samzenpus writes: Shaun Moss is a computer scientist with a 15-year passion for Mars. While reading Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson in 1999 Shaun realized that people would go to Mars in his lifetime, and he decided he wanted to be part of that. Since then he has been an active member of a variety of space enthusiast groups, including the Mars Society and Mars Society Australia. Shaun is also the founder of the Mars Settlement Research Organization. His research has included how to make air and steel on Mars, Martian timekeeping systems, terraforming and more, and he has given numerous presentations at conferences in Australia and the United States. For the past 1.5 years he has been developing a robust and affordable humans-to-Mars mission architecture and a plan to establish an International Mars Research Station, which is now available as a book. Shaun has agreed to answer any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post.
Lasrick writes: In this incredible excerpt from Eric Schlosser's book "Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety" Schlosser describes some pretty horrific accidents involving nuclear bombs. They often seem to involve an airman grabbing the manual bomb release lever by mistake. Honestly, it's amazing we aren't all dead.
waderoush writes: "Engineers and hackers don't think much about tax policy, but there's a bizarre development in California that they should know about, since it could reduce the pool of angel-investment money available for tech startups. Under a tax break available since the 1990s, startup founders and other investors in California were allowed to exclude or defer their gains when they sold stock in California-based small businesses. Last year, a California appeals court ruled that the tax break was unconstitutional, since it discriminated against investors in out-of-state companies. Now the Franchise Tax Board, California’s version of the IRS, has issued a notice saying how it intends to implement the ruling — and it’s a doozie. Not only is the tax break gone, but anyone who claimed an exclusion or deferral on the sale of small-business stock since 2008 is about to get a big retroactive tax bill. Investors, entrepreneurs, and even the plaintiffs in the original lawsuit are up in arms about the FTB’s notice, saying that it goes beyond the court’s intent and that it will drive investors out of the state. This Xconomy article takes an in-depth look at the history of the court case, the FTB’s ruling, and the reaction in the technology and investing communities."
msm1267 writes: Active defense and hacking back is turning up in a lot of conversations between vendors and customers, CIOs and executives and executives and general counsel. There's plenty of debate from security experts on the viability of active defense, and plenty of caution against hacking back. Experts explain some of the popular tactics and techniques being used on networks to frustrate attackers and hopefully move them on to their next targets.
Acapulco writes: Apparently an exemption to the DMCA, determined by the Librarian of Congress will expire this Saturday, January 26th, which will make unlocking phones illegal (although not jailbreaking).
From the article:
"The new rule against unlocking phones won't be a problem for everybody, though. For example, Verizon's iPhone 5 comes out of the box already unlocked, and AT&T will unlock a phone once it is out of contract."
"Advocacy group the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) questions whether the DMCA has the right to determine who can unlock a phone. In an email to TechNewsDaily, EFF attorney Mitch Stoltz said, "Arguably, locking phone users into one carrier is not at all what the DMCA was meant to do. It's up to the courts to decide." "
"Christopher S. Reed from the U.S. Copyright Office noted in an email to TechNewsDaily that "only a consumer, who is also the owner of the copy of software on the handset under the law, may unlock the handset." "
ananyo writes: "The European Commission has selected the two research proposals it will fund to the tune of half-a-billion euros each after a two-year, high-profile contest. The Human Brain Project, led by neuroscientist Henry Markram at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) in Lausanne, plans to simulate everything known about the human brain in a supercomputer — a breathtaking ambition that has been met with some skepticism. The other project, called Graphene, is led by theoretical physicist Jari Kinaret at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden. It will develop the potential of graphene — an ultrathin, flexible and conducting form of carbon — along with related materials for applications in computing, batteries and sensors. The projects expect to receive €1 billion over ten years, half to be provided by the European Commission and half by participants. The commission will make its formal announcement on 28 January."
DillyTonto writes: Here's an excellent idea that hasn't ever been illustrated as a catastrophic example of scientific hubris in a series of incredibly popular action-horror movies in which people innocently sitting in the john are savagely eaten by giant prehistoric things with big teeth: let's clone a mammoth that might not be a mammoth and see if it eats us and then crushes Tokyo.
Batblue writes: Happy anniversary Basit and Amjad! Twenty-five years ago this month, the Alvi brothers of Lahore, Pakistan, gave the world the Brain Virus, the first bit of malware capable of infecting a DOS-based PC. Back in those relatively innocent times, the brothers actually embedded their real names and business address in the code and later told Time magazine they had written the virus to protect their medical software from piracy.
Who knows what they were really thinking, but by all accounts the Brain Virus was relatively harmless. Twenty-five years later, most malware is anything but benign and cyber criminals pull off exploits the Alvi brothers never envisioned.
Batblue writes: The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) will file criminal charges against the alleged attackers who copied personal information from the AT&T network of approximately 120,000 iPad users, the U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Jersey announced Monday.
Daniel Spitler will be charged in U.S. District Court in New Jersey with one count of conspiracy to access a computer without authorization and one count of fraud. Andrew Auernheimer will be charged with the same counts at the U.S. Western District Court of Arkansas, which is in Fayetteville.
Auernheimer made headlines last June when he discovered that AT&T's website was disclosing the e-mail addresses and the unique ICC-ID numbers of multiple iPad owners. Claiming that he wanted to help AT&T improve its security, he wrote a computer script to extract the data from AT&T and then went public with the information. AT&T said that nobody from Auernheimer's hacking group contacted them about the flaw.
hlovy writes: There are many possible ways to kill a cancer cell, and one of them is to cook them to death. There are nanoparticles worth their weight in gold to do just that. Researchers at the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen are experimenting with tiny gold particles' ability to melt the lipid membranes surrounding cells, paving the way for pinpoint precision when attacking tumors
wiredmikey writes: Network defense is a challenging undertaking. In today’s environment where the landscape is so open to global cyber threats, it's difficult for any organization to rely solely on itself to provide protection. Just as firefighters, police officers, and federal authorities have had to learn to communicate and work better together, so too do cyber first responders. What’s Driving the Need to Share Threat Data? What’s Worth Sharing and How do we Enable Sharing and Realize the benefits?
Sharing works best when a broad spectrum of participants are involved in a win-win engagement, and more organizations need to be involved.
itwbennett writes: JVC on Tuesday unveiled a projector compatible with an experimental broadcasting format called Super Hi-Vision (higher than high-def) that is less than half the size and a quarter the weight than previous devices — and is cheaper to boot. At 7,680 pixels by 4,320 pixels, a Super Hi-Vision picture has 16-times the resolution of today's high-def TV and four times that of 4K digital cinema. You can watch this video of the device in action, but you'll have to take our word for it that the images are far better than anything you've seen.
eldavojohn writes: A new reactor developed by CalTech shows promise for producing renewable fuel from sunlight. The reactor hinges on a metal oxide named Ceria that has very interesting properties at very high temperatures. It exhales oxygen at very high temperatures and inhales oxygen at very low temperatures. From the article, 'Specifically, the inhaled oxygen is stripped off of carbon dioxide (CO2) and/or water (H2O) gas molecules that are pumped into the reactor, producing carbon monoxide (CO) and/or hydrogen gas (H2). H2 can be used to fuel hydrogen fuel cells; CO, combined with H2, can be used to create synthetic gas, or "syngas," which is the precursor to liquid hydrocarbon fuels. Adding other catalysts to the gas mixture, meanwhile, produces methane. And once the ceria is oxygenated to full capacity, it can be heated back up again, and the cycle can begin anew.' The only other piece of the puzzle is a large sunlight concentrator to raise the temperature to the necessary 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The team is working on modifying and refining the reactor to require a lower temperature to achieve the two-step thermochemical cycle. Another issue is the heat loss which the team claims could be reduced to improve efficiency to 15% or higher. Since CO2 is an input, the possibility exists for coal and power plants to collect CO2 emissions to be used in this process which would effectively allow us to "use the carbon twice." Another idea listed is that a "zero CO2 emissions" is developed along these lines: 'H2O and CO2 would be converted to methane, would fuel electricity-producing power plants that generate more CO2 and H2O, to keep the process going.' The team's work was published last month in Science.
nk497 writes: The legal battle between file-sharers and rights owners has taken a strange new turn. Controversial legal firm ACS Law, which has targeted UK file-sharers with threatening letters demanding settlement, has been quietly taking payments via a secondary firm — apparently borrowed from an associate. In December, ACS Law sent a letter to those it accuses of illegally downloading pornography, telling them to stop sending payments to ACS Law and instead direct the cash to another company called GCB Limited. The director of GCB, David Fisher, loaned the previously dormant company to a "friend", and that friend appears to be Andrew Crossley, solicitor for ACS Law. Crossley told us: "I’m not involved in that — GCB’s nothing to do with me" but an ACS Law employee is currently based at offices at the same location as where payments to GCB are to be sent, and emails leaked following a DDOS attack on ACS Law last year show correspondence between Crossley and Fisher.