An anonymous reader writes: Astronomers are announcing today that they have acquired the first direct evidence that gravitational waves rippled through our infant universe during an explosive period of growth called inflation. This is the strongest confirmation yet of cosmic inflation theories, which say the universe expanded by 100 trillion trillion times, in less than the blink of an eye.
Dilettant writes: The baby is born — again. After a good year++ of work the OASIS members approved Version 4 of the OData standards, which now also feature the long requested compact JSON as primary format. OData helps "simplifying data sharing across disparate applications in enterprise, cloud, and mobile devices" through interfacing data sources via a REST like interface. Announcement at: https://www.oasis-open.org/new...
An anonymous reader writes: quoting from http://time.com/24894/gravity-... [Time magazine] as http://www.cfa.harvard.edu/ [Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics] is slash-dotted right now. John Kovac and colleagues at the CFA have been studying 'polarisation' peculiarities in the cosmic microwave background for the last three years and have now released a paper which allocates these polarisations to the gravity waves of the inflation period subsequent to the Big Bang!
mdsolar writes: Alan Guth's cosmological theory of inflation solves a number of problems in cosmology. Now it is getting new observational support:
"On Monday, Dr. Guth’s starship came in. Radio astronomers reported that they had seen the beginning of the Big Bang, and that his hypothesis, known undramatically as inflation, looked right.
Reaching back across 13.8 billion years to the first sliver of cosmic time with telescopes at the South Pole, a team of astronomers led by John M. Kovac of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics detected ripples in the fabric of space-time — so-called gravitational waves — the signature of a universe being wrenched violently apart when it was roughly a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second old. They are the long-sought smoking-gun evidence of inflation, proof, Dr. Kovac and his colleagues say, that Dr. Guth was correct.
Inflation has been the workhorse of cosmology for 35 years, though many, including Dr. Guth, wondered whether it could ever be proved.
If corroborated, Dr. Kovac’s work will stand as a landmark in science comparable to the recent discovery of dark energy pushing the universe apart, or of the Big Bang itself. It would open vast realms of time and space and energy to science and speculation."
astroengine writes: For the first time, scientists have found direct evidence of the expansion of the universe, a previously theoretical event that took place a fraction of a second after the Big Bang explosion nearly 14 billion years ago. The clue is encoded in the primordial cosmic microwave background radiation that continues to spread through space to this day. Scientists found and measured a key polarization, or orientation, of the microwaves caused by gravitational waves, which are miniature ripples in the fabric of space. Gravitational waves, proposed by Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity nearly 100 years ago but never before proven, are believed to have originated in the Big Bang explosion and then been amplified by the universe’s inflation. “Detecting this signal is one of the most important goals in cosmology today,” lead researcher John Kovac, with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, said in a statement.
KDE Community writes: The KDE Community is proud to announce a Tech Preview of KDE Frameworks 5. Frameworks 5 is the result of almost three years of work to plan, modularize, review and port the set of libraries previously known as KDElibs or KDE Platform 4 into a set of Qt Addons with well-defined dependencies and abilities, ready for Qt 5. This gives the Qt ecosystem a powerful set of drop-in libraries providing additional functionality for a wide variety of tasks and platforms, based on over 15 years of KDE experience in building applications. Today, all the Frameworks are available in Tech Preview mode; a final release is planned for the first half of 2014. Some Tech Preview addons (notably KArchive and Threadweaver) are more mature than others at this time.
jfruh writes: The shift from PCs to smartphones and tablets has left Intel reeling, which is why it was such a big deal last year when Samsung used an Intel chip in its Galaxy Tab 3. Well, the next iteration of Samsung's top-end tablet is coming soon, and it appears that Intel's been dumped for a Qualcomm ARM chip. The reasons are straightforward: the Intel chips that can compete with ARM on power and performance don't have Android ports ready. Intel still hasn't given up on smaller-than-PC computing, though, unleashing a line of wearable computers at CES.
Phopojijo writes: So, you can encrypt your password library using a client-side manager or encrypted file container. You could practice your password every day, keep no written record, and do everything else right. You then go in for a serious operation or get in a terrible accident and, when you wake up, suffer severe memory loss. Slashdot readers, what do you consider an acceptable trade-off between proper security and preventing a data-loss catastrophe? I will leave some details and assumptions up to interpretation (budget, whether you have friends or co-workers to rely on, whether your solution will defend against the Government, chance of success, and so forth). For instance, would you split your master password in pieces and pay an attourney to contact you with a piece of it in case of emergency? Would you get a safe deposit box? Some biometric device? Leave the password with your husband, wife, or significant other? What can Slashdot come up with?
DavidGilbert99 writes: Within the next 10-12 years, the chips powering our PCs will have more transistors on them than our brains have neurons — and that's around 100 billion in case you were wondering. However, Intel's Mooly Eden told an audience at CES 2014, than adding more transistors alone won't make computing better, that in order to do that we need to make computing more natural, intuitive and immersive.
An anonymous reader writes: The European Commission has finally (as of last month) opened its public consultation on copyright reform. This is the first time the general public can influence EU copyright policy since fifteen years back, and it is likely at least as much time will pass until next time. In order to help you fill out the (enlish-only, legalese-heavy) questionnaire, some friendly hackers spent some time during the 30c3 to put together a site to help you. Anyone, EU citizen or not, organisation or company, is invited to respond (deadline fifth of February). Pirate MEP Amelia Andersdotter has a more in-depth look at the consultation.
MelanieVanderbilt writes: On Halloween, the thought of walking through a dark room, hands outstretched to find your way, might take on a more sinister feel than usual, putting you on the lookout for shadowy figures. Yet new research indicates the shadows you see may not be hocus pocus, but your brain perceiving and interpreting your own movements in the dark.
With the help of computerized eye trackers, new research finds that at least 50 percent of people can see the movement of their own hand even in the absence of all light.
This research shows that our own movements transmit sensory signals that also can create real visual perceptions in the brain, even in the complete absence of optical input.”“Seeing in total darkness? According to the current understanding of natural vision, that just doesn’t happen,” Duje Tadin, a professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester who led the investigation, said. “This research shows that our own movements transmit sensory signals that also can create real visual perceptions in the brain, even in the complete absence of optical input.”
Through five separate experiments testing 129 individuals, the authors found that this curious human ability to see motion provides clues to how the brain processes sensory information.
“Any time you willfully execute a movement—such as waving your hand in front of your face—your brain generates command signals sent to the muscles causing them to produce the movement. Having issued those motor orders, the brain also expects them to be carried out, and that expectation is signaled to other parts of the brain as a heads-up that something is about to happen,” Randolph Blake, Centennial Professor of Psychology at Vanderbilt University and co-author of the study, said. “We surmise that those heads-up signals find their way into the visual pathways, thus producing an illusory impression of what would ordinarily be seen—a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy.”
Tadin, Blake and colleagues at Vanderbilt and Rochester reported their findings online October 30 in Psychological Science, the flagship journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
We were doing an unrelated study that required the participant to wear a light-tight blindfold, and just for fun I put on the blindfold and waved my hand in front of my face.“This project originated from an entirely accidental discovery Duje and I stumbled upon some years ago. We were doing an unrelated study that required the participant to wear a light-tight blindfold, and just for fun I put on the blindfold and waved my hand in front of my face. I was astonished to see that that hand motion remained faintly visible to me,” Blake said. “Duje then tried the same thing and saw the same thing. Being skeptical, we both moved to a completely dark, light-tight room, put on the blindfold and tried it again. Even though our eyes were receiving no light whatsoever we continued to see hand motion. That stunning but puzzling illusion prompted us to launch the project that culminated in this Psychological Science paper.”
The study seems to confirm anecdotal reports that spelunkers in lightless caves often are able to see their hands. In other words, the “spelunker illusion,” as one blogger dubbed it, is likely not an illusion after all.
For most people, this ability to see self-motion in darkness probably is learned, the authors conclude. “We get such reliable exposure to the sight of our own hand moving that our brains learn to predict the expected moving image even without actual visual input,” Vanderbilt postdoctoral researcher Kevin Dieter, said. Dieter was the first author on the paper.
Dieter devised several ways to probe the intriguing observation. In one scenario, the researchers misled subjects by telling them to expect to see motion under low lighting conditions with blindfolds that appeared to have tiny holes in them. In a second setup, the same participants had similar blindfolds without the “holes” and were led to believe they would see nothing. In both setups, the blindfolds were, in fact, equally effective at blocking out all light. A third experiment consisted of the experimenter waving his hand in front of the blindfolded subject. Ultimately, participants were fitted with a computerized eye tracker in total darkness and asked to follow their hand as it passed in front of their face. eye tracking device
Former study subject and UR graduate Lindsay Bronnenkant wears an eye-tracking device as she reenacts a study on synesthesia to illustrate new research that documents that many people have the ability to vaguely "see" the motion of their own body in complete darkness due to the connection between our brain's motion senses and our visual senses. (J. Adam Fenster / University of Rochester)
In addition to testing typical subjects, the team also recruited people who experience a blending of their senses in daily life. Known as synesthetes, these individuals may, for example, see colors when they hear music or even taste sounds. This study focused on grapheme-color synesthetes, individuals who always see numbers or letters in specific colors.
Across all types of participants, about half detected the motion of their own hand and they did so consistently, despite the expectations created with the faux holes. And very few subjects saw motion when the experimenter waved his hand, underscoring the importance of self-motion in this visual experience. As measured by the eye tracker, subjects who reported seeing motion were also able to smoothly track the motion of their hand in darkness more accurately than those who reported no visual sensation—46 percent versus 20 percent of the time.
Reports of the strength of visual images varied widely among participants, but synesthetes were strikingly better at not just seeing movement, but also experiencing clear visual form. As an extreme example in the eye tracking experiment, one synesthete exhibited near perfect smooth eye movement—95 percent accuracy—as she followed her hand in darkness. In other words, she could track her hand in total darkness as well as if the lights were on.
We know that sensory cross-talk underlies synesthesia. But seeing color with numbers is probably just the tip of the iceberg. Brains are wired for connectivity.”The link with synesthesia suggests that our human ability to see self-motion is likely based on neural connections between the senses, Tadin said. “We know that sensory cross-talk underlies synesthesia. But seeing color with numbers is probably just the tip of the iceberg. Brains are wired for connectivity.”
Blake is an investigator in the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development. Paper co-authors also included David Knill and Bo Hu from the University of Rochester.
The study was funded by the following grants: NIH R01-EY019295 (to D.T.), R01-EY017939 (to D.K.), World Class University program through the Korea Science and Engineering Foundation funded by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (R31-10089 to R.B.), NIH P30-EY001319, P30-EY009126 and T32-EY007125.
An anonymous reader writes: Google today announced Chrome is getting an automatic download blocking feature for malware. Google has already added the new functionality to the latest build of Chrome Canary. All versions of Chrome will soon automatically block downloads and let you know in a message at the bottom of your screen. You will be able to “Dismiss” the message, although it’s not clear if you will be able to stop or revert the block.
rtoz writes: Chemical weapons watchdog OPCWhas declared that Syria has completed the Destruction Activities to Render Inoperable Chemical Weapons Production Facilities and Mixing/Filling Plants. This operation has been completed just one day before the deadline (1 November 2013) set by the OPCW Executive Council.
The Joint OPCW-UN Mission has inspected 21 of the 23 sites declared by Syria, and 39 of the 41 facilities located at those sites. The two remaining sites were not visited due to safety and security concerns. But Syria declared those sites as abandoned and that the chemical weapons programme items they contained were moved to other declared sites, which were inspected.