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Math

Mathematics As the Most Misunderstood Subject 680

Lilith's Heart-shape writes "Dr. Robert H. Lewis, professor of mathematics at Fordham University of New York, offers in this essay a defense of mathematics as a liberal arts discipline, and not merely part of a STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) curriculum. In the process, he discusses what's wrong with the manner in which mathematics is currently taught in K-12 schooling."
Classic Games (Games)

Pac-Man's Ghost Behavior Algorithms 194

An anonymous reader writes "This article has a very interesting description of the algorithms behind the ghosts in Pac-Man. I had no idea about most of this information, but that's probably because it's difficult to study the ghosts when I die every 30 seconds. Quoting: 'The ghosts are always in one of three possible modes: Chase, Scatter, or Frightened. The "normal" mode with the ghosts pursuing Pac-Man is Chase, and this is the one that they spend most of their time in. While in Chase mode, all of the ghosts use Pac-Man's position as a factor in selecting their target tile, though it is more significant to some ghosts than others. In Scatter mode, each ghost has a fixed target tile, each of which is located just outside a different corner of the maze. This causes the four ghosts to disperse to the corners whenever they are in this mode. Frightened mode is unique because the ghosts do not have a specific target tile while in this mode. Instead, they pseudorandomly decide which turns to make at every intersection.'"
Google

Nicaragua Raids Costa Rica, Blames Google Maps 285

Garabito writes "An error on Google Maps has caused an international conflict in Central America. A Nicaraguan military commander, relying on Google Maps, moved troops into an area near San Juan Lake along the border between his country and Costa Rica (Google translation of Spanish original). The troops are accused of setting up camp there, taking down a Costa Rican flag and raising the Nicaraguan flag, doing work to clean up a nearby river, and dumping the sediment in Costa Rican territory."
Math

Rounding the Bases Faster, With Math 212

An anonymous reader writes "The fastest route around the bases, mathematicians show, is one that perhaps no major-league ball player has ever run: It swings out a full 18.5 feet from the baseline, nearly forming a full circle. 'I would definitely experiment with it,' says former American Major League Baseball outfielder Doug Glanville, who last played with the Philadelphia Phillies. 'There's no question in my mind that runners could be more efficient.'"
The Courts

WikiLeaks Founder 'Free To Leave Sweden' 410

An anonymous reader writes "AFP reports that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is free to leave Sweden, after prosecutors said there was no arrest warrant against him for an alleged case of rape. Assange said the charges against him were part of 'a clear set-up,' and that he had 'two reliable intelligence sources that state that Swedish intelligence was approached last month by the United States and told that Sweden must not be a safe haven for WikiLeaks.' The news comes just one day before the Swedish national election."
Space

Aging Star System Leaves Strange Death Spiral 79

jamie tips a post at Phil Plait's Bad Astronomy blog about an extremely unusual astronomical phenomenon originating from a binary system about 3000 light years away. Quoting: "The name of this thing is AFGL 3068. It's been known as a bright infrared source for some time, but images just showed it as a dot. This Hubble image using the Advanced Camera for Surveys reveals an intricate, delicate and exceedingly faint spiral pattern. ... Red giants tend to blow a lot of their outer layers into space in an expanding spherical wind; think of it as a super-solar wind. The star surrounds itself with a cloud of this material, essentially enclosing it in a cocoon. In general the material isn't all that thick, but in some of these stars there is an overabundance of carbon in the outer layers which gets carried along in these winds. ... AFGL 3068 is a carbon star and most likely evolved just like this, but with a difference: it's a binary. As the two stars swing around each other, the wind from the carbon star doesn't expand in a sphere. Instead, we see a spiral pattern as the material expands."
The Internet

UN Tech Group Finds Most Expensive Broadband 89

destinyland writes "In the Central African Republic, broadband internet service costs 3891% of the average monthly income. 'Put another way, a month's broadband service costs more than three years' average wages in the country,' notes one technology blog, 'compared with less than two hours' earnings in Macau.' A United Nations' technology group released the figures in a new report in advance of a September 19 summit on the digital divide in developing countries. ('We are trying to avoid a broadband divide,' said Dr. Hamadoun Toure, the secretary general of the UN's International Telecommunications Union.) Their agency noted that the rate for broadband penetration is below 1% in many poor countries, with monthly costs higher than the average monthly income. 'By contrast,' notes the BBC, 'in the world's most developed economies, around 30% of people have access to broadband at a cost of less than 1% of their income.' And the report also estimates that there are 5 billion cellphones in the world — though some people may own more than one."
Google

Texas Opens Inquiry Into Google Search Rankings 178

Hugh Pickens writes "The AP reports that Texas' attorney general, Greg Abbott, has opened an anti-trust investigation against Google spurred by complaints that the company has abused its power as the Internet's dominant search engine. The review appears to be focused on whether Google is manipulating its search results to stifle competition. European regulators already have been investigating complaints alleging that Google has been favoring its own services in its results instead of rival websites and several lawsuits have also been filed in the US that have alleged Google's search formula is biased. However Google believes Abbott is the first state attorney general to open an antitrust review into the issue."
The Almighty Buck

VISA Pulls Plug On ePassporte, Porn Webmasters 124

tsu doh nimh writes "Credit card giant VISA International has suspended its business with ePassporte, an Internet payment system widely used to pay adult Webmasters and a raft of other affiliate programs. A number of adult Webmaster forums are up in arms over the move because many of their funds are now stranded. Visa has been silent on the issue so far, but KrebsOnSecurity.com points to an e-mail from ePassporte founder Christopher Mallick saying the unexpected move by Visa wouldn't strand customers indefinitely. Mallick co-directed Middle Men, a Paramount film released in August that tells the story of his experience building one of the world's first porn site payment processing firms, as well as the Russian mobsters, porn stars and FBI agents he ran into along the way. Interestingly, the speculation so far is that Visa cut ties with ePassporte due to new anti-money laundering restrictions in the Credit Card Act of 2009, which affects prepaid cards and other payment card instruments that can be reloaded with funds at places other than financial institutions."
Microsoft

New Malware Imitates Browser Warning Pages 143

Jake writes with this excerpt from Ars: "Microsoft is warning about a new piece of malware, Rogue:MSIL/Zeven, that auto-detects a user's browser and then imitates the relevant malware warning pages from Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Chrome. The fake warning pages are very similar to the real thing; you have to look closely to realize they aren't the real thing. The ploy is a basic social engineering scheme, but in this case the malware authors are relying on the user's trust in their browser, a tactic that hasn't been seen before. Beyond the warning pages, the actual malware looks like the real deal: it allows you to scan files, tells you when you're behind on your updates, and enables you to change your security and privacy settings. Performing a scan results in the product finding malicious files, but of course it cannot delete them unless you update, which requires paying for the full version. Attempting to buy the product will open an HTML window that provides a useless 'Safe Browsing Mode' with high-strength encryption. To top it all off, the rogue antivirus webpage looks awfully similar to the Microsoft Security Essentials webpage; even the awards received by MSE and a link to the Microsoft Malware Protection Center have been copied."
Intel

Intel To Buy Smartphone Chipmaker Infineon For $2B 95

sylverboss writes "Intel Corp., the world's largest chipmaker, is close to an agreement to buy Infineon Technologies AG's wireless business, three people with direct knowledge of the discussions said. When it comes to desktop, laptop and server chips, Intel's pretty much got a lock on the market but everyone can see the writing on the wall: mobile chips and architectures are the future of computing thanks to the popularity of smartphones, but Intel doesn't have anything to offer in that regard. Don't know Infineon? You should: they are the guys who have supplied Apple with their iPhone baseband chips since 2007."

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