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Science

Submission + - Short but sweet meteor shower arrives Jan. 4 (summitcountyvoice.com)

PolygamousRanchKid writes: Sky watchers are in for their first treat of 2012, as the short but intense Quadrantid meteor shower will light up the northern sky in the early morning of Jan. 4. According to a NASA web page on the Quadrantids, there could be as many as 200 meteors per hour, though the average rate is about 60 to 100 per hour. According to NASA, the shower originates from an asteroid, that may be a piece of a comet which broke apart several centuries ago, and that the meteors you will see before dawn on Jan. 4 are the small debris from this fragmentation. The Quadrantids have not been studied as extensively as some of the better-known meteor showers like the Perseids and Geminids, possibly because it's best visible in far northern latitudes, where its appearance coincides with cold weather. Another factor may be the short peak of the shower, which means some observers may miss it if they're not watching at just the right time if they're not in the right spot. According to meteorshowersonline.com, the shower can be hard to see because some of the meteors are faint, requiring exceptional observation conditions.
Space

Submission + - The Second Moons of Earth

Hugh Pickens writes writes: "Despite a large body of work on satellite capture by the gas giants, mainly Jupiter and Saturn, there has been little published about the Earth's natural satellites other than the moon. Now Scientific American reports that although the moon has been with us for billions of years, Earth has also had countless other satellite companions and probably has one right now. These "second moons" are boulders from the large population of near-Earth asteroids that get snagged by our gravity, orbit the Earth for a few months, then escape and move on. Known as "Temporarily-Captured Orbiters" (TCOs), the irregular natural satellites are hard to see but astronomers spotted one such transient satellite in 2006. Dubbed 2006 RH120, the asteriod was a few meters in diameter and was captured by Earth for about a year and made four Earth orbits before being ejected after its June 2007 perigee back to interplanetary space. But TCOs are not of just academic interest. "Once TCOs can be reliably and frequently identified early enough in a capture event they create an opportunity for a low-cost low-delta-v meteoroid return mission. The scientific potential of being able to first remotely characterize a meteoroid and then visit and bring it back to Earth would be unprecedented (PDF).""
Iphone

Submission + - Boy, 12, told by iPhone 'Shut the f*** up, ugly t* (dailymail.co.uk)

Frankie70 writes: A 12-year-old boy got a shock when he tried out the new iPhone 4S in a shop it answered: 'Shut the f*** up, ugly t***.'

Charlie Le Quesne had been trying out the new gadget's Siri voice assistant system in a Tesco branch in Coventry when it came out with the string of profanities.

The obscene response came after he had asked the phone: 'How many people are there in the world.'

Security

Submission + - The Computer Science of Insecurity (i-programmer.info)

mikejuk writes: After security by obscurity we now have security by computer science! The idea explained at this year's 28th Chaos Computer Congress (28C3) by Meredith Patterson was simply that, if you build input languages and protocols that are too powerful, from the point of view of grammar, then you deserve all you get. If a protocol is Turing-complete then recognizing valid input is formally undecidable. Only by reducing the sophistication to context free or regular grammars can we protect against "creative" uses of software. See the video of the presentation — you wont be bored.
China

Submission + - China reveals its space plans up to 2016 (google.com)

PolygamousRanchKid writes: China plans to launch space labs and manned ships and prepare to build space stations over the next five years, according to a plan released Thursday that shows the country's space program is gathering momentum. China's space program has already made major breakthroughs in a relatively short time, although it lags far behind the United States and Russia in space technology and experience. The country will continue exploring the moon using probes, start gathering samples of the moon's surface, and "push forward its exploration of planets, asteroids and the sun."

Some elements of China's program, notably the firing of a ground-based missile into one of its dead satellites four years ago, have alarmed American officials and others who say such moves could set off a race to militarize space. That the program is run by the military has made the U.S. reluctant to cooperate with China in space, even though the latter insists its program is purely for peaceful ends.

Submission + - Brazilian economy overtakes UK's (bbc.co.uk)

GreatBunzinni writes: According to projections, Brazil's economic growth continues the trend of emergent economies overthrowing "old world" countries as the top economic engines of the world. The same predictions point that by 2020 the US will be the only western country included in the top 5 economies. Is this a side effect of globalization or does this sign the stagnation, or even regression, of the west?
Science

Submission + - A 40-year-old puzzle of superstring theory solved (physorg.com) 1

astronasty writes: "This pretty much seems too good to be true. The potential breakthroughs that they say this could lead to wraps up a HELL of a lot of longstanding problems in physics and cosmology. I'm suspicious that this is found thus far only on PhysOrg. Then again PhysOrg is pretty quick with their news."
Power

Submission + - Apple Files Patent for Fuel Cell Laptops (appleinsider.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Apple Insider reports that Apple recently filed two patents for a new breed of fuel cell-powered laptop computers. The devices would eschew lithium ion batteries in favor of fuel cells that are capable of running for weeks without requiring a recharge. The patents are entitled “Fuel Cell System to Power a Portable Computing Device” and oeFuel Cell System Coupled to a Portable Computing Device.
Science

Submission + - Scientists Model Brain to Teach Computers to Recog (fellowgeek.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory, Chatham University, and Emory University created a neural network with a slightly different structure than what is usually used in research. You can think of neural networks as being separated into layers. Most neural network research involves wiring artificial neurons from one layer to others in another layer. This gives the network some ability to recognize patterns, but they haven’t been truly successful with vision, yet.

In this case, the researchers decided to wire some neurons to other neurons in the same layer, creating lateral connections. while it might seem a little counter-intuitive, doing so gave the neural network a greater ability to recognize things than other neural networks.

GNOME

Submission + - Linux Mint developer forks Gnome 3 (webupd8.org)

An anonymous reader writes: Clement Lefebvre, the Linux Mint founder, has forked Gnome 3 and named it Cinnamon. Mint has experimented with extensions to gnome in the latest release of their operating system but in order to make the experience they are aiming for really work, they needed an actual fork. The goal of this fork is to use the improved Gnome 3 internals and put a more familiar Gnome 2 interface on it.
Microsoft

Submission + - New Remote Flaw in Windows 7 x64 Found (threatpost.com) 2

Trailrunner7 writes: Researchers are warning about a new remotely exploitable vulnerability in 64-bit Windows 7 that can be used by an attacker to run arbitrary code on a vulnerable machine. The bug was first reported a couple of days ago by an independent researcher and confirmed by Secunia.

In a message on Twitter, a researcher named w3bd3vil said that he had found a method for exploiting the vulnerability by simply feeding an iframe with an overly large height to Safari. The exploit gives the attacker the ability to run arbitrary code on the victim's machine.

Submission + - Russians Put New "Satan" Nuke Into Play (inquisitr.com) 3

An anonymous reader writes: Russia, frustrated with anti-nuke talks with the United states has decided to put an end to the talks and move forward with its plans to upgrade its nuclear defensive and offensive systems, including the construction on a new and more powerful Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM). Nicknamed “Satan” by Western intelligence, the new missile carries a 100-ton warhead. This giant ICBM will take its place at the head of an already impressive missile arsenal which includes the Yars, Topol-M and Bulava-class ballistic missiles sometime in 2015.

This announcement come on the heels of a US announcement that its last B-53 nuclear weapon has been dismantled. The B-53 was the largest bomb in the US arsenal.

Russian president Dimitri Medvedev walked out of talks with the United States back in November over US plans to set up a missile defense system in Europe. The European Phased Adaptive Approach plan is a intricate array of sea and land based missiles which were designed to be used against a missile attack from Iran. The US says that cooperation from Moscow is needed to help the shield work. Moscow on the other hand claims the talks were useless because the US refused to guarantee the missiles would not be aimed at Russia. At that point, Moscow decided to end their participation in the talks and shortly after announced it plans to build the Satan Nuke.

Space

Submission + - Is Jupiter Eating Its Own Heart? (sciencemag.org)

sciencehabit writes: Jupiter is the victim of its own success. Sophisticated new calculations indicate that our solar system's largest planet, which weighs more than twice as much as all of the others put together, has destroyed part of its central core. Ironically, the culprit is the very hydrogen and helium that made Jupiter a gas giant, when the core's gravity attracted these elements as the planet formed. The finding suggests that the most massive extrasolar planets have no cores at all.
Games

Submission + - Square Enix Possibly Compromised (square-enix-europe.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Just received this alarming email from Square Enix. It appears that they recently were compromised. Preliminary reports state that there was no compromised user data. They are now allowed to join the list that includes the PSN and Steam. Lets hope they don't shut down servers.
Japan

Submission + - Fukushima Reches Cold Shutdown Milestone (cnn.com)

ExE122 writes: Japan's PM announces that the Fukushima nuclear power plant damaged in an earthquake and tsunami earlier this year has finally been stabilized. Although this is good news, according to experts, 'it will take years — perhaps decades — to fully clean up the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.' Health and safety is still a concern in an area where over 80,000 people were evacuated after food and soil was found to contain radioactive contamination.

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