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Submission + - Pictures of a Comet From 9 Meters Away->

An anonymous reader writes: Back in November, the European Space Agency triumphantly put a lander on the surface of a comet and then tragically lost contact with it when it failed to anchor and couldn't harvest enough energy to stay operational. In June, the lander awoke and for a short time was able to send more data back. Now the ESA has published a bunch of pictures and scientific papers about the data gleaned from Philae's short window of activity, including images of its descent to the surface. Phil Plait summarizes and analyzes the release. The most impressive image is from a mere 9 meters over the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. An animated gif shows the lander's descent near the surface through a handful of pictures. Two shots of the same area from the Rosetta probe show where Philae bounced off the surface, ejecting an estimated 180kg of material in the process. It's a fascinating, close-up look at a very distant and unusual world.
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Submission + - Why do we still have caps lock prominently on keyboards?

Esther Schindler writes: The developers at .io are into tracking things, I guess. In any case, a few weeks back they decided to track team performance in terms of keyboard and mouse activity during the working day. They installed a simple Chrome plugin on every macbook and collected some statistics. For instance, developers have fewer keypresses than editors and managers—around 4k every day. Managers type more than 23k characters per day. And so on. Some pretty neat statistics.

But the piece that jumped out at me was this:

What’s curious—the least popular keys are Capslock and Right Mouse Button. Somewhere around 0.1% of all keypresses together. It’s time to make some changes to keyboards.

I've been whining about this for years. Why is it that the least-used key on my keyboard not just in a prominent position, but also bigger than most other keys? I can I invest in a real alternate keyboard with a different layout (my husband's a big fan of the Kinesis keyboards, initially to cope with carpal tunnel). But surely it's time to re-visit the standard key layout?

Submission + - SpaceX Dragon V2 passes pad-abort milestone w/ NASA

taiwanjohn writes: NASA has approved a $30 million milestone payment to SpaceX under the agency’s Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) agreement with the company following a recent and successful pad abort test of its Crew Dragon spacecraft.

“The reams of data collected provide designers with a real benchmark of how accurate their analyses and models are at predicting reality. As great as our modern computational methods are, they still can’t beat a flight test, like this, for finding out what is going on with the hardware,” said Jon Cowart, partner manager for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

The next milestone will be an in-flight abort test, scheduled for this fall.

Submission + - Just about everyone thinks Internet.org is a terrible idea->

Mark Wilson writes: Mark Zuckerberg probably thought the world would bow down to him when Facebook announced the Internet.org project. The idea of bringing internet access to those in developing parts of the world seems, on the face of it, to be something of an exercise in altruism. Of course, it's not quite that simple.

Many companies complain that the project goes against the idea of net neutrality — a claim that Zuckerberg vehemently denies. But now the vocal opposition to Internet.org is getting louder. Privacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has several concerns with the project, and a collective of 67 digital rights groups has signed a letter to the Facebook founder expressing concerns about the approach Internet.org is taking.

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Submission + - House NASA bill to fund Ocean Worlds Exploration Program->

An anonymous reader writes: The House appropriators delivered the details of their proposed 2016 NASA budget on Tuesday. The reaction depends on the perspective of who was reacting. The Earth Science community is not very happy because the budget cuts $250 million from President Obama’s request for its priority. The budget also cuts the same amount from the commercial crew program, unwise in the opinion of many considering the current woes besetting the Russian space program upon which the world depends to access the International Space Station. However, the Planetary Science community is ecstatic. Not only does the House bill provide $140 million toward a mission to Europa to be launched in the early 2020s, but also has a line item for the Ocean Worlds Exploration Program.

The Ocean Worlds Exploration Program would be initially funded at $86 million. The program would start developing the technology and making plans for missions to outer planets moons as diverse as Titan, a moon of Saturn with methane seas, and Enceladus, a frozen world covering a subsurface ocean similar to Europa, with spectacular geysers. The program is apparently the brainchild of the subcommittee’s chairman, Rep. John Culberson. The program will use a mix of Discover, New Frontier, and Flagship class missions

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Submission + - Cloud control: Climatologist Alan Robock on the effects of geoengineering->

Lasrick writes: In this interview with Rutgers University climatologist Alan Robock, he discusses geoengineering and nuclear winter. Robock believes that geoengineering is not the solution to global warming because of its many risks and unknowns. He notes that some of the technology that would be required to implement geoengineering has not been developed and that many socio-political questions would have to be resolved before it could be put into practice. To start with, the world would have to reach agreement on a target temperature and on what entity should do the implementing. Robock’s biggest fear with regard to geoengineering is that disputes over these questions could escalate into nuclear war which in turn could cause nuclear winter, producing global famine among other effects. Fascinating, wide-ranging interview with one of the world's top climatologists.
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Submission + - A Band-Aid that could suck bugs out of your wound->

sciencehabit writes: Scientists have made progress towards a band-aid like device that can literally suck bacteria out of wounds. When they placed nanofibers in a petri dish of Staphylococcus aureus, a bacterium involved in chronic infection, the bugs quickly attached themselves to 500-nanometer-wide fibers, but hardly onto fibers with larger diameters. When the researchers coated the nanofibers with different compounds and tested them on the bacteria Escherichia coli, also responsible for chronic wounds, the bugs formed bridges on fibers coated with allylamine, a colorless organic compound, but stayed away from fibers coated with acrylic acid. The researchers, who plan to test the meshes on composites that resemble human skin, hope that they will eventually lead to smart wound dressings that could prevent infections. Doctors could stick the nano–Band-Aid on a wound and simply peel it off to get rid of the germs.
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Submission + - Scotland Builds Wind Farms of the Future Under the Sea

HughPickens.com writes: The Pentland Firth is a raw, stormy sound between the Scottish mainland and the Orkney Islands, known for some of the world’s fastest flowing marine waters. Daily tides here reach 11 miles per hour, and can go as high as 18 – a breakneck current that’s the reason people are describing Scotland as the Saudi Arabia of tidal power. Now Megan Garber reports in The Atlantic that a new tidal power plant, to be installed off the Scottish coast aims to make the Scotland a world leader for turning sea flow into electricity. Underwater windmills, the BBC notes, have the benefit of invisibility—a common objection to wind turbines being how unsightly they are to human eyes. Undersea turbines also benefit from the fact that tides are predictable in ways that winds are not: You know how much power you're generating, basically, on any given day. The tidal currents are also completely carbon-free and since sea water is 832 times denser than air, a 5 knot ocean current has more kinetic energy than a 350 km/h wind.

MeyGen will face a challenge in that work: The turbines are incredibly difficult to install. The Pentland Firth is a harsh environment to begin with; complicating matters is the fact that the turbines can be installed only at the deepest of ocean depths so as not to disrupt the paths of ships on the surface. They also need to be installed in bays or headlands, where tidal flows are at their most intense. It is an unbelievably harsh environment in which to build anything, let alone manage a vast fleet of tidal machines beneath the waves. If each Hammerfest machine delivers its advertised 1MW of power, then you need 1,000 of them to hope to match the output of a typical gas or coal-fired power station. "The real aim," says Keith Anderson, "is to establish the predictability which you get with tidal power, and to feed that into the energy mix which includes the less predictable sources like wind or wave. The whole point of this device is to test that it can produce power, and we believe it can, and to show it's robust and can be maintained."

Submission + - Top EU Court: Libraries Can Digitize Books Without Publishers' Permission->

jfruh writes: The top European court has ruled that libraries have the right to digitize the contents of the books in their collections, even if the copyright holders on those books don't want them to. There's a catch, though: those digitized versions can only be accessed on dedicated terminals in the library itself. If library patrons want to print the book out or download it to a thumb drive, they will need to pay the publisher.
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Submission + - UK Ham Radio Reg Plans to Drop 15min Callsign Interval And Allow Encryption->

product_bucket writes: A consultation [ofcom.org.uk] published by the UK Radio Regulator Ofcom seeks views on its plan to remove the mandatory 15 minute callsign identifier interval for amateur radio licensees. The regulator also intends to permit the use of encryption by a single volunteer emergency communications organisation.
  The consultation is open until 20th October, and views are sought by interested parties.

Link to Original Source

Submission + - Smartphones to Monitor Schizophrenics -- All the Time->

the_newsbeagle writes: Is this creepy or a breakthrough in mental health? Psychiatrists have realized that they can collect vast amounts of data about their patients using smartphone apps that passively monitor the patients as they go about their daily business. A prototype for schizophrenia patients is being tested out now on Long Island. The Crosscheck trial will look at behavior patterns (tracking movement, sleep, and conversations) and correlate them with the patient's reports of symptoms and moods; researchers hope the data will reveal the "signature" of a patient who is about relapse and therefore needs help.
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Submission + - Remains of 'end of the world' epidemic found in ancient Egypt->

schwit1 writes: Archaeologists have uncovered the remains of an epidemic in Egypt so terrible that one ancient writer believed the world was coming to an end.

Working at the Funerary Complex of Harwa and Akhimenru in the west bank of the ancient city of Thebes (modern-day Luxor) in Egypt, the team of the Italian Archaeological Mission to Luxor (MAIL) found bodies covered with a thick layer of lime (historically used as a disinfectant). The researchers also found three kilns where the lime was produced, as well as a giant bonfire containing human remains, where many of the plague victims were incinerated.

Pottery remains found in the kilns allowed researchers to date the grisly operation to the third century A.D., a time when a series of epidemics now dubbed the "Plague of Cyprian" ravaged the Roman Empire, which included Egypt. Saint Cyprian was a bishop of Carthage (a city in Tunisia) who described the plague as signaling the end of the world. [See Photos of the Remains of Plague Victims & Thebes Site]

Occurring between roughly A.D. 250-271, the plague "according to some sources killed more than 5,000 people a day in Rome alone," wrote Francesco Tiradritti, director of the MAIL, in the latest issue of Egyptian Archaeology, a magazine published by the Egypt Exploration Society.

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Submission + - Patent Troll Reform Dies in the Senate->

VT-802-Software writes: A bipartisan proposal to curb patent trolls was shelved by the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Wednesday....

"Supporters of the compromise accuse trial lawyers, universities, pharmaceutical companies and biotech companies for foiling the plan at the eleventh hour."

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