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Space

Swiss Scientists Discover DNA Remains Active After Space Journey and Re-entry

Posted by Soulskill
from the when-you-land-on-a-planet,-you're-landing-on-every-other-planet-it's-been-with dept.
Zothecula writes: It may sound like the first chapter of a Quatermass thriller, but scientists from the University of Zurich have discovered that DNA can survive not only a flight through space, but also re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere and still remain active. The findings are based on suborbital rocket flights and could have considerable impact on questions about the origins of life on Earth and the problems of terrestrial space probes contaminating other planets.
Japan

Volcanic Eruption In Japan Disrupts Flights 7

Posted by Soulskill
from the underground-affecting-the-skies dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A volcano in southern Japan erupted today, sending out chunks of magma and a kilometer-high plume of ash. Flights to and from the nearby city of Kumamoto were canceled, and a Japan Airlines spokesman said more could be disrupted if the eruption continues. "Mount Aso, whose huge caldera dominates the southwestern main island of Kyushu, rumbled into life on Tuesday. Meteorologists warned volcanic stones and ash could fall in a one-kilometer radius of the volcano. The eruption is Aso's first in 19 years and comes two months after Mount Ontake in central Nagano killed more than 60 hikers when it erupted without warning."

+ - Volcanic Eruption In Japan Disrupts Flights->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "A volcano in southern Japan, erupted today, sending out chunks of magma and kilometer-high plumes of ash. Flights to and from the nearby city of Kumamoto were canceled, and a Japan Airlines spokesman said more could be disrupted if the eruption continues. "Mount Aso, whose huge caldera dominates the southwestern main island of Kyushu, rumbled into life on Tuesday. Meteorologists warned volcanic stones and ash could fall in a one-kilometer radius of the volcano. The eruption is Aso's first in 19 years and comes two months after Mount Ontake in central Nagano killed more than 60 hikers when it erupted without warning.""
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+ - Security experts believe the Internet of Things will be used to kill someone->

Submitted by dcblogs
dcblogs (1096431) writes "Imagine a fleet of quad copters or drones equipped with explosives and controlled by terrorists. Or someone who hacks into a connected insulin pump and changes the settings in a lethal way. Or maybe the hacker who accesses a building's furnace and thermostat controls and runs the furnace full bore until a fire is started. Those may all sound like plot material for a James Bond movie, but there are security experts who now believe, as does Jeff Williams, CTO of Contrast Security, that "the Internet of Things will kill someone. Today, there is a new "rush to connect things" and "it is leading to very sloppy engineering from a security perspective," said Williams. Similarly, Rashmi Knowles, chief security architect at RSA, imagines criminals hacking into medical devices, recently blogged about hackers using pacemakers to blackmail users, and asked: "Question is, when is the first murder?""
Link to Original Source

+ - Another community gets split by systemd: Devuan is "forking" Debian->

Submitted by jaromil
jaromil (104349) writes "The so called "Veteran Unix Admin" collective announces that the "fork" of Debian will proceed as a result of the recent systemd debacle. The reasons put forward are not just technical, included is a letter of endorsement by Debian Developer Roger Leigh mentioning that "people rely on Debian for their jobs and businesses, their research and their hobbies. It's not a playground for such radical experimentation."
The fork is called "Devuan", pronounced "DevOne". A website is up on https://devuan.org/ with more information."

Link to Original Source
Math

Mathematicians Study Effects of Gerrymandering On 2012 Election 119

Posted by samzenpus
from the fix-is-in dept.
HughPickens.com writes Gerrymandering is the practice of establishing a political advantage for a particular party by manipulating district boundaries to concentrate all your opponents' votes in a few districts while keeping your party's supporters as a majority in the remaining districts. For example, in North Carolina in 2012 Republicans ended up winning nine out of 13 congressional seats even though more North Carolinians voted for Democrats than Republicans statewide. Now Jessica Jones reports that researchers at Duke are studying the mathematical explanation for the discrepancy. Mathematicians Jonathan Mattingly and Christy Vaughn created a series of district maps using the same vote totals from 2012, but with different borders. Their work was governed by two principles of redistricting: a federal rule requires each district have roughly the same population and a state rule requires congressional districts to be compact. Using those principles as a guide, they created a mathematical algorithm to randomly redraw the boundaries of the state's 13 congressional districts. "We just used the actual vote counts from 2012 and just retabulated them under the different districtings," says Vaughn. "If someone voted for a particular candidate in the 2012 election and one of our redrawn maps assigned where they live to a new congressional district, we assumed that they would still vote for the same political party."

The results were startling. After re-running the election 100 times with a randomly drawn nonpartisan map each time, the average simulated election result was 7 or 8 U.S. House seats for the Democrats and 5 or 6 for Republicans. The maximum number of Republican seats that emerged from any of the simulations was eight. The actual outcome of the election — four Democratic representatives and nine Republicans – did not occur in any of the simulations. "If we really want our elections to reflect the will of the people, then I think we have to put in safeguards to protect our democracy so redistrictings don't end up so biased that they essentially fix the elections before they get started," says Mattingly. But North Carolina State Senator Bob Rucho is unimpressed. "I'm saying these maps aren't gerrymandered," says Rucho. "It was a matter of what the candidates actually was able to tell the voters and if the voters agreed with them. Why would you call that uncompetitive?"
Technology

Ask Slashdot: Best Drone For $100-$150? 92

Posted by samzenpus
from the eye-in-the-sky dept.
andyring writes With Christmas fast approaching, and me being notoriously hard to buy for, I thought a camera drone would be great to suggest for Christmas. But the options are dizzying, and it's nearly impossible to find something and know it'll be decent. What are Slashdotters suggestions/recommendations/experiences with a basic camera drone in the $100-150 range? Looks like all of them do video but I'm more interested in high-res stills although that may be a moot point.
United Kingdom

Edsac Goes Live, At UK's National Museum of Computing 37

Posted by timothy
from the sometimes-things-get-lost-in-the-mail dept.
Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes "Britain's National Museum of Computing has flipped the switch on the venerable Edsac computer. The arduous task of reconstructing the 1949 behemoth, fraught with little in terms of the original hardware or documentation, was brought to fruition on Wednesday. As project lead Andrew Herbert is quoted as saying, "We face the same challenges as those remarkable pioneers who succeeded in building a machine that transformed computing." A remarkably shaky video of the event, replete with excellent views of the floor at the videographer's feet, can be found here."
Wikipedia

Wikipedia's "Complicated" Relationship With Net Neutrality 109

Posted by samzenpus
from the playing-favorites dept.
HughPickens.com writes Brian Fung writes in the Washington Post that Wikipedia has been a little hesitant to weigh in on net neutrality, the idea that all Web traffic should be treated equally by Internet service providers such as Comcast or Time Warner Cable. That's because the folks behind Wikipedia actually see a non-neutral Internet as one way to spread information cheaply to users in developing countries. With Wikipedia Zero, users in places like Pakistan and Malaysia can browse the site without it counting against the data caps on their cellphones or tablets. This preferential treatment for Wikipedia's site helps those who can't afford to pay for pricey data — but it sets the precedent for deals that cut against the net neutrality principle. "We believe in net neutrality in America," says Gayle Karen Young, adding that Wikipedia Zero requires a different perspective elsewhere. "Partnering with telecom companies in the near term, it blurs the net neutrality line in those areas. It fulfills our overall mission, though, which is providing free knowledge."

Facebook and Google also operate programs internationally that are exempted from users' data caps — a tactic known somewhat cryptically as "zero rating". Facebook in particular has made "Facebook Zero" not just a sales pitch in developing markets but also part of an Internet.org initiative to expand access "to the two thirds of the world's population that doesn't have it." But a surprising decision in Chile shows what happens when policies of neutrality are applied without nuance. Chile recently put an end to the practice, widespread in developing countries, of big companies "zero-rating" access to their services. "That might seem perverse," says Glyn Moody, "since it means that Chilean mobile users must now pay to access those services, but it is nonetheless exactly what governments that have mandated net neutrality need to do."
Build

Fly With the Brooklyn Aerodrome (Video) 19

Posted by Roblimo
from the it's-not-a-drone-it's-just-a-model-plane dept.
A bit of housing insulation material, a battery, a motor and propellor, a radio receiver and transmitter, and servos to control the motor and a pair of ailerons, and you're ready to fly the Brooklyn Aerodrome way. This isn't a tiny radio-controlled paper airplane, but a big bruiser with a 1:1 power to weight ratio (which means it can climb like a bat out of hell) and enough guts to fly in reasonably windy conditions while carrying a camera -- except we'd better not mention cameras, since Brooklyn Aerodrome creations, whether kits or plans, are obviously intended tohelp you build model airplanes, not drones. Timothy ran into project proponent Breck Baldwin at a maker faire near Atlanta, surrounded by a squadron of junior pilots who may someday become astronauts on the Moon - Mars run -- or at least delivery drone controllers for Amazon. (Alternate Video Link)
Power

WaveNET – the Floating, Flexible Wave Energy Generator 89

Posted by Soulskill
from the making-bernoulli-work-for-us dept.
Zothecula writes: Scotland's Albatern is putting a new, modular spin on renewable energy generation. WaveNET is a scalable array of floating "Squid" generator units that harvest wave energy as their buoyant arms rise and fall with the motion of the waves. Each Squid can link up to as many as three others, effectively creating a large, floating grid that's flexible in every direction. The bigger this grid gets, the more efficient it becomes at harvesting energy, and the more different wave movements it can extract energy from. Albatern's 10-year target is to have 1.25 kilometer-long floating energy farms pumping out as much as 100 megawatts by 2024.
Transportation

Auto Industry Teams Up With Military To Stop Car Hacking 112

Posted by Soulskill
from the feel-free-to-stay-on-top-of-that dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A team of hackers is collaborating with military and industry groups to develop cyber security defenses for commercially available cars, in response to a growing threat from criminals and terrorists. In the U.K., hackers are now responsible for a third of car thefts in London and there are fears that while technology is progressing, older models will remain vulnerable to attack. Although there have been no reported instances of a car being completely commandeered outside of controlled conditions, during tests hackers come out on top every time – unlocking car boots, setting off windscreen wipers, locking brakes, and cutting the engine.

+ - Auto industry teams up with military to stop car hacking->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "A team of hackers is collaborating with military and industry groups to develop cyber security defences for commercially available cars, in response to a growing threat from criminals and terrorists. In the UK, hackers are now responsible for a third of car thefts in London and there are fears that while technology is progressing, older models will remain vulnerable to attack.

Although there have been no reported instances of a car being completely commandeered outside of controlled conditions, during tests hackers come out on top every time – unlocking car boots, setting off windscreen wipers, locking brakes, and cutting the engine.

“As security has not been a prime objective for vehicle manufacturers in the past these systems have been tightly integrated, leading to a situation where the security of an in-car media player can affect the car's brakes,” explained senior information security consultant at MWR InfoSecurity, Jacques Louw."

Link to Original Source
The Courts

Hacker Threatened With 44 Felony Charges Escapes With Misdemeanor 207

Posted by Soulskill
from the my-days-of-not-taking-you-seriously-are-certainly-coming-to-a-middle dept.
An anonymous reader writes: It's no secret that prosecutors usually throw every charge they can at an alleged criminal, but the case of Aaron Swartz brought to light how poorly-written computer abuse laws lend themselves to this practice. Now, another perfect example has resolved itself: a hacker with ties to Anonymous was recently threatened with 44 felony counts of computer fraud and cyberstalking, each with its own 10-year maximum sentence. If the charges stuck, the man was facing multiple lifetimes worth of imprisonment.

But, of course, they didn't. Prosecutors struck a deal to get him to plead guilty to a single misdemeanor charge, which carried only a $10,000 fine. The man's attorney, Tor Eklund, said, "The more I looked at this, the more it seemed like an archetypal example of the Department of Justice's prosecutorial abuse when it comes to computer crime. It shows how aggressive they are, and how they seek to destroy your reputation in the press even when the charges are complete, fricking garbage."

+ - Hacker Threatened With 44 Felony Charges Escapes With Misdemeanor->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "It's no secret that prosecutors usually throw every charge they can at an alleged criminal, but the case of Aaron Swartz brought to light how poorly-written computer abuse laws lend themselves to this practice. Now, another perfect example has resolved itself: a hacker with ties to Anonymous was recently threatened with 44 felony counts of computer fraud and cyberstalking, each with its own 10-year maximum sentence. If the charges stuck, the man was facing multiple lifetimes worth of imprisonment. But, of course, it wasn't. Prosecutors struck a deal to get him to plead guilty to a single misdemeanor charge, which carried only a $10,000 fine. The man's attorney, Tor Eklund, said, "The more I looked at this, the more it seemed like an archetypal example of the Department of Justice’s prosecutorial abuse when it comes to computer crime. It shows how aggressive they are, and how they seek to destroy your reputation in the press even when the charges are complete, fricking garbage.""
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