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Planet Hunters Wanted

Some spare processor cycles would be nice, too

6 min read

As of this past December, there were 209 planets known to be orbiting stars outside the solar system—209 more than were known just two decades ago. And while the rate of extrasolar planet discoveries by professional astronomers is impressive (27 new planets were discovered in 2006 alone), some researchers think the catalog of new worlds could swell even faster. The discoveries could mount not by building new planet-finding telescopes or satellites, but by marshalling an army of amateur astronomers and enthusiasts along with their personal computers.

The researchers believe that many extrasolar planets have already been unwittingly detected through telescopes but that they are hidden because of the complexity of teasing out the signal of the planet’s existence from a mountain of astronomical data. Now two free programs are being developed that will let anyone hunt through the data for our cosmic neighbors.

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Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
A plate of spaghetti made from code
Shira Inbar

You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

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