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Government

+ - $2,000 Bribe Bought Password to DC P.O. System

Submitted by
theodp
theodp writes "While the Administration is counting on new Federal CIO Vivek Kundra to simplify and speed the federal IT procurement process, it's doubtful he'll be able to reduce red tape to the extent that a former minion of his did at the scandal-rocked D.C. Office of the CTO. Exhibiting some truly out-of-the-box thinking, project manager Tawanna Sellmon not only processed phony invoices for the contractor at the center of the D.C. bribery and kickback scandal, she also gave him the password to the city's computerized database used to track purchase orders. Sellmon pleaded guilty last week for her role in the scam, which netted her an envelope containing $2,000 in cash, as well as an undisclosed number of $25-$100 gift cards. MasterCard business gift giving: Priceless."
Math

+ - BellKor Wins Netflix $1 Million by 20 Minutes->

Submitted by
eldavojohn
eldavojohn writes "There was a strange development at the end of Netflix's competition in which The Ensemble passed BellKor's Pragmatic Chaos by 0.01% merely twenty minutes after BellKor had submitted results past the ten percent mark required to win the million dollars. Unfortunately for The Ensemble, BellKor was declared the victor this morning by that twenty minute margin and the million dollars was lost. For those of you following the story, The New York Times reports on how teams merged to form Bellkor's Pragmatic Chaos and take the lead which sparked an arms race of teams conjoining to merge their algorithms to produce better results. Now the Netflix Prize 2 competition has been announced."
Link to Original Source
Mars

NASA Plans Test of New Plasma Drive 266

Posted by timothy
from the please-don't-bring-carrie-ann-moss dept.
Sallust writes "Flightglobal has an interesting article about the testing of a new electrically powered plasma engine called the Vasimir. It's being developed by former astronaut Franklin Chang-Diaz and promises to greatly reduce the time and fuel required for interplanetary journeys. According to the article: 'The Vasimir involves the injection of a gas such as hydrogen into an engine that turns it into a plasma. That plasma is then energised further using radio signals as it flows through the engine, a process controlled by electromagnetic waves from superconducting magnets. Accelerated and heated through this process the plasma is focused and directed as exhaust by a magnetic nozzle. Vasimir is many times more efficient than conventional chemical rockets and far less fuel is needed.' The developers are finalising an agreement with NASA to fit a scaled-down version of the engine to the ISS to conduct operational tests. There is also a concept video on YouTube suggesting a journey time for a manned craft to Mars on the order of 60-70 days."
Power

+ - Zero Point Energy Machine, Fiction or law breaker?->

Submitted by lb746
lb746 (721699) writes "Thane Heins a backyard scientist has possibly developed a device that can do the unthinkable, perpetual motion. Currently the machine is being shown to multiple universities with the intent to debunk and figure out what is really happening. MIT was just shown the device and currently has no initial claims if it's really true or explanations of how it's happening.

Link to a YouTube of the device: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpIdu1lWVW0"

Link to Original Source

"I have not the slightest confidence in 'spiritual manifestations.'" -- Robert G. Ingersoll

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