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Science

The Rise and Fall of Supersymmetry 138

Posted by Soulskill
from the who-needs-experimental-evidence-anyway dept.
Ethan Siegel at the StartsWithABang blog writes: "Have you ever wondered why the masses of the fundamental particles have the small values that they do, compared to, say, the Planck scale? Whether the fundamental forces all unify at some high energy? And whether there's a natural, compelling particle candidate for dark matter? Well, in theory supersymmetry (or SUSY, for short) could have solve all three of these problems. In fact, if it solves the first one alone, there will be definitive experimental signatures for it at the Large Hadron Collider. Well, the LHC has completed its first run, and found nothing. What does this mean for theoretical physics, for SUSY in particular, and what are the implications for string theory? A very clear explanation is given here; it might be time to start hammering in those coffin nails."
Graphics

Game Tech: How BioShock Infinite's Lighting Works 55

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-bet-they-used-sprites dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Principal Graphics Programmer for BioShock Infinite has put up a post about how the game's lighting was developed. We don't usually get this kind of look into the creation of AAA game releases, but the studio shut down recently, so ex-employees are more willing to explain. The game uses a hybrid lighting system: direct lighting is dynamic, indirect uses lightmaps, shadows are a mix. 'Dynamic lighting was handled primarily with a deferred lighting/light-pre pass renderer. This met our goals of high contrast/high saturation — direct lighting baked into lightmaps tends to be flat, mostly because the specular approximations available were fairly limited.' It's interesting how much detail goes into something you don't really think about when you're playing through the game. 'We came up with a system that supported baked shadows but put a fixed upper bound on the storage required for baked shadows. The key observation was that if two lights do not overlap in 3D space, they will never overlap in texture space. We made a graph of lights and their overlaps. Lights were the vertices in the graph and the edges were present if two lights' falloff shapes overlapped in 3D space. We could then use this graph to do a vertex coloring to assign one of four shadow channels (R,G,B,A) to each light. Overlapping lights would be placed in different channels, but lights which did not overlap could reuse the same channel. This allowed us to pack a theoretically infinite number of lights in a single baked shadow texture as long as the graph was 4-colorable.'"
Android

F-Secure: Android Accounted For 97% of All Mobile Malware In 2013 193

Posted by Soulskill
from the going-for-the-high-score dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Back in 2012, Android accounted for 79 percent of all mobile malware. Last year, that number ballooned even further to 97 percent. Both those data points come from security firm F-Secure, which today released its 40-page Threat Report for the second half of 2013. More specifically, Android malware rose from 238 threats in 2012 to 804 new families and variants in 2013. Apart from Symbian, F-Secure found no new threats for other mobile platforms last year."
PHP

The New PHP 254

Posted by Soulskill
from the less-filling-tastes-great dept.
An anonymous reader writes "This article at O'Reilly Programming suggests that PHP, a language known as much for its weaknesses as its strengths, has made steady progress over the past few years in fixing its problems. From the article: 'A few years ago, PHP had several large frameworks (e.g. CakePHP, CodeIgniter, and so on). Each framework was an island and provided its own implementation of features commonly found in other frameworks. Unfortunately, these insular implementations were likely not compatible with each other and forced developers to lock themselves in with a specific framework for a given project. Today the story is different. The new PHP community uses package management and component libraries to mix and match the best available tools. ... There are also exciting things happening with PHP under the hood, too. The PHP Zend Engine recently introduced memory usage optimizations. The memory usage in PHP 5.5 is far less than earlier versions.'"
Cloud

Feds Now Oppose Aereo, Rejecting Cloud Apocalypse Argument 140

Posted by Soulskill
from the maybe-cut-back-on-the-hyperbole-next-time dept.
v3rgEz writes "TV streaming service Aereo expected broadcasters would put up a fight. The startup may not have seen the Justice Department as a threat, however. The Justice Department has now weighed in, saying in a filing that it's siding with major broadcasters who accuse Aereo of stealing TV content. In its filing, the Justice Department noted it doesn't believe a win for broadcasters would dismantle the precedent that created the cloud computing industry, as Aereo has previously claimed. The case is expected to go before the Supreme Court in late April."
Medicine

Low-Protein Diet May Extend Lifespan 459

Posted by Soulskill
from the suddenly-i-feel-much-healthier dept.
sciencehabit writes "A new theory about the foods that can extend life is taking shape, and it's sure to be a controversial one. Two studies out this week, one in mice (PDF) and another primarily in people (PDF), suggest that eating relatively little protein and lots of carbohydrates — the opposite of what's urged by many human diet plans, including the popular Atkins Diet — extends life and fortifies health."
Security

Bug In the GnuTLS Library Leaves Many OSs and Apps At Risk 231

Posted by Soulskill
from the feeling-secure-is-the-biggest-bug dept.
New submitter williamyf writes "According to this article at Ars Technica, '[A] bug in the GnuTLS library makes it trivial for attackers to bypass secure sockets layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) protections available on websites that depend on the open source package. Initial estimates included in Internet discussions such as this one indicate that more than 200 different operating systems or applications rely on GnuTLS to implement crucial SSL and TLS operations, but it wouldn't be surprising if the actual number is much higher. Web applications, e-mail programs, and other code that use the library are vulnerable to exploits that allow attackers monitoring connections to silently decode encrypted traffic passing between end users and servers.' The coding error may have been present since 2005."
Security

Australian Company Claims Laser-Based Quantum Crypto is "Unbreakable" (Video) 84

Posted by Roblimo
from the when-you-positively-absolutely-need-to-keep-your-crypto-key-to-yourself dept.
The QuintessenceLabs website doesn't mince words when it comes to self-promotion. It boasts that they are "The world’s first company to harness the quantum properties of lasers to herald a new generation of data security." InvestCanberra says, "the defense and security policy and procurement centre of Australia is the natural location for large conglomerate defense and security corporations and specialist cyber security, advanced communications and radar, ICT and surveillance businesses alike," and goes on to list QuintessenceLabs as one of several "locally headquartered companies that have grown into internationally successful organizations."

Here's another statement taken from the company's website: "QuintessenceLabs is the first in the world to exploit a new generation of quantum cryptographic technology which enables unbreakable, secure storage and communication of sensitive information through the generation of an ultra-secure cryptographic key." Unbreakable? That's a strong boast. Is it true? And even if it's only partly true, your upper management may call on you to explain (and possibly implement) laser-based quantum security, so you need to know what it is and how it works -- and whether it's something your company (or your client companies) need.
Chrome

Google Won't Enable Chrome Video Acceleration Because of Linux GPU Bugs 295

Posted by Soulskill
from the off-the-poorly-rendered-table dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Citing 'code we consider to be permanently "experimental" or "beta,"' Google Chrome engineers have no plans on enabling video acceleration in the Chrome/Chromium web browser. Code has been written but is permanently disabled by default because 'supporting GPU features on Linux is a nightmare' due to the reported sub-par quality of Linux GPU drivers and many different Linux distributions. Even coming up with a Linux GPU video acceleration white-list has been shot down over fear of the Linux video acceleration code causing stability issues and problems for Chrome developers. What have been your recent experiences with Linux GPU drivers?"
Medicine

Pro-Vaccination Efforts May Be Scaring Wary Parents From Shots 482

Posted by Soulskill
from the can't-win-for-losing dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Thomas Kienzle reports for the Associated Press on a study which found public health campaigns touting vaccines' effectiveness and debunking the links between autism and other health risks might actually be backfiring, and convincing parents to skip the shots for their kids. 'Corrections of misperceptions about controversial issues like vaccines may be counterproductive in some populations,' says Dr. Brendan Nyhan. 'The best response to false beliefs is not necessarily providing correct information.' In the study, researchers focused on the now-debunked idea that the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella (or MMR) caused autism. Surveying 1,759 parents, researchers found that while they were able to teach parents that the vaccine and autism were not linked, parents who were surveyed who had initial reservations about vaccines said they were actually less likely to vaccinate their children after hearing the researchers messages. Researchers looked at four methods designed to counter the myth (PDF) that the MMR vaccine can cause autism. They gave people either information from health authorities about the lack of evidence for a connection, information about the danger of the three diseases the MMR vaccine protects against, pictures of children who had one of those three diseases, or a story about an infant who almost died from measles.

At the study's start, the group of parents who were most opposed to vaccination said that on average, the chance they would vaccinate a future child against MMR was 70 percent. After these parents had been given information that the MMR vaccine does not cause autism, they said, on average, the chance they would vaccinate a future child was only 45 percent — even though they also said they were now less likely to believe the vaccine could cause autism. Vaccination rates are currently high, so it's important that any strategies should focus on retaining these numbers and not raise more concerns, tipping parents who are willing to vaccinate away from doing so. 'We shouldn't put too much weight on the idea that there's some magic message out there that will change people's minds.'"
Math

Teaching Calculus To 5-Year-Olds 231

Posted by Soulskill
from the finding-the-limit-as-age-approaches-zero dept.
Doofus writes "The Atlantic has an interesting story about opening up what we routinely consider 'advanced' areas of mathematics to younger learners. The goals here are to use complex but easy tasks as introductions to more advanced topics in math, rather than the standard, sequential process of counting, arithmetic, sets, geometry, then eventually algebra and finally calculus. Quoting: 'Examples of activities that fall into the "simple but hard" quadrant: Building a trench with a spoon (a military punishment that involves many small, repetitive tasks, akin to doing 100 two-digit addition problems on a typical worksheet, as Droujkova points out), or memorizing multiplication tables as individual facts rather than patterns. Far better, she says, to start by creating rich and social mathematical experiences that are complex (allowing them to be taken in many different directions) yet easy (making them conducive to immediate play). Activities that fall into this quadrant: building a house with LEGO blocks, doing origami or snowflake cut-outs, or using a pretend "function box" that transforms objects (and can also be used in combination with a second machine to compose functions, or backwards to invert a function, and so on).' I plan to get my children learning the 'advanced' topics as soon as possible. How about you?"
Security

In Ukraine, Cyber War With Russia Heating Up 256

Posted by timothy
from the nothing-good-will-come-of-this dept.
concertina226 writes "If you think the crisis in the Ukraine is limited just to being just on the ground, think again. A cyberwar is flaring up between Ukraine and Russia and it looks like just the beginning. On Friday, communication centers were hijacked by unknown men to install wireless equipment for monitoring the mobile phones of Ukraine parliament members. Since then, Ukrainian hackers have been defacing Russian news websites, while Russia's Roskomnadzor is blocking any IP addresses or groups on social media from showing pro-Ukraine 'extremist' content." Adds reader Daniel_Stuckey: "On the other side of the border, RT — the news channel formerly known as Russia Today and funded by the state — had its website hacked on Sunday morning, with the word 'Nazi' not-so-stealthily slipped into headlines. Highlights included 'Russian senators vote to use stabilizing Nazi forces on Ukrainian territory,' and 'Putin: Nazi citizens, troops threatened in Ukraine, need armed forces' protection.' RT was quick to notice the hack, and the wordplay only lasted about 20 minutes." Finally, as noted by judgecorp, "The Ukrainian security service has claimed that Russian forces in Crimea are attacking Ukraine's mobile networks and politicians' phones in particular. Meanwhile, pro-Russian hackers have defaced Ukrainian news sites, posting a list of forty web destinations where content has been replaced. The pro-Russians have demonstrated Godwin's Rule — their animated GIF equates the rest of Ukraine to Nazis."
Businesses

RadioShack To Close 1,100 Stores 423

Posted by timothy
from the too-weak-to-ask-for-your-zip-code dept.
wjcofkc writes "The decline of RadioShack has been painful to watch, and now CNN Money reports that they will be closing 1,100 of their stores, totaling 20% of their brick and mortar presence. RadioShack has also publicly admitted its current stores are out of date and in need of a massive overhaul. But the number-one culprit has been a continuous slide in sales down a steep slope in the area of mobile device sales. A few years ago, in a bid to expand its customer base, RadioShack made a bid to return to its roots as a hobbyist electronic components retailer. Apparently the extra traffic hasn't been enough to make up for their failings. The article mentions that some of their stiffest competition is coming from online retailers. The big question is, in order to ensure their survival, would RadioShack be better off continuing to phase out their brick and mortar presence while making substantial efforts to expand as an exclusively online retailer?"
Open Source

Interview: Ask Eric Raymond What You Will 126

Posted by samzenpus
from the go-ahead-and-ask dept.
Author of The Cathedral and the Bazaar and The Art of Unix Programming, Eric S.Raymond (ESR) has long been an important spokesperson for the open source movement. It's been a while since we talked to the co-founder of the Open Source Initiative so ESR has agreed to give us some of his time and answer your questions. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
Cellphones

Second Federal 'Kill-switch' Bill Introduced Targeting Smartphone Theft 158

Posted by timothy
from the there's-a-downside-to-this dept.
alphadogg writes "A second federal bill that proposes 'kill-switch' technology be made mandatory in smartphones as a means to reduce theft of the devices was introduced Monday. The kill switch would allow consumers to remotely wipe and disable a stolen smartphone and is considered by proponents to be a key tool in combating the increasing number of smartphone robberies. The Smartphone Theft Prevention Act was introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives as H.R. 4065 by Jose Serrano, a New York Democrat, as a companion to a Senate bill that was introduced Feb. 13. The two follow a similar law proposed by officials in California last month."
Science

Ask Slashdot: Automatically Logging Non-Computerized Equipment Use? 130

Posted by timothy
from the bar-codes-and-magnets dept.
First time accepted submitter Defenestrar writes "I've recently taken a job at a large state university where I manage the laboratories for a couple of departments. We have a good system to pro-rate costs for shared use of big ticket items, but don't have anything in place for small to medium expense pieces which don't require software control (i.e. AD user authentication logs). It is much more efficient to designate a common room for things like water purifiers and centrifuges, but log books have a history of poor compliance. Also, abuse or neglect of communal property has been an issue in the past (similar to the tragedy of the commons).

Do any of you know of good automatic systems to record user/group equipment usage which would allow for easy data processing down the line (i.e. I don't want to go through webcam archives). Systems which promote accountability and care are a bonus, but for safety reasons we don't want the room's door locked (i.e. no pin/badged access). Most of these systems also require continuous power — so electrical interlocks are not a good option either.

I call on you, my fellow Slashdotters, to do your best and get quickly sidetracked while still including the occasional gem in the comments."
Bitcoin

Bitcoin Exchange Flexcoin Wiped Out By Theft 704

Posted by timothy
from the in-the-movie-version-it'll-be-the-feds dept.
mrspoonsi writes "Joining MtGox, Flexcoin today announced they have had their vault wiped out, to the tune of some 896 BTC (about $615,000) by hackers. 'On March 2nd 2014 Flexcoin was attacked and robbed of all coins in the hot wallet. The attacker made off with 896 BTC, dividing them into these two addresses: 1NDkevapt4SWYFEmquCDBSf7DLMTNVggdu [and] 1QFcC5JitGwpFKqRDd9QNH3eGN56dCNgy6. As Flexcoin does not have the resources, assets, or otherwise to come back from this loss, we are closing our doors immediately.'"
Facebook

Facebook Wants Drones To Connect the Developing World 48

Posted by timothy
from the enlightened-self-interest dept.
judgecorp writes "Facebook is reportedly hoping to buy drone specialist Titan Aerospace in order to provide airborne relays for Internet connectivity in developing countries, as part of its internet.org project. The solar-powered drones are classified as "atmospheric satellites" and can fly for five years. The rumoured project sounds quite similar to Google's Project Loon, which proposes using balloons for the same job." More coverage at SlashCloud, which notes that the purchase is rumored but not yet publicly confirmed.
United Kingdom

Child Porn Arrest For Cameron Aide Who Helped Plan UK Net Filters 205

Posted by timothy
from the takes-one-to-know-one dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A senior aide to David Cameron resigned from Downing Street last month the day before being arrested on allegations relating to child abuse images. Patrick Rock, who was involved in drawing up the government's policy for the large internet firms on online pornography filters, resigned after No 10 was alerted to the allegations. Rock was arrested at his west London flat the next morning. Officers from the National Crime Agency subsequently examined computers and offices used in Downing Street by Rock, the deputy director of No 10's policy unit, according to the Daily Mail, which disclosed news of his arrest."
Stats

All Else Being Equal: Disputing Claims of a Gender Pay Gap In Tech 427

Posted by timothy
from the cash-on-the-table-or-not? dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Synthia Tan writes that when you investigate the actual data, controlling for non-gender factors (like number of hours worked) the gender pay gap seems to disappear. 'A longitudinal study of female engineers in the 1980s showed a wage penalty of essentially zero.' In some cases women make more than men: women who work between 30 and 39 hours a week make 111% of what their male counterparts make." The researchers were studying more recent data, too; what are things like on this front where you work?
Space

NASA Forgets How To Talk To ICE/ISEE-3 Spacecraft 166

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the hackers-in-space-was-a-better-movie dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Randall Munroe's XKCD cartoon on the ICE/ISEE-3 spacecraft inspired me to do a little research on why Nasa can no long communicate with the International Cometary Explorer. Launched in 1978 ISEE-3 was the first spacecraft to be placed in a halo orbit at one of Earth-Sun Lagrangian points (L1). It was later (as ICE) sent to visit Comet Giacobini-Zinner and became the first spacecraft to do so by flying through a comet's tail passing the nucleus at a distance of approximately 7800 km. ICE has been in a heliocentric orbit since then, traveling just slightly faster than Earth and it's finally catching up to us from behind, and will return to Earth in August. According to Emily Lakdawalla, it's still functioning, broadcasting a carrier signal that the Deep Space Network successfully detected in 2008 and twelve of its 13 instruments were working when we last checked on its condition, sometime prior to 1999.

Can we tell the spacecraft to turn back on its thrusters and science instruments after decades of silence and perform the intricate ballet needed to send it back to where it can again monitor the Sun? Unfortunately the answer to that question appears to be no. 'The transmitters of the Deep Space Network, the hardware to send signals out to the fleet of NASA spacecraft in deep space, no longer includes the equipment needed to talk to ISEE-3. These old-fashioned transmitters were removed in 1999.' Could new transmitters be built? Yes, but it would be at a price no one is willing to spend. 'So ISEE-3 will pass by us, ready to talk with us, but in the 30 years since it departed Earth we've lost the ability to speak its language,' concludes Lakdawalla. 'I wonder if ham radio operators will be able to pick up its carrier signal — it's meaningless, I guess, but it feels like an honorable thing to do, a kind of salute to the venerable ship as it passes by.'"
Facebook

Popularity On Facebook Makes People Think You're Attractive 116

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the gaze-upon-my-socially-networked-glory dept.
RichDiesal writes "In an upcoming issue of the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, researchers conducted an experiment on the impact of the number of Facebook friends a person has on impression formation. When viewing modified Facebook profiles (all with the same profile picture and an experimentally controlled number of friends), people rated profiles with lots of Facebook friends as more physically attractive, more socially attractive, more approachable, and more extroverted. Since potential employers look at Facebook profiles these days, perhaps it's time to hire some Facebook friends."
Biotech

PETA Abandons $1 Million Prize For Artificial Chicken 191

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the peta-decides-eating-people-is-fine dept.
sciencehabit writes "Don't expect an artificial chicken in every pot anytime soon. Since 2008, the animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has offered $1 million to anyone able to create a commercially viable artificial meat from growing chicken cells. But although scientists are making progress toward artificial hamburgers, even a 2-year extension from the original deadline of 2012 wasn't enough to lure applicants for PETA's prize."
Security

New Attack Hijacks DNS Traffic From 300,000 Routers 105

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the something-had-to-replace-windows dept.
nk497 writes "Florida-based security firm Team Cymru said it was examining a widespread compromise"of 300,000 consumer and small office/home office (SOHO) routers in Europe and Asia. The DNS server settings were changed to a pair of IP addresses, which correspond to Dutch machines that are registered to a company that lists its address in central London. The attack highlights the flaws in router firmware, the researchers said. 'It's not new as an issue to the InfoSec community but this is one of the biggest we've seen recently as it's quite insidious,' Cymru's Steve Santorelli said, adding the hack could let the attackers conduct man in the middle attacks, impersonating your bank, for example."

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