sciencehabit writes "After a massive, years-long search, researchers have recovered seven interstellar dust particles returned to Earth by the Stardust spacecraft. The whole sample weighs just a few trillionths of a gram, but it's the first time scientists have laid their hands on primordial material unaltered by the violent birth of the solar system. Once the sample panel was back on Earth, the problem quickly became finding any collected particles embedded in the aerogel. Out of desperation, Stardust team members called on 30,714 members of the general public. The 'dusters' of the Stardust@home project volunteered to examine microscopic images taken down through the aerogel. They used the world's best pattern-recognition system — the human eye and brain — to pick out the telltale tracks left by speeding particles."
schwit1 writes "If you think confiscating aluminum foil to prevent a solar powered bomb attack on a plane is a waste of time, don't blame the TSA agent. According to a former employee most of the security people agree with you. Instead, we need to hold accountable the people sending down such ridiculous orders. From the article: 'Ridiculous restrictions and the TSA have become nearly synonymous in the post-9/11 airport, and as new, improbable terrorist plots come to light, we will likely continue to be burdened with new, absurd rules. But our best bet is to take the frustration toward the TSA agent confiscating our over-sized liquids, and re-direct it to the people at TSA headquarters who are being paid the big bucks to make the rules — the ones who make the call as to whether our toothpaste is verboten and whether our shoes will need extra screening.'"
First time accepted submitter Rasberry Jello writes "I consider myself someone who 'gets code,' but I'm not a programmer. I enjoy thinking through algorithms and writing basic scripts, but I get bogged down in more complex code. Maybe I lack patience, but really, why are we still writing text based code? Shouldn't there be a simpler, more robust way to translate an algorithm into something a computer can understand? One that's language agnostic and without all the cryptic jargon? It seems we're still only one layer of abstraction from assembly code. Why have graphical code generators that could seemingly open coding to the masses gone nowhere? At a minimum wouldn't that eliminate time dealing with syntax errors? OK Slashdot, stop my incessant questions and tell me what I'm missing." Of interest on this topic, a thoughtful look at some of the ways that visual programming is often talked about.
sciencehabit writes "A gift of dried whale meat—and some clever genetic sleuthing across almost 16,000 kilometers of equatorial waters—has helped scientists identify a long-forgotten animal as a new species of beaked whale. The 'resurrection' raises new questions about beaked whales, the most elusive and mysterious of cetaceans. Overall, the saga shows 'that there are probably even more species of beaked whales that we don't know about,' says Phil Clapham, a marine mammalogist at the National Marine Mammal Laboratory in Seattle, Washington. 'We don't see them because they're very deep-diving and live far from land.' They also live in a poorly surveyed part of the ocean, Baker says, where very few people dwell on remote atolls."
mask.of.sanity writes "Facebook has paid out its largest bug bounty of $33,500 for a serious remote code execution vulnerability which also returned Facebook's etc/passwd. The researcher could change Facebook's use of Gmail as an OpenID provider to a URL he controlled, and then sent a request carrying malicious XML code. The Facebook response included its etc/passwd which contained essential login information such as system administrator data and user IDs. The company quickly patched the flaw and awarded him for the proof of concept remote code execution which he quietly disclosed to them."
sfcrazy writes "The controversy over Canonical's Contributor License Agreement (CLA) has once again surfaced. While Matthew Garrett raises valid points about the flaws in Canonical's CLAs, Linus Torvalds says 'To be fair, people just like hating on Canonical. The FSF and Apache Foundation CLA's are pretty much equally broken. And they may not be broken because of any relicencing, but because the copyright assignment paperwork ends up basically killing the community. Basically, with a CLA, you don't get the kind of "long tail" that the kernel has of random drive-by patches. And since that's how lots of people try the waters, any CLA at all – changing the license or not – is fundamentally broken.'"
theodp writes "Purportedly intended to defuse tensions over gentrification that have led to blockades and vandalism of Google's ubiquitous shuttles (video), which make use of public San Francisco bus stops (map), Wired reports that Google is now chartering a ferry to take its workers from SF to Silicon Valley. 'We certainly don't want to cause any inconvenience to SF residents, and we're trying alternative ways to get Googlers to work,' Google explained. Inconveniencing whale-seeking visitors to The Aquarium of the Pacific, however, is apparently not considered evil. After learning that Google had co-opted the $4 million, 83-foot, 150-passenger whale-watching catamaran MV/Triumphant to ferry as few as 30-40 Googlers to work, some expressed concerns on Facebook that Google would be The Grinch That Stole Whale Watching Season (not to worry; the boat's slated to make its 'triumphant' return to Long Beach after Google's '30-day trial')."
KentuckyFC writes "General relativity is mathematically challenging and yet widely appreciated by the public. This state of affairs is almost entirely the result of one the most famous analogies in science: that the warping of spacetime to produce gravity is like the deformation of a rubber sheet by a central mass. Now physicists have tested this idea theoretically and experimentally and say it doesn't hold water. It turns out that a marble rolling on deformed rubber sheet does not follow the same trajectory as a planet orbiting a star and that the marble's equations of motion lead to a strangely twisted version of Kepler's third law of planetary motion. And experiments with a real marble rolling on a spandex sheet show that the mass of the sheet itself creates a distortion that further complicates matters. Indeed, the physicists say that a rubber sheet deformed by a central mass can never produce the same motion of planet orbiting a star in spacetime. So the analogy is fundamentally flawed. Shame!"
alphadogg writes "Kill-switch technology that can render a lost or stolen smartphone useless would become mandatory in California under a new bill that will be proposed to the state legislature in January. The bill will be introduced by Senator Mark Leno, a Democrat representing San Francisco and neighboring towns, and George Gascón, the district attorney for San Francisco. Gascón has been spearheading a push by major law-enforcement agencies across the U.S. for more to be done to prevent smartphone theft. The proposed law could reach well beyond the borders of California. Because of the difficulty and added cost of producing handsets solely for sale in California, it could serve to make kill-switch technology a standard feature on phones sold across the U.S."
New submitter ttyler writes "It turns out a MacBook's built-in camera can be activated without turning on the green LED. An earlier report suggested the FBI could activate a device's camera without having the light turn on, and there was a case in the news where a woman had nude pictures taken of her without her knowledge. The new research out of Johns Hopkins University confirms both situations are possible. All it takes are a few tweaks to the camera's firmware."
Velcroman1 writes "Banking giant JPMorgan Chase has filed a patent application for an electronic commerce system that sounds remarkably like Bitcoin — but never mentions the controversial, Internet-only currency. The patent application was filed in early August but made publicly available only at the end of November; it describes a 'method and system for processing Internet payments using the electronic funds transfer network.' The system would allow people to pay bills anonymously over the Internet through an electronic transfer of funds — just like Bitcoin. It would allow for micropayments without processing fees — just like bitcoin. And it could kill off wire transfers through companies like Western Union — just like Bitcoin. There are 18,126 words in the patent application. 'Bitcoin' is not one of them."
First time accepted submitter hurwak-feg writes "I am in the market for a new IT (software development or systems administration) job for the first time and several years and noticed that many postings have very specific requirements (i.e. specific models of hardware, specific software versions). I don't understand this. I like working with people that have experience with technologies that I don't because what they are familiar with might be a better solution for a problem than what I am familiar with. Am I missing something or are employers making it more difficult for themselves and job seekers by rejecting otherwise qualified candidates that don't meet a very specific mold. Is there a good reason for being extremely specific in job requirements that I am just not seeing?"
Mark Gibbs writes "If you've ever tried to navigate using a smartphone while cycling you'll know full well that you took your life in your hands. By the time you've focused on the map and your brain has decoded what you're looking at you've traveled far enough to be sliding on gravel or go careening into the side of a car. What's needed is a way that you can get directions from your smartphone without having to lose your focus and possibly your life and Hammerhead Navigation have one of the most interesting answers I've seen."
Julie188 (991243) writes "Just because Twitter's IPO turned many of its employees into (paper) millionaires, doesn't mean they don't have gripes about working there. Employees are frustrated in a number of ways, mostly because the company grew so fast in its pre-IPO days. They complain of politics, new employees added to teams with no clear role and (if you can believe it), one even complained of "unfair" pay."
Link to Original Source
Link to Original Source