JoeGee writes "On December 8th, Canadian sci-fi author Peter Watts, author of the Rifters trilogy and Blindsight, was crossing the US/Canadian border at Port Huron, Michigan when he was involved in an altercation with US Border Patrol agents. According to Watts, he was beaten, left half-naked in a cold cell, and finally dumped on the Canadian side of the border with no coat. A legal consultant from the Electronic Frontier Foundation was successful in helping a civil rights lawyer in Michigan free Watts. Watts faces US charges of assaulting a federal officer. Based on the accounts, one can assume Watts did so by hitting the officer's hand with his face. If convicted, Watts faces two years in a US Federal prison."
beernutmark writes "I have two science-loving kids ages 7 and 9. My youngest knew Neil deGrasse Tyson's name at age 4. With the holidays coming up, I am looking to get them some quality science-related tools. Two items on the list are a quality microscope and/or a real rock-hounding kit. I am looking for any other gift suggestions for this year or future years (or even for younger kids for other readers) and hints on good sources."
An anonymous reader writes "Researchers at the University of Tokyo, led by electrical engineering professor Takao Someya, have created a new kind of low-cost, plastic, flash memory storage device. Although not as dense or stable as its silicon cousin, the plastic flash memory is useful because of its low cost, simple manufacturing process, and potential use in e-paper or other flexible devices. To demonstrate the memory, Someya's group integrated a 676-memory-cell device with a rubber pressure sensor. The flexible sensor-memory device, which is less than 700 micrometers thick, can record pressure patterns and retain them for up to a day."
eldavojohn writes "On Google's official blog, they claim a 'new technology prototype that enables online, global-scale observation and measurement of changes in the earth's forests.' Ars has more details on what Google unveiled at Copenhagen. If you have Google Earth installed, you can find a demonstration here. Many organizations and government agencies are on board with this initiative to put deforestation before the eyes of the public. If only satellite data of North America existed before the logging industry swept in!" It's interesting to contemplate the implications for intelligence gathering of Google's automated tools to compare satellite photos.
Theosis sends word that an astronomer at the University of Rochester and his colleagues have made the surprise discovery that Alcor, one of the brightest stars in the Big Dipper, is actually two stars; and it is apparently gravitationally bound to the four-star Mizar system, making the whole group a sextuplet. This would make the Mizar-Alcor sextuplet the second-nearest such system known. The discovery is especially surprising because Alcor is one of the most studied stars in the sky. The Mizar-Alcor system has been involved in many "firsts" in the history of astronomy: "Benedetto Castelli, Galileo's protege and collaborator, first observed with a telescope that Mizar was not a single star in 1617, and Galileo observed it a week after hearing about this from Castelli, and noted it in his notebooks... Those two stars, called Mizar A and Mizar B, together with Alcor, in 1857 became the first binary stars ever photographed through a telescope. In 1890, Mizar A was discovered to itself be a binary, being the first binary to be discovered using spectroscopy. In 1908, spectroscopy revealed that Mizar B was also a pair of stars, making the group the first-known quintuple star system."
An anonymous reader writes "Researchers have discovered a promising method to regrow damaged nerves in adults. Brain and spinal-cord injuries typically leave people with permanent impairment because the injured nerve fibers (axons) cannot regrow. A study from Harvard and Carleton University, published in the December 10 issue of the journal Neuron, shows that axons can regenerate vigorously in a mouse model when a gene that suppresses natural growth factors is deleted. Here is the journal article (subscription required to view more than the abstract)."
KentuckyFC writes "According to quantum mechanics, a vacuum will be filled with electromagnetic waves leaping in and out of existence. It turns out that these waves can have various measurable effects, such as the Casimir-Polder force, which was first measured accurately in 1997. Just how to exploit this force is still not clear. Now, however, a researcher at an Israeli government lab suggests how it could be possible to generate propulsion using the quantum vacuum. The basic idea is that pushing on the electromagnetic fields in the vacuum should generate an equal and opposite force. The suggestion is that this can be done using nanoparticles that interact with the vacuum's electric and magnetic fields, generating the well-known Lorentz force. In most cases, the sum of Lorentz forces adds up to zero. But today's breakthrough is the discovery of various ways to break this symmetry and so use the quantum vacuum to generate a force. The simplest of these is simply to rotate the particles. So the blueprint for a quantum propulsion machine described in the paper is an array of addressable nanoparticles that can be rotated in the required way. Although such a machine will need a source of energy, it generates propulsion without any change in mass. As the research puts it with magesterial understatement, this might have practical implications."
eldavojohn writes "You may recall the TSA demonstrating how tech-savvy it is by releasing a document with redactions intact. Now three Republican lawmakers are asking what's being done to prosecute those hosting the document (e.g. Cryptome and Wikileaks). In a letter to the DHS (PDF), Charles Dent (R-PA), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), and Peter T. King (R-NY) asked, 'How has [sic] the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration addressed the repeated reposting of this security manual to other websites, and what legal action, if any, can be taken to compel its removal?' And they asked if the DHS is 'considering issuing new regulations pursuant to its authority in Section 114 of Title 49, United States Code, and are criminal penalties necessary or desirable to ensure such information is not reposted in the future?' King is the representative who announcing a probe into Wikileaks after the half million 9/11 pager messages were released."
An anonymous reader writes "The open source FPS Blood Frontier has now made their beta2 release. From the article: 'After many months of development, and massive amounts of input from the public, we are proud to present you with the new release of Blood Frontier, v0.85 (Beta 2). This new version totally redefines and improves the game in many ways, creating a whole new style that makes it almost nothing like its predecessor.'"
Ch_Omega writes "According to this article over at BarentsObserver, the giant spiral seen on the sky over Norway Wednesday morning local time has been confirmed to be the result of a failed Russian missile launch. Russia now confirms that '...the missile was launched from submerged position in the White Sea by the nuclear submarine Dmitri Donskoy. Studies of the telemetric data from the launch show that the two first stages of the missile functioned as they should, and that a technical malfunctioning occurred during the third stage.' There is also an article on this at The Daily Mail."
Right now I'm so glad I never signed on for that BS.
jammag writes "The Linux desktop has seen major innovation of late, with KDE 4 launching new features, GNOME announcing a new desktop, and Ubuntu embarking on a redesign campaign. But Linux pundit Bruce Byfield asks, do average users really want any of these things? He points to instances of user backlash, and concludes 'Free software is still driven by developers working on what interests or concerns them. The problem is, the days when users of free software were also its developers are long gone, but the habits of those days remain. The result is that developers function far too much in isolation from their user base.' Byfield suggests that the answer could be more user testing."
http://www.neowin.net/forum/index.php?showtopic=707404 Not sure how far they've gotten though
As I contemplate the idea of IT Unions I recall all the complaints I've heard through the years about outsourcing. With employers demanding that current employees train their foreign cheaper replacements else be fired and lose any possible unemployment benefits. In America this is perfectly legal. Or other situations where the "IT person" has been forced to work extended hours without additional pay. Time has value, and without being adequately reimbursed for that time, an employer can operate under the misconception that they own all of your time, even though they only pay for 8 hours of it. There's many situations where managers will do whatever they can get away with, and without any form of opposition the worker will always get screwed. At least with a Union, the workforce can operate with some protection. I'm all for it.
Here here to this idea! A global wiki for medical problems, can you imagine the good that could come from it? ++