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by Brian Schrader
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Philae Breaks our Hearts

Posted on Sun, 16 Nov 2014

ESA

With its batteries depleted and not enough sunlight available to recharge, Philae has fallen into 'idle mode' for a potentially long silence. In this mode, all instruments and most systems on board are shut down.

"Prior to falling silent, the lander was able to transmit all science data gathered during the First Science Sequence", says DLR's Stephan Ulamec, Lander Manager, who was in the Main Control Room at ESOC tonight.

OUR LANDER'S ASLEEP →

Obama "urges" FCC to reclassify ISPs as Utilities

Posted on Mon, 10 Nov 2014

Today, President Obama announced his new plan to protect Net Neutrality. It's really important to remember that he doesn't have any power over the FCC, and he can only "urge" them to protect Net Neutrality, which he claims he will do. I won't say I'm confident he'll be able to effect any change, but the sentiment is nice at least. Another voice in the fight is always appreciated.

What's interesting is that the President isn't calling for an extension of Net Neutrality protections, he's taking his recommendation one step further. He's "urging" the FCC to reclassify ISPs as utilities. ISPs would be like the water company. I really doubt that the FCC would approve that severe of legislation, but I do think that's the direction we need to force ISPs to go. The President seems committed now; let's see if he still cares about this in 6 months.

Just for the sake of argument, let's assume that the FCC ignores the cable company lobbyists and reclassifies ISPs as utilities. Go one step further and assume they did all this because they heard the President suggest it, and the people advocate it (or vice versa). If all that were to happen, I would honestly have hope that maybe our government isn't as broken as it seems. But that's a big "if".

The Verge: Obama says FCC should reclassify internet as a utility →

Net Neutrality: President Obama's Plan for a Free and Open Internet →

The Mac Mini Server Configuration is Dead

Posted on Sun, 09 Nov 2014

Ars Technica

One of the two 2.5-inch drive bays inside the new Mini has been removed and replaced with a spot for the small PCI Express SSD cards that the rest of the Macs now use. This is fine for a single-drive or Fusion Drive configuration, but you can no longer install two hard drives and mirror the data for redundancy. As a result, the $999 Mac Mini Server configuration is dead.

That's a shame. I've never used a Mac Mini as a server, but lots of people do.

Not the upgrade we were hoping for: The 2014 Mac Mini reviewed →

New Parallel Universe Theory Proposed

Posted on Tue, 04 Nov 2014

A new multiverse theory was proposed last week, and it could be promising. I have to say, the basic idea of the theory is very appealing to me. Basically the idea (as far as I understand it) is that the unpredictable world we live in is actually one of many (but not infinite) parallel worlds that reside in the same physical space and time as ours, right on top of each other, but in different dimensions. These many worlds follow basic, Newtonian laws, and do not, on their own have the principle of Quantum Mechanics.

What does that mean? Well, since these 'worlds', as the theory calls them, aren't separated from each other (like other multi-universe theories claim), they can interact with each other. These interactions are what give rise to what we see as Quantum Mechanical effects.

From Universe Today:

Hall states in the paper that simple Newtonian Physics can explain how all these worlds evolve... Certainly, Einstein's Special and General Theories of Relativity completes the Newtonian equations and are not dismissed by [Many Interacting Worlds Theory]. However, the paper begins with the simpler model using Newtonian physics and even explains that some fundamental behavior of quantum mechanics unfolds from a universe comprised of just two interacting worlds.

This means that, on their own, a given world is just a classical Newtonian environment. Newton's laws apply. Quantum Mechanics arises from the fact that all of these, otherwise clean, Newtonian worlds are stacked together and interact. And I find this idea fascinating. It means that, if this is true, Quantum Mechanics is a consequence of reality, not a builtin principle of it, and that has me very excited.

A pretty straightforward, but by no means perfect metaphor is that the universe can be thought of as a billiards table. We are hitting the cue ball and watching the results as it hits the other balls. Quantum Mechanical effects, in this metaphor, would be the 7 ball randomly veering off in another direction when you hit the 4 ball. Weird right? Well, this theory basically says that the 7 ball isn't moving randomly, instead there's another person playing right next you who's hitting another cue ball at the 7 ball when you hit the 4 ball. Quantum Mechanics is the study of the 4 and 7 balls, whereas MIW theory looks at the 2 players. If we realize that there are two players and not just one, the movement of the balls is relatively easy to explain.

Quantum Mechanics works, we use its principles every day. That's not going to change. What would change, if this theory proves useful, is that Quantum Mechanics would not be thought of as a fundamental principle of the universe, but merely a consequence of other principles.

I'll be keeping my eye on this; hopefully it pans out for further investigation.

Universe Today: A New Theory of Parallel Universes is Proposed →

Quantum Phenomena Modeled by Interactions between Many Classical Worlds →

FCC's Tom Wheeler is trying to open up cable TV

Posted on Sun, 02 Nov 2014

The Verge

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler just proposed a rule change that would require cable and broadcast networks to sell their programming to any company that wants to be a TV provider, not just cable or satellite companies

Its really strange to me that the FCC (and Tom in particular) want to make TV channel distribution a more competitive market, something that I can only assume makes their cable company lobbyists very anxious, and yet the FCC has been a slave to those same lobbyists during the ongoing Net Neutrality debacle. I'd love TV to be a more direct channel-to-home system. I don't think I'd ever go back to watching on-air TV (something reserved for sportsball parties at friend's houses), but its nice to see progress.

I have to wonder though, what changed? Why would the FCC decide that it's going to disobey its lobbyist for the public good now, and not 6 months ago? Did we really have that big of an impact with Net Neutrality, or is this a fluke?

The real Apple TV might finally happen if the FCC gets what it wants →

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