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Submission + - Astrophysicists Explain Dimmest Supernovae Using Supercomputer Models (phys.org)

RobertFisher writes: "If thermonuclear supernovae are standard candles for cosmology, as the Nobel committee emphasized in 2011, all originating from the explosion of white dwarf stars, then why are some orders of magnitude dimmer than others? Recently, a group of astrophysicists (including myself) completed a large set of supercomputer models of these supernovae to uncover some peculiar cases which fail to detonate. These supernovae duds have remarkable properties, including the fact that the white dwarf gets kicked by the explosion but survives, and will go careening through the galaxy. This kind of exploratory science is only possible with the advent of petascale computing."
Security

Submission + - Hosting provider automatically fixes vulnerabilities in customers' websites (antagonist.nl) 1

An anonymous reader writes: Dutch hosting provider Antagonist today announced their in-house developed technology that automatically detects and fixes vulnerabilities in their customers’ websites. The service is aimed at popular software such as WordPress, Drupal and Joomla. Antagonist is the first hosting provider on the planet to offer this service, and plans to license the technology to other hosting providers as well.
Mars

Submission + - What has Curiosity found that is "earth-shaking"? (npr.org)

Randym writes: NASA scientists have some exciting new results from one of the rover's instruments. On the one hand, they'd like to tell everybody what they found, but on the other, they have to wait because they want to make sure their results are not just some fluke or error in their instrument.

The exciting results are coming from an instrument in the rover called SAM. "We're getting data from SAM as we sit here and speak, and the data looks really interesting," says John Grotzinger. He's the principal investigator for the rover mission. SAM (Sample Analysis at Mars) is a suite of instruments onboard NASA's Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity.

Grotzinger says they recently put a soil sample in SAM, and the analysis shows something Earth-shaking. "This data is gonna be one for the history books. It's looking really good," he says.

Firefox

Submission + - Mozilla Makes Prototype of Firefox OS Available (ostatic.com)

Thinkcloud writes: Even though the operating system hasn't arrived in a version for smartphones and tablets just yet, it is available as a prototype module that you can run on Windows, Mac or Linux computers. The initial Firefox OS phones are expected to arrive in 2013, and it's been reported that Alcatel and ZTE are the first manufacturers on board.
IBM

Submission + - IBM supercomputer used to simulate a typical human brain (gizmag.com)

cylonlover writes: The human brain, arguably the most complex object in the known universe, is a truly remarkable power-saver: it can simultaneously gather thousands of sensory inputs, interpret them in real time as a whole and react appropriately, abstracting, learning, planning and inventing, all on a strict power budget of about 20 W. Using the world's fastest supercomputer and a new scalable, ultra-low power computer architecture, IBM has simulated 530 billion neurons and 100 trillion synapses – matching the numbers of the human brain – in an important step toward creating a true artificial brain.

Submission + - Should conferences embrace diversity? (theregister.co.uk)

An anonymous reader writes: The Register is reporting how Josh Susser has managed to get a Ruby conference in the UK cancelled as the speakers are 100% white male.

Should conferences embrace diversity from the start or should they put the best speakers up even if they are all white and male or should we have quotas, say 10% need to be non-white, 50% women, 6% gay to better reflect the mix of your local population? How far do we have to go to ensure we are diverse? Do we need to ensure that all minorities are represented?

Submission + - Mounting Hacking in Israel as Conflict Escalates (guardian.co.uk)

An anonymous reader writes: The Guardian reports 44 million "hacking attempts" have been made against Israeli websites since Wednesday, when the bombardments of Gaza began. The Anonymous "collective" have released a message, on Sunday, claiming responsibility, among other things, for erasing the databases of nearly 700 private and public websites that they deemed to be "in Israeli cyberspace", including that of the Bank of Jerusalem.

It seems the exagerated number stems from DoS attempts, not proper hacking/cracking/wizardry/whateveryouwannacallit. Still, it's certainly done some damage to some unprepared businesses.

Power

Submission + - PV Cells Made With Ion Cannon Costs Cheap Enough to Challenge Coal & Gas (extremetech.com)

How To Plan A Party writes: "Twins Creek has created an ion cannon that is able to severaly reduce the cost of photovoltaic cells. Twins Creek has discovered a method of cutting cells with 1/10th of the thickness and with less wastage. Check out more about the ways photovoltaic products will eventually surpass coal and gas."
Games

Submission + - Treyarch Disables Popular Black Ops II Map Immediately After Release (gameranx.com)

cosm writes: "As a lover of the first PC version of Call of Duty, I figured I'd pick up the latest iteration to see how far they've come. After a weekend of fun, much to my own frustration and many other fans consternation, just days after release Treyarch has pulled one of the most popular maps advertised with this release and printed as "Bonus Map Included" on the game case. The map is still available in custom game modes, but the 24/7 multiplayer version that thousands played religiously is gone. There are many out there who bought the game on this selling point alone. The current party line is that the map will be available for 'special events only', whatever that means. Needless to say I am very disappointed with being given content and then having it pulled without any prior warning (other than other DLC horror stories here on /., perhaps should have known better...). What is the /. community's thoughts on this sort of bait and switch?"

Submission + - The world's oldest original digital computer springs back into action at TNMOC (tnmoc.org) 1

prpplague writes: "After a three-year restoration project at The National Museum of Computing, the Harwell Dekatron (aka WITCH) computer will rebooted on 20 November 2012 to become the world's oldest original working digital computer.
Now in its seventh decade and in its fifth home, the computer with its flashing lights and clattering printers and readers provides an awe-inspiring display for visiting school groups and the general public keen to learn about our rich computer heritage."

The Military

Submission + - Israel's Iron Dome Missile Defense Shield Actually Works

Hugh Pickens writes writes: "Sarah Tory writes that the fighting between Israel and Palestinians in the Gaza strip is the latest round of violence in a region that has been torn apart by a decades-old conflict but the debut of Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense shield has added a new element to the conflict, one that military officials are calling a “game-changer.” Israeli officials are claiming that the shield is destroying 90 percent of missiles and rockets it aims at that have been fired into southern Israel by Hamas. This level of success is unprecedented compared with older missile defense systems such as the American-made Patriot model used during the 1991 Gulf War. The missile-defense system can detect rocket launches and then determine the projectiles’ flight paths and only intercepts rocket or artillery shells if they are headed for populated areas or sensitive targets; the others it allows to land. It takes a lot of raw computing power to rapidly build a ballistic profile of a fast-incoming projectile, make a series of quick decisions concerning potential lethality, and launch a countermeasure capable of intercepting said projectile in-flight and one reason Iron Dome is showing a much more robust capability than the Patriot system did in the early 1990s is simply that its battle control hardware and software are several generations more advanced than those early interceptor systems. "Israeli officials point out that Iron Dome saves money despite the fact that the interceptors cost up to $100,000 each," writes Tory. "The cost of rebuilding a neighborhood destroyed by a rocket attack—not to mention people wounded and lives lost—would be far greater than the cost of the interceptor." Most important, the system buys Israel time, allowing it to plan out an appropriate response without the political pressure that would be generated by hundreds of potential deaths."
Robotics

Submission + - "Ban 'Killer Bots'", urge human rights watch (huffingtonpost.com)

Taco Cowboy writes: A self-proclaim "Human Rights Group" — the "International Human Rights Clinic" from Harvard Law School — has teamed up with "Human Rights Watch" to urge the banning of "Killer Robots".

A report, issued by the Human Rights Watch, with the title of "Losing Humanity" — http://www.hrw.org/reports/2012/11/19/losing-humanity-0 — claimed that autonomous drones that could attack without human intervention would make war easier and endanger civilians.

Where's the "Robot Rights Watch" just when you need 'em?

Submission + - Did Anonymous prevent election hijack? (google.com)

Black Parrot writes: The internet is abuzz with a story about Anonymous setting up a "firewall" to prevent a scheme to hijack Ohio's electoral votes, as some claim actually happened in 2004. Reportedly there are similarities this time around, except that the votes didn't suddenly shift to the other candidate, and Karl Rove got a big surprise. Fact, fiction, or conspiracy theory? Only Julian Assange knows for sure.

Submission + - New way to generate steam from sunlight (www.cbc.ca)

Socguy writes: New research indicates that the use of nano particles suspended in a fluid can absorb sunlight and release it into the surrounding fluid creating steam without wastefully heating the surrounding liquid.

Broad potential applications include: desalinization, distillation, sterilization and sanitation.

Science

Submission + - Particle physicists confirm arrow of time using B meson measurements (nature.com)

ananyo writes: "Four years after its closure, researchers working with data from the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center’s particle physics experiment BaBar have used the data to make the first direct measurement confirming that time does not run the same forwards as backwards – at least for the B mesons that the experiment produced during its heyday.
The application of quantum mechanics to fundamental particles rests on a symmetry known as CPT, for charge-parity-time, which states that fundamental processes remain unchanged when particles are replaced by their antimatter counterparts (C), left and right are reversed (P), and time runs in the reverse direction (T). Violations of C and P alone were first seen in radioactive decays in the 1950s, and BaBar was used to confirm violations of CP in B meson decays in 2001. To keep CPT intact, that implies that time reversal is also violated, but finding ways to compare processes running forward and backward in time has proven tricky.
Theoretical physicists at the Universityof Valencia in Spain worked with researchers on BaBar to exploit the fact that the experiment had generated entangled quantum states of the meson Bzero and its antimatter counterpart Bzero-bar, which then evolved through several different decay chains. By comparing the rates of decay in chains in which one type of decay happened before another, with others in which the order was reversed, the researchers were able to compare processes that were effectively time reversed version of each other. They report in Physical Review Letters today that they see a violation of time reversal at an extremely high level of statistical significance."

Idle

Submission + - Apes suffer mid-life crisis too (mongabay.com)

Damien1972 writes: Humans are not alone in experiencing a mid-life crisis — great apes suffer the same, according to new research in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. A new study of over 500 great apes found that well-being patterns in primates are similar to those experience by humans. This doesn't mean that middle age apes seek out the sportiest trees or hit-on younger apes inappropriately, but rather that their well-being starts high in youth, dips in middle age, and rises again in old age.

Submission + - Encouraging a child's new-found interest in robotics

SomeoneGotMyNick writes: With the holiday season coming around, I have to consider what's best for my Son, who is in his early teens, when it comes to giving gifts which are fun, challenging, and career oriented. In the past, racing style video games were popular choices, but I don't want (expect) him to be able to play video games as a career.

He is currently taking courses in school which are introductions to computers and programming. He is familiar with programming concepts from playing around with Scratch for many years. He also likes the idea of tinkering with robot like devices, even though there is little he has available to do so right now.

When I'm doing stuff with my Arduino and Raspberry Pi boards, he always develops an interest, but doesn't quite "get it" when I try to explain the details of what I'm doing with them. Maybe I'm explaining it wrong, or maybe he needs to learn it a different way, perhaps with a collection of hardware add-ons and project documentation which I normally don't use myself.

I would like to encourage the interest he develops, without initially overwhelming him with too many details. Either that, or he is a lot like me when I was growing up, and needs to do a little discovery on his own using these microprocessor based systems, which could lead to a more positive self esteem and appreciation for learning.

What I'm thinking of doing is finding something which merges robotics and computer programming. My first thought is Lego Mindstorms, but I don't know if/how powerful that system can become. I'm hoping to find something that can start off easy, but at the same time, the major investment in components doesn't go to waste because it can be outgrown too quickly.

I've checked on Arduino and Propeller based robot kits, but unless someone else can provide details on their personal experience with them, I think they may have a discouragingly steep learning curve to get started.

Any information will be useful. Are there relatively unknown, but useful kits out there. Is a "piecemeal kit" a better choice, with certain book purchases and a collection of individual components ordered from SparkFun, Jameco, etc? Are Lego Mindstorms a powerful and really good value kit for the money?
Security

Submission + - UN to Seek Internet Kill Switch Next Month (thenewamerican.com)

helix2301 writes: "The United Nations and a wide swath of its autocratic member regimes were drafting a plan to give a little-known UN agency control over the online world. Among the most contentious schemes: a plot to hand the International Telecommunications Union a so-called “kill switch” for the Internet that critics say would be used to smash free speech."
Education

Submission + - Young Students Hiding Academic Talent to Avoid Bullying

jones_supa writes: "The recent anti-bullying survey conducted by ABA brings up some interesting findings. According to it, more than 90% of the 1,000 11-16 year-olds surveyed said they had been bullied or seen someone bullied for being too intelligent or talented. Almost half of children and young people (49.5%) have played down a talent for fear of being bullied, rising to 53% among girls. One in 10 (12%) said they had played down their ability in science and almost one in five girls (18.8%) and more than one in 10 boys (11.4%) are deliberately underachieving in maths – to evade bullying. Worryingly, this means our children and young people are shying away from academic achievement for fear of victimisation."

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