a link to coverage at the BBC.
An anonymous reader writes "NYC residents may soon be unable to buy big gulps. In an effort to curb obesity, New York City's Mayor Bloomberg is seeking a ban on oversized sodas in restaurants, movie theaters and stadiums officials said on Wednesday. 'Obesity is a nationwide problem, and all over the U.S., public health officials are wringing their hands saying, "Oh, this is terrible,"' Mayor Bloomberg said. 'New York City is not about wringing your hands; it's about doing something. I think that's what the public wants the mayor to do.'"
Did you know that cockroaches have such large nerves in their legs that you can poke into their legs almost at random and hit a nerve with an electrode so you can stimulate that leg with hip-hop music and and watch it move? And that you can easily order the parts to do this at home or at school? You can. And supplies to perform many other neuroscience experiments, too. Amaze your friends! Learn how neurons work! Gross out squeamish people! All that (and more) is what Backyard Brains is about.
An anonymous reader writes "Eric Stackpole is a NASA engineer and avid outdoorsman. He is the chief designer of a cheap, portable underwater ROV that could change the way we explore our oceans. And he wants to make it so cheap and easy to build that anyone can do it. The device in question is the OpenROV, a small, lasercut contraption powered by several C-cells, a small, cheap computer and a webcam. Right now the price per vehicle is around $500-$600, As with all open source hardware projects, further development will likely drastically reduce the price. Or you can buy a kit for $750 and support the project, once the Kickstarter gets going."
coondoggie writes "Space tourism company Virgin Galactic today said its spacecraft developer has been granted an experimental launch permit from the Federal Aviation Administration to begin rocket-powered testing of its spaceships. With the FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation permit, Scaled Composites and its SpaceShipTwo craft will be able to test the aerodynamic performance of the spacecraft with the full weight of the rocket motor system on board. Integration of key rocket motor components, already underway, will continue into the autumn."
An anonymous reader writes "In the 60s and 70s Sweden, Russia and Finland were the foremost players in the game of ore dogs, using dogs to sniff out ore deposits for mining. The technique was forgotten in the last century, but this article shows they're now being used again to discover ore deposits. From the article: 'The keen noses of sniffer dogs are proving so successful at locating ore that even the mining giants are sitting up and taking notice. Berenice Baker talks to Peter Bergman, geologist and CEO of the Swedish company OreDog, about his plans to turn the canine skills into a multi-million dollar global industry providing exploration services for the mining industry while offering a Google-like working environment for staff.'"
scibri writes "Sagittarius A*, the dormant supermassive black hole that lies at the center of our galaxy, was much more active not that long ago. Astronomers using the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope have picked up some faint gamma-ray signals that suggest Sagittarius A* was emitting a pair of powerful gamma-ray jets like other galactic black holes as recently as 20,000 years ago (arXiv paper). If our black hole was more active in the past, it could explain why Sagittarius A* seems to be growing about 1,000 times too slowly for it to have reached its current mass of about four million solar masses since the Galaxy formed about 13.2 billion years ago."
The Bad Astronomer writes "Next week, on June 5/6, there will be the last Venus transit across the face of the Sun until the year 2117. There are dozens of sites issuing press releases about it — online resources, watching live, viewing advice — so I've collected them into a single blog post with tons of links and my own advice on how to observe this (most likely) last-in-a-lifetime event. This complements the previous article on Slashdot from a few weeks ago."
SicariusMan writes "The age old question: do Guinness and other stouts' bubbles really sink, or is it an optical illusion? Well, some mathematicians have figured it out." Full paper via arXiv; From the article: "To analyze the effect of different glass shapes, the mathematicians modeled Guinness beer containing randomly distributed bubbles in both a pint glass and an anti-pint glass (i.e., an upside-down pint). An elongated swirling vortex forms in both glasses, but in the anti-pint glass the vortex rotates in the opposite direction, causing an upward flow of fluid and bubbles near the wall of the glass."
Zothecula writes with an update on NASA's lunar mapping probes. From the article: "After entering orbit around the Moon at the start of the year, NASA's twin GRAIL probes, Ebb and Flow, have completed their primary mission to study the Moon's interior structure ahead of schedule. Operating around the clock since March 8, NASA says the spacecraft have provided unprecedented detail about the interior structure and evolution of the Moon and the data they have gathered will provide insights into how Earth and its rocky neighbors in the inner solar system developed." And their extended mission? From NASA: "The extended mission goal is to take an even closer look at the moon's gravity field. To achieve this, GRAIL mission planners will halve their current operating altitude to the lowest altitude that can be safely maintained. 'Orbiting at an average altitude of 14 miles (23 kilometers) during the extended mission, the GRAIL twins will be clearing some of the moon's higher surface features by about 5 miles (8 kilometers),' said Joe Beerer of JPL, GRAIL's mission manager."
ananyo writes with information on a new scheme to help uniquely identify authors in the face of ambiguous names. From the article: "In 2011, Y. Wang was the world's most prolific author of scientific publications, with 3,926 to their name — a rate of more than 10 per day. Never heard of them? That's because they are a mixture of many different Y. Wangs, each indistinguishable in the scholarly record. The launch later this year of the Open Researcher and Contributor ID (ORCID), an identifier system that will distinguish between authors who share the same name, could soon solve the problem, allowing research papers to be associated correctly with their true author. Instead of filling out personal details on countless electronic forms associated with submitting papers or applying for grants, a researcher could also simply type in his or her ORCID number. Various fields would be completed automatically by pulling in data from other authorized sources, such as databases of papers, citations, grants and contact details. ORCID does not intend to offer such services itself; the idea is that other organizations will use the open-access ORCID database to build their own services."
New submitter jamstar7 writes "Following the success of the Falcon9/Dragon resupply test to the ISS comes the following announcement: 'Intelsat, the world's leading provider of satellite services, and Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), the world's fastest growing space launch company, announced the first commercial contract for the Falcon Heavy rocket. "SpaceX is very proud to have the confidence of Intelsat, a leader in the satellite communication services industry," said Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO and Chief Designer. "The Falcon Heavy has more than twice the power of the next largest rocket in the world. With this new vehicle, SpaceX launch systems now cover the entire spectrum of the launch needs for commercial, civil and national security customers."' As of yet, the Falcon Heavy hasn't flown, but all the parts have been tested. Essentially an upgunned Falcon 9 with additional boosters, the Heavy has lift capability second only to the Saturn 5. On top of the four Falcon Heavy launches planned for the U.S. Air Force this year, the Intelsat contract represents the true dawn of the commercial space age."
An anonymous reader writes "The BBC has an article about scientists at NASA who believe that they have found a new test that can detect osteoporosis earlier than existing tests. Their test involved having healthy volunteers confined to bed rest for 30 days; 'the technique was able to detect bone loss after as little as one week of bed rest.' Bone loss is an issue for astronauts as well as people affected by osteoporosis. They expect this test will help detect bone loss as a symptom of osteoporosis, but have not yet done a trial to confirm this. This is another point against anyone who claims NASA, and going to space in general, is a complete waste of money."
New submitter gmfeier writes "An interesting study reported in Nature Climate Change indicates that concern over climate change did not correlate with scientific literacy nearly as much as with cultural polarization. Quoting: 'For ordinary citizens, the reward for acquiring greater scientific knowledge and more reliable technical-reasoning capacities is a greater facility to discover and use—or explain away—evidence relating to their groups’ positions. Even if cultural cognition serves the personal interests of individuals, this form of reasoning can have a highly negative impact on collective decision making. What guides individual risk perception, on this account, is not the truth of those beliefs but rather their congruence with individuals’ cultural commitments. As a result, if beliefs about a societal risk such as climate change come to bear meanings congenial to some cultural outlooks but hostile to others, individuals motivated to adopt culturally congruent risk perceptions will fail to converge, or at least fail to converge as rapidly as they should, on scientific information essential to their common interests in health and prosperity. Although it is effectively costless for any individual to form a perception of climate-change risk that is wrong but culturally congenial, it is very harmful to collective welfare for individuals in aggregate to form beliefs this way.'"