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Power

Submission + - First Acoustic Black Hole Created In A BEC (technologyreview.com) 1

KentuckyFC writes: "One of the many curious properties of Bose Einstein Condensates (BECs) is that the flow of sound through them is governed by the same equations that describe how light is bent by a gravitational field. Now a group of Israeli physicists have exploited this idea to create an acoustic black hole in a BEC. The team created a supersonic flow of atoms within the BEC, a flow that prevents any phonon caught in it from making headway. The region where the flow changes from subsonic to supersonic is an event horizon because any phonon unlucky enough to stray into the supersonic region can never escape. But the real prize is not the acoustic black hole itself but what it makes possible: the first observation of Hawking radiation. Quantum mechanics predicts that pairs of phonon with opposite momentum ought to be constantly springing in and out of existence in a BEC. Were one of the pair to stray across the event horizon into the supersonic region, it could never escape. However, the other would be free to go on its way. This stream of phononic radiation away from an acoustic black hole would be the first observation of Hawking radiation. The team haven't got that far yet but it can't be long now before either they or their numerous competitors make this leap."
Moon

Submission + - Armstrong's 'poetic' slip on the moon 1

krou writes: It's the question that's lasted for four decades: did Neil Armstrong say "one small step for a man" when he stepped down onto the moon? The quote has long been known as "One small step for man. One giant leap for mankind", but both seem to mean the same thing; Armstrong himself believed that he had said "a man". An analysis in 2006 stated that there was a gap between "for" and "man" big enough for "a", leading to the idea that the "a" was lost due to static, or spoken softly. However, further analysis disputed this. Now, however, Dr Chris Riley, author of the new Haynes book Apollo 11, An Owner's Manual and forensic linguist John Olsson have carried out the most detailed analysis yet of Armstrong's speech. Using the original magnetic tape recordings they discovered that the "voice print spectrograph clearly shows the "r" in "for" and "m" in "man" running into each other." Therefore, concludes Mr. Olsson: "It's perfectly clear that there was absolutely no room for the word 'a'". From other recordings, they demonstrated that "a" can be clearly heard in other dialogue, and was not likely just whispered softly. However, they note that the rising pitch of the word "man", and falling pitch of mankind, demonstrates "that he's doing what we all do in our speech, he was contrasting using speech — indicating that he knows the difference between man and mankind and that he meant man as in 'a man' not 'humanity'." The also note that it is quite clear from body language and speech patterns that the dialogue was spontaneous, and not prepared. Their overall assessment is that Armstrong likely left out the word "a" because it was poetically better: "When you look at the whole expression there's a symmetry about this. If you put the word 'a' in, it would totally alter the poetic balance of the expression."
Biotech

Submission + - Stem cells used to restore sight for corneal disea (news.com.au)

Sean0michael writes: "Australian scientists have Restored the sight of three human test subjects using stem cells cultured in contact lenses. All the patients were blind in only one eye. Two were legally blind, but can now read the big letters on an eye chart. The third could read the first few lines, but is now able to pass a driver's test. The University of New South Wales reports that these patients all had damaged corneas, and the stem cells came from each person's good eye. The best part--the procedure is inexpensive, raising hopes for being able to push this to the third world sooner than other, more expensive medications."
Math

Submission + - A Math Geek's Plan to Save Wall Street's Soul 1

theodp writes: "What if an aeronautics engineer couldn't reconcile his elegant design for a state-of-the-art jumbo jet with Newton's second law of motion and decided to tweak the equation to fit his design? In a way, Newsweek reports, this is what's happened in quantitative finance, which is in desperate need of reform. And 49-year-old Oxford-trained mathematician Paul Wilmott — arguably the most influential quant today — thinks he knows where to start. With his CQF program, Wilmott is out to save the quants from themselves and the rest of us from their future destruction. 'We need to get back to testing models rather than revering them,' says Wilmott. 'That's hard work, but this idea that there are these great principles governing finance and that correlations can just be plucked out of the air is totally false.'"
Christmas Cheer

What To Do With 78 USB Drives Next Christmas? 381

ArfBrookwood writes "Every year, I write a Christmas Letter and send it to about 50 people, and every year, it's different. One year it was just the word blah blah blah over and over with keywords, one year I made papercraft wallets with full color cards and money in them, another year I created a Christmas Letter writing contest that instructed the recipients to create our Christmas Letter for us and we awarded prizes to winners, last year, I took a fake retro photo of my family, Inkscaped/GIMPed in a chemistry set and some wall art, printed it onto CD covers, and burned retro Christmas songs onto digital vinyl and sent everyone in the family what looked like a miniature Christmas album. Last week, I came into the possession of 78 2GB USB drives. I have already taken the time to wipe them clean and reflash the memory so they are blank slates." Now, Arf's looking for suggestions for how to best use all these drives; read on for more.
Government

Submission + - Obama admin opposing copyright exception for blind (boingboing.net) 1

esme writes: Over at Boing Boing, there's a scoop on the Obama administration joining with other western countries to block a treaty that would create international standards for copyright exceptions for the blind and others who need technology to read. Activists at the WIPO negotiations are trying to get the word out that lobbying from publishers has caused the US, Canada, the EU, Australia, New Zealand, the Vatican and Norway to oppose the treaty.
Privacy

Submission + - Data Breach Exposes RAF Staff to Blackmail (wired.com)

Yehuda writes:

Yet another breach of sensitive, unencrypted data is making news in the United Kingdom. This time the breach puts Royal Air Force staff at serious risk of being targeted for blackmail by foreign intelligence services or others.
The breach involves audio recordings with high-ranking air force officers who were being interviewed in-depth for a security clearance. In the interviews, the officers disclosed information about extra-marital affairs, drug abuse, visits to prostitutes, medical conditions, criminal convictions and debt histories — information the military needed to determine their security risk.
The recordings were stored on three unencrypted hard drives that disappeared last year.


Comment SHAME ON YOU, ASUS (Score 1) 2

I think it's a shame that Asus would pull something like this. I'm sure that some big execs at Asus are getting paid big bonuses for their join ad campaign with Microsoft. (Read: Asus execs sell souls to sleep with the devil.)

Microsoft is doing what they do best: Spreading Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt about anything that is not their own software. I think it's sad that so many of us can't stand using windows, but don't bother trying to use anything else.

PC Games (Games)

Submission + - Understanding Addiction-Based Game Design (ign.com)

spidweb writes: "Everyone knows games like World of Warcraft are addictive. But what are the exact qualities that make it so? Are there specific elements of the design that can be pulled out, distilled, and used at will to give a game druglike properties? And is it wrong to do so? A new article at IGN RPG Vault attempts to isolates the exact qualities that go into making an addiction-based design. From the article, "If a game uses rewards of any sort to entice you to experience highly repetitive content, you should see what it's trying to do and which of your buttons it's trying to press. If you don't mind, that's cool, but you should understand it."

The article is at

http://rpgvault.ign.com/articles/986/986323p1.html"

Windows

Submission + - Asus slaps Linux in the face (techgeist.net) 2

vigmeister writes: "Techgeist has an article about an 'It's better with Windows' website from Asus and MS. I think the article should've been title 'Asus stabs Linux in the back'. "Linux just got a major slap in the face today from Asus. One of the highlights of Linux going mainstream was the wildly popular Asus Eee PC preinstalled with a customized Linux distro geared towards web applications. While I personally never got what the big deal was, I was still happy for all the Linux people out there waiting for this day, but it looks like the cause for celebration won't be lasting much longer. Asus and Microsoft have teamed up and have made a site called It's Better With Windows. The page touts how easy it is to get up and ready with Windows on an Asus Eee PC, while slyly stating that you won't have to deal with an "unfamiliar environment" and "major compatibility issues." While it is silly to state such a thing since Asus built the Linux distribution specifically for the Eee PC, I give Microsoft two points for snarky comments.""
The Courts

Submission + - Psystar Files for Bankruptcy (macobserver.com)

mytrip writes: Mac clone maker Psystar has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Florida, temporarily slowing down Apple's legal case against it. The filing may be an indication that the company's financial backers have pulled out, signaling they see Apple as the clear winner in court.

Apple hit Psystar with a lawsuit claiming the company was violating the Mac OS X licensing agreement with end users, and that it was violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act with the steps it used to install the Mac operating system on PCs.

Despite Apple's claims that the company doesn't have permission to sell PCs with Mac OS X, and now its bankruptcy filing, Psystar is still offering Mac clones for sale on its Web site.

Even if Psystar has plans of continuing its battle against Apple to sell PCs with Mac OS X installed, it isn't in a strong position to move forward once the Judge overseeing its bankruptcy lifts the automatic stay since it doesn't likely have money to pay for its legal defense. Without the cash to pay its legal team, Psystar probably won't have anyone to represent it in court, and won't be in a position to defend itself against Apple.

The Internet

Canada's Conference Board Found Plagiarizing Copyright Report 232

An anonymous reader writes "There is a storm brewing in Canada as the prestigious Conference Board of Canada has been caught plagiarizing US copyright lobby group documents in a report on copyright reform. The report was funded by the Canadian copyright lobby as well as by the Ontario government. The Conference Board has acknowledged some errors, but stands by the report, while the Ontario government admits spending thousands of dollars and it now wants some answers."

Comment Why the Draconian Titles? (Score 1) 1

You know, I'm not a fan of these titles implying absolute power. A czar is like an emperor. Do we really want to give any one person absolute power over anything at all? No, and I'm fairly certain that anyone with that title in our government "Car Czar," "Internet Czar," etc., probably doesn't actually have absolute power. But at the same time, I bet there's a lot of power laying around for him to abuse.

Security

Submission + - White House to Appoint "Internet Czar" 1

An anonymous reader writes: The White House reports that President Obama is set to appoint a "Cybersecurity czar with a broad mandate."

The adviser will have the most comprehensive mandate granted to such an official to date and will probably be a member of the National Security Council but will report to the national security adviser as well as the senior White House economic adviser, said the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deliberations are not final. The announcement will coincide with the long-anticipated release of a 40-page report that evaluates the government's cybersecurity initiatives and policies. The report is intended to outline a "strategic vision" and the range of issues the new adviser must handle, but it will not delve into details, administration officials told reporters last month.

Cynics are expecting the appointee to be a lawyer for the RIAA.

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