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Submission + - Porcupines Can Be Fearsome Killers (sciencemag.org)

sciencehabit writes: With needle-sharp quills, some longer than the average human forearm, porcupines sport one of nature’s most frightening defenses against predators. But a new study shows they can be fearsome killers as well. Researchers in Italy have found that the rodents can slay dogs, foxes, and even badgers. They identified four defenses that the animals employed, in order of increasing aggression: quill erection, tail rattling, stamping and growling, and backwards or sideways attacks. The porcupines never used the latter two in one-on-one encounters, but rather as last resorts when an individual was outnumbered, or if multiple porcupines were present and more likely to inflict serious damage. In one such case, two porcupines ran backwards, forcing a dog into their den, where they fatally impaled it with their quills. Other porcupines killed four other predators, two badgers and two foxes, over the study period; such deaths have never been previously recorded in scientific literature, the team reports.

Submission + - World War II's Last Surviving Doolittle Raiders Make Their Final Toast

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: As we come up on Veteran's Day, Barrie Barber reports for the Dayton Daily News that the last Doolittle Raiders symbolically said goodbye to a decades-old tradition and to a history that changed the course of the Pacific war in World War II. Gathering from across the country together one last time, three surviving Raiders sipped from silver goblets engraved with their names and filled with 1896 Hennessy cognac in a once-private ceremony webcast to the world at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. Robert E. Cole, 98, led the final toast to the 80 members of "the Greatest Generation" who took off in 16 B-25 Mitchell bombers April 18, 1942, from the deck of the USS Hornet to bomb Japan four months after a Japanese surprise naval and air attack on Pearl Harbor. “Gentleman, I propose a toast,” said Cole, as about 700 spectators watched one final time, “to those we lost on the mission and those that passed away since. Thank you very much and may they rest in peace.” Acting Secretary of the Air Force Eric Fanning said the raid showed the courage and innovation of the World War II airmen flying from a carrier in a bomber that had never seen combat to attack a heavily defended nation and to attempt to land at unseen airfields in China in a country occupied by Japanese troops. More than 70 years after the attack, Edward J. Saylor, 93, remembered ditching at sea once he and his crew dropped their bombs and several close calls with being discovered by the Japanese Army while making his way through China. This may be the last time I see them together,” said the 92-year-old raider who has attended Raider reunions since 1962. “It’s a little sad for me because I’ve known them so long and know the story of what they did in 1942.”

Submission + - How Silicon Valley Helped the NSA

theodp writes: The U.S. tech giants’ pledge to up their privacy game in the wake of reports that all-your-data-belong-to-the-NSA rings a little hollow to Abraham Newman, who reminds us that such protections run counter to the business model and public policy agenda that tech companies have pursued for decades. "For years," writes Newman, "U.S. information technology (IT) firms have actively backed weak privacy rules that let them collect massive amounts of personal data. The strategy enabled the companies to work their way into every corner of consumers’ lives and gave them a competitive edge internationally. Those same policies, however, have come back to haunt IT firms. Lax rules created fertile ground for NSA snooping. In the wake of the surveillance scandals, as consumer confidence plummets, technology companies’ economic futures are threatened.

Submission + - Man in Tesla Model S fire explains what happened

An anonymous reader writes: The three recent Tesla fires have raised concerns with a lot of people. One person who isn't concerened however is, Juris Shibayama, the man whose model S burned in Tennessee. He says: 'I would buy another one in a heartbeat.' From the article: 'Shibayama said that he struck a three-pronged trailer hitch in the middle lane of the interstate. He continued: "About 30-45 seconds later, there was a warning on the dashboard display saying, 'Car needs service. Car may not restart.' I continued to drive, hoping to get home. About one minute later, the message on the dashboard display read, 'Please pull over safely. Car is shutting down.'" He said he had time to remove his possessions, even though, he said: "About 5-10 seconds after getting out of the car, smoke started to come from the front underbody of the car."'

Submission + - Modern Microsoft Word Does Not Reliably Read Earlier Formats: A 1989 Print Test (blogspot.ca)

badger.foo writes: Prompted by a fabulous rant by Charlie Stross named Why Microsoft Word must Die, Peter Hansteen dug out from his archives the simplest possible 1989-vintage Microsoft Word .DOC document, and has the data to prove that newer versions or Microsoft Word do in fact not reliably read files from earlier versions. Case in point: An ASCII table print test generated and saved as .DOC in 1989.

Submission + - NASA's Robonaut gets its legs; Could a moonwalk be in its future? (examiner.com)

MarkWhittington writes: Project M was a proposal at NASA’s Johnson Spaceflight Center that would have put together a mission to deliver a bipedal robot to the lunar surface within a thousand days. The idea never got out of the conception stage, but two major components, a new type of lunar lander, now called Morpheus, and a robonaut continued on as separate projects.

Morpheus is getting ready to conduct a second attempt at free flight tests at the Kennedy Space Center. The first attempt resulted in the destruction of the prototype vehicle. If the second round of tests is successful, NASA will have a spacecraft that could deliver 1,100 pounds of payload to the lunar surface.

In the meantime while a copy of Robonaut 2 is still undergoing tests on board the International Space Station, ABC News reports that a cousin of the mechanical person has been built with legs. It stands eight feet tall and weighs 500 pounds.

Thus, with two major components of Project M nearing completion, could a robonaut become the next moon walker?

Submission + - Why Lunar craters are bigger on near side

An anonymous reader writes: A new study of ateroid craters on the moon has uncovered some big differences in the compostion of the crust on the two sides of the moon. 'While massive impact basins pockmark the moon’s near side, its far side contains considerably smaller basins. The discrepancy in crater distribution has puzzled scientists for decades. To investigate what may have caused this difference, the team obtained data from NASA’s twin GRAIL probes, which orbited the moon from January to December 2012. During its mission, the probes circled the moon, making measurements of its gravity. Zuber and her colleagues used this data to generate a highly detailed map of the moon’s crust, showing areas where the crust thickens and thins; in general, the group observed that the moon’s near side has a thinner crust than its far side.'

Submission + - LeVar Burton on Google Glass

An anonymous reader writes: While he acknoiwledged thart technology needs to keep going forward, LeVar Burton didn't seem comfortable with the idea of using Google Glass. '"It disturbed me. I was skeptical... [and] I'm a person that's very open to technology." That's the reaction LeVar Burton, the man best known from Reading Rainbow and Star Trek: The Next Generation, first had when encountering Google Glass backstage at Engadget Expand. Burton, a self-described edutainment pioneer, acknowledges the disruptive power new technologies can have on media and culture — after all, he did help transform television into a worthy educational tool/babysitter with his PBS program. But even with that storied success, and his company's current inroads into digital with an iPad Reading Rainbow application, Burton still had a "knee-jerk" response when confronted with Glass. Although his celebrity status and the resulting paranoia could have something to do with it.'

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