Several sources are reporting that work on The Witcher: Rise of the White Wolf, a console port of the popular PC game, has officially been suspended. CD Projekt, makers of the original game, were working with WideScreen Games on the new version. WideScreen says that CD Projekt missed a significant payment for their role in the development, leading them to stop work on the game. They are emphatic that development won't continue until CD Projekt makes good on the debt, but CD Projekt says, "All payments were done on time according to milestone plan. ... Truth is that payments were later than originally planned but this was solely due to delays in production. The delays were growing in the project due to WSG [continuing] to miss the deadlines." The game's future is uncertain.
A story from a week or so back in Technology Review describes research coming to the surprising conclusion that Jean-Baptiste Lamarck may have been right — that acquired characteristics can be passed on to offspring, at least in rodents. Lamarck's ideas have been controversial for 200 years, and dismissed in mainstream scientific thinking for nearly that long. "In Feig's study, mice genetically engineered to have memory problems were raised in an enriched environment — given toys, exercise, and social interaction — for two weeks during adolescence. The animals' memory improved... The mice were then returned to normal conditions, where they grew up and had offspring. This next generation of mice also had better memory, despite having the genetic defect and never having been exposed to the enriched environment."
KentuckyFC writes "If the universe is teeming with advanced civilizations capable of communicating over interstellar distances, then surely we ought to have seen them by now. That's the gist of a paradoxical line of reasoning put forward by the physicist Enrico Fermi in 1950. The so-called Fermi Paradox has haunted SETI researchers ever since. Not least because if the number of intelligent civilizations capable of communication in our galaxy is greater than 1, then we should eventually hear from them. Now one astrophysicist says this thinking fails to take into account the limit to how far a signal from ET can travel before it becomes too faint to hear. Factor that in and everything changes. Assuming the average communicating civilization has a lifetime of 1,000 years, ten times longer than Earth has been broadcasting, and has a signal horizon of 1,000 light-years, you need a minimum of over 300 communicating civilizations in the Milky Way to ensure that you'll see one of them. Any less than that and the chances are that they'll live out their days entirely ignorant of each other's existence. Paradox solved, right?"
coondoggie writes "Ok, maybe this is getting a little too close to bringing Terminator-like robots to life. For starters, eco-friendly engine builder Cyclone Power this week inked a contract from Robotic Technologies, Inc. (RTI) to develop what it calls a beta biomass engine system that will be the heart of RTI's Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot (EATR). The purpose of EATR is to develop and demonstrate an autonomous robotic platform able to perform long-range, long-endurance missions without the need for manual or conventional re-fueling — in other words it needs to 'eat.' According to researchers, the EATR system gets its energy by foraging, or what the firms describe as 'engaging in biologically-inspired, organism-like, energy-harvesting behavior which is the equivalent of eating. It can find, ingest, and extract energy from biomass in the environment as well as use conventional and alternative fuels (such as gasoline, heavy fuel, kerosene, diesel, propane, coal, cooking oil, and solar) when suitable.'" We can only hope they don't team up with the Multi-Robot Pursuit System project to "search for and detect a non-cooperative human."
KentuckyFC writes "There is absolutely, positively, definitely no chance of the LHC destroying the planet (or this way either) when it eventually switches on some time later this year. And yet a few niggling doubts are persuading some scientists to run through their figures again. One potential method of destruction is that the LHC will create tiny black holes that could swallow everything in their path, including the planet. Various scientists have said this will not happen because the black holes would decay before they could do any damage. But physicists who have re-run the calculations now say that the mini black holes produced by the LHC could last for seconds, possibly minutes. Of course, the real question is whether they decay faster than they can grow. The new calculations suggest that the decay mechanism should win over and that the catastrophic growth of a black hole from the LHC 'does not seem possible' (abstract). But shouldn't we require better assurance than that?"
MBGMorden writes "It looks like in an act that defies common sense, a bill has been introduced in the South Carolina State Senate that seeks to outlaw the use of profanity. According to the bill it would become a felony (punishable by a fine up to $5000 or up to 5 years in prison) to 'publish orally or in writing, exhibit, or otherwise make available material containing words, language, or actions of a profane, vulgar, lewd, lascivious, or indecent nature.' I'm not sure if 'in writing' could be applied to the internet, but in any event this is scary stuff."
An anonymous reader writes "A spate of broken cables has brought disruption for many of the world's Web users in 2008 — and the Med has been at the center of the problems. For political reasons, the Mediterranean Sea is an Internet bottleneck through which the majority of traffic between Europe and Asia is squeezed. That traffic must run the gauntlet of earthquakes and heavy maritime traffic to reach its destination. Better and stronger cables are urgently needed to avoid a re-occurrence of the 2008 outages."
An anonymous reader writes "The world used 197 million new IPv4 addresses in 2008, leaving 926 million addresses still available. The US remains the biggest user of new addresses, but China is catching up quickly. Quoting Ars Technica: 'A possible explanation could be that the big player(s) in some countries are executing a "run on the bank" and trying to get IPv4 addresses while the getting is good, while those in other countries are working on more NAT (Network Address Translation) and other address conservation techniques in anticipation of the depletion of the IPv4 address reserves a few years from now. In both cases, adding some IPv6 to the mix would be helpful. Even though last year the number of IPv6 addresses given out increased by almost a factor eight over 2007, the total amount of IPv6 address space in use is just 0.027 percent.'"
BenFenner writes "Two out of the three Virginia judges involved with Dwight Whorley's case say cartoon images depicting sex acts with children are considered child pornography in the United States. Judge Paul V. Niemeyer noted the PROTECT Act of 2003, clearly states that 'it is not a required element of any offense under this section that the minor depicted actually exists.'"
WorldWarCheese writes "Many's the time I wish I had a little more mobility or comfort with my computer. Laptops are OK, but anyone interested can see right onto my screen; and a laptop doesn't quite have that 'cool' factor that VR goggles / headsets do. The problem is, whenever I've looked at the options, Linux compatibility is not mentioned. Is there a VR headset out there that is compatible with Ubuntu? If not, what could I do to make it compatible, and how feasible would that be?"
Barence writes "In what might be a glimpse of things to come in Windows 7, Microsoft is asking customers whether they would be interested in a new 'Instant-on' version of Windows. 'We would like your feedback on a new concept,' the Microsoft survey states. 'The Instant On experience is different from "Full Windows" because it limits what activities you can do and what applications you can have access to.' Sounds interesting but hardly new: Asus and Dell have produced laptops that provide swift access to apps and data using Linux subsystems."
Great. Now I want to fork Whitespace and create a ZERO WIDTH NO-BREAK SPACE compiler.
ashmodai9 writes "In a rather interesting (read: insane) decision, a district judge in the State of Kentucky has awarded control of 141 online gambling domain names to the governor of the state. Most of these are hosted offshore, and very few are registered under US domain name registrars, let alone registrars in the State of Kentucky (are there any?). You can check out the press release here, and confirm that the Commonwealth of Kentucky does in fact now 'own' these domain names by performing a WHOIS search on any of the domains listed here."