Cyberpunk (Gibson, Stross et al)
Classic old school sci-fi (Clarke, Heinlein etc)
Modern Space opera (Ian M Banks)
High Fantasy (Tolkein et al
Schlock Fantasy (Dragonlance, Drizzt)
Cyberpunk (Gibson, Stross et al)
An anonymous reader sends along a Cosmos Magazine piece on the discovery by NASA's Cassini probe of vertical structures in Saturn's rings, 150 times as high as the rings are thick. The structures were seen because a once-every-15-years orientation of the rings caused vertical features to cast visible shadows. "NASA's Cassini probe has uncovered for the first time towering vertical structures in Saturn's otherwise flat rings that are attributable to the gravitational effects of a small moon. 'We thought that this vertical structure was pretty neat when we first saw it in our simulations,' said John Weiss, the paper's lead author at the Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for Operations in the US city of Boulder, Colorado. 'But it's a million times cooler to have your theory supported by such gorgeous images. It makes you suspect you might be doing something right,' he added." Update: 06/17 19:29 GMT by KD : The CICLOPS team sent a note correcting the attribution of the quote; the linked article also had it wrong, and has since been corrected.
DeviceGuru writes "The Linux version of Boxee's eponymously-named multimedia platform has finally been updated to include several new features introduced into the OS X and Windows versions over the past few months. Key additions include an App Box and restored support for Hulu, which disappeared several months ago. Still lacking in the latest Linux release, however, is the long-awaited addition of Netflix movie and TV show streaming for subscribers to Netflix's monthly service."
An anonymous reader writes "The main chemical in marijuana kills cancerous brain cells, offering hope for future anti-cancer therapies, say Spanish scientists. A team led by Guillermo Velasco of Complutense University in Madrid, found that the active component of marijuana — tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — kills tumour cells through a process called autophagy. This is the process that occurs when a cell self-destructs by digesting itself."
Link to Original Source
Link to Original Source
Enfors writes "CCP, developers of the sci-fi MMOG EVE Online, continue to impress with their open attitude towards players. In a thread on the EVE forums, an EVE Online player named Dire Lauthris describes difficulties he was having while making a fan movie that would illustrate a portion of EVE Online's background story. To make it 'historically correct,' he contacted CCP, the developers, to check on some facts. Instead of threatening to sue him for infringing on their intellectual property, they ended up inviting him to their offices to set him up with better movie-making software than the one he was using. Also, they had an employee record the narrator voice for his movie. The movie is now finished and available online. Massively is running a related article about storytelling in EVE."
Hugh Pickens writes "A new system developed by engineers at Vanderbilt University can display the location of enemy shooters in three dimensions and accurately identify the caliber and type of weapons they are firing by turning their combat helmets into "smart nodes" in a wireless sensor network. The system relies on the sound waves produced when a high-powered rifle is fired which have distinctive characteristics to allow the nodes to pick them out from other loud noises and track them back to their source. The system combines information from a number of nodes to triangulate on shooter positions and improve the accuracy of its location identification process. "It's strong points are that it isn't limited to locating shots fired in direct line-of-sight, it can pick up multiple shooters at the same time, and it can identify the caliber and type of weapon that is being fired." says Retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Albert Sciarretta, who assesses new military technologies in urban environments for DARPA. Each node in the system costs about $1,000 to construct using currently available commercial hardware. "A leader can use the information that this system provides to react tactically to enemy shooters in ways that limit the number of friendly force and non-combatant casualties. The ISIS system could be easily developed into an operational war-fighting system," Sciarretta adds."
Hugh Pickens writes "Hanging in a cubicle in the FBI office near Quantico, Va. is a map of the United States covered in red dots representing some of the 500-plus cases in the Highway Serial Killings Initiative database. The pattern in roadside body dumps and other evidence has prompted investigators to speculate that the mobility, lack of supervision and access to potential victims that come with the job make it a good cover for someone inclined to kill. "You've got a mobile crime scene," one investigator said. "You can pick a girl up on the East Coast, kill her two states away and then dump her three states after that." Since the program began, more than two dozen killings have been solved and Michael Harrigan, who oversees the program says the program helps local police "connect the dots" to slayings outside their jurisdictions. Though many of the dots on the map now appear connected to one another by similarities such as the killers' modes of operation, the vast majority are not connected to any known suspect and the program's success depends largely on local police departments' voluntarily providing data on seemingly random killings, sexual assaults and other violent crimes to the FBI where analysts can query the computer to spot patterns that might otherwise go unnoticed. "You can't connect the dots if you don't know what the dots are.""
Big Download is running an article with details and screenshots from the MMO under development by NASA. The game makes use of Unreal Engine 3, and it's titled Astronaut: Moon, Mars and Beyond. A demo is planned for later this year, and in 2010 they expect "the first episodic installment of the game" to come out. Jerry Heneghan, founder and CEO of Virtual Heroes, described it thus: "This game is going to be a fresh look at the future circa about 2035. ... The core of the gameplay is going to be people building up their characters and as you move forward, you will have more options unlock with new places to go, new equipment to use and new things to do. We are not so much focused on interstellar flight and all that entails... the gameplay is actually about being in a habitat on a planetary surface and doing things like mining Helium-3 for fuel, operating a hydroponics facility to grow plants and create oxygen and operating robots and vehicles."
Pickens writes "MacArthur fellow Carl Safina, an adjunct professor at Stony Brook University, has an interesting essay in the NYTimes that says that equating evolution with Charles Darwin opened the door for creationism by ignoring 150 years of discoveries, including most of what scientists understand about evolution — Gregor Mendel's patterns of heredity, the discovery of DNA, developmental biology, studies documenting evolution in nature, and evolution's role in medicine and disease. Darwinism implies an ideology adhering to one man's dictates, like Marxism, says Safina. He adds that nobody talks about Newtonism or Einsteinism, and that by making Darwin 'into a sacred fetish misses the essence of his teaching.' By turning Darwin into an 'ism,' scientists created the opening for creationism, with the 'isms' implying equivalence. 'By propounding "Darwinism," even scientists and science writers perpetuate an impression that evolution is about one man, one book, one theory,' writes Safina. '"Darwinism" implies that biological scientists "believe in" Darwin's "theory." It's as if, since 1860, scientists have just ditto-headed Darwin rather than challenging and testing his ideas, or adding vast new knowledge.'"
Futurepower(R) writes "CNN's use of software called Octoshape presents an incredibly abusive EULA. If you agree to the EULA, you agree that CNN can use your bandwidth, and that you will pay any costs. Also, you lose the right to monitor your own network traffic. You can't even use information collected by your own firewall. Quoting the EULA: 'You may not collect any information about communication in the network of computers that are operating the Software or about the other users of the Software by monitoring, interdicting or intercepting any process of the Software. Octoshape recognizes that firewalls and anti-virus applications can collect such information, in which case you not are allowed to use or distribute such information.' "
arkowitz writes "I invented a protocol called CICP for interacting with virtual worlds, and filed a provisional patent application on it March 20 of last year. I have since declared the protocol open and public, and contributed an implementation of it to the Sun Wonderland project, which is GPL; and made public the LSL code and accompanying Java servlet for the Second Life implementation of the protocol. I've been collaborating with a fellow in Finland named Tommi S. E. Laukkanen on a new protocol called MXP: Metaverse Exchange Protocol (here's a full description at cybertechnews.com). MXP is and will always be public domain; we intend it to enable an open and ubiquitous metaverse. My question is this: is there any reason to complete the patent app for CICP, which could potentially cover MXP as well, and release it to the public domain? The full app is due by March 20 and the legal work would probably cost my company $10k. Would finishing the patent protect the open and public protocols from patent trolls, or would it be a waste of money? Also, what kind of document would I need to make official the public-domaining of the app?"
An anonymous reader points out this report at News.com.au which says that "THE first Australian 'Google phone' set to go on sale within weeks has been delayed indefinitely, with the manufacturer Kogan forced to refund early buyers. In a statement released this afternoon, the company said the delay was 'due to future interoperability issues.'The Agora reached a very late stage of development, manufacturing had commenced and we were within days of shipping the product to customers,' company founder Ruslan Kogan said in a statement."
An anonymous reader writes "'President-elect Barack Obama, as part of the effort to revive the economy, has proposed a massive effort to modernize health care by making all health records standardized and electronic.' The plan includes having all conventional records converted to digital within 5 years. Independent studies are fixing this cost somewhere in the range of $75 to $100 Billion, with most of the money going to paying and training technical staff to work on the conversion. Early government estimates are showing 212,000 jobs could be created by this plan."
edmicman sends word of a Fox News report about a Michigan State University student who is facing suspension for bulk emailing a number of professors at the university about a proposed change to the school calendar — an e-mail that the university is labeling spam. The article contains links to a copy of the original email, the allegations against the student, and the university's Email Acceptable Use Policy. The student, Kara Spencer, asked a Philadelphia rights organization, FIRE, to get involved. The article quotes the FIRE defense program director: "The fact that MSU is considering punishment of Spencer simply for exercising her right to contact selected faculty members by e-mail shows a disturbing disregard for students' freedom of expression. ... Threatening a member of the student government with suspension for sending relevant, timely e-mails to faculty members is outrageous." Spencer is awaiting the school's judgement after a hearing, and vows to take to the courts if suspended.
gingerTabs writes "So this morning (UK Time) the humanist society in the UK launched a campaign to sponsor London buses with an appropriate message in response to a series of Alpha course messages that have been doing the rounds. Richard Dawkins has agreed to match the amount and the target was £5,500 to give a total of £11k which is enough to sponsor 30 buses for 8 weeks. The current total stands at £37K and is growing rather rapidly