To the Moon! The Musk-Bezos Billionaire Space Rivalry Just Reached New Heights

Space.com - Mon, 13/03/2017 - 11:00am
The rivalry between billionaire space entrepreneurs Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos may soon reach all the way to the moon.
Categories: Science

New Book to Take a Comic (and Serious) Look at 10 Emerging Technologies

Space.com - Mon, 13/03/2017 - 11:00am
A new book will probe the future of technology from a scientific — and comedic — angle, exploring what's coming next, what the future will really be like and what it will take to get that space elevator or moon colony running.
Categories: Science

What The CIA WikiLeaks Dump Tells Us: Encryption Works

Slashdot - Mon, 13/03/2017 - 10:34am
"If the tech industry is drawing one lesson from the latest WikiLeaks disclosures, it's that data-scrambling encryption works," writes the Associated Press, "and the industry should use more of it." An anonymous reader quotes their report: Documents purportedly outlining a massive CIA surveillance program suggest that CIA agents must go to great lengths to circumvent encryption they can't break. In many cases, physical presence is required to carry off these targeted attacks. "We are in a world where if the U.S. government wants to get your data, they can't hope to break the encryption," said Nicholas Weaver, who teaches networking and security at the University of California, Berkeley. "They have to resort to targeted attacks, and that is costly, risky and the kind of thing you do only on targets you care about. Seeing the CIA have to do stuff like this should reassure civil libertarians that the situation is better now than it was four years ago"... Cindy Cohn, executive director for Electronic Frontier Foundation, a group focused on online privacy, likened the CIA's approach to "fishing with a line and pole rather than fishing with a driftnet." The article points out that there are still some exploits that bypass encryption, according to the recently-released CIA documents. "Although Apple, Google and Microsoft say they have fixed many of the vulnerabilities alluded to in the CIA documents, it's not known how many holes remain open."

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Categories: Science

Kepler Telescope Sees Pixelated View of 7-Planet Star System

Space.com - Mon, 13/03/2017 - 9:36am
NASA's planet-hunting Kepler Space Telescope captured a very pixelated view of a star system containing seven Earth-size planets.
Categories: Science

'Geostorm' Trailer: Satellite-Controlled Weather Goes Wrong in New Thriller

Space.com - Mon, 13/03/2017 - 9:30am
In a world where satellites control the weather, what happens when that control ceases? Tornadoes and massive tidal waves are just some of the effects, if we're to believe a new teaser trailer for "Geostorm," which comes to theaters in October.
Categories: Science

Meet Walter: Creepy Android Comes to Life in 'Alien: Convenant' Short

Space.com - Mon, 13/03/2017 - 9:26am
A new "commercial" shows a synthetic human under construction in the lab before he wakes up and introduces himself as "Walter."
Categories: Science

New Animated Video Ponders the Mystery of Dark Matter

Space.com - Mon, 13/03/2017 - 8:28am
Astrophysicist Janna Levin's musings on the invisible stuff called dark matter provide inspiration for artist Daniela Sherer's imaginative illustrations in a new animated video.
Categories: Science

White Dwarf Star Orbits Black Hole In Less Than Half An Hour | Video

Space.com - Mon, 13/03/2017 - 7:43am
Once every half an hour is the time it takes for a white dwarf to orbit around a nearby black hole in binary system X9. It's the closest pairing of a star and black hole observed yet. The system is located in the dense star cluster 47 Tucanae.
Categories: Science

Windows 10 Is Just 'A Vehicle For Advertisements', Argues Tech Columnist

Slashdot - Mon, 13/03/2017 - 7:34am
A new editorial by BetaNews columnist Mark Wilson argues that Windows 10 isn't an operating system -- it's "a vehicle for ads". An anonymous reader quotes their report: They appear in the Start menu, in the taskbar, in the Action Center, in Explorer, in the Ink Workspace, on the Lock Screen, in the Share tool, in the Windows Store and even in File Explorer. Microsoft has lost its grip on what is acceptable, and even goes as far as pretending that these ads serve users more than the company -- "these are suggestions", "this is a promoted app", "we thought you'd like to know that Edge uses less battery than Chrome", "playable ads let you try out apps without installing". But if we're honest, the company is doing nothing more than abusing its position, using Windows 10 to promote its own tools and services, or those with which it has marketing arrangements. The article suggests ads are part of the hidden price tag for the free downloads of Windows 10 that Microsoft offered last year (along with the telemetry and other user-tracking features). Their article has already received 357 comments, and concludes that the prevalence of ads in Windows 10 is "indefensible".

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Categories: Science

Gargantuan Chinese Radio Telescope Stars in 'Impossible Engineering' Clip

Space.com - Mon, 13/03/2017 - 6:59am
A new clip from Science Channel's "Impossible Engineering" highlights the astonishingly large Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST) in China.
Categories: Science

Saturn's 'Death Star' Moon Mimas Shines in New Photo

Space.com - Mon, 13/03/2017 - 6:45am
A stunning new photo by NASA's Cassini spacecraft shows Saturn's battered "Death Star" moon Mimas in glorious detail.
Categories: Science

Major Winter Storm Seen From Space - Set To Wallop East Coast | Video

Space.com - Mon, 13/03/2017 - 5:43am
The winter storm was tracked by NOAA’s GOES-16 satellite. It captured the storm in visible, infrared, and colorized Infrared spectrums. It also delivered water vapor imagery of the storm.
Categories: Science

Tim Berners-Lee Warns About the Web's Three Biggest Threats

Slashdot - Mon, 13/03/2017 - 4:36am
Sunday was the 28th anniversary of the day that 33-year-old Tim Berners-Lee submitted his proposal for the World Wide Web -- and the father of the web published a new letter today about "how the web has evolved, and what we must do to ensure it fulfills his vision of an equalizing platform that benefits all of humanity." It's been an ongoing battle to maintain the web's openness, but in addition, Berners-Lee lists the following issues: 1) We've lost control of our personal data. 2) It's too easy for misinformation to spread on the web. 3) Political advertising online needs transparency and understanding. Tim Berners-Lee writes: We must work together with web companies to strike a balance that puts a fair level of data control back in the hands of people, including the development of new technology like personal "data pods" if needed and exploring alternative revenue models like subscriptions and micropayments. We must fight against government over-reach in surveillance laws, including through the courts if necessary. We must push back against misinformation by encouraging gatekeepers such as Google and Facebook to continue their efforts to combat the problem, while avoiding the creation of any central bodies to decide what is "true" or not. We need more algorithmic transparency to understand how important decisions that affect our lives are being made, and perhaps a set of common principles to be followed. We urgently need to close the "internet blind spot" in the regulation of political campaigning. Berners-Lee says his team at the Web Foundation "will be working on many of these issues as part of our new five year strategy," researching policy solutions and building progress-driving coalitions, as well as maintaining their massive list of digital rights organizations. "I may have invented the web, but all of you have helped to create what it is today... and now it is up to all of us to build the web we want -- for everyone." Inspired by the letter, very-long-time Slashdot reader Martin S. asks, does the web need improvements? And if so, "I'm wondering what Slashdotters would consider to be a solution?"

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Categories: Science

Canadian Millennials Struggle As College Degrees Don't Guarantee Jobs

Slashdot - Mon, 13/03/2017 - 1:24am
"CBC News is reporting on how millennials are finding that education only guarantees debt, not a stable job. Not even in STEM," writes Slashdot reader BarbaraHudson, adding "The irony -- one of the teachers touting the values of further education is herself part of the gig economy." An anonymous reader summarizes the article, which reports that 33% of the engineers in Ontario are now underemployed. "I actually thought that coming out of school I would be a commodity and someone would want me," said one 21-year-old mechanical engineering graduate. "But instead, I got hit with a wall of being not wanted whatsoever in the industry." He's applied for 250 engineering jobs, resulting in four interviews, but no job offer, and he's since broadened his job search to the deli counter at the local grocery store, because "It's a job." "More than 12% of Canadians between the ages of 15 and 24 are unemployed," reports CBC News, "and more than a quarter are underemployed, meaning they have degrees but end up in jobs that don't require them. The latest numbers from Statistics Canada show that the unemployment rate for 15-to-24-year-olds is almost twice that of the general population... A 2014 Canadian Teachers' Federation report found nearly a quarter of Canada's youth are either unemployed, working less than they want or have given up looking for work entirely." The article also points out that the number of students enrolled in Canadian universities has more than doubled since 1980, from 800,000 to over two million.

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Categories: Science

Millions of Smart Meters May Over-Inflate Readings by up to 600%

Slashdot - Sun, 12/03/2017 - 11:04pm
"Lab tests carried out by Dutch scientists have shown that some of today's 'smart' electrical meters may give out false readings that in some cases can be 582% higher than actual energy consumption," reports BleepingComputer. An anonymous reader quotes their report: The study involved several tests conducted on nine different brands of "smart" meters, also referred to in the industry as "static energy meters." Researchers also used one electromechanical meter for reference... Experiments went on for six months, with individual tests lasting at least one week, and sometimes several weeks. Test results varied wildly, with some meters reporting errors way above their disclosed range, going from -32% to +582%... The results of the study also matched numbers posted on an online forum by a disgruntled Dutchman complaining about high energy bills... Researchers blamed all the issues on the design of some smart meters, and, ironically, electrical devices with energy-saving features. The latter devices, researchers say, introduced a large amount of noise in electrical current waveforms, which disrupt the smart meter sensors tasked with recording power consumption... Long-time Slashdot reader ClarkMills points out the researchers estimate that "potentially inaccurate meters have been installed in the meter cabinets of at least 750,000 Dutch households," while the article suggests that worldwide, "the numbers of possibly faulty smart meters could be in the millions,especially after some governments, especially in the EU, have pushed for smart meters to replace classic electromechanical (rotating disk) meters."

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Categories: Science

Debian Update: Stretch Frozen, Bug-Squashing Parties Planned

Slashdot - Sun, 12/03/2017 - 10:24pm
"Debian project leader Mehdi Dogguy has written a status update concerning the work going on for the first two months of 2017," reports Phoronix. An anonymous reader quotes their report: So far this year Debian 9.0 Stretch has entered its freeze, bug squashing parties are getting underway for Stretch, the DebConf Committee is now an official team within Debian, a broad Debian Project roadmap is in the early stages of talk, and more. Bug-Squashing Parties have been scheduled this week in Germany and Brazil, with at least two more happening in May in Paris and Zurich, and for current Debian contributors, "Debian is willing to reimburse up to $100 (or equivalent in your local currency) for your travel and accommodation expenses for participating in Bug Squashing Parties..." writes Dogguy, adding "If there are no Bug Squashing Parties next to your city, can you organize one?"

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Categories: Science

Can Crowdfunding Bring Back The Netbook?

Slashdot - Sun, 12/03/2017 - 9:44pm
"The mini-laptop's market niche got swamped by the iPad and the phablet," writes Salon, since the stripped-down hardware of tablets made them cheaper to produce. But now netbooks could be making a grassroots-fueled comeback, "thanks to the lower costs in electronics manufacturing and the fact that individual investors can come together to crowdfund projects." An anonymous reader quotes Salon: Michael Mrozek, the Germany-based creator of creator of the DragonBox Pyra, says "I never understood why they were gone in the first place. I have no idea why you would use a tablet. I tried one, and it's awkward to use it for anything else than browsing the Web"... He has already managed to raise several hundred thousand dollars through a private pre-order system set up on his geek's paradise online store. Once those initial orders have been filled, Mrozek said he will probably start up a mainstream crowdfunding campaign for his Linux handheld... "The niche was always there, but thanks to the Internet and crowdfunding, it's easy to reach everyone who's interested in such a device so even a niche product still gets you enough users to sell it. That wasn't possible 10 years ago." Meanwhile, in just under two weeks Planet Computer raised $446,000 on Indiegogo, more than double the original $200,000 goal for their netbook-like Gemini computer (with a keyboard designed by the creator of the original Psion netbook). Planet's CEO Janko Mrsic-Flogel says "It's a bit like Volkswagen bringing back the Beetle," and predicts that the worldwide demand for netbooks could reach 10 million a year.

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Categories: Science

Nick Denton Predicts 'The Good Internet' Will Rise Again

Slashdot - Sun, 12/03/2017 - 8:34pm
Gawker founder Nick Denton argued today that the future will be rooted in sites like Reddit which involve their reader community -- even if there's only a handful of subtopics each user is interested in. "There's a vitality to it and there's a model for what [media] could be," he told an audience at the South by Southwest festival. But when it comes to other social media sites, "Facebook makes me despise many of my friends and Twitter makes me hate the rest of the world," Denton said. And he attempted to address America's politically-charged atmosphere where professional news organizations struggled to pay their bills while still producing quality journalism. An anonymous reader quotes PCWorld: The internet played a huge role in this crisis, but despite it all, Denton thinks the web can be the solution to the problems it created. "On Google Hangouts chats or iMessage you can exchange quotes, links, stories, media," he said. "That's a delightful, engaging media experience. The next phase of media is going to come out of the idea of authentic, chill conversation about things that matter. Even if we're full of despair over what the internet has become, it's good to remind yourself when you're falling down some Wikipedia hole or having a great conversation with somebody online -- it's an amazing thing. In the habits that we enjoy, there are the seeds for the future. That's where the good internet will rise up again." To show his support for news institutions, Denton has also purchased a paid subscription to the New York Times' site.

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Categories: Science

Notepad++ Update Fixes 'CIA Hacking' Issue

Slashdot - Sun, 12/03/2017 - 7:34pm
Free software Notepad++ (released under the GNU General Public License) received a new update this week which was announced under the headline "Fix CIA Hacking Notepad++ Issue". The CIA documents in WikiLeaks' 'Vault 7' included a "Notepad++ DLL Hijack" document which affected the popular Windows editor for text and source code. "It's not a vulnerability/security issue in Notepad++, but for remedying this issue, from this release (v7.3.3) forward, notepad++.exe checks the certificate validation in scilexer.dll before loading it," reads the announcement. From the Notepad++ web site: If the certificate is missing or invalid, then it just won't be loaded, and Notepad++ will fail to launch. Checking the certificate of DLL makes it harder to hack. Note that once users' PCs are compromised, the hackers can do anything on the PCs. This solution only prevents from Notepad++ loading a CIA homemade DLL. It doesn't prevent your original notepad++.exe from being replaced by modified notepad++.exe while the CIA is controlling your PC. The update also includes "a lot of enhancements and bug-fixes," and if no critical issues are found, "Auto-updater will be triggered in few days."

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Categories: Science

Australian Farmers Switch To Diesel Power As Electricity Prices Soar

Slashdot - Sun, 12/03/2017 - 6:34pm
"As power prices rise, some farmers have been forced to turn off the pumps," reports the Australian Broadcast Corporation. Long-time Slashdot reader connect4 shared their report from the coast of Queensland, where the price of pumping water to sugarcane fields has doubled. Local irrigators council representative, Dale Hollis, says right now, irrigators have two options. "They have to switch off the pumps and go back to dryland [cropping], and that impacts upon the productivity of the region and impacts on jobs" he said. "The second option is to go off the grid and look at alternatives." Another option is solar and there are plenty of farmers installing panels, but many growers irrigate at night and can't afford the millions of dollars it could take to buy battery storage. That's pushing many of them back to a dirtier option. "Right now, diesel stacks up," Mr Hollis said. The head of farm operations for a sugar producer says it's now 30% cheaper to pump water with diesel than electricity, even before you count the subsidy from the federal government, and they expect to save even more money as energy prices go up.

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Categories: Science