Supreme Court Upholds Michigan's Ban On Affirmative Action In College Admissions

Slashdot - Wed, 23/04/2014 - 12:12pm
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: "The Supreme Court, by a vote of 6 — 2, has upheld a Michigan law banning the use of racial criteria in college admissions, finding that a lower court did not have the authority to set aside the measure approved in a 2006 referendum supported by 58% of voters. 'This case is not about how the debate about racial preferences should be resolved. It is about who may resolve it,' wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy. 'Michigan voters used the initiative system to bypass public officials who were deemed not responsive to the concerns of a majority of the voters with respect to a policy of granting race-based preferences that raises difficult and delicate issues.' Kennedy's core opinion in the Michigan case seems to exalt referenda as a kind of direct democracy that the courts should be particularly reluctant to disturb. This might be a problem for same-sex marriage opponents if a future Supreme Court challenge involves a state law or constitutional amendment enacted by voters. Justice Sonia Sotomayor reacted sharply in disagreeing with the decision in a 58 page dissent. 'For members of historically marginalized groups, which rely on the federal courts to protect their constitutional rights, the decision can hardly bolster hope for a vision of democracy (PDF) that preserves for all the right to participate meaningfully and equally in self-government.' The decision was the latest step in a legal and political battle over whether state colleges can use race and gender as a factor in choosing what students to admit. Michigan has said minority enrollment at its flagship university, the University of Michigan, has not gone down since the measure was passed. Civil rights groups dispute those figures and say other states have seen fewer African-American and Hispanic students attending highly competitive schools, especially in graduate level fields like law, medicine, and science."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Science

Supreme Court Upholds Michigan's Ban On Affirmative Action In College Admissions

Slashdot - Wed, 23/04/2014 - 12:12pm
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: "The Supreme Court, by a vote of 6 — 2, has upheld a Michigan law banning the use of racial criteria in college admissions, finding that a lower court did not have the authority to set aside the measure approved in a 2006 referendum supported by 58% of voters. 'This case is not about how the debate about racial preferences should be resolved. It is about who may resolve it,' wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy. 'Michigan voters used the initiative system to bypass public officials who were deemed not responsive to the concerns of a majority of the voters with respect to a policy of granting race-based preferences that raises difficult and delicate issues.' Kennedy's core opinion in the Michigan case seems to exalt referenda as a kind of direct democracy that the courts should be particularly reluctant to disturb. This might be a problem for same-sex marriage opponents if a future Supreme Court challenge involves a state law or constitutional amendment enacted by voters. Justice Sonia Sotomayor reacted sharply in disagreeing with the decision in a 58 page dissent. 'For members of historically marginalized groups, which rely on the federal courts to protect their constitutional rights, the decision can hardly bolster hope for a vision of democracy (PDF) that preserves for all the right to participate meaningfully and equally in self-government.' The decision was the latest step in a legal and political battle over whether state colleges can use race and gender as a factor in choosing what students to admit. Michigan has said minority enrollment at its flagship university, the University of Michigan, has not gone down since the measure was passed. Civil rights groups dispute those figures and say other states have seen fewer African-American and Hispanic students attending highly competitive schools, especially in graduate level fields like law, medicine, and science."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Science

Supreme Court Upholds Michigan's Ban On Affirmative Action In College Admissions

Slashdot - Wed, 23/04/2014 - 12:12pm
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: "The Supreme Court, by a vote of 6 — 2, has upheld a Michigan law banning the use of racial criteria in college admissions, finding that a lower court did not have the authority to set aside the measure approved in a 2006 referendum supported by 58% of voters. 'This case is not about how the debate about racial preferences should be resolved. It is about who may resolve it,' wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy. 'Michigan voters used the initiative system to bypass public officials who were deemed not responsive to the concerns of a majority of the voters with respect to a policy of granting race-based preferences that raises difficult and delicate issues.' Kennedy's core opinion in the Michigan case seems to exalt referenda as a kind of direct democracy that the courts should be particularly reluctant to disturb. This might be a problem for same-sex marriage opponents if a future Supreme Court challenge involves a state law or constitutional amendment enacted by voters. Justice Sonia Sotomayor reacted sharply in disagreeing with the decision in a 58 page dissent. 'For members of historically marginalized groups, which rely on the federal courts to protect their constitutional rights, the decision can hardly bolster hope for a vision of democracy (PDF) that preserves for all the right to participate meaningfully and equally in self-government.' The decision was the latest step in a legal and political battle over whether state colleges can use race and gender as a factor in choosing what students to admit. Michigan has said minority enrollment at its flagship university, the University of Michigan, has not gone down since the measure was passed. Civil rights groups dispute those figures and say other states have seen fewer African-American and Hispanic students attending highly competitive schools, especially in graduate level fields like law, medicine, and science."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Science

Supreme Court Upholds Michigan's Ban On Affirmative Action In College Admissions

Slashdot - Wed, 23/04/2014 - 12:12pm
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: "The Supreme Court, by a vote of 6 — 2, has upheld a Michigan law banning the use of racial criteria in college admissions, finding that a lower court did not have the authority to set aside the measure approved in a 2006 referendum supported by 58% of voters. 'This case is not about how the debate about racial preferences should be resolved. It is about who may resolve it,' wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy. 'Michigan voters used the initiative system to bypass public officials who were deemed not responsive to the concerns of a majority of the voters with respect to a policy of granting race-based preferences that raises difficult and delicate issues.' Kennedy's core opinion in the Michigan case seems to exalt referenda as a kind of direct democracy that the courts should be particularly reluctant to disturb. This might be a problem for same-sex marriage opponents if a future Supreme Court challenge involves a state law or constitutional amendment enacted by voters. Justice Sonia Sotomayor reacted sharply in disagreeing with the decision in a 58 page dissent. 'For members of historically marginalized groups, which rely on the federal courts to protect their constitutional rights, the decision can hardly bolster hope for a vision of democracy (PDF) that preserves for all the right to participate meaningfully and equally in self-government.' The decision was the latest step in a legal and political battle over whether state colleges can use race and gender as a factor in choosing what students to admit. Michigan has said minority enrollment at its flagship university, the University of Michigan, has not gone down since the measure was passed. Civil rights groups dispute those figures and say other states have seen fewer African-American and Hispanic students attending highly competitive schools, especially in graduate level fields like law, medicine, and science."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Science

Supreme Court Upholds Michigan's Ban On Affirmative Action In College Admissions

Slashdot - Wed, 23/04/2014 - 12:12pm
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: "The Supreme Court, by a vote of 6 — 2, has upheld a Michigan law banning the use of racial criteria in college admissions, finding that a lower court did not have the authority to set aside the measure approved in a 2006 referendum supported by 58% of voters. 'This case is not about how the debate about racial preferences should be resolved. It is about who may resolve it,' wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy. 'Michigan voters used the initiative system to bypass public officials who were deemed not responsive to the concerns of a majority of the voters with respect to a policy of granting race-based preferences that raises difficult and delicate issues.' Kennedy's core opinion in the Michigan case seems to exalt referenda as a kind of direct democracy that the courts should be particularly reluctant to disturb. This might be a problem for same-sex marriage opponents if a future Supreme Court challenge involves a state law or constitutional amendment enacted by voters. Justice Sonia Sotomayor reacted sharply in disagreeing with the decision in a 58 page dissent. 'For members of historically marginalized groups, which rely on the federal courts to protect their constitutional rights, the decision can hardly bolster hope for a vision of democracy (PDF) that preserves for all the right to participate meaningfully and equally in self-government.' The decision was the latest step in a legal and political battle over whether state colleges can use race and gender as a factor in choosing what students to admit. Michigan has said minority enrollment at its flagship university, the University of Michigan, has not gone down since the measure was passed. Civil rights groups dispute those figures and say other states have seen fewer African-American and Hispanic students attending highly competitive schools, especially in graduate level fields like law, medicine, and science."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Science

Cross-Section of the Universe | Space Wallpaper

Space.com - Wed, 23/04/2014 - 12:09pm
This space wallpaper of a galaxy cluster taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope gives a remarkable cross-section of the Universe, showing objects at different distances and stages in cosmic history.
Categories: Science

SpaceX Video Captures Amazing Reusable Rocket Test Launch and Landing

Space.com - Wed, 23/04/2014 - 11:00am
SpaceX's Falcon 9R rocket soared about 820 feet into the air last week at the company's rocket development facility in McGregor, Texas, then came back down to Earth for a soft landing on the launch pad as planned.
Categories: Science

Mars Missions Could Make Humanity a Multi-Planet Species, NASA Chief Says

Space.com - Wed, 23/04/2014 - 10:52am
In order for humanity to survive into the distant future, we need to visit and even colonize other worlds, according to NASA chief Charles Bolden.
Categories: Science

Google’s Revamped Gmail Could Take Encryption Mainstream

Wired News - Wed, 23/04/2014 - 10:48am
Encryption is the best way to protect your online communications from the prying eyes of the National Security Agency. So says NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. The rub is that email encryption systems like PGP — short for Pretty Good Privacy — are a real pain for people to use, especially if they’re not steeped in […]






Categories: Science

Build Your Own Robots and Quadcopters With These Ingenious Bricks

Wired News - Wed, 23/04/2014 - 10:48am
If you’re interested in building your own ASIMO, you’ve got to start somewhere. Kinematics’ modular TinkerBots provide a very great jumping-off point, letting you quickly assemble and program your own robots.






Categories: Science

Striking Photos of the Rooms Where VIPs Shape History

Wired News - Wed, 23/04/2014 - 10:48am
You often hear about decisions being made in the seat of power. In reality, it's more like seats.






Categories: Science

The Hackers Who Recovered NASA’s Lost Lunar Photos

Wired News - Wed, 23/04/2014 - 10:48am
For five years, a group of self-described techno-archaeologists working in an old, abandoned McDonald's have been on a mission: to recover and digitize forgotten photos taken in the ‘60s by a quintet of scuttled lunar satellites.






Categories: Science

Audi’s Slick Off-Road Concept Gets 124 MPG, Charges Wirelessly

Wired News - Wed, 23/04/2014 - 10:48am
Off-road vehicles are not something you'd expect to get triple-digit fuel economy, even with a hybrid drivetrain. And yet that's exactly what Audi claims you'd experience in the TT Offroad.






Categories: Science

How Airbnb and Lyft Finally Got Americans to Trust Each Other

Wired News - Wed, 23/04/2014 - 10:48am
From Airbnb to Lyft to Tinder, the sharing economy is rewiring the way we interact with each other.






Categories: Science

An Eavesdropping Lamp That Livetweets Private Conversations

Wired News - Wed, 23/04/2014 - 10:48am
Conversnitch, a device they built for less than $100 that resembles a lightbulb or lamp and surreptitiously listens in on nearby conversations and posts snippets of transcribed audio to Twitter.






Categories: Science

Facebook Just Proved It’s the Future of Mobile Advertising

Wired News - Wed, 23/04/2014 - 10:47am
Facebook's talent for online advertising is on the rise.






Categories: Science

The Cubicle You Call Hell Was Designed to Set You Free

Wired News - Wed, 23/04/2014 - 10:47am
When it debuted in 1964, the Action Office was supposed to be revolutionary. It was supposed to set office workers free. Instead, it became the modern office cubicle you call hell.






Categories: Science

Gecko-like adhesives now work on real-world surfaces

Kurzweil AI - Wed, 23/04/2014 - 10:43am

The integrated tendon-skin morphology in the gecko foot (credit: UMass Amherst)

University of Massachusetts Amherst researchers report in Advanced Materials how they have expanded their design theory to allow Geckskin to adhere powerfully to a wider variety of surfaces found in most homes such as drywall, wood, and metal, not just glass — an elusive goal of many research teams across the world.

“Imagine sticking your tablet on a wall to watch your favorite movie and then moving it to a new location when you want, without the need for pesky holes in your painted wall,” says polymer science and engineering professor Al Crosby.

Unlike other gecko-like materials, the UMass Amherst invention does not rely on mimicking the tiny, nanoscopic hairs found on gecko feet, but rather builds on “draping adhesion,” which derives from the gecko’s integrated anatomical skin-tendon-bone system, making a strong adhesive connection by conforming to a surface while still maximizing stiffness.

In Geckskin, the researchers created this ability by combining soft elastomers and ultra-stiff fabrics such as glass or carbon fiber fabrics. By “tuning” the relative stiffness of these materials, they can optimize Geckskin for a range of applications, the inventors say.


Demonstration of Geckskin, a gecko inspired adhesive which can adhere to a wide range of surfaces, can support high loads, and can be used repeatedly.

Abstract of Advanced Materials paper

Fabricated adhesives are demonstrated to support high loads while maintaining easy release on a variety of “real world” surfaces. These adhesives consist of simple elastomers and fabrics without nano or micron scale features, yet they surpass the adhesive force capacity of live Tokay geckos and can be scaled to large sizes.

Categories: Science

These Satellite Gadgets Will Save Your Butt in the Backcountry

Wired News - Wed, 23/04/2014 - 10:32am
A regular mobile phone is enough to keep you in touch around most of the populated parts of the world. But if you really want to go into the boonies, you'll appreciate a device that can talk to satellites.






Categories: Science

Excitons observed in action for the first time

Kurzweil AI - Wed, 23/04/2014 - 10:26am

Diagram of an exciton within a tetracene crystal, used in these experiments, shows the line across which data was collected. That data, plotted below as a function of both position (horizontal axis) and time (vertical axis) provides the most detailed information ever obtained on how excitons move through the material.

Scientists at MIT and the City University of New York have imaged excitons’ motions directly for the first time.

A quasiparticle called an exciton — responsible for the transfer of energy within devices such as solar cells, LEDs, and semiconductor circuits — has been understood theoretically for decades. But exciton movement within materials had never been directly observed.

The finding could enable research leading to significant advances in electronics, the researchers say, as well as a better understanding of natural energy-transfer processes, such as photosynthesis.

The research is described in the journal Nature Communications.

According to the researchers, this is the first direct observation of exciton diffusion processes, showing that crystal structure can dramatically affect the diffusion process.

Excitons are at the heart of devices that are relevant to modern technology; the particles determine how energy moves at the nanoscale. The efficiency of devices such as photovoltaics and LEDs depends on how well excitons move within the material.

An exciton, which travels through matter as though it were a particle, pairs an electron, which carries a negative charge, with a place where an electron has been removed, known as a hole. Overall, it has a neutral charge, but it can carry energy. For example, in a solar cell, an incoming photon may strike an electron, kicking it to a higher energy level. That higher energy is propagated through the material as an exciton: The particles themselves don’t move, but the boosted energy gets passed along from one to another.

Knowing how fast exitons move is essential to understanding which aspects of a material’s structure — for example, the degree of molecular order or disorder — might facilitate or slow that motion, the researchers say.

While these experiments were carried out using a material called tetracene — a well-studied archetype of a molecular crystal — the researchers say that the method should be applicable to almost any crystalline or thin-film material. They expect it to be widely adopted by researchers in academia and industry.

Exciton diffusion is also a basic mechanism underlying photosynthesis: plants absorb energy from photons, and this energy is transferred by excitons to areas where it can be stored in chemical form for later use in supporting the plant’s metabolism. The new method might provide an additional tool for studying some aspects of this process, the team says.

The work was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy and by the National Science Foundation, and used facilities of the Eni-MIT Solar Frontiers Center.

Abstract of Nature Communications paper

Transport of nanoscale energy in the form of excitons is at the core of photosynthesis and the operation of a wide range of nanostructured optoelectronic devices such as solar cells, light-emitting diodes and excitonic transistors. Of particular importance is the relationship between exciton transport and nanoscale disorder, the defining characteristic of molecular and nanostructured materials. Here we report a spatial, temporal and spectral visualization of exciton transport in molecular crystals and disordered thin films. Using tetracene as an archetype molecular crystal, the imaging reveals that exciton transport occurs by random walk diffusion, with a transition to subdiffusion as excitons become trapped. By controlling the morphology of the thin film, we show that this transition to subdiffusive transport occurs at earlier times as disorder is increased. Our findings demonstrate that the mechanism of exciton transport depends strongly on the nanoscale morphology, which has wide implications for the design of excitonic materials and devices.

Categories: Science