posted 12 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader notes this article about the upcoming restart of the LHC. "A senior researcher at the Large Hadron Collider says a new particle could be detected this year that is even more exciting than the Higgs boson. The accelerator is due to come back online in March after an upgrade that has given it a big boost in energy. This could force the first so-called supersymmetric particle to appear in the machine, with the most likely candidate being the gluino. Its detection would give scientists direct pointers to "dark matter". And that would be a big opening into some of the remaining mysteries of the universe. 'It could be as early as this year. Summer may be a bit hard but late summer maybe, if we're really lucky,' said Prof Beate Heinemann, who is a spokeswoman for the Atlas experiment, one of the big particle detectors at the LHC. 'We hope that we're just now at this threshold that we're finding another world, like antimatter for instance. We found antimatter in the beginning of the last century. Maybe we'll find now supersymmetric matter.'"

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posted 12 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Nim is a young, statically typed programming language that has been getting more attention recently. See these articles for an introduction: What is special about Nim?, What makes Nim practical? and How I Start: Nim. The language offers a syntax inspired by Python and Pascal, great performance and C interfacing, and powerful metaprogramming capabilities. The author of "Unix in Rust" just abandoned Rust in favor of Nim and some early-adopter companies are starting to use it as well.

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posted 12 days ago on slashdot
circletimessquare writes: The New York Times has a piece summarizing some recent research and recent discussion about the quality, or lack thereof, of online comments. "[Washington State University researchers] found that the comments on a public-service announcement about vaccination affected readers' attitudes as strongly as the P.S.A. itself did. When comm enters were identified by their level of expertise with the subject (i.e. as doctors), their comments were more influential than the P.S.A.s. Online readers may put a lot of stock in comments because they view commenters 'as kind of similar to themselves,' said Mr. Weber — 'they're reading the same thing, commenting on the same thing.' And, he added, many readers, especially those who are less Internet-savvy, assume commenters 'know something about the subject, because otherwise they wouldn't be commenting on it.' The mere act of commenting, then, can confer an unearned aura of credibility."

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posted 12 days ago on slashdot
schwit1 writes: Cool images! Using New Horizons' long range camera, scientists have compiled a movie showing Charon and Pluto orbiting each other during the last week of January 2015. "Pluto and Charon were observed for an entire rotation of each body; a "day" on Pluto and Charon is 6.4 Earth days. The first of the images was taken when New Horizons was about 3 billion miles from Earth, but just 126 million miles (203 million kilometers) from Pluto — about 30% farther than Earth's distance from the Sun. The last frame came 6.5 days later, with New Horizons more than 5 million miles (8 million kilometers) closer." The wobble easily visible in Pluto's motion is due to the gravity of Charon, about one-eighth as massive as Pluto and about the size of Texas. Our view of Pluto and Charon is only going to get better as New Horizons zooms towards its July fly-by.

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posted 12 days ago on slashdot
rumint writes: The Army Cyber Institute at West Point and the Marine Corps Cyberspace Command just launched an open journal studying cyber conflict — Cyber Defense Review. It focuses on strategy, operations, tactics, history, ethics, law and policy in the cyber domain. The Cyber Defense Review is positioning itself as the leading online and print journal for issues related to cyber conflict for military, industry, professional and academic scholars, practitioners and operators interested providing timely and important research to advance the body of knowledge in an inherently multi-disciplinary field.

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posted 12 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: The United States spends $1.8 billion to build a brand new, state of the art, Virginia-class nuclear powered attack submarine. They are the backbone of the U.S. Navy and the ultimate threat to those nations who are building massive amounts of missiles to keep U.S. naval forces like aircraft carriers away from their shores — think China, Russia, Iran and various others. Sadly, the era of the submarine could be coming to an end. New types of detection technology could make the stealth capabilities of subs obsolete, just like the age of flight made the battleship into a floating museum: "The ability of submarines to hide through quieting alone will decrease as each successive decibel of noise reduction becomes more expensive and as new detection methods mature that rely on phenomena other than sounds emanating from a submarine. These techniques include lower frequency active sonar and non-acoustic methods that detect submarine wakes or (at short ranges) bounce laser or light-emitting diode (LED) light off a submarine hull. The physics behind most of these alternative techniques has been known for decades, but was not exploited because computer processors were too slow to run the detailed models needed to see small changes in the environment caused by a quiet submarine. Today, "big data" processing enables advanced navies to run sophisticated oceanographic models in real time to exploit these detection techniques. As they become more prevalent, they could make some coastal areas too hazardous for manned submarines." This could force submarines to stay far away from areas where they could be found. Alternately, they could evolve into something different: underwater aircraft carriers hosting drones that could strike below the surface.

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posted 12 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: When cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab was called in to investigate ATMs that had begun dispensing cash without input from users, they expected to find a simple problem. Instead, they found the ATMs were just the tip of the iceberg. The bank's internal computer systems were completely compromised, and in addition to the slow but steady siphoning of funds through physical machines, a criminal group was quietly transferring millions of dollars into foreign bank accounts. A report set to be published on Monday shows the attack extended to over 100 banks in 30 nations. "Kaspersky Lab says it has seen evidence of $300 million in theft from clients, and believes the total could be triple that. But that projection is impossible to verify because the thefts were limited to $10 million a transaction, though some banks were hit several times. In many cases the hauls were more modest, presumably to avoid setting off alarms." Kaspersky Lab is unable to name the banks involved because of non-disclosure agreements, and no banks have come forward to acknowledge the breach. "The silence around the investigation appears motivated in part by the reluctance of banks to concede that their systems were so easily penetrated, and in part by the fact that the attacks appear to be continuing."

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posted 12 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Oxford University is [building] a system that takes light from the fiber, amplifies it, and beams it across a room to deliver data at more than 100 gigabits per second. ... The trick, of course, is getting the light beam exactly where it needs to go. An optical fiber makes for a target that's only 8 or 9 micrometers in diameter, after all. The team, which also included researchers from University College, London, accomplished this using so-called holographic beam steering at both the transmitter and receiver ends. These use an array of liquid crystals to create a programmable diffraction grating that reflects the light in the desired direction. ... With a 60-degree field of view, the team was able to transmit six different wavelengths, each at 37.4 Gb/s, for an aggregate bandwidth of 224 Gb/s (abstract). With a 36-degree field of view, they managed only three channels, for 112 Gb/s.

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posted 12 days ago on slashdot
mrflash818 sends this report from Mashable: A decade ago, Netflix meant DVDs by mail, video referred to TV and the Internet meant simple text and pictures. All that changed in about 20 months. ... It was hard to get a handle on what YouTube was, exactly. The founders didn't know how to describe the project, so they called it a dating site. But since there weren't many videos on the site, Karim populated it with videos of 747s taking off and landing. Desperate to get people on the site, YouTube ran ads on Craigslist in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, offering women $20 for every video they uploaded. Not a single woman replied. Another vision for YouTube was a sort of video messaging service. “We thought it was going to be more of a closer circle relationship,” Chen said in a 2007 interview. “It was going to be me uploading a video and sharing it with eight people and I knew exactly who was going to be watching these videos — sharing with my family and my friends.” What actually happened was a “completely different use case” in which people uploaded videos and shared them with the world.

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posted 12 days ago on slashdot
theodp writes: Gottfried Sehringer asks Should We Really Try to Teach Everyone to Code? He writes, "While everyone today needs to be an app developer, is learning to code really the answer? Henry Ford said that, 'If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.' I view everyone learning to code as app development's version of a faster horse. What we all really want — and need — is a car. The industry is falling back on code because for most people, it's the only thing they know. If you want to build an application, you have to code it. And if you want to build more apps, then you have to teach more people how to code, right? Instead, shouldn't we be asking whether coding is really the best way to build apps in the first place? Sure, code will always have a place in the world, but is it the language for the masses? Is it what we should be teaching everyone, including our kids?" President Obama thinks so, telling Re/code at Friday's Cyber Security Summit that 'everybody's got to learn to code early' (video). But until domestic girls (including his daughters) and underrepresented groups get with the program(ming), the President explained he's pushing tech immigration reform hard and using executive action to help address tech's "urgent need" for global talent.

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posted 12 days ago on slashdot
New submitter Lord Flipper writes: The California Public Utilities Commission decision on the Comcast/Time-Warner proposed merger has just been released. It's not an exciting read, but the 25-bullet-point Appendix to the decision is interesting (PDF, starts on page 75). For example: "19. Comcast shall for a period of five years following the effective date of the parent company merger neither oppose, directly or indirectly, nor fund opposition to, any municipal broadband development plan in California, nor any CASF or CTF application within its service territory that otherwise meets the requirements of CASF or CTF." Whoa! Comcast was not expecting this at all, and they're not happy about it. Here's one more, as an example: "8. Comcast shall offer Time Warner's Carrier Ethernet Last Mile Access product to interested [Competitive Local Exchange Carriers] throughout the combined service territories of the merging companies for a period of five years from the effective date of the parent company at the same prices, terms and conditions as offered by Time Warner prior to the merger." The ruling by the CPUC covers all customers, present or in the future of the merged company, in California. What they're talking about is opening up Last Mile Access. This could be a step in the right direction, but the ruling today is definitely a surprise. It could nix the merger in California, or it could light a fire under the FCC's butts, or it could bring real competition to Internet access in California. The CPUC is basing their entire decision on Common Carrier law (Setion 706, as opposed to Title II), and, unlike the projected FCC decision (coming around the 26th of the month) the CPUC's decision has all kinds of "teeth" as opposed to the FCC's "Title II, with forbearance" approach. It could get very interesting, very soon.

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posted 13 days ago on slashdot
jones_supa writes: The 1.7.0 release of Wayland is now available for download. The project thanks all who have contributed, and especially the desktop environments and client applications that now converse using Wayland. In an official announcement from Bryce Harrington of Samsung, he says the Wayland protocol may be considered 'done' but that doesn't mean there's not work to be done. A bigger importance is now given to testing, documentation, and bugfixing. As Wayland is maturing, we are also getting closer to the point where the big Linux distros will eventually start integrating it to their operating system.

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posted 13 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Vint Cerf, speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, said we need better methods for preserving everything we do on computers. It's not just about finding better storage media — it's about recording all the aspects of modern software and operating systems so future generations can figure out how it all worked. Cerf says, "The solution is to take an X-ray snapshot of the content and the application and the operating system together, with a description of the machine that it runs on, and preserve that for long periods of time. And that digital snapshot will recreate the past in the future." Cerf is also pushing for better data preservation standards: "The key here is when you move those bits from one place to another, that you still know how to unpack them to correctly interpret the different parts. That is all achievable if we standardize the descriptions."

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posted 13 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: One of the biggest impediments to getting more electric cars on the road is the lack of charging infrastructure. When there's a gas station every other mile and you have to struggle to find a charging station, it's difficult to make a case for convenience and reliability. But this is changing, particularly in smaller, more technologically advanced countries like Japan. Nissan found that there are now about 40,000 charging points in Japan, compared to about 34,000 gas stations. Granted, not all of those charging spots are available to the public — some are in people's homes. But it shows the infrastructure is making real gains. Also, the article suggests an Airbnb-like system may crop up for people to utilize each other's charging stations. It adds, "As charging stations become more common, electric-car support services are also emerging. Open Charge Map, for example, operates an online listing of public charging points worldwide. A mobile app combines the data with GPS technology to guide drivers to the nearest site."

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posted 13 days ago on slashdot
HughPickens.com writes Who still smokes?" as Denise Grady reports at the NYT that however bad you thought smoking was, it's even worse. A new study has found that in addition to the well-known hazards of lung cancer, artery disease, heart attacks, chronic lung disease and stroke, researchers found that smoking was linked to significantly increased risks of infection, kidney disease, intestinal disease caused by inadequate blood flow, and heart and lung ailments not previously attributed to tobacco. "The smoking epidemic is still ongoing, and there is a need to evaluate how smoking is hurting us as a society, to support clinicians and policy making in public health," says Brian D. Carter, an author of the study. "It's not a done story." Carter says he was inspired to dig deeper into the causes of death in smokers after taking an initial look at data from five large health surveys being conducted by other researchers. As expected, death rates were higher among the smokers but diseases known to be caused by tobacco accounted for only 83 percent of the excess deaths in people who smoked. "I thought, 'Wow, that's really low,' " Mr. Carter said. "We have this huge cohort. Let's get into the weeds, cast a wide net and see what is killing smokers that we don't already know." The researchers found that, compared with people who had never smoked, smokers were about twice as likely to die from infections, kidney disease, respiratory ailments not previously linked to tobacco, and hypertensive heart disease, in which high blood pressure leads to heart failure. "The Surgeon General's report claims 480,000 deaths directly caused by smoking, but we think that is really quite a bit off," concludes Carter adding that the figure may be closer to 540,000.

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posted 13 days ago on slashdot
snydeq writes The government agency that brought us the Internet has now developed a powerful new search engine that is shedding light on the contents of the so-called deep Web. DARPA began work on the Memex Deep Web Search Engine a year ago, and this week unveiled its tools to Scientific American and 60 Minutes. "Memex, which is being developed by 17 different contractor teams, aims to build a better map of Internet content and uncover patterns in online data that could help law enforcement officers and others. While early trials have focused on mapping the movements of human traffickers, the technology could one day be applied to investigative efforts such as counterterrorism, missing persons, disease response, and disaster relief."

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posted 13 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: A report at the Financial Times (paywalled) says Apple is on an aggressive hiring push to pick up automotive experts. Recent rumors suggest Apple is putting together a transportation research lab, and nobody outside the company is quite sure why. It's unlikely they's want to build an entire car themselves, but quite possible they see a big space for Apple technology within motor vehicles, much as Google seems to. They already have CarPlay, and it will doubtless grow, but we still don't have anything approaching a dominant platform for car software. Whatever they're working on, it looks like the competition for more robust computer technology in cars is heating up.

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posted 13 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Droughts in the western U.S. have been bad recently, but not as bad as they could be. Researchers from NASA, Cornell, and Columbia are now warning that if we don't slow the rate at which we produce greenhouse gases, then we're dramatically increasing our odds of a drought that lasts upwards of three decades. "The scientists were interested in megadroughts that took place between 1100 and 1300 in North America. These medieval-period droughts, on a year-to-year basis, were no worse than droughts seen in the recent past. But they lasted, in some cases, 30 to 50 years. When these past megadroughts are compared side-by-side with computer model projections of the 21st century, both the moderate and business-as-usual emissions scenarios are drier, and the risk of droughts lasting 30 years or longer increases significantly."

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posted 13 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration holds a position of trust among citizens that few government agencies share. So when NYU professor Charles Seife found out the FDA is not forthcoming about misconduct in the scientific trials it oversees, he and his class set out to bring it to light. "For more than a decade, the FDA has shown a pattern of burying the details of misconduct. As a result, nobody ever finds out which data is bogus, which experiments are tainted, and which drugs might be on the market under false pretenses. The FDA has repeatedly hidden evidence of scientific fraud not just from the public, but also from its most trusted scientific advisers, even as they were deciding whether or not a new drug should be allowed on the market. Even a congressional panel investigating a case of fraud regarding a dangerous drug couldn't get forthright answers." Seife suggests the FDA is trapped in a co-dependent relationship with the pharmaceutical industry, and needs strong legislative support to end its bad behavior.

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posted 13 days ago on slashdot
In between nodding earnestly as hopeful exhibitors told him how wonderful their products were, Slashdot's Timothy Lord took a look at some of the less-serious displays and goings-on at CES. Some of these people and companies no doubt take themselves 100% seriously, but after grueling days patrolling the endless exhibits at this giant show, Timothy was looking at them through tired (and cynical) eyes. This short video shows some of what he saw.

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posted 13 days ago on slashdot
TechkNighT_1337 writes: Chinese scientists made calculations and predict that a new 2D allotrope of carbon based in a pentagonal form resembling an common pavement in the streets of Ccairo can be synthesized. They call this new form penta-graphene. From the announcement in the Chemistry World, they say: "The team found that not only should a pentagon-containing version of graphene be fairly stable, it should also be stronger than conventional graphene and be able to withstand higher temperatures, up to 730C. It would also be a natural semiconductor, unlike conventional graphene, which is a highly efficient conductor and has to be chemically modified to turn it into a semiconductor."

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posted 13 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Writer Adam Estes has tested over a thousand dollars worth of smart home gear from companies like Wink, GE, Lutron, Cree, and Leviton. Most of it worked correctly out of the box — which he said was great. But almost immediately, devices stopped responding and defects manifested themselves. Even after getting replacements and reconfiguring the devices, he found himself wondering if it was worth the effort to wrestle with all these devices, and ended up appreciating the simplicity of a plain old light switch. Estes says, "Installation woes and bugs aside, my smart home never seemed handy. I had to tape off the regular switches so that the power would stay on and the bulbs' smart features would work. Even then, I had to pull out a smartphone or a tablet any time I wanted to dim the lights. That was never convenient. I could turn the lights on from my office, but that didn't really make my life better. I could impress my friends with a stray smart home feature here and there, but more often than not, I found myself embarrassed by the glitches of my smart home gone dumb." He concludes that while many smart home products can and do work, the biggest lie their marketers tell us is that it'll be simple and easy to set up and operate all these gadgets. Those of you who have wired up parts of your home, how has it worked out so far?

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posted 13 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes When MegaUpload was shut down a few years back, seven of the company's employees were indicted by the U.S. We heard a lot about Kim Dotcom's court proceedings, but not much about the others. A few days ago, we received word that programmer Andrus Nomm has been arrested in Virginia. This came as a surprise to everyone involved. MegaUpload attorney Ira Rothken said it was likely Nomm had made a deal with the Feds. Now, we know for sure: Nomm has pleaded guilty to felony copyright infringement and was sentenced to a year and a day in prison. In a statement, the Department of Justice said they will continue to pursue his co-conspirators.

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posted 13 days ago on slashdot
jfruh writes: Despite privacy concerns and doubts over its usefulness, a plan to track passengers entering or leaving the European Union in a series of national databases is likely to become reality by the end of the year. Legislation working its way through the European Parliament will authorize European nations to set up databases of the sort already in use in the UK, and to share information with each other. All the EU parties except the Greens are in favor.

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posted 14 days ago on slashdot
New submitter Dharkfiber sends an article about the Hardened Anti-Reverse Engineering System (HARES), which is an encryption tool for software that doesn't allow the code to be decrypted until the last possible moment before it's executed. The purpose is to make applications as opaque as possible to malicious hackers trying to find vulnerabilities to exploit. It's likely to find work as an anti-piracy tool as well. To keep reverse engineering tools in the dark, HARES uses a hardware trick that’s possible with Intel and AMD chips called a Translation Lookaside Buffer (or TLB) Split. That TLB Split segregates the portion of a computer’s memory where a program stores its data from the portion where it stores its own code’s instructions. HARES keeps everything in that “instructions” portion of memory encrypted such that it can only be decrypted with a key that resides in the computer’s processor. (That means even sophisticated tricks like a “cold boot attack,” which literally freezes the data in a computer’s RAM, can’t pull the key out of memory.) When a common reverse engineering tool like IDA Pro reads the computer’s memory to find the program’s instructions, that TLB split redirects the reverse engineering tool to the section of memory that’s filled with encrypted, unreadable commands.

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