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NASA

Curious NASA Pre-Announcement 286

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the phone-gnome dept.
CrtxReavr was one of a small avalanche of readers to let us know about a press conference NASA scheduled for Thursday at 2pm to discuss an "astrobiology finding that will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life." I've heard rumors ranging from "proof of life on Titan" to "first contact," depending on how optimistic/crazy you are.
Earth

Gold Nanoparticles Turn Trees Into Streetlights 348

Posted by samzenpus
from the elf-approved dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Street lights are an important part of our urban infrastructure — they light our way home and make the roads safe at night. But what if we could create natural street lights that don't need electricity to power them? A group of scientists in Taiwan recently discovered that placing gold nanoparticles within the leaves of trees causes them to give off a luminous reddish glow. The idea of using trees to replace street lights is an ingenious one — not only would it save on electricity costs and cut CO2 emissions, but it could also greatly reduce light pollution in major cities."
Firefox

Nevercookie Eats Evercookies 91

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the i-eat-heavy-metals dept.
wiredmikey writes "Anonymizer, Inc. has developed Anonymizer Nevercookie, a free Firefox plugin that protects against the Evercookie, a javascript API built and made available by Samy Kamkar (same guy who brought you the Samy Worm and XSS Hacking to Determine Physical Location) who set out to prove that the more you store and the more places you store it, the harder it is for users to control a Web site's ability to uniquely identify their computer. The plugin extends Firefox's private browsing mode by preventing Evercookies from identifying and tracking users."
Space

Construction On Spaceship Factory Set To Begin In the Mojave 147

Posted by timothy
from the want-a-lift? dept.
angry tapir writes "A production facility that would build the world's first fleet of commercial spaceships is set to begin construction on Tuesday at the Mojave Air and Space Port. The facility will be home to The Spaceship Co, or TSC — a joint venture owned by Mojave-based Scaled Composites and British billionaire Richard Branson's space tourism company, Virgin Galactic."
Encryption

Sophos Researcher Suggests Password 'Free' to Spur Wi-Fi Encryption 332

Posted by timothy
from the has-some-drawbacks dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In the wake of concerns about FireSheep sniffing credentials from people using unencrypted public WiFi hotspots, a security researcher has proposed that the problem does not just lie with big websites like Facebook, but also with those who provide free wireless internet access. Chet Wisniewski, a researcher at security firm Sophos, proposes that all free WiFi hotspots should be encrypted — with the password 'free.' ''I propose standard adoption of WPA2 and a default password of "free." Whenever you wish to connect to complimentary WiFi, you select "Courtyard Marriott" or "Starbucks" like you always have, but you are then prompted for a password. Just type "free". It's not hard. In fact, operating system vendors could even program your PC to automatically try the password "free" before prompting you for a password on the assumption that you might be selecting a free service.'"
Hardware Hacking

DIY Projects, Communities and Cultures 53

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the hacking-has-many-flavors dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University share the results of a year-long survey studying DIY projects, communities, and cultures. The first ever large-scale survey of six DIY communities (Instructables, Etsy, Dorkbot, Ravelry, Adafruit and Craftster) explores the motivations and practices of 2600+ respondents. In addition to an academic paper, results are appropriately posted on Instructables — one of the studied DIY sites. Findings highlight creativity, learning and open sharing as key values embedded in modern DIY culture."
Earth

How the Global Seed Vault Aims To Fight Future Famine 115

Posted by Soulskill
from the betting-our-future-on-a-hole-in-the-ground dept.
Lanxon writes "The Global Seed Vault opened in 2008 after engineers spent a year drilling and blasting through the sandstone, siltstone and claystone of the Norwegian Platåberget Mountain to create a system of subterranean chambers on the Advent Fjord's southern flank that could store 4.5 million seeds. It's a $9 million bet against climate change. But can it save us from the threat of worldwide famine? An article at Wired explores its current state and its future: '... it operates as a secure storage space for samples of other collections that are at risk. The samples remain at all times the property of the depositors, the only proviso being that the originals must be freely available to researchers and breeders under the terms of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources. There have been deposits from every continent: 3,710 species in total, from 29 crop institutes representing 226 countries. Over the past few years the need for a secure storage facility has become ever more urgent. A typhoon in the Philippines in 2006 caused a flood that left the national crop gene bank under two meters of water.'"
Input Devices

From Touchpad To Thought-pad 92

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the what-about-dirty-minds dept.
An anonymous reader wrote with a story saying "Move over, touchpad screens: New research funded in part by the National Institutes of Health shows that it is possible to manipulate complex visual images on a computer screen using only the mind. The study, published in Nature, found that when research subjects had their brains connected to a computer displaying two merged images, they could force the computer to display one of the images and discard the other. The signals transmitted from each subject's brain to the computer were derived from just a handful of brain cells."
Google

Oracle Claims Google 'Directly Copied' Our Java Code 675

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the thats-not-fair dept.
itwbennett writes "On Wednesday, Oracle amended the lawsuit it filed against Google in August, saying that 'approximately one third of Android's Application Programmer Interface (API) packages' are 'derivative of Oracle's copyrighted Java API packages' and related documents. In particular, 'the infringed elements of Oracle America's copyrighted work include Java method and class names, definitions, organization, and parameters; the structure, organization and content of Java class libraries; and the content and organization of Java's documentation,' Oracle says. 'In at least several instances, Android computer program code also was directly copied from copyrighted Oracle America code,' Oracle alleges."
Sci-Fi

BSG Prequel Series Caprica Canceled 602

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the so-sick-of-emo dept.
Kethinov writes "The sci-fi TV series Caprica, a prequel spinoff from Battlestar Galactica, was just canceled by the Syfy channel. In response to the cancellation and the recent theme of many similar good sci-fi shows getting canceled over the last few years, I've written an editorial arguing that Caprica's cancellation reflects the decreasing sustainability of the cable TV business model. A better, more modern business model could have saved Caprica from cancellation. If this model is adopted in the future, it could save many other similar niche genre shows from the same fate down the road." Another perspective here might be that a boring, ponderous show got yoinked because nobody watched it. Just sayin'.
Communications

NASA Working On Solar Storm Shield 85

Posted by samzenpus
from the spf-25-trillion dept.
Zothecula writes "The solar storms that cause the stunning aurora borealis and aurora australis (or northern and southern polar lights) also have the potential to knock out telecommunications equipment and navigational systems and cause blackouts of electrical grids. With the frequency of the sun's flares following an 11-year cycle of solar activity and the next solar maximum expected around 2013, scientists are bracing for an overdue, once-in-100 year event that could cause widespread power blackouts and cripple electricity grids around the world. It sounds like an insurmountable problem but a new NASA project called 'Solar Shield' is working to develop a forecasting system that can mitigate the impacts of such events and keep the electrons flowing."
Hardware

Self-Building Chips — As Easy As Microwave Meals 51

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the only-blinks-12:00 dept.
nk497 writes "Canadian researchers have found a way to speed up self-assembling chips — by using microwaves instead of traditional ovens. Self-assembly is seen as key to enabling nanotechnology, but until now the block co-polymer method, which directs nanomaterials to create moulds and then fills them in with a target material, was too slow to be useful. 'By using microwaves, we have dramatically decreased the cooking time for a specific molecular self-assembly process used to assemble block co-polymers, and have now made it a viable alternative to the conventional lithography process for use in patterning semi-conductors,' the researchers said. The technique could make the technology a viable alternative to conventional lithography for chip production. 'We've got the process — the next step is to exploit it to make something useful.'"
Books

OpenGL SuperBible 5th ed. 98

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
asgard4 writes "OpenGL SuperBible in its fifth edition is almost a complete rewrite. The authors threw out the discussion of old-style, fixed-function programming and replaced it with an introduction to OpenGL that is exclusively focused on using shaders from the very beginning. All the things that got deprecated with the advent of OpenGL 3 got removed, making it a more relevant and up-to-date book than the previous editions. The OpenGL SuperBible still strives to be the 'world's best introduction to OpenGL' according to the authors. Let's see if it can keep that promise." Read on for the rest of Martin's review.

Little known fact about Middle Earth: The Hobbits had a very sophisticated computer network! It was a Tolkien Ring...

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