snydeq writes "The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the Innovation Act, dealing trolls a severe blow despite opposition from universities looking to protect patents, InfoWorld's Simon Phipps reports. The act cleared the House of Representatives with an overwhelming majority of 325 to 91 despite opposition from the organizations most likely to feed new patents to the trolls. 'So bravo to the Innovation Act. It's far from perfect, as the EFF documents and as I commented before the holiday. But it's a step in the right direction, and the tidal surge of support it's seeing suggests legislators' appetite for proper patent reform is finally growing strong enough for them to contemplate substantial change.'"
DavidGilbert99 writes "The founder of eBay, the parent company of PayPal, Pierre Omidyar has called on U.S. prosecutors to have mercy on the 14 members of Anonymous who are appearing in court this week facing up to 15 years in jail and a $500,000 fine for their part in a DDoS attack against PayPal in 2010. Despite thousands of Anons taking part, and most of the damage being done by two major botnets, the 14 are set to bear all the responsibility if U.S. prosecutors have their way."
binarstu writes "Suzanne Nossel, writing for CNN, reports that 'a survey of American writers done in October revealed that nearly one in four has self-censored for fear of government surveillance. They fessed up to curbing their research, not accepting certain assignments, even not discussing certain topics on the phone or via e-mail for fear of being targeted. The subjects they are avoiding are no surprise — mostly matters to do with the Middle East, the military and terrorism.' Yet ordinary Americans, for the most part, seem not to care: 'Surveillance so intrusive it is putting certain subjects out of bounds would seem like cause for alarm in a country that prides itself as the world's most free. Americans have long protested the persecution and constraints on journalists and writers living under repressive regimes abroad, yet many seem ready to accept these new encroachments on their freedom at home.'"
jfruh writes "One of the most potent aspects of Anonymous is, well, its anonymity — but that isn't absolute. Eric Rosol was caught by federal authorities participating in a DDoS attack on a company owned by Koch Industry; for knocking a website offline for 15 minutes, Rosol got two years of probation and had to pay $183,000 in restitution (the amount Koch paid to a security consultant to protect its website ater the attack)." The worst part? From the article: "Eric J. Rosol, 38, is said to have admitted that on Feb. 28, 2011, he took part in a denial of service attack for about a minute on a Web page of Koch Industries..."
sciencehabit writes "Theoretical physicists have forged a connection between the concept of entanglement — itself a mysterious quantum mechanical connection between two widely separated particles — and that of a wormhole — a hypothetical connection between black holes that serves as a shortcut through space (first abstract, second abstract). The insight could help physicists reconcile quantum mechanics and Einstein's general theory of relativity, perhaps the grandest goal in theoretical physics."
curtwoodward writes "Nearly four years after the concept was introduced, MIT spinout Superpedestrian has started selling its $700 'Copenhagen wheel' kits that promise to turn any old bike into an electric-powered, smartphone-connected dynamo, simply by swapping out the back wheel. But they're not alone: a competing startup called FlyKly has already raised $700,000 worth of pre-orders for a similar device. Superpedestrian, which holds exclusive license to the MIT patents covering the Copenhagen wheel, clearly thinks there's some foul play going on. 'Their founder actually dropped by our lab at MIT a year and a half ago, saying he wants to collaborate, and spent quite some time with the Copenhagen wheel team. We'll leave it at that,' Superpedestrian founder Assaf Biderman said."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "CNN reports that the 600 horsepower Porsche Carrera GT is notoriously difficult to handle, even for professional drivers. Known as the car actor Paul Walker was riding in when he died, there is no suggestion anyone was to blame for Walker's crash but Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson says drivers are on a 'knife edge' handling the car and described it as 'brutal and savage". 'It is a phenomena — mind blowingly good. Make a mistake — it bites your head off.' Todd Trimble, an exotic car mechanic in Las Vegas, says the Carrera GT is a 'very hard car to drive.' It's (a) pure racer's car. You really need to know what you're doing when you drive them. And a lot of people are learning the hard way.' The sports car has a top speed of 208 mph, a very high-revving V10 engine and more than 600 horsepower says Eddie Alterman, editor-and-chief of Car and Driver magazine. 'This was not a car for novices,' says Alterman. Having the engine in the middle of the car means it's more agile and turns more quickly than a car with the engine in the front or in the rear so it is able to change direction 'very quickly, very much like a race car,' adds Alterman. The Carrera GT is also unusual because it has no electronic stability control which means that it's unforgiving with mistakes. 'Stability control is really good at correcting slides, keeping the car from getting out of shape,' says race car driver Randy Pobst. Alterman concludes that learning to drive a car like a Carrera GT can be extremely tricky. 'Every car is sort of different. And this one, especially since it had such a hair-trigger throttle, because it changed directions so quickly, there is a lot to learn.'"
sciencehabit writes "This morning, an animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) filed a lawsuit in a New York court in an attempt to get a judge to declare that chimpanzees are legal persons and should be freed from captivity. The suit is the first of three to be filed in three New York counties this week. They target two research chimps at Stony Brook University and two chimps on private property, and are the opening salvo in a coordinated effort to grant 'legal personhood' to a variety of animals across the United States. If NhRP is successful in New York, it would upend millennia of law defining animals as property and could set off a 'chain reaction' that could bleed over to other jurisdictions, says Richard Cupp, a law professor at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, and a prominent critic of animal rights. 'But if they lose it could be a giant step backward for the movement. They're playing with fire.'"
New submitter Raging Bool writes "The BBC is reporting that acquired phobias or aversions by mice can be passed on to subsequent generations. From the article: 'Experiments showed that a traumatic event could affect the DNA in sperm and alter the brains and behavior of subsequent generations. A Nature Neuroscience study shows mice trained to avoid a smell passed their aversion on to their 'grandchildren.''"
An anonymous reader writes "The organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has proposed destroying at least 1000 tons of the confiscated Syrian chemical weapon stockpile out at sea, which some fear will destroy delicate ecosystems vital to sea and human life alike. The OPCW claims the plan is 'technically feasible' and is apparently willing to risk ecological disaster to destroy the toxic contents of the weaponry in or above the sea. Members of the press were told, 'the group is considering whether to destroy the chemical weapons in the ocean, either on a ship or by loading them onto an offshore rig.'"
An anonymous reader writes "New research suggests that the amount of methane being released from Siberian permafrost is much larger than previously thought. From the article: 'Thawing permafrost gets a lot of attention as a positive feedback that could amplify global warming by releasing carbon dioxide and methane, both of which are greenhouse gases. Because of this, a lot of effort goes into studying Arctic permafrost. An international group of researchers led by Natalia Shakhova at the University of Alaska Fairbanks has been plying the remote waters of the Siberian Shelf for about a decade to find out how much methane was coming up from the thawing permafrost. They didn't expect to find it bubbling.'"
Taco Cowboy writes "'While the distribution of Y-chromosome haplogroups in Africa took 12 thousand years to spread, those in Europe started from around 3rd millennium.' The speed of spread of the European haplogroups was totally astounding, to say the least. 'There was no R1b found in Europe before a Bell Beaker site from the 3rd millennium BC and today many Europeans (most in western Europe) belong to this haplogroup. 'We used coalescent simulations to investigate the range of demographic models most likely to produce the phylogenetic structures observed in Africa and Europe, assessing the starting and ending genetic effective population sizes, duration of the expansion, and time when expansion ended. The best-fitting models in Africa and Europe are very different. In Africa, the expansion took about 12 thousand years, ending very recently; it started from approximately 40 men and numbers expanded approximately 50-fold. In Europe, the expansion was much more rapid, taking only a few generations and occurring as soon as the major R1b lineage entered Europe; it started from just one to three men, whose numbers expanded more than a thousandfold.'"
Rambo Tribble writes "The BBC reports that the U. S. government has agreed to pay software maker Apptricity $50 million to settle claims that the U.S. Army pirated thousands of copies of the firm's provisioning software. The report indicates 500 licensed copies were sold, but it came to light an army official had mentioned that 'thousands' of devices were running the software." $50 million in tax money could have paid for a whole lot of open source software development, instead.
jones_supa writes "An EU citizen uses around 200 plastic bags per year. That's too much, says the EU. But wasting plastic bags is not just a European problem. Countries around the world are struggling with the issue, and it especially affects growing economies such as Asia. Some Southeast Asian countries don't even have the proper infrastructure in place to dispose of the bags properly. The problems for the environment are many. Plastic bags usually take several hundred years until they decay, thereby filling landfills, while animals often mistake the plastic for food and choke to death. Additionally they are a major cause of seaborne pollution, which is a serious hazard for marine life. This autumn, EU started ambitious plans which aim to reduce usage 80% by 2017. Some countries have already applied measures to slow plastic bag use: England has added a 5p charge to previously free bags, and in Ireland the government has already imposed a tax of 22 euro cents ($0.29) per plastic bag. The EU Environment Commissioner, Janez Potonik, said, 'We're taking action to solve a very serious and highly visible environmental problem.'"
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "For many education advocates, the arts supposedly increase test scores, generate social responsibility and turn around failing schools but research that demonstrates a causal relationship has been virtually nonexistent. Now the NY Times reports that with the opening of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, a large-scale, random-assignment study (abstract) of school tours to the museum has determined that a strong causal relationship does in fact exist between arts education and a range of desirable outcomes. Students who, by lottery, were selected to visit the museum on a field trip demonstrated stronger critical thinking skills, displayed higher levels of social tolerance, exhibited greater historical empathy and developed a taste for art museums and cultural institutions. Moreover, most of the benefits are significantly larger for minority students, low-income students and students from rural schools — typically two to three times larger than for white, middle-class, suburban students — owing perhaps to the fact that the tour was the first time they had visited an art museum. Further research is needed to determine what exactly about the museum-going experience determines the strength of the outcomes. How important is the structure of the tour? The size of the group? The type of art presented? 'Clearly, however, we can conclude that visiting an art museum exposes students to a diversity of ideas that challenge them with different perspectives on the human condition,' write the authors. 'Expanding access to art, whether through programs in schools or through visits to area museums and galleries, should be a central part of any school's curriculum.'"