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Display this news only World's Oldest Periodic Table Chart Found At University of St Andrews In Scotland
01/18/19English
Slashdot An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org: A periodic table chart discovered at the University of St Andrews is thought to be the oldest in the world. The chart of elements, dating from 1885, was discovered in the University's School of Chemistry in 2014 by Dr. Alan Aitken during a clear out. The storage area was full of chemicals, equipment and laboratory paraphernalia that had accumulated since the opening of the chemistry department at its current location in 1968. Following months of clearing and sorting the various materials a stash of rolled up teaching charts was discovered. Within the collection was a large, extremely fragile periodic table that flaked upon handling. Suggestions that the discovery may be the earliest surviving example of a classroom periodic table in the world meant the document required urgent attention to be authenticated, repaired and restored.

Mendeleev made his famous disclosure on periodicity in 1869, the newly unearthed table was rather similar, but not identical to Mendeleev's second table of 1871. However, the St Andrews table was clearly an early specimen. The table is annotated in German, and an inscription at the bottom left -- "Verlag v. Lenoir & Forster, Wien" -- identifies a scientific printer who operated in Vienna between 1875 and 1888. Another inscription -- "Lith. von Ant. Hartinger & Sohn, Wien" -- identifies the chart's lithographer, who died in 1890. Working with the University's Special Collections team, the University sought advice from a series of international experts. Following further investigations, no earlier lecture chart of the table appears to exist. Professor Eric Scerri, an expert on the history of the periodic table based at the University of California, Los Angeles, dated the table to between 1879 and 1886 based on the represented elements. For example, both gallium and scandium, discovered in 1875 and 1879 respectively, are present, while germanium, discovered in 1886, is not.


Display this news only Saturn Put A Ring On It Relatively Recently, Study Says
01/17/19English
Slashdot Saturn is famous for its lovely rings, but a new study suggests the planet has spent most of its 4.5 billion years without them. From a report: That's because the rings are likely only 10 million to 100 million years old, according to a newly published report in the journal Science that's based on findings from NASA's Cassini probe. Cassini spent some 13 years orbiting Saturn before plunging down and slamming into its atmosphere. During its final orbits, the spacecraft dove between the planet and its rings. That let scientists measure the gravitational effect of the rings and get a good estimate of the ring material's mass.

What they found is that it's only about 40 percent of the mass of Saturn's moon Mimas, which is way smaller than Earth's moon. This small mass suggests that the rings are relatively young. That's because the rings seem to be made of extremely pure water ice, suggesting that the bright white rings have not existed long enough to be contaminated by the bombardment of messy, dirty comets that would be expected to occur over billions of years. Some scientists thought it was possible that darker debris from comets might lie beneath the bright ice, undetectable to their instruments, but this new study shows that isn't the case.


Display this news only Happy 18th Birthday, Wikipedia
01/16/19English
Slashdot This week, Wikipedia celebrates its 18th birthday. If the massive crowdsourced encyclopedia project were human, then in most countries, it would just now be considered a legal adult. But in truth, the free online encyclopedia has long played the role of the Internet's good grown-up. From a story: Wikipedia has grown enormously since its inception: It now boasts 5.7 million articles in English and pulled in 92 billion page views last year. The site has also undergone a major reputation change. If you ask Siri, Alexa or Google Home a general-knowledge question, it will likely pull the response from Wikipedia. The online encyclopedia has been cited in more than 400 judicial opinions, according to a 2010 paper in the Yale Journal of Law & Technology.

Many professors are ditching the traditional writing assignment and instead asking students to expand or create a Wikipedia article on the topic. And YouTube Chief Executive Susan Wojcicki announced a plan last March to pair misleading conspiracy videos with links to corresponding articles from Wikipedia. Facebook has also released a feature using Wikipedia's content to provide users more information about the publication source for articles in their feed.


Display this news only Insect Collapse: 'We Are Destroying Our Life Support Systems'
01/15/19English
Slashdot An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Scientist Brad Lister returned to Puerto Rican rainforest after 35 years to find 98% of ground insects had vanished. His return to the Luquillo rainforest in Puerto Rico after 35 years was to reveal an appalling discovery. The insect population that once provided plentiful food for birds throughout the mountainous national park had collapsed. On the ground, 98% had gone. Up in the leafy canopy, 80% had vanished. The most likely culprit by far is global warming. "It was just astonishing," Lister said. "Before, both the sticky ground plates and canopy plates would be covered with insects. You'd be there for hours picking them off the plates at night. But now the plates would come down after 12 hours in the tropical forest with a couple of lonely insects trapped or none at all."

"We are essentially destroying the very life support systems that allow us to sustain our existence on the planet, along with all the other life on the planet," Lister said. "It is just horrifying to watch us decimate the natural world like this." Lister calls these impacts a "bottom-up trophic cascade", in which the knock-on effects of the insect collapse surge up through the food chain. "I don't think most people have a systems view of the natural world," he said. "But it's all connected and when the invertebrates are declining the entire food web is going to suffer and degrade. It is a system-wide effect." To understand the global scale of an insect collapse that has so far only been glimpsed, Lister says, there is an urgent need for much more research in many more habitats. "More data, that is my mantra," he said.


Display this news only A Guy Made a Computer Mouse That is Also a Functional Laptop
01/14/19English
Slashdot A YouTube user who goes by Electronic Grenade has designed a computer mouse that is also a functional laptop. From a report: As detailed in a video published on Sunday, the computer mouse computer consists of a 3d-printed mouse, a Raspberry Pi microcontroller, a small keyboard, and a handful of components that were taken from a normal computer mouse. "Even though the screen is attached to the mouse, the sensitivity of the mouse makes it not that hard to follow along with what is happening on the screen," Electronic Grenade said in the video. Nevertheless, the mouse does have its faults. According to Electronic Grenade, a few resource intensive applications will occasionally cause the mouse computer to crash.

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