posted 13 days ago on slashdot
StartsWithABang (3485481) writes It's finally here! Sure, we witnessed the birth of a new meteor shower earlier this year, but it was a flop. Many other showers have come-and-gone like they do every year, but none of them have given us a significant number of meteors-per-hour. But even with a near-full Moon out, it's finally time for the Perseids, the most reliable meteor shower year-after-year. Here's where to find them, where they come from and a whole lot more, including some surprising facts about where they don't come from: cometary tails!

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posted 13 days ago on slashdot
Advocatus Diaboli writes Software created by the controversial UK-based Gamma Group International was used to spy on computers that appear to be located in the United States, the UK, Germany, Russia, Iran, and Bahrain, according to a leaked trove of documents analyzed by ProPublica. It's not clear whether the surveillance was conducted by governments or private entities. Customer e-mail addresses in the collection appeared to belong to a German surveillance company, an independent consultant in Dubai, the Bosnian and Hungarian Intelligence services, a Dutch law enforcement officer, and the Qatari government.

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posted 13 days ago on slashdot
astroengine writes The debate as to whether Pluto is a planet or a dwarf planet rumbles on, but in a new animation of the small world, one can't help but imagine another definition for Pluto. As NASA's New Horizons spacecraft continues its epic journey into the outer solar system, its Kuiper Belt target is becoming brighter and more defined. Seen through the mission's Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) camera, this new set of observations clearly shows Pluto and its biggest moon Charon locked in a tight orbital dance separated by only 11,200 miles. (Compared with the Earth-moon orbital separation of around 240,000 miles, you can see how compact the Pluto-Charon system really is.) Both bodies are shown to be orbiting a common point — the "barycenter" is located well above Pluto's surface prompting a new debate on whether or not Pluto and Charon should be redefined as a "binary planet".

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posted 13 days ago on slashdot
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Researchers tracked the sleep patterns of 85 crew members aboard the International Space Station and space shuttle and found that despite an official flight schedule mandating 8.5 hours of sleep per night, they rarely got more than five. In fact, getting a full night's rest was so difficult that three-quarters of shuttle mission crew members used sleep medication, and sometimes entire teams were sedated on the same night. Given that sleep deprivation contributes to up to 80% of aviation accidents, it's important to better understand why sleep is so difficult in space, the authors say."

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posted 13 days ago on slashdot
First time accepted submitter jarmund (2752233) writes "I first got a WRT54GL in 2007. Now, 7 years later, it's still churning along, despite only having one of its antennae left after an encounter with a toddler. As it is simply not up to date to today's standards (802.11N for example), what is a worthy successor? I enjoyed the freedom to choose the firmware myself (I've run Tomato on it since 2008), in addition to its robustness. A replacement will be considered second-rate unless it catered for the same freedom as its predecessor." Is there a canonical best household router nowadays?

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posted 13 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes "Michael Jordan's infamous attempt at baseball aside, athletes have sometimes switched sports successfully in the past — and perhaps a sure a sign as any that eSports are coming of age is pro gaming's top players are now trying to do the same. A new feature looks at the top players who've tried to make the jump from one first person shooter to another, or even between genre — from StarCraft 2 to League of Legends — and finds that while some have thrived, others has shown that each title can require a very particular, and sadly non-transferrable, skill set."

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posted 13 days ago on slashdot
AbrasiveCat (999190) writes "In the continuing game of cat and mouse between offensive and defensive technologies of war, the technology of radar stealth may have been matched by new multiple frequency radar systems. U.S Naval Institute News reports the Chinese and Russians may be developing such systems. The present radar systems use high frequency waves for accurately locating an incoming target. Stealth aircraft are designed to adsorb or reflect these wave away from the receiver. It turns out longer wave radars can see the stealth aircraft. The longer wave radar lacks the precision of the high frequency radar, but when the two are combined, as the Russians, Chinese (and US) are doing, you can produce accurate targeting radar. The F117 may have been in a golden age for stealth technology, it will be interesting to see if the F35 arrives to late to be effective against other countries with advanced radar systems."

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posted 13 days ago on slashdot
sciencehabit (1205606) writes Even when the sea looks clean, its surface can be flecked with tiny fragments of paint and fiberglass. That's the finding from a study that looked for plastic pollution in the uppermost millimeter of ocean. The microscopic fragments come from the decks and hulls of boats, and they could pose a threat to zooplankton, an important part of the marine food web.

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posted 13 days ago on slashdot
Nicola Hahn (1482985) writes Kim Zetter of Wired Magazine has recently covered Dan Greer's keynote speech at Black Hat USA. In his lengthy address Greer, representing the CIA's venture funding arm, suggested that one way that the United States government could improve cyber security would be to use its unparalleled budget to buy up all the underground's zero-day vulnerabilities. While this would no doubt make zero-day vendors like VUPEN and middlemen like the Grugq very wealthy, is this strategy really a good idea? Can the public really trust the NSA to do the right thing with all those zero-day exploits? Furthermore, recall the financial meltdown of 2008 where the public paid the bill for Wall Street's greed. If the government pays for information on all these unpatched bugs would society simply be socializing the cost of hi-tech's sloppy engineering? Whose interests does this "corner-the-market" approach actually serve?

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posted 13 days ago on slashdot
mdsolar (1045926) writes with news that, with the Ebola outbreak growing out of control, the WHO has declared an international health emergency. From the article: With cases rapidly mounting in four West African countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) today declared the Ebola outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), a designation that allows the agency to issue recommendations for travel restrictions but also sends a strong message that more resources need to be mobilized to bring the viral disease under control. ... This is only the third time the health agency has issued a PHEIC declaration since the new International Health Regulations (IHR), a global agreement on the control of diseases, were adopted in 2005. The previous two instances were in 2009, for the H1N1 influenza pandemic, and in May for the resurgence of polio.

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posted 14 days ago on slashdot
snydeq (1272828) writes Java core has stagnated, Java EE is dead, and Spring is over, but the JVM marches on. C'mon Oracle, where are the big ideas? asks Andrew C. Oliver. 'I don't think Oracle knows how to create markets. It knows how to destroy them and create a product out of them, but it somehow failed to do that with Java. I think Java will have a long, long tail, but the days are numbered for it being anything more than a runtime and a language with a huge install base. I don't see Oracle stepping up to the plate to offer the kind of leadership that is needed. It just isn't who Oracle is. Instead, Oracle will sue some more people, do some more shortsighted and self-defeating things, then quietly fade into runtime maintainer before IBM, Red Hat, et al. pick up the slack independently. That's started to happen anyhow.'

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posted 14 days ago on slashdot
ashshy (40594) writes Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst likes to post "state of the union" addresses at the end of every year. Last December, he said that open source innovation is going mainstream in 2014. In an interview with The Motley Fool, Whitehurst matches up his expectations against mid-year progress. Spoiler alert: It's mostly good news.

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posted 14 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes with news that bogus BGP announcements can be used to hijack work done by cryptocurrency mining pools. Quoting El Reg: Researchers at Dell's SecureWorks Counter Threat Unit (CTU) have identified an exploit that can be used to steal cryptocurrency from mining pools — and they claim that at least one unknown miscreant has already used the technique to pilfer tens of thousands of dollars in digital cash. The heist was achieved by using bogus Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) broadcasts to hijack networks belonging to multiple large hosting companies, including Amazon, Digital Ocean, and OVH, among others. After sending the fake BGP updates miners unknowingly contributed work to the attackers' pools.

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posted 14 days ago on slashdot
KentuckyFC (1144503) writes One curious property of massless particles like photons is that their energy or momentum can take any value across many orders of magnitude, a property that physicists call scale invariance. By contrast, massive particles like electrons always have the same mass regardless of their energy or momentum. So massive particles are not scale invariant. The concept of unparticles is the idea that some "stuff" may have mass, energy and momentum and yet also be scale invariant. This stuff must be profoundly different from ordinary particles, hence the name: unparticles. Nobody has ever seen an unparticle but now physicists are suggesting that unparticles may hold the key to understanding unconventional superconductivity. Their thinking is that at very low temperatures, ordinary particles can sometimes behave like unparticles. In other words, their properties become independent of the scale at which they're observed. So if an unparticle moves without resistance on a tiny scale, then it must also move without resistance at every scale, hence the phenomenon of superconductivity. That could provide some important insights into unconventional superconductivity which has puzzled physicists since it was discovered in the 1980s.

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posted 14 days ago on slashdot
Bismillah (993337) writes Yahoo is working on an easy to use PGP interface for webmail, the company's chief information security officer Alex Stamos said at Black Hat 2014. This could lead to some interesting standoffs with governments and law enforcement wanting to read people's messages. From the article: "'We are working to design a key server architecture that allows for automatic discovery of public keys within Yahoo.com and other participating mail providers and to integrate encryption into the normal mail flow,' Stamos said."

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posted 14 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes In a paper published Thursday in Science, IBM describes its creation of a brain-like chip called TrueNorth. It has "4,096 processor cores, and it mimics one million human neurons and 256 million synapses, two of the fundamental biological building blocks that make up the human brain." What's the difference between TrueNorth and traditional processing units? Apparently, TrueNorth encodes data "as patterns of pulses". Already, TrueNorth has a proven 80% accuracy in image recognition with a power consumption efficiency rate beating traditional processing units. Don't look for brain-like chips in the open market any time soon, though. TrueNorth is part of a DARPA research effort that may or may not translate into significant changes in commercial chip architecture and function.

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posted 14 days ago on slashdot
Lucas123 writes An AMD website in China has leaked information about the upcoming release of a line of SSDs aimed at gamers and professionals that will offer top sequential read/write speeds of 550MB/s and 530MB/s, respectively. AMD confirmed the upcoming news, but no pricing was available yet. The SSDs will come in 120GB, 240GB and 480GB capacities and will use Toshiba's 19-nanometer flash lithography technology. According to IHS, AMD is likely entering the gaming SSD market because desktop SSD shipments are expected to experience a 39% CAGR between now and 2018.

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posted 14 days ago on slashdot
wiredmikey writes In a move to bolster the security of its massive global server network, Facebook announced on Thursday it was acquiring PrivateCore, a Palo Alto, California-based cybersecurity startup. PrivateCore describes that its vCage software transparently secures data in use with full memory encryption for any application, any data, anywhere on standard x86 servers. "I'm really excited that Facebook has entered into an agreement to acquire PrivateCore," Facebook security chief Joe Sullivan wrote in a post to his own Facebook page. "I believe that PrivateCore's technology and expertise will help support Facebook's mission to help make the world more open and connected, in a secure and trusted way," Sullivan said. "Over time, we plan to deploy PrivateCore's technology directly into the Facebook server stack."

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posted 14 days ago on slashdot
amkkhan writes Next time you need to go to the doctor, instead of making an appointment, why not just fire up your smartphone? New programs by companies such as Doctor on Demand and the University of Pittsburgh's AnywhereCare offer one-on-one conferencing with doctors, either over the phone or through video on your phone or computer – giving you all the medical advice you need without having to set foot in a doctor's office. This new breed of checkup, known as telemedicine, has the opportunity to revolutionize personal health, says Pat Basu, chief medical officer of Doctor on Demand and a former Stanford University physician. "Two of the most important skills we use as physicians are looking and listening," he says. "Video conferencing lets me use those skills and diagnose things like colds, coughs and even sprains in a manner more convenient for you."

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posted 14 days ago on slashdot
StartsWithABang writes Just over a century ago, N rays were detected by over a hundred researchers and discussed in some three hundred publications, yet there were serious experimental flaws and experimenter biases that were exposed over time. Fast forward to last week, and NASA Tests Microwave Space Drive is front page news. But a quick analysis shows that it isn't theorists who'll need to struggle to explain this phenomenon, but rather the shoddy experimentalists who are making the exact same "bad science" mistakes all over again.

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posted 14 days ago on slashdot
itwbennett writes China is tightening control over mobile messaging services with new rules that limit their role in spreading news. Under the new regulations, only news agencies and other groups with official approval can publish whatever the government considers political news via public accounts. "All other public accounts that have not been approved cannot release or reprint political news," the regulations said. Users of the instant messaging services will also have to register with their official IDs, and agree to follow relevant laws.

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posted 14 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes "Google today released a preview SDK of Google Fit available to developers. The tool provides APIs for apps and device manufacturers to store and access activity data from fitness apps and sensors on Android and other devices (like wearables, heart rate monitors or connected scales). Google warns that the preview release contains the Google Fit APIs for Android, but does not contain the REST API or the Android Wear APIs, which will be included in the official release. Furthermore, while it will let you develop and test fitness apps, they cannot be published to Google Play until official release."

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posted 14 days ago on slashdot
MojoKid (1002251) writes News and rumors about Valve's upcoming Source 2 engine have been buzzing for months, but a recent update to DOTA 2 contains the most persuasive evidence yet that a major engine is in the works. After the last patch, the game now contains a number of programmed default paths, directories, and file names that didn't previously exist. Source-related DLLs and executables (engine.dll, vconsole.dll) have been updated to "engine2.dll" and vconsole2.dll." The tileset editor has a default Source path. There's also now an option to save files as "Source 1.0 Map Files" where no previous option existed. Here's the funny thing — while most people think of a game screenshot as the best evidence you can buy, low-level file directories, default trees, and changed application behavior is actually more persuasive. Source 1.0 was never updated to support DX11 or OpenGL 4.x, and while the engine can still be used for impressive titles, its DX9 limitations and ancient modding tools are showing their age. It's time to bring the game engine into the modern world, and hopefully these DOTA 2 updates mean that Valve is moving closer to that goal.

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posted 14 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes "The battle over Comcast's public WiFi network that is hosted on your cable modem continues. Comcast responded to Speedify's earlier power measurements by rushing them a new Cisco cable modem. The new modem proved to be more power hungry than the last, and also introduced some tricky IPv6 problems that caused major headaches for the team."

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posted 14 days ago on slashdot
First time accepted submitter PotatoHead (12771) writes "This is a big win for Open Hardware Proponents! The Parallax Propeller Microcontroller VERILOG code was released today, and it's complete! Everything you need to run Open Code on an Open CPU design. This matters because you can now build a device that is open hardware, open code all the way down to the CPU level! Either use a product CPU, and have access to it's source code to understand what and how it does things, or load that CPU onto a suitable FPGA and modify it or combine it with your design."

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