An anonymous reader points out that Stephen Hawking recently gave some advice for One Direction fans. What is the cosmological effect of singer Zayn Malik leaving the best-selling boy band One Direction and consequently disappointing millions of teenage girls around the world? The advice of British cosmologist Stephen Hawking to heartbroken fans is to follow theoretical physics, because Malik may well still be a member of the pop group in another universe. The physicist took a break from speaking about his work as one of the world's leading scientists to answer the question from one upset fan during a talk at Sydney Opera House at the weekend. 'Finally a question about something important,' Hawking, who appeared via hologram, said to loud laughs from the audience. 'My advice to any heartbroken young girl is to pay attention to the study of theoretical physics because, one day, there may well be proof of multiple universes. It would not be beyond the realms of possibility that somewhere outside of our own universe lies another, different universe and, in that universe, Zayn is still in One Direction.'"
An anonymous reader writes: Petraeus, a now-retired U.S. Army General, has already agreed to plead guilty to a criminal misdemeanor charge of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material. As part of the agreement with prosecutors filed in March, the government will not seek any prison time. Instead, Petraeus will agree to pay a $40,000 fine and receive two years of probation, according to court documents. The recommendations are not binding on the federal judge who will preside at the hearing Thursday afternoon in Charlotte.
Mark Wilson writes: When you receive a call you'll usually see the number of the caller, but this may not be helpful in identifying them before you decide whether to pick up. Facebook's answer to this problem is Hello. This new app comes from the Facebook Messenger team and aims to tell you more about the person getting in touch with you even if you don't have their number saved in your address book. Currently available for Android, the dialer app also allows for the blocking of calls from individuals.
ancientribe writes Once again, SSL/TLS encryption is getting dogged by outdated and weak options that make it less secure. This time, it's the weak keys in the older RC4 crypto algorithm, which can be abused such that an attacker can sniff credentials or other data in an SSL session, according to a researcher who revealed the hack today at Black Hat Asia in Singapore. A slice: Bar Mitzvah exploits the weak keys used by RC4 and allows an attacker to recover plain text from the encrypted information, potentially exposing account credentials, credit card data, or other sensitive information. And unlike previous SSL hacks, this one doesn't require an active man-in-the-middle session, just passive sniffing or eavesdropping on SSL/TLS-encrypted connections, [researcher Itsik] Mantin says. But MITM could be used as well, though, for hijacking a session, he says.
KentuckyFC writes "Imaging is undergoing a quiet revolution at the moment thanks to various new techniques for extracting data from images. Now physicists have worked out how to create an image of an object hidden behind a translucent material using little more than an ordinary smartphone and some clever data processing. The team placed objects behind materials that scatter light such as onion skin, frosted glass and chicken breast tissue. They photographed them using a Nokia Lumina 1020 smartphone, with a 41 megapixel sensor. To the naked eye, the resulting images look like random speckle. But by treating the data from each pixel separately and looking for correlations between pixels, the team was able to produce images of the hidden objects. They even photographed light scattered off a white wall and recovered an image of the reflected scene--a technique that effectively looks round corners. The new technique has applications in areas such as surveillance and medical imaging."
Facebook has announced an agreement to buy WhatsApp, the mobile messaging platform used by over 450 million people. The deal involves $4 billion in cash and an additional $12 billion in Facebook stock. They say WhatsApp will remain independent; its headquarters won't move, and it will continue to exist separately from Facebook's Messenger app. Mark Zuckerberg indicated they will focus on growth: 'Over the next few years, we're going to work hard to help WhatsApp grow and connect the whole world. We also expect that WhatsApp will add to our efforts for Internet.org, our partnership to make basic internet services affordable for everyone.' On WhatsApp's blog, they say, "Here’s what will change for you, our users: nothing. WhatsApp will remain autonomous and operate independently."
StartsWithABang writes "So unless you've been living under a rock, you're aware that it's only a few short weeks until the premiere of the new Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey starring Neil de Grasse Tyson. Many have hopes (and fears) concerning what the series will (and won't) be, but this perspective — on what a 'successful' Cosmos series could mean for the future of humanity — is worth a read for anyone who hasn't given up on dreaming big."
An anonymous reader writes "A secretive EU body has agreed to develop a device to be fitted to all cars allowing police to cut off any engine at will, it emerged today. The device, which could be imposed within a decade, would also allow police to track a vehicle's movements as well as immobilise it. According to The Daily Telegraph a group of senior EU officials, including several Home Office mandarins, have signed off the proposal at a secret meeting in Brussels."
First time accepted submitter Sensei_knight writes "How serendipitous! Today I see Slashdot also has an article linking caffeine to long-term memory, but I digress. Recently I returned to college in my 30s, after battling a childhood sleep disorder, and I now discover staying awake might be the least of my troubles. Now that I failed a few classes I'm trying to analyze and overcome the causes of this recent disaster. Two things are obvious: First, it takes me way too long to complete tasks (as if suffering from time dilation) — tests take me approximately twice the amount of time to finish [and the amount of time it takes to study and do homework is cumulative and unsustainable]. Secondly, I just can't seem to remember a whole lot. I know sleep and memory are very closely related, perhaps that's why I have never been able to commit the times tables to memory. My research on the subject of memory has not been very fruitful, therefore I want to ask for input into which angle/direction I should look into next. As for cognitive speed, I have completely drawn a blank."
An anonymous reader writes "Ok, fellow geeks... I have the luxury of finally building my dream home from scratch. It's going to be good sized (~4000 sq ft over 3 levels), and rather than run around at night to make sure my lights are off, doors are locked, garage is closed, etc, I really want to put in a home automation system. Since the walls aren't up, this is the time for complete flexibility as to my options. The last time I did a whole house, it was years ago, X10. Since then, lots of other protocols, both 'proprietary' and more general (like WiFi) have come on the market for devices — all better than what I've worked with in the past. What do you all have experience with and recommend as reliable, secure, and fairly easy to use? Something with a good chance for long term availability of parts and features would be a bonus."
ananyo writes "A swarm of small satellites set to deliver close to real-time imagery of swathes of the planet is launching today. San Francisco-based Planet Labs, founded in 2010 by three former NASA scientists, is scheduled to launch 28 of its 'Doves' on 9 January. Each toaster-sized device weighs about 5 kilograms and can take images at a resolution of 3–5 metres. Meanwhile Skybox Imaging plans to launch a swarm of 24 satellites, each weighing about 100 kilograms, which will take images of 1 meter resolution or better. Skybox launched its first satellite on 21 November (and captured the first HD video of the world from space) and plans to launch another this year, followed by the remainder between 2015 and 2017. In a first — at least for civilian satellites — Skybox's devices will also stream short segments of near-live high-resolution video footage of the planet. So, too, will UrtheCast, a start-up based in Vancouver, Canada, whose cameras will hitch a ride on the International Space Station. Because the swarms are still to be launched, scientists have yet to fully assess the quality of the imagery. But the satellites' spatial resolutions of 1–5 metres are much higher than those of most scientific satellites. Landsat, NASA's Earth-observation workhorse, for example, has a resolution of 15–100 metres depending on the spectral frequency, with 30 metres in the visible-light range."
slew writes "Although the robot technically cheats because it watches your hand and can recognize what shape you are intending to make and beat it before you even know what is happening. Apparently it takes about 60ms for you to shape your hand, but the robot can recognize the shape before it is completed, and only takes 20ms to counter your shape so the results appear to the human opponent to be virtually simultaneous. I wonder how difficult it would be to add lizard and spock to the mix.... ;^)."
wjcofkc writes "The United States Government has officially called in the calvary over the problems with Healthcare.gov. Tech titans Oracle, Red Hat and Google have been tapped to join the effort to fix the website that went live a month ago, only to quickly roll over and die. While a tech surge of engineers to fix such a complex problem is arguably not the greatest idea, if you're going to do so, you might as well bring in the big guns. The question is: can they make the end of November deadline?"
An anonymous reader writes "According to the Washington Post, 'Former Vice President Dick Cheney says he once feared that terrorists could use the electrical device that had been implanted near his heart to kill him and had his doctor disable its wireless function. Cheney has a history of heart trouble, suffering the first of five heart attacks at age 37. ... In an interview with CBS' 60 Minutes, Cheney says doctors replaced an implanted defibrillator near his heart in 2007. The device can detect irregular heartbeats and control them with electrical jolts. Cheney says that he and his doctor, cardiologist Jonathan Reiner, turned off the device's wireless function in case a terrorist tried to send his heart a fatal shock.' More at CBS News."
New submitter Maser_24 writes with news about continued action against Google for snooping on unsecured Wi-Fi networks when collecting data for Street View. From the article: "A federal appeals court this week ruled that Google could be held liable for civil damages for the company's 2011 scandal involving the company's collection of Wi-Fi data from unsecured hotspots using their Street View vehicles. To come to that conclusion, the court followed a rather unique logic path; according to the court, unsecured Wi-Fi hotspots are not 'radio communications' that are 'readily accessible' to the general public and therefore Google violated the Wiretap Act." This despite being cleared of wrongdoing by the FCC.