Bill Pringle - Bill@BillPringle

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Interesting Articles

This page contains links to interesting articles about computers and other stuff. Please let me know if you find any broken links. I may or may not agree with the opinions expressed in any of these articles.

If you are interested in Facebook, you might want to see my Facebook page, which contains suggestions on how to keep your information safe while enjoying Facebook.

I found many of these on SlashDot, and used their descriptions. The nice thing about the Slashdot articles is that you can learn more information from the discussions.

Article Description/Comments
US Begins Dropping 'Cyberbombs' On ISIS
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In what appears to be a significant shift in its tactic to battle against the terrorist organization, the U.S. has begun launching cyberattacks against ISIS (non-paywall link). The New York Times reports that the Department of Defense's Cyber Command unit is mounting cyberattacks against the terrorist organization. The Cyber Command unit aims to stop the organization from spreading its message. The Times reports:

The goal of the new campaign is to disrupt the ability of the Islamic State to spread its message, attract new adherents, circulate orders from commanders and carry out day-to-day functions, like paying its fighters. A benefit of the administration's exceedingly rare public discussion of the campaign, officials said, is to rattle the Islamic State's commanders, who have begun to realize that sophisticated hacking efforts are manipulating their data. Potential recruits may also be deterred if they come to worry about the security of their communications with the militant group. "We are dropping cyberbombs," Robert O. Work, deputy secretary of defense said. "We have never done that before."
British Astronaut Competes in London Marathon from ISS
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British astronaut Tim Peake became the first man to complete a marathon in space on Sunday, running the classic 26.2 mile distance while strapped to a treadmill aboard the International Space Station..." reports Reuters. "The 44-year-old spaceman saw London's roads under his feet in real time on an iPad as, 250 miles below him, more than 37,000 runners simultaneously pounded the streets." Meanwhile, in a show of solidarity, two earth-bound runners ran the marathon wearing space suits.

CNN notes that Peake "ran the race for real in 1999," but this time competed with avatars that represented actual runners who were using the Run Social app. His zero-gravity run took longer -- more than three and a half hours -- while a Kenyan runner ultimately won the race, completing the whole 26.2-mile course in just two hours, three minutes and four seconds, the second-fastest time ever recorded.
Drone Fire-Fighting Tested in Nebraska
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Friday Researchers at the University of Nebraska flew a drone over a prairie test site, dropping small containers the size of ping-pong balls to ignite controlled fires. "The fires clear out brush to make it easier to control wildfires on the prairie," reports the Associated Press, citing a National Park Service spokesperson who believes it could help clear overgrown vegetation in hard-to-reach areas. "The technology is already used by helicopters to start controlled burns," reports the AP, "but researchers note that the drone is cheaper and more portable. 'You could afford one of these on the back of your fire truck, whereas you probably can't afford to have a full-sized helicopter parked at your fire station,' said Carrick Detweiler, a member of the Nebraska research team."

One engineering professor tells the AP, "Imagine them having this in their backpack, pulling it out and telling it, 'Hey, go scout out there. Check whether it's hot. Check whether it's safe..." And this Omaha news site has video footage of the drone fire-fighting test.
Drones are the new UFOs.
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The drone that reportedly hit a British Airways jet earlier this week may have actually been a plastic bag, a minister has said. Transport minister Robert Goodwill admitted authorities had not yet confirmed whether what struck the Airbus A320 was a remote-controlled device. The collision on Sunday night is believed to have been at around 1,700 ft near Richmond Park in south west London, over four times higher than the legal height limit. The Air Accidents Investigation Branch is investigating, alongside the Metropolitan Police. But following his comments today, Mr Goodwill also dismissed calls for tighter rules on drone use to protect against terror threats insisting current rules governing drone use were strong enough.

From a Quartz report:

Motherboard's Jason Koebler dove into the data the FAA released last August dove into the data the FAA released last August, and found that, among other things, "a 'large vulture,' a 'fast moving gray object,' a 'mini blimp,' a 'red UAS or balloon,' and 'a UFO' were all classified as drones in the FAA's report." This led him to decide that, when it comes to verifiable sightings -- even from trained pilots -- "drones are the new UFOs."
Tubman replacing Jackson on the $20 a deeply symbolic move
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Growing up in Oklahoma, Becky Hobbs noticed some of her Cherokee elders wouldn't even touch a $20 bill because they so despised Andrew Jackson. To this day, the 66-year-old songwriter pokes him in the face whenever she gets one.

For Hobbs and many other Native Americans, the U.S. Treasury's decision to replace Jackson's portrait with Harriet Tubman's is a hugely meaningful change.
VC, Entrepreneur Says Basic Income Would Work Even If 90% People 'Smoked Pot' and Didn't Work
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The chief complaint people lodge at universal basic income -- a form of income distribution that gives people money to cover basic needs regardless of whether they work or not -- is that it'll make them lazy. Sam Altman doesn't buy it. In a recent episode of the Freakonomics podcast, entitled "Is the World Ready for a Guaranteed Basic Income?" Altman argued basic income could support huge amounts of productivity loss and still carry the economy on its shoulders. "Maybe 90% of people will go smoke pot and play video games, but if 10% of the people go create incredible new products and services and new wealth, that's still a huge net-win," Altman says. "And the American puritanical ideal that hard work for its own sake is valuable -- period -- and that you can't question that, I think that's just wrong." [...] The complaint Altman addressed on the Freakonomics podcast is a common one. Study after study, however, has shown that giving people extra money makes them feel financially secure. That security ends up leading to empowerment, not de-motivation.
US Treasury To Feature Harriet Tubman On $20 Bill
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Harriet Tubman will become the first African-American woman to be featured on the face of U.S. paper currency in more than a century. Tubman was born a slave and went on to become an anti-slavery crusader. Ironically, she will be replacing Andrew Jackson, the seventh President of the U.S. and a slave owner. According to Wikipedia, "Jackson held as many as 44 [slaves] by 1820, and later held up to 150 slaves, making him among planter elite. Throughout his lifetime Jackson may have owned as many as 300 slaves." The decision to feature a woman on a bill started in part from a young girl's letter to President Obama about the lack of women on U.S. currency. A social media campaign "Women on 20s" then began pushing for a woman to replace Jackson on the currency early last year. Originally, the department announced it would feature a woman on the $10 bill instead of Alexander Hamilton. Now it's being reported Hamilton will stay on the front of the bill with a group of women on the back of it. Civil rights era leaders will reportedly be depicted in the new $5 bill.
Senate Passes Bipartisan Energy Bill To Develop New Technologies, Improve Cybersecurity
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The U.S. Senate acted in a bipartisan fashion to pass a sweeping energy bill, touching on everything from cybersecurity for power plants to the future of the grid. The bill resulted from collaboration between Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Washington Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell. The bill, if it merges with House legislation and becomes law, would unleash billions in research and development on new energy technologies, including energy storage, hydrokinetic and marine energy and advancing the electric grid. Many of these initiatives have substantial aisle-crossing appeal, and some could, at least indirectly, help address the problem of climate change. The bill also reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and contains provisions promoting more research on the sequestering of carbon emissions from coal burning and hastening the approval of pipelines and liquefied natural gas exports. The bill, said Alliance to Save Energy president Kateri Callahan, "not only saves homeowners and businesses money and creates jobs, but it also has a huge environmental return by avoiding 1.5 billion tons of carbon emissions. Energy efficiency truly is a win-win-win for our country, making our economy more energy productive, protecting our environment and enhancing our energy security."
Almost Nothing About the 'Apple Harvests Gold From iPhones' Story Is True
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You may have seen a viral headline floating around over the last few days: Apple recycled $40 million worth of gold last year, which was extracted from iPhones. Almost none of what was reported is true. [...] Here is the truth: Apple paid independent recyclers to recycle old electronics -- which were almost never Apple products, by the way -- because it's required by law to do so. Far from banking $40 million on the prospect, Apple likely ended up taking an overall monetary loss. This is not because Apple is a bad actor or is hiding anything, it's simply how the industry works. All electronics manufacturers that sell products in the United States are required to do e-waste recycling under laws enacted in 25 states. The laws are different in each state, but none of them require Apple to recycle Apple products. Instead, they usually require manufacturers to recycle a certain amount of pounds of e-waste, which is linked to either their market share or to the overall weight of products they sell. That's why you see Apple noting that it recycled "71 percent of the total weight of products we sold seven years earlier."
Ford Spent $200,000 To Dissect a Limited-Edition Tesla Model X
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Ford Motor paid a sum of $199,950 ($55,000 more than the retail price) to buy one of the first sport utility vehicles made by Tesla Motors, reports Bloomberg, citing vehicle registration documents. The white Model X is a Founders Series with a vehicle identification number indicating it was the 64th one made at Tesla's factory in Fremont, California. The vehicle, with Michigan plates, has been spotted recently in the Detroit area. Automakers often buy cars made by competitors for road testing and for 'tear-downs' to reveal components and materials and how they're put together. But it's unusual to pay such a high price -- almost $212,000 after Michigan sales tax and title -- for such an early model.

Well, this $200,000 could shave off hundreds of thousands of dollars in research and development.
Can Switzerland Become a Safe Haven For the World's Data?
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An article on Daily Dot which lists a number of reasons why Switzerland should be deemed as the nation for storing all of your data. The article reads: As United States and European Union regulators debate a sweeping new data-privacy agreement, Switzerland is presenting itself as a viable neutral location for storing the world's data thanks to strict privacy laws and ideal infrastructure. The Swiss constitution guarantees data privacy under Article 13. The country's laws protecting privacy are similar to those enacted by the E.U. Swiss data protections are also, in some cases, much stricter than those of the E.U., according to Nicola Benz, attorney at Swiss law firm Froriep. And since Switzerland is not part of the E.U., data stored there remains outside the reach of the union's authorities. [...] The country's tight privacy laws could make the small nation more attractive to privacy-focused start-ups. And it already has that momentum. After the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden 2013 revelations about the National Security Agency's secret surveillance activities, Switzerland witnessed something of a boom in its data-center business. Phil Zimmermann, creator of the popular PGP encryption protocol and founder of Silent Circle, even left the U.S. for Switzerland last year, citing the overreach of American authorities. Andy Yen, CEO of Swiss-based encrypted email service Protonmail, said that the country has robust processes in how it carries out data requests from authorities. Data requests have to go through a court like in most countries, said Yen, but "the person that's having their data requested needs to be notified eventually about the request happening and there's an opportunity to fight it in an open court. This is quite different than the U.S., where things can go through a so-called FISA court."
Court Troubled By Surveillance Excesses At FBI, NSA
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In a just-released court opinion, a federal court judge overseeing government surveillance programs said he was "extremely concerned" about a series of incidents in which the Federal Bureau of Investigation and National Security Agency deviated from court-approved limits on their snooping activities. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Judge Thomas Hogan sharply criticized the two agencies over the episodes, referred to by intelligence gatherers as "compliance incidents." He also raised concerns that the government had taken years to bring the NSA-related issues to the court's attention and he said that delay might have run afoul of the government's duty of candor to the court. Yesterday, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Justice to reveal whether or not they ever forced a company to provide technical surveillance assistance in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
Warmest March In Global Recordkeeping
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March 2016 was by far the planet's warmest March since record keeping began in 1880. In the NOAA database, March 2016 came in a full 1.22C (2.20F) warmer than the 20th-century average for March, as well as 0.32C (0.58F) above the previous record for March, set in 2010. This is a huge margin for breaking a monthly global temperature record, as they are typically broken by just a few hundredths of a degree. Global satellite-measured temperatures also found this March to be the warmest -- the sixth consecutive monthly record in the UAH satellite data set. Gavin Schmidt, the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies has estimated that 2016 already has over a 99% chance of being the hottest year on record, based on the first three months alone.
Netflix Has Twice As Many US Subscribers As Comcast
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You want to hear a staggering statistic? Netflix has more than twice as many U.S. subscribers as Comcast. Netflix USA writes, "According to [Comcast's] Q4 report, Comcast ended 2015 with 22,347,000 video subscribers. Netflix's own shareholder report listed their U.S. membership base at 44,740,000 strong. That's 100.2% more than Comcast -- a staggering statistic." It's impressive to see how quick the Netflix subscriber base has grown just in the past five years from around 20 million subscribers to nearly 45 million subscribers. What's also interesting to reflect on is the two different business models. Netflix USA writes, "Netflix makes its money off of a lot of subscribers paying about $10 a month each, while Comcast charges far fewer customers far more."
Obama Urges Opening Cable TV Boxes To Competition
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President Obama is publicly supporting the FCC's proposal to help viewers buy cable boxes to spur competition and help subscribers save money. Basically, the proposal would require TV channels to sell their content to third-party groups, like Google and others who would sell their own devices. The president's backing of the FCC proposal is part of a broader White House initiative to spur competition. In a Yahoo News interview, Obama compared the cable box issue to earlier moves by the government to open up the telephone system in the 1980's. Obama said, "Across the board, if we have more players who can potentially participate, fewer barriers to entry, the rules aren't rigged, then you get more people trying to get your business and you get better products at cheaper prices."
Apple's Recycling Initiatives Recover $40 Million In Gold
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Apple released its latest annual environmental report yesterday with numbers detailing how much the company has been able to recover from old devices. Business Insider notes that Apple was able to recover over 61 million pounds of steel, aluminum, glass, and other materials from its computers and iPhones. This includes a total of 2,204 pounds of gold worth $40 million at current prices ($1,229.80 per troy ounce of gold). Cult of Mac ran the figures quoted by Apple through today's metal prices, and came up with individual figures for copper ($6.4 million), aluminum ($3.2 million), silver ($1.6 million), nickel ($160,426), zinc ($109,503), and lead ($33,999).

Last month, Apple unveiled an iPhone recycling robot, named Liam, that salvages old parts.
Billions of Cicadas Are About to Invade the Northeast
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Northeast residents may feel like they’ve been waiting forever for temperatures to rise enough so they can finally put away their winter coats. But that’s nothing compared to the billions of Brood V cicadas that have been waiting since 1999 for the spring of 2016 to arrive, so they can finally emerge from the ground and start making some noise. Expect the ruckus to begin next month and last several weeks.
Report: US Government Worse Than All Major Industries On Cyber Security
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U.S. federal, state and local government agencies rank in last place in cyber security when compared against 17 major private industries, including transportation, retail and healthcare, according to a new report released Thursday. The analysis, from venture-backed security risk benchmarking startup SecurityScorecard, measured the relative security health of government and industries across 10 categories, including vulnerability to malware infections, exposure rates of passwords and susceptibility to social engineering, such as an employee using corporate account information on a public social network. Educations, telecommunications and pharmaceutical industries also ranked low, the report found. Information services, construction, food and technology were among the top performers. And we are supposed to trust them with healthcare?

This report comes after President Obama recently unveiled a commission of private, public and academic experts to bolster the U.S. cyber security sector.
Microsoft Sues US Justice Department, Asks Court To Declare Secrecy Orders Unconstitutional
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Microsoft is suing the U.S. Justice Department, asking a federal judge to declare unconstitutional a provision of U.S. law that lets the government keep Microsoft and other tech companies from informing their customers when investigators seek access to emails and other cloud data. The suit, filed moments ago in U.S. District Court in Seattle, targets Section 2705(b) of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which allows the government to seek and obtain secrecy orders preventing companies from letting their customers know when their data is the target of a federal warrant, subpoena or court order. Brad Smith, Microsoft's president and chief legal officer, recently criticized the 30-year-old Electronic Communications Privacy Act as outdated during his testimony in February before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee -- bringing along IBM's first laptop, released the same year, to help illustrate his point.

Microsoft argues that these "indefinite gag orders" violate the First Amendment rights to inform customers. Furthermore, the company adds that the law also "flouts" the Fourth Amendment, which requires the government to give a notice to the concerned person when his or her property is being searched or seized. "This is a First Amendment fight that needed to get picked and I'm glad Microsoft picked it. Just as in the real world with physical seizures, secrecy in digital seizures should be the exception and not the rule. Yet as the Microsoft complaint shows, it's receiving thousands of law enforcement gag orders every year and more than two-thirds of them are eternal gags with no end data," said Kevin Bankston, internet freedom advocate and digital rights lawyer. "This is clearly unconstitutional, yet with so many orders per year, it makes sense to strike at the root with a facial challenge to the law rather than try and challenge them all individually. And based on previous similar cases around gag orders in national security cases, I think they'll succeed in striking this overbroad law down."
Consensus On Consensus: Climate Experts Agree On Human-Caused Global Warming
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There is an overwhelming expert scientific consensus on human-caused global warming. Authors of seven previous climate consensus studies -- including Naomi Oreskes, Peter Doran, William Anderegg, Bart Verheggen, Ed Maibach, J. Stuart Carlton, John Cook, [Dana Nuccitelli] and six of her colleagues -- have co-authored a new paper that should settle this question once and for all. The two key conclusions from the paper are: 1) Depending on exactly how you measure the expert consensus, it's somewhere between 90% and 100% that agree humans are responsible for climate change, with most of our studies finding 97% consensus among publishing climate scientists. 2) The greater the climate expertise among those surveyed, the higher the consensus on human-caused global warming.

Quoted from IOPscience:
Consensus on consensus: a synthesis of consensus estimates on human-caused global warming. The consensus that humans are causing recent global warming is shared by 90%-100% of publishing climate scientists according to six independent studies by co-authors of this paper. Those results are consistent with the 97% consensus reported by Cook et al based on 11 944 abstracts of research papers, of which 4014 took a position on the cause of recent global warming. A survey of authors of those papers also supported a 97% consensus. Tol comes to a different conclusion using results from surveys of non-experts such as economic geologists and a self-selected group of those who reject the consensus. We demonstrate that this outcome is not unexpected because the level of consensus correlates with expertise in climate science. At one point, Tol also reduces the apparent consensus by assuming that abstracts that do not explicitly state the cause of global warming ('no position') represent non-endorsement, an approach that if applied elsewhere would reject consensus on well-established theories such as plate tectonics. We examine the available studies and conclude that the finding of 97% consensus in published climate research is robust and consistent with other surveys of climate scientists and peer-reviewed studies.
'Neural Bypass' Links Brain To Hand To Get Around Paralysis
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People who are paralyzed from a spinal cord injury still generate movement commands in their brains, but those commands can't travel down their spinal cords and peripheral nerves to reach their muscles. So biomedical engineers came up with a "neural bypass" to route brain signals around the roadblock. The system has just been demonstrated by a human patient for the first time. The patient has a brain implant to record signals from his motor cortex which are sent to a computer, where a decoder algorithm figures out which signals correspond to which specific imagined movements. It then sends a command to a sleeve of electrodes the patient wears on his forearm, which stimulates his muscles in precise patterns to produce the desired hand movement. The patient has already poured from a bottle, stirred with a swizzle stick, swiped a credit card, and played Guitar Hero.
Dream job alert: Legoland is hiring model builders
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Do you have “LEGO building experience” and “a good knowledge of LEGO parts”? Then you might qualify for the job of your childhood dreams: building stuff for Legoland attractions around the world.
House Panel Approves Bill To Protect Older Email From Gov't Snooping
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A key House panel voted Wednesday to pass an email privacy bill that would stop the government from being able to read Americans' old emails without a warrant. The House Judiciary Committee voted 28-0 to approve the Email Privacy Act, a bipartisan bill that would replace a 1986 law that allows government investigators to peruse emails at will if the communications are at least six months old. The bill would require federal officials to obtain a warrant before they can read or view emails, texts, photos or instant messages -- regardless of when the data was sent. "Today is a great day for not only the Fourth Amendment advocates who have fought long and hard to move the Email Privacy Act, but also for all Americans, who are one step closer to having private and secure digital communications," said Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Kan., the lead sponsor of the bill along with Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo.
Surveillance Cameras Sold On Amazon Found Infected With Malware
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Security researcher Mike Olsen has warned that some products sold through the Amazon marketplace are harboring a dark secret -- malware. Olsen said in a blog post that while scouring Amazon for a decent set of outdoor surveillance cameras for a friend, he came across a deal for 6 PoE cameras and recording equipment. The seller, Urban Security Group, had generally good reviews and was offering a particular Sony setup on sale. After purchasing the kit, Olsen started setting up the surveillance system, logging into the administrator panel to configure it. [...] Upon investigation, Olsen found that the device was talking to a server with hostname Brenz.pl, which is linked to malware distribution. If the device's firmware links to this domain, malware can be downloaded and installed, potentially leading to unlawful surveillance and data theft.

Perhaps the company which made the device didn't realize its source code was compromised. While the aforementioned incident should serve as a reminder to people on why they need to be wary of the product they are purchasing, this isolated occurrence doesn't prove in any way that "plenty" of cameras on Amazon are also infected, as the article and the original blog post are subtly trying to imply.
SpaceX Delivers World's First Inflatable Room For Astronauts
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The SpaceX Dragon cargo ship which launched from Cape Canaveral on Friday delivered the world's first inflatable room for astronauts. It arrived at the ISS on Sunday after station astronauts used a robot arm to capture the Dragon, orbiting 250 miles above Earth. The compartment should swell to the size of a small bedroom once filled with air next month. It will be attached to the space station this Saturday, but won't be inflated until the end of May. NASA envisions inflatable habitats in a couple decades at Mars, while Bigelow Aerospace aims to launch a pair of inflatable space stations in just four years for commercial lease. Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) will be restricted from the six on-board astronauts while NASA tests the chamber to see how it performs.

The rocket used to launch the cargo ship successfully landed on a floating drone ship for the first time ever. It was the second time SpaceX successfully landed one of its rockets post-launch; the first time was in December, when the company's Falcon 9 rocket touched down at a ground-based landing site at Cape Canaveral, Florida, after putting a satellite into space.
New Bipedal Robot Demoed by Google X Company
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SCHAFT, one of eight robotic companies in the Alphabet/Google X research facility, has unveiled a new armless bipedal robot which can climb stairs and carry up to 132 pounds, reports i-programmer.info. The one-meter tall robot "is essentially a pair of almost entirely straight legs which pivot from the top," and the robot can walk on snow or uneven surfaces, even staying upright while researchers tried to trip it. The as-yet-unnamed robot was introduced during a keynote address at the New Economic Summit in Tokyo given by Android Inc. co-founder Andy Rubin (who left Google 18 months ago). A SCHAFT spokesperson later added that the presentation wasn't a product announcement. "The team was simply delighted to have a chance to show their latest progress."
PlayStation Employee Designs Custom Controller For Gamer With Cerebral Palsy
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A Sony employee created a custom PlayStation controller for a 21-year-old gamer with cerebral palsy. "I honestly got choked up reading the letter..." gamer Peter Byrne told 9News. "Mr Nawabi really cared about my situation and did this on his own time to make my experience better." On his old PlayStation 4 controller, Byrne kept inadvertently pausing the game whenever his left hand hit the touchpad. "It killed me to hear how something you used to enjoy thoroughly was being ruined because of our new controller design," Sony's Alex Nawabi wrote back in a letter, including a new controller with the original touchpad re-rerouted to the back. Nawabi spent 10 hours assembling parts from three different controllers, adding "Since I've torn the controller apart to modify it, the warranty is no longer valid... I'm not sure how long this will last." But Nawabi promised that he's already planning to also build one more replacement controller.
Making Salt Water Drinkable Just Got 99 Percent Easier
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Access to steady supplies of clean water is getting more and more difficult in the developing world, especially as demand skyrockets. In response, many countries have turned to the sea for potable fluids but existing reverse osmosis plants rely on complicated processes that are expensive and energy-intensive to operate. Good thing, engineers at Lockheed Martin have just announced a newly-developed salt filter that could reduce desalinization energy costs by 99 percent.
Despite Lean Space Budgets Russia Is Headed For the Moon
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Thanks to the collapse of oil prices that has ravaged the Russian economy, dependent as it is on fossil fuel exports, Russia's space program is facing draconian budget cuts... Still, the country that lost the race to the moon still has ambitious plans for Earth's closest neighbor... The Russians even have hopes of landing cosmonauts on the lunar surface by the end of the 2020s.

New evidence of subsurface ice helped fuel their interest in human moon landings, according to Science magazine, which reports that Russia is first planning five robotic missions to the moon over the next nine years. Three of these will be conducted with the European Space Agency, including one which will drill for underground samples in the new areas of the lunar surface, and the director of Russia's space agency says "the next decade will be quite busy for us."
Senate Bill Draft Would Prohibit Unbreakable Encryption
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A draft version of a Senate bill would effectively prohibit unbreakable encryption and require companies to help the government access data on a computer or mobile device with a warrant."

The two Senators finalizing the bill announced "No individual or company is above the law," saying their goal is to ensure compliance with court orders to help law enforcement or to provide decrypted information. The ACLU's legislative counsel argued the drafted legislation represents a "clear threat to everyone's privacy and security," and the bill is opposed by another member of the Senate committee, Ron Wyden, who says it would require "American companies to build a backdoor... They would be required by federal law per this statute to decide how to weaken their products to make Americans less safe."
Every Voter In The Philippines Exposed In Massive Data Breach
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The database of the Philippine Commission on Elections has been breached and the personal information of 55 million voters potentially exposed in what could rank as the worst ever government data breach anywhere," according to Infosecurity Magazine.

The magazine attributes an initial web site breach to Anonymous, who were reportedly trying to persuade the commission to enable more security features on their automated vote-counting system before upcoming national elections on May 9. A second group named LulzSec Pilipinas then later posted the entire voter database online.

Trend Micro wrote that "Every registered voter in the Philippines is now susceptible to fraud and other risks after a massive data breach leaked the entire database of the Philippines' Commission on Elections." They report that the breached data even included 15.8 million fingerprint records, as well as 1.3 million records for overseas Filipino voters, including their passports' numbers and expiration dates, all stored in plain text.
New Metal Foam Armor Obliterates Bullets To Dust On Impact
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Discovery Magazine reports that researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a super strong armor material that literally turns bullets to dust upon impact. The armor plating is made in part from composite metal foams, or CMFs, which are both lighter and stronger than traditional metal plating used in body and vehicle armor. The armor -- only an inch thick -- features a ceramic strike face, Kevlar backing, and CMFs in the energy-absorbing middle layer. "We could stop the bullet at a total thickness of less than an inch, while the indentation on the back was less than 8 millimeters," says Afsaneh Rabiei. "To put that in context, the NIJ standard allows up to 44 millimeters indentation in the back of an armor." CMFs are very effective at shielding X-rays, gamma rays and neutron radiation. Other applications include space exploration and shipping nuclear waste which both require a material to be not only light and strong, but also capable of withstanding extremely high temperatures and blocking radiation. A video shows a 7.62 x 63 millimeter M2 armor-piercing projectile that was fired using standard testing procedures established by the Department of Justice for evaluating armor types
CIA's Venture Capital Arm Is Funding Skin Care Products That Collect DNA
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The Intercept reports that Skincential Sciences, whose main product line is Clearista, has attracted media coverage because its "innovative line of cosmetic products marketed as a way to erase blemishes and soften skin" are funded by In-Q-Tel, a venture capital arm of the CIA. According to Russ Lebovitz, the chief executive of Skincential Sciences, the CIA fund told him they share an interest in looking at DNA extraction from "normal skin" using the method pioneered by his company.

Lebovitz said he was unsure of the intent of the CIA's use of the technology, but the fund was "specifically interested in the diagnostics, detecting DNA from normal skin." He added, "There's no better identifier than DNA, and we know we can pull out DNA." Perhaps law enforcement could use the biomarker extraction technique for crime scene identification or could conduct drug tests, Lebovitz suggested.
SpaceX Successfully Lands Its Rocket On A Floating Drone Ship For The First Time
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SpaceX has finally landed its Falcon 9 rocket on a drone ship at sea, after launching the vehicle into space this afternoon. It's the first time the company has been able to pull off an ocean landing, after four previous attempts ended in failure. This is the second time SpaceX has successfully landed one of its rockets post-launch; the first time was in December, when the company's Falcon 9 rocket touched down at a ground-based landing site in Cape Canaveral, Florida, after putting a satellite into space. Now that SpaceX has demonstrated it can do both types of landings, the company can potentially recover and reuse even more rockets in the future. And that could mean much greater cost savings for SpaceX.
Most Netflix Customers Don't Realize Prices Will Increase Next Month
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Millions of Netflix customers are about to start paying more to stream their favorite movies and TV shows -- and chances are, they don't even realize it. In May 2014, Netflix raised the price of its standard streaming plan for new subscribers, to $9.99 a month. However, the price hike did not apply to existing customers, who were grandfathered into their current rates of $7.99 a month for a two-stream, HD plan, Business Insider reported. Unfortunately, the good times are about to end for this customer base, which analysts estimate at about 17 million people, or 37% of Netflix's U.S. subscribers. In May, all grandfathered customers will be required to fork over $9.99 to continue to watch Netflix. Even worse, about 80% of those who will be affected by the price increase did not realize it was coming, according to research from JP Morgan.
Monster Black Holes May Lurk All Around Us
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Astronomers have stumbled upon a supermassive black hole in an unexpected corner of the Universe, implying these galactic monsters are much more common than once thought, a study said Wednesday. The giant, with an estimated mass 17 billion times that of our Sun, was discovered in a relative desert, astronomers from the University of California, Berkeley, wrote in the journal Nature. "While finding a gigantic black hole in a massive galaxy in a crowded area of the Universe is to be expected -- like running across a skyscraper in Manhattan -- it seemed less likely they could be found in the Universe's small towns," said a university statement. Big, star-rich galaxies where supermassive black holes had previously been found, are very rare. Smaller ones like the NGC 1600 galaxy housing the newly-discovered whopper, are much more common, but were not previously thought to be appropriate host. "So the question now is: 'Is this the tip of an iceberg?'" said study co-author Chung-Pei Ma. "Maybe there are a lot more monster black holes out there that don't live in a skyscraper in Manhattan, but in a tall building somewhere in the Midwestern plains." The largest supermassive black hole spotted to date tipped the scales at about 21 billion solar masses, said the study authors.
Quanta LTE Router May Be Most Unsecure Router Ever Made
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LTE routers made by Quanta Computer Incorporated, a Taiwanese hardware manufacturer, are plagued by over twenty major security flaws ranging from backdoor accounts to remote code execution bugs, from hardcoded SSH keys to undocumented diagnostics pages, and from weak WPS PINs to network eavesdropping functions. As the researcher explains: "A personal point of view: at best, the vulnerabilities are due to incompetence; at worst, it is a deliberate act of security sabotage from the vendor." The vendor has not fixed any of these issues even after almost four months.
New State of Matter Detected in a Two-Dimensional Material
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An international team of researchers have found evidence of a mysterious new state of matter, first predicted 40 years ago, in a real material. This state, known as a quantum spin liquid, causes electrons -- thought to be indivisible building blocks of nature -- to break into pieces. The researchers, including physicists from the University of Cambridge, measured the first signatures of these fractional particles, known as Majorana fermions, in a two-dimensional material with a structure similar to graphene. Their experimental results successfully matched with one of the main theoretical models for a quantum spin liquid, known as a Kitaev model. The results are reported in the journal Nature Materials. Quantum spin liquids are mysterious states of matter which are thought to be hiding in certain magnetic materials, but had not been conclusively sighted in nature. The observation of one of their most intriguing properties -- electron splitting, or fractionalisation -- in real materials is a breakthrough. The resulting Majorana fermions may be used as building blocks of quantum computers, which would be far faster than conventional computers and would be able to perform calculations that could not be done otherwise.
The Spread of Ignorance
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BBC Future has just published an interesting article on Robert Proctor, a science historian from Stanford University, who studies how people or companies with vested interests spread ignorance and obfuscate knowledge. The spread of ignorance follows certain patterns, whether it is about tobacco or climate change. 'Proctor found that ignorance spreads when firstly, many people do not understand a concept or fact and secondly, when special interest groups -- like a commercial firm or a political group – then work hard to create confusion about an issue. In the case of ignorance about tobacco and climate change, a scientifically illiterate society will probably be more susceptible to the tactics used by those wishing to confuse and cloud the truth.'
On Cybersecurity, Execs Are Burying Their Heads In the Sand
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Despite increased spending on cybersecurity, most executives are unprepared, even willfully ignorant, of the threats that could damage their businesses. A survey of 1,530 C-level executives across of range of industries found a widespread feeling that cybersecurity is an "IT problem," even as CEOs personally shoulder the consequences for breaches. "The Target breach was one of the more significant ones: Executives can be held accountable," says David Damato, chief security officer at Tanium. "But there's still that disconnect. Executives still struggle with: 'What should I be looking for?'"
AT&T Caps Are A Giant Con And An Attack On Cord-Cutters
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Following a report from DSLReports that ATT would be imposing usage caps on the company's U-Verse broadband customers, ATT has announced it would now be following Comcast's lead by "allowing" users to pay $30 more a month if they wanted to avoid usage caps entirely. However, ATT has taken it to a new level by "allowing" users to graciously avoid the $30 fee -- if they subscribe to DirecTV or U-Verse TV service. These data caps allow ISPs like ATT and Comcast to cash in on internet video and make cord-cutting less viable by making streaming more expensive. And now, ATT is using caps to force users to subscribe to traditional TV if they want their broadband connection to work like it used to.
Toshiba Recalls More Than 100,000 Faulty Laptop Batteries
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The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has issued a recall for over 100,000 Toshiba laptop battery packs after several serious reports. Toshiba, which says it shipped the affected battery module in 39 models of Toshiba Protege, Satellite, Tecra between mid-2011 and early 2016, urges users to check the model number of the battery on their laptop. Defective battery packs have part numbers beginning with G71C (G71C*******). The company has also issued battery replacement instructions for the recall, as well as made available a tool which will help you determine if your battery is part of the recall.
Over 1,400 Vulnerabilities Found In Automated Medical Supply System
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Security researchers have discovered 1,418 vulnerabilities in CareFusion's Pyxis SupplyStation system -- automated cabinets used to dispense medical supplies -- that are still being used in the healthcare and public health sectors in the US and around the world. The vulnerabilities can be exploited remotely by attackers with low skills, and exploits that target these vulnerabilities are publicly available.

Things already seem to be getting out hand.
Preterm Births Linked To Air Pollution Cost Billions In The US
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Air pollution leads to 16,000 premature births in the United States each year, leading to billions of dollars in economic costs, according to new research. Researchers behind the study, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, found that preterm births associated with particulate matter -- a type of pollutant -- led to more than $4 billion in economic costs in 2010 due to medical care and lost productivity that results from disability. And, like many other public health issues, affected populations tend to be concentrated in low-income areas home to large numbers of minorities. "This is another piece of the evidentiary pie about why we should really be doing something about air pollution," says Tracey Woodruff, a professor who studies reproductive health and the environment at the University of California, San Francisco. "When you reduce air pollution you get lots of different health benefits." Countless studies have shown the effect of air pollution on cardiovascular and respiratory health -- killing millions each year. Air pollution leads to inflammation in blood vessels and contributes to lung cancer, asthma and a slew of other disorders. The effect on pregnancy may in some ways be an extension of those effects as air pollution disrupts the way a pregnant woman delivers oxygen to the fetus. Air pollution may also disrupt the endocrine system, keeping women from producing a protein needed to regulate pregnancy, researchers say.
Slaughter At The Bridge: Uncovering A Colossal Bronze Age Battle
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A report from the American Association for the Advancement of Science via Sciencemag.org: About 3200 years ago, two armies clashed at a river crossing near the Baltic Sea. The confrontation can't be found in any history books -- the written word didn't become common in these parts for another 2000 years -- but this was no skirmish between local clans. Thousands of warriors came together in a brutal struggle, perhaps fought on a single day, using weapons crafted from wood, flint, and bronze, a metal that was then the height of military technology. "If our hypothesis is correct that all of the finds belong to the same event, we're dealing with a conflict of a scale hitherto completely unknown north of the Alps," says dig co-director Thomas Terberger, an archaeologist at the Lower Saxony State Service for Cultural Heritage in Hannover. "There's nothing to compare it to." It may even be the earliest direct evidence -- with weapons and warriors together -- of a battle this size anywhere in the ancient world.
Atari Vault Hits Steam, Play 100 Classic Games On PC
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Classic and retro video game fans will be eager to hear that Atari Vault has just landed on PC via Steam, making it the easiest way possible to enjoy 100 of the most iconic arcade and home console titles from the early generation of gaming. This eliminates the need to use emulators and ROMs to enjoy games like Asteroids, Centipede, Pitfall, and Pong, not to mention it being cheaper than buying several included titles individually.
Fish Walks, Climbs Waterfalls Like a Salamander
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A species of cavefish in Thailand has been documented walking and climbing waterfalls in a manner similar to four-footed creatures such as salamanders, in a find researchers call "huge" in evolutionary terms. In a press release Brooke E. Flammang, an assistant professor of biological sciences at NJIT, said that the fish has anatomical features previously known only in tetrapods -- four-limbed vertebrates that include amphibians and reptiles. "What these fish do, in complete darkness, is stick to the rock and climb waterfalls, completely underwater."
Kentucky Hospital Calls State of Emergency In Hack Attack
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A Kentucky hospital is operating in an internal state of emergency following an attack by cybercriminals on its computer network, Krebs on Security reported. Methodist Hospital, based in Henderson, Kentucky, is the victim of a ransomware attack in which hackers infiltrated its computer network, encrypted files and are now holding the data hostage, Krebs reported Tuesday. The criminals reportedly used new strain of malware known as Locky to encrypt important files. The malware spread from the initial infected machine to the entire internal network and several other systems, the hospital's information systems director, Jamie Reid, told Krebs. The hospital is reportedly considering paying hackers the ransom money of four bitcoins, about $1,600 at the current exchange rate, for the key to unlock the files.
Rockefeller Fund Dumping Fossil Fuels, Hits Exxon On Climate Issues
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The Rockefeller Family Fund said on Wednesday it will divest from fossil fuels as quickly as possible and "eliminate holdings" of Exxon Mobil, chiding the oil company for allegedly misleading the public about the threat of climate change. The move by the U.S. based charity, which will also include coal and Canadian oil sands holdings, is especially notable because a century ago John D. Rockefeller Sr. made a fortune running Standard Oil, a precursor to Exxon Mobil.

Given the threat posed to the survival of human and natural ecosystems, "there is no sane rationale for companies to continue to explore for new sources of hydrocarbons," the fund said. Exxon did not immediately comment. In a letter posted on its website, the Rockefeller Family Fund said Exxon's conduct on climate issues appears to be "morally reprehensible."
Whistleblower: NSA Is So Overwhelmed With Data, It's No Longer Effective
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William Binney, a former NSA official who spent more than three decades at the agency, said the US government's mass surveillance programs have become so engorged with data that they are no longer effective, losing vital intelligence in the fray. That, he said, can -- and has -- led to terrorist attacks succeeding. Binney said that an analyst today can run one simple query across the NSA's various databases, only to become immediately overloaded with information. With about four billion people -- around two-thirds of the world's population -- under the NSA and partner agencies' watchful eyes, according to his estimates, there is too much data being collected.

Perhaps that's one of the reasons why NSA wants to dump the phone records it gathered over the past 14 years.
Radio Attack Lets Hackers Steal 24 Different Car Models
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A group of German vehicle security researchers has released new findings about the extent of a wireless key hack, and their work ought to convince hundreds of thousands of drivers to keep their car keys next to their Pudding Pops. The Munich-based automobile club ADAC recently made public a study it had performed on dozens of cars to test a radio 'amplification attack' that silently extends the range of unwitting drivers' wireless key fobs to open cars and even start their ignitions (in German). The ADAC researchers say that 24 different vehicles from 19 different manufacturers were all vulnerable, allowing them to not only reliably unlock the target vehicles but also immediately drive them away. "This clear vulnerability in [wireless] keys facilitates the work of thieves immensely," reads the post. "The radio connection between keys and car can easily be extended over several hundred meters, regardless of whether the original key is, for example, at home or in the pocket of the owner." [...] Here's the full list of vulnerable vehicles from their findings, which focused on European models: the Audi A3, A4 and A6, BMW's 730d, Citroen's DS4 CrossBack, Ford's Galaxy and Eco-Sport, Honda's HR-V, Hyundai's Santa Fe CRDi, KIA's Optima, Lexus's RX 450h, Mazda's CX-5, MINI's Clubman, Mitsubishi's Outlander, Nissan's Qashqai and Leaf, Opel's Ampera, Range Rover's Evoque, Renault's Traffic, Ssangyong's Tivoli XDi, Subaru's Levorg, Toyota's RAV4, and Volkswagen's Golf GTD and Touran 5T.
How Space-Based Solar Power Plants Could Be Built By Robots On the Moon
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The concept of space based solar power has been around for decades. The late Gerard K. O'Neill proposed building them as a way to finance space colonies in the 1970s. Recently Popular Science reported on a modern approach to building space based solar energy stations. Instead of relying on massive, orbiting space colonies filled with construction workers to put the plants together, why not automate the entire process?
Facebook Exec Explains Why Technical Skills Aren't Enough To Be a Great Engineer
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Facebook's Regina Wallace-Jones, who is in charge of protecting 1.6 billion people on the social network, says math and science skills aren't enough to tackle challenges at a firm. "Don't let anyone tell you that engineering is only about math and science or that engineering expertise is all you have to offer the world. Your experiences and your perspectives can help inspire a company to find a different approach to a problem or encourage someone else to speak up," she said. "The impact of engineers goes well beyond the mobile apps, the gadgets, and the security systems that we build. The quest to engineer meaningful solutions... is not just about math and science, it's about making amazing solutions for real people in the real world. It's about pushing mankind to its outer limits by inspiring the world to imagine bigger solutions than our hands can hold."
FBI Warns That Car Hacking Is a Real Risk
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The FBI and the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are voicing their concerns about the potential risk of cars being hacked. In an advisory note, they urge the public to be aware of cyber-security threats revolving around connected vehicles. From the advisory, "Modern motor vehicles often include new connected vehicle technologies that aim to provide benefits such as added safety features, improved fuel economy, and greater overall convenience. Aftermarket devices are also providing consumers with new features to monitor the status of their vehicles. However, with this increased connectivity, it is important that consumers and manufacturers maintain awareness of potential cyber security threats." They are also advising drivers and manufacturers to ensure the vehicle software is up-to-date, and keeping an eye out for recalls.
Anonymous Declare 'Total War' On Donald Trump, Threaten To 'Dismantle His Campaign'
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Hackers affiliated with the Anonymous hacktivist collective have vowed to relaunch cyber-operations against US presidential candidate Donald Trump [on April Fools' Day]. They threaten to "dismantle his campaign" by taking his election websites offline in a large-scale and orchestrated distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack. In December 2015, Anonymous officially "declared war" on Trump after a radical speech in which he said Muslims should be banned from entering the United States. The operation at the time resulted in a number of websites being targeted by hackers, but failed to have lasting impact. A new video statement has been posted to YouTube which claims the "loyalists and veterans" of Anonymous have decided to ramp up cyber-operations against Trump -- dubbed #OpTrump -- on a far larger scale than ever before. "Dear Donald Trump, we have been watching you for a long time and what we see is deeply disturbing. Your inconsistent and hateful campaign has not only shocked the United States of America [but] you have shocked the entire planet with your appalling actions and ideas. You say what your audience wants to hear but in reality you don't stand for anything except for your personal greed and power."

The websites targeted in the attack (so far) include trump.com, donaldjtrump.com, and trumphotelcollection.com. In addition, the hacktivists are also planning to release some of Donald Trump's personal information including a SSN, phone number, and contact information of his agent and legal representative.
6 Tiny Robotic Ants, Weighing 3.5 Oz. In Total, Pull a 3900-lb. Car
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MicroTug, a team of six microrobots that weigh just 3.5 ounces (99 grams), and can move a car: Researchers at Standford University's Biomimetics and Dexterous Manipulation Lab have developed six miniature robots that have the pulling-power to move objects 2,000 times of their own body weight. The tiny robots and their inter-coordination are based on that of ants. The microrobot uses a special kind of glue on its feet that make them serve as sticky gecko toes. "Their new demonstration is the functional equivalent of a team of six humans moving a weight equivalent to that of an Eiffel Tower and three Statues of Liberty," said David Christensen, a graduate student who is one of the authors of "Let's All Pull Together: Principles for Sharing Large Loads in Microrobot Teams paper.

Researchers' fascination with gecko adhesive is nothing new. In 2010, Stanford mechanical engineer Mark Cutkosky developed a Stickybot that could climb walls. A similar robot that could roll up on smooth as well rough surfaces was demonstrated by a group of researchers in Canada in 2011.
Personalized Learning: the Best Education Or the Worst?
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In an exclusive interview with Education Week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg talked about why he is shifting his K-12 giving priorities to personalized learning. While acknowledging that there's not yet any independent, large-scale research to show personalized learning's effectiveness, Zuck argues that "the model just intuitively makes sense." But just days later, Fordham University professor Mark Naison wrote in the Washington Post about why the personalized learning efforts of 'a growing number of those with investment capital seeking profitable outlets,' which presumably includes Zuck, make him 'incredibly pessimistic' about the future of public education. That Zuck — like fellow personalized learning cheerleaders/funders Bill Gates and former U.S. Education Chief Arne Duncan — seemed to be unaware of studies on personalized learning studies that date back to the '70s is troubling. But people don't "Like" 40+ year-old Ed.gov papers, so Zuck could be forgiven for not seeing them and, as a result, believing that the personalized learning plan dashboard his Facebook engineers knocked out truly is the ground-breaking solution to 'one of education's biggest problems' that Melinda Gates cracks it up to be.
Thanks For the Memories: Touring the Awesome Random Access of Old
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The RAM we use today is truly amazing in all respects: performance, reliability, price; all have been optimized to the point you can consider memory a solved problem. Equally fascinating is the meandering path that we've taken over the last half century to get here. Drums, tubes, mercury delay lines, dekatrons, and core memory. They're still as interesting as the day electrons first ran through their circuits. Perhaps most amazing is the cost and complexity, both of which make you wonder how they ever manage to be used in production machines. But here's the clincher: despite being difficult and costly to manufacture, they were all very reliable
This Was America's Warmest Winter On Record
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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its official assessment of December, January, and February's temperatures across the United States, and the results are striking: Not a single state in the U.S. had a cooler than average winter. (NOAA treats Alaska and Hawaii separately, due to shorter weather data records there -- though both states were significantly warmer than normal this winter. Weather records for the contiguous United States go back to 1895.) NOAA blames the recent warm weather on a record-strength El Nino "and other climate patterns," most notably, global warming. As a whole, this winter in the lower 48 was about 4.6 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the 20th century average: a sharp contrast to the previous back-to-back frigid polar vortex winters, especially in the Northeast.
Scientists To Drill Into 'Ground Zero' of the Impact That Killed the Dinosaurs
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This month, a drilling platform will rise in the Gulf of Mexico, but it won't be aiming for oil. Scientists will try to sink a diamond-tipped bit into the heart of Chicxulub crater — the buried remnant of the asteroid impact 66 million years ago that killed off the dinosaurs, along with most other life on the planet. They hope that the retrieved rock cores will contain clues to how life came back in the wake of the cataclysm, and whether the crater itself could have been a home for novel microbial life. And by drilling into a circular ridge inside the 180-kilometer-wide crater rim, scientists hope to settle ideas about how such 'peak rings,' hallmarks of the largest impact craters, take shape.
SpaceX's Latest Launch Successful, But Ends With a "Hard Landing"
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SpaceX successfully launched its Falcon 9 rocket into space this afternoon, but — as expected — failed to land the vehicle on a drone ship at sea afterward. CEO Elon Musk said the rocket 'landed hard' on the drone ship. The mission requirements made a successful landing unlikely. This was SpaceX's fourth attempt to land the Falcon 9 post-launch on an autonomous drone ship floating in the ocean. All of the previous sea landings failed too, though the third attempt came very close. The company had low hopes of a successful landing from the start of this mission, since the rocket had to send a heavy satellite into a high orbit. That requires a lot of fuel for the launch itself, so there wasn't much fuel left for the rocket's return to Earth and powered landing
Hubble Shatters the Cosmic Distance Record
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One of the holy grails of cosmology is to measure, directly, exactly when the first stars and galaxies formed in our Universe. The Hubble Space Telescope has been pushing the distance record farther and farther back, with its measurements typically confirmed by ground-based, spectroscopic follow-ups. This time, however, the new record-holder was so distant that confirmation needed to be done from space: by Hubble itself. The result? A galaxy at a redshift of z=11.1, from when the Universe was just 400 million years old, or a mere 3% of its current age. This is a record that will likely stand until the James Webb Space Telescope launches, as it took a combination of incredible work and incredible luck to find a galaxy this far back with our current technology.
Scientists May Have Found Molecular Gatekeeper Of Long-Term Memory
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While the general steps of forming a long-term memory are clear, the details, such as how exactly the molecular signals get shuttled to the command center, which generally has tight security, are unclear. A new study, led by neuroscientist Yi Zhong of Tsinghua University in Beijing, may finally have that answer. In the tiny minds of fruit flies, a protein called importin-7 acts to shuttle the memory-triggering signal into the nucleus with its top-level clearance to the restricted area, researchers report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. With genetic tweaking, the researchers dialed up and down the amount of importin-7 in the flies and then put them through the memory training and test. They found that cranking up levels of the shuttle protein strengthened the long-term memories of the flies, while turning it off weakened their memory. "The current work confirms that [importin-7] is indeed critical at the behavioral level in mediating [long-term memory] consolidation," the authors concluded.
Renewable Energy Shows Strong Gain In U.S.
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According to the US Energy Information Administration, solar, wind, and gas dominate new US generating capacity in 2016. This year is notable because it will see the first new nuclear plant brought online in 20 years, contributing 1.1 GigaWatts to the grid. But that contribution will be dwarfed by renewable power sources, which together account for nearly two-thirds of 2016's new capacity. Part of the boom in renewables came because the tax incentives for their installation were in danger of expiring, so utilities rushed to get projects through the pipeline ahead of the end of the year. 9.5GW of capacity is expected to come online from solar -- more than the past three years combined. Another 6.8GW is expected from planned additions of wind power, largely spread across the Great Plains. Of new fossil fuel plants, the vast majority are going to be burning natural gas; there are no planned additions of coal plants.
John McAfee: NSA's Back Door Has Given Every US Secret To Enemies
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John McAfee, American computer programmer and contributing editor of Business Insider, explains how the NSA's back door has given every U.S. secret to its enemies. He begins by mentioning the importance of software, specifically meta- software, which contains a high level set of principles designed to help a nation survive in a cyberwar. Such software must not contain any back doors under any circumstances, otherwise it can and may very likely allow perceived enemies of the U.S. to have access to top-secret information. For example, the Chinese used the NSA's back door to hack the Defense Department last year and steal 5.6 million fingerprints of critical personnel. "Whatever gains the NSA has made through the use of their back door, it cannot possibly counterbalance the harm done to our nation by everyone else's use of that same back door." McAfee believes the U.S. has failed to grasp the subtle implications of technology and, as a result, is 20 years behind the Chinese, and by association, the Russians as well.
Pentagon Research Could Make 'Brain Modem' A Reality
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The Pentagon is attempting what was, until recently, an impossible technological feat -- developing a high-bandwidth neural interface that would allow people to beam data from their minds to external devices and back. That's right -- a brain modem. One that could allow a soldier to, for example, control a drone with his mind. On Feb. 8, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) -- the US military's fringe-science wing -- announced the first successful tests, on animal subjects, of a tiny sensor that travels through blood vessels, lodges in the brain and records neural activity. The so-called "stentrode," a combination stent and electrode, is the size of a paperclip and flexible. The tiny, injectable machine -- the invention of neurologist Tom Oxley and his team at the University of Melbourne in Australia -- could help researchers solve one of the most vexing problems with the brain modem: how to insert a transmitter into the brain without also drilling a hole in the user's head, a risky procedure under any circumstances.
'Moth Eye' Graphene Breakthrough Could Create Indoor Solar Cells
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A scientific breakthrough with the "wonder material" graphene has opened up the possibility of indoor solar cells that capture energy from indirect sunlight, as well as ambient energy from household devices. Researchers from the University of Surrey in the U.K. studied the eyes of moths to create sheets of graphene that they claim is the most light-absorbent material ever created. "We realized that the moth's eye works in a particular way that traps electromagnetic waves very efficiently," Professor Ravi Silva, head of the Advanced Technology Institute at the University of Surrey, tells Newsweek. "As a result of our studies, we've been able to mimic the surface of a moth's eye and create an amazingly thin, efficient, light-absorbent material made of graphene."
NASA's New Horizons Returns Images of the Canyons of Pluto's North Pole
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NASA's New Horizon space probe, which flew by Pluto last July, continues to send data and images that amaze and awe. The space agency released an image of Pluto's North Pole taken by the probe's Ralph/Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC). The image shows, as has previous images of other regions of the so-called dwarf planet, that Pluto is a diverse world with an active geology. The North Pole of Pluto is characterized by long canyons that are covered in yellow methane ice. The canyons show how the dwarf planet had, and perhaps still has active tectonics.
Rare clay used by B.C. aboriginals found to kill bacteria resistant to antibiotics, say UBC researchers
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Researchers at the University of B.C. have discovered that a rare clay used as medicine by aboriginals in northern B.C. contains antibacterial properties that could be used to treat antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Some 400 kilometres north of Vancouver, on the Heiltsuk First Nation's traditional territory, sits a 400-million kilogram deposit of glacial clay in Kisameet Bay that scientists believe was formed near the end of the last Ice Age, approximately 10,000 years ago.
Patient Monitors Altered, Drug Dispensary Popped In Collosal Hospital Hack Test
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Security researchers have exploited notoriously porous hospital networks to gain access to, and tamper with, critical medical equipment in attacks they say could put lives in danger. In tests, hospital hackers from the Independent Security Evaluators research team popped patient monitors, making them display false readings which could result in medical responses that injury or kill patients. Full paper here.
New Fast Radio Burst Discovery Finds 'Missing Matter' In the Universe
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According to a study published today, an international team of scientists has for the first time managed to identify the location of a fast radio burst. FRBs are bright radio flashes that generally last for a few milliseconds. While their origin is unknown, the results are a missing distribution of matter in the universe. Now, using a combination of radio and optical telescopes, scientists have found the FRB. According to Benjamin Stappers, Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Manchester, "Discovering more FRBs will allow us to do even more detailed studies of the missing matter and perhaps even study dark energy."
President Obama Nominates New Librarian of Congress Who Supports Open Access
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Dr. Carla Hayden, CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore and a former president of the American Library Association, is President Obama's nominee for Librarian of Congress. What a contrast to long-time LoC Librarian James Billington, a stuffy old academic who hated e-books and was so far out of touch that he liked faxing more than e-mail. According to President Obama, "Dr. Hayden has devoted her career to modernizing libraries so that everyone can participate in today's digital culture." Dr. Hayden was a fierce opponent of the Patriot Act and believes strongly in speaking out against surveillance. What's more, she would be the 14th Librarian of Congress, in charge of the Copyright Office, and the first woman and first African-American to hold the position.
The man who made 'the worst video game in history'
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The video game of Steven Spielberg's ET is considered to be one of the worst of all time and has even been blamed for triggering the collapse of Atari. Howard Scott Warshaw, the gifted programmer who made it, explains how it was rushed out in a matter of weeks - and how he feels about those events in California now.
Large-ish Meteor Hits Earth... But No One Notices
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According to data released by the Fireball and Bolide Reports page of NASA's Near Earth Object Program, a large meteor exploded far off the coast of Brazil on February 6, 2016. The meteor was the largest atmospheric impact recorded since the famous Chelyabinsk bolide that exploded over Russia in 2013. Although the Feb 6 meteor didn't cause any structural damage, the meteor unleashed an energy equivalent of 13,000 tons of TNT exploding instantaneously.
Cheap, high-performance green battery runs on rotten apples
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Researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have repurposed discarded apples to build cheap and high-performance sodium-ion batteries, making a green technology even greener. The advance could find use in grid storage and, after further development, compete with lithium-ion cells to power portable electronics and low-end electric cars.
This Incredible 'Boiling River' Is A Scientific Enigma
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When geoscientist and National Geographic explorer Andrés Ruzo was growing up in Lima, Peru, his grandfather used to tell him wild stories of Spanish conquistadors, cities of gold, and an Amazonian river so hot it could boil men alive.

But it wasn't until Ruzo was studying geothermal energy that he decided to look into this mythical boiling river -- and, much to his surprise, actually found it. While boiling rivers do exist in the world, they are usually found close to active volcanos. This river is especially remarkable because it runs more than 400 miles from the nearest active volcano -- the only non-volcanic river known to boil on Earth.
Apple's iPhone Already Has a Backdoor
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As the Department of Justice exerts legal pressure on Apple in an effort to recover data from the iPhone used by Syed Rizwan Farook, Apple's CEO has publicly stated that "the U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone." But, as one Windows rootkit developer has observed, the existing functionality that the FBI seeks to leverage is itself a backdoor. Specifically, the ability to remotely update code on a device automatically, without user intervention, represents a fairly serious threat vector. Update features marketed as a safety mechanism can just as easily be wielded to subvert technology if the update source isn't trustworthy. Something to consider in light of the government's ability to steal digital certificates and manipulate network traffic, not to mention the private sector's lengthy history of secret cooperation.

Apple said Monday it would accept having a panel of experts consider access to encrypted devices if US authorities drop efforts to force it to help break into the iPhone of a California attacker. Apple reaffirmed its opposition to the US government's effort to compel it to provide technical assistance to the FBI investigation of the San Bernardino attacks, but also suggested a compromise in the highly charged legal battle.

In his first public remarks since Apple CEO Tim Cook said he would fight the federal magistrate's order, FBI Director James Comey claimed the Justice Department's request is is about "the victims and justice."
Fungi From Guts Of Herbivores Could Help Us Make Biofuel
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Researchers have revealed through a new study that fungi from the gut of herbivores like goats, horses and sheep could be used to make biofuel. According to researchers at University of California, Santa Barbara, the fungi retrieved from these animals are capable of converting plant material into sugars that can be easily used to make biofuel and other products at the same efficiency as the best fungi engineering in the industry. Michelle O'Malley, lead author of the paper and professor of chemical engineering at the University, explains that these fungi naturally have the best possible set of enzymes for the job of breaking down biomass and as per their findings, these enzymes work together to break down stubborn plant material.
Global Wind Power Capacity Tops Nuclear Energy For First Time
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The capacity of wind power generation worldwide reached 432.42 gigawatts (GW) at the end of 2015, up 17 percent from a year earlier and surpassing nuclear energy for the first time, according to data released by global industry bodies.

The generation capacity of wind farms newly built in 2015 was a record 63.01 GW, corresponding to about 60 nuclear reactors, according to the Global Wind Energy Council based in Brussels. The global nuclear power generation capacity was 382.55 GW as of Jan. 1, 2016, the London-based World Nuclear Association said.
Crafty 'Harry Potter' fan makes genius digital version of the Weasley family's clock
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A clever Reddit user has created one of the greatest DIY Harry Potter projects ever: A fully functional, digital recreation of the Weasley family's clock.

The timepiece, which is housed in the shell of an old antique clock and stuffed full of wires and LEDs, was created by user tbornottb3. It communicates with the family's smartphones to periodically update on their location.
Researchers Find Method To Own VoIP Phones, Silently Listen To Any Call
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Researchers have uncovered a simple method for compromising some common VoIP phones, enabling them to listen to victims' calls covertly or use the phones to make expensive or fraudulent calls. The attack takes advantage of the fact that the affected phones don't have any authentication set up by default, but do have a vulnerability that is open to remote exploitation. A victim who has one of the vulnerable phones connected to a network and uses a PC on that network to visit a malicious site can be open to the attack. Paul Moore, a security consultant in the U.K., detailed the problem and demonstrated an attack on a Snom 320, a popular VOIP phone.
Financial windfall for CMU after settling patent infringement suit
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Computer chip maker Marvell Technology Group has agreed to pay $750 million to Carnegie Mellon University to settle a long-running patent-infringement case.

Marvell, based in Bermuda, and CMU announced the settlement Wednesday, bringing an end to litigation that has been winding its way through the federal courts for seven years. The deal is a huge windfall for CMU.

“Once the inventors receive their portion of the settlement, and all legal fees and related expenses are paid, the university will receive approximately $250 million,” CMU president Subra Suresh said in an email.
John McAfee Offers To Decrypt San Bernardino iPhone For the FBI and Save America
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Wondering what John McAfee is up to these days? It's not sniffing bath salts nor is he fleeing foreign countries as a person of interest in a murder investigation and faking heart attacks (been there, done all that) ; instead, he's on a mission to save America. How so? By cracking the code on the San Bernardino iPhone that's causing such a ruckus. McAfee didn't just criticize the FBI; instead he offered a potential solution. Let him and his team of hackers break into the iPhone without any help from Apple. "With all due respect to Tim Cook and Apple, I work with a team of the best hackers on the planet. These hackers attend Defcon in Las Vegas, and they are legends in their local hacking groups, such as HackMiami. They are all prodigies, with talents that defy normal human comprehension," McAfee said. Eccentric rant aside, McAfee's offer is simple - give him three weeks and he will, "free of charge, decrypt the information on the San Bernardino phone" with his team of hackers. He'll do it using mostly social engineering.
Authorities Arrest Activists Instead of Those Responsible For CA Gas Leak
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The California State Patrol has arrested two people in connection with the massive methane leak in Southern California's Aliso Canyon. Instead of busting company executives and engineers that caused the leak, the CSP arrested protesters who had draped banners on the headquarters of the California Public Utilities Commission. The banners highlighted the lax regulatory environment that enabled the spill.
Astronomers No Longer Need To Avoid the "Zone of Avoidance"
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If you want to look out into the Universe, all you need to do is gather the light it gives off. Unless, of course, there's something in the way. For about 20% of the sky, that's exactly the story. In our own Milky Way galaxy, the neutral gas and dust block most of the visible light everywhere we look, preventing us from observing the Universe beyond. However, although the gas and dust might block visible light, longer wavelengths like radio and infrared can pass right through. Recently NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission mapped the entire sky in the infrared, including the entire galactic plane. It not only found many background galaxies, but it gave us a new window into what's possible. Perhaps, with future missions, we'll discover the cause of the "great attractor" phenomenon after all.
FCC Votes To Fight Cable's Reign Over Set-top Boxes
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Last month, reports surfaced that the FCC planned to pry set-top boxes out of hands of cable and satellite companies. Today, the Commission passed the 'Unlock the Box' plan that would do just that. The proposal aims to introduce more competition when it comes to the boxes users rent from television providers. Under the new rules, cable companies would have to give third-party device makers the information they'd need in order to build set-top boxes.
Edward Snowden Calls For Google To Side With Apple On Encryption Debate
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Edward Snowden, the most famous whistle blower in the world, is calling for Google to side with Apple and against the FBI in the "most important tech case in a decade." On Tuesday, the FBI asked Apple to help it crack the password on an iPhone belonging to a shooter in the high profile San Bernardino case. Apple CEO Tim Cook quickly responded with a public letter denying the request, calling it "an unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers." Google creates Android, the most-used mobile operating system for smartphones in the world. Google has been nowhere near as firm as Apple about its stance on un-compromised encryption - Android is famously an open sourced platform that anyone can modify. Snowden issued his message in a tweet.
Surveillance Culture Brought To the Masses, Courtesy of Verizon
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Verizon is now offering a way to secretly track your family members' whereabouts and driving habits with your smartphone: "Do you have a teen driver in your household and want to know every time they get a little overzealous with the accelerator? Or maybe you're pretty sure your spouse's frequent trips to 'the office' are not so innocent? If so, then an upcoming update for Verizon's 'hum' in-car smart device might be just what you're looking for.' The new 'features' added will allow you to receive alerts if the target vehicle leaves a predetermined area, drives faster than a preset level, its location, and keeps a history of all the above for later review.
Judge Tells Apple To Help FBI Access San Bernardino Shooters' iPhone
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After a couple shot 14 people in San Bernardino, CA before being killed themselves on December 2nd, the authorities recovered a locked iPhone. Since then, the FBI has complained it is unable to break the device's encryption, in a case that it has implied supports its desire for tech companies to make sure it can always have a way in. Today the Associated Press reports that a US magistrate judge has directed Apple to help the FBI find a way in. According to NBC News, the model in question is an iPhone 5c, but Apple has said that at least as of iOS 8 it does not have a way to bypass the passcode on a locked phone.
Crafty 'Harry Potter' fan makes genius digital version of the Weasley family's clock
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A clever Reddit user has created one of the greatest DIY Harry Potter projects ever: A fully functional, digital recreation of the Weasley family's clock.
The timepiece, which is housed in the shell of an old antique clock and stuffed full of wires and LEDs, was created by user tbornottb3. It communicates with the family's smartphones to periodically update on their location.
How Shari Steele Plans To Take Tor Mainstream
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Over her career, Shari Steel has taken on United States Department of Justice, the National Security Agency, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. She built the Electronic Frontier Foundation into an international powerhouse for protecting online rights. Today, she has a new mission, perhaps her heaviest challenge yet: Take the Internet's most powerful privacy tool mainstream. From the Daily Dot article linked, a hint of one reason that bringing Tor mainstream isn't straightforward: At the heart of Tor's image problems are what's known as "hidden services" -- sites that are only accessible through the Tor network. Hidden services have been home to drug and gun marketplaces, child pornography forums, fraud and hacking sites, and sites where you can place bets on when a high-profile target may be assassinated. While the media tends to focus on the nefarious elements Tor enables, hidden services make up only about 1 percent of the Tor network, according to Steele, and are in no way operated by the Tor Project.

"I'm trying to teach everyone that we need to recognize that we are doing the work of the angels," Steele says. "What we are providing is really important and really great, and there happen to be uses that are residual that aren't what we're doing. We're not creating this for [illegal activity]. And OK, maybe it's being used for that, but that's not what we're about!"
A Creationist Group Is Building a Life-Size Noah’s Ark
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In the rolling hills of rural Kentucky, a ship the length of nearly two football fields and the height of a five-story building is rising from the ground. This isn’t just any ship, but Noah’s Ark, as described in the book of Genesis in the Bible.

The $90 million boat, dubbed the Ark Encounter, will be the eventual centerpiece of a religious theme park aiming to illustrate the story of the legendary great flood, in which God instructs Noah to build an ark to save his family and a pair of each of the animal in the world. The first phase is expected to cost $73 million.
Scientists Have Discovered How To 'Delete' Unwanted Memories
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A new documentary from PBS reveals how cutting edge science enables us to 'edit' memories and create new ones from scratch. "For much of human history, memory has been seen as a tape recorder that faithfully registers information and replays it intact," say the film's makers. "But now, researchers are discovering that memory is far more malleable, always being written and rewritten, not just by us but by others. We are discovering the precise mechanisms that can explain and even control our memories."
Samsung Warns Customers To Think Twice About What They Say Near Smart TVs
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In a troubling new development in the domestic consumer surveillance debate, an investigation into Samsung Smart TVs has revealed that user voice commands are recorded, stored, and transmitted to a third party. The company even warns customers not to discuss personal or sensitive information within earshot of the device.

The new Samsung controversy stems from the discovery of a single haunting statement in the company's "privacy policy," which states: "Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party."
New Shape-Shifting Polymer Holds 1,000 Times Its Own Mass - Watch Out Plastic Man!
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University of Rochester researchers have announced the development of a new polymer, capable of supporting 1,000 times its own mass. Polymers that can change shape when heated have been developed in the past, yet this new polymer exhibits the rare quality of becoming flexible when exposed to body heat. This property, which can be used to change the shape of a device, could make the substance useful in medical applications. When the new polymer is removed from the heat source (such as human body), the material immediately returns to its original configuration.
Smartphones May Soon Provide Earthquake Warnings
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When it comes to an earthquake, just a few seconds' warning could make the difference between life and death. But many earthquake-prone countries lack the seismic networks that would give their citizens the lead time to find cover or shut down critical utilities. Now, a group of enterprising engineers is looking at a substitute network: smartphones. Using smartphones' built-in accelerometers, researchers have invented an app, released today, that they say can detect strong earthquakes seconds before the damaging seismic waves arrive. MyShake, as the app is called, could become the basis for an earthquake warning system for the world's most vulnerable regions.
iPhones Bricked By Setting Date To Jan 1, 1970
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Beware of a hoax circling the interwebs, which can be seen by setting your iPhone's date to January 1, 1970. Many people are reporting that doing so will brick the device. It's unclear what exactly causes the issue, but could be related to how iOS stores date and time formats. Jan. 1, 1970 is a value of zero or less than zero, which would make any process that uses a time stamp to fail. Apple is aware of the issue and is looking into it.
Scientists make first direct detection of gravitational waves
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Almost 100 years ago today, Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves — ripples in the fabric of space-time that are set off by extremely violent, cosmic cataclysms in the early universe. With his knowledge of the universe and the technology available in 1916, Einstein assumed that such ripples would be “vanishingly small” and nearly impossible to detect. The astronomical discoveries and technological advances over the past century have changed those prospects.
Internet Archive Brings Classic Windows 3.1 Apps To Your Browser
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The Internet Archive has made it possible for you to make a virtual visit to the wide, wide world of Windows 3.1 games (and other apps, too), via a collection of virtualized images. Jason Scott is the game collector and digital archivist behind the online museum of malware mentioned here a few days ago. "Now," Ars Technica reports, "Scott and his crew have done it again with the Windows 3.X Showcaseâ"made up of a whopping 1,523 downloads (and counting), all running in a surprisingly robust, browser-based JavaScript emulation of Windows 3.1. You'll recognize offerings like WinRisk and SkiFree, but the vast majority of the collection sticks to a particularly wild world of Windows shareware history, one in which burgeoning developers seemed to throw everything imaginable against 3.1's GUI wall to see what stuck." Says the article:

A volunteer "really did the hard work" of getting the Windows files required for each DOSBOX instance down to 1.8 MBâ"and in the process came up with a more centralized version of those files on his server's side, as opposed to kinds that would require optimizations for every single emulated app.
World's Largest Solar Power Plant To Supply Enough Energy For 1.1 Million People
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The world's largest solar power plant is now live and will eventually provide 1.1 million people in Morocco with power and cut carbon emissions by 760,000 tons a year. Phase 1 of the Noor concentrated solar power (CSP) plant went live last week, providing 140 megawatts (MW) of power to Morocco. Phases 2 and 3 will be completed by 2018 when the plant is expected to generate more than 500MW of power. The Noor plant, located in south-central Morocco, will cover 6,178 acres and produce so much energy, that Morocco may eventually start exporting the clean energy to the European market.
The Internet of Broken Things
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The Internet of Things is all the hype these days. On one side we have companies clamoring to sell you Internet-Connected-everything to replace all of the stuff you already have that is now considered "dumb." On the other side are security researchers screaming that we're installing remote access with little thought about securing it properly. The truth is a little of both is happening, and that this isn't a new thing. It's been around for years in industry, the new part is that it's much wider spread and much closer to your life. Al Williams walks through some real examples of the unintended consequences of IoT, including his experiences building and deploying devices, and some recent IoT gaffs like the NEST firmware upgrade that had some users waking up to an icy-cold home.
Carbon Dioxide From the Air Converted Into Methanol
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The danger posed by rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide has seen many schemes proposed to remove a proportion it from the air. Rather than simply capture this greenhouse gas and bury it in the ground, though, many experiments have managed to transform CO2 into useful things like carbon nanofibers or even fuels, such as diesel. Unfortunately, the over-arching problem with many of these conversions is the particularly high operating temperatures that require counterproductive amounts of energy to produce relatively low yields of fuel. Now researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) claim to have devised a way to take CO2 directly from the air and convert it into methanol using much lower temperatures and in a correspondingly simpler way.
NASA Announces That Pluto Has Icebergs Floating On Glaciers of Nitrogen Ice
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The most recent finding from New Horizons show that icebergs have broken off from the hills surrounding the Sputnik Planum, a glacier of nitrogen ice, and are floating slowly across its surface, eventually to cluster together in places like the Challenger Colles, informally named after the crew of the space shuttle Challenger, which was lost just over 30 years ago. The feature is an especially high concentration of icebergs, measuring 37 by 22 miles. The icebergs float on the nitrogen ice plain because water ice is less dense than nitrogen ice.
MIT Reveals "Hack-Proof" RFID Chip
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A group of researchers at MIT and Texas Instruments claim that they have developed a new radio frequency identification chip that may be impossible to hack. Traditional RFID chips are vulnerable to side-channel attacks, whereby a hacker can extract a cryptographic key from the chip. The new RFID chip runs a random-number generator that creates a new secret key after each transaction. The key can then be verified with a server to ensure that it is correct. The group at MIT also incorporated protection against a power-glitch attack, an attack that would normally leave a chip vulnerable to an interruption of the power source that would in turn halt the creation of a new secret key. Texas Instruments CTO Ahmad Bahai stated, "We believe this research is an important step toward the goal of a robust, lo-cost, low-power authentication protocol for the industrial internet." The question is, how long will it be before this "hack proof" chip is hacked?
Harnessing Artificial Intelligence To Build an Army of Virtual Analysts
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PatternEx, a startup that gathered a team of AI researcher from MIT CSAIL as well as security and distributed systems experts, is poised to shake up things in the user and entity behavior analytics market. Their goal was to make a system capable of mimicking the knowledge and intuition of human security analysts so that attacks can be detected in real time. The platform can go through millions of events per day and can make an increasingly better evaluation of whether they are anomalous, malicious or benign.
World's First Robotic Farm To Produce 11 Million Heads of Lettuce Per Year
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Japanese company SPREAD is preparing to open the world's first robot-controlled farm. The facility is designed to produce 11 million heads of lettuce each year, and it's expected to ship its first crop in Fall 2017. The new 47,300 square feet Vegetable Factory in Kansai Science City will also reduce construction costs by 25 percent and energy demand by 30 percent.
China's Chang'e 3 Lander and Yutu Rover Camera Data Released
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Detailed high resolution images from the recent Chinese moon mission have been released. Links to the original Chinese sites hosting the images are available, but Emily Lakdawalla of the Planetary Society has kindly organized them in English. Images show the lander, the rover and the surface of the earth. An interactive map is also available, built from data collected by the mission.
France To Pave 1000km of Road With Solar Panels
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France is planning on a project to build 1000 kilometers of road with specially designed solar panels. This project will supply 5 million people in France with electricity if it is successful. Though many solar experts are skeptical of this project, the French government has given the go-ahead to this venture. According to France's minister of ecology and energy, Ségolène Royal, the tender for this project is already issued under the "Positive Energy" initiative and the test for the solar panels will begin by this spring.The photo voltaic solar panels called "Wattway" which will be used in the project are jointly developed by the French infrastructure firm "Colas" and the National Institute for Solar Energy. The specialty of "Wattway" is that its very sturdy and can let heavy trucks pass over it, also offering a good grip to avoid an accident. Interestingly, this project will not remove road surfaces but instead, the solar panels will be glued to the existing pavement.
Cable Lobby Steams Up Over FCC Set-Top Box Competition Plan
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Cable TV industry lobby groups expressed their displeasure with a Federal Communications Commission plan to bring competition to the set-top box market, which could help consumers watch TV on different devices and thus avoid paying cable box rental fees.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler proposed new rules that would force pay-TV companies to give third parties access to TV content, letting hardware makers build better set-top boxes. Customers would be able to watch all the TV channels they're already paying cable companies for, but on a device that they don't have to rent from them. The rules could also bring TV to tablets and other devices without need for a rented set-top box. The system would essentially replace CableCard with a software-based equivalent.
Ancient Babylonians Figured Out Forerunner of Calculus
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Tracking and recording the motion of the sun, the moon, and the planets as they paraded across the desert sky, ancient Babylonian astronomers used simple arithmetic to predict the positions of celestial bodies. Now, new evidence reveals that these astronomers, working several centuries B.C.E., also employed sophisticated geometric methods that foreshadow the development of calculus. Historians had thought such techniques did not emerge until more than 1400 years later, in 14th century Europe.
The Tragedy Of Apollo 1 And The Lessons That Brought Us To The Moon
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On January 27, 1967, the Apollo 1 crew was performing a "plugs-out" test of the Command/Service Module, an essential simulation of how the three-person capsule would perform under in-space conditions under its own power. At 6:30 PM, a voltage spike occurred, leading to a disaster. In 26 seconds, everything changed. The Apollo 1 fire and the tragic death of all three astronauts wasn't due to just a single point-of-failure, but rather due to five independent confounding factors that if any one of them had been different, the astronauts Grissom, White and Chaffee might have survived. As it stands, all the crewed Apollo missions were scrapped for 20 months while NASA changed how they did business. The changes worked remarkably well, and 2.5 years later, humans walked on the Moon.
US Could Lower Carbon Emissions 78% With New National Transmission Network
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A story from Smithsonian magazine about how building a national transmission network could lead to a gigantic reduction in carbon emissions. From the story: "The United States could lower carbon emissions from electricity generation by as much as 78 percent without having to develop any new technologies or use costly batteries, a new study suggests. There's a catch, though. The country would have to build a new national transmission network so that states could share energy. 'Our idea was if we had a national 'interstate highway for electrons' we could move the power around as it was needed, and we could put the wind and solar plants in the very best places,' says study co-author Alexander MacDonald, who recently retired as director of NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado."
Chronic Stress Could Lead To Depression and Dementia, Scientists Warn
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A major review of published research suggests that chronic stress and anxiety can damage areas of the brain involved in emotional responses, thinking and memory, leading to depression and even Alzheimer's disease. Dr Linda Mah, the lead author of the review carried out at a research institute affiliated to the University of Toronto, said: 'Pathological anxiety and chronic stress are associated with structural degeneration and impaired functioning of the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex, which may account for the increased risk of developing neuropsychiatric disorders, including depression and dementia.'
Fake Facebook Emails Deliver Malware Masquerading As Audio Message
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A new spam campaign is targeting Facebook users. It uses the same approach as the recent one aimed at WhatsApp users, and Comodo researchers believe that the authors of both campaigns are likely the same. The fake emails are made to look like an official communication from the popular social network, and their goal is to make the victims believe they have received a voice message. The attachment that the recipients are urged to download and open contains a malicious executable — a variant of the Nivdort information-stealing Trojan.
Former Mozilla CEO Launches Security-Centric Browser Brave
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Former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich has launched a new Chromium-based browser called Brave. "Brave blocks everything: initial signaling/analytics scripts that start the programmatic advertising 'dirty pipe', impression-tracking pixels, and ad-click confirmation signals," Eich wrote on the Brave site. Former Mozilla CTO Andreas Gal said in a blog post that "the web is broken," with current browser vendors unwilling to tackle the dilemma of blocking ads, while looking at alternative mechanisms for funding content. Gal said it was ironic Brave was a for-profit operation that can make money from reducing advertising.
NASA, NOAA Analyses Reveal Record-Shattering Global Warm Temperatures In 2015
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Earth's 2015 surface temperatures were the warmest since modern record keeping began in 1880, according to independent analyses by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Globally-averaged temperatures in 2015 shattered the previous mark set in 2014 by 0.23 degrees Fahrenheit (0.13 Celsius). Only once before, in 1998, has the new record been greater than the old record by this much. The British Met office also reports on the same phenomenon, even forecasting that global temperatures are very soon going to reach the one-degree-Celsius marker. According to Stephen Belcher, Director of the Met Office Hadley Centre, "We've had similar natural events in the past, yet this is the first time we're set to reach the 1 C marker and it's clear that it is human influence driving our modern climate into uncharted territory."
Caltech Astronomers Say a Ninth Planet Lurks Beyond Pluto
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The solar system may have a new ninth planet. Today, two scientists announced evidence that a body nearly the size of Neptune — but as yet unseen — orbits the sun every 15,000 years. During the solar system's infancy 4.5 billion years ago, they say, the giant planet was knocked out of the planet-forming region near the sun. Slowed down by gas, the planet settled into a distant elliptical orbit, where it still lurks today. Here's a link to the full academic paper published in The Astronomical Journal.
European Human Rights Court Rules Mass Surveillance Illegal
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The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that mass surveillance is illegal, in a little-noticed case in Hungary. In a judgment last week, the court ruled that the Hungarian government had violated article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right to privacy) due to its failure to include "sufficiently precise, effective and comprehensive" measures that would limit surveillance to only people it suspected of crimes. Under a section of the 2011 National Security Act, a minister of the government is able to approve a police request to search people's houses, mail, phones and laptops if they are seeking to protect national security. ... The court said the Hungarian government should be required to interpret the law in a narrow fashion and "verify whether sufficient reasons for intercepting a specific individual's communications exist in each case." Or in other words, every individual case must be looked at carefully and a decision made on each. Which is clearly impossible if the law is taken to carry out mass surveillance, i.e., hoovering up information over the internet and then searching in it."
Fraud Detected In Science Research That Suggested GMO Crops Were Harmful
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Three science papers that had suggested that genetically modified crops were harmful to animals and have been used by activist groups to argue for their ban have been found to contain manipulated and possibly falsified data. Nature reports: "Papers that describe harmful effects to animals fed genetically modified (GM) crops are under scrutiny for alleged data manipulation. The leaked findings of an ongoing investigation at the University of Naples in Italy suggest that images in the papers may have been intentionally altered. The leader of the lab that carried out the work there says that there is no substance to this claim. The papers' findings run counter to those of numerous safety tests carried out by food and drug agencies around the world, which indicate that there are no dangers associated with eating GM food. But the work has been widely cited on anti-GM websites — and results of the experiments that the papers describe were referenced in an Italian Senate hearing last July on whether the country should allow cultivation of safety-approved GM crops. 'The case is very important also because these papers have been used politically in the debate on GM crops,' says Italian senator Elena Cattaneo, a neuroscientist at the University of Milan whose concerns about the work triggered the investigation.
Katherine Johnson: NASA's Pioneering Female Physicist
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Tuesday's State of the Union address included a shout-out to Katherine Johnson, the pioneering African American mathematician and physicist who calculated the trajectory of Alan Shepherd's 1961 space trip. "Her reputation was so strong that John Glenn asked her to recheck the calculations made by the new electronic computers before the mission on which he became the first American to orbit the Earth," notes one technology reporter. NASA policy at the time was to not acknowledge the female contributors to scientific papers, though "She literally wrote the textbook on rocket science," according to one NASA official, noting that her impact literally reaches all the way to the moon. At a ceremony in November, Johnson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the 97-year-old pioneer continues to encourage young people to also pursue careers in technology, science, engineering and math.
Reusable SpaceX Rocket Has Implications For a Return To the Moon
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While it is unclear what, if any, implications the recent successful landing of the first stage of the Falcon 9 first stage means for the future of space travel, planetary scientist and space commentator Paul Spudis suggested that the feat and the similar one performed earlier by Blue Origin could have some benefit for a return to the moon. In the meantime, a test of the engines in the recovered first stage had mixed results. The engines fired alright, but SpaceX CEO Elon Musk reported, "thrust fluctuations" that might have been caused by "debris ingestion."
SpaceX Successfully Launches Jason-3 Satellite, Rocket Landing Partial Success
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SpaceX successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket today carrying the Jason-3 ocean monitoring satellite. "Jason-3 data will be used for monitoring global sea level rise, researching human impacts on oceans, aiding prediction of hurricane intensity, and operational marine navigation," NASA said. Unfortunately Space X reports that the attempt to land the Falcon 9 on a drone platform was only a partial success. According to the company twitter page: "First stage on target at droneship but looks like hard landing; broke landing leg."

Here is a video of the launch.
How Procrastination Can Be Good For You
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Over 80 percent of college students are plagued by procrastination, requiring epic all-nighters to finish papers and prepare for tests. Roughly 20 percent of adults report being chronic procrastinators. But Adam Grant writes in the NY Times that while we think of procrastination as a curse for productivity, procrastination is really a virtue for creativity. According to Grant, our first ideas are usually our most conventional -- but when you procrastinate, you're more likely to let your mind wander, giving you a better chance of stumbling onto the unusual and spotting unexpected patterns. "When we finish a project, we file it away. But when it's in limbo, it stays active in our minds." Jihae Shin designed some experiments. She asked people to come up with new business ideas. Some were randomly assigned to start right away. Others were given five minutes to first play Minesweeper or Solitaire. Everyone submitted their ideas, and independent raters evaluated how original they were. The procrastinators' ideas were 28 percent more creative. When people played games before being told about the task, there was no increase in creativity. It was only when they first learned about the task and then put it off that they considered more novel ideas. It turned out that procrastination encouraged divergent thinking.

Even some monumental achievements are helped by procrastination. Grant says that according to those who knew him, Steve Jobs procrastinated constantly. Bill Clinton has been described as a "chronic procrastinator" who waits until the last minute to revise his speeches, and Frank Lloyd Wright spent almost a year procrastinating on a commission, to the point that his patron drove out and insisted that he produce a drawing on the spot. It became Fallingwater, Wright's masterpiece. Aaron Sorkin, the screenwriter behind Steve Jobs and The West Wing, is known to put off writing until the last minute. When Katie Couric asked him about it, he replied, "You call it procrastination, I call it thinking."
Inside NASA's Space Rock Vault
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In an unassuming building at Johnson Space Center, NASA maintains clean rooms and employs curators to support its collection of rocks and other matter from elsewhere in the solar system. Ars got to tour the facility and take pictures of the samples inside. "The collection houses about 20,000 rocks, but the most famous of those rocks is ALH84001. Sometime around 16 million years ago, a large meteorite or asteroid 0.5 to 1 km across or larger struck the Martian surface and blasted some rocks into space at a speed greater than the red planet's escape velocity. One of them flew through space until about 13,000 years ago when it crashed into Antarctica." NASA keeps bits of a comet trapped in aerogel, as well as the remains of the Genesis probe that captured particles of solar wind. Of course, this is dwarfed by the vast collection of lunar rock samples brought back by the Apollo missions. Some of them have yet to be opened. "They were collected in the vacuum of the lunar surface, placed inside vacuum sealed tubes, and remain that way to this day. NASA is preserving them for some theoretical future where science has progressed to enable some new, powerful method of analysis."
Urban Death Project Aims To Rebuild Our Soil By Composting Corpses
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The Urban Death Project utilizes the process of composting to safely and gently turn our deceased into soil-building material, creating a meaningful, equitable and ecological urban alternative to existing options for the disposition of the dead," said Katrina Spade, a designer based in Seattle. "The project is a solution to the overcrowding of city cemeteries, a sustainable method of disposing of our dead, and a new ritual for laying our loved ones to rest."
Ann Caracristi, Who Cracked Codes, and the Glass Ceiling At NSA, Dies At 94
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A story at The Washington Post about the life and death of Ann Caracristi. From the article: "Ann Caracristi, who became one of the highest ranking and most honored women at the code breaking National Security Agency after a career extending from World War II through much of the Cold War, died Jan. 10 at her home in Washington. She was 94. ... Ms. Caracristi formally retired from her intelligence career in 1982, after becoming the sixth deputy director of the NSA . . . She was the first woman to serve as deputy director. One of her strengths was reconstructing enemy code books, said Liza Mundy, a former Washington Post staff writer who is working on a book about U.S. female code breakers during the war. Admired for her early accomplishments as a young woman in wartime Washington, Ms. Caracristi was credited in her later career with providing leadership for new generations of code breakers and for her efforts to bring computers and technology to bear on the work. ... One of her jobs at the NSA was as chief from 1959 to 1980 of branches devoted to research and operations. Her honors there included the Defense Department's Distinguished Civilian Service Award and the National Security Medal, among other top federal honors. After retiring, she began serving on a variety of prominent scientific, defense and intelligence advisory boards and committees."
NASA Safety Panel Finds Concerns With the Journey To Mars
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NASA's Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel issued its annual report on various space agency programs. The panel found a number of areas of concern surrounding the Journey to Mars program, virtually all of them stemming from inadequate funding. It suggested that NASA's plan to launch the first crewed mission on the Orion, which would use the heavy lift Space Launch System to go around the moon, in 2021 was unrealistic given current, anticipated funding. The panel also suggested that lack of a clear plan for the Mars program is compromising its viability. It also suggested that the decision not to return to the moon should be revisited in view of the desire of international partners to do so and the need of low gravity surface experience in advance of going to Mars
IRS: Identity Theft Protection a Tax Deductible Benefit - Even Without a Breach
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The U.S. Internal Revenue Service has announced that it will treat identity theft protection as a non-taxable, non-reportable benefit that companies can offer — even when the company in question hasn't experienced a data breach, and regardless of whether it is offered by an employer to employees, or by other businesses (such as online retailers) to its customers, the blog E for ERISA reports. In short: companies can now deduct the cost of offering identity theft protection as a benefit for employees or extending it to customers, even if their data hasn't been exposed to hackers.

The announcement comes only four months after an earlier announcement by the IRS that it would treat identity theft protection offered to employees or customers in the wake of a data breach as a non-taxable event. Comments to the IRS following the earlier decision suggested that many businesses view a data breach as "inevitable" rather than as a remote risk.

The truth of that statement was made clear to the IRS itself, which had to provide identity theft protection earlier this year in response to a hack of its online database of past-filed returns and other filed documents which ultimately affected over 300,000 taxpayers. The new IRS guidance could be a boon to providers of identity protection services such as Experian and Lifelock, though maybe not as much as one would expect. Data from Experian suggests that consumer adoption rates for identity theft protection services is low. Fewer than 10% of those potentially affected by a breach opt for free identity protection services when they are offered. For very large breaches that number is even lower — in the single digit percentages.
NASA's Fermi Satellite Maps Entire Sky, Finds Mysterious Unknown Object
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With the launch of the Fermi satellite in the late 2000s, we began observing the highest energy photons in the Universe — gamma rays — all over the sky, to unprecedented precision. Produced from cosmic ray showers in space when high energy protons run into other, stationary protons, these gamma rays locate point sources from supermassive black holes to supernova remnants to pulsars. There is, additionally, a great correlation between the infrared sky and the gamma ray sky, since the great high-energy background scatters off of the diffuse infrared gas, producing gamma rays there as well. But while a great many sources can be correlated with known structures, Fermi reveals at least one unknown, intense behemoth that emits spectacularly in gamma rays.
The Dirty Truth About 'Clean Diesel'
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Volkswagen persuaded consumers it had created a new generation of so-called clean diesel cars — until investigators discovered that phony testing concealed that its vehicles emitted up to 40 times the permitted levels of pollutants during regular use. Now Taras Grescoe writes in the NY Times public outrage over the fraud obscures the much larger issue: "clean diesel" is causing a precipitous decline in air quality for millions of city-dwellers. Monitoring sites in European cities like London, Stuttgart, Munich, Paris, Milan and Rome have reported high levels of the nitrogen oxides and particulate matter, or soot, that help to create menacing smogs. Although automakers worked hard to convince consumers that a new generation of "clean diesel" cars were far less polluting, diesel has a fatal flaw. It tends to burn dirty, particularly at low speeds and temperatures. In cities, where so much driving is stop and start, incomplete diesel combustion produces pollution that is devastating for human health.

Fortunately, Volkswagen sold only half a million of its "clean diesel" cars to the American public before the emissions scandal broke. Today, fewer than 1 percent of the passenger vehicles sold in the U.S. run on diesel fuel. Europe is now scrambling to undo the damage. In London, Mayor Boris Johnson last year called for a national program to pay some drivers to scrap their diesel vehicles. In Paris, Mayor Anne Hidalgo has gained broad support for a proposed ban on diesel cars. "Last month, the signatories of the climate deal in Paris agreed that the world has to begin a long-term shift from fossil fuels to more sustainable forms of energy," concludes Grescoe. "Recognizing "clean diesel" for the oxymoron it is would be a good place to start."
Turning Around a School District By Fighting Poverty
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Through her unconventional focus on addressing poverty, Superintendent Tiffany Anderson has been credited with rapidly improving the school district of Jennings, Mo. NPR reports: "The school district of 3,000 students has taken unprecedented steps, like opening a food pantry to give away food, a shelter for homeless students and a health clinic, among other efforts. 'My purpose is to remove the challenges that poverty creates,' she says. 'You can not expect children to learn at a high level if they come in hungry and tired.' That unconventional approach has had big results. When Anderson took over in 2012, the school district was close to losing accreditation. Jennings had a score of 57 percent on state educational standards. A district loses accreditation if that score goes below 50 percent. Two years later, that score was up to 78 percent, and in the past year rose again to 81 percent, Anderson says. She points to a 92 percent 4-year graduation rate, and a 100 percent college and career placement rate."
Planetary Exploration In 2016
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Emily Lakdawalla at the Planetary Society blog has put together a post about all of the space missions set to return data from planets, moons, and other bodies in the solar system this year. She's also assembled some cool visualizations of when the missions are active at their locations of interest. In summary: "Akatsuki is at Venus, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and two Chang'e missions at the Moon, two rovers and five orbiters are active at Mars, Dawn is at Ceres, Rosetta is at 67P, Cassini is at Saturn, and although New Horizons is far past Pluto, it'll be sending back new Pluto science data for most of the year, so I'm counting that as still doing science. Another two missions (Hayabusa2 and Juno) are in their cruise phase; Juno arrives at Jupiter in August. Two (ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter and OSIRIS-Rex) or three (if you count the Schiaparelli lander separately) will launch this year, with their science starting after 2016."
The E6-B Flight Computer Is 75 Years Old, Still In Use
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Few devices have been around this long, have had cameo appearances in Star Trek, and remain in use today. The current E6-B looks almost exactly the same as the first one manufactured 75 years ago. It was designed by U.S. Naval Lt. Philip Dalton in the late 1930s. When he completed the final version, it was introduced to the Army in 1940, and later used widely during WWII. Today is a required instrument for flight training, and has appeared on Star Trek original series several times, as Mr. Spock used a E6-B for critical calculations.
Paramount and CBS File Lawsuit Against Crowdfunded, Indie Star Trek Movie
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Back in August, an Indiegogo campaign raised $566,023 to produce Axanar, a Star Trek movie in development by an independent group of fans, who also happen to be film professionals. Now, unfortunately but predictably, Paramount and CBS have filed a lawsuit in California federal court claiming their intellectual property is being infringed upon. They are "demanding an injunction as well as damages for direct, contributory and vicarious copyright infringement." The guy running the crowdfunded film is a lawyer, and he said, "We've certainly been prepared for this and we certainly will defend this lawsuit. There are a lot of issues surrounding a fan film. These fan films have been around for 30 years, and others have raised a lot of money." He said CBS/Paramount weren't willing to provide guidelines on what types of fan productions would be tolerated (unlike Lucasfilm with Star Wars), because they worry about setting precedent.
SpaceX To Test Recovered First Stage, Then Put It On Display
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Rather than re-fly it, Elon Musk suggested that, after some testing, SpaceX will likely put its first recovered Falcon 9 first stage on display instead. '"[We will] do a static fire at the launch pad there, to confirm that all systems are good and that we are able to do a full thrust hold-down firing of the rocket," Musk said after the stage landed. The static fire will also test the modifications SpaceX has made to Pad 39A to support its rockets.

After that though, the stage will become a display piece. "I think we will keep this one on the ground for tests that prove it could fly again and then put it somewhere — just because it is quite unique," Musk said.' Since they already have a satellite company, SES, willing to buy that first stage, this only underlines how this last Falcon 9 launch changes everything. I don't think the change has sunk in with most people, yet. The last launch was not a one-time event. SpaceX intends to recover as many of its first stages as it can in all future launches. Their Falcon 9 first stage is no longer expendable. Thus, they can afford to put this first recovered stage on display because they expect all future first stages to fly again.
The AI Anxiety
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The Washington Post has an article about current and near-future AI research while managing to keep a level head about it: "The machines are not on the verge of taking over. This is a topic rife with speculation and perhaps a whiff of hysteria." Every so often, we hear seemingly dire warnings from people like Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk about the dangers of unchecked AI research. But actual experts continue to dismiss such worries as premature — and not just slightly premature. The article suggests our concerns might be better focused in a different direction: "Anyone looking for something to worry about in the near future might want to consider the opposite of superintelligence: superstupidity. In our increasingly technological society, we rely on complex systems that are vulnerable to failure in complex and unpredictable ways. Deepwater oil wells can blow out and take months to be resealed. Nuclear power reactors can melt down. Rockets can explode. How might intelligent machines fail — and how catastrophic might those failures be?"
Poverty Stunts IQ In the US But Not In Other Developed Countries
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New research published in the journal Psychological Science (abstract) found that children who grow up in poverty within the United States tend to have lower IQs than peers from other socioeconomic brackets. Previous studies have shown a complex relationship between a child's genetics, his environment, and his IQ. Your genes can't pinpoint your IQ, but they can indicate a rough range of values within which your IQ is quite likely to fall. For kids in poverty, they seem to consistently end up on the low end of that window. Interestingly, this effect was not seen for any of the other countries hosting kids within the study, which included Australia, Germany, England, Sweden, and the Netherlands. The study authors speculate that "inequalities in educational and medical access in the U.S." may be the root of the differences, though another researcher is planning to study the effect of school environments as well.
Hackers Have Infiltrated the US Power Grid's Control Networks
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A security researcher and the Associated Press are reporting that hackers have infiltrated many of the United States' power grid networks. "About a dozen times in the last decade, sophisticated foreign hackers have gained enough remote access to control the operations networks that keep the lights on, according to top experts who spoke only on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the subject matter." Exfiltrated data included engineering plans and other non-public information that could aid an attacker later, as well as account credentials. Multiple companies were affected, but one of the more notable ones was the energy provider Calpine. "Circumstantial evidence such as snippets of Persian comments in the code helped investigators conclude that Iran was the source of the attacks. Calpine didn't know its information had been compromised until it was informed by Cylance, Kerr said."
Astronomers Successfully Predict Appearance of Supernova
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For the first time ever astronomers have been able to predict and photograph the appearance of a supernova, its light focused by the gravitational lensing caused by a galaxy and the dark matter that surrounds it: "The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has captured the image of the first-ever predicted supernova explosion. The reappearance of the Refsdal supernova was calculated from different models of the galaxy cluster whose immense gravity is warping the supernova's light." What makes this significant is that the prediction models were based on the theory of gravitational lensing and required the presence of dark matter to work. That they worked and were successful in predicting the appearance of this gravitationally bent light (bent by the dark matter it passed through) is a very strong confirmation of both concepts.
The FAA To Facilitate American Commercial Participation In the ESA Moon Village
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While NASA remains fixated on its Journey to Mars, quietly, the FAA is positioning itself as the lead United States Government agency for a return to the moon. According to a story in Space News, "FAA's Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC) unanimously approved a recommendation that the FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation begin discussions with ESA on ways American companies could participate in what's known as 'Moon Village.'" The "Moon Village" is a European concept for an international moon base where various countries and private entities would collocate habitats for mutual support and benefit.
Japan Releases AKATSUKI's Pictures of Venus
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The Japanese space agency JAXA has released a confirmation that their Venus mission Akatsuki did indeed enter orbit at Venus on Dec. 7 (JST) — releasing unprocessed images of the Venusian atmosphere as it entered orbit. The spacecraft is currently in a highly-elliptical 13-day, 14-hour orbit around the planet, coming within 400 kilometers (248 miles) at its closest point and reaching 440,000 kilometers (243,400 miles) away at its farthest. This mission has just become the most unlikely success story of 2015 after "missing" it's intended Venus orbit way back in 2010.
1 in 3 Patients Will Have Their Healthcare Records Compromised
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A legacy of lackluster electronic security in healthcare and an increase in the amount of online patient data will lead to an increase in the number of consumers who will have their healthcare records compromised by cyberattacks in 2016, according to a new report from IDC Health Insights. The report, which includes 10 future predictions about the healthcare industry, also predicted that by 2018, cognitive computing would play an increasingly important role in helping physicians to identify the most effective treatment for 50% of patients resulting in a 10% reduction in mortality and a 10% cut in costs. Also by 2018, 30% of worldwide healthcare systems will employ real-time cognitive analysis to provide personalized care leveraging patient's clinical data, directly supported by clinical outcomes and "real world evidence" data — information pulled from patient studies and treatment results. That same year, IDC expects virtual healthcare and computer-assisted surgery to be the norm. Surgeons will use computer-assisted or robotic surgery techniques to assist in planning, simulating, and performing 50% of the most complex surgeries. Conversely, patients will be communicating with physicians via messaging, email and video chat sessions far more often, which will reduce costs and increase convenience.
Japan Releases AKATSUKI's Pictures of Venus
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The Japanese space agency JAXA has released a confirmation that their Venus mission Akatsuki did indeed enter orbit at Venus on Dec. 7 (JST) — releasing unprocessed images of the Venusian atmosphere as it entered orbit. The spacecraft is currently in a highly-elliptical 13-day, 14-hour orbit around the planet, coming within 400 kilometers (248 miles) at its closest point and reaching 440,000 kilometers (243,400 miles) away at its farthest. This mission has just become the most unlikely success story of 2015 after "missing" it's intended Venus orbit way back in 2010.
Streaming Video Is 70 Percent of Broadband Use
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Streaming entertainment is now the dominant form of broadband usage in North America. A new report from Sandvine says streaming accounts for roughly 70% of downstream traffic during peak times, and 65% of total traffic. That represents a doubling of video/audio streaming since five years ago. "Much of the increase comes from YouTube and Netflix, which already accounted for more than half of your broadband usage a couple of years ago, and continue to grow. But now those services are joined by relatively new entrants, like Amazon* and Hulu, which barely registered a couple of years ago and now account for nearly 6 percent of usage." Streaming doesn't take up such a big portion of traffic on mobile, but it still takes up more than any other type of traffic. It accounts for about 41% of peak downstream traffic, and 37% overall.
Japanese Space Probe Akatsuki Enters Orbit Around Venus Five Years Late
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On May 17, 2010, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency Venus Climate Orbiter probe or as it is now called Akatsuki lifted off from the Tanegashima Space Center. It was supposed to enter orbit around Venus on December 6, 2010. However, due to a failure in the probe's orbital maneuvering thruster, Akatsuki did not enter Venus orbit and went into orbit around the sun instead. According to a story on Space.com, just about five years to the day of the failure, Akatsuki assumed an orbit around the second planet from the sun. Japanese scientists will determine what sort of orbit that is in a couple of days and, hopefully, begin the probe's science mission.

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