MTorrice writes "About 320,000 soldiers returning from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have struggled with neurological problems associated with traumatic brain injury, according to the Rand Corporation. Some veterans experience symptoms, such as memory loss and anxiety, without noticeable physical signs of brain injury. Now researchers report a possible chemical signature: Levels of a certain lipid spike in the brains of mice exposed to mild explosions (abstract; full article paywalled). This lipid could serve as a way to diagnose people who are at risk of developing neurological disorders after a blast, the scientists say."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
Nerval's Lobster writes "For quite some time Mozilla has been working on Firefox OS, a lightweight mobile OS built in HTML5. Now it's whipped the curtain back from the first developer preview phones. The developer preview phones are unlocked, requiring the user insert their own SIM card. If those specs seem a little underpowered compared to other smartphones on the market, it's because Firefox OS is intended for lower-end smartphones; target markets include developing countries such as Brazil and China. (The first developer preview phones will be available in February.) The Firefox OS (once known as 'Boot to Gecko') is based on a handful of open APIs. The actual interface is highly reminiscent of Google Android and Apple iOS, with grids of icons linked to applications." The specs really aren't that bad; reader sfcrazy points out that they include the usual features baked into medium- and high-end phones these days: Wifi N, light and proximity sensors, and an accelerometer (though no mention of NFC).
Bennett Haselton writes "Here are three hacks that I adopted in the last few weeks, each of which solved a minor problem that I had lived with for so long that I no longer thought of it as a problem — until a solution came along, which was like a small weight off my shoulders. None of these hacks will help impress anyone with your technical prowess; I'm just putting them here because they made my life easier." Read on for the rest of Bennett's thoughts.
Jörg Sprave's day job is as a manager in the world of consumer electronics. But he has been for many years making manifest the sort of things that once filled my school notebook margins with doodles: slingshots and other devices for launching bolts, steel balls, and other stuff at high speed at targets or just into the air. (Some of his "slingshots" are hard to recognize as such; he eschews the classic American wrist-rocket braced design as well as the old Tom Sawyer forked branch in favor of things a bit more elaborate.) Thanks to the Internet, hobbies that were once obscure are now easy to follow, and Sprave's homemade slingshots are no exception; you can follow his exploits through an ongoing series of YouTube videos and a forum site that builds on these videos. He's doing it in Germany, too, where firearms may be harder to come by than in the U.S., but giant honkin' firecrackers are available (at least for part of the year), and acts accordingly. Amazingly, he has yet to lose an eye; his goggles are a wise precaution. Sprave has agreed to answer your questions about his own take on physics as a hobby. As usual for Slashdot interviews, you're invited to ask as many questions as you'd like, but please divide them, one question per post.
CowboyRobot writes "In 25 years, an odd thing will happen to some of the no doubt very large number of computing devices in our world: an old, well-known and well-understood bug will cause their calculation of time to fail. The problem springs from the use of a 32-bit signed integer to store a time value, as a number of seconds since 00:00:00 UTC on Thursday, 1 January 1970, a practice begun in early UNIX systems with the standard C library data structure time_t. On January 19, 2038, at 03:14:08 UTC that integer will overflow. It's not difficult to come up with cases where the problem could be real today. Imagine a mortgage amortization program projecting payments out into the future for a 30-year mortgage. Or imagine those phony programs politicians use to project government expenditures, or demographic software, and so on. It's too early for panic, but those of us in the early parts of their careers will be the ones who have to deal with the problem."
An anonymous reader writes "Radical Islamist hackers have been harassing Egyptologist Kate Phizackerley's online journal Egyptological and her blog KV64. Phizackerley and her team finally got tired of it and shut their online work down. As blogger Roger Pearse says, 'A bunch of violent scumbags... who never have contributed in any way to the web, have successfully interfered with the scientific effort of the entire human race... Next year there will be more.' How do we route around damage like this?"
carmendrahl writes "A science historian has collaborated with a publisher to digitize a one-of-a kind collection of chemists' signatures. In the shadow of World War II, a Japanese chemist named Tetsuo Nozoe traveled outside his land for the first time, and collected autographs from the people he met on the way. This turned into a forty year hobby, and a 1200-page collection. The digital collection sucks chemists in for hours — it's full of cartoons, jokes, haikus, and scribbles the signers admit to having scrawled 'in a drunken state.' Nobel Prizewinners and ordinary chemists signed side-by-side. The Nozoe notebook collection will be open access for at least three years, with a big goal being to identify all the 'mystery' signatures in the collection with help from readers."
twoheadedboy writes "Kim Dotcom launched his new project Mega on Sunday, claiming it was to be 'the privacy company.' But it might not be so private after all, as security professionals have ripped it to shreds. There are numerous problems with how encryption is handled, an XSS flaw and users can't change their passwords, they say. But there are suspicions Mega is handing out encryption keys to users and touting strong security to cover its own back. After all, if Kim Dotcom and Co don't know what goes on the site, they might not be liable for copyright prosecutions, as they were for Megaupload, Mega's preprocessor." On this front, reader mask.of.sanity points out a tool in development called MegaCracker that could reveal passwords as users sign up for the site.
An anonymous reader writes "Red Hat developers are planning to replace MySQL with MariaDB in Fedora 19. For the next Fedora update, the MariaDB fork would replace MySQL and the official MySQL package would be discontinued after some time. The reasoning for this move is the uncertainty about Oracle's support of MySQL as an open-source project and moves to make the database more closed." Update: 01/22 13:47 GMT by T : Note: "Nixing" may be a bit strong; this move has been proposed, but is not yet officially decided.
theodp writes "The NY Times takes a look at how MIT ensnared Aaron Swartz, but doesn't shed much light on how the incident became a Federal case with Secret Service involvement. Still, the article is interesting with its report that 'E-mails among M.I.T. officials that Tuesday in January 2011 highlight the pressures university officials felt' from JSTOR, which is generally viewed as a good guy in the incident. From the story: 'Ann J. Wolpert, the director of libraries, wrote to Ellen Finnie Duranceau, the official who was receiving JSTOR's complaints: "Has there ever been a situation similar to this when we brought in campus police? The magnitude, systematic and careful nature of the abuses could be construed as approaching criminal action. Certainly, that's how JSTOR views it."' Less than a week later, a Google search reveals, Duranceau notified the MIT community that immediate changes to JSTOR access had to be made lest the University be subjected to a JSTOR 'death sentence.' 'Because JSTOR has recently reported excessive, systematic downloading of articles at MIT,' the post warned, 'we need to add a new layer of access control. This is the only way to prevent recurrence of the abuse and therefore the only way to ensure ongoing access to this valuable resource for the MIT Community.' The post concludes, 'The incidents that prompted this change involved the use of a robot, which is prohibited by JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use. ...Continued access to JSTOR and other resources is dependent on the MIT Community complying with these policies.' Hope you enjoyed that freewheeling culture while it lasted, kids — now Everything is a Crime."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Last week, Facebook announced Graph Search, a system for searching the social network's vast collection of users, photos, and 'Liked' interests. But how will Facebook power it? The Disaggregated Rack, which will separate compute, RAM, storage, and caching functions in order to remain flexible in the face of Graph Search's changing needs. By breaking up resources and scaling them independently of each other, Facebook can scale without needing to constantly open up new servers and upgrade new hardware."
hypnosec writes "The Indian Government has decided it won't be using telecom equipment from international vendors, and has barred all such foreign companies from participating in the US$3.8 billion National Optical Fiber Network (NOFN) project — a project aimed at bringing high-speed Internet connectivity to the rural areas of India. The DoT has decided that it will be going ahead with 100 per cent domestic sourcing and has released a list of certified GPON suppliers. This decision comes after the research wing of the ministry, C-DoT, advised the telecom department to bar Chinese companies like ZTE and Huawei, keeping in line with a similar decision by the U.S. In an internal memo, the research body advised the department that both these Chinese companies are a security threat to the telecom world."
An anonymous reader writes "Igor Ljubuncic, former physicist and current IT Systems Programmer and blogger, reviews Fedora 18 with its new installer. In his role as alter ego Dedoimedo, the self proclaimed 'king of everything', Igor's Linux distro and DE reviews are often wry and biting and this review is no exception: 'You enter a world of smartphone-like diarrhea that undermines everything and anything that is sane and safe. In all my life testing Linux and other operating systems, I have never ever seen an installer that is so counter-intuitive, dangerous and useless, all at the same time.'" The non-linear installer interface does look like kind of confusing, at least from the screenshots posted.
ananyo writes "Scrounging chemicals and equipment in their spare time, a team of chemistry bloggers is trying to replicate published protocols for making molecules. The researchers want to check how easy it is to repeat the recipes that scientists report in papers — and are inviting fellow chemists to join them. Blogger See Arr Oh, chemistry graduate student Matt Katcher from Princeton, New Jersey, and two bloggers called Organometallica and BRSM, have together launched Blog Syn, in which they report their progress online. Among the frustrations that led the team to set up Blog Syn are claims that reactions yield products in greater amounts than seems reasonable, and scanty detail about specific conditions in which to run reactions. In some cases, reactions are reported which seem too good to be true — such as a 2009 paper which was corrected within 24 hours by web-savvy chemists live-blogging the experiment; an episode which partially inspired Blog Syn. According to chemist Peter Scott of the University of Warwick in Coventry, UK, synthetic chemists spend most of their time getting published reactions to work. 'That is the elephant in the room of synthetic chemistry.'"
lukej writes "Over eleven years ago, the possibility of using the retired Homestake Mine as an underground science laboratory was first proposed. Today the local newspaper gives a science-filled tour of that facility, along with a short photo tour, and decent descriptions of some of the experiments it hosts (Majorana, LUX, Long Baseline Neutrino Experiment). Some fairly interesting deep, dirty, and real physical science!"