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NASA

The Ultimate Interstellar Valentine Mix Tape 75

Posted by timothy
from the still-single-still-taking-applications dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "NPR reports that toward the end of the summer of 1977, NASA launched two Voyager spacecraft that each included a golden record containing, among other things, the sound of a kiss, a mother's first words to her newborn child, music from all over the world, and greetings in 59 different languages. The records on board were meant to survive for a billion years, in the hope that some day, against enormous odds, they might cross paths with an alien civilization. The record was a special project of Carl Sagan with the help of Ann Druyan, creative director of the project. For Druyan, though, the summer of 1977 and the Voyager project carry a deeply personal meaning because it was during the Voyager project that she and Sagan fell in love. Then Druyan had an idea for the record: They could measure the electrical impulses of a human brain and nervous system, turn it into sound, and put it on the record so that maybe, 1,000 million years from now, some alien civilization might be able to turn that data back into thoughts." (More, below.)
Bug

Woz Cites "Scary" Prius Acceleration Software Problem 749

Posted by Soulskill
from the bad-news-for-half-of-california dept.
theodp writes "Speaking at Discovery Forum 2010, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak went off topic and spoke about a 'very scary' problem with his 2010 Toyota Prius. 'I don't get upset and teed off at things in life, except computers that don't work right,' said Woz, who went on to explain he'd been trying to get through to Toyota and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration for three months, but could not get anyone to explore an alleged software-related acceleration problem. 'I have a new model that didn't get recalled,' Steve said. 'This new model has an accelerator that goes wild but only under certain conditions of cruise control. And I can repeat it over and over and over again — safely.' Toyota said it investigates all complaints. 'We're in the business of investigating complaints, assessing problems and finding remedies,' said Toyota's John Hanson. 'After man-years of exhaustive testing we have not found any evidence of an electronic [software] problem that would have led to unwanted acceleration.'" We recently discussed other problems Toyota has had with electronic acceleration systems.
GNU is Not Unix

Raw Therapee 3 Is Now Free Software 162

Posted by kdawson
from the eye-altering-alters-all dept.
kantier writes "The only (as far as I know) usable and free (as in beer) program for processing RAW photos outside Windows or OS X is now also free as in freedom. From version 3 onwards, the code is licensed under the GPL v3. The main developer's reasons for opening up the program are a lack of time/resources for full dedication, and a lack of interest in some parts of the program (likes to fiddle with image-processing algorithms, not so much the GUI part) — so the F/OSS model seems to be a perfect fit for this project."
Science

The End Of Gravity As a Fundamental Force 650

Posted by kdawson
from the mccavity's-not-there dept.
An anonymous reader writes "At a symposium at the Dutch Spinoza-instituut on 8 December, 2009, string theorist Erik Verlinde introduced a theory that derives Newton's classical mechanics. In his theory, gravity exists because of a difference in concentration of information in the empty space between two masses and its surroundings. He does not consider gravity as fundamental, but as an emergent phenomenon that arises from a deeper microscopic reality. A relativistic extension of his argument leads directly to Einstein's equations." Here are two blog entries discussing Verlinde's proposal in somewhat more accessible terms.
Update: 01/12 04:48 GMT by KD : Dr. Verlinde has put up a blog post explaining in simpler terms the logic of the gravity from entropy paper. He introduces it with: "Because the logic of the paper is being misrepresented in some reports, I add here some clarifications."
The Courts

The LHC, Black Holes, and the Law 467

Posted by kdawson
from the nobody-left-to-collect-damages dept.
KentuckyFC writes "Now that the physicists have had their say over the safety of the Large Hadron Collider, a law professor has produced a comprehensive legal study addressing the legal issue that might arise were a court to deal with a request to halt a multi-billion-dollar particle-physics experiment (abstract). The legal issues make for startling reading. The analysis discusses the problem with expert witnesses, which is that any particle physicists would be afraid for their livelihoods and anybody else afraid for their lives. How can such evidence be relied upon? It examines the well established legal argument that death is not a redressable injury under American tort law, which could imply that the value in any cost-benefit analysis of the future of the Earth after it had been destroyed is zero (there would be nobody to compensate). It asks whether state-of-the-art theoretical physics is really able to say that the LHC is safe given that a scientific theory that seems unassailable in one era may seem naive in the next. But most worrying of all, it points out that the safety analyses so far have all been done by CERN itself. The question left open by the author is what verdict a court might reach."
Earth

Mediterranean Might Have Filled In Months 224

Posted by kdawson
from the white-water-to-die-for dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A new model suggests that the Mediterranean Sea was filled in a gigantic flood some 5.3 million years ago. According to Daniel Garcia-Castellanos' paper in Nature, the sill at the Straight of Gibraltar gave way rather suddenly, with 40 cm of rock eroding and the water level rising by 10 m per day at its peak. They imagine a shallow, fast-moving stream of water (around 100 km/hr) several kilometers wide pouring into the basin with a flow greater than a thousand Amazon rivers — that's about 100,000,000 cubic meters per second." The flood would have dropped worldwide sea levels by 9.5 meters, probably triggering climate changes. In this model the Mediterranean filled in anywhere from a few months to two years at the outside.
Science

The Science Credibility Bubble 1747

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the save-me-jebus dept.
eldavojohn writes "The real fallout of climategate may have nothing to do with the credibility of climate change. Daniel Henninger thinks it's a bigger problem for the scientific community as a whole and he calls out the real problem as seen through the eyes of a lay person in an opinion piece for the WSJ. Henninger muses, 'I don't think most scientists appreciate what has hit them,' and carries on in that vein, saying, 'This has harsh implications for the credibility of science generally. Hard science, alongside medicine, was one of the few things left accorded automatic stature and respect by most untrained lay persons. But the average person reading accounts of the East Anglia emails will conclude that hard science has become just another faction, as politicized and "messy" as, say, gender studies.' While nothing interesting was found by most scientific journals, he explains that the attacks against scientists in these leaked e-mails for proposing opposite views will recall the reader to the persecution of Galileo. In doing so, it will make the lay person unsure of the credibility of all sciences without fully seeing proof of it, but assuming that infighting exists in them all. Is this a serious risk? Will people even begin to doubt the most rigorous sciences like Mathematics and Physics?"
Politics

Scientists Step Down After CRU Hack Fallout 874

Posted by timothy
from the pure-indignation dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In the wake of the recent release of thousands of private files and emails after a server of the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia was hacked, Prof. Phil Jones is stepping down as head of the CRU. Prof. Michael Mann, another prominent climate scientist, is also under inquiry by Penn State University."
Security

+ - Poor security of UK wifi hotspots

Submitted by Tasha26
Tasha26 writes: BBC's Watchdog programme has an interesting investigation of the appalling state of Wifi security at Hotspots such as those found at coffe shops, burger places or even on trains. The video report shows live hacking minus the how-to, obviously, but you can see bits of linux shells (@1m08) and what appears to be Wireshark as tools used. The hack involved taking control email accounts of unsuspecting people to (1) send bogus emails as identity theft (@1m43) and (2) hijack email session so the user wouldn't be able to log out (@3m43). The programme carried out tests on UK's top 3 hotspot providers (BT Openzone, The Cloud and T-Mobile) and all revealed the same flaw. So people, be warned!
The Gimp

+ - GIMP.org down for several days

Submitted by GenSec
GenSec writes: The GIMP project website has been down at least since last Friday. There were only a few reactions around the web and there is no indication whether the site admins even know about it, considering that the website is not updated very frequently.
Google

+ - Gmail users howl over Halloween outage-> 1

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: Gmail has been completely down for a large number of users (including me) for 36 hours straight, though Google refuses to acknowledge any problem. I linked to an early article in the Register about this, which reports that service is down even for many users who paid for the $50 Premier service, and that Google isn't answering its tech support line (which is advertised as being 24/7). Here's a support forum

http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/gmail/thread?tid=0344ccd8b53d5cd3&hl=en&fid=0344ccd8b53d5cd3000477486340a663

where users from all over (incl. Denmark, Israel, South Africa) are reporting the problem and commiserating. No one from Google seems to be listening — indeed, Google's Apps Status Dashboard

http://www.google.com/appsstatus#hl=en

still reports "No Issues" with Gmail.

Scott Aaronson, MIT CSAIL
(temporary email address I created: ghh1729@gmail.com
my blog entry about this: http://scottaaronson.com/blog/?p=428)

Link to Original Source
Education

+ - NSW high school laptops used for games and chat->

Submitted by davidmwilliams
davidmwilliams writes: Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd came to power on top of a raft of election promises, one of which included laptops for high school students. While the deployment was not without controversy thousands upon thousands have now been distributed in NSW. Yet, forum postings reveal students are using them for game playing and online chat right in front of oblivious teachers.
Link to Original Source

+ - Which PDA for the Linux Hacker? 3

Submitted by Lord Duran
Lord Duran writes: Lately I've decided I want to start working with a PDA; having looked at my dad's iPhone, the thing that really bugged me is the lack of power. For instance, I couldn't find a way to erase some 50 emails at once. Several other PDAs were better, but still — for a guy used to working with the GUI but if something quick and dirty needed, always uses the small Python or bash script, they all felt a little cumbersome.
I'd like to stress that I'm not interested in doing more with the PDA than the common user does — appointments, contacts, maybe a few games, a to do list.
So now I ask Slashdot — what PDA — or mobile OS — is best for the programmer type?

"Who alone has reason to *lie himself out* of actuality? He who *suffers* from it." -- Friedrich Nietzsche

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