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Submission + - Another Neurodegenerative Disease Linked To A Prion->

MTorrice writes: A new study concludes that a brain protein causes the rare, Parkinson’s-like disease called multiple systems atrophy (MSA) by acting like a prion, the misbehaving type of protein infamously linked to mad cow disease. The researchers say the results are the most definitive demonstration to date that proteins involved in many neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, exhibit prionlike behavior: They can misfold into shapes that then coax others to do the same, leading to protein aggregation that forms neurotoxic clumps. If these other diseases are caused by prionlike proteins, then scientists could develop treatments that slow or stop disease progression by designing molecules that block prion propagation.
Link to Original Source

Submission + - Survey: More Women Are Going Into Programming->

itwbennett writes: Much has been made on Slashdot and elsewhere of the 'the dearth of women in computing.' Indeed, according to U.S. Bureau and Labor Statistics estimates, in 2014 four out of five programmers and software developers in the U.S. were men. But according to a survey conducted this spring by the Application Developers Alliance and IDC, that may be changing. The survey of 855 developers worldwide found that women make up 42% of developers with less than 1 year of experience and 30% of those with between 1 and 5 years of experience. Of course, getting women into programming is one thing; keeping them is the next big challenge.
Link to Original Source

Submission + - All Hillary Clinton's Private Emails For $500K->

TheViffer writes: Just as email-gate looked to be winding down, RadarOnline.com has exclusively learned a person claiming to be a computer specialist has come forward with the stunning news that 32,000 emails from Hillary Clinton‘s private email account are up for sale. The price tag — a whopping $500,000!

Promising to give the trove of the former Secretary of State’s emails to the highest bidder, the specialist is showing subject lines as proof of what appear to be legitimate messages.

Link to Original Source

Submission + - Slowing Wind Energy Production Suffers From Lack of Wind

HughPickens.com writes: Gregory Meyer reports at CNBC that electricity generated by US wind farms fell 6 per cent in the first half of the year even as the nation expanded wind generation capacity by 9 per cent. The reason was some of the softest air currents in 40 years, cutting power sales from wind farms to utilities and the situation is likely to intensify into the first quarter of 2016 as the El Niño weather phenomenon holds back wind speeds around much of the US. "We never anticipated a drop-off in the wind resource as we have witnessed over the past six months," says David Crane. Wind generated 4.4 per cent of US electricity last year, up from 0.4 per cent a decade earlier. But this year US wind plants' "capacity factor" has averaged just a third of their total generating capacity, down from 38 per cent in 2014. EIA noted that slightly slower wind speeds can reduce output by a disproportionately large amount. "Capacity factors for wind turbines are largely determined by wind resources," says a report from the Energy Information Administration. "Because the output from a turbine varies nonlinearly with wind speed, small decreases in wind speeds can result in much larger changes in output and, in turn, capacity factors." In January of 2015, wind speeds remained 20 to 45 percent below normal on areas of the west coast, but it was especially bad in California, Oregon, and Washington, where those levels dropped to 50 percent below normal during the month of January.

Some also speculate the the increase in the number of wind farms may be having an effect. Since wind turbines extract kinetic energy from the air around them, and since less energy makes for weaker winds, turbines make it less windy. Technically speaking, the climate zone right behind a turbine (or behind all the turbines on a wind farm) experiences what's called a "wind speed vacuum," or a "momentum deficit." In other words, the air slows down and upwind turbines in a densely packed farm may weaken the breeze before it reaches the downwind ones. A study in 2013 also found that large wind farms could be expected to influence local and regional atmospheric circulations. "If wind farms were constructed on a truly massive scale," adds Daniel Engbar, "their cumulative momentum deficit could conceivably alter wind speeds on a global scale."

Submission + - NASA to 'lasso' a comet to hitchhike across the solar system

evilviper writes: Traveling around space can be hard and require a lot of fuel, which is part of the reason NASA has a spacecraft concept that would hitch a free ride on one of the many comets and asteroids speeding around our solar system at 22,000 miles per hour (on the slow end). Comet Hitchhiker, developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, would feature a reusable tether system to replace the need for propellant for entering orbit and landing on objects.

The spacecraft would first cast an extendable tether toward the object and attach itself using a harpoon attached to the tether. Next, it would reel out the tether while applying a brake that harvests energy while the spacecraft accelerates. This allows Comet Hitchhiker to accelerate and slowly match the speed of its ride, and keeping that slight tension on the line harvests energy that is stored on-board for later use, reeling itself down to the surface of the comet or asteroid. A comet hitchhiker spacecraft can obtain up to ~10 km/s of delta-V by using a carbon nanotube (CNT) tether, reaching the current orbital distance of Pluto (32.6 AU) in just 5.6 years.

Unfortunately rocket scientists apparently don't read the opinions of Anonymous Cowards on the internet, or else they'd know from discussions last year that it simply won't work. It seems that the idea defies "basic orbital mechanics" and "makes no sense".

Submission + - Can living in total darkness for 5 days "reset" the visual system?->

the_newsbeagle writes: That's what one neuroscientist is aiming to find out. He wants to put patients with a type of amblyopia, the vision problem commonly called lazy eye, into the dark for 5 days. His hypothesis: When they emerge, their brains' visual cortices will be temporarily "plastic" and changeable, and may begin to process the visual signals from their bad eyes correctly. Before he could do this study, though, he had to do a test run to figure out logistics. So he himself lived in a pitch black room for 5 days. One finding: Eating ravioli in the dark is hard.
Link to Original Source

Submission + - Citi report: slowing global warming would save tens of trillions of dollars->

Layzej writes: Citi Global Perspectives & Solutions (GPS), a division within Citibank (America’s third-largest bank), recently published a report looking at the economic costs and benefits of a low-carbon future. The report considered two scenarios: “Inaction,” which involves continuing on a business-as-usual path, and Action scenario which involves transitioning to a low-carbon energy mix.

One of the most interesting findings in the report is that the investment costs for the two scenarios are almost identical. In fact, because of savings due to reduced fuel costs and increased energy efficiency, the Action scenario is actually a bit cheaper than the Inaction scenario. Coupled with the fact the total spend is similar under both action and inaction, yet the potential liabilities of inaction are enormous, it is hard to argue against a path of action.

But there will be winners and losers: The biggest loser stands to be the coal industry, where we estimate cumulative spend under our Action scenario could be $11.6 trillion less than in our Inaction scenario over the next quarter century, with renewables, wind and nuclear (as well as energy efficiency) the main beneficiaries.

Link to Original Source

Submission + - How close are we, really, to nuclear fusion?

StartsWithABang writes: The ultimate dream when it comes to clean, green, safe, abundant energy is nuclear fusion. The same process that powers the core of the Sun could also power everything on Earth millions of times over, if only we could figure out how to reach that breakeven point. Right now, we have three different candidates for doing so: inertial confinement, magnetic confinement, and magnetized target fusion. Recent advances have all three looking promising in various ways, making one wonder why we don't spend more resources towards achieving the holy grail of energy.

Submission + - Ashley Madison CEO Steps Down // Reporter Finds Clues To Hacker's Identity

Dave Knott writes: Following the recent hacks on the infidelity website Ashley Madison, Noel Biderman has stepped down as CEO of both AshleyMadison.com and its parent company. Avid Life Media Inc., the company that owns the site and many others, announced Biderman's move in a short press release on Friday: "Noel Biderman, in mutual agreement with the company, is stepping down as chief executive officer of Avid Life Media Inc. (ALM) and is no longer with the company. Until the appointment of a new CEO, the company will be led by the existing senior management team." Before the data hack, the company was planning an IPO in London that would have taken in as much as $200 million US from investors. According to regulatory filings, the company had $115 million in revenue last year, more than four times the amount it obtained in 2009.

Meanwhile, in related news, Brian Krebs (the reporter who first uncovered the hack) says that he has uncovered clues to the possible identity of the hacker. Krebs says that he noticed that the Twitter account operated by a known hacker recently posted a link to Ashley Madison's stolen proprietary source code before it was made public. Intrigued by the poster's apparent access, he examined the account's posting history and noticed a predilection for the music of Australian hard rock band AC/DC. This jibes with the behaviour of the hacker(s), who had displayed threatening messages on the computers of Ashley Madison employees, accompanied by AC/DC song Thunderstruck. In a series of tweets, the owner of the account, one Thadeus Zu, appears to deny that he was behind the hack, and indeed makes several suggestions that the account itself isn't even run by one person, but is instead an amalgam of like-minded digital vigilantes.

Submission + - Federal Court Overturns Ruling that NSA Metadata Collection was Illegal->

captnjohnny1618 writes: *Sigh* NPR is reporting that an appeals court has overturned the decision that the NSA's bulk data collection was illegal.


A three judge panel for a U.S. appeals court has thrown out a lower-court decision that sought to stop the NSA from continuing to collect metadata on phone calls made by Americans.
>br> The lower court ruling had found that the practice was unconstitutional.

They go on to clarify that due to the recent passage of new laws governing how metadata is collected, this is less of a significant point than it would have otherwise been:

In some ways, this decision is much less important now that Congress has passed a law that changes the way meta-data is collected by the government. If you remember, after a fierce battle, both houses of Congress voted in favor of a law that lets phone companies keep that database, but still allows the government to query it for specific data.

Still seems like a fairly significant decision to me: in one case a government agency was willfully and directly violating the rights of the Americans (and international citizens as well) and now it's just going to get shrugged off?

One step forward and two back...

Link to Original Source

Submission + - How NASA Defended Its Assembly Facility From Hurricane Katrina->

An anonymous reader writes: Tomorrow marks the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's arrival in New Orleans. Though that time was filled with tragedy, there were survival stories, and a new article tells for the first time how NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility weathered the storm. Michoud was their key fuel tank production location, and if it had been lost, it would have derailed the space program. A 17-foot levee and a building with four water pumps capable of moving 62,000 gallons per minute stood between the storm and catastrophe for NASA's launch capabilities. "Water was merely the primary concern of the first 24 hours; Hurricane Katrina left its mark on the facilities even if Michoud was the rare speck of land to escape flooding. Roofs were lost to strong winds, one building even blew out entirely. External Tank 122 took some damage." Members of the "ride out" team spent much of the next month at Michoud, working long days to inspect and repair issues caused by the water. They maintained the facility well enough that it became a base for members of the military doing search and rescue operations. Amazingly, they did it all without any injuries to the team, and NASA didn't miss a single tank shipment.
Link to Original Source

Submission + - Facebook's new milestone: one billion users on Monday->

jan_jes writes: Facebook is used by one billion people in a single day (on Monday). In October 2012, Facebook said it had one billion monthly users. Within 4 years, a big milestone touched by Facebook. “On Monday, 1 in 7 people on Earth used Facebook to connect with their friends and family." Facebook is testing a breaking news app as Twitter. And recently they have launched their solar powered drone, new laser, and many new tools.
Link to Original Source

Submission + - Could Alien Life Spread 'Like a Virus' to the Stars?->

astroengine writes: As astronomical techniques become more advanced, a team of astrophysicists think they will be able to not only detect the signatures of alien life in exoplanetary atmospheres, but also track its relentless spread throughout the galaxy. The research, headed by Henry Lin of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), assumes that this feat may be possible in a generation or so and that the hypothesis of panspermia may act as the delivery system for alien biology to hop from one star system to another.
Link to Original Source

Submission + - Learn FPGAs with a $25 board and Open Source Tools->

An anonymous reader writes: Hackaday has a 3 part tutorial with videos of using open source tools with a cheap ($25) FPGA board. The board isn't very powerful, but this could be the "gateway drug" to FPGAs for people who don't want to spend hundreds of dollars and install 100s of megabytes of software and license keys just to get their feet wet. The videos are particularly good--like watching them over their shoulder. As far as I know, this is the only totally open source FPGA toolchain out there.
Link to Original Source

Submission + - Annuo App Tracks Sexual Consent

PvtVoid writes: In what has to be one of the creepiest developments ever, Annuo is an app for iPhone, Windows Phone, and Android which allows partners to register sexual consent. From the app's description on Google Play:

1) Register with Annuo or sign-in with Facebook.
2) You input the name of your prospective partner
3) You and your partner may record consent with your voices or sign off on consent
4) You may get a reward offer for getting consent
5) A history of your encounters, partners, and contracts are stored on our database, you can see them on your phone.

Never mind that this probably has no legal bearing, since consent can be withdrawn at any time, but, really, what could possibly be the downside of signing up for an app that keeps track of every time you have sex, and with whom?

Somebody ought to cross ball point pens with coat hangers so that the pens will multiply instead of disappear.

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