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Submission NASA's New Horizons shows Pluto's moon Charon is a strange, new world->

MarkWhittington writes: NASA's New Horizons has returned a stunning series of images of Pluto, the dwarf planet that resides on the edge of the solar system, revealing a strange new world of ice mountains and glaciers of frozen nitrogen. NASA released images of Pluto’s largest moon. Charon. Scientists expected a plain ball of rock pockmarked with craters. What they saw was anything but plain and monotonous.
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Submission How someone acquired the Google.com domain name for a single minute->

An anonymous reader writes: We’ve all been there: It’s nearly 2 in the morning and you’re cruising around the Internet looking for new domain names to purchase. I mean, talk about a cliched night, right?

Now imagine that during the course of your domain browsing, you unexpectedly discover that the holy grail of domain names — Google.com — is (gasp!) available for purchase for the low, low price of just $12. Testing fate, you attempt to initiate a transaction. Dare I say, you’re feeling a little bit lucky. And just like that, in the blink of an eye, the transaction goes through and the vaunted and highly valuable Google domain is in your possession.

While this might read like a ridiculous plot summary from some horrible piece of nerd fiction, this series of events above, believe it or not, actually happened to former Googler Sanmay Ved earlier this week.

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Submission How a lunar eclipse is different from a dark sky site

StartsWithABang writes: By far, one of the highlights of astronomy this year took place earlier this week: a total lunar eclipse featuring a perigee Moon. The sight of watching the Earth’s shadow consume the Moon, eventually swallowing it whole and revealing a faint, red lunar disk, and then the process reversing itself, is unlike any other visible to the naked eye. But the rest of the sky is always a treat as well. While a full Moon often ruins an otherwise pristine night sky with its light pollution, a dark sky during a lunar eclipse can be just as exciting as a new Moon sky, with a transition unlike anything else.

Submission 30 years a sysadmin->

itwbennett writes: Sandra Henry-Stocker’s love affair with Unix started in the early 1980s when she 'was quickly enamored of the command line and how much [she] could get done using pipes and commands like grep.’ Back then, she was working on a Zilog minicomputer, a system, she recalls, that was 'about this size of a dorm refrigerator’. Over the intervening years, a lot has changed, not just about the technology, but about the job itself. 'We might be ‘just' doing systems administration, but that role has moved heavily into managing security, controlling access to a wide range of resources, analyzing network traffic, scrutinizing log files, and fixing the chinks on our cyber armor,’ writes Henry-Stocker. What hasn’t changed? Systems administration remains a largely thankless role with little room for career advancement, albeit one that she is quick to note is ‘seldom boring’ and ‘reasonably' well-paid.
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Comment Re:I doubt it (Score 1) 29

If only.

I wear a few medical devices which talk to each other, and other things, wirelessly. I have seen firsthand that the main device can connect to a computer and obey a command to download its history without any indication showing on the screen, no beep or other indication that anything is going on. If it can do that without my permission, what else is it open to? Could it obey a command to, say, silently overdose me?

It is clear from my experience that these devices were designed with convenience in mind, both for the user and the doctor's office, and with security in mind not at all. My worry is mitigated some because I don't believe anyone has it out for me personally.

Comment Re:Why no public discussion beforehand? (Score 1) 190

As long as the collection of cells is not proven to be self aware I do not believe it matters what they do with those cells.

You haven't been proven to be self aware, so it doesn't matter what people do to you, either, I suppose?

Oh you say... sure you've been proven to be self aware? Not to a philosopher's satisfaction, you haven't. You can't disprove the solipsism hypothesis. So I haven't been proven to be self aware, either. Not to your satisfaction, anyway.

So don't be so fast to demand proof of self-awareness. I'm upset on behalf of brains in vats, because they can't protest on their own behalf. They deserve, philosophically, our great caution, lest someone else be quick to deny you or me our rights.

Submission Another slew of science papers retracted because of fraud

schwit1 writes: The uncertainty of peer-review: A major scientific publisher has retracted 64 articles in 10 journals after discovering that the so-called independent peer reviewers for these articles were fabricated by the authors themselves.

The cull comes after similar discoveries of 'fake peer review' by several other major publishers, including London-based BioMed Central, an arm of Springer, which began retracting 43 articles in March citing "reviews from fabricated reviewers". The practice can occur when researchers submitting a paper for publication suggest reviewers, but supply contact details for them that actually route requests for review back to the researchers themselves.

Overall, this indicates an incredible amount of sloppiness and laziness in the peer-review field. In total, more than a 100 papers have been retracted, simply because the journals relied on the authors to provide them contact information for their reviewers, never bothering to contact them directly.

Submission Crushing snakes kill by blood constriction, not suffocation->

mohan.umesh writes: When a non venomous snake coils around its prey to kill it, people have always assumed that the act of coiling suffocates the prey thereby killing it but the speed at which prey dies made scientists doubt this theory as far back as in 1994. An alternate theory was proposed saying that quick death is caused by circulatory or cardiac arrest and not suffocation. This theory has been tested by Scott Boback and his colleagues at the Dickinson College, USA and published in the latest issue of Journal of Experimental Biology (Abstract of the study. Full text is paywalled)

A well written summary of the study by the journal's News & Views editor Kathryn Knight is freely available.

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Submission 22 Years Later an Update Arrives!->

An anonymous reader writes: After 22 year, the Apple IIGS finally gets an update to its operating system GS/OS. Apparently, leaked source code allowed the community to give a beloved retro machine a badly needed upgrade. Who needs Windows 10? We got GS/OS 6.0.2. Long live the Apple IIGS!
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Submission Most Powerful Geomagnetic Storm of Solar Cycle 24 is Happening->

astroengine writes: The most powerful solar storm of the current solar cycle is currently reverberating around the globe. Initially triggered by the impact of a coronal mass ejection (CME) hitting our planet’s magnetosphere, a relatively mild geomagnetic storm erupted at around 04:30 UT (12:30 a.m. EDT), but it has since ramped-up to an impressive G4-class geomagnetic storm, priming high latitudes for some bright auroral displays.
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Comment Re:Sovereign Immunity (Score 1) 538

There is an ancient concept called "sovereign immunity" which holds that rulers (people making laws) are automatically exempt from those laws.

Very ancient concept. What was it, Magna Carta, 1215*, that established that the sovereign was indeed subject to the law? Nowadays, sovereign immunity only applies to the state itself being immune from lawsuit, unless voluntarily waived. I think.

[0] - actually its 800th anniversary was 1 month ago today.

Submission This Battery Has Lasted 175 Years and No One Knows How->

sarahnaomi writes: There sits, in the Clarendon Laboratory at Oxford University, a bell that has been ringing, nonstop, for at least 175 years. It's powered by a single battery that was installed in 1840. Researchers would love to know what the battery is made of, but they are afraid that opening the bell would ruin an experiment to see how long it will last.

The bell’s clapper oscillates back and forth constantly and quickly, meaning the Oxford Electric Bell, as it’s called, has rung roughly 10 billion times, according to the university. It's made of what's called a "dry pile," which is one of the first electric batteries. Dry piles were invented by a guy named Giuseppe Zamboni (no relation to the ice resurfacing company) in the early 1800s. They use alternating discs of silver, zinc, sulfur, and other materials to generate low currents of electricity.

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Submission 'I paid $25 for an Invisible Boyfriend and I Think I Might Be in Love'

HughPickens.com writes: Caitlin Dewey writes in the Washington Post that she's been using a new service called "Invisible Boyfriend" and that she's fallen in love with it. When you sign up for the service, you design a boyfriend (or girlfriend) to your specifications. "You pick his name, his age, his interests and personality traits. You tell the app if you prefer blonds or brunettes, tall guys or short, guys who like theater or guys who watch sports. Then you swipe your credit card — $25 per month, cha-ching! — and the imaginary man of your dreams starts texting you." Invisible boyfriend is actually boyfriends, plural: The service’s texting operation is powered by CrowdSource, a St. Louis-based tech company that manages 200,000 remote, microtask-focused workers. "When I send a text to the Ryan number saved in my phone, the message routes through Invisible Boyfriend, where it’s anonymized and assigned to some Amazon Turk or Fivrr freelancer. He (or she) gets a couple of cents to respond. He never sees my name or number, and he can’t really have anything like an actual conversation with me." Dewey says that the point of Invisible Boyfriend is to deceive the user’s meddling friends and relatives. "I was newly divorced and got tired of everyone asking if I was dating or seeing someone," says co-founder Matthew Homann. "There seems to be this romance culture in our country where people are looked down upon if they aren't in a relationship."

Evidence suggests that people can be conned into loving just about anything. There is no shortage of stories about couples carrying on “relationships” exclusively via Second Life , the game critic Kate Gray recently published an ode to “Dorian,” a character she fell in love with in a video game, and one anthropologist argues that our relationships are increasingly so mediated by tech that they’ve become indistinguishable from Tamagotchis. “The Internet is a disinhibiting medium, where people’s emotional guard is down,” says Mark Griffiths. “It’s the same phenomenon as the stranger on the train, where you find yourself telling your life story to someone you don’t know.” It’s not exactly the stuff of fairytales, concludes Dewey. "But given enough time and texts — a full 100 are included in my monthly package — I’m pretty sure I could fall for him. I mean, er them."

Submission With Tumbling Oil Prices, Who Wins and Who Loses?

HughPickens.com writes: The price of oil is now under $70 a barrel after OPEC decided it would not cut back production significantly in the months ahead and the latest OPEC move suggests that it isn’t going to reverse course anytime soon.. Now Neil Irwin reports in the NYT that the falling price of oil looks likely to be one of the dominant forces shaping the global economy in 2015. So who wins and who loses? Winner: Global consumers as anybody who drives a car or flies on airplanes gets lower prices for gasoline and jet fuel. Loser: American oil producers — One of the big open questions is just how many of the small, independent producers in the American heartland will still be viable with oil prices in the $60s rather than the $100s. Many have relied on borrowed money, and bankruptcies are possible. Loser: Vladimir Putin — Russia’s economy is already facing its sharpest challenges in years, as Western sanctions imposed after Russian aggression toward Ukraine crimp the nation’s ability to be integrated in the global economy. Russia is a major energy producer, and the falling price of oil compounds the challenge facing its president, Vladimir Putin.

Potential Loser: The environment. As a general rule, the cheaper fossil fuels become, the more challenging it will be for cleaner forms of energy like solar and wind power to be competitive on price. But solar and wind power are sources for electricity, whereas fluctuations in oil prices most directly affect the price of transportation fuels like gasoline and jet fuel. Unless or until more Americans use electric cars, they are largely separate markets, so there’s no reason that cheaper oil should cause a major reduction in investment in renewables. The average pump price of a gallon of regular gasoline in the United States was $3.12 this week, down from $3.80 in October 2012 and down from $3.70 just four months ago. In the past, cheaper gasoline has two environmentally problematic effects: It leads people to drive thirstier cars and trucks and to drive them more miles. This time may be different. The number of miles Americans drive per capita has declined for nine straight years dropping from roughly 10,100 miles in 2004 to about 9,400 miles in 2013. A change that significant suggests a change in lifestyle—one that would be hard to upend. In addition, the average fuel economy of new cars and trucks sold in the United States has increased markedly over the past decade—in contrast to the 1990s, when new-vehicle fuel economy essentially flat-lined. Today, the average new car sold in this country goes 36 miles on a gallon of gasoline, up from 29.5 mpg in 2004. "Times have changed since the dawn of the last era of cheap oil," says Jeffrey Ball. "Even assuming low oil prices are the new normal, a cleaner energy system probably is too."

Last yeer I kudn't spel Engineer. Now I are won.