New submitter kyrsjo (2420192) writes "The Economist has an article on how information technology — the real stuff, not just button-pushing — is making its way back to schools across the world. As the article argues: 'Digital technology is now so ubiquitous that many think a rounded education requires a grounding in this subject just as much as in biology, chemistry or physics.' In today's society, teaching computer science in schools is absolutely necessary, and that means getting a real understanding of computers and how they work. That requires working with algorithms and programming, not just learning which buttons to push in the program that the school happened to use."
Slashdot stories can be listened to in audio form via an RSS feed, as read by our own robotic overlord.
sciencehabit (1205606) writes with bad news for anyone hoping to use the spectral signatures of exoplanets to determine if their atmospheres have life-enabling compositions. "Call it the cosmic version of fool's gold. What was once considered a sure-fire sign of life on distant planets may not be so sure-fire after all, a new study suggests. The signal—a strong chemical imbalance in the planet's atmosphere that could only be generated by thriving ecosystems—could instead be the combined light from a lifeless exoplanet and its equally barren moon."
Daniel_Stuckey (2647775) writes "If you were anywhere near the internet last week, you would have come across reports of 'DarkMarket', a new system being touted as a Silk Road the FBI could never seize. Although running in a similar fashion on the face of things — some users buy drugs, other sell them — DarkMarket works in a fundamentally different way to Silk Road or any other online marketplace. Instead of being hosted off a server like a normal website, it runs in a decentralized manner: Users download a piece of software onto their device, which allows them to access the DarkMarket site. The really clever part is how the system incorporates data with the blockchain, the part of Bitcoin that everybody can see. Rather than just carrying the currency from buyer to seller, data such as user names are added to the blockchain by including it in very small transactions, meaning that its impossible to impersonate someone else because their pseudonymous identity is preserved in the ledger. Andy Greenberg has a good explanation of how it works over at Wired. The prototype includes nearly everything needed for a working marketplace: private communications between buyers and sellers, Bitcoin transfers to make purchases, and an escrow system that protects the cash until it is confirmed that the buyer has received their product. Theoretically, being a decentralized and thus autonomous network, it would still run without any assistance from site administrators, and would certainly make seizing a central server, as was the case with the original Silk Road, impossible."
sunbird (96442) writes "Less than one week after passing the Marco Civil da Internet, Article 3 of which purports to protect free expression and privacy of personal data from government intrusion, a Public Prosecutor in Brazil is seeking to seize a server hosting research groups, social movements, discussion lists and other tools. The server is hosted by the Saravá Group, which has adopted a policy of not storing connection logs to protect the privacy of users. The Public Prosecutor is seeking to identify individuals involved in Rádio Mudo, a project hosted by Saravá, but as Saravá does not store logs, there is no information on the server that is responsive to the investigation. This action comes as Brazil seeks to place itself in the forefront of protecting internet privacy after it hosted the Net Mundial conference. Saravá has called for a protest action today at 1PM local time (9AM PT/12noonET) to protest against the seizure."
Hallie Siegel (2973169) writes in with news of a robotic competition with some serious goals. "Dr. Alaa Khamis writes: 'Detection and removal of antipersonnel landmines is, at present, a serious problem of political, economical, environmental and humanitarian dimensions in many countries across the world. It is estimated that there are 110 million landmines in the ground right now; one for every 52 inhabitants on the planet. These mines kill or maim more than 5,000 people annually. If demining efforts remain about the same as they are now, and no new mines are laid, it will still take 1100 years to get rid of all the world's active land mines because current conventional methods of removal are very slow, inefficient, dangerous and costly. Robotic systems can provide efficient, reliable, adaptive and cost effective solutions for the problem of landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) contamination. Minesweepers: Towards a Landmine-free World was initiated in 2012 as the first international outdoor robotic competition on humanitarian demining by the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society – Egypt Chapter, which won the Chapter of the Year Award in IEEE Region 8 that year. It aims to raise public awareness of the seriousness of landmines and UXO contamination and the role of science and technology in addressing these; it also aims to foster robotics research in the area of humanitarian demining by motivating professors, engineers and students to work on innovative solutions for this serious problem."
martiniturbide (1203660) writes "Reuters is reporting that 'The U.S. and UK governments on Monday advised computer users to consider using alternatives to Microsoft Corp's Internet Explorer browser until the company fixes a security flaw that hackers used to launch attacks.' The article states that 'The Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team said in an advisory released on Monday that the vulnerability in versions 6 to 11 of Internet Explorer could lead to "the complete compromise" of an affected system.'"
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Red Orbit reports that after nearly 50 years of warping across galaxies and saving the universe from a variety of alien threats and celestial disasters, Star Trek's William Shatner was honored with NASA's Distinguished Public Service medal, the highest award bestowed by the agency to non-government personnel. 'William Shatner has been so generous with his time and energy in encouraging students to study science and math, and for inspiring generations of explorers, including many of the astronauts and engineers who are a part of NASA today,' said David Weaver, NASA's associate administrator for the Office of Communications at NASA Headquarters in Washington. 'He's most deserving of this prestigious award.' Past recipients of the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal include astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, former NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory director and Voyager project scientist Edward Stone, theoretical physicist and astronomer Lyman Spitzer, and science fiction writer Robert Heinlein. The award is presented to those who 'have personally made a contribution representing substantial progress to the NASA mission. The contribution must be so extraordinary that other forms of recognition would be inadequate.'"
cartechboy (2660665) writes "One thing Google has perfected is using massive data sets generated from users to improve user experience. Google's self-driving cars may be subject to the same cycle of improvement, as they have racked up considerable mileage on public roads, and each mile generates data that Google engineers can use to 'teach' vehicle. Meet Pricilla — a Google test driver on the self-driving car project as she does a video walk through of some of the improvements created so far. Some are fairly simplistic, for example: 'The car does move to avoid large obstacles." That said, the car can also detect a bicyclist signaling and stay clear — oddly, even when that cyclist changes his mind and zig zags a little." Google is now testing cars on the city streets of Mountain View.
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Scientists have found that mice feel 36% less pain when a male researcher is in the room, versus a female researcher. The rodents are also less stressed out. The effect appears to be due to scent molecules that male mammals (including humans, dogs, and cats) have been emitting for eons. The finding could help explain why some labs have trouble replicating the results of others, and it could cause a reevaluation of decades of animal experiments: everything from the effectiveness of experimental drugs to the ability of monkeys to do math. Male odor could even influence human clinical trials."
benrothke (2577567) writes "Neurologists and brain scientists are in agreement that in truth, we know very little about how the brain works. With that, in the just released second edition of Designing with the Mind in Mind, a Simple Guide to Understanding User Interface Design Guidelines, author Jeff Johnson provides a fascinating introduction on the fundamentals of perceptual and cognitive psychology for effective user interface (UI) design and creation." Keep reading for the rest of Ben's review.
walterbyrd (182728) writes in with news about the end of the line for a Novell anti-trust claim against Microsoft. "The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday brought an end to Novell Inc's antitrust claims against Microsoft Corp that date back 20 years to the development of Windows 95 software. By declining to hear Novell's appeal, the court left intact a 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling from September 2013 in favor of Microsoft. The court of appeals unanimously affirmed the dismissal of Novell Inc's claims that Microsoft violated the Sherman Antitrust Act when it decided not to share its intellectual property while developing its Windows 95 operating system. Novell was seeking more than $3 billion."
An anonymous reader writes "If you were a kid in the late 70's or 80's chances are you owned a Rubik's cube. BBC News takes a look at the people who never lost the passion for the puzzle toy and those just learning. 'The speed world record for a single attempt is 5.55 seconds, set by Dutchman Mats Valk last year. The world championship is determined by averaging three attempts. The current champion is 18-year-old Australian Feliks Zemdeg who averaged 8.18 seconds last year. To ensure fairness, a computer generates a randomised cube which all the competitors are given. The record for most Rubik's cubes solved in 24 hours is 4,786, set by Milán Baticz of Hungary.'"
First time accepted submitter NapalmV (1934294) writes "Using technology designed to find nuclear warheads and submarines, an Adelaide-based exploration company believes it may have located the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. 'The company, GeoResonance, says its research has identified elements on the ocean floor consistent with material from a plane. Six weeks have now passed since the plane disappeared and extensive searches in the Indian Ocean have failed to locate any wreckage.'"
An anonymous reader writes "SupplyFrame is launching The Hackaday Prize, a challenge to create open connected devices judged by Andrew 'Bunnie' Huang, and Limor 'Ladyada' Fried, among others. The grand prize is an all-expense-paid trip to space on a carrier of your choice or $196,418 if going into space isn't your thing. 'We launched The Hackaday Prize because we want to see the next evolution of hardware happen right now, and we want it to be open,' said Mike Szczys, managing editor of Hackaday.com."
samzenpus (5) writes "Last week we told you about a group that was trying to recover the 36-year-old ISEE-3 spacecraft from deep space. Led by CEO and founder of Skycorp, Dennis Wingo, and astrobiologist and editor of NASA Watch, Keith Cowing, the crowdfunded project plans to steer ISEE-3 back into an Earth orbit and return it to scientific operations. Once in orbit, they hope to turn the spacecraft and its instruments over to the public by creating an app that allows anyone access to its data. The team has agreed to take some time from lassoing spacecraft from deep space in order to answer your questions. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post. Hopefully the plan goes better than xkcd predicts."
concertina226 (2447056) writes "The real reason behind the downfall of the Roman Empire might not have been lead contaminating in the water, which is the most popular theory, but the use of concrete as a building material. Dr Penelope Davies, a historian with the University of Texas believes that the rise of concrete as a building material may have weakened ancient Rome's entire political system as Pompey and Julius Caesar began 'thinking like kings'. Concrete was used to build many of Rome's finest monuments, such as the Pantheon, the Colosseum and the Tabularium, which have lasted the test of time and are still standing today."
An anonymous reader writes "In a bid to win regulatory approval for its proposed $45 billion takeover of Time Warner Cable, Comcast has offered to sell 1.4 million pay TV subscribers to Charter Communications for $7.3 billion. From the article: 'Comcast also said it would divest another 2.5 million subscribers into a new publicly traded company, dubbed SpinCo for now, to be one-third owned by Charter and two-thirds owned by Comcast shareholders. The deal will make Charter — whose own bid for Time Warner Cable was thwarted by Comcast's higher offer — the second-biggest U.S. pay TV company with 5.7 million customers, overtaking Cox Communications Inc.'"
jfruh (300774) writes "With rumors swirling about Apple entering the wearable space with an iWatch, you'd think that the Japanese and Swiss companies that have dominated high-end watchmaking for more than a century would be scrambling to catch up. But there were virtually no smartwatches on display at the Baselworld trade fair, and the watchmaking giants had no plans to produce any. Company representatives seemed sure that people in practice would be uninterested in constantly recharging their watches and downloading software updates just to tell time."
Diggester (2492316) writes "Rodrigo García González has been working on the Ooho water bottle for the past few years. The bottle is made out of edible materials, looks like a jellyfish, and has the potential to put an end to the bottled water industry. Inspired by the juice-filled pearls added to bubble tea and the mad-cuisine creations of chef Ferran Adriá, who uses a technique known as sheperification (encasing liquid into edible membranes), García is on his way to revolutionizing the bottled water industry."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "The NYT writes in an editorial that for the last few months, the Koch brothers and their conservative allies in state government have been spending heavily to fight incentives for renewable energy, by pushing legislatures to impose a surtax on this increasingly popular practice, hoping to make installing solar panels on houses less attractive. 'The coal producers' motivation is clear: They see solar and wind energy as a long-term threat to their businesses. That might seem distant at the moment, when nearly 40 percent of the nation's electricity is still generated by coal, and when less than 1 percent of power customers have solar arrays. But given new regulations on power-plant emissions of mercury and other pollutants, and the urgent need to reduce global warming emissions, the future clearly lies with renewable energy.' For example, the Arizona Public Service Company, the state's largest utility, funneled large sums through a Koch operative to a nonprofit group that ran an ad claiming net metering would hurt older people on fixed incomes (video) by raising electric rates. The ad tried to link the requirement to President Obama. Another Koch ad likens the renewable-energy requirement to health care reform, the ultimate insult in that world. 'Like Obamacare, it's another government mandate we can't afford,' the narrator says. 'That line might appeal to Tea Partiers, but it's deliberately misleading,' concludes the editorial. 'This campaign is really about the profits of Koch Carbon and the utilities, which to its organizers is much more important than clean air and the consequences of climate change.'"
An anonymous reader writes in with this bit of news about the Mars rover Curiosity. "NASA's Curiosity Mars rover is using several tools this weekend to take a closer look at a sandstone slab being assessed as a possible drilling target. If it fits the bill, the target could become Curiosity's third drilled rock. 'Windjana,' named after a gorge in Western Australia, would be the mission's first drilled rock that is not mudstone. To determine whether Curiosity should drill at Windjana, engineers have asked the rover to perform a number of tasks, including observations with the camera and X-ray spectrometer located at the end of the its arm and interpretations of composition at different points on the rock with a device that fires laser shots from the rover's mast."
An anonymous reader writes "The Brazilian government have decided to try battling the spread of dengue fever with GM mosquitoes. 'Now, with dengue endemic in three of the host cities for this summer's World Cup , Brazilian health officials are trying a radical new approach — biotechnology. They've begun a two-year trial release of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that have been genetically modified. "We need to provide the government alternatives because the system we are using now in Brazil doesn't work," says Aldo Malavasi, president of Moscamed, the Brazilian company that's running the trial from a lab just outside of Jacobina. The new breed of Aedes aegypti has been given a lethal gene. The deadly flaw is kept in check in the lab, but the mosquitoes soon die in the wild.'"
StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "Just a second after the Big Bang, the Universe was a hot bath of radiation, with a small fraction of protons and neutrons in about equal numbers left over. By time it was four minutes old, it was 92% hydrogen (by number of atoms) and 8% helium. Yet the Universe has aged nearly 14 billion years since then, and have formed many generations of stars, all of which burn hydrogen into heavier elements. So how much hydrogen is left, and how much will be left far into the future? A lot more than you might think."