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Pandora To Buy Rdio Assets For $75M In Cash ( 20

An anonymous reader writes: Pandora is acquiring music subscription service Rdio for $75 million in cash. "The transaction is contingent upon Rdio seeking protection in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of California. Upon approval of the proposed transaction by the bankruptcy court, Rdio will be winding down the Rdio-branded service in all markets," Pandora said in a statement. TechCrunch reports: "That was fast: just as soon as it was reported that Pandora was in talks to buy Rdio, the two sides have confirmed that an acquisition is indeed taking place. Pandora has acquired "key assets" from Rdio for $75 million, the company has just announced. But as part of it, the Rdio service as we know it is tanking: the streaming service is shutting down and Rdio is filing for bankruptcy."

The Neuroscientist Who Tested a Brain Implant On Himself ( 58

An anonymous reader writes: Our understanding of the brain has come a long way in the past thirty years, but most brain-related medical procedures remain incredibly complicated and dangerous. Neurologist Phil Kennedy has been working on brain-computer interfaces since the 1980s. He was most notably involved in letting a patient with "locked in" syndrome interact with the outside world through a brain-controlled computer cursor. But the FDA has gradually ramped up its safety demands, and in the past decade they've shut down Kennedy's research. So he did what any determined inventor would do: he went to a hospital in Belize and had surgeons there implant electrodes on his own brain so he could continue his research.

"After returning home to Duluth, Georgia, Kennedy began to toil largely alone in his speech lab, recording his neurons as he repeated 29 phonemes (such as e, eh, a, o, u, and consonants like ch and j) out loud, and then silently imagined saying them. ... Kennedy says his early findings are 'extremely encouraging.' He says he determined that different combinations of the 65 neurons he was recording from consistently fired every time he spoke certain sounds aloud, and also fired when he imagined speaking them—a relationship that is potentially key to developing a thought decoder for speech." Eventually, Kennedy had to have the implants removed, but he hopes the data he gathered will help push the FDA toward supporting this research once more.


Cambridge Researchers Present Lithium-Air Battery Breakthrough ( 100

Reuters reports on a tantalizing advance in battery technology described this week by Cambridge researchers, who have made large enough steps toward a practical lithium-oxygen battery to give a laboratory demo of their system. Commercially available lithium-oxygen batteries would be significant because they would have the potential to deliver the desired power thanks to a high energy density - a measure of energy stored for a given weight - that could be 10 times that of lithium-ion batteries and approach that of gasoline. They also could be a fifth the cost and a fifth the weight of lithium-ion batteries. But problems have beset lithium-oxygen batteries that affect their capacity and lifetime, including troublesome efficiency, performance, chemical reaction and potential safety issues and the limitation of needing pure oxygen rather than plain old air. The Cambridge demonstrator battery employs different chemistry than previous work on lithium-air batteries, for example using lithium hydroxide rather than lithium peroxide. It also uses an electrode made of graphene, a form of carbon. The result was a more stable and efficient battery." Some more about this research can be gleaned from Clare Grey's web page at Cambridge.

Technology's Role In a Climate Solution ( 173

Lasrick writes: If the world is to avoid severe, widespread, and irreversible impacts (PDF), carbon emissions must decrease quickly. Achieving such cuts, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, depends in part on the availability of "key technologies." But arguments abound against faith in technological solutions to the climate problem. Electricity grids may be ill equipped to accommodate renewable energy produced on a massive scale. Many technological innovations touted in the past have failed to achieve practical success. Even successful technologies will do little good if they mature too late to help avert climate disaster. In this debate in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, experts from India, the United States, and Bangladesh address the following questions: To what extent can the world depend on technological innovation to address climate change? And what promising technologies—in generating, storing, and saving energy, and in storing greenhouse gases or removing them from the atmosphere—show most potential to help the world come to terms with global warming?

"Father of the Space Shuttle" George Mueller Dies At 97 ( 75

The Washington Post reports that long-time NASA engineer and administrator George Mueller died on October 12 of congestive heart failure, at 97. Mueller had a hand in NASA programs as Associate Administrator of the NASA Office of Manned Space Flight going back to the Apollo program, but not only as an administrator: he played a large role in the design of Skylab, and in lobbying for the Space Shuttle; this last earned him the (sometimes disputed) nickname of "Father of the Space Shuttle." During his Apollo days, Mueller became well known for his insistence on "all-up" testing, rather than incremental, per-component tests. From the Washington Post's story: As applied to the space program, [all-up testing] implied specifically such techniques as the testing of all three stages of the giant Saturn V booster rocket while they were coupled together and with a payload attached to boot. It was reported that the scheme had its doubters, among them such leading lights of rocketry as Wernher von Braun. But in time, the forceful Dr. Mueller proved persuasive enough to overcome all such reservations, and it was “all up” for the mammoth Saturn V, the launch vehicle upon which NASA pinned its hopes of sending Americans to the moon.

Disclosed Netgear Flaws Under Attack ( 17

msm1267 writes: A vulnerability in Netgear routers, already disclosed by two sets of researchers at different security companies, has been publicly exploited. Netgear, meanwhile, has yet to release patched firmware, despite apparently having built one and confirmed with one of the research teams that it addressed the problem adequately. The vulnerability is a remotely exploitable authentication bypass that affects Netgear router firmware N300_1.1.0.31_1.0.1.img, and N300- The flaw allows an attacker, without knowing the router password, to access the administration interface.

Veteran FBI Employee Accused of Trying To Beat Polygraph, Suspended Without Pay 262

George Maschke writes: A mid-career veteran of the FBI has been suspended without pay and faces revocation of his/her security clearance (which would inevitably lead to termination) because the Bureau's polygraph operators allege he/she tried to beat the polygraph. The case is currently the subject of an unpublicized Congressional inquiry. Retired FBI scientist, supervisory special agent, and polygraph critic Dr. Drew Richardson has publicly shared a memorandum he wrote in support of the accused in this case, which has heretofore been shrouded in secrecy. It should be borne in mind that polygraphy is vulnerable to simple countermeasures (PDF, see Ch. 4) that polygraph operators cannot detect. This case is yet another example of how the pseudoscience of polygraphy endangers virtually everyone with a high-level security clearance.
The Almighty Buck

Club Concorde Wants To Put a Concorde Back In the Air 124

The Verge (relying on The Telegraph) reports that the Concorde, grounded since just a few years after the disastrous loss of flight 4590 in 2000, may yet fly again, with the help of a private coalition of Concorde enthusiasts that's already managed to raise $160 million. ("A massive war chest," says Jalopnik.) The Verge explains that Club Concorde ("a club for all things Concorde, run by ex-Captains, ex-charterers and people passionate about Concorde") would like to buy two of the existing but idle Concordes, turning one of them into a ground-based tourist attraction for gawking and for dining on Concorde-style meals. But as for the second? The more ambitious initiative is to purchase the second plane, have it restored, and get it in the air once more. Concorde Club president Paul James is aiming to resume flights by 2019, while the tourist attraction would be opened around 2017 if all goes according to plan. British Airways and Air France have no plans to resume commercial Concorde flights, meaning it would likely cost quite a lot of money to grab a private ticket if and when the plane gets off the ground again.

Swiss Researchers Describe a Faster, More Secure Tor 61

An anonymous reader writes: Researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and University College London published a paper this week describing a faster and more secure version of Tor called HORNET. On one hand, the new onion routing network can purportedly achieve speeds of up to 93 gigabits per second and "be scaled to support large numbers of users with minimal overhead". On the other hand, researchers cannot claim to be immune to "confirmation attacks" known to be implemented on Tor, but they point out that, given how HORNET works, perpetrators of such attacks would have to control significantly more ISPs across multiple geopolitical boundaries and probably sacrifice the secrecy of their operations in order to successfully deploy such attacks on HORNET.

LHC Discovers Pentaquark Particles 95

mrspoonsi sends news that researchers running experiments at the Large Hadron Collider have published findings confirming the existence of pentaquark particles, first predicted in the 1960s by Murray Gell Mann and George Zweig. The particles consist of five quarks bound together. Further research will examine exactly how this binding works. Previous experiments had measured only the so-called mass distribution where a statistical peak may appear against the background "noise" - the possible signature of a novel particle. But the collider enabled researchers to look at the data from additional perspectives, namely the four angles defined by the different directions of travel taken by particles within LHCb. "We are transforming this problem from a one-dimensional to a five dimensional one... we are able to describe everything that happens in the decay," said Dr. Koppenburg, who first saw a signal begin to emerge in 2012. "There is no way that what we see could be due to something else other than the addition of a new particle that was not observed before."

EPFL's CleanSpace One Satellite Will "Eat" Space Junk 53

Zothecula writes: Working with Geneva's University of Applied Science and Signal Processing 5 Laboratory, Swiss research institute EPFL has announced details of a plan to capture its tiny SwissCube satellites by using a new spacecraft outfitted with a conical net. Called "CleanSpace One" the team hopes that their "Pac-Man" solution will capture the old satellite. Gizmag reports: "...SwissCube's spinning action will make it more difficult to image, as its surfaces will alternately be brilliantly sunlit or hidden in shadow. That's why CleanSpace One's computer vision system will be running algorithms that account for variables such as the angle of the sun, the dimensions of the target, the speed at which that target is moving, and the rate at which CleanSpace One itself is spinning. High dynamic range cameras will also allow it to simultaneously expose for both bright and dark surfaces."

Switzerland Begins Trials of Expensive Postal Drones 55

An anonymous reader writes: Swiss Post has beat Amazon, Alibaba and other researchers into drone-based delivery by launching practical drops using a Matternet four-rotored drone this month. However the company says that five years of testing and negotiation with regulators lie ahead before it will be able to offer a commercial drone-based delivery service. Like Google's Project Wing, the Matternet drone in question is mooted as a potential lifeline in post-disaster situations, but from a business point of view the release notes its potential for 'express delivery of goods' — a further indicator that the future of postal drone delivery may be an exclusive and expensive one.

Hackers Exploit MacKeeper Flaw To Spread OS X Malware 63

An anonymous reader writes: Controversial OS X 'clean-up utility' MacKeeper is being exploited by cybercriminals to diffuse Mac malware OSX/Agent-ANTU, according to the BAE cyber security unit. A single line of JavaScript on a malicious web-page is enough to hand over control of the user's system via MacKeeper. Lead security researcher Sergei Shevchenko said 'attackers might simply be 'spraying' their targets with the phishing emails hoping that some of them will have MacKeeper installed, thus allowing the malware to be delivered to their computers and executed,' The malware enables remote control over commands, uploads and downloads, and the setting of execution permissions, as well as granting access to details of VPN connections, user names, and lists of processes and statuses.

NOAA: Global Warming 'Pause' Never Happened 639

Taco Cowboy writes: The whole global warming debate is as confusing as ever. Researchers from the U.S. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have published a new study in Science saying there was no "pause" in global warming. Dr. Thomas Karl points out that the warming rate over the past 15 years is "virtually identical" to warming over the last century, and updated observations show temperatures did not plateau.

"The idea of a global warming 'hiatus' arose from questions over why the trend of warming temperatures appeared to be stalling recently compared to the later part of the 20th century. ... The new analysis corrects for ocean observations made using different methods as well as including new data on surface temperatures."

"According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global average temperatures have increased by around 0.05C per decade in the period between 1998 and 2012. This compares with an average of 0.12 per decade between 1951 and 2012. The new analysis suggests a figure of 0.116 per decade for 2000-2014, compared with 0.113 for 1950-1999."

LHC Restarts High-Energy Quest For Exotic Physics 85

astroengine writes: It's official: After a long 27 month hiatus for upgrades and a 2 month restart, the world's largest particle accelerator is back in the particle collision business. As of 10:40 a.m. CET (5:40 a.m. ET), the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) was running at record-breaking energies and collecting science data. Physicists now expect the particle collider to run non-stop for the next 3 years. We are in a new era of high-energy particle physics where, for the first time, we don't exactly know what we'll find. "With the LHC back in the collision-production mode, we celebrate the end of two months of beam commissioning," said CERN Director of Accelerators and Technology Frédérick Bordry in a press release. "It is a great accomplishment and a rewarding moment for all of the teams involved in the work performed during the long shutdown of the LHC, in the powering tests and in the beam commissioning process. All these people have dedicated so much of their time to making this happen."

LHC Season 2 Is About To Start Testing the Frontiers of Physics 61

An anonymous reader writes: The final preparations for the second run of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) are in place. This week, it is expected to start taking new data with collisions at the record-breaking energy of 13 teraelectronvolts (TeV). There are a lot of expectations about this new LHC season. In one of CERN's articles, physicists tell of their hopes for new discoveries during the LHC's second run. "They speak of dark matter,supersymmetry, the Higgs boson, antimatter, current theory in particle physics and its limits as well as new theoretical models that could extend it."

Protons Collide At 13 TeV For the First Time At the LHC 52

An anonymous reader writes to let everyone know the LHC has now smashed protons together at 13 TeV, the highest energy level yet achieved. They've posted the first images captured from the collisions, and explained the testing process as well. Jorg Wenninger of the LHC Operations team says, "When we start to bring the beams into collision at a new energy, they often miss each other. The beams are tiny – only about 20 microns in diameter at 6.5 TeV; more than 10 times smaller than at 450 GeV. So we have to scan around – adjusting the orbit of each beam until collision rates provided by the experiments tell us that they are colliding properly." Spokesperson Tiziano Camporesi adds, "The collisions at 13 TeV will allow us to further test all improvements that have been made to the trigger and reconstruction systems, and check the synchronisation of all the components of our detector."

Tracking the Weather On an Exoplanet 43

schwit1 writes: Scientists have begun gathering increasingly detailed information about the atmosphere and weather on the exoplanet HD189733B, 63 light years away with an orbit that produces a transit every 2.2 days. The temperature appears to rise with increasing altitude, reaching 3,000 degrees at the top of the atmosphere. There are also strong winds blowing from the cold to the hot side of the planet.

Rebuilding the PDP-8 With a Raspberry Pi 92

braindrainbahrain writes: Hacker Oscarv wanted a PDP-8 mini computer. But buying a real PDP-8 was horribly expensive and out of the question. So Oscarv did the next best thing: he used a Raspberry Pi as the computing engine and interfaced it to a replica PDP-8 front panel, complete with boatloads of fully functional switches and LEDs.

Short Circuit In LHC Could Delay Restart By Weeks 57

hypnosec writes: On March 21 CERN detected an intermittent short circuit to ground in one of the LHC's magnet circuits. Repairs could delay the restart by anywhere between a few days and several weeks. CERN revealed that the short circuit affected one of LHC's powerful electromagnets, thereby delaying preparations in sector 4-5 of the machine. They confirmed that seven of the machine's eight sectors have been successfully commissioned to 6.5 TeV per beam, but they won't be circulating a beam in the LHC this week. Though the short circuit issue is well understood, resolving it will take time, since it's in a cold section of the machine and repairs may therefore require warming and re-cooling.