New submitter Required Snark writes "UC Davis researchers have found a mechanism where the sodium in sea water can cause uranium nano-particles to be released from nuclear reactor fuel rods. Normally the uranium oxide compounds composing the rods are very resistant to leaching into water. This could have serious consequences for the Fukushima disaster, since sea water was used for emergency cooling."
New submitter MikeatWired writes "If you're like most people, you're annoyed by passwords. So who's to blame? Who invented the computer password? They probably arrived at MIT in the mid-1960s, when researchers built a massive time-sharing computer called CTSS. Technology changes. But, then again, it doesn't, writes Bob McMillan. Twenty-five years after the fact, Allan Scherr, a Ph.D. researcher at MIT in the early '60s, came clean about the earliest documented case of password theft. In the spring of 1962, Scherr was looking for a way to bump up his usage time on CTSS. He had been allotted four hours per week, but it wasn't nearly enough time to run the detailed performance simulations he'd designed for the new computer system. So he simply printed out all of the passwords stored on the system. 'There was a way to request files to be printed offline by submitting a punched card,' he remembered in a pamphlet (PDF) written last year to commemorate the invention of the CTSS. 'Late one Friday night, I submitted a request to print the password files and very early Saturday morning went to the file cabinet where printouts were placed and took the listing.' To spread the guilt around, Scherr then handed the passwords over to other users. One of them — J.C.R. Licklieder — promptly started logging into the account of the computer lab's director Robert Fano, and leaving 'taunting messages' behind."
An anonymous reader writes "A bit early, but just a reminder that January 28 is international Data Privacy Day in the U.S., Canada, and many European countries. Various events are being held around the globe: the head of the FTC opened a weekend forum on the topic by calling out Facebook and Google, the Ontario Privacy Commissioner is holding a symposium on 'Surveillance by Design', and of course Google recently announced they'll be tracking you more thoroughly in the future."
sighted writes "This week's huge solar storm will benefit future astronauts, thanks to the rover Curiosity, now on its way to Mars. The rover is equipped with an instrument that measures the radiation exposure that could affect a human astronaut en route to the Red Planet. Scientists are just starting to pore over the data from the blast of particles. Don't worry about the poor robotic geologist, though: 'No harmful effects to the Mars Science Laboratory have been detected from this solar event,' says NASA."
slew writes "This is a followup to this earlier story about 2 of 3 of Rambus's 'critical' patents being invalidated. Apparently now it's a hat-trick." There's something that seems unsavory and wasteful about a business environment in which a company's stock value "fluctuates sharply on its successes and failures in patent litigation and licensing." The linked article offers a brief but decent summary of the way Rambus has profited over the years from these now-invalidated patents.
New submitter Krazy Kanuck writes "The White House is running a story on their OSTP blog that Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra is stepping down after being appointed to the post by President Obama in 2009. There is some mention of him returning to his home state of Virginia, and the Washington Post suggests a possible bid for lieutenant governor."
Sparrowvsrevolution writes "At the Shmoocon security conference, researcher Brendan O'Connor plans to present the F-BOMB, or Falling or Ballistically-launched Object that Makes Backdoors. Built from just the disassembled hardware in a commercially-available PogoPlug mini-computer, a few tiny antennae, eight gigabytes of flash memory and some 3D-printed plastic casing, the F-BOMB serves as 3.5"-by-4"-by-1" spy computer. With a contract from DARPA, O'Connor has designed the cheap gadgets to be spy nodes, ready to be dropped from a drone, plugged inconspicuously into a wall socket, (one model impersonates a carbon monoxide detector) thrown over a barrier, or otherwise put into irretrievable positions to quietly collect data and send it back to the owner over any available Wi-Fi network. O'Connor built his prototypes with gear that added up to just $46 each, so sacrificing one for a single use is affordable."
sciencehabit writes "The North Star, a celestial beacon to navigators for centuries, may be slowly shrinking, according to a new analysis of more than 160 years of observations. The data suggest that the familiar fixture in the northern sky is shedding an Earth's mass worth of gas each year."
New submitter BraveThumb writes "One independent rap group found it impossible to post their song on YouTube. When they tried to put up their video, they were informed that the copyright belonged to Universal Music, even though the rap group wasn't signed to any label. Another group working with Universal had used the music in a video of their own, which then accidentally leaked online. YouTube's filtering software then blocked the original. The Hollywood Reporter shares what happened and concludes by saying, 'For an industry that's pursuing copyright reform, the portrayal of a copyright regime that works against young artists can't be a good thing.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Bitdefender reports that there exist viruses which, when they encounter other viruses, will merge and combine effects so that they create a new virus. 'A virus infects executable files; and a worm is an executable file. If the virus reaches a PC already compromised by a worm, the virus will infect the exe files on that PC — including the worm. When the worm spreads, it will carry the virus with it. Although this happens unintentionally, the combined features from both pieces of malware will inflict a lot more damage than the creators of either piece of malware intended. While most file infectors have inbuilt spreading mechanisms, just like Trojans and worms (spreading routines for RDP, USB, P2P, chat applications, or social networks), some cannot replicate or spread between computers. And it seems a great idea to “outsource” the transportation mechanism to a different piece of malware (i.e. by piggybacking a worm).'"
An anonymous reader writes "The reverberations from the SOPA fight continue to be felt in the U.S. and elsewhere, but it is the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement that has captured increasing attention this week. Several months after the majority of ACTA participants signed the agreement, most European Union countries formally signed the agreement yesterday (notable exclusions include Germany, the Netherlands, Estonia, Cyprus and Slovakia). Michael Geist has a full rundown on what is at stake and what you can do, wherever you live."
redletterdave writes "Microsoft chairman and philanthropist Bill Gates pledged $750 million to the troubled global AIDS fund on Thursday and urged governments to continue their support to save lives. Since the fund was launched 10 years ago, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has given $1.4 billion to the charity, having already contributed $650 million prior to the latest donation. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria accounts for around a quarter of international financing to fight HIV and AIDS, as well as the majority of funds to fight TB and malaria."
Trailrunner7 writes "The FBI is in the early stages of developing an application that would monitor sites such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as various news feeds, in order to find information on emerging threats and new events happening at the moment. The tool would give specialists the ability to pull the data into a dashboard that also would include classified information coming in at the same time. One of the key capabilities of the new application, for which the FBI has sent out a solicitation, would be to 'provide an automated search and scrape capability for social networking sites and open source news sites for breaking events, crisis and threats that meet the search parameters/keywords defined by FBI/SIOC.'"
Velcroman1 writes "Failed pressure chamber tests have forced Russia to postpone two manned launches to the International Space Station — echoing a 2011 situation that left the country's space transport vehicles grounded and led to speculation that scientists may be forced to abandon the orbiting space base. Six astronauts are currently aboard the ISS including two Americans: Commander Dan Burbank and Flight Engineer Don Pettit. 'There is plenty of margin for the current space station crew to stay onboard longer, if necessary, and plenty of margin in our manifest for upcoming launches,' a NASA spokeswoman said. But Soyuz issues are scary nonetheless. 'This re-entry capsule now cannot be used for manned spaceflight,' an unnamed source told Interfax."
New submitter el borak writes "Never mind all the talk about the revival of the American auto industry. What may be the greatest car the U.S. has ever built is currently a tidy 78 million miles (125m km) away from this world — resting on the edge of Endeavour crater in the southern hemisphere of Mars. It was on January 25, 2004 that the rover Opportunity bounced down on Mars for a mission designed to last a minimum of three months and a maximum of just a year or two."