An anonymous reader writes "It's been 25 years since the Exxon Valdez dumped 11 million gallons of crude oil in Prince William Sound, and you can still find oil sticking to rocks. Worse yet, scientists say the oil could be around for decades yet to come. From the article: 'There are two main reasons why there's still oil on some of the beaches of the Kenai Fjords and Katmai National Parks and Preserves in the Gulf of Alaska, explains Gail Irvine, a marine ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey and lead researcher on the study. When the oil first spilled from the tanker, it mixed with the seawater and formed an emulsion that turned it into a goopy compound, she says. "When oil forms into the foam, the outside is weathering, but the inside isn't," Irvine explains. It's like mayonnaise left out on the counter. The surface will crust over, but the inside of the clump still looks like mayonnaise, she explains.'"
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An anonymous reader writes "Inventor Jeff Guida has come up with a way to turn any Citibike into an electric scooter. His ShareRoller is about the size of a small briefcase, weighs just seven pounds, and has a 12- to 20-mile range. From the article: '"Years ago, I would've needed a giant engineering company and several million dollars in development research and it still would've taken two years or more," Guida said. But 3D printing has changed all that. In the coming months, Guida hopes to design a universal bracket so that the ShareRoller can be used on any bike. He has some competition there, as there are a few companies that make wheels that convert regular bikes into electric bikes, but he says the ShareRoller is more convenient.'"
First time accepted submitter Recaply writes "Here's a look back at the 1960's Bell Aerosystems Rocket Belt. 'Born out of sci-fi cinema, pulp literature and a general lust for launching ourselves into the wild blue yonder, the real-world Rocket Belt began to truly unfold once the military industrial complex opened up its wallet. In the late 1950s, the US Army's Transportation Research Command (TRECOM) was looking at ways to augment the mobility of foot soldiers and enable them to bypass minefields and other obstacles on the battleground by making long-range jumps. It put out a call to various aerospace companies looking for prototypes of a Small Rocket Lift Device (SRLD). Bell Aerospace, which had built the sound-barrier-breaking X-1 aircraft for the Army Air Forces, managed to get the contract and Wendell Moore, a propulsion engineer at Bell became the technical lead.'"
An anonymous reader writes "If you think the average wait of 28.3 months for a patent to be approved is ridiculous, don't complain to Gilbert P. Hyatt. The 76-year-old inventor has been waiting over forty years for a ruling on whether his electronic signal to control machinery should be granted a patent. 'It's totally unconscionable,' said Brad Wright, a patent lawyer with Banner & Witcoff in Washington who specializes in computer-related applications and isn't involved in Hyatt's case. 'The patent office doesn't want to be embarrassed that they might issue a broad patent that would have a sweeping impact on the technology sector. Rather than be embarrassed, they're just bottling it up.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Here's an inside look at the personal successes of the elite hacking group "w00w00". From the article: 'For this group of old friends, assembled for an impromptu reunion, the venue would feel familiar: an online chat room running on a secure private server. Each were former members of the elite hacking group "w00w00" and they had reconvened that afternoon to celebrate and share in the success of one of their own. In some ways it was just like old times. But rather than success being the discovery of a new software exploit or penetration of a computer network, this was something more extraordinary. One of the group's former members had just sold their company for $19 billion dollars."
An anonymous reader writes "India is planning a mission to probe the Sun before 2020. The nation launched a Moon mission a few years ago and sent a Mars mission late last year. From the article: 'Indian Space Research Organization has lined up over a dozen missions, including its first probe on the Sun, Isro chairman K Radhakrishnan said on Friday. Though, the mission to probe the Sun was already on the cards, the agency now has a clear picture of its plan and had put a timeframe within which it hoped to undertake it, Radhakrishnan said, while addressing students at a private University here. He said the "Aditya" mission to the Sun had been planned between 2017 and 2020.'"
theodp writes "Slashdot's been following de-extinction efforts for a good 15 years. Now, in The Mammoth Cometh, this week's NY Times Magazine cover story, Nathaniel Rich writes that 'bringing extinct animals back to life is really happening — and it's going to be very, very cool. Unless it ends up being very, very bad.' Among the 'genetic rescues' being pursued by The Long Now Foundation's Revive & Restore project is The Great Passenger Pigeon Comeback. And returning a flock of passenger pigeons to the planet is just the tip of the iceberg. 'We're bringing back the mammoth to restore the steppe in the Arctic,' says Stewart Brand. 'One or two mammoths is not a success. 100,000 mammoths is a success.' De-extinction, while no doubt thrilling ('It would certainly be cool to see a living saber-toothed cat,' Stanford's Hank Greely and Jacob Sherkow argued in Science), is disturbing to many conservation biologists who question the logic of bringing back an animal whose native habitat has disappeared, worry about disease, and are concerned that money may be diverted from other conservation efforts."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "BBC reports that when Dana Snay learned her father had been awarded an $80,000 cash settlement in an age-discrimination lawsuit against his former employer, she couldn't resist bragging about it on Facebook. 'Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver,' the teen posted to her 1,200 Facebook friends. 'Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT.' Trouble was her father had signed a confidentiality agreement so the school refused to pay a dime and a Florida appeals court has found in the school's favor. 'Snay violated the agreement by doing exactly what he had promised not to do,' wrote Judge Linda Ann Wells. 'His daughter then did precisely what the confidentiality agreement was designed to prevent.' Snay's father said in depositions that he and his wife knew they had to say something to their daughter because she suffered 'psychological scars' from issues during her enrollment at the school and was aware that they were in mediation with Gulliver attorneys. Attorneys say it's unlikely confiding in Dana Snay would have jeopardized the settlement — it was the facebook post that did them in. 'Remember when all you had to worry about was your daughter posting naked selfies of herself on Facebook?' writes Elie Mystal at Above the Law. 'Now, things are worse.'"
mikejuk writes "The OpenNI website, home to the widely used framework for 3D sensing, will be shut down in April. When, in November 2013, Apple bought PrimeSense for $350 million, people speculated how this would affect the Capri mobile technology but no mention was made of what would happen to OpenNI, the open source SDK most often used as an alternative to Microsoft's closed SDK for the Kinect. After Apple acquired PrimeSense, its website quickly shut, but the Developers link still points to Open NI. The status of OpenNI is a not-for-profit whose framework allows developers to create middleware and applications for a range of devices, including the Asus Xtion Pro. It claims to be a widely used community with over 100,000 active 3D developers."
schwit1 writes in with this story about Facbook's questionable ads including webcam modeling and diet drugs. "Sophie Bean, 14, of Sequim, Wash., said she was thought she was 'liking' a Facebook ad related to fashion modeling. Instead, it promoted a Facebook page that recruited adult webcam models. 'I just thought it was for modeling, and I'm interested in that, and I thought it would help me out,' Sophie said. Sophie wasn't the only teen connecting with the page, which Facebook statistics show is most popular with users 13 to 17. Clicking on it didn't pull the teens into nude webcam modeling, but did mean they would receive the page's updates and could be mentioned in future versions of the ad."
alphadogg writes "Cisco today kicked off a contest with $300,000 in prize money that challenges security experts around the world to put together ways to secure what's now called the 'Internet of Things,' the wide range of non-traditional computing devices used on the electric grid, in healthcare and many other industries. A Cisco SVP concluded his keynote at this week's RSA Conference by announcing what he called the 'Internet of Things Security Grand Challenge.' Christopher Young said the idea is 'a contest of experts around the world to submit blueprints' for how security issues created by the Internet of Things could be addressed. It's expected that up to six winning entries would be selected and the prize money awarded at the Internet of Things Forum in the fall."
An anonymous reader writes "Whenever I install a fresh operating system on my computer, I immediately grab a handful of programs that I simply must have. After that, I generally wait and install other pieces of software as I need them. My list of known, useful programs has dwindled over the past few years as projects died, ownership transferred, and functionality changed. At the same time, I've begun to have use for certain types of software that I've never needed before. It can be time-consuming and risky to install and evaluate every single option. So, I'm curious: what pieces of software do you find the most useful and reliable? Don't feel the need to limit yourself by operating system, platform, or hardware. If you're so inclined, a brief description about what makes the software great would be helpful, too."
theodp writes "The LA Times reports that Google will fund free bus passes for low- and middle-income kids in a move to quiet the controversy surrounding tech-driven gentrification in San Francisco. In a statement, Google said, 'San Francisco residents are rightly frustrated that we don't pay more to use city bus stops. So we'll continue to work with the city on these fees, and in the meantime will fund MUNI passes for low income students [an existing program] for the next two years.' SF Mayor Ed Lee said, 'I want to thank Google for this enormous gift to the SFMTA, and I look forward to continuing to work with this great San Francisco employer towards improving our City for everyone.' But not all were impressed. 'It's a last-minute PR move on their part, and they're trying to use youth unfairly to create a better brand image in the city,' said Erin McElroy of the SF Anti-Eviction Mapping Project."
Now that Russia has sent troops to seize the Crimean Peninsula, international politics are tense and frantic. An anonymous reader notes an article from Joshua Keating at Slate, which points out that some of the diplomatic cables on WikiLeaks illustrate how this situation is not at all unexpected. Quoting a cable from October, 2009: "... pro-Russian forces in Crimea, acting with funding and direction from Moscow, have systematically attempted to increase communal tensions in Crimea in the two years since the Orange Revolution. They have done so by cynically fanning ethnic Russian chauvinism towards Crimean Tatars and ethnic Ukrainians, through manipulation of issues like the status of the Russian language, NATO, and an alleged Tatar threat to 'Slavs,' in a deliberate effort to destabilize Crimea, weaken Ukraine, and prevent Ukraine's movement west into institutions like NATO and the EU." The article points out another cable from a few days later, which was titled, "Ukraine-Russia: Is Military Conflict No Longer Unthinkable?"
Trax3001BBS writes "A 65-foot (20-meter) crack has been found in Wanapum Dam, one of the major dams along the Columbia River in southern Washington. Water levels are being lowered to both reduce water pressure and give the inspectors access to the area. 'Earlier this week, an engineer noticed a slight irregular "bowing" above the spillway gates near where cars can drive across the dam. When divers finally took a look under water they found a 2-inch-wide crack that stretched for 65 feet along the base of one of the dam's spillway piers.' The article goes on to say, 'Even if the dam doesn't fail, the significance of the damage is likely to require extensive repairs and that, too, could impact the entire Columbia River system. "All these dams coordinate to generate energy on a regional scope," Stedwick said. "If Wanapum is impacted, that has impacts on dams upstream as well as below." Upstream dams would be required to handle more water; there's only one lower dam (Priest Rapids). After that is the last free flowing section of the Columbia river. I've taken walks along that section, and I've seen it deviate (higher or lower) by amazing amount of water, so it can handle the changing flow rate. Making this situation more complex, a large group of people would like that particular dam removed, as well as the one above and below it (think of the fish!). On top of that, after the Priest Rapids dam (downstream from Wanapum Dam) is the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, once a site for Plutonium production. Either of these issues could generate a ton of attention. Personally, I'd like to give the engineer that noticed a slight irregular 'bowing' my congratulations."