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Submission + - Russia reveals giant nuclear torpedo in state TV 'leak' (

schwit1 writes: Details of a new Russian submarine-launched nuclear torpedo have been shown on state-controlled TV, a secret the Kremlin said should never have been aired. Some observers, however, saw it as a deliberate leak.

The airing of the video on television channels under tight Kremlin control raised suspicions that it was done intentionally to scare the West at a time when its ties with Russia are at the lowest point since the Cold War.

Submission + - New Study Says Governments Should Ditch Reliance on Biofuels writes: The NYT reports on a new study from a prominent environmental think tank that concludes that turning plant matter into liquid fuel or electricity is so inefficient that the approach is unlikely ever to supply a substantial fraction of global energy demand and that continuing to pursue this strategy is likely to use up vast tracts of fertile land that could be devoted to helping feed the world’s growing population. “I would say that many of the claims for biofuels have been dramatically exaggerated,” says Andrew Steer, president of the World Resources Institute, a global research organization based in Washington that is publishing the report. “There are other, more effective routes to get to a low-carbon world.” The report follows several years of rising concern among scientists about biofuel policies in the United States and Europe, and is the strongest call yet by the World Resources Institute, known for nonpartisan analysis of environmental issues, to urge governments to reconsider those policies.

Timothy D. Searchinger says that recent science has challenged some of the assumptions underpinning many of the pro-biofuel policies that have often failed to consider the opportunity cost of using land to produce plants for biofuel. According to Searchinger if forests or grasses were grown instead of biofuels, that would pull carbon dioxide out of the air, storing it in tree trunks and soils and offsetting emissions more effectively than biofuels would do. What is more, as costs for wind and solar power have plummeted over the past decade, and the new report points out that for a given amount of land, solar panels are at least 50 times more efficient than biofuels at capturing the energy of sunlight in a useful form. “It’s true that our first-generation biofuels have not lived up to their promise,” says Jason Hill said. “We’ve found they do not offer the environmental benefits they were purported to have, and they have a substantial negative impact on the food system.”

Submission + - Microsoft Launches Outlook For Android And iOS 1

An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft today launched Outlook for Android and iOS. The former is available (in preview) for download now on Google Play and the latter will arrive on Apple's App Store later today. The pitch is simple: Outlook will let you manage your work and personal email on your phone and tablet as efficiently as you do on your computer. The app also offers calendar features, attachment integration (with OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, and iCloud), along with customizable swipes and actions so you can tailor it to how you specifically use email.

Submission + - Kansas City Science Store Resurrects AC Gilbert Chemistry Set, the best-ever toy (

McGruber writes: The A. C. Gilbert Company (Wikipedia: was once one of the largest toy companies in the world. It manufacturered Erector Sets (, American Flyer toy trains (, and chemistry sets (

Chemist John Farrell Kuhns ( received an AC Gilbert Chemistry set for Christmas 1959, while he was still in grade school. By the time Kuhns was twelve years old he had a home lab set up in my family's basement. Now, more than 50 years later, he still has a home lab.

As an adult, Mr. Kuhns wanted to share these experiences with his daughter, nephews and nieces, and their friends. But he soon discovered that real chemistry sets were no longer available. He wondered how, without real chemistry sets and opportunities for students to learn and explore, where would our future chemists come from?

In 2004, Kuhns and his wife opened their science store, H.M.S. Beagle ( and last year used Kickstarter to launch a new Heirloom Chemistry set. ( Kuhns uses a CNC router to cut out his wood cases, which are then hand assembled and finished with the shiny brass hardware and exotic wood inlays. Kuhns also synthesizes, purifies and/or formulates and packages all of the chemicals.

Gary Hanington, professor of physical science at Great Basin College, was another child who was lucky enough to own a Gilbert chemistry set. Hanington wrote about his set in this article (

Sadly, not everyone sees the educational value of real chemistry sets. The AC Gilbert chemistry sets are #3 on Cracked's "The 8 Most Wildly Irresponsible Toys" ( and #8 on's "The 25 Worst Must-Have Christmas Toys Ever (

Submission + - Drone Photographers Are Making Hyper-Detailed Maps Where Google Hasn't

Jason Koebler writes: Switzerland-based Drone Adventures, which has in the past undertaken drone photography missions in Haiti and Fukushima, took images to help out humanitarian organization Medair, who were struggling to provide the most efficient aid to affected regions because they lacked what most of us take for granted in the age of Google Maps: a detailed plan of the area.
The aerial images from the drones were able to create broad maps of the area that were detailed enough to show damage. The team took drone maps of the various villages and got them physically printed, as many of the communities aren’t online.

Submission + - Firefox OS 1.3 Arrives With Dual SIM Support, Continuous Autofocus, Flash, More

An anonymous reader writes: Mozilla today released Firefox OS version 1.3 to its partners for implementing in their smartphones. There are many new features for both users and developers, and the first phone to feature them is the ZTE Open C, which is available for sale as of today on eBay. First and foremost, Firefox OS users can expect dual-SIM dual-standby (DSDS) support, which gives you two lines on compatible phones, a popular feature in emerging markets. DSDS lets dual-SIM devices individually manage two different SIMs for calling, texting, or data through the “SIM Manager” interface.

Submission + - The Whole Story on Dark Matter

StartsWithABang writes: If you looked at all the light from all the stars, clusters and galaxies in the Universe, you could figure out how much mass in the Universe had formed stars. And if you looked at how gravitation worked over the Universe's history, you could figure out how much total mass there was. These numbers differ by a factor of 50, and that's the dark matter problem. But why do we think that this dark matter has to be a new type of particle that not only isn't protons, neutrons and electrons, but can't be anything in the Standard Model? Come read the whole story on dark matter and see for yourself.

Submission + - Court: Oracle Entitled To Copyright Protection Over Some Parts of Java (

An anonymous reader writes: Remember the court battle between Google and Oracle? It's the one where Oracle claimed Android violated Oracle's patents and copyright related to Java. Oracle asked for over $6 billion in compensation, and ended up getting nothing. Well, it's still going, and the tide is turning somewhat in Oracle's favor. An appeals court decided that Oracle can claim copyright over some parts of Java. It's a complicated ruling (PDF) — parts of it went Google's way and parts of it went Oracle's way. A jury's earlier finding of infringement has been reinstated, and now it's up to Google to justify its actions under fair use.

Submission + - Court Orders Marvell to Pay Carnegie Mellon $1.5B for Patent Infringement (

Lucas123 writes: A U.S. District Court has ruled that Marvell Technology must pay Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) $1.54B for infringing on two hard drive chip patents. Marvell was also ordered to pay interest at 0.14% annually, and 50 cents for each chip sold that uses the intellectual property. While Marvell did not comment on the case, CMU said it "understands" that Marvell will again appeal the ruling and the school "will look forward to the federal circuit court" upholding the lower court's ruling. The latest decision by a U.S. District Court in Western Pennsylvania ends for now a five-year legal battle between the two. In 2012, a jury found Marvell had violated CMU's patents, and the chip maker then appealed that ruling.

Submission + - Scientists Create Self-Healing Regenerative Plastic (

concertina226 writes: Researchers at the University of Illinois have managed to develop a type of plastic that is able to heal and completely regenerate all by itself, which could be a big benefit in situations where products are difficult to repair or replace, such as a part of an aeroplane or vehicle.

The team of researchers, led by Professor Scott White, have created a brand new system that imitates the way blood clots form in biological circulatory systems, taking a vascular approach whereby non-living, synthetic materials contain networks of capillaries that can jump into action when the material is damaged, even if it happens more than once.

Until now, self-repairing materials have only been able to bond microscopic cracks.

Submission + - WPA2 wireless security cracked

An anonymous reader writes: Achilleas Tsitroulis of Brunel University, UK, Dimitris Lampoudis of the University of Macedonia, Greece and Emmanuel Tsekleves of Lancaster University, UK, have investigated the vulnerabilities in WPA2 and present its weakness. They say that this wireless security system might now be breached with relative ease by a malicious attack on a network. They suggest that it is now a matter of urgency that security experts and programmers work together to remove the vulnerabilities in WPA2 in order to bolster its security or to develop alternative protocols to keep our wireless networks safe from hackers and malware.

Read more at:

Submission + - Is a mini ice age on the way ? (

Taco Cowboy writes: Since September of last year people already ponder what has happened to the Sun.

The Sun is in the middle of a hyperactive phase of its 11-year cycle, and suddenly it got quiet, extraordinary quiet.

With almost completely devoid of sun spots, solar flare activity has come to a halt.

The recent super cold snap that hit North America and the wet weather that hit part of Europe might be linked to the eerily quietness of the Sun.

BBC is reporting that the nearest episode of the Sun's quietness compared to the one which is happening was 100 years ago. This solar lull is baffling scientists, because right now the Sun should be awashed with activity. This giant ball of plasma should be peppered with sunspots, exploding with flares and spewing out huge clouds of charged particles into space in the form of coronal mass ejections.

"It's completely taken me and many other solar scientists by surprise," says Dr Lucie Green, from University College London's Mullard Space Science Laboratory.

Submission + - Microsoft Quietly Fixes Windows XP Resource Hog Problem (

An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft indicated this week that it has fixed a Windows XP resource-hog problem associated with the system's SVCHOST.EXE processes.

Windows XP users affected by this problem typically found that the operating system was using up system resources for 15 minutes to an hour after startup, making it difficult to use the machine during that period. The Microsoft Update team had vowed last month to spend the holiday break tackling the issue, which has plagued some users for years.

The fix involved stopping the system from perpetually checking Internet Explorer updates. Microsoft indicated that the fix was rolled out on Tuesday.

Submission + - Adblock's days are numbered ( 1

An anonymous reader writes: PageFair offers a free JavaScript program that, when inserted into a Web page, monitors ad blocking activity. CEO Sean Blanchfield says he developed the monitoring tool after he noticed a problem on his own multiplayer gaming site. PageFair collects statistics on ad blocking activity, identifies which users are blocking ads and can display an appeal to users to add the publisher's website to their ad-blocking tool's personal whitelist. But Blanchfield acknowledges that the user appeal approach hasn't been very effective.

ClarityRay takes a more active role. Like PageFair, it provides a tool that lets publishers monitor blocking activity to show them that they have a problem — and then sells them a remedy. ClarityRay offers a service that CEO Ido Yablonka says fools ad blockers into allowing ads through. "Ad blockers try to make a distinction between content elements and advertorial elements. We make that distinction impossible," he says.

From ComputerWorld

Submission + - 2013 – a year with minimal extreme weather events in the US (

bricko writes: 2013 – a year with minimal extreme weather events in the US

There have been many forecasts in the news in recent years predicting more and more extreme weather-related events in the US, but for 2013 that prediction has been way off the mark. Whether you’re talking about tornadoes, wildfires, extreme heat or hurricanes, the good news is that weather-related disasters in the US are all way down this year compared to recent years and, in some cases, down to historically low levels.

To begin with, the number of tornadoes in the US this year is on pace to be the lowest total since 2000 and it may turn out to be the lowest total in several decades. The table below lists the number of tornadoes in the US for this year (through 10/17) and also for each year going back to 2000.

Source: NOAA,

Year # of Tornadoes
2013 771
2012 1119
2011 1894
2010 1543
2009 1305
2008 1685
2007 1102
2006 1117
2005 1262
2004 1820
2003 1374
2002 938
2001 1219
2000 1072

Second, the number of wildfires across the US so far this year is on pace to be the lowest it has been in the past ten years and the acreage involved is at the second lowest level in that same time period (table below).
(Source: National Interagency Fire Center;

2013 Fires: 40,306 Acres: 4,152,390
2012 Fires: 67,774 Acres: 9,326,238
2011 Fires: 74,126 Acres: 8,711,367
2010 Fires: 62,471 Acres: 3,233,461
2009 Fires: 78,792 Acres: 5,921,786
2008 Fires: 80,094 Acres: 5,254,109
2007 Fires: 85,822 Acres: 9,321,326
2006 Fires: 96,358 Acres: 9,871,939
2005 Fires: 66,552 Acres: 8,686,753
2004 Fires: 63,608 Acres: 8,097,880
*2013 data through 10/16

Extreme Heat
In addition to wildfires, extreme heat is also way down across the US this year. In fact, the number of 100 degree days across the country during 2013 is not only down for this year, but it is perhaps going to turn out to be the lowest in about 100 years of records (chart below).

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