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+ - European Space Agency invited to contribute a lander to NASA's Europa Clipper->

Submitted by MarkWhittington
MarkWhittington writes: According to a Friday story in Spaceflight Now, NASA has invited the European Space Agency to participate in its upcoming Europa Clipper project. Europa Clipper, pushed by Rep. John Culberson, the chair of the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees NASA, recently received backing from the Obama administration. Europa Clipper would launch in the early 2020s and would be placed in an orbit around Jupiter that would cause it to fly by Europa, a moon of Jupiter, at least 45 times during its operational life.
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+ - Argonne National Laboratory shuts down Online Ask a Scientist Program->

Submitted by itamblyn
itamblyn writes: In a surprising decision, Argonne National Laboratory has decided to pull the plug on its long-standing NEWTON Ask A Scientist Program. NEWTON is (soon to be was) an on online repository of science questions submitted by school children from around the world. A volunteer group of scientists contributed grade-level appropriate answers to these questions.

For the past 25 years, a wide range of topics ranging have been covered, including the classic “why is the sky blue” to “is there way to break down the components of plastics completely into their original form”. Over the years, over 20,000 questions have been answered.

According to ANL, the website will be shut down permanently on 1 March. There is no plan to make the content available in an alternate form or to hand over stewardship to another organization.

When contacted about transferring the repository to another institution or moving to a donation model, the response from ANL was simply: "Thank you again for all your support for Newton. Unfortunately, moving Newton to another organization is not a possibility at this time. Thank you again for your energy and support.”

Given the current state of scientific literacy in the general public, it is difficult to understand how removing 20,000 scientific FAQ from the internet makes any sense. If you’re interested in starting a letter writing campaign, the Director of ANL, Peter Littlewood, can be reached at pblittlewood@anl.gov. I’m sure he would love to hear from all of us.

Full disclosure: I am one of those scientific volunteers and I’ve already run wget on the site. It’s about 300 mb in total. I do not have the ability to host the material at scale (apparently NEWTON receives millions of hits / month).

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+ - Pope Francis Could Tip Balance Against Fossil Fuels->

Submitted by mdsolar
mdsolar writes: Six years ago, Pope Benedict XVI installed more than 1,000 solar panels on the Vatican’s audience hall, helping him earn him the sobriquet of the “Green Pope”.

Some time in the next few months, his successor Pope Francis may just go one step further. His actions could tip the balance against fossil fuels, as the world’s wealthiest institution takes on the world’s most powerful industry.

The signs have been building. In November, the Pope sent a letter to Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott urging him to address climate change and sustainability at the G20 summit – something Abbott had pointedly refused to do.

At Lima, the Pope sent another letter urging diplomats to agree on a strong deal to tackle climate change as UN negotiations drew to a close. In a message to Peru’s environment minister, Manuel Pulgar Vidal, who led the discussions in Lima, Francis warned that “the time to find global solutions is running out.”

A group of Catholic Bishops went one step further, calling for an end to fossil fuel use, citing climate change’s threat to the global poor as the lodestar of their concern. The document, signed by bishops from all continents, insisted on limiting global temperature rise to 1.5C relative to pre-industrial levels — a considerably more ambitious goal than the 2C ceiling that’s generally agreed on as the threshold beyond which climate change becomes truly dangerous.

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+ - Multi-user photo & video management

Submitted by myspys
myspys writes: We have thousands of images and a few hundred videos and we expect this library to grow very rapidly (due to a newborn). We both add and edit images/videos, sometimes at the same time. We like face detection, geo-tagging and labels/tags. A (Synology) NAS is being installed and will be hosting the images/videos and the future database.

Basically a multi-user iPhoto. Does such a thing exist?

We've looked into Photo Supreme, but it's far from fast and face detection crashes. It's also missing the ability to handle videos.

+ - Why Elon Musk's Batteries Scare the Hell Out of Electric Companies->

Submitted by JoeyRox
JoeyRox writes: Tesla's 'gigafactory' publicized goal is to make electric cars more affordable. However that benefit may soon be eclipsed by the gigafactory's impact on roof-top solar power storage costs, putting the entire business model of utilities in peril. “The mortal threat that ever cheaper on-site renewables pose” comes from systems that include storage, said Amory Lovins, co-founder of the Rocky Mountain Institute, a Snowmass, Colorado-based energy consultant. “That is an unregulated product you can buy at Home Depot that leaves the old business model with no place to hide.”
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+ - Culberson as chair of NASA fundng subcommittee makes Europa mission more likely->

Submitted by MarkWhittington
MarkWhittington writes: As many have expected, Rep. John Culberson, R-Texas has been elevated to chair the House Appropriations Subcommittee for Commerce, Justice, and Science.. The subcommittee has charge of NASA funding, something of keen interest for the congressman whose Houston district is close to the Johnson Spaceflight Center. Moreover, Culberson’s enthusiasm for space exploration goes far and beyond what would be expected from a Texas representative.

Culberson is a champion of a mission to Europa, a moon of Jupiter. Europa is an ice-covered moon that is thought to conceal an ocean of water, warmed by tidal forces, which might contain life. Using the heavy-lift Space Launch System NASA could launch a large-scale probe to study Europa and ascertain whether it harbors alien life or not. Culberson’s elevation makes such a mission far more likely to occur.

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+ - Middle-School Dropout Codes Clever Chat Program That Foils NSA Spying->

Submitted by wabrandsma
wabrandsma writes: from Wired:

The National Security Agency has some of the brightest minds working on its sophisticated surveillance programs, including its metadata collection efforts. But a new chat program designed by a middle-school dropout in his spare time may turn out to be one of the best solutions to thwart those efforts.

John Brooks, who is just 22 and a self-taught coder who dropped out of school at 13, was always concerned about privacy and civil liberties. Four years ago he began work on a program for encrypted instant messaging that uses Tor hidden services for the protected transmission of communications. The program, which he dubbed Ricochet, began as a hobby. But by the time he finished, he had a full-fledged desktop client that was easy to use, offered anonymity and encryption, and even resolved the issue of metadata—the “to” and “from” headers and IP addresses spy agencies use to identify and track communications—long before the public was aware that the NSA was routinely collecting metadata in bulk for its spy programs. The only problem Brooks had with the program was that few people were interested in using it. Although he’d made Ricochet’s code open source, Brooks never had it formally audited for security and did nothing to promote it, so few people even knew about it.

Then the Snowden leaks happened and metadata made headlines. Brooks realized he already had a solution that resolved a problem everyone else was suddenly scrambling to fix. Though ordinary encrypted email and instant messaging protect the contents of communications, metadata allows authorities to map relationships between communicants and subpoena service providers for subscriber information that can help unmask whistleblowers, journalists’s sources and others.

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+ - SpaceShipTwo flies again->

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 writes: The competition heats up: For the first time in six months SpaceShipTwo completed a test flight today.

The article above is from NBC, which also has a deal with Virgin Galactic to televise the first commercial flight. It is thus in their interest to promote the spacecraft and company. The following two sentences from the article however clearly confirm every rumor we have heard about the ship in the past year, that they needed to replace or completely refit the engine and that the resulting thrust might not be enough to get the ship to 100 kilometers or 62 miles:

In January, SpaceShipTwo blasted off for a powered test and sailed through a follow-up glide flight, but then it went into the shop for rocket refitting. It’s expected to go through a series of glide flights and powered flights that eventually rise beyond the boundary of outer space (50 miles or 100 kilometers in altitude, depending on who’s counting).

Hopefully this test flight indicates that they have installed the new engine and are now beginning flight tests with equipment that will actually get the ship into space.
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+ - Quadriplegic Man Uses Thoughts To Move His Hand->

Submitted by Diggester
Diggester writes: We have been hearing all about prosthetic organs for quite a while but what if we told you it’s possible to move your hands and fingers with the help of your thoughts? That’s exactly what Ohio State University and Battelle researchers have been able to achieve with their brain implant. Thanks to them, a quadriplegic man is now able to move his hands and fingers with his thoughts. Meet Ian Burkhart who is paralyzed and was a participant in the clinical trial Neurobridge conducted by the Ohio State University.
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Comment: What about Norway and Sweden? (Score 1) 96

Granted they're not turning the stuff into fuel, but they are generating electricity from their garbage (and they want yours, they're running out). It would be interesting to compare the carbon/pollution/energy profiles of the two approaches. Wonder if the Scandinavian way is cleaner?

+ - Mesothermy in Dinosaurs->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: An article published today in Science (http://www.sciencemag.org/content/344/6189/1268) points to the possibility that dinosaurs were mesotherms more akin to modern Tuna. Their internal temperature would have been warmer than their surrounding environment, conferring on them the ability to move more quickly than any ectotherm (“cold blooded” animal), but wouldn’t have been constant or as warm as any endoderm (“warm blooded” animal). Their energy use and thus their necessary food intake would have been greater than an ectotherm, but much less than an endotherm. In order to arrive at this possibility, bone growth rings in fossilized bone were used to establish growth rates and then compared to modern ectotherms and endotherms. Nature has a write up on this: http://www.nature.com/news/din...
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+ - Why cyclists should be able to roll through stop signs & ride through red li->

Submitted by Lasrick
Lasrick writes: Joseph Stromberg at Vox makes a good case for changing traffic rules for bicyclists so that the 'Idaho stop' is legal. The Idaho stop allows cyclists to treat stop signs as yields and red lights as stop signs, and has created a safer ride for both cyclists and pedestrians. Oregon was considering a similar law in 2009, and they made a nice video illustrating the Idaho Stop that is embedded in this article.
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+ - The Strange Death of Comet Ison

Submitted by KentuckyFC
KentuckyFC writes: Last year, astronomers announced that a small ball of ice and rock heading towards the inner Solar System could turn out to be the most eye-catching comet in living memory. They calculated that Comet Ison's orbit would take it behind the Sun but that it would then head towards Earth where it would put on a spectacular display of heavenly fireworks. Sure enough, Ison brightened dramatically as it headed Sunwards. But as astronomers watched on the evening of 28 November, the brightly flaring Ison moved behind the Sun but never emerged. The comet simply disappeared. Now a new analysis of the death of Ison suggests that the comet was doomed long before it reached the Sun. Images from several Sun-observing spacecraft that had a unique view of events, indicate that Ison exhausted its supply of water and other ice in the final flare-ups as it approached the Sun. The new study shows that all that was left in its last hours were a few hundred thousands pebbles glowing brightly as they vapourised in the Sun's heat. In fact, Comet Ison died in full view of the watching hordes of astronomers on Earth who did not realise what they were watching at the time.

+ - Video of GCHQ destroying laptop ..->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: On Saturday 20 July 2013, in the basement of the Guardian's office in Kings Cross, London, watched by two GCHQ technicians, Guardian editors destroyed hard drives and memory cards on which encrypted files leaked by Edward Snowden had been stored. This is the first time footage of the event has been released
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+ - Safeway Suspends Worker for SciFi Parody of His Firing

Submitted by theodp
theodp writes: After making light of a bad situation — Safeway's closing of its Chicagoland Dominick's grocery store chain and termination of 6,000 workers — with a satirical SciFi YouTube clip, Dominick's employee Steve Yamamoto found himself suspended just one day before the grocery chain closed up shop for good. "My store manager got a phone call that she had to suspend me," Yamamoto told NBC Chicago. "I was like, 'Are you serious?' It's crazy as it is. I'm just dumbfounded." Perhaps Safeway was concerned that viewers of Yamamoto's video might think that aliens, robots, and monsters did Dominick's in, although the Chicago Tribune suggests financial machinations as a more likely culprit: "By pulling the plug on Chicago [Dominick's], Safeway could not only satisfy [hedge fund] Jana, but also generate a $400 million to $450 million tax benefit."

We don't know one millionth of one percent about anything.

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