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Science

How Birds Lost Their Teeth 138

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-more-floss dept.
An anonymous reader writes A research team from the University of California, Riverside and Montclair State University, New Jersey, have found that the lack of teeth in all living birds can be traced back to a common ancestor who lived about 116 million years ago. From the article: "To solve this puzzle, the researchers used a recently created genome database that catalogues the genetic history of nearly all living bird orders--48 species in total. They were looking for two specific types of genes: one responsible for dentin, the substance that (mostly) makes up teeth, and another for the enamel that protects them. Upon finding these genes, researchers then located the mutations that deactivate them, and combed the fossil record to figure out when those mutations developed. They concluded that the loss of teeth and the development of the beak was a two-stage process, though the steps basically happened simultaneously. The paper states: 'In the first stage, tooth loss and partial beak development began on the anterior portion of both the upper and lower jaws. The second stage involved concurrent progression of tooth loss and beak development from the anterior portion of both jaws to the back of the rostrum.'"
Space

Swiss Scientists Discover DNA Remains Active After Space Journey and Re-entry 67

Posted by Soulskill
from the when-you-land-on-a-planet,-you're-landing-on-every-other-planet-it's-been-with dept.
Zothecula writes: It may sound like the first chapter of a Quatermass thriller, but scientists from the University of Zurich have discovered that DNA can survive not only a flight through space, but also re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere and still remain active. The findings are based on suborbital rocket flights and could have considerable impact on questions about the origins of life on Earth and the problems of terrestrial space probes contaminating other planets.
News

LHC's 'Heart' Starts Pumping Protons Before Restart 50

Posted by Soulskill
from the pumped-up-to-crash-particles dept.
astroengine writes: While on its long road to restart, yet another milestone was reached at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) over the weekend. Protons were generated by the LHC's source and blasted through a "daisy-chain" of smaller accelerators before being intentionally smashed into a metaphorical brick wall. The particle beam didn't reach the LHC's famous 17-mile (27-kilometer) accelerator ring — they were stopped just short — but the event was used to begin calibration efforts of the massive experiment's detectors before the whole system is powered back up again early next year. "These initial tests are a milestone for the whole accelerator chain," said the LHC's chief engineer, Reyes Alemany Fernandez. "Not only was this the first time the injection lines have seen beams in over a year, it was also our first opportunity to test the LHC's operation system. We successfully commissioned the LHC's injection and ejection magnets, all without beam in the machine itself."
Science

CERN Releases LHC Data 42

Posted by Soulskill
from the insights-in-how-to-destroy-the-universe dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Ever wished you had access to CERN's LHC data to help with your backyard high-energy physics research? Today you're in luck. CERN has launched its Open Data Portal, which makes experimental data produced by the Large Hadron Collider open to the public. "The first high-level and analyzable collision data openly released come from the CMS experiment and were originally collected in 2010 during the first LHC run. This data set is now publicly available on the CERN Open Data Portal. Open source software to read and analyze the data is also available, together with the corresponding documentation. The CMS collaboration is committed to releasing its data three years after collection, after they have been thoroughly studied by the collaboration." You can read more about CERN's commitment to "Open Science" here.
AT&T

AT&T Won't Do In-Flight Wi-Fi After All 35

Posted by timothy
from the back-to-the-ebooks dept.
jfruh writes In-flight Wi-Fi services tend to be expensive and disappointingly slow. So when AT&T announced a few months ago that it was planning on getting into the business, with customer airlines being able to connect to AT&T's LTE network instead of slow satellite services, the industry shook. But now AT&T has announced that, upon further review, they're not going to bother.
Science

Fabiola Gianotti To Take Over As CERN Director-General 23

Posted by samzenpus
from the who's-in-charge dept.
somegeekynick writes "The public face of the ATLAS experiment at CERN which co-discovered the the Higgs-like boson in 2012, Fabiola Gianotti, 52, has been chosen as the next Director-General of the particle physics lab. She'll become the first woman to hold the position. The 5-year term begins on Jan 1, 2016."
Science

Physicists Resurrect an Old, Strange Dark Matter Theory 138

Posted by Soulskill
from the throwing-dark-matter-at-a-wall-and-seeing-what-sticks dept.
New submitter rossgneumann writes: Dark matter might not be nearly as exotic as most theories suggest. Instead, it could be macroscopic clumps of material formed from common particles already found within the Standard Model of particle physics. This argument comes courtesy of physicists at Case Western University (PDF). Dark matter is usually thought of in terms of exotic, so-far undiscovered particles. The leading candidates are known as weakly interacting massive particles, or WIMPs. But the Case Western theory suggests that there are no dark matter particles, at least none that exist outside of current knowledge. Instead, there are baseball-sized clumps of "regular" matter formed from unexpected combinations of Standard Model particles.
Science

CERN Looking For Help Filling In the Gaps In Photo Archive 28

Posted by samzenpus
from the what-does-this-look-like-to-you? dept.
rHBa writes According to the BBC scientists at the European nuclear research center CERN have uncovered an archive of images from its first 50 years and are asking for help in deciphering what is going on in them. Dr Sue Black, who was a key figure in the campaign to save Bletchley Park, said "we believe that much of this information could be crowd-sourced from the CERN community."
Programming

Rosetta Code Study Weighs In On the Programming Language Debate 165

Posted by Soulskill
from the fresh-ammunition dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Rosetta Code is a popular resource for programming language enthusiasts to learn from each other, thanks to its vast collection of idiomatic solutions to clearly defined tasks in many different programming languages. The Rosetta Code wiki is now linking to a new study that compares programming language features based on the programs available in Rosetta Code. The study targets the languages C, C#, F#, Go, Haskell, Java, Python, and Ruby on features such as succinctness and performance. It reveals, among other things, that: "functional and scripting languages are more concise than procedural and object-oriented languages; C is hard to beat when it comes to raw speed on large inputs, but performance differences over inputs of moderate size are less pronounced; compiled strongly-typed languages, where more defects can be caught at compile time, are less prone to runtime failures than interpreted or weakly-typed languages."
Programming

Scala Designer Martin Odersky On Next Steps 94

Posted by timothy
from the escallatio-isn't-just-for-lbj dept.
rfernand79 writes Infoworld has an interview with Martin Odersky, designer of Scala, in which they discuss the future of this popular language. Three versions are discussed as being part of the Scala roadmap: The first one (2.12) focuses on better integration with Java 8, and making use of the latest improvements in the JVM. The second one (Aida) focuses on cleaning up the Scala libraries. But the third one (Don Giovani) is about a fundamental rethink of Scala, with a strong focus on simplicity.
Censorship

Clever Workaround: Visual Cryptography On Austrian Postage Stamps 74

Posted by timothy
from the stamp-everything-with-tlldr dept.
An anonymous reader writes Have you heard of personalized postage stamps? You pay the value of the stamps plus a fee and the post office prints official stamps usable for postage which show (almost) anything you can put into a jpeg file. An Austrian Tibet supporter found out what 'almost' means. He submitted a picture of the Dalai Lama with the text 'His Holiness the Dalai Lama,' but the Austrian post office refused to produce these stamps. Stampnews and the Neue Zuercher Zeitung (autotranslation) reported that this had been due to pressure from the Chinese embassy in Vienna. Now there is a video showing how visual cryptography has been used to get around this attempt at censorship [caution: organ music] .
Science

Researchers Find Evidence of How Higgs Particle Imparts Mass 91

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the type-13-planet dept.
brindafella (702231) writes Physicists at CERN's Large Hadron Colider (LHC) ATLAS experiment have been looking through their data, and have found enough of the extremely rare "W boson" (proton-proton) collisions that they can now declare their results: They have found how the Higgs imparts mass to other particles. From the article: "'Only about one in 100 trillion proton-proton collisions would produce one of these events,' said Marc-André Pleier, a physicist at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory who played a leadership role in the analysis of this result for the ATLAS collaboration. 'You need to observe many [collisions] to see if the production rate is above or on par with predictions,' Pleier said. 'We looked through billions of proton-proton collisions produced at the LHC for a signature of these events—decay products that allow us to infer like Sherlock Holmes what happened in the event.' The analysis efforts started two years ago and were carried out in particular by groups from Brookhaven, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, University of Michigan, and Technische Universität Dresden, Germany." Here's a pre-print of the paper.
Science

Fresh Evidence Supports Higgs Boson Discovery 42

Posted by samzenpus
from the look-what-we-found dept.
An anonymous reader writes Researchers at CERN have discovered the first evidence for the direct decay of the Higgs boson into fermions, a strong indication that the particle found two years ago is the Higgs boson. From the article: "Assistant professor of physics at MIT and leader of the international effort, Markus Klute, said that his team was trying to establish if the particle that was discovered in 2012 was really consistent with the Higgs boson that was found in the Standard Model, and not one of many Higgs bosons, or an a particle that looks like it but has a different origin." Their researchers also found that the bosons also decay to fermions (fermions include all quarks and leptons) in a way that is consistent with the Standard Model Higgs. 'We have now established the main characteristics of this new particle, in its coupling to fermions and to bosons, and its spin-parity structure; all of these things are consistent with the Standard Model,' Klute says." CERN has also announced the LHC restart schedule.
Programming

Machine Learning Used For JavaScript Code De-obfuscation 31

Posted by Soulskill
from the cleaning-up-the-digital-streets dept.
New submitter velco writes: "ETH Zurich Software Reliability Lab announced JSNice, a statistical de-obfuscation and de-minification tool for JavaScript. The interesting thing about JSNice is that it combines program analysis with machine learning techniques to build a database of name and type regularities from large amounts of available open source code on GitHub. Then, given new JavaScript code, JSNice tries to infer the most likely names and types for that code by basing its decision on the learned regularities in the training phase."
Movies

H.R. Giger, Alien Artist and Designer, Dead at Age 74 92

Posted by Soulskill
from the rest-in-peace dept.
M3.14 writes: "H. R. Giger, the Swiss artist and designer of Ridley Scott's Alien, has died, aged 74. Hans Rudolf 'Ruedi' Giger sustained injuries caused by a fall, Swiss newspaper Neue Zuercher Zeitung has reported (link in German — English summary available). The terrifying creature and sets he created for Ridley Scott's film earned him an Oscar for special effects in 1980. In the art world, Giger is appreciated for his wide body of work in the fantastic realism and surrealistic genres. Film work was just one of his talents. Giger is also known for his sculptures, paintings and furniture. The H.R. Giger Museum, inaugurated in the summer of 1998 in the Château St. Germain, is a four-level building complex in the historic, medieval walled city of Gruyères. It is the permanent home to many of the artist's most prominent works."
Linux Business

Red Hat Acquires InkTank, Ceph Maintainers 18

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the now-throw-some-money-at-openafs dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Red Hat announced their pending acquisition of Inktank this morning. Sage Weil and a team of researchers at University of California Santa Cruz first published the architecture in 2007. Sage joined DreamHost after college and continued development on Ceph until DreamHost spun off a Inktank, a company focused solely on Ceph. In Sage's blog post on the acquisition, he says 'In particular, joining forces with the Red Hat team will improve our ability to address problems at all layers of the storage stack, including in the kernel.' Sage goes on to announce that Inktank's proprietary management tools for Ceph will now be open sourced, citing Red Hat's pure open source development and business models.

Ceph has seen wide adoption in OpenStack customer deployments, alongside Red Hat's existing Gluster system."
Ceph looks pretty cool if you're doing serious storage: CERN has a 3 Petabyte "prototype" cluster in use now (Only tangentially related, but still interesting, is how CERN does storage in general).
Crime

Stung By File-Encrypting Malware, Researchers Fight Back 85

Posted by timothy
from the picked-the-wrong-guys dept.
itwbennett (1594911) writes "When Jose Vildoza's father became the victim of ransomware, he launched his own investigation. Diving into CryptoDefense's code, he found its developers had made a crucial mistake: CryptoDefense used Microsoft's Data Protection API (application programming interface), a tool in the Windows operating system to encrypt a user's data, which stored a copy of the encryption keys on the affected computer. Vildoza and researcher Fabian Wosar of the Austrian security company Emsisoft collaborated on a utility called the Emsisoft Decrypter that could recover the encrypted keys. In mid-March Vildoza had launched a blog chronicling his investigation, purposely not revealing the mistake CryptoDefense's authors had made. But Symantec then published a blog post on March 31 detailing the error."
Science

LHCb Confirms Existence of Exotic Hadrons 99

Posted by Soulskill
from the pushing-back-the-boundaries-of-physics dept.
An anonymous reader sends this news from CERN: "The Large Hadron Collider beauty (LHCb) collaboration today announced results that confirm the existence of exotic hadrons – a type of matter that cannot be classified within the traditional quark model. Hadrons are subatomic particles that can take part in the strong interaction – the force that binds protons inside the nuclei of atoms. Physicists have theorized since the 1960s, and ample experimental evidence since has confirmed, that hadrons are made up of quarks and antiquarks that determine their properties. A subset of hadrons, called mesons, is formed from quark-antiquark pairs, while the rest – baryons – are made up of three quarks. ... The Belle Collaboration reported the first evidence for the Z(4430) in 2008. They found a tantalizing peak in the mass distribution of particles that result from the decays of B mesons. Belle later confirmed the existence of the Z(4430) with a significance of 5.2 sigma on the scale that particle physicists use to describe the certainty of a result. LHCb reports a more detailed measurement of the Z(4430) that confirms that it is unambiguously a particle, and a long-sought exotic hadron at that. They analyzed more than 25,000 decays of B mesons selected from data from 180 trillion (180x10^12) proton-proton collisions in the Large Hadron Collider."
Australia

Australia Declares Homeopathy Nonsense, Urges Doctors to Inform Patients 408

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the healing-crystals-considered-harmful dept.
jones_supa (887896) writes "Homeopathy is a 200-year-old form of alternative medicine based on the principle that substances that produce symptoms in a healthy person can be used to treat similar symptoms in a sick person. The National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia has officially declared that homeopathic remedies are useless for human health. The body today released a guide for doctors (PDF) on how to talk to their patients about the lack of evidence for many such therapies. Doctors will also be told to warn patients of possible interactions between alternative and conventional medicines. On top of that, the council has produced a 300-page draft report that reviews the evidence for homoeopathy in treating 68 clinical conditions. It concludes 'there is no reliable evidence that homoeopathy is effective for treating health conditions'.

Representing the opposite viewpoint, Australian Homeopathic Association spokesman Greg Cope said he was disappointed at the narrow evidence relied on by the NHMRC in its report. 'What they have looked at is systematic trials for named conditions when that is not how homeopathy works,' he said. Homeopathy worked on the principle of improving a person's overall health and wellness, and research such as a seven-year study conducted in Switzerland was a better measure of its usefulness, he added. There are about 10,000 complementary medicine products sold in Australia but most consumers are unaware they are not evaluated by the domestic medicines safety watchdog before they are allowed on the market."
Encryption

Fake PGP Keys For Crypto Developers Found 110

Posted by timothy
from the who-you-say-you-are dept.
IamTheRealMike (537420) writes "In recent months fake PGP keys have been found for at least two developers on well known crypto projects: Erinn Clark, a Tor developer and Gavin Andresen, the maintainer of Bitcoin. In both cases, these PGP keys are used to sign the downloads for popular pieces of crypto software. PGP keys are supposed to be verified through the web of trust, but in practice it's very hard to find a trust path between two strangers on the internet: one reply to Erinn's mail stated that despite there being 30 signatures [attached to] her key, [the respondent] couldn't find any trust paths to her. It's also very unclear whether anyone would notice a key substitution attack like this. This leaves three questions: who is doing this, why, and what can be done about it? An obvious candidate would be intelligence agencies, who may be trying to serve certain people with backdoored binaries via their QUANTUMTHEORY man-in-the-middle system. As to what can be done about it, switching from PGP to X.509 code signing would be an obvious candidate. Both Mac and Windows support it, obtaining a forged certificate is much harder than simply uploading a fake PGP key, and whilst X.509 certs can be issued in secret until Google's Certificate Transparency system is fully deployed, finding one would be strong evidence that an issuing CA had been compromised: something that seems plausible but for which we currently lack any evidence. Additionally, bad certificates can be revoked when found whereas beyond making blog posts, not much can be done about the fake PGP keys."

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