Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Submission Summary: 1 pending, 227 declined, 89 accepted (317 total, 28.08% accepted)

Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!

  • View

  • Discuss

  • Share

We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).

×

+ - Sound scientific thinking finds a cleaner way to extinguish fires->

Submitted by SternisheFan
SternisheFan (2529412) writes "It happens so quickly you almost don’t believe it: Seth Robertson and Viet Tran ignite a fire, snap on their low-rumbling bass frequency generator and extinguish the flames in seconds. And even after you’ve seen it over and over, it’s still unbelievable.

But the two last-year engineering majors at George Mason University, in Fairfax, Virginia, appear to have invented a way to use sound waves to put out fires. It started as an idea for a research project, and after a year of trial and error and spending about $600 of their own money, they have built a somewhat portable sound generator, amplifier, power source and focusing tube that would seem to have great potential in attacking fires in a variety of situations.

Robertson, 23, and Tran, 28, applied for a provisional patent at the end of November, which gives them a year to do further testing on other flammable chemicals – so far they have put out only fires started with rubbing alcohol – and to continue to refine their device. Although they originally conceived of the device as a way to put out kitchen fires and, perhaps, fires in spacecraft, a local fire department already has asked them to test their bass waves on a structure fire; they think the concept could replace the toxic chemicals involved in fire extinguishers.
  But how does it work? The basic concept, Tran said, is that sound waves are also “pressure waves, and they displace some of the oxygen” as they travel through the air. Oxygen, we all recall from high school chemistry, fuels fire. At a certain frequency, the sound waves “separate the oxygen from the fuel. The pressure wave is going back and forth, and that agitates where the air is. That specific space is enough to keep the fire from reigniting.”"

Link to Original Source

+ - Arkansas is Now the First State to Require That High Schools Teach Coding->

Submitted by SternisheFan
SternisheFan (2529412) writes "Arkansas will be implementing a new law that requires public high schools to offer classes in computer science starting in the 2015-16 school year. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who signed the bill, believes it will provide “a workforce that’s sure to attract businesses and jobs” to the state.

$5 million of the governor’s proposed budget will go towards this new program. For the districts incapable of of administering these classes due to lack of space or qualified teachers, the law has provisions for online courses to be offered through Virtual Arkansas.

Although students will not be required to take computer science classes, the governor’s goal is to give students the opportunity if they “want to take it”.

Presently, only one in 10 schools nationwide offer computer science classes. Not only will Arkansas teach these classes in every public high school and charter school serving upper grades, the courses will count towards the state’s math graduation requirement as a further incentive for students .

Training programs for teacher preparation will be available, but with the majority of the infrastructure already primed, the execution of this new law should hopefully be painless and seamless."

Link to Original Source

+ - Lockheed Martin Claims Sustainable Fusion Is Within Its Grasp-> 1

Submitted by SternisheFan
SternisheFan (2529412) writes "Imagine a source of electrical power that uses water for fuel, produces byproducts that are totally safe and releases no air pollution. Then imagine that once it's up and running, it'll be so portable that an entire power plant could fit into the cargo hold of an airplane. Now, imagine that it'll be running in prototype form in five years and operating commercially in ten.

The fusion is powered by a combination of two isotopes of Hydrogen, Deuterium and Tritium, both of which occur in nature and which can be extracted from water. "Our studies show that a 100 MW system would only burn less than 20 kg of fuel in an entire year of operation," a Lockheed Martin spokesperson told eWEEK. "Tritium fuel is continually bred within the reactor wall and fed back into the reactor along with deuterium gas to sustain the reactions."
In other words, the fusion reactor creates most of its own fuel as part of its operation. The Deuterium gas is simply a normal hydrogen atom with an extra neutron, creating what is sometimes called "heavy hydrogen." Deuterium can be extracted from the hydrogen obtained from electrolysis of water. This may sound complicated, but it's a process that has been routinely performed in college physics projects.
While the fusion reactor does create a radioactive byproduct, it's recycled for use in the reactor itself. There is no radioactive waste problem such as exists with nuclear fission power plants. "The waste footprint is orders of magnitude less than coal plants which require huge landfills to contain the toxic ash and sludge wastes," the spokesperson said in an email.
"A typical coal plant generates over 100,000 tons of ash and sludge containing toxic metals and chemicals each year. The first generation of fusion reactors will run on Deuterium-Tritium fuel, but successive generations would use fuels that could eliminate the radioactivity altogether," she said.
Currently Lockheed Martin is in the process of testing a magnetic confinement bottle, where the Skunk Works team has apparently made significant progress. In terms of how a fusion reactor would be created, the magnetic bottle is the primary hurdle.
If that's accomplished successfully most of the science and engineering is known. However, that doesn't mean that building the prototype fusion reactor is a done deal. Lockheed Martin is looking for industry partners to help develop the Compact Fusion reactor into a real product.
The goal is to create a fusion reactor that can generate heat to use in existing power plants, where the reactor would replace existing fossil fuel combustion. This means that existing power generation and distribution infrastructure would be retained, which will dramatically reduce the cost of implementation and dramatically speed up deployment.
The existence of cheap, portable power will transform the world in many ways. A statement from the company envisions ships and aircraft with unlimited range, spacecraft that could reduce the travel time to Mars to less than a month.
Perhaps most important to the most people, it could bring vast amounts of power to anywhere on earth, providing among other things economical water desalination to developing regions of the globe, which are not only poor, but short of clean water, by removing energy scarcity as an insurmountable problem.
If Lockheed Martin can pull this off, and given the reputation of the Skunk Works for routinely doing the impossible, I suspect it will, the results will be transformative.
While it doesn't mean free energy, it does mean that the cost of nearly unlimited energy is very low, and with unlimited energy, there's no end to what can be accomplished. To say that the Skunk Works is on the verge of changing the world is an understatement. This development could well define the future."

Link to Original Source

+ - The powerful cheat for themselves, the powerless cheat for others.: ArsTechnica-> 1

Submitted by SternisheFan
SternisheFan (2529412) writes "(From http://arstechnica.com/ by Cathleen O'Grady — Feb 7 2015

The powerful cheat for themselves, the powerless cheat for others The upper class isn't less ethical, just more likely to lie for selfish reasons.

Research has previously shown that upper-class individuals are more likely to behave unethically than lower-class people. But, says David Dubois, lead researcher of a new paper in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, it’s not that simple: both groups behave unethically in different contexts.

Dubois’ research group found that people with higher socioeconomic status (SES) were more likely to behave unethically when the behavior benefitted themselves, while lower-SES people were more likely to be unethical to benefit other individuals. "Many people think of unethical behaviour in terms of selfish behavior—violating moral standards to give yourself an advantage," explains Jared Piazza, who was not involved with the research. "But the researchers here draw a distinction between violating a moral standard like 'it’s wrong to steal' to benefit others, and violating a moral standard to benefit yourself."

This distinction is important, says Dubois. Previous research has only tested unethical behavior that is selfish—it turns out that when unselfish unethical behavior is tested too, lower-SES individuals are just as likely to be unethical......

......There's also a question about what actually counts as wrong in people's minds, Piazza notes. Past research has shown that powerless people think that working for the welfare of others is the highest moral value, while powerful people care more about rules and order. "It may be that powerless individuals are less inclined to view actions that help others as actual transgressions even though a moral rule has been violated," he suggests.

Beyond clarifying these points, there are questions to follow up in the future, Dubois adds. For one, this paper didn’t look at the effect of power or SES on the amount of unethical behavior. That is, the researchers looked at how people would behave in a single test, but not at whether a certain group was more likely to be unethical more of the time. There’s also the possibility that different cultures with different moral codes and ideas about power and responsibility might respond differently.

It could have useful application in persuasion, he adds: communicating with different audiences about ethical behavior could emphasize different consequences, either for the self or for others, to discourage the behavior."

Link to Original Source

+ - Oddworld creator: Ex-Sony exec "put half the dev community out of business"->

Submitted by SternisheFan
SternisheFan (2529412) writes "Oddworld creator: Ex-Sony exec “put half the dev community out of business” Claims that Kutaragi's dev-unfriendly PS2 and PS3 decisions "opened doors" for Xbox. by Sam Machkovech — Feb 5 2015, 3:30pm EST LAS VEGAS—The second day of the 2015 DICE Summit opened with two titans from the PlayStation era chatting about the platform's history. Sony Worldwide Studios President Shu Yoshida and Oddworld Inhabitants Creative Director Lorne Lanning faced off and recalled their respective origin stories, including Yoshida's early explosion as producer for the Crash Bandicoot and Gran Turismo series and Lanning's early third-party PS contributions. Midway through, the conversation came off the rails as the gaming veterans, and board members of the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences, discussed the only time the two men had seriously argued. The board wanted to vote to award a lifetime achievement award to former Sony Worldwide Studios President Ken Kutaragi, Yoshida recalled, but only "one bold member" offered a nay vote. "I was totally opposed to it!" Lanning said in response at the keynote. "He changed half of the industry, is what you said. I said he put half of the development community out of business!" Lanning went on to describe the financial challenges of making games for developer-unfriendly platforms like PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3, particularly in convincing publishers and other funding sources that a game could be completed on time and on budget. "Now you find out, whoa, we have zero ability to predict [time and money costs]," Lanning said. "We have to discover, and we [couldn't get] financing to discover." That, combined with a changing third-party publisher landscape, forced Lanning to drop his former Sony partnership. "You opened doors for Microsoft!" Lanning said. "Their hook was, 'we’ll build a machine for developers.' They have a brand challenge coming into the business [as a new games company], but they promised to make costs more predictable. We were trying to survive. Microsoft was a way of landing." Lanning reminded the audience that Oddworld: Munch's Odyssee launched day-and-date with the original Xbox "on time and on budget." “I, I, I hate those teams”..."
Link to Original Source

+ - Just Switch to Linux if You Want to Download Lots of Freeware-> 1

Submitted by SternisheFan
SternisheFan (2529412) writes "From How to Geek.com:

There’s a systemic problem in the Windows software ecosystem. It’s not just a handful of websites, or a handful of bad programs. Practically every piece of freeware is stuffed with junk. If you try to avoid freeware sites and just Google something like “VLC download,” you’ll be pointed straight at adware-filled junk installers too.

Linux has its problems, and it’s not ideal for anyone. Want to play every single PC game that comes out? You need Windows. Need a specific desktop program that only runs on Windows? Yeah, you need Windows by definition — although you could always run those programs in a virtual machine if you don’t mind the additional complexity.

But Linux is an ideal place to be for freeware-lovers. Do you love downloading programs and testing them out? Seriously, switch to Linux now. Linux Mint is very good, although Ubuntu is definitely popular — and there are lots of other Linux distributions, too."

Link to Original Source

+ - Kim Dotcom launches end-to-end encrypted voice chat 'Skype killer'->

Submitted by SternisheFan
SternisheFan (2529412) writes "Kim Dotcom’s encrypted file sharing service has added free end-to-end encrypted voice and video chat through the browser.

MegaChat, which promises to keep video chats secure and private, has been developed by the Mega “Conspiracy Team” and is being described as a “Skype killer” by Dotcom.

“We are releasing #MegaChat beta step by step. Starting with video calling today. Text chat & video conferencing will follow soon,” said Dotcom.

MegaChat does not require software beyond a web browser to operate, unlike many other similar services, although plugins for Google’s Chrome and Firefox are available for “faster loading and added resilience against attacks”.

‘No US-based online service provider can be trusted’
The system allows users to share encrypted files having previously shared a personal decryption key with them."

Link to Original Source

+ - Some UFO reports from US Air Force declassified and now available online->

Submitted by SternisheFan
SternisheFan (2529412) writes "UFO fans rejoice, the UNITED STATES AIR FORCE has declassified files containing information about UFO sightings, related incident reports and other information reported by its agents and employees.

As noted by the MILITARY TIMES, at least 130,000 pages of declassified UFO reports are now viewable on the web (without any restrictions) — at the site called the Blackvault.com — available to anyone who wants to dig into UFO accounts filed during the 1940s to the late 60s. People can search by keyword, like a city for example, or browse filed incidents by year, or date of the incident’s filing.

These reports were compiled by UFO enthusiast John Greenewald who has spent nearly 20 years filing FOI or Freedom of Information requests for the government to release their “UFO files.”

Of course, skeptics can still argue that these files don’t actually confirm that we’re not alone in the universe, and we’ve been visited in the past by highly intelligent extraterrestrial creatures — but at least researchers can expand their knowledge about how the UFO mania exploded in the 40s especially after the Roswell incident.

AND here’s the most interesting part of this story — these files don’t include any direct information about the 1947 Roswell, New Mexico incident — giving UFOlogists yet another reason to believe that the government is “hiding” something from the public.

One of the 10,000 plus UFO cases documented by the US Air Force include a 1950 incident at Holloman Air Force Base in Alamogordo, New Mexico, an area just several miles away from Roswell.

The said incident involved an agent at the Air Force Office of Special Investigations agent who reported a “star-like craft that shifted from a bright white color to red and green as it moved erratically in several directions.”"

Link to Original Source

+ - NASA is testing an autonomous Martian helicopter->

Submitted by SternisheFan
SternisheFan (2529412) writes "The Verge: Drones are everywhere these days. They're under Christmas trees. They're at the X-Games. They're even in Congress. And if NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has its way, they could be headed to Mars next in the form of the Mars Helicopter.

Rover teams still have a tough time with the Martian surface even though they're flush with terrestrial data. The alien surface is uneven, and ridges and valleys make navigating the terrain difficult. The newest solution proposed by JPL is the Mars Helicopter, an autonomous drone that could "triple the distances that Mars rovers can drive in a Martian day," according to NASA. The helicopter would fly ahead of a rover when its view is blocked and send Earth-bound engineers the right data to plan the rover's route."

Link to Original Source

+ - John McAfee: 'I know who hacked Sony Pictures - and it wasn't North Korea'->

Submitted by SternisheFan
SternisheFan (2529412) writes "Anti-virus pioneer John McAfee claims to have been in contact with the group of hackers behind the devastating cyber-attack against Sony Pictures and guarantees they are not from North Korea.

Speaking to IBTimes UK about his current roster of security startups under his Future Tense brand — including secure messaging app Chadder — McAfee spoke about working with the FBI previously but said that, in this case, the agency was "wrong".

"I can guarantee they are wrong. It has to do with a group of hackers — I will not name them — who are civil libertarians and who hate the confinement the restrictions the music industry and the movie industry has placed on art and so they are behind it.""

Link to Original Source

+ - Obsessed: Star Trek TOS continues-> 2

Submitted by SternisheFan
SternisheFan (2529412) writes "ST:TOS's Starship Enterprise was on a 5 year mission, but the original series was canceled after the third year. A new Star Trek:TOS is being created by a dedicated cast and crew intent on keeping true to the spirit of Gene Roddenberry's television show. From recreating the original sets with incredible accuracy and attention to details, staying faithful to original storylines has been a true labor of love for all involved.
        Click on the link below to view a series of videos showing the progress being made on recreating the iconic series."

Link to Original Source

+ - Birds 'heard tornadoes coming' and fled one day ahead->

Submitted by SternisheFan
SternisheFan (2529412) writes "Scientists say tracking data shows that five golden-winged warblers "evacuated" their nesting site one day before the April 2014 tornado outbreak.

Geolocators showed the birds left the Appalachians and flew 700km (400 miles) south to the Gulf of Mexico.

The next day, devastating storms swept across the south and central US.

Writing in the journal Current Biology, ecologists suggest these birds — and others — may sense such extreme events with their keen low-frequency hearing.

Remarkably, the warblers had completed their seasonal migration just days earlier, settling down to nest after a 5,000km (3,100 mile) journey from Colombia.

Dr Henry Streby, from the University of California, Berkeley, said he initially set out to see if tracking the warblers was even possible.

"This was just a pilot season for a larger study that we're about to start," Dr Streby told the BBC.

"These are very tiny songbirds — they weigh about nine grams.

"The fact that they came back with the geolocators was supposed to be the great success of this season. Then this happened!"

Everybody out
Working with colleagues from the Universities of Tennessee and Minnesota, Dr Streby tagged 20 golden-winged warblers in May 2013, in the Cumberland Mountains of north-eastern Tennessee.

The birds nest and breed in this region every summer, and can be spotted around the Great Lakes and the Appalachian Mountains.

golden-winged warbler
The golden-winged warblers were being tracked as part of a pilot study of their normal, seasonal migration
After disappearing to Colombia for the winter, 10 of the tagged warblers returned in April 2014. The team was in the field observing them when they received advance warning of the tornadoes.

"We evacuated ourselves to the waffle house in Caryville, Tennessee, for the one day that the storm was really bad," Dr Streby said.

Elsewhere in the US the storm had more drastic consequences. At least 84 tornadoes caused 35 fatalities and more than $1bn (£0.6bn) in property damage.

After the storm had blown over, the team recaptured five of the warblers and removed the geolocators.

These are tiny devices weighing about half a gram, which measure light levels. Based on the timing and length of the days they record, these gadgets allow scientists to calculate and track the approximate location of migratory birds.

In this case, all five indicated that the birds had taken unprecedented evasive action, beginning one to two days ahead of the storm's arrival.

"The warblers in our study flew at least 1,500km (932 miles) in total," Dr Streby said.

They escaped just south of the tornadoes' path — and then went straight home again. By 2 May, all five were back in their nesting area.

Jump media playerMedia player helpOut of media player. Press enter to return or tab to continue.
Aerial footage, captured by a drone in the wake of the storms, shows emergency vehicles and debris on a highway in Arkansas
Remarkably, the warblers' evacuation commenced while the closest tornado was still hundreds of miles away. Weather conditions in the nesting area were still nothing out of the ordinary.

Distant rumble
The most likely tip-off was the deep rumble that tornadoes produce, well below what humans can hear.

Noise in this "infrasound" range travels thousands of kilometres, and may serve as something of an early warning system for animals that can pick it up.

"It's very unlikely that this species is the only group doing this," Dr Streby said.

Even from casual birdwatching in the area as the storm drew nearer, he said, "It seemed like there were far fewer birds — so I suspect it's not a species-specific trait."

Dr Chris Hewson, a senior research ecologist at the British Trust for Ornithology, told BBC News that infrasound was a plausible explanation.

He pointed out that several birds, including falcons, are thought to use infrasound to help them navigate.

"And you can see from the weather data that there doesn't appear to be any alternative cue that they could be picking up on," he said."

Link to Original Source

+ - NASA Satellite's 1st CO2 Maps of Earth Revealed->

Submitted by SternisheFan
SternisheFan (2529412) writes "This past summer, NASA launched its first satellite devoted to measuring atmospheric carbon dioxide, a heat-trapping gas that is driving global warming.

Today (Dec. 18), scientists with the space agency unveiled the first carbon maps obtained by the spacecraft, named the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2, or OCO-2.

OCO-2 only started collecting its first scientifically useful information at the end of September, but the initial results "are quite amazing," said Annmarie Eldering, OCO-2 deputy project scientist, based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

In a news briefing at the 47th annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, Eldering and her colleagues showed a map of the globe that uses about 600,000 data points taken by OCO-2 from Oct. 1 through Nov. 17. It shows hotspots of carbon dioxide over northern Australia, southern Africa and eastern Brazil.

These carbon spikes could be explained by agricultural fires and land clearing — practices that are widespread during spring in the Southern Hemisphere, OCO-2 scientists said.

The satellite has a grading spectrometer to measure carbon dioxide levels with a precision of about 1 part per million, or ppm. (Today's carbon concentration, 400 ppm, is the highest in at least 800,000 years. This number means there are 400 molecules of carbon dioxide in the air per every million air molecules. Before the Industrial Revolution, carbon concentration was thought to be about 280 ppm.)"

Link to Original Source

+ - Colorado sued by neighboring states over legal pot-> 2

Submitted by SternisheFan
SternisheFan (2529412) writes "The attorneys general of Nebraska and Oklahoma sued Colorado in the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday, arguing state-legalized marijuana from Colorado is improperly spilling across state lines.

The suit invokes the federal government's right to regulate both drugs and interstate commerce, and says Colorado's decision to legalize marijuana has been "particularly burdensome" to police agencies on the other side of the state line.

In June, USA TODAY highlighted the flow of marijuana from Colorado into small towns across Nebraska: felony drug arrests in Chappell, Neb., just 7 miles north of the Colorado border have skyrocketed 400% in three years.

"In passing and enforcing Amendment 64, the state of Colorado has created a dangerous gap in the federal drug control system enacted by the United States Congress. Marijuana flows from this gap into neighboring states, undermining plaintiff states' own marijuana bans, draining their treasuries, and placing stress on their criminal justice systems," says the lawsuit. "The Constitution and the federal anti-drug laws do not permit the development of a patchwork of state and local pro-drug policies and licensed distribution schemes throughout the country which conflict with federal laws.""

Link to Original Source

+ - Coolpad's backdoor installs apps and tracks customers without their knowledge->

Submitted by SternisheFan
SternisheFan (2529412) writes "(from ComputerWorld)

Chinese smartphone maker Coolpad has built an extensive "backdoor" into its Android devices that can track users, serve them unwanted advertisements and install unauthorized apps, a U.S. security firm alleged today.

In a research paper released today, Palo Alto Networks detailed its investigation of the backdoor, which it dubbed "CoolReaper."

"Coolpad has built a backdoor that goes beyond the usual data collection," said Ryan Olson, director of intelligence at Palo Alto's Unit 42. "This is way beyond what one malicious insider could have done."

Coolpad, which sells smartphones under several brand names — including Halo, also called Danzen — is one of China's largest ODMs (original device manufacturers). According to IDC, it ranked fifth in China in the third quarter, with 8.4% of the market, and has expanded sales outside of the People's Republic of China (PRC) and Taiwan to Southeast Asia, the U.S. and Western Europe.

Tipped off by a string of complaints from Coolpad smartphone users in China and Taiwan — who griped about seeing advertisements pop up and apps suddenly appear — Palo Alto dug into the ROM updates that Coolpad offered on its support site and found widespread evidence of CoolReaper.

Of the 77 ROMs that Palo Alto examined, 64 contained CoolReaper, including 41 hosted by Coolpad and signed with its own digital certificate.

Other evidence that Coolpad was the creator of the backdoor, said Olson, included the malware's command-and-control servers — which were registered to domains belonging to the Chinese company and used, in fact, for its public cloud — and an administrative console that other researchers had found last month because of a vulnerability in Coolpad's backend control system. The console confirmed CoolReaper's functionality.

CoolReaper has a host of components that allow Coolpad to download updates and apps to devices, start services and uninstall apps, dial phone numbers and send texts, and more — all without user knowledge, much less authorization.

So far, the backdoor has been used to serve up unsolicited ads and install apps without user approval, said Olson, who speculated that both were being done for financial reasons. Coolpad may be getting a per-app-install fee, for example."

Link to Original Source

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982

Working...