On Friday we discussed news of researchers getting a quantum gas to go below absolute zero. There was confusion about exactly what that meant, and several commenters pointed out that negative temperatures have been achieved before. Now, Rutgers physics grad student Aatish Bhatia has written a comprehensible post for the layman about how negative temperatures work, and why they're not actually "colder" than absolute zero. Quoting: "...you first need to engineer a system that has an upper limit to its energy. This is a very rare thing – normal, everyday stuff that we interact with has kinetic energy of motion, and there is no upper bound to how much kinetic energy it can have. Systems with an upper bound in energy don’t want to be in that highest energy state. ...these systems have low entropy in (i.e. low probability of being in) their high energy state. You have to experimentally ‘trick’ the system into getting here. This was first done in an ingenious experiment by Purcell and Pound in 1951, where they managed to trick the spins of nuclei in a crystal of Lithium Fluoride into entering just such an unlikely high energy state. In that experiment, they maintained a negative temperature for a few minutes. Since then, negative temperatures have been realized in many experiments, and most recently established in a completely different realm, of ultracold atoms of a quantum gas trapped in a laser."
Have you META-MODERATED today? Sign up for the Slashdot Daily Newsletter! DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25.×
Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that Al Jazeera plans to start an English-language channel available in more than 40 million U.S. homes, with newscasts emanating from both New York and Doha, Qatar. They announced a deal to take over Current TV, the low-rated cable channel that was founded by Al Gore seven years ago. But the challenge will be persuading Americans to watch the award winning network with 71 bureaus around the world — an extremely tough proposition given the crowded television marketplace and the stereotypes about the channel that persist to this day. 'There are still people who will not watch it, who will say that it's a "terrorist network,"' says Philip Seib. 'Al Jazeera has to override that by providing quality news.' With a handful of exceptions, American cable and satellite distributors have mostly refused to carry Al Jazeera English since its inception in 2006. While the television sets of White House officials and lawmakers were tuned to the channel during the Arab Spring in 2011, ordinary Americans who wanted to watch had to find a live stream on the Internet. Al Jazeera's Robert Wheelock said, We offer an alternative. It's a broader coverage of news. It's a broader spectrum into countries that aren't traditionally covered.'"
aloniv writes "The reverse-engineered free/libre and open source driver for NVIDIA cards Nouveau has reached another milestone. 'The Nouveau driver in the current Linux 3.8 development branch has recently acquired everything that's necessary to support the 3D acceleration features of any GeForce graphics hardware. Together with a current version of libdrm and the Nouveau 3D driver in Mesa 3D 9.0, this allows Linux applications to use 3D acceleration even with the most recent GeForce graphics cards."
McGruber writes "Travel writer Christopher Elliott touches down with the news that the U.S. Transportation Security Administration was spotted standing around outside a recent American football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers (picture). According to Mr. Elliott, the 'TSA goes to NFL games and political conventions and all kinds of places that have little or nothing to do with ... travel. It even has a special division called VIPR — an unfortunate acronym for Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response team — that conducts these searches.' He continues, 'As far as I can tell, TSA is just asking questions at this point. "Data and results collected through the Highway BASE program will inform TSA's policy and program initiatives and allow TSA to provide focused resources and tools to enhance the overall security posture within the surface transportation community," it says in the filing. But they wouldn't be wasting our money asking such questions unless they planned to aggressively expand VIPR at some point in the near future. And that means TSA agents at NFL games, in subways and at the port won't be the exception anymore — they will be the rule.'"
cashman73 writes "My mother's six year old desktop computer finally bit the dust due to an electrical surge. It's out-of-warranty, and not really worth fixing. Plus, I'm 2,500 miles and two time zones away, so I can't exactly troubleshoot things from here. I recently got a new tablet, and even 80% of the things I do are done easier with it. Plus, she really likes the size, convenience, portability, and the screen. Virtually everything she does is simple web browsing, email, light photo sharing but no heavy editing, and other simple tasks. We're thinking that using a tablet as her sole 'computer' might be the best solution here. What are other Slashdotter's experiences using tablets without a separate desktop computer?"
An anonymous reader writes "The Forbes list of 'least stressful jobs' for 2013 is headlined by... university professors. This comes at a time in which the academic community has been featured on controversies about 100-hour week work journeys, doctors live on food stamps, tenured staff is laid off large science institutions, and the National Science Foundation suffers severe budget cuts, besides the well known (and sometimes publicized) politics of publish or perish. The Forbes reporter has received abundant feedback and published a shy, foot-note 'addendum'; however, the cited source, CareerCast (which does not map to any recognizable career journalist, but rather to a Sports writer), does not seem to have had the same luck. The comments of the Forbes reporter on the existence of a Summer break for graduates ('I am curious whether professors work that hard over the summer') are particularly noteworthy." Here is the CareerCast report the article is based on, and a list of the "stress factors" they considered. The author of the Forbes article passed on a very detailed explanation of how tough a university professor's job can be.
Julie188 writes "You know how HP said it uncovered $5 billion worth of 'improper' revenue at Autonomy? One thing HP has accused Autonomy of doing is booking software-as-a-service contracts as software licensing deals. So how might that type of accounting work? A former Autonomy salesperson fighting a legal battle with HP says she's seen it happen firsthand. She's shared internal Autonomy emails and documents that show the details of one deal. '[While working for software company CA, Virginia Briody] had closed a four-year $1.22 million hosting/software-as-a-service deal with a customer, Pioneer Investments, and was paid her full commission, over $100,000, she says. Autonomy bought the software unit from CA on June 9, 2010, and Briody became an employee of Autonomy and Autonomy inherited the Pioneer contract. But there was an issue. Autonomy didn't acquire all the pieces called for in the original contract, Briody says. It didn't have a partnership with the hosting facility and it didn't gain from CA a critical piece of compliance software the customer needed, she says. Autonomy needed to find substitutions or Pioneer would cancel the contract, Briody says. So in the fall of 2010, she signed a new deal with Pioneer and walked away with a four-year, $1.859 million contract of which Autonomy execs considered $1.8 million as new revenue, she says.'"
In a series of posts on his blog, military theorist John Robb outlines what he thinks will be the next big thing — "as big as the internet," as he puts it. It's DRONENET: an internet of drones to be used as an automated delivery service. The drones themselves would require no futuristic technology. Modern quadrotor drones are available today for a few hundred dollars, and drone usage would be shared across an open, decentralized network. Robb estimates the cost for a typical delivery at about $0.25 every 10 miles, and points out that the drones would fit well alongside many ubiquitous technologies; the drone network shares obvious parallels with the internet, the drones would use GPS already-common GPS navigation, and the industry would mesh well with the open source hardware/software community. Finally, Robb talks about the standards required for building the DRONENET: "Simple rules for drone weight, dimensions, service ceiling, and speed. Simple rules for battery swap and recharging (from battery type, dimension, etc.). Simple rules for package containers. Simple rules for the dimensions and capabilities of landing pads. ... Decentralized database and transaction system for coordinating the network. Rules for announcing a landing pad (information from GPS location and services provided) to the network. Rules for announcing a drone to the network (from altitude to speed to direction to destination). Cargo announcement to the network, weight, and routing (think: DNS routing). A simple system for allocating costs and benefits (a commercial overlay). This commercial system should handle everything from the costs of recharging a drone and/or swapping a battery to drone use."
An anonymous reader writes with news that Valve has updated its Hardware & Software Survey for December 2012, which reflects the first month of the platform being available for Linux. Even though the project is still in a beta test, players on Ubuntu already account for 0.8% of Steam usage. The 64-bit clients for Ubuntu 12.10 and 12.04.1 showed about double the share of the 32-bit versions. MacOS use also showed growth, rising to about 3.7%. Windows 7's usage share dropped by over 2%, but balanced by the growth of Windows 8, which is now at just under 7%. The total share for Windows is still about 95%.
colinneagle writes "The acknowledged leader of once prolific movie piracy group IMAGiNE was sent to prison this week for five years, one of the longest sentences ever handed down for criminal copyright infringement. In addition to his prison term, Jeramiah Perkins, 40, of Portsmouth, Va., was sentenced to serve three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $15,000 in restitution. On Aug. 29, 2012, Perkins pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement. According to the Department of Justice, Perkins was indicted along with three other defendants on April 18, 2012, for their roles in the IMAGiNE Group, an organized online piracy ring that sought to become the premier group to first release Internet copies of movies only showing in theaters. According to court documents, Perkins directed and participated in using receivers and recording devices in movie theaters to secretly capture the audio sound tracks of copyrighted movies. They then synchronized the audio files with illegally recorded video files to create completed movie files suitable for sharing over the Internet via BitTorrent file sharing technology."
paysonwelch points out John McAfee's latest blog post, which "details the complex spy network that he used to tap information from the highest echelons of the Belizean government. He might consider a new career as a movie producer — this blog post is enthralling. Here is an excerpt: 'I purchased 75 cheap laptop computers and, with trusted help, intalled invisible keystroke logging software on all of them — the kind that calls home (to me) and disgorges the text files. I began giving these away as presents to select people — government employees, police officers, Cabinet Minister's assistants, girlfriends of powerful men, boyfriends of powerful women.'"
This morning at 08:58 UTC a magnitude 7.5 earthquake struck off the coast of southeastern Alaska. The depth was just shy of 10km. The quake occurred roughly 106km from the city of Craig and about 341km from the capital city of Juneau. A tsunami warning was issued shortly after the quake, but later canceled when it became apparent that sea level changes would be minor, with no widespread destructive wave. The observed tsunami was no more than six inches high. The earthquake was felt on land, shaking houses and tossing objects to the floor, but as yet there are no reports of injuries. The U.S. Geological Survey said, 'At the location of this earthquake, the Pacific plate is moving approximately northwestward with respect to the North America plate at a velocity of 51 mm/yr. This earthquake is likely associated with relative motion across the Queen Charlotte fault system offshore of British Columbia, Canada, which forms the major expression of the Pacific:North America plate boundary in this region. The surrounding area of the plate boundary has hosted 8 earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater over the past 40 years."
Hugh Pickens writes "The Washington Post reports that 18-year-old Jacob Cox-Brown has been arrested after telling his Facebook network that he had hit a car while driving drunk, posting the message: 'Drivin drunk ... classsic ;) but to whoever's vehicle i hit i am sorry. :P' Two of Cox-Brown's friends saw the message and sent it along to two separate local police officers and after receiving the tip, police went to Cox-Brown's house and were able to match a vehicle there to one that had hit two others in the early hours of the morning. Police then charged the teen with two counts of failing to perform the duties of a driver. 'Astoria Police have an active social media presence,' says a press release from Astoria Police. 'It was a private Facebook message to one of our officers that got this case moving, though. When you post ... on Facebook, you have to figure that it is not going to stay private long.'"
An anonymous reader points out this "series of personal flight data visualizations, created from data collected through OpenFlights.org. The visualizations show key transport hubs (airports and countries) and the routes between them, for all flights taken by a friend of mine over the past 10+ years." What I wish this included: Indiana Jones-style red-dot animation showing the travel path over a spinning globe.
While he was vacationing with his wife, Kuro5hin founder Rusty Foster was killed — at least in the eyes of Facebook. NBC News details how it happened: a "pal" pranked both Foster and Facebook by notifying the social site of Foster's supposed death, providing as documentation the obituary of another, much older man by the same name. Getting the Facebook version of his life back took some doing; based on this article it seems much easier to convince Facebook that you're dead than that you're alive.