Education

MIT Celebrates 10 Years of SCIgen Bogus CompSci Paper Generator With New Tool 13 13

alphadogg writes Three MIT grads this week are celebrating the 10th anniversary of their clever SCIgen program, which randomly generates computer science papers realistic enough to get accepted by sketchy technical conferences and publishers, with a brand new tool designed to poke even more fun at such outfits. Just a bit late for April Fool's Day, the new SCIpher program from the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab alums enables users to hide messages inside randomly-generated calls for papers from phony conferences whose names are so ridiculous that they sound legit. An MIT spokesman says the new tool is really just a way for geeky friends to mess with each other, whereas SCIgen pointed out major flaws in the worlds of scientific journals and conferences.
Education

German Teenager Gets Job Offer By Trying To Use FOI For His Exam Papers 114 114

Bruce66423 writes "A German schoolboy has taken exam preparation to ingenious new levels by making a freedom of information request to see the questions in his forthcoming Abitur tests, the equivalent of A-levels in the UK." and SATS in the USA. The media attention from his FoI request has already garnered him an offer of work from another transparency-related organization, the research website Correctiv. “If I have time before university starts I’ll definitely do it,” he said.
Facebook

Judge Allows Divorce Papers To Be Served Via Facebook 95 95

An anonymous reader writes Want to divorce your husband or wife but can't give them the papers in person? Just use Facebook. No, apparently this isn't a late April Fools' joke. The New York Daily News reports Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Matthew Cooper has allowed 26-year-old Ellanora Baidoo to serve her husband Victor Sena Blood-Dzraku divorce papers via a Facebook message. In fact, Baidoo won't even be the one sending the message. Her lawyer has been granted permission to message Blood-Dzraku using her account. "This transmittal shall be repeated by plaintiff's attorney to defendant once a week for three consecutive weeks or until acknowledged," the ruling states.
Math

Pi Day Extraordinaire 107 107

First time accepted submitter DrTJ writes Today is Pi day. This year is a bit more extraordinary as it is 3/14/15 (in American date format). To celebrate, USA Today has posted a number of videos of kids reciting Pi, one of them to 8,784 digits. The Washington Post highlights the story of a couple who decided to make it their special day. "Donahue, 33, a Legal Aid attorney, fell for Karmel’s geeky side as soon as they met. On a beach vacation with her friends in 2012, a psychic told her, 'You are about to meet your soulmate.' Three days later, she walked into Kostume Karaoke night at Solly’s Tavern along the U Street corridor and saw a man onstage croaking out the Backstreet Boys’s 'I Want It That Way.' By the end of the night, he would be serenading her with Cake’s 'The Distance' — the song the DJ will play when they cut the pie."
Idle

Major Museums Start Banning Selfie Sticks 183 183

An anonymous reader shares these articles about museums banning the dreaded selfie stick. "Selfie sticks, the logical 'extension' of an already irksome activity, were recently banned in Premier League soccer stadiums. Now museums around the world are starting to do the same over worries of accidental damage to artwork. The Smithsonian barred their use effective last week as a 'preventative measure to protect visitors and museum objects,' especially on crowded days. Meanwhile, a formal ban is pending at Versailles palace and Centre Pompidou in France, and visitors are now being told to stow their sticks by guards at the Louvre. Both Pompidou and the Louvre will continue to allow regular photography and selfies."
Canada

Star Trek Fans Told To Stop "Spocking" Canadian $5 Bill 223 223

bellwould writes The Toronto Sun is reporting that Bank of Canada executives are urging Star Trek fans to stop altering Wilfred Laurier's face on the Canadian $5 bill to look like Spock. Although not illegal to draw on the bills, a Bank of Canada spokesperson points out that the markings may reduce effectiveness of the security features or worse, the money may not be accepted.
Math

Statistical Mechanics Finds Best Places To Hide During Zombie Apocalypse 247 247

HughPickens.com writes Eric Mack reports at Cnet that a team of researchers at Cornell University, inspired by the book "World War Z" by Max Brooks, have used statistical-mechanics to model how an actual zombie outbreak might unfold and determined the best long-term strategy for surviving the walking dead: Head for the hills. Specifically, you should probably get familiar now with the general location of Glacier National Park so that when it all goes down, you can start heading in that direction. The project started with differential equations to model a fully connected population, then moved on to lattice-based models, and ended with a full US-scale simulation of an outbreak across the continental US. "At their heart, the simulations are akin to modeling chemical reactions taking place between different elements and, in this case, we have four states a person can be in--human," says Alex Alemi, "infected, zombie, or dead zombie--with approximately 300 million people."

Alemi believes cities would succumb to the zombie scourge quickly, but the infection rate would slow down significantly in more sparsely populated areas and could take months to reach places like the Northern Rockies and Glacier National Park. "Given the dynamics of the disease, once the zombies invade more sparsely populated areas, the whole outbreak slows down--there are fewer humans to bite, so you start creating zombies at a slower rate," Alemi says. Once you hit Montana and Idaho, you might as well keep heading farther north into the Canadian Rockies and all the way up to Alaska where data analysis shows you're most likely to survive the zombie apocalypse. The state with the lowest survival rate? — New Jersey. Unfortunately a full scale simulation of an outbreak in the United States shows that for `realistic' parameters, we are largely doomed.
Idle

The Science of a Bottomless Pit 122 122

StartsWithABang writes It's the ultimate dream of many children with time on their hands and their first leisurely attempt at digging: to go clear through the Earth to the other side, creating a bottomless pit. Most of us don't get very far in practice, but in theory, it should be possible to construct one, and consider what would happen to a very clever test subject who took all the proper precautions, and jumped right in. Here's what you would have to do to travel clear through the Earth, come out the other side, and make the return trip to right back where you started.
Businesses

LG Exec Indicted Over Broken Samsung Washing Machine 132 132

itwbennett writes Jo Seong-jin, the head of LG's home appliance division, was indicted Sunday by prosecutors in Seoul for allegedly damaging Samsung Electronics' washing machines before the IFA electronics show in Berlin last September. The company says it was his regular practice to test the rival company's machines, something he has done while working for LG for the past 38 years, and has released closed-circuit television footage in his defense showing him testing Samsung products including washing machines, dish washers and refrigerators. Jo and two other employees are charged with vandalism, defamation and obstruction of business.
Businesses

Video The Oddball Side of CES (Video) 35 35

In between nodding earnestly as hopeful exhibitors told him how wonderful their products were, Slashdot's Timothy Lord took a look at some of the less-serious displays and goings-on at CES. Some of these people and companies no doubt take themselves 100% seriously, but after grueling days patrolling the endless exhibits at this giant show, Timothy was looking at them through tired (and cynical) eyes. This short video shows some of what he saw.
The Almighty Buck

Hobbyists Selling Tesla Coil Kits To Fund Drone Flight Over North Korea 175 175

An anonymous reader writes Imagine for a moment having at your fingertips the ability to send a small robotic messenger — a minion if you will — virtually anywhere in the world and back. Sure, you've seen those fun little drone toys at the mall and perhaps you have had a friend that likes to tinker around with model airplanes, but what you are about to see unfold here is genuinely an unprecedented work of good 'ol fashioned American ingenuity. Apparently a group of hackers has started a kickstarter to build and fly a small drone over North Korea and back and is selling mini tesla coils to do this. "All of the money from this project will be used to extend the distance our drone can fly, so the more backers we have, the farther it will be able to go," they say.
Lord of the Rings

Texas Boy Suspended For "Threatening" Classmate With the One Ring 591 591

An anonymous reader writes Nine-year-old Aiden Steward has been suspended by officials at a Texas school after he allegedly threatened to use his magic ring to make another boy disappear. His father says the family had watched The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies last weekend. His son brought a ring to class and told another boy his magic ring could make the boy disappear. "I assure you my son lacks the magical powers necessary to threaten his friend's existence," Aiden's father wrote in an email. "If he did, I'm sure he'd bring him right back." Principal Roxanne Greer declined to comment on the school's zero tolerance policy on magic rings. It may seem easy to make fun of Principal Greer in this case, but it does make one wonder how many elves could have been saved if someone took a hard line with a young Sauron.
Sci-Fi

HOA Orders TARDIS Removed From In Front of Parrish Home 320 320

An anonymous reader writes A Florida couple learned that they are much bigger fans of Doctor Who than their homeowner association, after receiving a notice to remove the TARDIS from their driveway. Leann Moder and her husband David were given 15 days to get rid of the big blue box. From the article: "It was built by Moder's father as a wedding set piece, and she and her husband, David, were married in front of it. 'My husband mentioned, "Do you want to do a Doctor Who themed wedding?"' Moder said. 'That could be fun.' Since then, their TARDIS has been used at sci-fi conventions and parties, and was even the focus of a Halloween haunt the Moders set up on their driveway in October." The HOA had no comment on their stance on sonic screwdrivers, or the Eye of Harmony.
Science

Ancient Planes and Other Claims Spark Controversy at Indian Science Congress 381 381

An anonymous reader writes A paper presented at the 102nd Indian Science Congress on Sunday claims that Indians had mastered aviation thousands of years before the Wright brothers. India's science and technology minister Mr. Harsh Vardhan who was present at the conference claimed that ancient Indian mathematicians discovered the Pythagorean theorem but that the Greeks got the credit. These startling claims come just a few days after prime minister Narendra Modi had called Lord Ganesha who is part elephant and part human, a product of ancient India's knowledge of plastic surgery.
Image

South Korean Activist To Drop "The Interview" In North Korea Using Balloons 146 Screenshot-sm 146

Siddharth Srinivas writes Park Sang Hak, a North Korean democracy activist, said he will start dropping 100,000 DVDs and USBs with Sony's The Interview by balloon in North Korea as early as late January. He's partnering with the U.S.-based non-profit Human Rights Foundation, which is financing the making of the DVDs and USB memory sticks of the movie with Korean subtitles.
Education

The World of YouTube Bubble Sort Algorithm Dancing 68 68

theodp writes In addition to The Ghost of Steve Jobs, The Codecracker, a remix of 'The Nutcracker' performed by Silicon Valley's all-girl Castilleja School during Computer Science Education Week earlier this month featured a Bubble Sort Dance. Bubble Sort dancing, it turns out, is more popular than one might imagine. Search YouTube, for example, and you'll find students from the University of Rochester to Osmania University dancing to sort algorithms. Are you a fan of Hungarian folk-dancing? Well there's a very professionally-done Bubble Sort Dance for you! Indeed, well-meaning CS teachers are pushing kids to Bubble Sort Dance to hits like Beauty and a Beat, Roar, Gentleman, Heartbeat, Under the Sea, as well as other music.
Books

Amazon "Suppresses" Book With Too Many Hyphens 292 292

An anonymous reader writes Author Graeme Reynolds found his novel withdrawn from Amazon because of excessive use of hyphens. He received an email from Amazon about his werewolf novel, High Moor 2: Moonstruck, because a reader had complained that there were too many hyphens. "When they ran an automated spell check against the manuscript they found that over 100 words in the 90,000-word novel contained that dreaded little line," he says. "This, apparently 'significantly impacts the readability of your book' and, as a result, 'We have suppressed the book because of the combined impact to customers.'"
The Almighty Buck

Amazon UK Glitch Sells Thousands of Products For a Penny 138 138

An anonymous reader writes For about an hour on Friday a few lucky Amazon UK shoppers were able to take advantage of a price glitch which discounted thousands of marketplace products to the price of 1p. An Amazon spokesman said: "We are aware that a number of Marketplace sellers listed incorrect prices for a short period of time as a result of the third party software they use to price their items on Amazon.co.uk. We responded quickly and were able to cancel the vast majority of orders placed on these affected items immediately and no costs or fees will be incurred by sellers for these cancelled orders. We are now reviewing the small number of orders that were processed and will be reaching out to any affected sellers directly."
The Almighty Buck

Julian Assange Trying To Raise Nearly $200k For a Statue of Himself 171 171

Rei writes Julian Assange, from his refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy, has recently taken to Twitter to try to raise nearly $200,000 for a life-size bronze statue of himself. The statue would have him standing front and center between Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning (with Manning pictured as male); the art piece would be then shipped around the world on tour.
It's funny.  Laugh.

A Paper By Maggie Simpson and Edna Krabappel Was Accepted By Two Journals 100 100

An anonymous reader writes "A scientific study by Maggie Simpson, Edna Krabappel, and Kim Jong Fun has been accepted by two journals. Of course, none of these fictional characters actually wrote the paper, titled "Fuzzy, Homogeneous Configurations." Rather, it's a nonsensical text, submitted by engineer Alex Smolyanitsky in an effort to expose scientific journals — the Journal of Computational Intelligence and Electronic Systems and the Aperito Journal of NanoScience Technology."