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The Higgs Boson…or one of many Higgs Bosons? | NOVA Next | PBS.org

The Higgs Boson…or one of many Higgs Bosons? | NOVA Next | PBS.org | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

Yesterday, on March 14, 2013—what would have been Albert Einstein’s 134th birthday—scientists announced another milestone in the hunt for the Higgs boson. After analyzing all the data from the Large Hadron Collider, they have strong evidence that a Higgs boson—and maybe the Higgs boson—has been found. First hypothesized in 1964, the Higgs boson is thought to be the phenomenon that gives mass to all fundamental subatomic particles. Without mass, we would live in a very different place. Electrons, protons, and neutrons wouldn’t combine to form atoms, and you, me, and just about everything else simply wouldn’t exist. This latest announcement is just the next chapter in a story that began eight months ago, on July 4, 2012.

 

For Americans, Independence Day is a time for fireworks, family, and barbecues. However last year, the really interesting pyrotechnics were of a scientific nature. They didn’t take place in parks across America, either, but at the CERN laboratory just outside Geneva, Switzerland. There, physicists announced that they had discovered a new particle in data collected using the LHC. As a member of one of the two teams making the announcement, my colleagues and I were thrilled.

 

Apparently, we weren’t the only ones. Discovering a new particle doesn’t always draw the attention of the international media, but this breakthrough appeared on the home pages of CNN and the BBC and garnered front page, above the fold coverage in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and more. After a search nearly half a century in the making, scientists claimed that they may have found the elusive Higgs boson.

 

The “may” in that last sentence is important. Eight months ago, what scientists had really announced was that a new particle had been discovered. The particle had some of the expected properties of the Higgs boson, but not all of them had been studied. The discovered particle looked and smelled like the Higgs boson, so to speak, but nobody had been able to touch, taste, or listen to it yet. To be sure that the new particle was the Higgs boson, more work was needed. After the announcement last July, the LHC continued to run. Since then, the amount of data it has produced—and allowed us to analyze—has more than doubled.

 

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NSA Cheerleader Ben Wittes Takes A Written Swing At The Anti-NSA Crowd And Misses His Target Entirely | Tim Cushing | Techdirt.com

NSA Cheerleader Ben Wittes Takes A Written Swing At The Anti-NSA Crowd And Misses His Target Entirely | Tim Cushing | Techdirt.com | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

Benjamin Wittes, adjunct NSA apologist at the Brookings Institution and the most prolific blogger at Lawfare, has just unloaded a post meant to portray those opposed to the NSA as simpleminded strawmen/women who are triggered by certain letters rather than by the critically-important nuances.

Here's the gist of it, which I can hopefully convey without copy-pasting the entirety of the short, extremely self-satisfied piece.

I was at the National Security Agency yesterday giving a Constitution Day speech and I learned details of a shocking collection program: The government is bulk collecting all traffic on Twitter. Under a program menacingly called “Bulk Data in Social Media” and abbreviated—appropriately enough—as BDSM [insert proxy self-amused snicker here], Twitter has been providing all public traffic since 2010 for a massive government database that, as of early last year, contained 170 billion tweets. The goal of this program? To “collect the story of America” and to “acquire collections that will have research value” to analysts and others.

Those of you who are not the morons Wittes makes you out to be will already know where this is headed. Wittes breathlessly adds in italics that Twitter does this voluntarily without a court order or FISA court review.

Then he drops the "bombshell."

Why would NSA do all this?

It wouldn’t. The agency I’m talking about here is the Library of Congress.

Yes, the Library of Congress is collecting every Tweet with the blessing of Twitter itself, and has been doing so for years. It was in all the papers. Those of us opposed to the NSA's bulk collections are supposed to stare deep inside ourselves as Wittes fumblingly twists the rhetorical knife.

So here’s the question: If you were shocked when you read the first paragraph of this post and relieved when you read that the agency doing all this collection is not NSA but the good guys over at the Library of Congress, and that the good guys are actually planning to make that data available widely, why did you have those reactions? And do those reactions make sense?

First of all, no one with any amount of sense would claim that the government can't access or collect public messages on a public platform. That's an expectation we live with when we use these services. But the collection of every public tweet for archival and research purposes is far different than the collection of private metadata and communications for the purposes of rooting out threats to the nation's security. (Or fighting drug wars, etc.)

It's called intent. Wittes should look that up. Also, he should perhaps look into the difference between public and private info if he's got the time.


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'The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism' | Susan Grigsby | DailyKos.com

'The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism' | Susan Grigsby | DailyKos.com | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

On Sept. 4, The Economist published a book review, for which it apologized, retracted, and then posted on the web. It created no end of furor and discussion about whether the book, or the review, was racist. The anonymous reviewer accused the author of not giving slave owners any credit for their "better treatment" of the slaves which may have been the reason that cotton production increased. He also found that "Almost all the blacks in his book are victims, almost all the whites villains." Since the book concerned slavery in America, Twitter went delightfully mad with #economistbookreviews.

It seemed to me that the Economist review of "The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism" was wildly successful. Because while we were all busy smirking, grinning and even laughing at the reviewer, the conversation that the book should have provoked, that The Economist wanted at all costs to avoid, was never discussed. What did The Economist want to avoid talking about?

Back wages, perhaps?

Or perhaps what caused the Panic of 1837?

Or the ingenuity and perseverance of those whose misfortune it was to be enslaved?

Or perhaps it was this:

"The idea that the commodification and suffering and forced labor of African Americans is what made the United States powerful and rich is not an idea that people necessarily are happy to hear. Yet it is the truth."

More truth is below the fold.


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Future skintight spacesuits could snug up at the touch of a button | David Szondy | GizMag.com

Future skintight spacesuits could snug up at the touch of a button | David Szondy | GizMag.com | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

Our stereotype of a spacesuit involves an astronaut clad in a bulky white outfit like some outer space Michelin Man wearing a rucksack – and about as graceful. But if an MIT team has any say, the spacesuit of the future will be a snug, form-fitting outfit that’s not only lighter and more flexible but also easier to get on, automatically tightening up to a proper fit at the touch of a button.

Spacesuits are vital if space explorers are ever going to do more than just stare out the porthole, but making a suit capable of keeping a human being alive in the vacuum of space is much more involved than just slapping on a fish bowl and a couple of air bottles.

A spacesuit is a complex system that’s more like a flexible spaceship than a bit of airtight tailoring. The suit itself is a complex assembly of layers designed to keep in air at a reasonable fraction of atmospheric pressure, along with billows and pleats that allow the wearer to move about with some degree of freedom, and the backpack – that is a fantastic feat of engineering – made up of tanks, cooling systems, air scrubbers, pumps, and everything else needed to support life.

That is pretty much what spacesuits, or pressure suits, have been like since the days of the Apollo program, but it’s never been a very good solution. Pressure suits are bulky, cumbersome, as hard to move about in as a hardhat diving suit, and not very comfortable.


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SpaceX's CRS-4 mission blasts off for space station | David Szondy | GizMag.com

SpaceX's CRS-4 mission blasts off for space station | David Szondy | GizMag.com | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

SpaceX has launched its fourth commercial mission to the International Space Station (ISS). The CRS-4 Dragon spacecraft lifted off atop a Falcon 9 booster early Sunday morning from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida at 1:52 am EDT. On board is about 5,000 lb (2,268 kg) of cargo, including the first zero gravity 3D printer and a crew of "mousetronauts."

Today’s launch came after a delay from the original Saturday launch window due to poor weather conditions. The spacecraft is now carrying out a series of orbital maneuvers for its rendezvous with the ISS on Tuesday, when the station crew will catch the Dragon with a grapple and transfer it to a docking port, where it will remain until mid-October before returning to Earth with a collection of scientific samples.

On board the unmanned cargo vessel are supplies for the station and a collection of experiments, including the International Space Station-Rapid Scatterometer that uses radar pulses to study the wave speeds and wind directions on the surface of the oceans, a 3D printer designed to work in weightless conditions that may one day allow astronauts to print spare parts in orbit, and the Rodent Research Hardware and Operations Validation (Rodent Research-1), which includes a new habitat carrying a collection of normal and genetically modified rodent "mousetronauts" to study the long-term medical effects of weightlessness.


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Zaha Hadid to design mathematics gallery for London Science Museum | Adam Williams | GizMag.com

Zaha Hadid to design mathematics gallery for London Science Museum | Adam Williams | GizMag.com | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

Zaha Hadid has been selected to design a new mathematics gallery for the London Science Museum, as part of the museum's ongoing redevelopment which also includes a new library and research facilities. The gallery is set to open in 2016 and will be named after David and Claudia Harding, who provided a £5 million (over US$8 million) donation.

The architect, who studied mathematics at the American University in Beirut, looks a good fit for the project and described how a visit to the London Science Museum aged 10 inspired her. From the renders Hadid's office has provided to the press, the gallery looks to feature the architects usual trademark style – albeit with a subtle math twist.

The gallery will be arranged so as to follow the turbulence field data of a Handley Page airplane exhibit, which will be suspended from the ceiling and serve as centerpiece of the gallery. The biplane dates back to 1929 and was used to research the aerodynamic requirements of taking off and landing slowly, and relied on complex interactive equations.


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ESA's bug-eyed "fly-eye" telescope to watch for Earth-threatening asteroids | David Szondy | GizMag.com

ESA's bug-eyed "fly-eye" telescope to watch for Earth-threatening asteroids | David Szondy | GizMag.com | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

One aggravating property of the housefly is that swatting one is harder than it looks. One of the reasons for this is flies have eyes designed for avoiding such a day-ruining event by detecting motion over a wide field of vision. Since asteroids have the potential to do to Earth what rolled newspapers do to flies, ESA is developing a telescope based on a fly’s eye as a new asteroid-hunting tool that could be the basis for a new asteroid defense network.

The prospect of a rogue asteroid slamming into the Earth is certainly an unsettling one, so its small wonder that ESA, NASA and others are keen on identifying any potential candidates that might need dealing with in the future. Ideally, the solution would be to set up a telescope to repeatedly scan the entirety of the heavens, but it’s very big sky and an approaching asteroid might not give much notice. It’s a bit like a ship’s lookout. One person can’t look at the entire horizon without a good chance of missing something, but a team has a better chance.

In the case of asteroid hunting, the lookouts would need to be a global network of telescopes because the targets are far too small and faint to be seen with the naked eye. But it would be fantastically expensive just to buy all the telescopes required for such a network, and those scopes wouldn’t necessarily be the best instruments for hunting asteroids. That’s because telescopes are very good for capturing images, but what an asteroid hunter needs is the ability to track movement across the sky.


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Primary and back up landing sites for Roseatta's Philae probe selected | Anthony Wood | GizMag.com

Primary and back up landing sites for Roseatta's Philae probe selected | Anthony Wood | GizMag.com | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

The Rosetta mission's Landing Site Selection Group has selected the primary and back up landing sites for the ESA's Philae probe ahead of an attempted touchdown on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko on November 11. Selecting sites J and C as the primary and back up sites respectively was no easy task, with mission operators weighing up various factors and racing against time since the spacecraft entered orbit around the comet on August 6. Prior to this, the comet had simply been too far away to characterize.

As the distance closed between Rosetta and its target, and the instruments aboard the spacecraft got a better look at the comet 67P, the list of possible sites was reduced to five. Each of the sites had its own virtues and disadvantages, making the process a balancing act between the scientific, practical and realistic dangers.

Despite this, the final decision was arrived upon with unanimous consent. Site J represents an option with enough outgassing activity nearby to make the site extremely appealing scientifically, whilst also offering a relatively good chance of actually getting the lander down in one piece. Stephan Ulamec, Philae Lander Manager at the DLR German Aerospace Center highlighted the difficulties involved in making the decision, stating, “none of the candidate landing sites met all of the operational criteria at the 100 percent level, but Site J is clearly the best solution."


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NYC Court Tells Anti-Vaxxers: Keep Your Unvaccinated Kids Away From Schools! | John Prager | AATTP.org

NYC Court Tells Anti-Vaxxers:  Keep Your Unvaccinated Kids Away From Schools! | John Prager | AATTP.org | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

A Brooklyn Federal District Judge has ruled that, at least in New York City, the Constitutional right of free exercise of religion does not allow someone to place the entire population at risk with the biological ticking time bombs that are unvaccinated people.

New York City schools require all students to get a series of basic vaccinations in order to attend classes, but the state of New York allows parents to opt-out of vaccinating their children because they are stupid for religious reasons.

Three families in the city obtained those exemptions, but their children were barred from attending school because they chose to not properly vaccinate their children. Their children were kept home, sometimes months at a time, because of the city’s policy that unimmunized children may not attend public school when another student has a vaccine-preventable illness.

They, of course, filed a suit against the city.

Citing a 1905 Supreme Court ruling that Massachusetts was legally able to fine a man for refusing a smallpox vaccine, Judge William Kuntz ruled that the court had “strongly suggested that religious objectors are not constitutionally exempt from vaccinations.”

“Disease is pestilence,” one of the plaintiffs said, “and pestilence is from the devil. The devil is germs and disease, which is cancer and any of those things that can take you down. But if you trust in the Lord, these things cannot come near you.”

Recently, vaccine-preventable illnesses have made a resurgence as a result of lies and propaganda pushed by celebrities like Jenny McCarthy and Donald Trump. In March, AATTP reported a record measles outbreak in California due to parents foregoing vaccinations because Baywatch and Hairpiece told them vaccines cause autism–a link that has never been proven.

The plaintiffs plan to appeal the court’s decision.


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NASA's Dawn spacecraft recovers after two malfunctions | Anthony Wood | GizMag.com

NASA's Dawn spacecraft recovers after two malfunctions | Anthony Wood | GizMag.com | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

NASA's Dawn spacecraft has recovered from an unexpected phenomenon that resulted in the robotic explorer going into safe mode on September 11, mirroring a similar event that affected the spacecraft three years ago as it approached the protoplanet Vesta. Dawn was launched in September 2007 atop a Delta II-Heavy rocket with a mission to explore Vesta and the dwarf planet Ceres.

Currently, the unmanned explorer is well under way to its final scientific destination, Ceres, that it is due to reach in April 2015 – a full month later than originally scheduled, thanks to Thursday's setback.

The probe carries three instruments: a visible light camera, a gamma ray and neutron spectrometer, and a visible and infrared mapping spectrometer. By examining Vesta and Ceres with these instruments, Dawn will compare the evolutionary paths taken by each of the celestial bodies, informing current theories on the processes that formed our early solar system.


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NASA Mars Spacecraft Ready for Sept. 21 Orbit Insertion | NASA.gov

NASA Mars Spacecraft Ready for Sept. 21 Orbit Insertion | NASA.gov | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft is nearing its scheduled Sept. 21 insertion into Martian orbit after completing a 10-month interplanetary journey of 442 million miles.

Flight Controllers at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Littleton, Colorado, will be responsible for the health and safety of the spacecraft throughout the process. The spacecraft’s mission timeline will place the spacecraft in orbit at approximately 9:50 p.m. EDT.

“So far, so good with the performance of the spacecraft and payloads on the cruise to Mars,” said David Mitchell, MAVEN project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “The team, the flight system, and all ground assets are ready for Mars orbit insertion.”

The orbit-insertion maneuver will begin with the brief firing of six small thruster engines to steady the spacecraft. The engines will ignite and burn for 33 minutes to slow the craft, allowing it to be pulled into an elliptical orbit with a period of 35 hours.

Following orbit insertion, MAVEN will begin a six-week commissioning phase that includes maneuvering the spacecraft into its final orbit and testing its instruments and science-mapping commands.


Thereafter, MAVEN will begin its one-Earth-year primary mission to take measurements of the composition, structure and escape of gases in Mars’ upper atmosphere and its interaction with the sun and solar wind.


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Why Quality Professional Development for Teachers Matters | Ben Johnson | Edutopia.org

Why Quality Professional Development for Teachers Matters | Ben Johnson | Edutopia.org | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

"Please look at the labels on the walls and with your elbow partner; pick the top three priorities for educators and schools."


Posted around the walls were the words: Curriculum, Assessment, Instruction, Professional Development, Student Learning, Equity, Differentiation, and Classroom Management. I gave the principals a few minutes to chat and come up with a prioritized list and then we began discussing their conclusions.

Some thought it was an obvious trick question and chose student learning as the number one priority. Others chose curriculum because, "If you have nothing to teach, students can't learn -- beat that!" Still others countered, "But if you have the best curriculum but low quality instruction, students won't learn either -- so there!" "If only affluent students learn, then there is no equity for poor students -- try that on for size!" This lively discussion continued for each of the elements.

Eventually, the principals who chose student learning stated, "If students aren't learning, it doesn't matter what we do; we are just spinning our wheels!" and that convinced the rest that they were right. Yet all of them were wrong. To get them on the right track I asked the principals, "What can any teacher do to assure that students are learning?" One principal said, "Well, we can make sure we have the best teachers and the best curriculum."

"Does that guarantee that the students will learn?"

"Well, no, but it makes it more probable. You know nothing is guaranteed."

"Can we control student learning?"

"Not fully, but. . . ."

"Who can control student learning?"

"The teachers... or, hmm, the students themselves I suppose."

"Exactly! We cannot control student learning, only the student can. Student learning should be the eventual goal and outcome of all of our efforts, but it is not what we do to get there. Now let's rethink your priority list.


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FCC: E-Rate Reforms Could Bring Wi-Fi to Every Student in Five Years | Joan Engebretson | Telecompetitor.com

FCC: E-Rate Reforms Could Bring Wi-Fi to Every Student in Five Years | Joan Engebretson | Telecompetitor.com | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

The FCC estimates that 10.5 million students per year could gain Internet connectivity inside their schools if the commission moves ahead with E-Rate reforms outlined in July. Within five years, all U.S. schools would have internal Internet connectivity, the FCC says.

The E-Rate program is an element of the Universal Service program administered by the FCC and funded by the telecom industry. In July the commission adopted an order that phases out E-Rate support for voice services and shifts funding toward internal connectivity, which most likely would take the form of Wi-Fi.

The FCC’s five-year internal connections estimate assumes E-Rate funding levels remain the same, that a total of $1 billion per year is directed toward internal connectivity and that the amount of support per student is capped at $150. If funding per student were not capped, fewer than four million new students per year would gain internal connectivity, the FCC said.

According to the FCC proposal, schools would be required to contribute at least 15% of the cost of a Wi-Fi deployment – up from a 10% level today.


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Pirate Bay Goes To College: Free Textbook Torrent Downloads Soar Amid Rising Costs | Jeff Stone | IBTimes.com

Pirate Bay Goes To College: Free Textbook Torrent Downloads Soar Amid Rising Costs | Jeff Stone | IBTimes.com | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

American college students struggling to afford textbooks are sharing copies of their books illegally on TextbookNova, the Pirate Bay and some of the same torrent sites that crippled the music industry. Many of the most popular books are available for free, with a correlation between the number of downloaders and the price of the book.

The College Board estimated in January that the average student spends $1,200 annually on textbooks. The price of books skyrocketed by 82 percent in the years between 2002 and 2013, a number high enough to convince 65 percent of students to decide against buying a book, according to a Government Accountability Office survey. Ninety-four percent of the GAO respondents who didn’t buy a book out of financial concerns admitted they did so even with the expectation that it would hurt them academically.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released numbers indicating the price of textbooks has risen by 800 percent over the past 30 years.

Some educators have begun to utilize open source technology, but numbers on popular piracy sites make it clear those professors are the exception to the norm. Students are uploading PDF copies of the books and sharing them on textbook-centric peer-to-peer sites as well as torrent behemoths like the Pirate Bay and KickAss Torrents.


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FTC shuts down $11M online diploma mill | Paul McNamara | NetworkWorld.com

FTC shuts down $11M online diploma mill | Paul McNamara | NetworkWorld.com | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

The Federal Trade Commission on Friday pulled the plug on an online high school diploma mill that allegedly raked in $11 million since opening its virtual doors in 2006.

The FTC says the mill generally charged between $200 and $300 for its “diplomas.” Let’s call it $250. That means 44,000 individuals had “graduated” from this “school” since 2006.

From an FCC press release:


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ESA's Rosetta's Alice instrument reveals comet is blacker than charcoal | David Szondy | GizMag.com

ESA's Rosetta's Alice instrument reveals comet is blacker than charcoal | David Szondy | GizMag.com | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

Comets are often described as "dirty snowballs" of ice and dust, which suggests something that looks like what kids throw at each other in winter. But NASA’s Alice instrument package installed aboard the ESA Rosetta probe currently orbiting comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko has sent back its first science data, which shows that the comet is about as white and fluffy as a lump of coal.

Alice is one of eleven instruments carried aboard Rosetta and one of three instrument packages supplied by NASA for the unmanned orbiter. Essentially, it’s a miniature UV imaging spectrograph that looks for thermal markers in the far ultraviolet part of the spectrum in order to learn more about 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko’s composition and history.

It does this by looking specifically for the markers associated with noble gases, such as helium, neon, argon, and krypton. Since the temperature at which these gases sublime is known, it’s possible to measure their presence and calculate the temperature of the comet in its past as well as its present characteristics.

According to NASA, Alice weighs less than 9 lb (4 kg) and uses only four watts of power, but it’s 1,000 times better at data gathering than similar instruments of just a generation ago. Also, it’s closer to a comet than any such device has ever been.


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First zero-gravity 3D printer heads to International Space Station | Stu Robarts | GizMag.com

First zero-gravity 3D printer heads to International Space Station | Stu Robarts | GizMag.com | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

3D printing is revolutionizing the way we manufacturer products in all sorts of industries, including retail and automotive. Now, a firm is looking to take 3D printing into space, literally. Made In Space has created a Zero-G 3D printer that will launch to the International Space Station tomorrow.

Made In Space was founded in 2010 and has been working towards certification for its Zero-G 3D printer. The company says that the Zero-G is the first 3D printer designed to operate in zero gravity and that it has carried out over 30,000 hours of testing, including more than 400 microgravity parabola flights aboard a modified Boeing 727.

The Zero-G is an extrusion printer that builds up layers of hot liquefied acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) plastic to create an object. A number of factors had to be taken in consideration for designing it to work in a zero-gravity environment. Components that might previously have been even partly held in place by gravity had to be redesigned, thermal processes had to be recalculated and the layering process had to be reconsidered. In addition, the printer had to be built with "extreme safety precautions" in mind.


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The Supreme Court Gets a Master Class in Rap Music for Aging Jurists | Dahlia Lithwick | Slate.com

The Supreme Court Gets a Master Class in Rap Music for Aging Jurists | Dahlia Lithwick | Slate.com | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

In December the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a major case about free speech, online threats, and rap music. Elonis v. United States tests whether the speaker’s intent or the listener’s response will determine if there has been a “true threat” of violence, in this case in a series of Facebook posts.


The case is doubly interesting, notes Tony Mauro in the National Law Journal, not just because it tests free speech in an Internet context, but because the briefing before the court has become something of a master class on Rap Music for Aging Jurists.

The case, which I wrote about in the spring, is a big test of the standard used to scrutinize threats to determine whether they are protected by the First Amendment. But it’s also become something of a referendum on the question of whether rap lyrics are an art form.


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NASA's Curiosity Rover reaches Mount Sharp | David Szondy | GizMag.com

NASA's Curiosity Rover reaches Mount Sharp | David Szondy | GizMag.com | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

After over two years on Mars, NASA’s Curiosity rover has reached its primary objective, Mount Sharp. Located in the center of Gale Crater, where the unmanned explorer has been studying geology of the Red Planet, Mount Sharp will be the centerpiece of a new program of study to locate areas where could or once could have supported microbial life.

NASA says that Curiosity will now follow a shorter path than originally planned by heading up the slopes of the mountain rather than carrying on to the farther Murray Buttes. The agency says that this decision was due in part to a better understanding of Martian geology gathered since landing in 2012, though NASA may also be taking into account a blistering review (PDF) of the Curiosity team’s science performance that suggested better focus in future.

Another reason for the change of course was to take some of the pressure off Curiosity’s aluminum wheels, which have worn more quickly than expected and have suffered from the sharps rocks on the Martian terrain – there are now holes in four of the probe’s six wheels. In response to this, the team is sending Curiosity over a milder, more sandy path.


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NASA probe will reveal 3D architecture of forests from space | Richard Moss | GizMag.com

NASA probe will reveal 3D architecture of forests from space | Richard Moss | GizMag.com | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

NASA is developing a laser-based instrument for deployment on the International Space Station that will probe the depths of Earth's forests from space in a bid to reveal more about their role in the planet's carbon cycle. After its completion in 2018, this Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) lidar will join the likes of the Soil Moisture Active Passive satellite in studying Earth's vegetation on a global scale.

"GEDI will be a tremendous new resource for studying Earth's vegetation," said Piers Sellers, deputy director of the Sciences and Exploration Directorate at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. "In particular, the GEDI data will provide us with global-scale insights into how much carbon is being stored in the forest biomass. This information will be particularly powerful when combined with the historical record of changes captured by the U.S.’s long-standing program of Earth-orbiting satellites, such as Landsat and MODIS."

GEDI carries three specialized lasers and an optics system that divides the three beams into 14 tracks on the ground. These tracks will be spaced 1,640 (500 meters) apart, covering a total of around four miles (6.5 kilometers). And the system will systematically canvas all land between 50 degrees latitude north and south – enough to cover most of the tropical and temperate forests.


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Spaceship Earth Grants competition offers chance of a trip into space | Colin Jeffrey | GizMag.com

Spaceship Earth Grants competition offers chance of a trip into space | Colin Jeffrey | GizMag.com | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

Spaceship Earth Grants (SEG), a US public-benefit organization and an affiliate of the Buckminster Fuller Institute, has launched a contest that aims to give away one space flight for every 50,000 applications it receives. With a judging panel made up of former NASA astronauts, industry experts, space enthusiasts, and others, this new program aims to be a crowd-driven and crowd-funded effort to send private citizens into space.

The winner (or winners) will receive a trip aboard a spaceflight provider flight available at the time of the award announcement. In other words, should the likes of space tourism companies like Virgin Galactic or Space Adventures be capable of offering trips into space at the time, then the winning candidate would be booked aboard one of their flights. Subject, of course, to availability and the various restrictions one or all of these companies may impose, along with the rider that no promise is made to be able to fly on a particular carrier.

Included in the major prize will be a Spaceflight Training package from SEG's Star Harbor Space Training Academ, and all travel expenses, including basic airfare to and from the participants home country or state, along with meals, ground transport, and accommodation.

To be eligible, applicants need to be at least 18 years of age. To enter, participants must first create an account on the SEG website and then pen a short essay (with the option to also submit a 90-second video) in answer to the question: "How will you use this experience to better yourself, your community or our planet?" The answer to this question will form the primary selection criteria regarding the applicant’s demonstration of a clear ability to communicate this benefit to the judges.


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Why big data evangelists should be sent to re-education camps | Stilgherrian | ZDNet

Why big data evangelists should be sent to re-education camps | Stilgherrian | ZDNet | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

The last time I wrote about big data, in July, I called it a big, distracting bubble. But it's worse than that. Big data is an ideology. A religion. One of its most important gospels is, of course, at Wired.

In 2008, Chris Anderson talked up a thing called The Petabyte Age in The End of Theory: The Data Deluge Makes the Scientific Method Obsolete.

"The new availability of huge amounts of data, along with the statistical tools to crunch these numbers, offers a whole new way of understanding the world. Correlation supersedes causation, and science can advance even without coherent models, unified theories, or really any mechanistic explanation at all," he wrote.

Declaring the scientific method dead after 2,700 years is quite a claim. Hubris, even. But, Anderson wrote, "There's no reason to cling to our old ways." Oh, OK then.

Now, this isn't the first set of claims that correlation would supersede causation, and that the next iteration of computing practices would "make everything different".

"Japan's Fifth Generation Project of the early 1980s generated similar enthusiasm, and many believed it would make Japan dominant in computing within a decade, based on parallel processing and an earlier iteration of 'massive' databases. Now, obviously that didn't happen, and it was an expensive and embarrassing failure," said Graham Greenleaf, professor of Law and Information Systems at the University of New South Wales, on Tuesday night.

Greenleaf was speaking at the launch of the latest UNSW Law Journal, to be posted on its website early next week, which includes a theme section on "Communications Surveillance, Big Data, and the Law". Greenleaf described that section as "pessimistic".

Privacy issues are obviously a concern. As I've said before, privacy fears could burst the second dot-com bubble. But the journal articles also cover issues of discrimination, automated decision making, democracy, and the public's right to access information.


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Art group MMMM..'s typography based bus stop in Baltimore | NetDost.com

Art group MMMM..'s typography based bus stop in Baltimore | NetDost.com | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

Art group MMMM has created a simple and playful letter shaped bus stop for the Baltimore's bus system.


The Bus stop doesnt loose any of its functionality owing to the unorthodox design, it provides all the facility a normal bus stop would provide.


This public art sculpture cum street furniture is created using wooden planks riveted to a steel frame which gives it a familiar look.


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Geek of the Week: LA's first chief data officer | Asher Klein | Los Angeles Register

Geek of the Week: LA's first chief data officer | Asher Klein | Los Angeles Register | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

Turns out a political philosophy and policy nerd has a hard time just thinking about those issues when his bosses find out he’s good at coding.


That was Abhi Nemani’s experience as an intern at political-advocacy nonprofits like the Center for American Progress: he always wound up being the guy doing tech stuff.


“I was always kind of the geek in the room, and I could build a web app or a website pretty quickly,” Nemani said.


It worked out for him, since Nemani combined his interest in politics and government with technology as one of the first people to show cities can hire chief data officers. He became L.A.’s first chief data officer, a job he started Sept. 2.


Just 25, he’s already spent six years on “getting entrepreneurs to solve the problems that governments face,” as he put it in an interview last month, by building up an innovative startup called Code for America.


His work shines a Silicon Valley light on the problems facing Sacramento or Washington, asking how to drive sustainable public sector innovation through things like startup accelerators, so people outside of government can chip in, as it were.


“Instead of another consumer game, they might say, let me build something for government. Let me build something for the people that matter,” Nemani said.


That’s part of his mission now in Los Angeles. It comes at a time when the city is heavily ramping up its investment in technology.


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Blended Learning: Making it Work in Your Classroom | Edutopia.org

Blended Learning: Making it Work in Your Classroom | Edutopia.org | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

Blended learning is a core part of P. K. Yonge Developmental Research School. Since 2010, the school has taken a schoolwide approach to integrating digital content as part of their instructional framework. Driven by changes already happening at the higher education levels and the need to prepare students for the 21st century workplace, blended learning provides the school with a variety of ways to address student needs, differentiate instruction, and provide teachers with data for instructional decision-making.

P. K. Yonge views blended learning as the combination of digital content and activity with face-to-face content and activity. It looks very different in each class at the school. When a teacher has an activity that works well face-toface, there isn't any reason to look for a digital replacement. If they can find something digital that is more effective or efficient, then that is implemented.


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Silicon Valley has a proud record on innovation, a shameful one on equality | Jesse Jackson Op Ed | The Guardian

Silicon Valley has a proud record on innovation, a shameful one on equality | Jesse Jackson Op Ed | The Guardian | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

A new climate of change, hope and progress is now gripping Silicon Valley and the hi-tech industry. Inclusion and equal opportunity in the technology industry are the 21st-century civil rights imperatives. They are today's dynamic, disruptive change agents reshaping the culture and character of the hi-tech industry.


Technology is supposed to be about innovation, opportunity and inclusion, but, sadly, patterns of exclusion remain the order of the day. In fact, the tech industry is perhaps America's worst industry when it comes to inclusion and diversity.


Rainbow Push, the social justice organisation I founded, has brought this message to the industry through direct participation and speaking at the shareholder meetings of HP, eBay, Facebook and Google. What we've been saying is that Silicon Valley is America's valley: built through American R&D, American education, American tax credits and tax havens. It should reflect America's best values and principles.


We also focused on the hard data documenting the race and gender composition of the tech industry's workforce, challenging an industry that staunchly resisted efforts to reveal data about minority participation in the industry. In 2010 and 2013, major technology companies successfully went to court to prevent the release of such data.


Since Rainbow Push launched its digital connections initiative in March of this year, these same companies, including Google, Apple, Linkedin, Yahoo, Salesforce and Pandora, have now released it.


The facts don't lie: black people comprise just 1–2% of the tech workforce of most companies, Latinos just 2–4%. Women lag far behind men. But we've gone from resistance to release, creating an unprecedented climate of transparency. The industry is now facing up to the sobering facts on inclusion and diversity and moving to change them.


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