Oggi e' 28.04.2015
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  • The Engineer's Lament -- Prioritizing Car Safety Issues
    An anonymous reader writes: Malcolm Gladwell has an article in The New Yorker about how automotive engineers handle issues of safety. There have been tons of car-related recalls lately, and even before that, we'd often hear about how some piece of engineering on a car was leading to a bunch of deaths. Sometimes it was a mistake, and sometimes it was an intentional design. But we hear about these issues through the lens of sensationalized media and public outrage — the engineers working on these problems understand better that it's how you drive that gets you into trouble far more than what you drive. For example, the Ford Pinto became infamous for catching fire in crashes back in the 1970s. Gladwell says, "That's a rare event—it happens once in every hundred crashes. In 1975-76, 1.9 per cent of all cars on the road were Pintos, and Pintos were involved in 1.9 per cent of all fatal fires. Let's try again. About fifteen per cent of fatal fires resulted from rear collisions. If we look just at that subset of the subset, Schwartz shows, we finally see a pattern. Pintos were involved in 4.1 per cent of all rear-collision fire fatalities—which is to say that they may have been as safe as or safer than other cars in most respects but less safe in this one. ... You and I would feel safer in a car that met the 301 standard. But the engineer, whose aim is to maximize safety within a series of material constraints, cannot be distracted by how you and I feel."

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  • Holographic Principle Could Apply To Our Universe
    New submitter citpyrc sends this news from the Vienna University of Technology: The "holographic principle" asserts that a mathematical description of the universe actually requires one fewer dimension than it seems. What we perceive as three dimensional may just be the image of two dimensional processes on a huge cosmic horizon. Up until now, this principle has only been studied in exotic spaces with negative curvature. This is interesting from a theoretical point of view, but such spaces are quite different from the space in our own universe. Results obtained by scientists at Vienna (abstract) now suggest that the holographic principle even holds in a flat spacetime, like ours.

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  • An Open Ranking of Wikipedia Pages
    vigna writes: The Laboratory for Web Algorithmics of the Università degli studi di Milano did it again: after creating the first open ranking of the World Wide Web they have put together the first entirely open ranking of Wikipedia, using Wikidata to categorize pages. The ranking is based on classic and easily explainable centrality measures or page views, and it is entirely open — all data (Wikipedia and Wikidata dumps) and all software used is publicly available. Just in case you wonder, the most important food is chocolate, the most important band are the Beatles and the most important idea is atheism.

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  • Alibaba Looks To Rural China To Popularize Its Mobile OS
    itwbennett writes: E-commerce giant Alibaba Group hasn't given up on its YunOS mobile operating system, and is taking the software to China's rural markets through a series of low-cost phones, which will be built by lesser-known Chinese brands and will range from 299 yuan ($49) to 699 yuan. Slashdot readers may remember that in 2012, Google claimed it was a variant of its Android OS, sparking a clash that threatened to derail Alibaba's effort to popularize the mobile OS.

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  • Texas Admonishes Judge For Posting Facebook Updates About Her Trials
    An anonymous reader writes: Michelle Slaughter, a Galveston County judge, says she will appeal a public admonition from state officials that criticized her Facebook posts about cases brought before her court. From the article: "The State Commission on Judicial Conduct ordered Michelle Slaughter, a Galveston County judge, to enroll in a four-hour class on the 'proper and ethical use of social media by judges.' The panel concluded that the judge's posts cast 'reasonable doubt' on her impartiality. At the beginning of a high-profile trial last year in which a father was accused of keeping his nine-year-old son in a six-foot by eight-foot wooden box, the judge instructed jurors not to discuss the case against defendant David Wieseckel with anyone. 'Again, this is by any means of communication. So no texting, e-mailing, talking person to person or on the phone or on Facebook. Any of that is absolutely forbidden,' the judge told jurors. But Slaughter didn't take her own advice, leading to her removal from the case and a mistrial. The defendant eventual was acquitted of unlawful-restraint-of-a-child charges."

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  • Imagination To Release Open MIPS Design To Academia
    DeviceGuru writes: Imagination Technologies has developed a Linux-ready academic version of its 32-bit MIPS architecture MicroAptiv processor design, and is giving it away free to universities for use in computer research and education. As the MIPSfpga name suggests, the production-quality RTL (register transfer level) design abstraction is intended to run on industry standard FPGAs. Although MIPSfpga is available as a fully visible RTL design, MIPSfpga is not fully open source, according to the announcement from Robert Owen, Manager of Imagination's University Programme. Academic users can use and modify MIPSfpga as they wish, but cannot build it into silicon. "If you modify it, you must talk to us first if you wish to patent the changes," writes Owen.

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  • Supreme Court To Consider Data Aggregation Suit Against Spokeo
    BUL2294 writes: Consumerist and Associated Press are reporting that the Supreme Court has taken up the case of Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins — a case where Spokeo, as a data aggregator, faces legal liability and Fair Credit Reporting Act violations for providing information on Thomas Robins, an individual who has not suffered "a specific harm" directly attributable to the inaccurate data Spokeo collected on him. From SCOTUSblog: "Robins, who filed a class-action lawsuit, claimed that Spokeo had provided flawed information about him, including that he had more education than he actually did, that he is married although he remains single, and that he was financially better off than he actually was. He said he was unemployed and looking for work, and contended that the inaccurate information would make it more difficult for him to get a job and to get credit and insurance." So, while not suffering a specific harm, the potential for harm based on inaccurate data exists. Companies such as Facebook and Google are closely watching this case, given the potential of billions of dollars of liability for selling inaccurate information on their customers and other people.

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