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Submission + - Environmental Report Raises Pressure on Obama to Approve Keystone Pipeline

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: Reuters reports that pressure on President Obama to approve the Keystone XL pipeline increased on Friday after a State Department report played down the impact it would have on climate change, irking environmentalists and delighting proponents of the project. The long-awaited environmental impact statement concludes that the Keystone XL pipeline would not substantially worsen carbon pollution, leaving an opening for Obama to approve the politically divisive project as it appears to indicate that the project could pass the criteria Obama set forth in a speech last summer when he said he would approve the 1,700-mile pipeline if it would not “significantly exacerbate” the problem of greenhouse gas emissions. The oil industry applauded the review. “After five years and five environmental reviews, time and time again the Department of State analysis has shown that the pipeline is safe for the environment,” says Cindy Schild, the senior manager of refining and oil sands programs at the American Petroleum Institute, which lobbies for the oil industry. Environmentalists say they are dismayed at some of the report’s conclusions and disputed its objectivity, and add that the report also offers Obama reasons to reject the pipeline. The report concludes that the process used for producing the oil — by extracting what are called tar sands or oil sands from the Alberta forest — creates about 17 percent more greenhouse gas emissions than traditional oil (PDF). But the report concludes that this heavily polluting oil will still be brought to market. Energy companies are already moving the oil out of Canada by rail. “At the end of the day, there’s a consensus among most energy experts that the oil will get shipped to market no matter what,” says Robert McNally. “It’s less important than I think it was perceived to be a year ago, both politically and on oil markets.”

Submission + - New ultrasound technique provides a new radiation free way to visualize tumors. (

FirephoxRising writes: Traditionally ultrasound has seen limited use in cancer treatment due to clarity and resolution issues. But researchers at the UNC School of Medicine have overcome this limitation by combining ultrasound with a contrast agent composed of tiny bubbles that pair with an antibody that many cancer cells produce at higher levels than do normal cells.“The SFRP2-moleculary targeted contrast agent showed specific visualization of the tumor vasculature,” said Klauber-DeMore. “In contrast, there was no visualization of normal blood vessels. This suggests that the contrast agent may help distinguish malignant from benign masses found on imaging.”

Submission + - Linux desktop users more pragmatic now or just demonstrating inertia? (

David W. White writes: Years ago ago those of us who used any *nix desktop (“every morning when you wake up, the house is a little different”) were seen as willing to embrace change and spend hours tinkering and configuring until we got new desktop versions to work the way we wanted, while there was an opposite perception of desktop users over in the Mac world (“it just works”) and the Windows world (“its a familiar interface”). However, a recent article in Datamation concludes that “for better or worse, they [Linux desktop users] know what they want — a classic desktop — and the figures consistently show that is what they are choosing in far greater numbers than GNOME, KDE, or any other single graphical interface.” Has the profile of the Linux desktop user changed to a more pragmatic one? Or is it just the psychology of user inertia at work, when one considers the revolt against changes in the KDE, GNOME, UNITY and Windows 8 interface in recent times?

Submission + - Should Everybody Learn to Code?

theodp writes: In July, the Association for Computing Machinery announced it was partnering with, with ACM contributing funding and its Director of Public Policy to in a push to 'ensure that every K-12 student in the US has the opportunity to study computer science.' Interestingly, joining others questioning the conventional Presidential wisdom that everybody-must-get-code is the Communications of the ACM, which asks in its February issue, Should Everybody Learn to Code? By the way, is bringing its Hour of Code show to the UK in March. The new National Curriculum for England that is to be taught in all primary and secondary schools beginning in September includes a new emphasis on Computer Science curricula, said to have been sparked by a speech given by Google Chairman Eric Schmidt in 2011.

Submission + - Finnish Hacker Isolates GPS Coordinates from Youtube Video Soundtrack (

An anonymous reader writes: "The signal sits alone on the left audio channel, so I can completely isolate it. Judging from the spectrogram, the modulation scheme seems to be BFSK, switching the carrier between 1200 and 2200 Hz. I demodulated it by filtering it with a lowpass and highpass sinc in SoX and comparing outputs. Now I had a bitstream at 1200 bps."

Submission + - Crushing Competition: Cable Companies Try To Outlaw Google Fiber (

MojoKid writes: Two events in the telecommunications and cable world this week highlight why we need net neutrality and stronger protections for consumer rights. Time Warner Cable, Cox, Eagle Communications, and Comcast have collectively introduced a bill into the Kansas legislature that prevents any city from rolling out any broadband infrastructure unless the area is completely cut off from the grid. It would bar the use of eminent domain for the purpose of providing better service to a city's citizens. And not incidentally, it makes Google Fiber effectively illegal. The bill would outlaw public/private partnerships, open access approaches, and the partnership that brought Google Fiber to Kansas City. Meanwhile, AT&T has been quietly assembling a patent portfolio for itself that simultaneously attacks net neutrality and consumer rights. The company applied for a patent titled "Prevention Of Bandwidth Abuse Of A Communications System" in October 2012. The abstract reads, in part: "A user of a communications network is prevented from consuming an excessive amount of channel bandwidth by restricting use of the channel in accordance with the type of data being downloaded to the user. The user is provided an initial number of credits. As the user consumes the credits, the data being downloaded is checked to determine if is permissible or non-permissible. Non-permissible data includes file-sharing files and movie downloads if user subscription does not permit such activity.

Submission + - The JavaScript juggernaut rolls on (

JThaddeus writes: An article in TechWorld Australia summarizes the latest opinions on JavaScript from ThoughtWorks: "There is no end in sight to the rise of JavaScript... 'I think JavaScript has been seen as a serious language for the last two or three years; I think now increasingly we’re seeing JavaScript as a platform,' said Sam Newman, ThoughtWorks’ Global Innovation Lead." The article touches on new additions to JavaScript tools, techniques, and languages built on Javascript. As the fuller report (PDF) says, "The ecosystem around JavaScript as a serious application platform continues to evolve. Many interesting new tools for testing, building, and managing dependencies in both server- and client-side JavaScript applications have emerged recently."

Submission + - In an age of cyber war, where are the cyber weapons? (

chicksdaddy writes: MIT Tech Review has an interesting piece that asks an obvious, but intriguing question: if we're living in an age of cyber warfare, where are all the cyber weapons?

Like the dawn of the nuclear age that started with the bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the use of the Stuxnet worm reportedly launched a global cyber arms race involving everyone from Syria to Iran and North Korea ( But almost four years after it was first publicly identified, Stuxnet is an anomaly: the first and only cyber weapon known to have been deployed. Experts in securing critical infrastructure including industrial control systems are wondering why. If Stuxnet was the world's cyber 'Little Boy,' where is the 'Fat Man'?

Speaking at the recent S4 Conference, Ralph Langner, perhaps the world’s top authority on the Stuxnet worm, argues that the mere hacking of critical systems is just a kind of 'hooliganism' that doesn’t count as cyber warfare.
True cyber weapons capable of inflicting cyber-physical damage require extraordinary expertise.

Stuxnet, he notes, made headlines for using four exploits for “zero day” (or previously undiscovered) holes in the Windows operating system. Far more impressive was the metallurgic expertise needed to understand the construction of Iran’s centrifuges. Those who created and programmed Stuxnet needed to know the exact amount of pressure or torque needed to damage aluminum rotors within them, sabotaging the country’s uranium enrichment operation.

Thomas Rid, of the Kings College Department of War Studies said the conditions for using a cyber weapon like Stuxnet aren't common and the deep intersection of intelligence operations and cyber ops means that "all cyber weapons are bespoke." "If you want to maximize the effect of a cyber weapon," he said at S4," the way you do it is with more intelligence."

Submission + - Yes, Virginia, Black Holes Exist!

StartsWithABang writes: "And so what these three papers, in tandem, have done, is demonstrate that there is no firewall and that the resolution to the firewall paradox is that the first assumption, that Hawking radiation is in a pure state, is the one that’s flawed.

You won’t read about this in the popular write-ups because it doesn’t have a catchy headline, it’s complex, and it’s not work by someone that’s already very famous for other work. But it’s right. Hawking radiation is not in a pure state, and without that pure state, there’s no firewall, and no paradox.

There is still an incredible amount to learn and understand about black holes, event horizons, and the behavior of quantum systems in strongly curved spacetime, to be sure, and there’s lots of very interesting research ahead. These findings arguably raise more questions than they answer, although at least we know that black holes won’t fry you when you fall in; it will still be death by spaghettification, not by incineration!"

Listen to what the best science has to say, not just to the most prominent scientist who says things.

Submission + - Russia's Dyatlov Pass Incident explained by modern science? (

swellconvivialguy writes: Fifty-five years ago today, nine young Russians died under suspicious circumstances during a winter hiking trip in the Ural mountains. Despite an exhaustive investigation and the recovery of the group’s journals and photographs, the deaths remained unexplained, blamed on “an unknown compelling force.” Now American film and television producer Donnie Eichar believes he has solved the mystery of the Dyatlov Pass Incident. Working in conjunction with scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder, CO, Eichar developed a theory that the hikers died because they panicked in the face of infrasound produced by a Kármán vortex street.

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