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Science

Submission + - Hide-and-Seek Goes Virtual (sciencemag.org)

sciencehabit writes: Hide-and-seek isn't just for kids anymore. For the first time, scientists have used virtual reality to analyze how adults conceal and find objects. The researchers were surprised to discover that people tend not to search in places where they might normally hide something, findings that could lead to better ways to suss out where terrorists and criminals have hidden bombs or contraband.
Space

Submission + - What Struck Earth in 775? (sciencemag.org)

sciencehabit writes: In 775 C.E., while Charlemagne was ruling his Frankish kingdom, something mysterious struck Earth. An analysis of the rings of two Japanese cedar trees reveals that from 774 to 775 C.E., the atmospheric level of radioactive carbon-14 jumped by 1.2%. This indicates that cosmic rays—high-speed, charged particles from space—bombarded our planet and converted some atmospheric nitrogen-14 into carbon-14. The scientists argue against two logical suspects: solar flares are too weak to do the job, and no supernova explosion was seen at the time, nor do any nearby supernova remnants date back to Charlemagne's time. So the cause remains a mystery, but whatever it was, something similar could presumably strike again.
Security

Submission + - AntiVirus Firms Out of their League with Stuxnet, Flame 2

Hugh Pickens writes writes: "Mikko Hypponen, Chief Research Officer of software security company F-Secure, writes that when his company heard about Flame, they went digging through their archive for related samples of malware and were surprised to find that they already had samples of Flame, dating back to 2010 and 2011, that they were unaware they possessed. "What this means is that all of us had missed detecting this malware for two years, or more. That’s a spectacular failure for our company, and for the antivirus industry in general." Why weren't Flame, Stuxnet, and Duqu detected earlier? The answer isn't encouraging for the future of cyberwar. All three were most likely developed by a Western intelligence agency as part of covert operations that weren’t meant to be discovered and the fact that the malware evaded detection proves how well the attackers did their job. In the case of Stuxnet and DuQu, they used digitally signed components to make their malware appear to be trustworthy applications and instead of trying to protect their code with custom packers and obfuscation engines — which might have drawn suspicion to them — they hid in plain sight. In the case of Flame, the attackers used SQLite, SSH, SSL and LUA libraries that made the code look more like a business database system than a piece of malware. "The truth is, consumer-grade antivirus products can’t protect against targeted malware created by well-resourced nation-states with bulging budgets," writes Hypponen adding that it’s highly likely there are other similar attacks already underway that we haven’t detected yet because simply put, attacks like these work. "Flame was a failure for the antivirus industry. We really should have been able to do better. But we didn’t. We were out of our league, in our own game.""
Security

Submission + - UEFI Secure Boot, Linux, and Virtualization (dreamwidth.org)

thisNameNotTaken writes: Microsoft is implementing UEFI Secure Boot in the Windows 8 OS, [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unified_Extensible_Firmware_Interface]. This will impact users who want to dual boot other distributions — Linux included. Garrett, a Red Hat employee who works on the Fedora distro, has a solution for the Fedora Linux distro. [http://mjg59.dreamwidth.org/12368.html].

My question is how the the UEFI issue might effect a users ability to use QEMU [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QEMU] and/or Oracle VirtualBox. Garrett says UEFI will "be moving to requiring signed kernel modules and locking down certain aspects of kernel functionality. The most obvious example is that it won't be possible to access PCI regions directly from userspace, which means all graphics cards will need kernel drivers.".

Does this "signing" mean Windws 8 will not allow any type of vitalization? Are we now heading into an era where software , again, is so limited that an abacus now looks hi-tech.

Firefox

Submission + - The WNBR book published - using open source tools - 160 pages 250 photographs (naktiv.net)

richinud writes: ""The WNBR book is officially published! We used open-source tools on SuSe Linux; gvim for the text, firefox, the gimp and imageMagick for the images, and Scribus for the DTP, to produce a mainstream compact publication with full colour images. This is a clear demonstration of how much open-source tools can contribute to the traditional and paper-based publishing world.

From the back cover: The World Naked Bike Ride is a global protest against oil dependency and urban pollution, promoting greater cycling safety on our roads, and encouraging body freedom for everyone. This book visually describes the environmental awareness event, the history of how it started, the people who take part, and the motivations behind this very public demonstration."

Crime

Submission + - Chemists are Winning the War on Synthetic Drugs

Hugh Pickens writes writes: "Brandon Keim reports that the war on drugs has a new front with chemists fabricating synthetic mimics of marijuana, dissociative drugs and stimulants, and so far lawmakers appear to be a losing the war as every time a new compound is banned, overseas chemists synthesize a new version tweaked just enough to evade the letter of the law in a giant game of chemical Whack-a-Mole. “Manufacturers turn these things around so quickly. One week you’ll have a product with compound X, the next week it’s compound Y,” says forensic toxicologist Kevin Shanks. “It’s fascinating how fast it can occur, and it’s fascinating to see the minute changes in chemical structure they’ll come up with. It’s similar, but it’s different." During the last several years, the market for legal highs has exploded in North America and Europe and while people raised on Reefer Madness-style exaggerations may be wary of claims that “legal high” drugs are dangerous, researchers say they’re far more potent than the originals. “The results are toxic and very dangerous, especially for vulnerable people — people with previous psychotic episodes — and the young,” says chemist Liana Fattore. Reports of psychotic episodes following synthetic drug use are common and have led to a variety of laws but so far the bans aren’t working as the drugs can be subtly tweaked so as to possess a different, legal molecular form while performing the same psychopharmaceutical role. One obvious alternative approach is to ban entire classes of similar compounds rather than focusing on individual forms., however this is easier said than done. “The problem with that is, what does ‘chemically similar’ really mean? Change the structure in a small way — move a molecule here, move something to the other side of the molecule — and while I might think it’s an analogue, another chemist might disagree," says Shanks. That’s the crux of the entire problem. The scientific community does not agree on what ‘analogue’ essentially means.”"

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