NASA's been solicited ideas for exploring Mars, but Dutch entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp is already planning a different kind of trip than is likely to come from the U.S. government. Lansdorp's Mars One project has the goal of putting humans on Mars in 2022, with a twist that might dampen many people's hopes to be a Mars-exploring astronaut: the trip Lansdorp plans is one-way only. That means dramatically less fuel on board, because unlike typical Mars voyage plans, there would be no need (or ability) to carry the mechanism or the energy storage to return to Earth. If you (and three close companions) are willing to go be the first people to die on Mars, you'll also need to give up more than a pinch of privacy, because the Mars One plan to obtain the necessary funding is straightforward: create a media spectacle, and monetize it through advertising. (Note: If Elon Musk's optimistic sounding predictions are right, maybe one-way Marstronauts can get a return ticket, after all.) Many questions about the proposed journey are answered in the project's FAQ; check there before formulating questions. Ask Lansdorp about the practicalities and impracticalities of reaching Mars with as many questions as you'd like, but (lest ye be modded down) please only one question per post.
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Regular contributor Bennett Haselton writes "As Google releases more data about their compliance with requests from foreign governments, they should clarify their stance on exactly when they will comply with requests to turn over user data to foreign law enforcement." Bennett expands on that thought below; read on for some details of just why that kind of disclosure matters, in making sense of Google's own efforts to provide transparency.
First time accepted submitter caseyb89 writes "Beat making software is incredibly expensive, and the high price limits usage to those who can afford it. Two professors at UNC have a dream of allowing all artists access to beat making software, regardless of income level. They are rallying the community on a project to create open source beat making software. The two professors double as DJs and hip hop artists, and they recently spoke at Rio+Social."
theodp writes "The Commercial Appeal reports that Dr. James Eason, the surgeon who performed Steve Jobs' liver transplant, found himself grilled at length Monday by Shelby County Commission members. The Univ. of Tennessee-Methodist Transplant Institute, which Eason heads, is in a bitter dispute over the distribution of human organs. Pressed for details by Commissioners West Bunker and Terry Roland about the 2009 liver transplant that Eason performed on the late Steve Jobs, Eason acknowledged that he's now living in the Memphis home that Jobs used during his convalescence. Bunker asked, "Was that a deal cut to get him a transplant here locally?" Eason: "I understand. It's a fair question. Absolutely not." Eason said a company lined up the housing for Jobs. "I took care of him and visited him in that home. And when I learned that it was going to be going on the market, I asked him, I asked the administrator of the LLC, if I could purchase it." So, is it time for Apple to shed some light on The Mystery of Steve Jobs' Memphis Mansion? It was reported that Apple lawyer George Riley, reportedly a friend of Eason's, helped Jobs with the arrangements for the Memphis mansion, which was acquired at a bargain price of $850,000 from the State of Tennessee by the mysterious LCHG, LLC on 3/26/2009. LCHG was formed on 3/17/2009, apparently just days before Jobs received his liver (on 3/21/2010, Jobs noted he was coming up on the 1-year anniversary of his transplant). Records show that title to the mansion was transferred to Eason in May, 2011, about three months after the National Enquirer painted a grim picture of Jobs' health. LCHG, LLC was dissolved in February 2012."
An anonymous reader writes "Travel site Orbitz found out that Mac users tend to select pricier rooms and swanky hotels. So, from now on, they will show more expensive hotel options to Mac users than to PC users. This is why, although I am a Mac user, my Firefox agent string says 'Windows XP' :)" The (paywalled) WSJ report on which Reuter's summary is based carries Orbitz' s softer explanation, which is that the results by platform are an experiment based mostly on presentation and search-result ordering rather than actually naming higher prices based on OS: "[T]he company isn't showing the same room to different users at different prices. They also pointed out that users can opt to rank results by price."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Hackathons are not exactly uncommon things, whether the programmers are assembled to improve a company product or simply to tackle a particular challenge. Few of them, however, offer the chance to hack the human brain. That was the reason behind the Seattle-based Allen Institute for Brain Science's week-long hackathon: give 30 participants from various universities and institutes, along with a smattering of technology companies, the chance to develop data-analysis tools based on the latest version of the Institute's Allen Brain Atlas API, which was released earlier in June. Projects and applications included that crunched a list of genes to discover disease patterns. Another translated genomic data into music—because when it comes to data-crunching and neuroscience, you can't be deadly serious all the time." Be careful what you wish for, though, in applying AI to regular I: New submitter jontyl writes of a project led by Google's Dr Jeff Dean which used a "16,000 processor array to create a brain-style 'neural network' with more than a billion connections." Says the article: "There's a certain grim inevitability to the fact that the YouTube company's creation began watching stills from cat videos."
itwbennett writes "Confirming the rumor that emerged earlier this month, Microsoft has bought enterprise social networking software maker Yammer for $1.2 billion. Yammer will become part of Microsoft's Office Division." If you're not familiar with Yammer, it's essentially a messaging system that gives more control to administrators than does using an outside company's service, like AOL's AIM. "Enterprise social networking software," as Wikipedia explains it, means that Yammer "is used for private communication within organizations or between organizational members and pre-designated groups, making it an example of enterprise social software. ... Access to a Yammer network is determined by a user's Internet domain, so only those with appropriate email addresses may join their respective networks."
beaverdownunder writes "Facebook has been silently changing users' default e-mail addresses to their @facebook.com address in a move that Facebook claims was 'to protect users' and to create 'consistency,' but has been blasted by many bloggers and news outlets as 'Facebook's Lame Attempt To Force Its E-Mail Service On You,' and even characterised the move as a Man-In-The-Middle (MITM) attack on users' private correspondence. From the article: 'Many articles characterized the change as a ham-fisted way for Facebook to push its email system, which it first announced in late 2010. At that time the company said its goal was to integrate conversations across multiple channels of communication — text messages, Facebook chat, email, etc. Facebook seemed surprised by the reaction. 'We basically defaulted to show your Facebook address as we rolled this out, just to keep it consistent for everyone,' said Meredith Chin, Facebook's manager of product communications. 'I'm seeing this whole meme around the idea that it's us pushing for people only to use facebook.com addresses,' Chin said. "That was not our intention. We want people to use whatever's easier for them.''"
raque writes "Following up on an earlier story, a group of aviation archaeologists will use underwater robots along with submersibles and sonar to search for Amelia Earhart's plane. The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery will search this July for the aircraft, which went down 75 years ago. 'If there's wreckage there that can be recovered, we need to know what it is, how big it is, what it looks like, and what it's made of so we can prepare a recovery expedition that has equipment to raise whatever's there,' said Richard Gillespie, the group's executive director."
derekmead writes "As newspaper budgets shrink, state-sponsored media outlets like RT, China Daily, and Al Jazeera have grown, hired more writers and offered more (free) coverage. Mark Mackinnon, writing for The Globe and Mail, explains the issue well: 'Throughout the recent crisis in Syria, and before that in Libya and Egypt, Xinhua and RT News have thrown unprecedented money and resources at reporting from the scene, even as Western media scale back on their own efforts. It's not too far-fetched to imagine a near future where it's Xinhua or RT, rather than the Associated Press or BBC, that have the only correspondents on the scene of an international crisis, meaning the world will only get Beijing or Moscow's version of what's happening.' But quality coverage still requires money, which means finding funding from somewhere. You see the effects of this every day: If your revenue is based mostly off of pay-per-click banner ads, a lowest-common denominator post, like a cheap roundup of cat pictures, is quite possibly going to pull in way more views for less money than a nuanced, deeply reported, and expensive dispatch from Syria. And, yeah, ads can be a bummer, especially when they're executed poorly, and paywalls aren't great. But when the alternatives are either fluffy, thin reporting; or worse, blatantly biased coverage sponsored by governments, we have to find a palatable way to fund good reporting."
judgecorp writes "Two teens have pleaded guilty to taking part in Lulzsec attacks on the U.S.'s CIA and Britain's SOCA. Ryan Cleary and Jake Davis, aged 19 and 18 respectively, admit to denial of service attacks. Cleary has also been charged in the U.S., but is unlikely to face extradition." However, "... both Cleary and Davis denied allegations they posted 'unlawfully obtained confidential computer data' to public websites including LulzSec.com, Pirate Bay, and PasteBin, in order to encourage offenses contrary to the Serious Crime Act." Two others involved pleaded not guilty to all charges.
New submitter camperdave writes "Lonesome George, the last remaining tortoise of his kind and a conservation icon, died on Sunday of unknown causes, the Galapagos National Park said. He was thought to be about 100 years old."
Stowie101 writes with a few pieces from an article on what's been happening in the fight against over-compressed radio music and deafening tv commercials: "The first major step towards the elimination of heavily-compressed music could be the International Telecommunications Union's ... measurement of loudness that was ... revised in 2011. ... Acting to rectify the problem on the broadcast side of the issue, many European and Asian broadcasters are adopting loudness standards that are based on the criteria first introduced by the ITU. Here in the U.S., the federal government has also been proactive to improve the quality of broadcast television. By the end of 2012, the broadcast community will have to follow the CALM Act that requires commercials to be played at the same volume as broadcast television. In terms of music and recording, these broadcast standards do not apply. But Shepherd theorizes the measurement standards will be applied to the production of music. 'Measuring loudness, in general, isn't easy. Now the ITU has agreed on a new "loudness unit:" the LU. You can measure short- and longer-term loudness over a whole song. They've also agreed on guidelines for broadcast; what the average loudness should be and how much you can vary it. The recommendation has been made law in the U.S. for advertisements and is also being adopted in the U.K. and all over the world. All the major broadcasters here — Sky, the BBC, ITV — have agreed to follow the standard.'"
Trailrunner7 writes, quoting Threat Post: "Security researchers have come across a worm that is meant specifically to steal blueprints, design documents and other files created with the AutoCAD software. The worm, known as ACAD/Medre.A, is spreading through infected AutoCAD templates and is sending tens of thousands of stolen documents to email addresses in China. However, experts say that the worm's infection rates are dropping at this point and it doesn't seem to be part of a targeted attack campaign. ... [They] discovered that not only was the worm highly customized and well-constructed, it seemed to be targeting mostly machines in Peru for some reason. ... They found that ACAD/Medre.A was written in AutoLISP, a specialized version of the LISP scripting language that's used in AutoCAD."
astroengine writes "Launched in August of last year, NASA's Juno probe is on a Kamikaze mission to go prospecting for water on Jupiter. Although its predecessor, NASA's Galileo spacecraft, took a death-dive into the gas giant it didn't detect any signs of water in its atmosphere. Why? Fran Bagenela, of the University of Colorado, told a group of scientists at the recent meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Anchorage, Alaska, that the Galileo probe fell at the boundary between one of the brown atmospheric zones and white belts that form a striped pattern across the planet's face. This gap region could have been unusually dry, she added. Now it's up to Juno to investigate when it enters orbit around Jupiter in 2016."