s.s. nautilus
slashdot le : 04/12/2023 03:00:14
Trevor Jacob, a daredevil YouTuber who deliberately crashed a plane for views in a moneymaking scheme, has been sentenced to six months in federal prison. Jacob posted a video of himself in 2021 parachuting out of a plane that he claimed had malfunctioned. In reality, the aircraft was purposely abandoned and crashed into the Los Padres National Forest in Southern California. From a report: Jacob pleaded guilty to one felony count of destruction and concealment with the intent to obstruct a federal investigation on June 30. "It appears that (Jacob) exercised exceptionally poor judgment in committing this offense," prosecutors said in the release. "(Jacob) most likely committed this offense to generate social media and news coverage for himself and to obtain financial gain. Nevertheless, this type of 'daredevil' conduct cannot be tolerated."

Jacob received a sponsorship from a company and had agreed to promote the company's wallet in the YouTube video that he would post. [...] The release said Jacob lied to federal investigators when he filed a report that falsely indicated his plane lost full power approximately 35 minutes into the flight. He also lied to a Federal Aviation Administration aviation safety inspector when he said he had parachuted out of the plane when the airplane's engine had quit because he could not identify any safe landing options.

slashdot le : 15/11/2023 23:00:15
Nasa's James Webb space telescope has revealed a planet where specks of sand fall as rain, in groundbreaking observations. From a report: The planet, Wasp-107b, lies 200 light years away in the Virgo constellation and had already caught the attention of astronomers because it is very large but very light, earning it the nickname the "candy floss" planet. The latest observations give an unprecedented glimpse of a strange and exotic world beyond our solar system that features silicate sand clouds and rain, scorching temperatures, raging winds and the distinct burnt-matches scent of sulphur dioxide. "Our knowledge of other planets is based on what we know from Earth," said Prof Leen Decin, of the Catholic Institute (KU) Leuven and first author of the research. "That's a very restricted knowledge."

The planet was discovered in 2017 after astronomers spotted a telltale periodic flickering of light from its host star each time the planet passed in front of it. "It's like a fly in front of a street lamp," said Decin. "You see a slight dimming of the light." James Webb takes these observations to the next level by measuring starlight that is filtered through the planet's atmosphere. Because different elements absorb different wavelengths of light, the spectrum of starlight indicates which gases are present. Wasp-107b is similar in mass to Neptune but almost the size of Jupiter, and its vast, diffuse nature allows the James Webb telescope to peer deep into its atmosphere.

slashdot le : 08/11/2023 09:00:22
AmiMoJo shares a report from the BBC: Europe's Euclid telescope is ready to begin its quest to understand the greatest mysteries in the Universe. Exquisite imagery from the space observatory shows its capabilities to be exceptional. Over the next six years, Euclid will survey a third of the heavens to get some clues about the nature of so-called dark matter and dark energy. The 1.4 billion euro Euclid telescope went into space in July. Since then, engineers have been fine-tuning it. There were some early worries. Initially, Euclid's optics couldn't lock on to stars to take a steady image. This required new software for the telescope's fine guidance sensor. Engineers also found some stray light was polluting pictures when the observatory was pointed in a certain way. But with these issues all now resolved, Euclid is good to go -- as evidenced by the release of five sample images on Tuesday. "No previous space telescope has been able to combine the breadth, depth and sharpness of vision that Euclid can," notes the BBC. "The astonishing James Webb telescope, for example, has much higher resolution, but it can't cover the amount of sky that Euclid does in one shot."

slashdot le : 05/11/2023 19:00:15
Scientists recently noticed that the chemical fingerprint of meteor particles was starting to change.

And last month Purdue University announced that "The Space Age is leaving fingerprints on one of the most remote parts of the planet — the stratosphere — which has potential implications for climate, the ozone layer and the continued habitability of Earth." Using tools hitched to the nose cone of their research planes and sampling more than 11 miles above the planet's surface, researchers have discovered significant amounts of metals in aerosols in the atmosphere, likely from increasingly frequent launches and returns of spacecraft and satellites. That mass of metal is changing atmospheric chemistry in ways that may impact Earth's atmosphere and ozone layer...

Led by Dan Murphy, an adjunct professor in Purdue's Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences and a researcher at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the team detected more than 20 elements in ratios that mirror those used in spacecraft alloys. They found that the mass of lithium, aluminum, copper and lead from spacecraft reentry far exceeded those metals found in natural cosmic dust. Nearly 10% of large sulfuric acid particles — the particles that help protect and buffer the ozone layer — contained aluminum and other spacecraft metals.

Thanks to long-time Slashdot reader AmiMoJo for sharing the article.

slashdot le : 04/11/2023 21:00:16
A long read at the Verge explores the quality of Google's search results — and whether they've been affected by the Search Engine Optimization industry.

But it begins by saying that "A lot of folks' complain that "The links that pop up when they go looking for answers online, they say, are "absolutely unusable"; "garbage"; and "a nightmare" because "a lot of the content doesn't feel authentic."

If so, the question is why. SEO Daron Babin warns that "We're entering a very weird time, technologically, with AI, from an optimization standpoint... All the assholes that are out there paying shitty link-building companies to build shitty articles, now they can go and use the free version of GPT." Soon, he said, Google results would be even worse, dominated entirely by AI-generated crap designed to please the algorithms, produced and published at volumes far beyond anything humans could create, far beyond anything we'd ever seen before. "They're not gonna be able to stop the onslaught of it," he said. Then he laughed and laughed, thinking about how puny and irrelevant Google seemed in comparison to the next generation of automated SEO. "You can't stop it...!"

Nowadays, he mostly invests in cannabis and psychedelics. SEO just got to be too complicated for not enough money, he told me. [SEO Missy] Ward had told me the same thing, that she had stopped focusing on SEO years ago.

But the Verge also spoke to Danny Sullivan, the former journalist who started the SEO-industry site Search Engine Land — who was eventually hired by Google as their "public liaison for serach." And Sullivan "is pissed that people think Google results have gone downhill. Because they haven't, he insisted. If anything, search results have gotten a lot better over time. Anyone who thought search quality was worse needed to take a hard look in the mirror." Sullivan was not the only person who tried to tell me that search results have improved significantly. Out of the dozen-plus SEOs that I spoke with at length, nearly every single one insisted that search results are way better than they used to be...

This was not what I had been noticing, and this was certainly not what I had been hearing from friends and journalists and friends who are journalists. Were all of us wrong...? I began to worry all the people who were mad about search results were upset about something that had nothing to do with metrics and everything to do with feelings and ~vibes~ and a universal, non-Google-specific resentment and rage about how the internet has made our lives so much worse in so many ways, dividing us and deceiving us and provoking us and making us sadder and lonelier.

SEO Lily Ray says Google did change its algorithm in 2016 to fight disinformation, trying to favor sites with "experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness." But the point that really hit me was that for certain kinds of information, Google had undone one of the fundamental elements of what had made its results so appealing from the start. Now, instead of wild-west crowdsourcing, search was often reinforcing institutional authority...

The second major reason why Google results feel different lately was, of course, SEO... Google is harder to game now — it's true. But the sheer volume of SEO bait being produced is so massive and so complex that Google is overwhelmed. "It's exponentially worse," Ray said. "People can mass auto-generate content with AI and other tools," she went on, and "in many cases, Google's algorithms take a minute to catch onto it."

The future that Babin had cackled about at the alligator party was already here. We humans and our pedestrian questions were getting caught up in a war of robots fighting robots, of Google's algorithms trying to find and stop the AI-enabled sites programmed by SEOs from infecting our internet experience.