radioweather writes "Scientists using NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope have detected beams of antimatter from thunderstorms in the form of positrons hurled into space. Scientists think the antimatter particles were formed in a terrestrial gamma-ray flash (TGF), a brief burst produced inside thunderstorms and shown to be associated with lightning. "These signals are the first direct evidence that thunderstorms make antimatter particle beams," said Michael Briggs, a member of Fermi's Gamma-ray Burst Monitor (GBM) team. He presented the findings at a news briefing at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Seattle. As the late, great, Johnny Carson of the Tonight Show used to say, “That is some weird, wild, stuff“."
Adair writes "A father and son team from Brooklyn successfully launched a homemade spacecraft nearly 19 miles (around 100,000 feet) above the Earth's surface. The craft was a 19-inch helium-filled weather balloon attached to a Styrofoam capsule that housed an HD video camera and an iPhone. The camera recorded video of its ascent into the stratosphere, its apogee where the balloon reached its breaking point, and its descent back to earth. They rigged a parachute to the capsule to aid in its return to Earth, and the iPhone broadcast its GPS coordinates so they could track it down. The craft landed a mere 30 miles from its launch point in Newburgh, NY, due to a quick ascent and two differing wind patterns. The pair spent eight months researching and test-flying the craft before launching it in August. Columbia University Professor of Astronomy Marcel Aguera said, 'They were very good but also very lucky.'"
Hugh Pickens writes "CIOL reports that Wikipedia has revealed the secret of Agatha Christie's famous murder mystery 'The Mousetrap' by identifying the killer in the world's longest running play, now at over 24,000 performances ever since its maiden performance in 1952, despite protests from the author's family and petitions from fans who think the revelation is a spoiler. Angry at the revelation, Matthew Prichard, Christie's grandson, who describes the decision of Wikipedia as 'unfortunate,' says he will raise the matter with the play's producer, Sir Stephen Waley-Cohen. 'My grandmother always got upset if the plots of her books or plays were revealed in reviews — and I don't think this is any different. It's a pity if a publication, if I can call it that, potentially spoils enjoyment for people who go to see the play.' Unrepentant, Wikipedia justifies the decision to reveal the ending of the play. 'Our purpose is to collect and report notable knowledge. It's exceedingly easy to avoid knowing the identity of the murderer: just don't read it.'"
fortapocalypse writes "Yohanes Nugroho just released WiiApple, an Apple IIe Emulator for Wii. While the sound doesn't work, some games are playable (he shows a screenshot of Epyx Winter Games as well the execution of a program he wrote in BASIC). He's also released the source code. Using WiiApple requires the Homebrew Channel, which we have discussed in the past."
raque writes "Appleinsider is reporting that the new MacBooks/MacBookPros have built-in copy protection. Quote: 'Apple's new MacBook lines include a form of digital copy protection that will prevent protected media, such as DRM-infused iTunes movies, from playing back on devices that aren't compliant with the new priority protection measures.' Ars Technica is also reporting on the issue. Is this the deal they had to make to get NBC back? Is this a deal breaker for Apple or will fans just ignore it to get their hands on the pretty new machines? Is this a new opportunity for Linux? And what happened to Jobs not liking DRM?"
mblase writes "Wolfram Research has released the seventh version of Mathematica, and it does a lot more than symbolic algebra. New features range from things as simple as cut-and-paste integration with Microsoft Word's Equation Editor to instant 3D models of mathematical objects to the most expensive clone of Photoshop ever. Full suites of genome, chemical, weather, astronomical, financial, and geodesic data (or support for same) is designed to make Mathematica as invaluable for scientific research as it is for mathematics."
zootropole alerts us to a press release issued today by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, announcing the production of 'billions of particles of anti-matter.' "Take a gold sample the size of the head of a push pin, shoot a laser through it, and suddenly more than 100 billion particles of anti-matter appear. The anti-matter, also known as positrons, shoots out of the target in a cone-shaped plasma 'jet.' This new ability to create a large number of positrons in a small laboratory opens the door to several fresh avenues of anti-matter research, including an understanding of the physics underlying various astrophysical phenomena such as black holes and gamma ray bursts." The press release doesn't characterize the laser used in this experiment, but it may have been this one.
Hugh Pickens writes "Discover magazine has an interesting article on the multiverse theory — a synthesis of string theory and the anthropic principle that explains why our universe seems perfectly tailored for life without invoking an intelligent creator. Our universe may be but one of perhaps infinitely many universes in an inconceivably vast multiverse. While most of those universes are barren, some, like ours, have conditions suitable for life. The idea that the universe was made just for us — known as the anthropic principle — debuted in 1973 when Brandon Carter proposed that a purely random assortment of laws would have left the universe dead and dark, and that life limits the values that physical constants can have. The anthropic principle languished on the fringes of science for years, but in 2000, new theoretical work threatened to unravel string theory when researchers calculated that the basic equations of string theory have an astronomical number of different possible solutions, perhaps as many as 101,000, with each solution representing a unique way to describe the universe. The latest iteration of string theory provides a natural explanation for the anthropic principle. If there are vast numbers of other universes, all with different properties, at least one of them ought to have the right combination of conditions to bring forth stars, planets, and living things." So far xkcd is simulating just one single universe.
The much-anticipated second expansion to World of Warcraft, entitled Wrath of the Lich King, launched on Thursday, introducing a new continent, raising the level cap to 80, and bringing a wealth of new items, spells, dungeons, and monsters to the popular MMO. Crowds gathered and lines formed outside stores around the world leading up to the release. Massively has put together a series of articles for players wishing to familiarize themselves with the expansion, and CVG has a piece discussing the basics as well. It didn't take long for the first person to reach level 80; a French player called "Nymh" reached the level cap on his Warlock only 27 hours after the expansion went live. Not to be outdone, a guild named "TwentyFifthNovember" managed to get at least 25 raiders to 80 and then cleared all of the current expansion raid content less than three days after the launch. Fortunately for them, the next three content patches are each expected to contain new, more difficult raids.
Activision's Noah Heller sat down with Gamasutra to discuss the refinements made in Call of Duty: World at War to keep the popular FPS franchise moving forward. He points to cosmetic things, like realistic burning and the ability to set just about everything in the environment on fire, as well as bigger gameplay improvements, such as making the AI more difficult to beat without having it "cheat." "... the main thing we tried to do is honestly make the placement just more brutal. You've always got an advantage on the enemy; you've been through the level before, you know where they're going to be, but in Veteran mode you're going to find that they're not going to cheat. You're really going to have to be going for headshots using the most effective weaponry. You're going to have to use that bolt-action rifle and aim for the head if you want to take an enemy out at a distance. It's a different sort of gameplay. We heard those concerns and we tried to address them."
p1234 writes with this excerpt from the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics: "Simulations by the Virgo team show how the Milky Way's halo grew through a series of violent collisions and mergers from millions of much smaller clumps that emerged from the Big Bang. ... If Fermi does detect the predicted emission from the Milky Way's smooth inner halo, then it may, if we are lucky, also see gamma-rays from small (and otherwise invisible) clumps of dark matter which happen to lie particularly close to the Sun. ... The largest simulation took 3.5 million processor hours to complete. Volker Springel was responsible for shepherding the calculation through the machine and said: 'At times I thought it would never finish.' Max Planck Director, Professor Simon White, remarked that 'These calculations finally allow us to see what the dark matter distribution should look like near the Sun where we might stand a chance of detecting it.'" We discussed a related simulation a few months ago.
MaxwellEdison writes "Researchers, oddly enough from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, have found a way to make diamond films using tequila. They were originally testing methods of creating the films with organic solutions like acetone when it was noticed the ideal ratios of water and ethanol turned out to be about 80 proof, or 40% alcohol. '"To dissipate any doubts, one morning on the way to the lab I bought a pocket-size bottle of cheap white tequila and we did some tests," Apátiga said. "We were in doubt over whether the great amount of chemicals present in tequila, other than water and ethanol, would contaminate or obstruct the process, it turned out to be not so. The results were amazing, same as with the ethanol and water compound, we obtained almost spherical shaped diamonds of nanometric size. There is no doubt; tequila has the exact proportion of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms necessary to form diamonds."'"
rugatero writes "The BBC reports that, as of last Saturday, Microsoft is no longer issuing licenses for the 18-year-old Windows 3.x. Many here may well be surprised to learn that anyone still has use for the antiquated software, but it seems to have found a home in a number of embedded systems — including cash registers and the in-flight entertainment systems on some long-haul passenger jets (Virgin and Qantas are cited). Considering Linux's credentials as an embedded OS, this news could very well indicate the possibility of more migrations in the pipeline."