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Enormous Red Sprites Seen From Space 30

astroengine writes: A gorgeous photo, captured from the International Space Station on the night of Aug. 10, 2015, shows an orbital view of thunderstorms over the city lights of southern Mexico as a recumbent Orion rises over Earth's limb. But wait, there's more: along the right edge of the picture a cluster of bright red and purple streamers can be seen rising above a blue-white flash of lightning: it's an enormous red sprite caught on camera! First photographed in 1989, red sprites are very brief flashes of optical activity that are associated with powerful lightning. So-called because of their elusive nature, sprites typically appear as branching red tendrils reaching up above the region of an exceptionally strong lightning flash. These electrical discharges can extend as high as 55 miles (90 kilometers) into the atmosphere, with the brightest region usually around altitudes of 40–45 miles (65–75 km). Sprites don't last very long — 3–10 milliseconds at most — and so to catch one (technically here it's a cluster of them) on camera is a real feat... or, in this case, a great surprise!

Mice Brainpower Boosted With Alteration of a Single Gene 105

Zothecula writes: By altering a single gene to inhibit the activity of an enzyme called phosphodiesterase (PDE4B), researchers have given mice the opportunity to see what an increase in intelligence is like. "They tended to learn faster, remember events longer and solve complex exercises better than ordinary mice. For example, the “brainy mice” showed a better ability than ordinary mice to recognize another mouse that they had been introduced to the day before (abstract). They were also quicker at learning the location of a hidden escape platform in a test called the Morris water maze. However, the PDE4B-inhibited mice also showed less recall of a fearful event after several days than ordinary mice." While many people would welcome such a treatment, the scientists say their research could lead to new treatments for those with cognitive disorders and age-related cognitive decline.

American Pharoah Overcomes Biology To Win Triple Crown 212 writes: There are good reasons it's been 37 years since the last triple-crown winner. As Lexi Pandell writes, post-race recovery is no joke for a thousand-pound animal that can run more than 40 miles per hour. There are two weeks between the Derby and the Preakness, and three weeks between the Preakness and the Belmont. That tight schedule—and the super-specific needs of racehorses—means horses competing in the grueling back-to-back-to-back Triple Crown races have a big disadvantage against fresh horses. First, as a horse races, its muscles produce lactic acid. In humans, glycogen recoup takes about 24 hours. But horses take several days to process lactic acid and restore glycogen reserves. Trainers make sure their charges drink plenty of water and sometimes even use intravenous fluids to aid that repair process. Secondly, in addition to being the last race of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes is also the longest. When a horse runs a tough race (or has a new workout at a longer distance), its muscles break down. Then, during rest, they reknit and adapt. A horse that has skipped the Preakness, however, has the luxury of time. Mubtaahij, who some picked to win the Belmont, had plenty of rest so he could be pushed for hard workouts two weeks prior to the Belmont.

Finally, at different points in its stride, a galloping horse puts all its weight on a single leg. That limb bears three times more weight than usual when galloping on a straightaway and, thanks to centrifugal force, a load five to 10 times greater on turns. This translates to skeletal microdamage. Race a horse during that critical period and you increase the risk of serious injuries mid-race. Two weeks ago, vets were forced to euthanize the promising gray thoroughbred filly, Eight Belles, when she collapsed on the track after completing the race at Churchill Downs, suffering from two shattered ankles in her front legs. A fresh horse won't face any of those problems. Even a horse that ran in the Derby but skipped the Preakness will have five weeks to rest, and plenty of time for normal skeletal damage to repair, before the Belmont. "So, American Pharoah, it'd be awesome if you win the Triple Crown, but you probably won't," concluded Pandell. "It's not your fault. It's science and those pesky fresh horses." Science was wrong.

Cinnamon 2.6: a Massive Update Loaded With Performance Improvements 155

jones_supa writes: The Linux Mint team has just announced that Cinnamon 2.6 desktop environment is considered stable and ready to download. It is a big update. The load times have been greatly improved and unnecessary calculations in the window management part are dropped, leading to a 40% reduction in the number of CPU wakes per second. Other improvements include a screensaver that does more than just lock the screen, panels that can be removed or added individually, a much better System Settings panel that should make things much clearer, a cool new effect for windows, and a brand new plugin manager for Nemo. Linux Mint users will receive the new Cinnamon as an update by the end of the month.
The Media

WSJ Crowdsources Investigation of Hillary Clinton Emails 231

PvtVoid writes: The Wall Street Journal now has a page up that encourages readers to sift through and tag Hillary Clinton's emails on Benghazi. Users can click on suggested tags such as "Heated", "Personal", "Boring", or "Interesting", or supply their own tags. What could possibly go wrong? I'm tagging this story "election2016."

Mobile Spy Software Maker MSpy Hacked, Customer Data Leaked 79

pdclarry writes: mSpy sells a software-as-a-service package that claims to allow you to spy on iPhones. It is used by ~2 million people to spy on their children, partners, Exes, etc. The information gleaned is stored on mSpy's servers. Brian Krebs reports that mSpy has been hacked and their entire database of several hundred GB of their customer's data has been posted on the Dark Web. The trove includes Apple IDs and passwords, as well as the complete contents of phones that have mSpy installed. So much for keeping your children safe.

IBM CIO Thinks Agile Development Might Save Company 208

Nerval's Lobster writes: A new Wall Street Journal article details how IBM CIO Jeff Smith is trying to make Big Blue, which is going through some turbulent times as it attempts to transition from a hardware-dependent business to one that more fully embraces the cloud and services, operate more like a startup instead of a century-old colossus. His solution centers on having developers work in smaller teams, each of which embraces Agile methodology, as opposed to working in huge divisions on multi-year projects. In order to unite employees who might be geographically dispersed, IBM also has its groups leave open a Skype channel throughout the workday. Smith hopes, of course, that his plan will accelerate IBM's internal development, and make it more competitive against not only its tech-giant competition, but also the host of startups working in common fields such as artificial intelligence.

Cyanogen Partners With Microsoft To Replace Google Apps 179

Unknown Lamer writes: Microsoft and Cyanogen Inc have announced a partnership to bring Microsoft applications to Cyanogen OS. "Under the partnership, Cyanogen will integrate and distribute Microsoft's consumer apps and services across core categories, including productivity, messaging, utilities, and cloud-based services. As part of this collaboration, Microsoft will create native integrations on Cyanogen OS, enabling a powerful new class of experiences." Ars Technica comments, "If Cyanogen really wants to ship a Googleless Android, it will need to provide alternatives to Google's services, and this Microsoft deal is a small start. Microsoft can provide alternatives for Search (Bing), Google Drive (OneDrive and Office), and Gmail (Outlook). The real missing pieces are alternatives to Google Play, Google Maps, and Google Play Services."

Rather than distribute more proprietary services, how about ownCloud for Drive, K-9 Mail for Gmail, OsmAnd for Maps, and F-Droid for an app store? Mozilla and DuckDuckGo provide Free Software search providers for Android, too. With Google neglecting the Android Open Source Project and Cyanogen partnering with Microsoft, the future for Free Software Android as anything but a shell for proprietary software looks bleak.

1980's Soviet Bloc Computing: Printers, Mice, and Cassette Decks 74

szczys writes Martin Maly rode the wave of computer evolution in the 1980's while living in the former Czechoslovak Republic. Computers themselves were hard to come by, peripherals were even more rare and so enthusiasts of the time hacked their own, like dot-matrix printers and computer mice. If your build was impressive enough, the government would adopt it and begin manufacturing the design somewhat widely. Was your first computer mouse built into a plastic spice container? We covered what the personal computer revolution was like in Eastern Bloc countries back in December.

Comment Check your sources? (Score 1) 174

Heck; off-the-shelf tech can see you through your walls.

If you actually read the article you linked, you could find out that it's custom made hardware made from components which may be used in a wi-fi device, that's not the same as off-the-shelf.

"All the components we use are ones typically used in a Wi-Fi handheld device," she said.

Wi-Vi transmits two Wi-Fi signals, one of which is the inverse of the other.

Off-the-shelf stuff can't do this, but with components similar to that you can.

Comment Re:Seems like a terrible design (Score 1) 155

Let's work the numbers:

The screen is 13.3 WXGA, and the size is about 286mm x 179mm, and the panels appear to be the same size, and I can spot three.
Assuming a solar radiation of 1300 W per sqare meter and 15% solar panel efficiency, we arrive at a guesstimate of:
286mm * 179mm * 3 panels * 1300 W / square meter * 15% efficiency 30 W.

Looking at their website, it has a Intel Atom D2500 cpu which has a stated max TDP of 10 W, the hard drive could use 2-4 W (guesstimate), and the backlight could use from 1 to 10 watt (guesstimate), leaving still some power to charge the battery.

Now, back to the battery, assuming we get 90% efficiency when charging at 30W at 2 hours gives 54Wh.

Now, using this guesstimate of 13-24W should give from 4 to 9 hours use assuming the CPU is working at max TDP all the time.

To summarize, 2 hours solar charge in ideal conditions and (generously) assuming high quality solar cells (and a lot of other things) could give from 4 to 9 hours laptop use, possibly more.

Comment Mildly annoying (Score 2) 359

I have a touch screen laptop which appears like a normal laptop, so people don't know it's touch at first glance, and I usually forget to warn them. This leads to mildly annoying situations when I'm using it with someone. Someone: Hey, what's this? (touches screen) Hey, what happened? Me: You clicked on it. Now I either have to just click back in the browser, or rectify whatever they clicked on. Of course my screen is smudgy, but it seems a lot of people instinctively want to touch screens, so they are going to be smudgy anyways.

The shortest distance between two points is under construction. -- Noelie Alito