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Spectrum of Light Captured From Distant World 32

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from Cosmos: "Astronomers have made the first direct capture of a spectrum of light from a planet outside the Solar System and are deciphering its composition. The light was snared from a giant planet that orbits a bright young star called HR 8799 about 130 light-years from Earth, said the European Southern Observatory (ESO). ... The find is important, because hidden within a light spectrum are clues about the relative amounts of different elements in the planet's atmosphere. 'The features observed in the spectrum are not compatible with current theoretical models,' said co-author Wolfgang Brandner. 'We need to take into account a more detailed description of the atmospheric dust clouds, or accept that the atmosphere has a different chemical composition from that previously assumed.' The result represents a milestone in the search for life elsewhere in the universe, said the ESO. Until now, astronomers have been able to get only an indirect light sample from an exoplanet, as worlds beyond our Solar System are called. They do this by measuring the spectrum of a star twice — while an orbiting exoplanet passes near to the front of it, and again while the planet is directly behind it. The planet's spectrum is thus calculated by subtracting one light sample from another."

$4,400/Yr. Coders May Work On Dept. of Labor Project 418

theodp writes "To power the Tools for America's Job Seekers Challenge, the US Department of Labor tapped IdeaScale, a subsidiary of Survey Analytics, which is headquartered in Seattle with satellite offices in Nasik, India and Auckland, NZ (PDF). According to the Federal Register (PDF), an Emergency OMB Review was requested to launch the joint initiative of the DOL, White House, and IdeaScale to help out unemployed US workers. A cached Monster.com ad seeks candidates to work on the development and maintenance of ideascale.com, but in India at an annual salary of Rs. 200,000 to 300,000 ($4,4000 to $6,600 US). BTW, an earlier White House-sponsored, IdeaScale-powered Open Government Brainstorm identified legalizing marijuana as one of the best ways to 'strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness.'" There's no guarantee that Indian workers recruited by that Monster.com ad would work on US Department of Labor projects.
The Internet

Amazon EC2 May Be Experiencing Growing Pains 93

1sockchuck writes "Some developers using Amazon EC2 are wondering aloud whether the popularity of the cloud computing service is beginning to affect its performance. Amazon this week denied speculation that it was experiencing capacity problems after a veteran developer reported performance issues and suggested that EC2 might be oversubscribed. Meanwhile, a cloud monitoring service published charts showing increased latency on EC2 in recent weeks. The reports follow an incident over the holidays in which a DDoS on a DNS provider slowed Amazon's retail and cloud operations."

Nobel Prize For Medicine Awarded, Physics Soon To Follow 135

Nobel Prize season is here again, and the first award for Physiology or Medicine was split between two virologists who discovered HIV and one who demonstrated that a virus causes cervical cancer. Coming soon is the announcement for Physics. Look to the right for a chance to pit your selection wit against the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences with a poll for which scientific achievement deserves the prize. Front runners, according to Reuters, are; Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov, discovers of graphene, Vera Rubin, provider of the best evidence yet of dark matter, and Roger Penrose and Dan Shechtman, discoverers of Penrose tilings and quasicrystals.

Another Way the LHC Could Self-Destruct 367

KentuckyFC writes "Just when you thought it was safe to switch on the LHC (though it won't be for a while yet), another nightmare scenario has emerged that some critics worry could cause the particle accelerator to explode. The culprit this time is not an Earth-swallowing black hole but a 'Bose supernova' in the accelerator's superfluid helium bath. Physicists have been playing with Bose Einstein Condensate (BECs) for over 10 years now. But in 2001, one group discovered that placing them in a powerful magnetic field could cause the attractive forces between atoms to become repulsive. That caused their BEC to explode in a Bose supernova — which they called a 'Bosenova,' a name that fortunately did not catch on. This was little more than a curiosity when only a microscopic blob of cold matter was involved. But superfluid liquid helium is also BEC. And physicists have suddenly remembered that the LHC is swimming in 700,000 liters of the stuff while being zapped by some of the most powerful magnetic fields on the planet. So is the LHC a Bose supernova waiting to go off? Not according to the CERN theory division, which has published its calculations that show the LHC is safe (abstract). They also point out that no other superfluid helium handling facility has mysteriously blown itself to pieces."

Canadian Privacy Czar Wants To Anonymize Court Records On the Web 340

An anonymous reader writes "The web is evil and must be stopped — because it makes public information too public. So says Canada's Privacy Commissioner. She wants to 'anonymize' court records by substituting initials for names. The Toronto Star quotes Jennifer Stodddart as saying 'The open court rule, which is extremely historically important, has now become distorted by the effect of massive search engines... Court decisions and other related documents, which contain all sorts of personal information, are now searchable worldwide, which was never intended when openness rules were devised.' All Stoddart's proposal would do is erect a minor barrier for the techno unsaavy. Researchers, reporters, geeks, and most teenagers would still be able to figure out who's who. Stoddart seems to believe only in an abstract notion of freedom and access — but only as long as not too many people use it and no one suffers. She cites the case of someone who is upset at reading the divorce case of her parents. Is Stoddart a danger or a menace? Or just clueless?"
The Internet

42% of Web Users Sneak Onto Others' Online Accounts 313

An anonymous reader writes "In an online survey, 42 percent of Internet users admitted to logging into other people's email and social networking accounts without their knowledge. The poll doesn't ask if passwords were found, granted, or stolen — which would make for further interesting results. The write-up summarizing the results defines the respondents as part of an "educated tech-readership" and questions the ethics of logging onto someone else's account, and whether those differ depending on the person and relationship."

A Look At Rock Band 2's Drum Trainer, Battle of the Bands 46

The folks at Kotaku sat down with a copy of Rock Band 2 and took a look at some of the game's special features. The Drum Trainer will let you practice your beats, fills, and freestyle playing, while Battle of the Bands will let you compete against others using a new set list every week. Perhaps most interesting is the ability for Rock Band 2 owners, for a small fee ("less than $5"), to import songs from a Rock Band 1 disc. "There appears, as of now, no DRM tracking on anything to indicate you rightfully own the disc you want to export. So if you missed out on the Rock Band party last year and want to play the old songs, too, all you have to do is rent a copy or borrow someone else's. It doesn't seem Harmonix [is] too concerned, however, as they're happy you already paid the licensing fee and bought Rock Band 2!"
PC Games (Games)

How Do I Prevent Lan Party Theft? 758

DragonTHC writes "I'm thinking about hosting a lan party open to the public. I'm aiming for approximately 60 people to attend. I can handle all the logistics of operation. The only thing I can't wrap my head around is: how do I prevent theft at the lan party? Do I hire security guards? Do I need security cameras? I don't know the people who will attend, and I don't know if they're trustworthy enough to not steal other people's equipment. What do I do?"

Nvidia Rumored To Be Readying X86 Chip Release 307

jdb2 writes with the (honestly labeled) rumor from the Inquirer "that Nvidia is preparing to release an x86 microprocessor with its guns targeted directly at its two major rivals — Intel and AMD/ATI," and excerpts from the just-linked Inquirer article: "THE HOT RUMOR going around IDF ... [is] that the company will do an x86 part. The background whispers say that the part will be announced next week at Nvision ... Nvidia's men in white coats certainly have the brainpower to do it, but they also most certainly don't have a license to sell such a part. NV is basically locked out unless Intel and AMD both decide to be magnanimous, and we would not recommend holding your breath waiting for this to happen ... That leaves the lawsuit option open ... Any attempt to enter the market without a license would bring down Intel legal on them like flying monkeys blackening the sky. It would get ugly. Really ugly. Expensive too.""

AMD's OverDrive and CrossFire Come To Linux 82

twljagflba writes "Since last year AMD has made ATI increasingly Linux friendly by releasing 3D programming guides and helping out the open-source community. At the same time they have been continuing to develop their binary Catalyst driver for the Linux platform and most recently they delivered same-day support for their new graphics cards. Today though they have released the Catalyst 8.8 Linux driver that adds two very important features: CrossFire and OverDrive support for Linux. Linux users are now able to use CrossFire to split the rendering workload between multiple GPUs and they're also able to overclock their graphics cards now using the binary-only driver. Phoronix has a complete run-down on both features — including benchmarks — in their AMD OverDrive on Linux and ATI Radeon CrossFire On Linux articles. Other features were also introduced in this update such as Linux 2.6.26 kernel support, Adaptive Anti-Aliasing, and other fixes."
Linux Business

Microsoft To Buy $100M More SUSE Support Vouchers 157

CWmike writes "Microsoft will buy and resell up to another $100 million worth of enterprise support subscriptions for Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Server operating system. Two years ago, Microsoft agreed to buy and resell $240 million worth of the vouchers. Susan Hauser, general manager of strategic partnerships and licensing at Microsoft, confirmed that some of the subscription vouchers were sold to customers for less than face value, though none were given away for free."

Lawmakers Say Electric Cars Are Too Quiet Screenshot-sm 28

California lawmakers are pushing a bill that would ensure electric vehicles make enough noise to be heard by blind and visually impaired people. The state senate has already passed the bill but the governator hasn't yet taken a position. If passed, the bill would establish a committee which would study ways electric vehicles could make more noise. The committee's recommendations would be due by 2010. May I suggest a siren or some baseball cards in the wheels.

Computers can figure out all kinds of problems, except the things in the world that just don't add up.