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Updated: 52 min 24 sec ago

Spitzer Space Telescope Finds New Planet

Thu, 16/04/2015 - 4:28am
Aspiring Astronomer sends word of the discovery of one of the farthest known exoplanets. NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has teamed up with a telescope on the ground to find a remote gas planet about 13,000 light-years away, making it one of the most distant planets known. The discovery demonstrates that Spitzer -- from its unique perch in space -- can be used to help solve the puzzle of how planets are distributed throughout our flat, spiral-shaped Milky Way galaxy. Are they concentrated heavily in its central hub, or more evenly spread throughout its suburbs? 'We don't know if planets are more common in our galaxy's central bulge or the disk of the galaxy, which is why these observations are so important,' said Jennifer Yee of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and a NASA Sagan fellow. Yee is the lead author of one of three new studies that appeared recently in the Astrophysical Journal describing a collaboration between astronomers using Spitzer and the Polish Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment, or OGLE."

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Nuclear Fusion Simulator Among Software Picked For US's Summit Supercomputer

Thu, 16/04/2015 - 1:56am
An anonymous reader writes Today, The Register has learned of 13 science projects approved by boffins at the US Department of Energy to run on the 300-petaFLOPS Summit. These software packages, selected for the Center for Accelerated Application Readiness (CAAR) program, will be ported to the massive parallel machine, and are hoped to make full use of the supercomputer's architecture.They range from astrophysics, biophysics, chemistry, and climate modeling to combustion engineering, materials science, nuclear physics, plasma physics and seismology.

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Longer Video Shows How Incredibly Close Falcon Stage Came To Successful Landing

Wed, 15/04/2015 - 11:45pm
Bruce Perens writes In the video here, the Falcon 9 first stage is shown landing with a tilt, and then a thruster keeps the rocket vertical on the barge for a few seconds before it quits, followed by Kabooom with obvious significant damage to the barge. It looks like this attempt was incredibly close to success. Given fixes, a successful first-stage recovery seems likely.

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India's Net Neutrality Campaign Picks Up Steam, Sites Withdraw From Internet.org

Wed, 15/04/2015 - 11:01pm
First time accepted submitter arvin (916235) writes The Huffington Post reports on prominent Indian websites withdrawing from Facebook's internet.org initiative. The net neutrality debate in the country has focused on zero-rating, where ISPs offer a free data plan which provides access to a set of websites that pay to be included. Internet.org provides free access to Facebook, Bing, Wikipedia and a few other websites. Another similar service, Airtel Zero, lost its flagship partner as e-commerce company Flipkart withdrew following a social media backlash. Net neutrality activists believe that as these plans proliferate, access to the open internet will become extremely expensive or unavailable, innovation will slow as for startups are prevented from reaching the market, and the competitive consumer ISP market will be replaced with a cartel negotiating against internet companies. In a campaign similar to that in the US, over 630,000 Indians sent responses to their regulator through the website savetheinternet.in.

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Gyro-Copter Lands On West Lawn of US Capitol, Pilot Arrested

Wed, 15/04/2015 - 10:17pm
An anonymous reader writes that Doug Hughes, 61, a mailman from Ruskin, Florida was arrested for landing a gyro-copter on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. "A 61-year-old Florida mailman was arrested Wednesday after he landed a gyrocopter on the U.S. Capitol west lawn. The gyrocopter was carrying the pilot and 535 stamped letters for members of Congress urging 'real reform' to campaign finance laws. Doug Hughes told the Tampa Bay Times ahead of the afternoon stunt that he notified authorities 'well over an hour in advance of getting to the no-fly zone, so they know who I am and what I'm doing.' Capitol police sent dogs and a bomb squad to the scene. Nothing hazardous was found. A city block from the Capitol had been cordoned off."

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Categories: Science

Why "Designed For Security" Is a Dubious Designation

Wed, 15/04/2015 - 9:30pm
itwbennett writes The list of products designed to be security enhanced that turned out to be anything but seems to get longer by the day. In just the latest instance, reported by Wired last week, the crowd-funded privacy-enhancing home router Anonabox had to be recalled after an independent researcher discovered serious security flaws in the product. But security experts caution that the real problem may be bigger than vulnerabilities hidden in application code: "Designed for security products don't just have to be good. They have to be beyond reproach," explains John Dickson, a Principal at the Denim Group. "All it takes is one guy with a grudge to undo you."

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The Crazy-Tiny Next Generation of Computers

Wed, 15/04/2015 - 8:46pm
An anonymous reader writes University of Michigan professors are about to release the design files for a one-cubic-millimeter computer, or mote. They have finally reached a goal set in 1997, when UC Berkeley professor Kristopher Pister coined the term "smart dust" and envisioned computers blanketing the Earth. Such motes are likely to play a key role in the much-ballyhooed Internet of Things. From the article: "When Prabal Dutta accidentally drops a computer, nothing breaks. There’s no crash. The only sound you might hear is a prolonged groan. That’s because these computers are just one cubic millimeter in size, and once they hit the floor, they’re gone. 'We just lose them,' Dutta says. 'It’s worse than jewelry.' To drive the point home, Dutta, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at the University of Michigan, emails me a photo of 50 of these computers. They barely fill a thimble halfway to its brim."

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How Brain Pacemakers Treat Parkinson's Disease

Wed, 15/04/2015 - 8:03pm
the_newsbeagle writes Pharmaceutical research for neuropsychiatric disorders hasn't produced many breakthroughs lately, which may explain why there's so much excitement around "electroceutical" research. That buzzy new field encompasses deep brain stimulation (DBS), in which an implanted stimulator sends little jolts through the neural tissue. DBS has become an accepted therapy for Parkinson's and other motor disorders, even though researchers haven't really understood how it works. Now, new research may have found the mechanism of action in Parkinson's patients: The stimulation reduces an exaggerated synchronization of neuron activity in the motor cortex.

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Chinese Ninebot Buys US Rival Segway

Wed, 15/04/2015 - 7:20pm
An anonymous reader writes Xiaomi-backed startup Ninebot, a Chinese maker of electric-powered personal transportation products, has acquired U.S. rival Segway – the two-wheeler upright scooter which has become a running joke, synonymous with various comedic appearances (such as in U.S. sitcom Arrested Development and the 2009 comedy Paul Blart: Mall Cop), and the death of its owner at the hands of an unfortunate Segway-induced cliff fall. However Gao Lufeng, chief executive, still recognizes the potential of the Segway and has bought the U.S. company for an undisclosed amount. Lufeng confirmed that Ninebot had also secured $80mn in funding from Xiaomi and venture capital firm Sequoia Capital.

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Magician Turned Professor Talks About the Math Behind Shuffling Cards

Wed, 15/04/2015 - 6:36pm
An anonymous reader writes with this story about magician and professor of mathematics and statistics at Stanford University Persi Diaconis. "Now a professor of mathematics and statistics at Stanford University, Diaconis has employed his intuition about cards, which he calls 'the poetry of magic,' in a wide range of settings. Once, for example, he helped decode messages passed between inmates at a California state prison by using small random 'shuffles' to gradually improve a decryption key. He has also analyzed Bose-Einstein condensation — in which a collection of ultra-cold atoms coalesces into a single 'superatom' — by envisioning the atoms as rows of cards moving around. This makes them 'friendly,' said Diaconis, whose speech still carries the inflections of his native New York City. 'We all have our own basic images that we translate things into, and for me cards were where I started.' In 1992, Diaconis famously proved — along with the mathematician Dave Bayer of Columbia University — that it takes about seven ordinary riffle shuffles to randomize a deck. Over the years, Diaconis and his students and colleagues have successfully analyzed the effectiveness of almost every type of shuffle people use in ordinary life."

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MIT Celebrates 10 Years of SCIgen Bogus CompSci Paper Generator With New Tool

Wed, 15/04/2015 - 5:52pm
alphadogg writes Three MIT grads this week are celebrating the 10th anniversary of their clever SCIgen program, which randomly generates computer science papers realistic enough to get accepted by sketchy technical conferences and publishers, with a brand new tool designed to poke even more fun at such outfits. Just a bit late for April Fool's Day, the new SCIpher program from the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab alums enables users to hide messages inside randomly-generated calls for papers from phony conferences whose names are so ridiculous that they sound legit. An MIT spokesman says the new tool is really just a way for geeky friends to mess with each other, whereas SCIgen pointed out major flaws in the worlds of scientific journals and conferences.

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NVIDIA's New GPUs Are Very Open-Source Unfriendly

Wed, 15/04/2015 - 5:09pm
An anonymous reader writes: The Nouveau driver developers working on open-source support for the GeForce 900 Maxwell graphics cards have found this new generation to be "very open-source unfriendly" and restricting. NVIDIA began requiring signed firmware images, which they have yet to provide to Nouveau developers, contrary to their earlier statements. The open-source developers have also found their firmware signing to go beyond just simple security precautions. For now the open-source NVIDIA driver can only enable displays with the GTX 900 series without any hardware acceleration.

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GAO Warns FAA of Hacking Threat To Airliners

Wed, 15/04/2015 - 4:27pm
chicksdaddy writes: A report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) warns that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration may be failing to address cyber security vulnerabilities that could allow remote attacks on avionics systems needed to keep the plane airborne. In a report issued Tuesday (PDF), the GAO said, "significant security-control weaknesses remain that threaten the agency's ability to ensure the safe and uninterrupted operation of the national airspace system." Among those: a lack of clear certification for aircraft airworthy readiness that encompasses cyber security protections. That lapse could allow planes to fly with remotely exploitable vulnerabilities that could affect aircraft controls and guidance systems. The GAO report did not provide details of any specific vulnerability affecting any specific aircraft. Rather, GAO cited FAA personnel and experts, saying that the possibility exists that "unauthorized individuals might access and compromise aircraft avionics systems," in part by moving between Internet-connected in-flight entertainment systems and critical avionics systems in the aircraft cabin. Security researchers have long warned that hackers could jump from in-flight entertainment systems in the passenger cabin to cockpit avionics systems if airlines did not take proper precautions, such as so-called "air gapping" the networks. At last year's Black Hat Briefings, researcher Ruben Santamarta of IOActive demonstrated a method of hacking the satellite communications equipment on passenger jets through their WiFi and inflight entertainment systems.

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Researchers Design a Self-Powered Digital Camera

Wed, 15/04/2015 - 3:46pm
Jason Koebler writes: Researchers at Columbia University have designed a fully electric digital camera that powers itself using ambient light. Put in a well-lit room, it would work indefinitely. The camera's image sensor does double duty. It measures the light needed to make the photograph, and it also takes excess light and uses it to power a capacitor (it has no battery) that runs the camera (PDF). The research team says the technology can be used to create self-powered cameras that can live on the internet of things.

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Samsung SSD On a Tiny M.2 Stick Is Capable of Read Speeds Over 2GB/sec

Wed, 15/04/2015 - 3:23pm
MojoKid writes: Samsung has just announced its new SM951-NVMe SSD, the industry's first NVMe SSD to employ an M.2 form-factor. Samsung says the new gumstick style drive is capable of sequential read and write speeds of 2,260 MB/sec and 1,600 MB/sec respectively. Comparable SATA-based M.2 SSDs typically can only push read/write speeds of 540 MB/sec and 500 MB/sec, while most standard PCIe versions muster just north of 1GB/sec. The Samsung SM951-NVMe's performance is actually very comparable to the Intel SSD 750 Series PCIe x4 card but should help kick notebook performance up a notch in this common platform configuration.

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Jack Thompson Will Be Featured In BBC Film 'Grand Theft Auto'

Wed, 15/04/2015 - 3:02pm
New submitter requerdanos writes: Former attorney and professional troll Jack Thompson is set to become a major motion picture figure, played by Bill Paxton, in the upcoming film Grand Theft Auto. According to Cinema Blend, "Paxton is in line to play Jack Thompson. A Miami lawyer, Thompson came into the public eye by frequently blasting Grand Theft Auto, creator Rockstar Games, and video game violence in general. Before that, he was known for attacking media companies who promoted both hip hop and sex. In 2008, allegations of professional misconduct, including harassment, defamation, intimidation, and false statements led to Thompson being disbarred."

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Remote Code Execution Vulnerability Found In Windows HTTP Stack

Wed, 15/04/2015 - 2:20pm
jones_supa writes: A remote code execution vulnerability exists in the Windows HTTP stack that is caused when HTTP.SYS parses specially-crafted HTTP requests. An attacker who has successfully exploited this vulnerability could execute arbitrary code under the SYSTEM context. Details of the bug are withheld, but exploit code is floating around. Microsoft describes the issue in security bulletin MS15-034. An update (KB3042553) is already available for all supported editions of Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows 8, Windows Server 2012, Windows 8.1, and Windows Server 2012 R2. As a workaround, Microsoft offers disabling IIS kernel caching.

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'We the People' Petition To Revoke Scientology's Tax Exempt Status

Wed, 15/04/2015 - 1:37pm
An anonymous reader writes: There has been a lot of interest in the activities of the Church of Scientology recently, especially since the release of Alex Gibney's documentary Going Clear. A petition against tax-exempt status for Scientology has been started on the U.S. White House petition website. If it receives more than 100,000 signatures, it will qualify for an official White House response. Even Slashdot has had its own run-ins with Scientology in the past — one of many internet sites to face legal threats from the Church. Has the time come for Scientology go "clear?"

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Nokia To Buy Alcatel-Lucent for $16.6 Billion

Wed, 15/04/2015 - 12:56pm
totalcaos sends news that Nokia has announced plans to buy Alcatel-Lucent for $16.6 billion worth of stock. Both companies have approved the transaction, though now they must wait for regulatory approval. They said they expect the deal to close in the first half of 2016. The combined company is expected to become the world’s second-largest telecom equipment manufacturer behind Ericsson of Sweden, with global revenues totaling $27 billion and operations spread across Asia, Europe and North America. The companies are betting that, by joining forces, they can better compete against Chinese and European rivals bidding to provide telecom hardware and software to the world’s largest carriers, including AT&T and Verizon in the United States, Vodafone and Orange in Europe, and SoftBank in Japan. ... Analysts say that Nokia has progressively focused on its equipment unit, which now represents roughly 85 percent of the company’s annual revenue. On Wednesday, Nokia confirmed that it had put its digital maps business — a competitor for Google Maps — up for sale.

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Hubble and the VLT Uncover Evidence For Self-Interacting Dark Matter

Wed, 15/04/2015 - 12:14pm
astroengine writes: A new study carried out by the ESO's Very Large Telescope and the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has revealed for the first time that dark matter may well interact with itself — a discovery that, at first glance, seems to contradict what we thought we knew about the nature of this invisible mass. "In this study, the researchers observed the four colliding galaxies and found that one dark matter clump appeared to be lagging behind the galaxy it surrounds. The dark matter is currently 5000 light-years (50 000 million million kilometers) behind the galaxy — it would take NASA’s Voyager spacecraft 90 million years to travel that far. A lag between dark matter and its associated galaxy is predicted during collisions if dark matter interacts with itself, even very slightly, through forces other than gravity. Dark matter has never before been observed interacting in any way other than through the force of gravity."

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Categories: Science