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NASA Launches Four Spacecraft To Study Earth-Sun Magnetism 21

An anonymous reader writes: Late Thursday NASA used an Atlas rocket to put four new, identical spacecraft into orbit. "The quartet of observatories is being placed into an oblong orbit stretching tens of thousands of miles into the magnetosphere — nearly halfway to the moon at one point. They will fly in pyramid formation, between 6 miles and 250 miles apart, to provide 3-D views of magnetic reconnection on the smallest of scales. Magnetic reconnection is what happens when magnetic fields like those around Earth and the sun come together, break apart, then come together again, releasing vast energy. This repeated process drives the aurora, as well as solar storms that can disrupt communications and power on Earth. Data from this two-year mission should help scientists better understand so-called space weather."

Senator: 'Plenty' of Domestic Surveillance We Still Don't Know About 107

An anonymous reader writes: In a recent interview, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) has complained about the Obama administration's failure to shut down the NSA's bulk collection of phone metadata. This program and most other programs we've heard of were disclosed by Edward Snowden. But Snowden couldn't tell us everything. When asked if there were further domestic surveillance programs about which the public knows nothing, Senator Wyden said, "Yeah, there's plenty of stuff." The ones he knows about are classified, so he couldn't elaborate. "Even in cases where the public has been informed of government practices, Wyden warned the government still collects far too much information on millions of citizens with virtually no accountability."

Submission + - Cheap, Refillable, Biodegradable Batteries Within 3 Years (

pcwhalen writes: Batteries use noxious chemicals and don’t last very long. Even rechargeables don’t seem to power up that long. But what if someone came out with a renewable energy source battery?

At Virginia Tech, a research team has developed an energy-dense fuel cell that runs of a maltodextrin solution. Using sugar in a battery is like indirect solar power, renewable when we grow the sugar source.

Little fuel cells that run off of Sunny-D? Neat.

Submission + - "Laser Mirror" Could be Future of Space Telescopes ( 1

sciencehabit writes: Imagine a space telescope the size of a football field that weighs as much as a few slices of bread. Researchers have taken a step toward that goal by creating a small mirror out of tiny polystyrene particles, held together by lasers. Without any weight constraints, telescopes could be much more powerful than previously thought possible. In space, a series of powerful lasers would hold the mirror together, creating giant telescopes that weigh only a few hundred grams. What's more, such telescopes could quickly reassemble if struck by space debris.

Submission + - Yep, People Are Still Using '123456' and 'Password' as Passwords in 2014 (

Nerval's Lobster writes: Earlier this week, SplashData released its annual list of the 25 most common passwords used on the Internet—and no surprise, most are so blindingly obvious it’s a shock that people still rely on them to protect their data: '12345,' 'password,' 'qwerty' '11111,' and worse. There were some interesting quirks in the dataset, however. Following a massive security breach in late 2013, a large amount of Adobe users’ passwords leaked onto the broader Web; many of those users based their password on either ‘Adobe’ or ‘Photoshop,’ which are terms (along with the ever-popular ‘password’) easily discoverable using today’s hacker tools. “Seeing passwords like ‘adobe123 and ‘photoshop’ on this list offers a good reminder not to base your password on the name of the website or application you are accessing,” Morgan Slain, CEO of SplashData, wrote in a statement. Slashdotters have known for years that, while it's always tempting to create a password that’s easy to remember—especially if you maintain profiles on multiple online services—the consequences of an attacker breaking into your accounts are potentially devastating. As you know, complex passwords with a mix of numbers, letters and special characters (#,$,%,&, etc.) are best; avoid passwords based on dictionary words, numerical sequences (“1234567”), or personal information (such as your birthday).

Submission + - Water Plume 'Unequivocally' Detected at Dwarf Planet Ceres (

astroengine writes: Astronomers analyzing data from the now defunct Herschel infrared space observatory have made a huge discovery deep inside the asteroid belt. Dwarf planet Ceres, the largest body in the region, is generating plumes of water vapor. “This is the first time water vapor has been unequivocally detected on Ceres or any other object in the asteroid belt and provides proof that Ceres has an icy surface and an atmosphere,” said Michael Küppers of the European Space Agency in Spain and lead author of a paper published today (Jan. 22) in the journal Nature.

Submission + - How can I improve my memory retention during studying? 4

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 in the subject of memory has not been very fruitful, therefore I want to ask/Slashdots for input into which angle/direction I should look into next. As for cognitive speed I have completely drawn a blank.

Submission + - Intel's Quad-Core Sandy Bridge-E Tested (

MojoKid writes: "When Intel launched their high-end Sandy Bridge-E platform recently, the company also quietly launched a new midrange quad-core. The new Core i7-3820 is based on the very same die as the higher-end Core i7-3960X, but two more of its cores and some cache have been disabled. Whereas the Core i7-3960X has six active cores (eight total, two disabled) and 15MB of shared SmartCache, the Core i7-3820 has four active cores (8 threads with Intel HyperThreading) and 10MB of shared cache. Unfortunately the new chip doesn't offer much in the way of a performance boost over the previous generation Core i7-2700K, but it does offer more integrated PCI Express connectivity (Gen 3.0 compatible eventually once validated by Intel), more memory bandwidth (quad-channel vs. dual-channel), more on-chip cache, and it's paired to Intel's latest X79 chipset."
Data Storage

Submission + - IBM smashes Moore's Law, cuts bit size to 12 atoms (

pcwhalen writes: "You have to love Big Blue. IBM researchers have taken the usual magnetic media from hard drives and SSDs and used a type of magnetism called antiferromagnetism that aligns the atoms in a different way, allowing for 100 TB in the space taken by today's 1 TB drives. So then I can put all my HD movies and the total season of Firefly on my iPod Touch."

Submission + - Funf Is a Sensing and Data Processing Mobile Frame (

An anonymous reader writes: Funf is an open source framework for collecting and analyzing mobile data. It has been used by MIT to see how political opinions change during an election campaign, how users interact with each other, or how illnesses spread through population.

Submission + - United Independent Design Theory (

flyerbri writes: "Did the observers of CERN see faster than light particles or did they not? Is Schrodinger's cat alive or dead? This controversial new theory sheds light on the observer effect, how the observer influences the outcome, how computer processors _already_ account for this mathematically, and how we may need to revise the fundamentals of math to update some of our most basic assumptions we were all taught in grade school"

Submission + - Ion Proton sequencer decodes DNA fast and on the c (

cylonlover writes: Until recently, DNA decoding machines — fitting in the US$500,000 to $750,000 price range — would take weeks or even months to sequence a human genome, and the whole procedure would cost $5,000 to $10,000. That could be about to change, however, as Life Technologies introduces the Benchtop Ion Proton Sequencer — a machine that may finally deliver the power of genetics into the hands of ordinary doctors thanks to its $149,000 price tag and ability to decode a human genome in one day at a cost of $1,000.

The two most common things in the Universe are hydrogen and stupidity. -- Harlan Ellison