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Government

Supreme Court Ruling Supports Same-Sex Marriage 1074 1074

The U.S. Supreme Court issued Friday a landmark decision, ruling that marriage is a Constitutionally protected right to homosexual as well as heterosexual couples. The New York Times notes that last year, by refusing to hear appeals to decisions favoring same-sex marriage in five states, the court "delivered a tacit victory for gay rights, immediately expanding the number of states with same-sex marriage to 24, along with the District of Columbia, up from 19." (In the time since, several more states have expanded marriage to include gay couples.) Reuters expains a bit of the legal and political history of the movement which led to today's decision, and points out some of the countries around the world which have made similar moves already.
Government

Presidential Candidate Lincoln Chaffee Proposes That US Go Metric 830 830

New submitter Applehu Akbar writes: The good news is that for the first time in years, a candidate in the next presidential cycle has proposed completing our transition to the metric system. Though unfortunately it's Lincoln Chaffee, let's all hope that this long-standing nerd issue gets into the 2016 debate because of this. Warning: Lame CNN autoplaying video.
Businesses

GameStop Swoops In To Buy ThinkGeek For $140 Million 93 93

Lirodon writes: Remember a few days ago, when Slashdot's former parent company was the subject of a $122 million takeover bid by Hot Topic? Well, another geeky retailer entered the fray in the battle for ThinkGeek, and won. GameStop will be acquiring Geeknet for $140 million. The video game retailer has promised synergies, such as in-store pickup and integration with its rewards program.
Businesses

Worker Fired For Disabling GPS App That Tracked Her 24 Hours a Day 776 776

An anonymous reader writes: Myrna Arias claims she was fired for refusing to run an app that would track her location even when she was off the clock. She is now suing Intermex Wire Transfer LLC in a Kern County Superior Court. Her claim reads in part: "After researching the app and speaking with a trainer from Xora, Plaintiff and her co-workers asked whether Intermex would be monitoring their movements while off duty. Stubits admitted that employees would be monitored while off duty and bragged that he knew how fast she was driving at specific moments ever since she installed the app on her phone. Plaintiff expressed that she had no problem with the app's GPS function during work hours, but she objected to the monitoring of her location during non-work hours and complained to Stubits that this was an invasion of her privacy. She likened the app to a prisoner's ankle bracelet and informed Stubits that his actions were illegal. Stubits replied that she should tolerate the illegal intrusion...."
Earth

Top Advisor To Australian Gov't Says Climate Change is a UN Conspiracy 525 525

An anonymous reader writes: Maurice Newman, the top business advisor to conservative Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, today published an opinion piece (paywalled) in which he claims, "It's a well-kept secret, but 95 per cent of the climate models ... have been found ... to be in error." He goes on to write "This is not about facts or logic. It's about a new world order under the control of the UN." While Newman's 'skeptical' views have long been on record, it's unclear when he came to believe in this vast global conspiracy. Last year, the Abbott government removed Australia's Emissions Trading Scheme, and recently gave $4 million in funding to contrarian Bjorn Lomberg, while cutting hundreds of millions of dollars from science across the country.
Science

Researchers Make Spiders Produce Silk Strengthened With Graphene 59 59

An anonymous reader writes: Italian researchers in Trent have enabled 15 Pholcidae spiders to spin graphene-strengthened dragline silk just by spraying them with a solution containing carbon nanotubes and graphene flakes. The resulting fiber is as strong as Kevlar 49, and ranks among the most resilient and ductile in the world of manufacturing. But Emiliano Lepore's research has not succeeded in understanding by what process the spiders are able to incorporate the ambient materials into their webs. Since spider-farming is historically unproductive, the possibility of continuing the research on silk-worms has been presented.
Security

FBI Releases Its Files On DEF CON: Not Amused By Spot-the-Fed 102 102

v3rgEz writes: Not surprisingly, the FBI has compiled reports on notorious hacker gathering DEF CON, now released thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request. The files detail the lack of amusement at the Spot-the-Fed game, as well as which conference tracks attract the most interest. "In a bit of FOIrony, the file contains a copy of the Spot the Fed contest rules, including the facetious aside to feds offering t-shirts in exchange for agency coffee mugs."
Space

17-Year-Old Radio Astronomy Mystery Traced Back To Kitchen Microwave 227 227

New submitter Bo'Bob'O writes: The BBC reports that the scientists at the Parkes and Bleien Radio Observatories in New South Wales, Australia, have tracked down earth-based signals that had been eluding observation for 17 years. These signals, which came to be called Perytons "occurred only during office hours and predominantly on weekdays." The source, as it turned out, was located right inside the antenna's tower where impatient scientists had been opening the kitchen microwave door before its cycle had finished. As the linked paper concludes, this, and a worn magnetron caused a condition that allowed the microwaves to emit a burst of frequencies not expected by the scientists, only compounding the original mystery.
Transportation

Smart Headlights Adjust To Aid Drivers In Difficult Conditions 125 125

An anonymous reader writes: Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute are developing smart headlights that not only trace a car's movement around bends, but are programmable to assist a driver in a wide range of driving conditions. The research team, at the institute's Illumination and Imaging Laboratory, is looking into designing headlights which do not highlight raindrops and snowflakes in bad weather, instead passing light around the individual drops and improving visibility. Its near-future design would also be able to avoid glare even when the high beam is in use, detecting up-coming vehicles and disabling the range of light that is directed at it. They also hope to incorporate GPS data to adjust the direction of the headlights according to the lane that a driver is occupying, illuminating it more brightly compared to surrounding lanes. The technology is supported by a looped system which will constantly read, assess and react to driving conditions. The prototype also features a built-in camera to capture visual data before transferring it to a computer processor installed in the vehicle, where it can be analyzed.
Medicine

Pepsi To Stop Using Aspartame 630 630

An anonymous reader writes: Pepsi believes sales of diet soda are falling because of aspartame and how the general public thinks it's a dangerous substance to consume. Even though the FDA describes aspartame as “one of the most thoroughly tested and studied food additives the agency has ever approved,” Pepsi has decided to stop using it. Aspartame removal is being turned into a marketing campaign of sorts, with "Now Aspartame Free" printed on cans.
Google

Google Insiders Talk About Why Google+ Failed 359 359

An anonymous reader writes in with this story about what happened to Google+ from an employee perspective. "Last month, Google announced that it's changing up its strategy with Google+. In a sense, it's giving up on pitching Google+ as a social network aimed at competing with Facebook. Instead, Google+ will become two separate pieces: Photos and Streams. This didn't come as a surprise — Google+ never really caught on the same way social networks like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn did....Rumors have been swirling for months that Google would change its direction with Google+. Business Insider spoke with a few insiders about what happened to the network that Google believed would change the way people share their lives online. Google+ was really important to Larry Page, too — one person said he was personally involved and wanted to get the whole company behind it. The main problem with Google+, one former Googler says, is the company tried to make it too much like Facebook. Another former Googler agrees, saying the company was 'late to market' and motivated from 'a competitive standpoint.'"
Crime

Oklahoma Says It Will Now Use Nitrogen Gas As Its Backup Method of Execution 591 591

schwit1 writes Yesterday, Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin signed into law a bill that approves the use of nitrogen gas for executions in the state. The method, which would effectively asphyxiate death row inmates by forcing them to breathe pure nitrogen through a gas mask, is meant to be the primary alternative to lethal injection, the Washington Post reports.

Fallin and other supporters of the procedure say it's pain-free and effective, noting that the nitrogen would render inmates unconscious within ten seconds and kill them in minutes. It's also cheap: state representatives say the method only requires a nitrogen tank and a gas mask, but financial analysts say its impossible to give precise figures, the Post reports.

Oklahoma's primary execution method is still lethal injection, but the state's procedure is currently under review by the Supreme Court. Earlier this week, Tennessee suspended executions statewide following challenges to its own lethal injection protocol.
The Courts

FBI Overstated Forensic Hair Matches In Nearly All Trials Before 2000 173 173

schwit1 writes The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000. Of 28 examiners with the FBI Laboratory's microscopic hair comparison unit, 26 overstated forensic matches in ways that favored prosecutors in more than 95 percent of the 268 trials reviewed so far, according to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Innocence Project, which are assisting the government with the country's largest post-conviction review of questioned forensic evidence. The cases include those of 32 defendants sentenced to death. Of those, 14 have been executed or died in prison, the groups said under an agreement with the government to release results after the review of the first 200 convictions.
Earth

The Last Time Oceans Got This Acidic This Fast, 96% of Marine Life Went Extinct 417 417

merbs writes: The biggest extinction event in planetary history was driven by the rapid acidification of our oceans, a new study concludes (abstract). So much carbon was released into the atmosphere, and the oceans absorbed so much of it so quickly, that marine life simply died off, from the bottom of the food chain up. That doesn't bode well for the present, given the similarly disturbing rate that our seas are acidifying right now. A team led by University of Edinburgh researchers collected rocks in the United Arab Emirates that were on the seafloor hundreds of millions of years ago, and used the boron isotopes found within to model the changing levels of acidification in our prehistoric oceans. They now believe that a series of gigantic volcanic eruptions in the Siberian Trap spewed a great fountain of carbon into the atmosphere over a period of tens of thousands of years. This was the first phase of the extinction event, in which terrestrial life began to die out.
Encryption

NSA Worried About Recruitment, Post-Snowden 247 247

An anonymous reader writes: The NSA employs tens of thousands of people, and they're constantly recruiting more. They're looking for 1,600 new workers this year alone. Now that their reputation has taken a major hit with the revelations of whistleblower Edward Snowden, they aren't sure they'll be able to meet that goal. Not only that, but the NSA has to compete with other companies, and they Snowden leaks made many of them more competitive: "Ever since the Snowden leaks, cybersecurity has been hot in Silicon Valley. In part that's because the industry no longer trusts the government as much as it once did. Companies want to develop their own security, and they're willing to pay top dollar to get the same people the NSA is trying to recruit." If academia's relationship with the NSA continues to cool, the agency could find itself struggling within a few years.

May Euell Gibbons eat your only copy of the manual!

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