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Japan

Transforming Robot Gets Stuck In Fukushima Nuclear Reactor 99

Posted by samzenpus
from the bend-me-shape-me dept.
An anonymous reader writes with more bad news for the people still dealing with the Fukushima nuclear accident. "The ability to change shape hasn't saved a robot probe from getting stuck inside a crippled Japanese nuclear reactor. Tokyo Electric Power will likely leave the probe inside the reactor housing at the Fukushima Dai-ichi complex north of Tokyo after it stopped moving. On Friday, the utility sent a robot for the first time into the primary containment vessel (PCV) of reactor No. 1 at the plant, which was heavily damaged by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in northern Japan. 'The robot got stuck at a point two-thirds of its way inside the PCV and we are investigating the cause,' a Tokyo Electric spokesman said via email. The machine became stuck on Friday after traveling to 14 of 18 planned checkpoints."
Bitcoin

Evolution Market's Admins Are Gone, Along With $12M In Bitcoin 254

Posted by Soulskill
from the digital-golden-parachute dept.
tsu doh nimh writes: The Evolution Market, an online black market that sells everything contraband — from marijuana, heroin and ecstasy to stolen identities and malicious hacking services — appears to have vanished in the last 24 hours with little warning. Much to the chagrin of countless merchants hawking their wares in the underground market, the curators of the project have reportedly absconded with the community's bitcoins — a stash that some Evolution merchants reckon is worth more than USD $12 million.
Windows

Windows 10's Biometric Security Layer Introduced 138

Posted by Soulskill
from the requires-multiple-bodily-fluids-for-authentication dept.
jones_supa writes: One of the major concepts of Windows 10 are new security ideas, and though Microsoft has touched on this topic before, it's only now giving us a more comprehensive look in the form of "Windows Hello." This is an authentication system that uses a variety of biometric signatures and combines hardware and software to allow for seamless and secure user recognition and sign-in. According to Microsoft, the ideal scenario here would be for you to simply look at or touch a new device running Windows 10 and to be immediately signed in. The software analyzes input from such hardware as fingerprint scanners and infrared sensors to make sure that you are you and not some impostor, and then signs you in without requiring you to enter a password. But the point of Windows Hello isn't only convenience, as the company's blog post notes, but also security. We've heard time and time again how insecure passwords are, and Microsoft is aiming to offer a widely-deployed replacement while still delivering enterprise grade security and privacy.
Privacy

Hertz Puts Cameras In Its Rental Cars, Says It Has No Plans To Use Them 188

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-the-better-to-see-you-with dept.
schwit1 writes Hertz has added a camera to many of its newer cars that uses the "NeverLost" navigational device. So why is Hertz creeping out customers with cameras it's not using? "Hertz added the camera as a feature of the NeverLost 6 in the event it was decided, in the future, to activate live agent connectivity to customers by video. In that plan the customer would have needed to turn on the camera by pushing a button (while stationary)," Hertz spokesperson Evelin Imperatrice explained. "The camera feature has not been launched, cannot be operated and we have no current plans to do so."
Google

Google Code Disables New Project Creation, Will Shut Down On January 25, 2016 140

Posted by timothy
from the that's-a-shame dept.
An anonymous reader writes GitHub has officially won. Google has announced that Google Code project creation has been disabled today, with the ultimate plan to kill off the service next year. On August 24, 2015, the project hosting service will be set to read-only. This means you will still be able to checkout/view project source, issues, and wikis, but nobody will be able to make changes or new commits. On January 25, 2016, Google Code will be shut down. Google says you will be able to download tarballs of project source, issues, and wikis "throughout the rest of 2016." After that, Google Code will be gone for good.
Science

Scientists Insert a Synthetic Memory Into the Brain of a Sleeping Mouse 111

Posted by Soulskill
from the best-party-you-never-had dept.
the_newsbeagle writes: Scientists are learning how to insert fake memories into the brain via precise electrical stimulation (abstract). In the latest experiment, they gave sleeping mice a synthetic memory that linked a particular location in a test chamber to a pleasurable sensation. (At least they gave the mice a nice memory.)

The researchers first recorded the electrical signals from the mice's brains while the mice were awake and exploring the test chamber, until the researchers identified patterns of activity associated with a certain location. Then, when the mice slept, the researchers watched for those neural patterns to be replayed, indicating that the mice were consolidating the memory of that location. At that moment, they zapped a reward center of the mice's brains. When the mice awoke and went back into the chamber, they hung around that reward-associated location, presumably expecting a dose of feel-good.
Sci-Fi

Harrison Ford To Return In Blade Runner Sequel 222

Posted by Soulskill
from the geriaction-heroes dept.
An anonymous reader sends news that Harrison Ford is now confirmed to be returning as Rick Deckard in the upcoming sequel to Blade Runner. Ridley Scott is now officially an executive producer for the film as well, and Denis Villeneuve will direct. It's set to begin production in the summer of 2016.

Comment: Re:"Born atheist" quite a leap (Score 1) 531

by thegameiam (#49140759) Attached to: Machine Intelligence and Religion

I confess the possibility of misunderstanding. However, when I've had multiple Atheists assert that belief in God is {foolhardy, evil, insert_negative_emotion}, that does seem to be a parsimonious explanation.

I do not think that Dawkins' formulation of the existence of God as a scientific proposition makes much sense, and it's an example of over-scientification of matters of philosophy - he fails to account for the idea of undecidable propositions (the existence of God being among them). Dawkins is actually a good example of someone who makes a bunch of attacks on Theism (cf the title of his book), when if it is merely a matter of him personally not having a belief, why would he care so much? Further, the spectrum displays a profound ignorance of religious people - doubt is a normal part of the religious experience, and he denies that sincerely religious people experience doubt (that is, the expressions of typical religious people would have a lot more degrees between his "1" and his "2"). .

Comment: Re:"Born atheist" quite a leap (Score 1) 531

by thegameiam (#49140549) Attached to: Machine Intelligence and Religion

I have a conviction that there are no such bunnies, due to lack of atmosphere.

I take it that you don't study much philosophy or theory of knowledge - there is a gigantic conceptual difference between "absence of evidence of X" and "evidence of absence of X". In code terms, it's the difference between an as-yet-undeclared variable and a variable set to (null).

Comment: Re:"Born atheist" quite a leap (Score 2) 531

by thegameiam (#49139669) Attached to: Machine Intelligence and Religion

Atheism is an absence of belief, not a belief in absence. Few people who self-identify as "atheist" have an affirmative belief/faith in the non-existence of a deities. Atheism is just the default position of an absence of belief through faith. It doesn't require "proof" of anything.

This doesn't describe most of the Atheists I've met, who affirmatively proclaim the non-existence of God(s). Perhaps a differentiation could be made between "atheists" and "Atheists" - the former would be as you describe, and the latter would describe a person who expresses a conviction that there is *not* a God.

Earth

Lawmakers Seek Information On Funding For Climate Change Critics 394

Posted by Soulskill
from the all-about-the-benjamins dept.
HughPickens.com writes: John Schwartz reports at the NY Times that prominent members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate are demanding information from universities, companies and trade groups about funding for scientists who publicly dispute widely held views on the causes and risks of climate change. In letters sent to seven universities, Representative Raúl M. Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat who is the ranking member of the House committee on natural resources, sent detailed requests to the academic employers of scientists who had testified before Congress about climate change. "My colleagues and I cannot perform our duties if research or testimony provided to us is influenced by undisclosed financial relationships." Grijalva asked for each university's policies on financial disclosure and the amount and sources of outside funding for each scholar, "communications regarding the funding" and "all drafts" of testimony. Meanwhile Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts, Barbara Boxer of California and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island. sent 100 letters to fossil fuel companies, trade groups and other organizations asking about their funding of climate research and advocacy asking for responses by April 3. "Corporate special interests shouldn't be able to secretly peddle the best junk science money can buy," said Senator Markey, denouncing what he called "denial-for-hire operations."

The letters come after evidence emerged over the weekend that Wei-Hock Soon, known as Willie, a scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, had failed to disclose the industry funding for his academic work. The documents also included correspondence between Dr. Soon and the companies who funded his work in which he referred to his papers and testimony as "deliverables." Soon accepted more than $1.2 million in money from the fossil-fuel industry over the last decade while failing to disclose that conflict of interest in most of his scientific papers. At least 11 papers he has published since 2008 omitted such a disclosure, and in at least eight of those cases, he appears to have violated ethical guidelines of the journals that published his work. "What it shows is the continuation of a long-term campaign by specific fossil-fuel companies and interests to undermine the scientific consensus on climate change," says Kert Davies.
Earth

What If We Lost the Sky? 421

Posted by timothy
from the we'd-still-have-the-space-needle dept.
HughPickens.com (3830033) writes "Anna North writes in the NYT that a report released last week by the National Research Council calls for research into reversing climate change through a process called albedo modification: reflecting sunlight away from earth by, for instance, spraying aerosols into the atmosphere. But such a process could, some say, change the appearance of the sky — and that in turn could affect everything from our physical health to the way we see ourselves. "You'd get whiter skies. People wouldn't have blue skies anymore." says Alan Robock. "Astronomers wouldn't be happy, because you'd have a cloud up there permanently. It'd be hard to see the Milky Way anymore."

According to Dacher Keltner, a psychology professor at the University of California, losing the night sky would have big consequences. "When you go outside, and you walk in a beautiful setting, and you just feel not only uplifted but you just feel stronger. There's clearly a neurophysiological basis for that," says Keltner, adding that looking up at a starry sky provides "almost a prototypical awe experience," an opportunity to feel "that you are small and modest and part of something vast." If we lose the night sky "we lose something precious and sacred." "We're finding in our lab that the experience of awe gets you to feel connected to something larger than yourself, see the humanity in other people," says Paul K. Piff. "In many ways it's kind of an antidote to narcissism." And the sky is one of the few sources of that experience that's available to almost everybody: "Not everyone has access to the ocean or giant trees, or the Grand Canyon, but we certainly all live beneath the night sky."

Alan Robock says one possible upside of adding aerosols could be beautiful red and yellow sunsets as "the yellow and red colors reflect off the bottom of this cloud." Robock recommends more research into albedo modification: "If people ever are tempted to do this, I want them to have a lot of information about what the potential benefits and risks would be so they can make an informed decision. Dr. Abdalati says deploying something like albedo modification is a last-ditch effort. "We've gotten ourselves into a climate mess. The fact that we're even talking about these kinds of things is indicative of that."

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