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Submission Summary: 0 pending, 75 declined, 15 accepted (90 total, 16.67% accepted)

+ - SPAM: Meet an alien? No. Talk to one? Maybe

Submitted by 00_NOP
00_NOP (559413) writes "Even in the last month general relativity has added another success to its already impressive list of successful predictions — with evidence of gravity waves. That surely means we are never likely to physically meet an alien — travel is just too slow or too difficult. But what if we could communicate instantly across any distance? That just might be possible."
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+ - SPAM: Why people play Candy Crush

Submitted by 00_NOP
00_NOP (559413) writes "The reason people play Candy Crush seems to be that it is so difficult: in fact it has been proved that the problems faced by players are in the "NP" class, meaning — probably — that no algorithmic solution is known a priori and so the way you get to be good is by improving your heuristic sense — but still there is no way you can become a "perfect" player and so there is always room for improvement."
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+ - Scottish independence campaign battles over BBC Weather forecast->

Submitted by 00_NOP
00_NOP (559413) writes "The political battle over Scotland's independence ballot — to take place in September this year — has now moved on to how the BBC project the UK on their national weather forecast. The BBC use a projection based on the view of Britain from geostationary weather satellites and so there is naturally some foreshortening at the northern end of Britain (Scotland, in other words). But nationalist campaigners say this means Scottish viewers are constantly being shown a distorted image of their country which makes it look smaller and hence (in their view) less able to support independence. In response others have suggested that the nationalists are truly "flat earthers"."
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+ - Beware of the Black Death->

Submitted by 00_NOP
00_NOP (559413) writes "The idea of a plague breakout in an advanced economy feels like something relegated to the world of shlock movies or bad science fiction, but new evidence from the sequencing of the Yersinia pestis bacterium that killed victims of the sixth century "Plague of Justinian" (which is widely seen to have led to the collapse of the Roman Empire in the West) shows that it is of a different strain to that which caused the plagues of the 14th and 19th century — suggesting that a novel form of plague could break out and cause mass deaths."
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+ - Astrology: the celebrated anti-science->

Submitted by 00_NOP
00_NOP (559413) writes "Imagine if a novel that celebrated creationism won the Pulitzer? A scandal surely...meanwhile in the UK our top literary prize (open to Commonwealth and Irish authors writing in English) has gone to a book that celebrates astrology and which is written by an author who offers up psycobabble defences of astrology's truth. Seems to me that British distain for US arguments about anti-science is misplaced and we ought to focus a bit more on the way anti-science is promoted over here."
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+ - Read better books to be a better person-> 1

Submitted by 00_NOP
00_NOP (559413) writes "Researchers from the New School for Social Research in New York have demonstrated that if you read quality literary fiction you become a better person, in the sense that you are more likely to emphasise with others. Presumably we can all think of books that have changed the way we feel about the world — so this is, in a sense, a scientific confirmation of something fairly intuitive."
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+ - Australian politics site gets millions of hits and a few threats

Submitted by 00_NOP
00_NOP (559413) writes "A (NSFW — lots of swearing) Australian website contrasting the views of the two main parties in Saturday's Australian website has become an overnight (quite literally) sensation and also earned its creator some anonymous threats and a call from a lawyer claiming to be working for the leader of the opposition."

+ - "Please refuse our delivery," advice from Amazon ->

Submitted by 00_NOP
00_NOP (559413) writes "Amazon seem to devolve so little power and authority to their customer service staff that they are left to make recommendations to customers that both hurt Amazon's business — by piling up additional costs — and leave customers (this one at least) just as unhappy as before. In my case they stated that the only way I could get an international order correctly charged to my gift card, as opposed to my credit card, was to refuse delivery, have the goods returned and then place a new order. Surely an IT company can have better systems than this?"
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+ - Encryption not quite as secure as we thought->

Submitted by 00_NOP
00_NOP (559413) writes "Encryption schemes are probably not quite as secure as has been previously thought — not because of the NSA but because source word behaviour does not follow the previously assumed patterns and so entropy in the coded message is not as high as expected, report researchers at the National University of Ireland and MIT.
That lack of entropy gets reflected in the encoded message as patterns of code and so makes it easier to find brute force cracks of the encrypted message.
The threat to real world encrypted messages is probably quite low — but it would not be the first time that a small chink in the armour is revealed to be a massive gash after a bit more work!"

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+ - World's biggest "agile" software project close to failure->

Submitted by 00_NOP
00_NOP (559413) writes ""Universal Credit" — the plan to consolidate all Britain's welfare payments into one — is the world's biggest "agile" software development project but it is now close to collapse the British government admitted yesterday. The failure, if and when it comes, could cost billions and have dire social consequences."
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+ - Brits to be forced on to IPv6?->

Submitted by 00_NOP
00_NOP (559413) writes "The British government today outlined its legislative programme for the year ahead. Gone was a plan for a "snoopers' charter" that would have mandated all internet communications being logged for the benefit of law enforcers and in was a plan to match connections to IP addresses in some (unspecified) way. Surely the only way to do this is via IPv6 and noone is mad enough to enforce a transition to IPv6 by law, are they?!"
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+ - British press fulminate over "big brother" technology

Submitted by 00_NOP
00_NOP (559413) writes "One of Britain's biggest selling newspapers, the Mail on Sunday, today launches into what it calls the "sinister" idea that refrigerators should be fitted with technology — such as that promoted by Dynamic Demand — which would automatically switch devices off for a few seconds if the UK's unified National Grid showed signs of severe overloading (such as those seen commercial breaks in big TV events when tea-loving Brits rush to switch their kettles on). The claim that this is "Big Brother" technology surely does not stand up to examination, but the Mail On Sunday and its sister Daily Mail already have an unenviable reputation as highly effective anti-science publications."

+ - Schrödinger's cat: how difficult is that to stage?->

Submitted by 00_NOP
00_NOP (559413) writes "If you know anything about quantum mechanics you'll almost certainly have heard of "Schrödinger’s cat" but will also regard it as little more than a thought experiment to demonstrate the strage ways in which quantum uncertainty shapes physics and measurement. But at the heart of quantum theory is the claim that all objects, of unlimited size, can demonstrate the "superimposition" the experiment describes (in this case the cat is both alive and prowling about and dead at the same time) and physicists have indeed been able to superimpose ever larger objects. Now two German physicists, Klaus Hornberger and Stefan Nimmrichter of the University of Duisberg-Essen, have proposed a logarthmic index for the scale of successful superimposition experiments. We've advanced by about six or seven orders of magnitude since the first superimposition experiments, but would have to get through another 45 OMs to have an undead cat, it seems. Could happen though?"
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