s.s. nautilus
slashdot le : 30/06/2020 10:00:10
Scientists have gone back and forth over exactly what caused a mass extinction event 66 million years ago, which destroyed about 75% of all life on Earth, including all of the large dinosaurs. Some have thought that volcanic activity could be to blame, but one new study shows that a giant asteroid impact was the prime culprit. Space.com reports: In a new study, researchers from Imperial College London, the University of Bristol and University College London have shown that the asteroid impact, not volcanic activity, was the main reason that about 75% of life on Earth perished at that time, and it did so by significantly interfering with Earth's climate and ecosystems. To come to this conclusion, the researchers modeled how Earth's climate would be expected to respond to two separate possible extinction causes: volcanism and asteroid impact. In these mathematical models, they included environmental factors including rainfall and temperature, which would have been critical to the survival of these species. They also included the presence of sunlight-blocking gases and particles and carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. With these models, the team found that the giant asteroid hitting our planet would have released tremendous amounts of gas and particles into Earth's atmosphere, blocking out the sun for years on end. This effect would have created a sort of semi-permanent winter on Earth, making the planet unlivable for most of its inhabitants.

Now, while the team found the asteroid impact to be the major factor in making Earth unlivable for most animals, they also found that volcanic activity could have actually helped life to recover over time, a conclusion that scientists have drawn before. They found that, while volcanoes do release sunlight-blocking gases and particles, which would have helped to block the sun in the short term, they also release large amounts of carbon dioxide which, because it's a greenhouse gas, would have built up in the atmosphere and warmed the planet. So, as the researchers suggest in this work, while the devastating winter caused by the asteroid killed off most life on Earth, over time, the warming effect created from the volcanic greenhouse gases could have helped to restore life to habitats.
The study has been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

slashdot le : 19/06/2020 03:00:10
cold fjord writes: Sir Ian Holm, a classically trained actor celebrated for his interpretations of Shakespeare, and with an astonishing range of work in important science fiction and fantasy films, has died at age 88. Holm's depiction of King Lear was celebrated, and he brought Puck to life in "A Midsummer Night's Dream." But most people on Slashdot will remember him for a few other roles, such as Bilbo Baggins, in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, and two of the "Hobbit" movies. Holm also appeared in "Alien" as the android Ash, as Napoleon in "Time Bandits," and Cornelius in "The Fifth Element." Holm received a Tony Award in 1967, a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor in 1998, a BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role in 1981, and was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in Chariots of Fire. Holm received royal honors in 1989 and 1998.

slashdot le : 10/06/2020 05:00:10
Software developer Danny Bittman tweeted about how he's convinced that his eyesight was damaged from wearing a VR headset for hours a day. The BBC reports: Danny Bittman, who has worked as a virtual reality developer for four years, suggested it could have affected his eyesight. "Just had my first eye doctor visit in three years. Now I'm very worried about my future VR use. I have a new eye convergence problem that acts like dyslexia. The doc, a headset owner, is convinced my VR use caused this. He said "these glasses we usually prescribe to 40-year-olds," he tweeted. He went on to describe the problem: "My eyes jump when I read things like a screen or books. I've always had a small level of this but it's greatly intensified now. It's also linked to headaches and vertigo."

He said that the issue was about "prolonged use," and admitted that he could spend up to six hours a day wearing a headset, split into 30-minute sessions. Ceri Smith-Jaynes, from the Association of Optometrists, told the BBC: "We currently do not have any reliable evidence that VR headsets cause permanent deterioration in eyesight in children or adults. There have been some studies looking into the effects of short-term use of VR headsets only; these did not reveal a deterioration in eyesight. "However, some people do suffer from temporary symptoms such as nausea, dry, irritable eyes, headache or eyestrain." But she did have some advice about usage: "If you spend all day in VR without a break, you'll need time to readjust to the light and the different visual environment of the real world. I would suggest taking a five-to-ten minute break each hour, using that time to move about, blink and look out of a window, or take a short walk.

slashdot le : 07/06/2020 21:00:09
Last month Techcrunch reported that Mozilla had gone "full incubator" by holding a startup lab called Fix the Internet, followed by "a formal program dangling $75,000 investments in front of early-stage companies..."

Fix the Internet had many key themes, including collaboration and decentralization (as well as user-controlled data and privacy-protecting social networks). That event "drew the interest of some 1,500 people in 520 projects, and 25 were chosen to receive the full package and stipend during the development of their minimum viable product (MVP). Below that, as far as pecuniary commitment goes, is the 'MVP Lab,' similar to the spring program but offering a total of $16,000 per team."

And one of those MVP Lab teams is Meething, a new video conferencing and collaboration platform from the innovation lab ERA. Meething "aims to be more secure than existing video conferencing tools and run on a decentralized database engine and leverage peer-to-peer networking" according to ZDNet.

In their video interview with CEO Mark Nadal, he outlined the following selling points:
  • Browser based video conferencing gives customers better options for security as well as branding.
  • Open source architecture is a win and the peer-to-peer networking is more efficient on compute costs.
  • Meething doesn't require downloads or apps that increase the security attack surface.

    The total addressable market for video conferencing is large and can support multiple players.

Their press release quotes Mark Mayo, a former Chief Product Officer at Mozilla who served as Meething's mentor, arguing that video conferencing on the web "has long promised to enable a whole new world of online collaboration. Frankly, it hasn't delivered. It's been way too hard to build cool products with video and Meething aims to be the zero-barrier-to-entry platform that realizes this future. Soon, video conferencing won't suck!"

slashdot le : 06/06/2020 18:00:08
TechRepublic calls it "a tectonic shift in the landscape... a massive company showing serious support for both Ubuntu Linux and Red Hat Enterprise Linux."

Forbes reports: Beginning this month, Lenovo will certify its ThinkStation PCs and ThinkPad P Series laptops for both Ubuntu LTS and Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Every single model, every single configuration across the entire workstation portfolio. [ZDNet adds that the two Linux distros will also be preloaded.]

And it doesn't end there. "Going beyond the box, this also includes full web support, dedicated Linux forums, configuration guidance and more," says Rob Herman, General Manager, Executive Director Workstation & Client AI Group at Lenovo. We're not talking about just hardware certification, either. Lenovo will offer both Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Ubuntu LTS distributions pre-installed...

"What's more, Lenovo will also upstream device drivers directly to the Linux kernel, to help maintain stability and compatibility throughout the life of the workstation," says Herman. Lenovo and Fedora are already working together to enable fingerprint sensor support on select ThinkPads, and send that support upstream to benefit all Linux distributions (including firmware being available through LVFS). When I spoke to Mark Pearson, the Senior Linux Software Engineer even mentioned porting certain Windows-only PC management tools to Linux to aid in the overall effort.

TechRepublic notes the news "comes on the heels of a number of new Linux desktop support news. This year we've seen the rise of Purism, Tuxedo Computers, Pine64, Juno Computers, Vikings, Dell's continued support with the XPS Dev edition laptop and the Precision line, and now Lenovo."

They also argue for continued support for the smaller vendors of Linux hardware. "Companies like System76 are a big reason why desktop Linux continued climbing up that steep mountain called 'Acceptance.'" But their article concludes that "No matter which path you take, you now (as a Linux user) have more options."