Submission + - First Extrasolar Object has Unusual Shape 2

RockDoctor writes: Following the fleeting appearance of Interstellar body 1I/2017 U1 ’Oumuamua in our skies over the last several months, the expected flood of technical papers are starting to appear. Not quite first out of the blocks, but delivering the most interesting results so far, are famous not-a-planet hunters David Jewitt and Jane Luu (whose 1992 discovery of the first Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) (15760) 1992 QB1 marked the acceleration of the study of the outer solar system).

The 1I/2017 U1 is sub-kilometre in size, with a slightly reddish colour (which has been reported previously, and is less red than is typical for outer solar system objects) and rotates in about 8.26 hr. So far, so unspectacular. But what is remarkable is that the brightness varies by 2.0 ± 0.2 magnitudes, which translates to a shape 6 times as long as it is wide (~35m x 230) if it's brightness does not change across it's surface. This is most remarkable but not quite unprecedented. Asteroid 4116 Elachi has a 1.6 magnitude brightness variation over a 38 hr period for an implied shape 4.3 times as long as it is wide.

To hold together under it's own gravity, a body this size and shape but with no strength would need a density of 5 times that of water (ice in interstellar space). This implies that the body has significant cohesion strength and is not a "rubble pile".

If the surface reflectance (albedo) does vary across the surface, the shape may not be as extreme as the 6:1 brightness ratio suggests, but there is not enough colour data available to adequately assess this question.

With only one example known at this time it is not known if this is typical of interstellar bodies, or unusual. However this single detection implies around 10000 such bodies in the "inner" solar system (within the orbit of Neptune), staying here for around 10 years each, and with future telescope plans, around one such discovery a year in the foreseeable future.

Some aspects of this body are unremarkable (it much resembles Jupiter's "Trojan" asteroids, which probably got to their current orbits by violent scattering in the early development of the Solar System. This is certainly not inconsistent with the object having been scattered out of it's origin system. But that shape is unusual among the Solar System's minor planets and detritus.

(PDF direct link.)

Submission + - Tesla Is Rethinking the Rest Stop For California Road Trips (

An anonymous reader writes: In-N-Out Burgers has some new competition for attracting drivers on two heavily traveled stretches of California freeways that help link Los Angeles to Las Vegas and San Francisco: Tesla’s biggest Supercharger stations yet. The charging stations in Kettleman City, off Interstate 5, and Baker, near Interstate 15, each have 40 stalls, making them the largest among more than 1,000 in North America, according to an emailed statement Wednesday. If filling up your Tesla takes half an hour, you might as well get comfortable. The Kettleman City station north of Bakersfield has a play wall for kids, a pet relief area and outdoor space for families. It’s open round-the-clock, there’s wi-fi and there will be food as well. But if you want to stretch your legs, the nearest In-N-Out is just across the street. And there are inevitable Tesla touches at both: solar-covered parking and Tesla Powerpacks.

Submission + - Detroit's Marginalized Communities Are Building Their Own Internet (

An anonymous reader writes: Motherboard has a report that discusses how some of Detroit's communities are building their own internet to help close the gap between the roughly 60 percent of Detroiters who have internet and 40 percent who don't. From the report: "[Diana Nucera, director of the Detroit Community Technology Project] is part of a growing cohort of Detroiters who have started a grassroots movement to close that gap, by building the internet themselves. It’s a coalition of community members and multiple Detroit nonprofits. They’re starting with three underserved neighborhoods, installing high speed internet that beams shared gigabit connections from an antenna on top of the tallest building on the street, and into the homes of people who have long gone without. They call it the Equitable Internet Initiative. The issue isn’t only cost, though it is prohibitive for many Detroiters, but also infrastructure. Because of Detroit’s economic woes, many Big Telecom companies haven’t thought it worthwhile to invest in expanding their network to these communities. The city is filled with dark fiber optic cable that’s not connected to any homes or businesses—relics from more optimistic days.

Residents who can’t afford internet, are on some kind of federal or city subsidy like food stamps, and students are prioritized for the Initiative, Nucera told me. The whole effort started last summer with enlisting digital stewards, locals from each neighborhood who were interested in working for the nonprofit coalition, doing everything from spreading the word, to teaching digital literacy, to installing routers and pulling fiber. Many of these stewards started out with little or no tech expertise, but after a 20-week-long training period, they’ve become experts able to install, troubleshoot, and maintain a network from end to end. They’re also aiming to spread digital literacy, so people can truly own the network themselves.

Submission + - China delays notification of software holes used in Chinese APT ops (

chicksdaddy writes: China's national vulnerability database does a better job disclosing information on software security holesexcept when those holes are being used in targeted attacks by Chinese APT groups. That, according to a report out Thursday by the firm Recorded Future.(

Disclosure of vulnerabilities associated with malicious software used by China-affiliated advanced persistent threat (APT) groups were delayed considerably compared to disclosure of the same hole in the U.S. National Vulnerability Database (NVD). However, low severity vulnerabilities that were not used in offensive cyber operations were more likely to be disclosed on China’s national vulnerability database (CNNVD) before or at the same time as disclosure on the US NVD.

“High-threat vulnerabilities were consistently published substantially later (anywhere from 21 to 156 days later) than low-threat vulnerabilities,” Recorded Future found. In fact, NVD beat CNNVD in publishing information on 97 percent of the vulnerabilities commonly exploited by malware linked to Chinese APT groups. Statistically, the probability that NVD would beat CNNVD to publication for that big a share of CVEs is incredibly small — less than .00001 percent, Recorded Future said.

Their conclusion? “We believe CNNVD publication was likely delayed by the (Chinese Ministry of State Security) because Chinese APT groups were actively exploiting those vulnerabilities.”

Submission + - FCC Repeals Decades-Old Rules Blocking Broadcast Media Mergers (

An anonymous reader writes: Federal regulators rolled back decades-old rules on Thursday, making it far easier for media outlets to be bought and sold — potentially leading to more newspapers, radio stations and television broadcasters being owned by a handful of companies. The regulations, eliminated in a 3-to-2 vote by the Federal Communications Commission, were first put in place in the 1970s to ensure that a diversity of voices and opinions could be heard on the air or in print. But now those rules represent a threat to small outlets that are struggling to survive in a vastly different media world, according to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. One long-standing rule repealed Thursday prevented one company in a given media market from owning both a daily newspaper and a TV station. Another rule blocked TV stations in the same market from merging with each other if the combination would leave fewer than eight independently owned stations. The agency also took aim at rules restricting the number of TV and radio stations that any media company could simultaneously own in a single market. A major beneficiary of the deregulatory moves, analysts say, is Sinclair, a conservative broadcasting company that is seeking to buy up Tribune Media for $3.9 billion.

Submission + - The GPL's effect when a developer dies (

SeattleLawGuy writes: If you develop open source software, what happens when you die? The GPL you included with your software is still in effect, but who gets to enforce it? It turns out, your heirs do. Specific relatives listed in a federal law can also terminate the GPL or other license on your software if they do it in a certain time window many years later. So to cover all their bases, open source contributors don't just need people to take over their roles on a project--they need copyright planning, and they need wills.

Submission + - New EU Consumer Protection Law Contains a Vague Website Blocking Clause (

An anonymous reader writes: The European Union (EU) has voted on Tuesday, November 14, to pass the new Consumer Protection Cooperation regulation, a new EU-wide applicable law that gives extra power to national consumer protection agencies, but which also contains a vaguely worded clause that also grants them the power to block and take down websites without judicial oversight. The new law "establishes overreaching Internet blocking measures that are neither proportionate nor suitable for the goal of protecting consumers and come without mandatory judicial oversight," Member of the European Parliament Julia Reda said in a speech in the European Parliament Plenary during a last ditch effort to amend the law. "According to the new rules, national consumer protection authorities can order any unspecified third party to block access to websites without requiring judicial authorization," Reda added later in the day on her blog. This new law is an EU regulation and not a directive, meaning its obligatory for all EU states, which do not have to individually adopt it.

Submission + - Report claims that 18 nation's elections were impacted by social engineering (

sqorbit writes: Independent watchdog group Freedom House released a report that claims that 18 nation's elections were "hacked". Of the 65 countries that Freedom House monitors 30 appear to be using social media in order to affect elections by attempting to control online discussions. The report covers fake news posts, paid online opinion writers and trolling tactics. Other items in the report speak to online censorship and VPN blocking that block information within countries to interfere with elections.

Submission + - Welcome to the Era of the AI Coworker (

rickih02 writes: We're not living in the golden age of AI, but we are living in the golden age of AI-enhanced productivity. At Backchannel, Miranda Katz delves into the ways in which AI can assist, not replace, us in the work place — but we have to let it. In industries across the board, AI is taking the place of humans in completing time consuming, complex tasks. But for more thought-intensive, subjective work, we still need humans. "This presents workers with a choice," Katz explains. "Set aside your ego and embrace your new AI coworker, or get left behind."

Submission + - Serial killer found his victims through suicidal Twitter posts

AmiMoJo writes: Twitter's CEO is reacting to a grisly case in Japan where a suspected serial killer allegedly found his victims through their suicidal posts on the social media platform. In an interview with NHK, Jack Dorsey said it is unrealistic and impossible to remove suicidal tweets. But he said he hoped Twitter could become a tool for prevention. Last month, the dismembered bodies of 9 people were found in 27-year-old Takahiro Shiraishi's apartment near Tokyo. Police say he admitted to the killings. They believe he preyed on people who posted about wanting to kill themselves on Twitter.

Submission + - How the Internet Broke the Planet (

Lauren Weinstein writes: So we come to today, and I’m still sitting here in L.A. — the city where I’ve always lived — and I see how the Internet has been fundamentally broken by evil forces only some of which I foresaw years ago.

Our wonderful technology has been hijacked by liars, Nazis, pedophile and other sexual abusing politicians, and an array of other despicable persons who could only gladden the hearts of civilization’s worst tyrants.

Our work has been turned into tools for mass spying, mass censorship, political oppression, and the spreading of hateful lies and propaganda without end.

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