An anonymous reader writes "Could you imagine being arrested for failing to return a movie you rented 9-years earlier? Well that's just what happened to one South Carolina woman. 'According to a Feb 13 arrest report, 27-year-old Kayla Finley rented Monster-in-Law in 2005 from now defunct video store Dalton video. The woman failed to return the video within the 72 hour rental limit, eventually leading up to her arrest 9 years later.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Shubham Banerjee, a seventh grader in California, has developed a braille printer made from a $350 Lego Mindstorms EV3 kit and some simple hardware. He calls the science fair project the Braigo. 'The Braigo's controller is set up to scroll through the alphabet. You choose a letter and it prints it out with tactile bumps on a roll of calculator paper. The print head is actually a thumbtack, which Banerjee settled on after also testing a small drill bit and a mechanical pencil. The first prototype isn't terribly fast, but it proves the concept works. Banerjee is working on improvements that will allow it to print full pages of text.'"
Fnord666 writes "SlickLogin, an Israeli startup and developer of smart identification technology through user smartphones has been acquired by Google for several million (the official transaction amount remains undisclosed). SlickLogin was founded under a year ago by Or Zelig, Eran Galili and Ori Kabeli. The company first unveiled its technology at TechCrunch Disrupt held last September. The company has yet to launch their product."
An anonymous reader writes "Researchers at the US Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center have created a pizza that can be stored for up to three years while still remaining edible. 'It pretty much tastes just like a typical pan pizza that you would make at home and take out of the oven or the toaster oven,' said Jill Bates who heads up the lab. 'The only thing missing from that experience would be it's not hot when you eat it. It's room temperature.'"
An anonymous reader writes "President Obama will ask Congress for a $1 billion 'Climate Resilience Fund' in his proposed budget next month. From the article: 'Obama is expected to release his proposed 2015 budget in early March. The prospects for the climate fund are uncertain in a Republican-controlled House. But Obama, who made preparation for climate change one of the major themes of the climate action plan he released in June, will continue to press for the need to adapt, according to the White House.'"
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Mathematician Edward Frenkel writes in the NYT that one fanciful possibility that explains why mathematics seems to permeate our universe is that we live in a computer simulation based on the laws of mathematics — not in what we commonly take to be the real world. According to this theory, some highly advanced computer programmer of the future has devised this simulation, and we are unknowingly part of it. Thus when we discover a mathematical truth, we are simply discovering aspects of the code that the programmer used. This may strike you as very unlikely writes Frenkel but physicists have been creating their own computer simulations of the forces of nature for years — on a tiny scale, the size of an atomic nucleus. They use a three-dimensional grid to model a little chunk of the universe; then they run the program to see what happens. 'Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom has argued that we are more likely to be in such a simulation than not,' writes Frenkel. 'If such simulations are possible in theory, he reasons, then eventually humans will create them — presumably many of them. If this is so, in time there will be many more simulated worlds than nonsimulated ones. Statistically speaking, therefore, we are more likely to be living in a simulated world than the real one.' The question now becomes is there any way to empirically test this hypothesis and the answer surprisingly is yes. In a recent paper, 'Constraints on the Universe as a Numerical Simulation,' the physicists Silas R. Beane, Zohreh Davoudi and Martin J. Savage outline a possible method for detecting that our world is actually a computer simulation (PDF). Savage and his colleagues assume that any future simulators would use some of the same techniques current scientists use to run simulations, with the same constraints. The future simulators, Savage indicated, would map their universe on a mathematical lattice or grid, consisting of points and lines. But computer simulations generate slight but distinctive anomalies — certain kinds of asymmetries and they suggest that a closer look at cosmic rays may reveal similar asymmetries. If so, this would indicate that we might — just might — ourselves be in someone else's computer simulation."
sciencehabit writes "This week, the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California announced an important milestone on the road to achieving ignition, which could lead to producing controlled fusion reactions here on Earth. But NIF isn't just about harnessing the energy of the stars—it's about learning how stars produce their energy in the first place. In fact, pushing matter to extreme pressures and temperatures lets scientists explore all sorts of unanswered questions. At the annual meeting of AAAS in Chicago four physicists sat down with Science Magazine to discuss NIF's basic science potential and what experiments they would do if they had the laser all to themselves."
An anonymous reader writes "Stack Overflow co-founder Jeff Atwood has posted about how much progress we've made toward commercially viable virtual reality gaming — and how far we have to go. The Oculus Rift headset is technologically brilliant compared to anything we'd have before, but Atwood says there are still a number of problems to solve. Quoting: 'It's a big commitment to strap a giant, heavy device on your face with 3+ cables to your PC. You don't just casually fire up a VR experience. ... Demos are great, but there aren't many games in the Steam Store that support VR today, and the ones that do support VR can feel like artificially tacked on novelty experiences. I did try Surgeon Simulator 2013 which was satisfyingly hilarious. ... VR is a surprisingly anti-social hobby, even by gamer standards, which are, uh low. Let me tell you, nothing is quite as boring as watching another person sit down, strap on a headset, and have an extended VR "experience". I'm stifling a yawn just thinking about it. ... Wearing a good VR headset makes you suddenly realize how many other systems you need to add to the mix to get a truly great VR experience: headphones and awesome positional audio, some way of tracking your hand positions, perhaps an omnidirectional treadmill, and as we see with the Crystal Cove prototype, an external Kinect style camera to track your head position at absolute minimum.' Atwood also links to Michael Abrash's VR blog, which is satisfyingly technical for those interested in the hardware and software problems of VR."
An anonymous reader writes "As the rumors surrounding Apple's mythical iWatch continue to swell, Apple has continued to hire folks with deep biomedical and sensor technology expertise. A previously unreported addition to Apple's growing cadre of medical device experts is Marcelo Malini Lamego, who began working at Apple this January. Before joining Apple this past January, Lamego spent 8 years as the CTO of Cercacor, a medical devices company with a focus on developing noninvasive monitoring technologies."
mknewman writes "Elon Musk intimated that more-powerful batteries could be on the way for the Model S. The most potent battery pack currently offered in the Model S holds 85 kWh of juice, or enough for 265 miles of driving. Musk wasn't terribly specific, however: 'There is the potential for bigger battery packs in the future, but it would probably be maybe next year or something like that. The main focus is . . . how do we reduce the cost per kWh of storage in the battery pack?' In other words, Musk seems less concerned with stronger battery packs than making cheaper battery packs for the upcoming mid-size sedan, which is expected to be unveiled at the 2015 Detroit auto show. 'Our goal is to drop the cost per kWh by 30 percent to 40 percent.'"
First time accepted submitter TBNZee writes "Mainstream TV has has for a long time under-served the sci-fi loving viewers, but with declining production costs there seem to be two potential sources of alternative production/distribution: digital content (e.g. Netflix, Hulu) and crowd funded projects. There's still not a lot of sci-fi shows that are being produced by the major streaming services, but we'll probably see more with the success of Hulu's exclusive U.S. distribution of Misfits or Netflix's success with Buffy and Doctor Who. On the other hand, you have many enthusiastic upstarts on Kickstarter that look novel and engaging, while having a surprisingly professional look to them. Which do you think will ultimately be more successful? Will either be able to replace network content?"
retroworks writes "Three people at the National Security Agency have been implicated in Edward Snowden's efforts to copy classified material, including a civilian employee who resigned last month after acknowledging he allowed Snowden to use his computer ID, according to an NSA memo sent to Congress. The other two were an active-duty member of the military and a civilian contractor. The memo does not describe their conduct, but says they were barred from the NSA and its systems in August."
An anonymous reader writes "This NY Times articles makes the case that Comcast's planned acquisition of Time Warner Cable is part of a strategy to fight back against the millions of people ditching cable subscriptions. 'The acquisition rests on the assumption that as people cut back on their monthly TV plans, the cable lines coming into their homes won't lose their value.' The idea is that switching away from cable TV will simply make consumers more beholden to their internet connections, and removing (i.e. acquiring) the competition will let Comcast raise rates without losing customers. The article concludes, 'The steady price increases in broadband rates cast a pall over any cord cutter's dreams. It's possible that you might still save money now by cutting off your cable. But if you plan to watch a lot of TV over the Internet, don't expect to save money forever.'"
An anonymous reader sends word that German Chancellor Angela Merkel wants to build a European communication network to keep data transmission away from the United States. She plans to discuss the issue with French President Francois Hollande. "Merkel said in her weekly podcast that she disapproved of companies such as Google and Facebook basing their operations in countries with low levels of data protection while being active in countries such as Germany with high data protection. 'We'll talk with France about how we can maintain a high level of data protection,' Merkel said. 'Above all, we'll talk about European providers that offer security for our citizens, so that one shouldn't have to send emails and other information across the Atlantic. Rather, one could build up a communication network inside Europe.' Hollande's office confirmed that the governments had been discussing the matter and said Paris agreed with Berlin's proposals."
TopSpin writes "Alcatel-Lucent has authorized The University of California, Berkeley to 'release all Plan 9 software previously governed by the Lucent Public License, Version 1.02 under the GNU General Public License, Version 2.' Plan 9 was developed primarily for research purposes as the successor to Unix by the Computing Sciences Research Center at Bell Labs between the mid-1980s and 2002. Plan 9 has subsequently emerged as Inferno, a commercially supported derivative, and ports to various platforms, including a recent port to the Raspberry Pi. In Plan 9, all system interfaces, including those required for networking and the user interface, are represented through the file system rather than specialized interfaces. The system provides a generic protocol, 9P, to perform all communication with the system, among processes and with network resources. Applications compose resources using union file systems to form isolated namespaces."
New submitter jbov writes "Kickstarter members received an e-mail at about 16:40 EST notifying them of a security breach. According to the e-mail, information including user names, encrypted passwords, mailing addresses, and phone numbers may have been revealed. Kickstarter members were urged to change their passwords. 'Older passwords were uniquely salted and digested with SHA-1 multiple times. More recent passwords are hashed with bcrypt.' Kickstarter claims that credit card information was not accessed during the breach. According to Kickstarter, law enforcement officials contacted the company on Wednesday night and alerted them that 'hackers had sought and gained unauthorized access to some of our customers' data.' Upon learning of the breach, Kickstarter closed the security breach and began strengthening security measures."