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What's Your STEM Degree Worth? 148 148

Jim_Austin writes A recent study by economist Douglas Webber calculates the lifetime earnings premium of college degrees in various broad areas, accounting for selection bias--that is, for the fact that people who already are likely to do well are also more likely to go to college. These premiums are not small. Science Careers got exclusive access to major-specific data, and published an article that tells how much more you can expect to earn because you got that college degree--for engineering, physics, computer science, chemistry, and biology majors.

A Physicist Says He Can Tornado-Proof the Midwest With 1,000-Foot Walls 501 501

meghan elizabeth writes: Temple physicist Rongjia Tao has a utopian proposal to build three massive, 1,000-foot-high, 165-foot-thick walls around the American Midwest, in order to keep the tornadoes out. Building three unfathomably massive anti-tornado walls would count as the infrastructure project of the decade, if not the century. It would be also be exceedingly expensive. "Building such walls is feasible," Tao says. "They are much easier than constructing a skyscraper. For example, in Philadelphia, the newly completed Comcast building has about 300-meter height. The wall with similar height as the Comcast building should be much easier to be constructed." Update: 06/28 04:14 GMT by T : Note: originally, this story said that Tao was at Drexel rather than Temple -- now corrected

Barnes & Noble To Spin Off Nook Media, Will Take It Public 51 51

Nate the greatest writes It looks like the recent rumors about B&N splitting up were true. Along with could-have-been-worse financial news, Barnes & Noble just announced that it's going to spin off its two-year-old ebook subsidiary into a new publicly traded company. The move won't be finalized until 2015, but when it happens the new company is expected to have both existing parts of Nook Media, including the less than successful ebook division and B&N College, which is still managing to turn a profit.

Astronomers Discover Earth-Sized Diamond 112 112

ygslash (893445) writes Astronomers at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory announced that they have discovered what appears to be the coolest white dwarf ever detected. The white dwarf is formerly a star similar to our own sun which, after expending all of its fuel, has cooled to less than a chilly 3000 degrees Kelvin and contracted to a size approximately the same as Earth. A white dwarf is composed mostly of carbon and oxygen, and the astronomers believe that at that temperature it would be mostly crystallized, forming something like a huge diamond.

Ask Slashdot: What Would It Take For You To Buy a Smartwatch? 427 427

An anonymous reader writes: I don't wear a watch. I never have. So, to me, the push for smart watches has always been a non-starter. But I was discussing with friends some of the features of Android Wear that Google demonstrated at the I/O conference today, and it got me wondering: what set of features would be required for a smartwatch to become viable? Obviously, this is different for everybody — millions of people wear regular watches even though they could easily pull out their phone and check the time there. Any smartwatch can also tell time, but it has advantages (apps that do other things), and disadvantages (needs charging). Clearly, there are some functions for which it's useful to have an object strapped to your wrist, even if that function could be served by the device in your pocket. Telling time is one, and lots of people use sundry fitness doo-dads to measure exercise. It makes sense to me that checking the weather forecast would fall into this category, and perhaps checking notifications. (Conversely, other functions do not translate at all, like taking photos or playing games.) Thus, two questions: if you already wear a watch, what would it take for a smartwatch to replace it? If you don't wear a watch, what features would motivate you to get one?

Building the Infinite Digital Universe of No Man's Sky 100 100

An anonymous reader writes: Hello Games is a small development studio, only employing 10 people. But they're building a game, No Man's Sky, that's enormous — effectively infinite. Its universe is procedurally generated, from the star systems down to individual species of plant and animal life. The engine running the game is impressively optimized. A planet's characteristics are not computed ahead of time — terrain and lifeforms are randomly generated on the fly as a player explores it. But, of course, that created a problem for the developers — how do they know their procedural generation algorithms don't create ridiculous life forms or geological formations? They solved that by writing AI bot software that explores the universe and captures brief videos, which are then converted to GIF format and posted on a feed the developers can review. The article goes into a bit more detail on how the procedural generation works, and how such a small studio can build such a big game.

Don't Want Google In Your House? Here Are a Few Home-Tech Startups To Watch 88 88

curtwoodward writes: Google bought Nest. Then Nest bought Dropcam. Then Nest opened up its platform to tech partners, including... Google. This may not creep everyone out, but for those who don't like the idea of Google's all-seeing eye owning their smart-home devices, there are some small, independent companies developing alternatives. Maybe they'll survive long enough to get acquired by a company that doesn't make 90 percent of its money from advertising — right?

The Security Industry Is Failing Miserably At Fixing Underlying Dangers 205 205

cgriffin21 writes: The security industry is adding layers of defensive technologies to protect systems rather than addressing the most substantial, underlying problems that sustain a sprawling cybercrime syndicate, according to an industry luminary who painted a bleak picture of the future of information security at a conference of hundreds of incident responders in Boston Tuesday. Eugene Spafford, a noted computer security expert and professor of computer science at Purdue University, said software makers continue to churn out products riddled with vulnerabilities, creating an incessant patching cycle for IT administrators that siphons resources from more critical areas.

Mysterious X-ray Signal Hints At Dark Matter 100 100

Astronomers using the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the XMM-Newton have recorded an unusual emission of X-ray light from a remote cluster of galaxies which may turn out to be evidence of dark matter. Astronomers think dark matter constitutes 85% of the matter in the Universe, but does not emit or absorb light like “normal” matter such as protons, neutrons and electrons that make up the familiar elements observed in planets, stars, and galaxies. Because of this, scientists must use indirect methods to search for clues about dark matter. he latest results from Chandra and XMM-Newton consist of an unidentified X-ray emission line, that is, a spike of intensity at a very specific wavelength of X-ray light. Astronomers detected this emission line in the Perseus galaxy cluster using both Chandra and XMM-Newton. They also found the line in a combined study of 73 other galaxy clusters with XMM-Newton. ... The authors suggest this emission line could be a signature from the decay of a "sterile neutrino." (Abstract.) Sterile neutrinos are a hypothetical type of neutrino that is predicted to interact with normal matter only via gravity. Some scientists have proposed that sterile neutrinos may at least partially explain dark matter.

Toyota's Fuel Cell Car To Launch In Japan Next March 216 216

puddingebola writes with news that Toyota will be bringing its first fuel-cell car to market in Japan next March. It's expected to cost about $68,700, and Toyota plans to bring it to the U.S. and European markets later that summer. With two of Japan’s three biggest automakers going all in on fuel cells, the country’s long-term future as an automotive powerhouse could now hinge largely on the success of what they hope will be an important technology in the next few decades. ... Japan’s governing party is pushing for ample subsidies and tax breaks for consumers to bring the cost of a fuel-cell car down to about $20,000 by 2025. The government is also aiming to create 100 hydrogen fuel stations by the end of March 2016 in urban areas where the vehicles will be sold initially. ... Hydrogen vehicles can run five times longer than battery-operated electric cars, and their tanks can be filled in just a few minutes, compared with recharging times from 30 minutes up to several hours for electric cars.

Why Software Builds Fail 279 279

itwbennett writes: A group of researchers from Google, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and the University of Nebraska undertook a study of over 26 million builds by 18,000 Google engineers from November 2012 through July 2013 to better understand what causes software builds to fail and, by extension, to improve developer productivity. And, while Google isn't representative of every developer everywhere, there are a few findings that stand out: Build frequency and developer (in)experience don't affect failure rates, most build errors are dependency-related, and C++ generates more build errors than Java (but they're easier to fix).
The Courts

Supreme Court Rules Cell Phones Can't Be Searched Without a Warrant 249 249

New submitter CarlThansk (3713681) writes The courts have long debated on if cell phones can be searched during an arrest without a warrant. Today, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the police need warrants to search the cellphones of people they arrest. "Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for the court, said the vast amount of data contained on modern cellphones must be protected (PDF) from routine inspection." Phones may still be searched under limited circumstances (imminent threats), but this looks like a clear win for privacy. Quoting the decision: "We cannot deny that our decision today will have an impact on the ability of law enforcement to combat crime. Cell phones have become important tools in facilitating coordination and communication among members of criminal enterprises, and can provide valuable incriminating information about dangerous criminals. Privacy comes at a cost."

Trivial Bypass of PayPal Two-Factor Authentication On Mobile Devices 47 47

chicksdaddy (814965) writes "According to DUO, PayPal's mobile app doesn't yet support Security Key and displays an error message to users with the feature enabled when they try to log in to their PayPal account from a mobile device, terminating their session automatically. However, researchers at DUO noticed that the PayPal iOS application would briefly display a user's account information and transaction history prior to displaying that error message and logging them out. ... The DUO researchers investigated: intercepting and analyzing the Web transaction between the PayPal mobile application and PayPal's back end servers and scrutinizing how sessions for two-factor-enabled accounts versus non-two-factor-enabled accounts were handled. They discovered that the API uses the OAuth technology for user authentication and authorization, but that PayPal only enforces the two-factor requirement on the client — not on the server." The attack worked simply by intercepting a server response and toggling a flag (2fa_enabled) from true to false. After being alerted, PayPal added a workaround to limit the scope of the hole. Update: 06/26 00:42 GMT by T : (Get the story straight from the source: Here's the original report from DUO.)

Google I/O 2014 Begins [updated] 49 49

Google I/O, the company's annual developer tracking^wdevelopers conference, has opened today in San Francisco. This year the company has reduced the number of conference sessions to 80, but also promised a broader approach than in previous years -- in other words, there may be a shift in focus a bit from Google's best known platforms (Chrome/Chrome OS and Android). Given its wide-ranging acquisitions and projects (like the recent purchase of Nest, which itself promptly bought Dropcam, the ever smarter fleet of self-driving cars, the growing number of Glass devices in the wild, and the announcement of a 3D scanning high end tablet quite unlike the Nexus line of tablets and phones), there's no shortage of edges to focus on. Judging from the booths set up in advance of the opening (like one with a sign announcing "The Physical Web," expect some of the stuff that gets lumped into "the Internet of Things." Watch this space -- updates will appear below -- for notes from the opening keynote, or follow along yourself with the live stream, and add your own commentary in the comments. In the days to come, watch for some video highlights of projects on display at I/O, too. Update: 06/25 17:41 GMT by T : Updates rolling in below on Android, wearables, Android in cars, Chromecast, smart watches, etc.Keep checking back! (Every few minutes, I get another chunk in there.)

Half of Germany's Power Supplied By Solar, Briefly 461 461

assertation (1255714) writes with this interesting tidbit from Reuters about the state of solar power in Germany: German solar power plants produced a world record 22 gigawatts of electricity per hour — equal to 20 nuclear power stations at full capacity — through the midday hours on Friday and Saturday, the head of a renewable energy think tank said. The German government decided to abandon nuclear power after the Fukushima nuclear disaster last year, closing eight plants immediately and shutting down the remaining nine by 2022.
The Courts

Supreme Court Rules Against Aereo Streaming Service 484 484

New submitter Last_Available_Usern (756093) writes that the Aereo saga is likely over. "The U.S. Supreme Court today dealt a potentially fatal blow to Aereo, an Internet service that allows customers to watch broadcast TV programs on mobile devices by renting a small DVR and antennas (in supported cities) to record and then retransmit local programming on-demand over the internet." Ruling (PDF). Aereo was found to be publicly transmitting, according to SCOTUSBlog "The essence of the Aereo ruling is that Aereo is equivalent to a cable company, not merely an equipment provider."

Maglev Personal Transportation System Set For Trial In Tel Aviv 81 81

andhar (194607) writes The BBC reports a system of two-passenger maglev pods suspended from 500 meters of elevated tracks will be constructed on the campus of Israel Aerospace Industries as a pilot for a larger deployment in Tel Aviv. The article claims a top speed of 150 mph (240 kph) for these autonomous "personal rapid transit" pods. From the article: "Joe Dignan, an independent smart city expert, said the system represented 'a hybrid between existing infrastructure and autonomous vehicles.' 'It will get the market in the mood for autonomous vehicles — it is not too scary, is cheaper than building out a train line and uses part of the urban landscape, 20 feet above ground, that isn't currently used.'"
Classic Games (Games)

The Rise and Fall of the Cheat Code 178 178

An anonymous reader writes A new feature published this week takes a deep-dive look at the history of the cheat code and its various manifestations over the years, from manual 'pokes' on cassettes to pass phrases with their own dedicated menus — as well as their rise from simple debug tool in the early days of bedroom development to a marketing tactic when game magazines dominated in the 1990s, followed by dedicated strategy guides. Today's era of online play has all but done away with them, but the need for a level playing field isn't the only reason for their decline: as one veteran coder points out, why give away cheats for free when you can charge for them as in-app purchases? "Bigger publishers have now realized you can actually sell these things to players as DLC. Want that special gun? Think you can unlock it with a cheat code? Nope! You've got to give us some money first!"

Banking Fraud Campaign Steals 500k Euros In a Week 35 35

An anonymous reader writes The experts at Kaspersky Lab have discovered evidence of a targeted attack against the clients of a large European bank. According to the logs found in the server used by the attackers, apparently in the space of just one week cybercriminals stole more than half a million euros from accounts in the bank. The experts also detected transaction logs on the server, containing information about which sums of money were taken from which accounts. All in all, more than 190 victims could be identified, most of them located in Italy and Turkey. The sums stolen from each bank account, according to the logs, ranged between 1,700 to 39,000 euros.

College Offers Athletic Scholarships To Gamers 102 102

New submitter MdotCpDeltaT writes: Robert Morris University will be the first school in the country to offer athletic scholarships to students who play the video game League of Legends. It's a move that seems to stretch the definition of sports and athletes. Associate athletic director Kurt Melcher said, "It's a team sport. There's strategy involved. You have to know your role in the game. Obviously it's not cardiovascular in any way, but it's mental. There are elements that go into it that are just like any other sport."The article says, "Though the gaming scholarships are primarily designed to attract what the school calls an 'underserved male' population, they are open to all, and Melcher said some women have inquired about the program. Even if the awards end up going mostly to males, he added, it should not upset the school's scholarship gender balance, which already has strong participation in women's sports."

The Higgs Boson Should Have Crushed the Universe 188 188

astroengine writes: This may seem a little far fetched, but if our understanding of the physics behind the recently-discovered Higgs boson (or, more specifically, the Higgs field — the ubiquitous field that endows all stuff with mass) is correct, our Universe shouldn't exist. That is, however, if another cosmological hypothesis is real, a hypothesis that is currently undergoing intense scrutiny in light of the BICEP2 results. "The mathematics to arise from accepted Higgs field theory suggests the universe is currently sitting comfortably in a Higgs field energy 'valley.' To get out of this valley and up the adjacent 'hill,' huge quantities of energy would need to be unleashed inside the field. But, if there were enough energy to push the universe over the hill and into the deeper energy valley next door, the universe would simply, and catastrophically, collapse.

This is where the BICEP2 results come in. If their observations are real and gravitational waves in the CMB prove cosmological inflation, the Higgs field has already been kicked by too much energy, pushing the Higgs field over the energy hill and deep into the neighboring valley’s precipice! For any wannabe universe, this is very bad news — the newborn universe would appear as a Big Bang, the Higgs field would become overloaded with an energetic inflationary period, and the whole lot would vanish in a blink of an eye."

Wikipedia Editors Hit With $10 Million Defamation Suit 268 268

New submitter Andreas Kolbe writes: "Businessman, philanthropist and musician Yank Barry and the Global Village Champions Foundation are suing four Wikipedia editors for defamation, claiming they have maliciously conspired to keep Barry's Wikipedia biography unduly negative. The Daily Dot article includes a copy of the legal brief and quotes Barry as saying, "My page was so ridiculously false and made me sound like a terrible person and people believed it causing deals to fall through. I finally had enough."
Star Wars Prequels

George Lucas Selects Chicago For the Star Wars Museum 98 98

netringer writes: George Lucas has selected Chicago over Los Angeles and San Francisco as the future home of The Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts, housing his collection of Star Wars art and movie memorabilia along with exhibits of the technology of Industrial Light and Magic (ILM). Where else but on the Chicago Lakefront will be it easy to recreate the ice planet of Hoth?