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"Ballooning" Spiders Use Electrostatic Forces To Generate Lift 213

KentuckyFC writes "Many types of small spider release threads into the air which then lift and carry them significant distances. Biologists have found them at altitudes of up to 4 km. The conventional thinking is that the threads catch thermal air currents which then carry them away but this does not explain how spiders perform their trick even when there is little or no wind. Now one physicist says the explanation is the atmosphere's natural electric field which has an average downward-pointing magnitude of 120 Volts per metre. He calculates that a strand of silk need only gain a negative charge of around 30 nanoCoulombs to lift a spider. That explains how the spiders take off on windless days, how they reach such great heights and how several strands can lift heavier spiders of up to 100 milligrams."

Fifth Cable Cut To Middle East 676

You may have noticed a number of stories recently about undersea cables getting cut around the world. Apparently the total is now up to 5, but the scariest part of this is that Iran is now offline. You can also read Schneier's comments on this coincidence. Update: 02/06 17:42 GMT by Z : As a commenter notes, though the country of Iran is obviously experiencing some networking difficulties, it is not offline.

Nuclear Tech Race Is On In Middle East 352

CaroKann writes "The TimesOnline is reporting that six Middle Eastern nations have announced interest in developing nuclear technology. The nations involved are Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency. The Middle East Economic Digest states that most of these nations are interested in developing nuclear technology for the purpose of powering desalination plants. However, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, suggests that the sudden interest in nuclear technology is driven by the desire of the six nations to create a 'security hedge' in response to Iran's recent nuclear development program."

North Korea Says It Has Conducted Nuclear Test 1623

ScentCone writes "North Korea says that it has conducted its first nuclear weapons test and 'brought happiness to its people.' Japan and China earlier issued an unusual joint statement saying that such a test would be 'unacceptable.' As of 11:10PM EST, the USGS says that it has not detected any unusual seismic activity on the Korean peninsula in the last 48 hours." From the article: "The North said last week it would conduct a test, sparking regional concern and frantic diplomatic efforts aimed at dissuading Pyongyang from such a move. North Korea has long claimed to have nuclear weapons, but had never before performed a known test to prove its arsenal. The nuclear test was conducted at 10:36 a.m. (0136 GMT) in Hwaderi near Kilju city, Yonhap reported, citing defense officials." Update: 10/09 05:50 GMT by J : The U.S. Geological Survey reports a 4.2 magnitude quake; South Korean news is reporting a 3.58 magnitude event; the White House apparently confirms a nuclear test.

Comcast Lying About Vonage 390

jehnx writes, "Apparently, Comcast is trying some new tricks to get people to sign up for its version of VoIP, 'Comcast Digital Voice,' according to Wang (of WangScript fame). From the blog post: 'Today my wife received a phone call from a Comcast representative who had called to promote their new "Comcast Digital Voice" service... Ordinarily, we don't mind Comcast calling us from time to time with new offers... [but this time] they proceeded to tell LIE after LIE in an attempt to convince us that Vonage was not as good as Comcast Digital Voice. Imagine how many people would be scared into using Comcast Digital Voice because Comcast makes them believe that Vonage is insecure and only works when your PC is turned on.' Is Comcast going a bit far in their techniques to lure in new customers?"

Googling for ATM Master Passwords 356

default DOLLAR writes to mention an eWeek article following up on the ATM reprogramming scam pulled in Virginia Beach last week. A security researcher in New York has used a YouTube video, a few Google searches, and other legal methods to discover the master passwords to thousands of ATMs across the country. From the article: "Dave Goldsmith, founder and president of penetration testing outfit Matasano Security, in New York, did not say how he obtained the operator manual--which contains master passwords and other sensitive security information about the cash-dispensing machines--but an eWEEK investigation shows that a simple Google query will return a 102-page PDF file that provides a road map to the hack."

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