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Science

The New Science of Evolutionary Forecasting 63

Posted by Soulskill
from the partly-hairy-with-a-chance-of-eyeballs dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Scientists may not be able to predict what life will be like 100 million years from now, but they may be able to make short-term forecasts for the next few months or years. And if they're making predictions about viruses or other health threats, they might be able to save some lives in the process. "Biologists have found cases in which evolution has, in effect, run the same experiment several times over. And in some cases the results of those natural experiments have turned out very similar each time. In other words, evolution has been predictable. One of the most striking cases of repeated evolution has occurred in the Caribbean. ... Each time lizards colonized an island, they evolved into many of the same forms. On each island, some lizards adapted to living high in trees, evolving pads on their feet for gripping surfaces, along with long legs and a stocky body. Other lizards adapted to life among the thin branches lower down on the trees, evolving short legs that help them hug their narrow perches. Still other lizards adapted to living in grass and shrubs, evolving long tails and slender trunks. On island after island, the same kinds of lizards have evolved."
Space

Preparing For Satellite Defense 117

Posted by Soulskill
from the road-to-kessler-syndrome dept.
Taco Cowboy sends a report into China's development of anti-satellite technology, and efforts by the U.S. and Japan to build defenses for this new potential battleground. Last year, China launched what they said was a science space mission, but they did so at night and with a truck-based launch system, which are not generally used for science projects. Experts believe this was actually a missile test for targets in geostationary orbit. U.S. and Japanese analysts say China has the most aggressive satellite attack program in the world. It has staged at least six ASAT missile tests over the past nine years, including the destruction of a defunct Chinese weather satellite in 2007. ... Besides testing missiles that can intercept and destroy satellites, the Chinese have developed jamming techniques to disrupt satellite communications. In addition, ... the Chinese have studied ground-based lasers that could take down a satellite's solar panels, and satellites equipped with grappling arms that could co-orbit and then disable expensive U.S. hardware. To defend themselves against China, the U.S. and Japan are in the early stages of integrating their space programs as part of negotiations to update their defense policy guidelines. ... Both countries have sunk billions of dollars into a sophisticated missile defense system that relies in part on data from U.S. spy satellites. That's why strategists working for China's People's Liberation Army have published numerous articles in defense journals about the strategic value of chipping away at U.S. domination in space.
Security

New Mayhem Malware Targets Linux and UNIX-Like Servers 167

Posted by Soulskill
from the keep-calm-and-patch-on dept.
Bismillah writes: Russian security researchers have spotted a new malware named Mayhem that has spread to 1,400 or so Linux and FreeBSD servers around the world, and continues to look for new machines to infect. And, it doesn't need root to operate. "The malware can have different functionality depending on the type of plug-in downloaded to it by the botmaster in control, and stashed away in a hidden file system on the compromised server. Some of the plug-ins provide brute force cracking of password functionality, while others crawl web pages to scrape information. According to the researchers, Mayhem appears to be the continuation of the Fort Disco brute-force password cracking attack campaign that began in May 2013."
Space

The Disappearing Universe 358

Posted by Soulskill
from the and-for-my-next-trick dept.
StartsWithABang writes: "If everything began with the Big Bang — from a hot, dense, expanding state — and things have been cooling, spreading out, but slowing down ever since, you might think that means that given enough time (and a powerful enough space ship), we'll eventually be able to reach any other galaxy. But thanks to dark energy, not only is that not the case at all, but most of the galaxies in our Universe are already completely unreachable by us, with more leaving our potential reach all the time. Fascinating, terrifying stuff."
Open Source

Rackspace, Cumulus Networks and CoreOS Join Linux Foundation 9

Posted by samzenpus
from the welcome-to-the-club dept.
Mcusanelli (3564469) writes "Rackspace, Cumulus Networks and CoreOS have become members of the Linux Foundation to support open source networking, virtualization and cloud computing. The Linux Foundation said in a statement: 'From the virtualization layer to networking hardware, Linux and open source are critical to modern computing and a new generation of cloud services and applications. Today's new Linux Foundation members are part of this market shift and see open source as the lynchpin for optimal scalability, efficiencies, security and data center savings.'"
Television

Breaking Bad's Scientific Consultant On Making Meth and More 118

Posted by timothy
from the not-a-howto dept.
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Science sat down with Breaking Bad science consultant Donna Nelson, an organic chemist at the University of Oklahoma. Nelson was one of several expert advisers for the show who began consulting several episodes in on multiple topics, including how to make Walt a realistic chemist. She discusses the accuracy of the show, whether making meth is as straightforward as it seems on the series, and her favorite scene."
Networking

Intentional Backdoor In Consumer Routers Found 236

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the insecurity-through-idiocy dept.
New submitter janoc (699997) writes about a backdoor that was fixed (only not). "Eloi Vanderbeken from Synacktiv has identified an intentional backdoor in a module by Sercomm used by major router manufacturers (Cisco, Linksys, Netgear, etc.). The backdoor was ostensibly fixed — by obfuscating it and making it harder to access. The original report (PDF). And yeah, there is an exploit available ..." Rather than actually closing the backdoor, they just altered it so that the service was not enabled until you knocked the portal with a specially crafted Ethernet packet. Quoting Ars Technica: "The nature of the change, which leverages the same code as was used in the old firmware to provide administrative access over the concealed port, suggests that the backdoor is an intentional feature of the firmware ... Because of the format of the packets—raw Ethernet packets, not Internet Protocol packets—they would need to be sent from within the local wireless LAN, or from the Internet service provider’s equipment. But they could be sent out from an ISP as a broadcast, essentially re-opening the backdoor on any customer’s router that had been patched."
Math

Mathematicians Use Mossberg 500 Pump-Action Shotgun To Calculate Pi 311

Posted by samzenpus
from the less-common-core-math dept.
KentuckyFC (1144503) writes "Imagine the following scenario. The end of civilization has occurred, zombies have taken over the Earth and all access to modern technology has ended. The few survivors suddenly need to know the value of pi and, being a mathematician, they turn to you. What do you do? According to a couple of Canadian mathematicians, the answer is to repeatedly fire a Mossberg 500 pump action shotgun at a square aluminum target about 20 meters away. Then imagine that the square is inscribed with an arc drawn between opposite corners that maps out a quarter circle. If the sides of the square are equal to 1, then the area of the quarter circle is pi/4. Next, count the number of pellet holes that fall inside the area of the quarter circle as well as the total number of holes. The ratio between these is an estimate of the ratio between the area of the quarter circle and the area of a square, or in other words pi/4. So multiplying this number by 4 will give you an estimate of pi. That's a process known as a Monte Carlo approximation and it is complicated by factors such as the distribution of the pellets not being random. But the mathematicians show how to handle these too. The result? According to this method, pi is 3.13, which is just 0.33 per cent off the true value. Handy if you find yourself in a post-apocalyptic world."
Education

Ask Slashdot: Best Options For Ongoing Education? 149

Posted by Soulskill
from the hardwire-your-brain-into-stack-overflow dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Lately, with the volatility of the economy, I have been thinking of expanding my education to reach into other areas related to my career. I have a computer science degree from Purdue and have been employed as a firmware engineer for 10+ years writing C and C++. I like what I do, but to me it seems that most job opportunities are available for people with skills in higher level languages such as ASP, .NET, C#, PHP, Scripting, Web applications and so on. Is it worth going back to school to get this training? I was thinking that a computer information technology degree would fit the bill, but I am concerned that going back to college would require a lot of time wasted doing electives and taking courses that don't get to the 'meat' of the learning. What would you do?"
Security

Ask Slashdot: State of the Art In DIY Security Systems? 248

Posted by timothy
from the real-time-pictures-not-after-the-fact-beeping dept.
An anonymous reader writes "For geeks that want to secure their home, it seems that the choice of Do It Yourself solutions are limited. And in case you prefer to use a company, most of them require to subscribe to a contract for 3 years that costs at least $20 a month. In case you want to make a DIY security system without a monthly fee, few options are available. Some products (such as ismartalarm, Lowe's Iris system or also the fortress security) let you install your own system but seem not to be very mature (for some the alarm is not loud, for others they do not use the internet and only a land line, etc.). Is there any recommendation for a basic DIY home security system for monitoring the house and just have notification by e-mail or through a mobile application? Is there any open standard for home automation and security devices? Any suggestion about how to build something simple, affordable and efficient?" How to top the big-name subscription-based security companies is a recurring question, but one worth exploring every once in a while, as sensors and software both advance, and especially as more and more people are carrying around phones well-suited as remote monitors for in-house cameras. (And here's a preemptive link to ZoneMinder.)
Internet Explorer

Why Internet Explorer Still Dominates South Korea. 218

Posted by timothy
from the stuck-in-a-rut dept.
New submitter bmurray7 writes "You might think that the country that has the fastest average home internet speeds would be a first adapter of modern browsers. Instead, as the Washington Post reports, a payment processing security standard forces most South Koreans to rely upon Internet Explorer for online shopping. Since the standard uses a unique encryption algorithm, an ActiveX control is required to complete online purchases. As a result, many internet users are in the habit of approving all AtivceX control prompts, potentially exposing them to malware."
The Military

Skunk Works Reveals Proposed SR-71 Successor: the Hypersonic SR-72 216

Posted by Soulskill
from the i'll-order-a-dozen dept.
cold fjord writes "Aviation Week reports, 'Ever since Lockheed's unsurpassed SR-71 Blackbird was retired ... almost two decades ago, the perennial question has been: Will it ever be succeeded by a new-generation, higher-speed aircraft and, if so, when? That is, until now. After years of silence on the subject, Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works has revealed exclusively to AW&ST details of long-running plans for what it describes as an affordable hypersonic intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and strike platform that could enter development in demonstrator form as soon as 2018. Dubbed the SR-72, the twin-engine aircraft is designed for a Mach 6 cruise, around twice the speed of its forebear, and will have the optional capability to strike targets. Guided by the U.S. Air Force's long-term hypersonic road map, the SR-72 is designed to fill what are perceived by defense planners as growing gaps in coverage of fast-reaction intelligence by the plethora of satellites, subsonic manned and unmanned platforms meant to replace the SR-71.'"
Power

Arizona Commissioner Probes Utility's Secret Funding of Anti-Solar Campaign 207

Posted by Soulskill
from the wrong-way-to-fight-the-power dept.
mdsolar writes "An Arizona utility commissioner is asking for all the key players in a debate over a solar energy policy in the state to reveal any additional secret funding of nonprofits or public relations campaigns. The probe comes after Arizona Public Service, the state's largest utility, admitted last week that it had been secretly contributing to outside nonprofits running negative ads against solar power. As The Huffington Post reported Friday, APS recently admitted that it had lied for months about paying the 60 Plus Association, a national conservative organization backed by the Koch brothers, to run ads against current solar net-metering policy. APS is currently pushing the Arizona Corporation Commission to roll back the policy, which allows homeowners and businesses with rooftop solar energy systems to make money by selling excess energy back to the grid. Solar proponents say that the policy has facilitated a solar boom in the state, and that changing it could have a huge negative impact on future growth."
Cellphones

Ubuntu Edge Now Most-Backed Crowdfunding Campaign Ever 104

Posted by timothy
from the someone-will-run-with-the-idea dept.
Volanin writes "The Ubuntu Edge has now passed the $10.2 million mark, thus making it the most pledged-to crowd-funder in history. While the Ubuntu Edge campaign is to be commended for reaching such a mammoth milestone as this, it can't quite claim ultimate victory yet, since it's just short of making one-third of its $32 million goal with a little less than a week left."

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