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Submission + - MIT Thinks It Has Discovered the 'Perfect' Solar Cell (vice.com)

Daniel_Stuckey writes: A new MIT study offers a way out of one of solar power's most vexing problems: the matter of efficiency, and the bare fact that much of the available sunlight in solar power schemes is wasted. The researchers appear to have found the key to perfect solar energy conversion efficiency—or at least something approaching it. It's a new material that can accept light from an very large number of angles and can withstand the very high temperatures needed for a maximally efficient scheme.

Conventional solar cells, the silicon-based sheets used in most consumer-level applications, are far from perfect. Light from the sun arrives here on Earth's surface in a wide variety of forms. These forms—wavelengths, properly—include the visible light that makes up our everyday reality, but also significant chunks of invisible (to us) ultraviolet and infrared light. The current standard for solar cells targets mostly just a set range of visible light.

Submission + - When WikiLeaks cold-called Hillary Clinton (dailydot.com)

Daniel_Stuckey writes: Today, newly released footage shows this harrowing moment as it happened.

In a trailer advertising WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s new book, When Google Met WikiLeaks , the never-before-seen clip (below) shows WikiLeaks editor Sarah Harrison phoning the State Department’s front desk and asking to speak with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “It’s an emergency,” Assange prompts Harrison to say, passing a notecard across the table.

Submission + - Apple knew of iCloud brute-force vulnerability since March

blottsie writes: Apple knew as early as March 2014 of a security hole that left the personal data of iCloud users vulnerable, according to leaked emails between the company and a noted security researcher.

In a March 26 email, security researcher Ibrahim Balic tells an Apple official that he’s successfully bypassed a security feature designed to prevent “brute-force” attacks. Balic goes on to explain to Apple that he was able to try over 20,000 passwords combinations on any account.

Submission + - How the US Quietly Field Tests 'Blinding' Laser Weapons (vice.com)

Daniel_Stuckey writes: Laser warfare is pretty much here. We've got lasers on Navy ships and Army trucks, on guided missiles, and one just got test-mounted on an airplane. And obviously, someday there will be lasers on drones. But as any military contractor should remember: no eye stuff.

In 1995 the United Nations banned "Blinding Laser Weapons," which the adopted protocol defined as "laser weapons specifically designed, as their sole combat function or as one of their combat functions, to cause permanent blindness to unenhanced vision" and, in the same protocol, stipulated that, in the employment of laser systems, "the High Contracting Parties shall take all feasible precautions to avoid the incidence of permanent blindness to unenhanced vision."

Straight-forward enough, it seems. But apparently this stipulation bears repeating. Former laser journalist Dan Drollette Jr. explained in an analysis piece in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists that, even after giving up plans to build blinding laser weapons, the US military continued researching them...

Submission + - A DC-10 Passenger Plane Is Perfect at Fighting Wildfires (vice.com)

Daniel_Stuckey writes: Friday night in Southern California's Silverado Valley, relief flew in on an old airliner. In this summer of drought and fire the DC-10, an airplane phased out of passenger service in February, has been spotted from Idaho to Arizona delivering up to 12,000 gallons of fire retardant in a single acrobatic swoop.

The three-engine DC-10 entered service in 1970 as a passenger jet, and the last airplane working in that capacity, operated by Biman Bangladesh Airlines, made its final flight on February 24. But some designs defy obsolescence. The DC-10 had already been converted to function as a mid-air refueling airplane for the Air Force, and in 2006, the first fire-fighting DC-10 was unleashed on the Sawtooth fire in San Bernardino County, California.

Submission + - New Zealand Spied On Its Citizens Before Making It Legal, Says Snowden (vice.com)

Daniel_Stuckey writes: A little over a year ago, the New Zealand government passed legislation that legally authorized its version of the NSA, the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), to spy on its own citizens. Narrowly, the law passed after a heated debate between lawmakers, rights groups, and local internet tycoon Kim Dotcom. At the time, Prime Minister John Key commented the new law “is not, and never will be, about wholesale spying on New Zealanders.”

But a set of secret documents provided by Edward Snowden indicates that New Zealand officials had already begun to design mass surveillance programs before such a law had ever gone to parliament. According to the new documents, published by Glenn Greenwald Monday, the GCSB had already begun cooperating with the US National Security Agency as early as 2012. Even as it sought legal authorization before full implementation, as part of a spying program code-named “Speargun,” the bureau was planning to grant NSA access to its major undersea cable network that connects New Zealand to the rest of the world sometime in "mid-2013."

Submission + - SPAM: E-Cigs Could Be a Gateway to Cocaine Addiction, Says Study That Misses the Point

Daniel_Stuckey writes: If and when the Food and Drug Administration drops some sort of heavy regulations on e-cigarettes, a study released today is the one it, and politicians who hail the decision, will inevitably turn to: A pair of scientists at Columbia University have slapped the dreaded "gateway drug" term on nicotine, and, with it, e-cigarettes. The study, published today in the New England Journal of Medicine , has all of the makings of a bombshell report (for prohibitionists, at least). It's coming out in a major journal, one of the two authors has a Nobel Prize, and it's decidedly anti-e-cigarette. The study's authors, Eric and Denise Kandel, say that they've found the "molecular basis" for nicotine's role as a gateway drug. Adult mice who are given cocaine show more addictive behavior and stronger effects from the cocaine if they've been "primed" with seven days of nicotine use beforehand, according to the study. In other words, cocaine is more addictive to mice if they're already addicted to nicotine.
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Submission + - Hackers Will Leak Syrian Stock Exchange Database Unless Assad Tackles ISIS (vice.com)

Daniel_Stuckey writes: A group of hackers took down the website of Syria's only stock exchange this afternoon and are threatening to leak the exchange's database unless president Bashar al-Assad takes military action against the Islamic State.

The group, called Project Viridium, says that over the last several weeks, they've infected several Islamic State operatives' computers and have provided the Assad government with information about their whereabouts.

Submission + - Canada's Hitchhiking Robot Completed Its Trip Without Getting Murdered (vice.com)

Daniel_Stuckey writes: On July 27, a brave robot named hitchBOT bid goodbye to its creators on the shoulder of a highway in Halifax, Nova Scotia. With limbs made from pool noodles, a beer-cooler body, and legs clad in Wellington rain boots, this adorable hodgepodge of a robot was ready to embark on the adventure of a lifetime. It raised its best hitchhiker’s thumb, and waited to be picked up by its first benefactor in its 6,000-kilometer road trip across Canada.

When hitchBot set off, we at Motherboard worried that the trooper might meet a tragic end (and we weren't the only ones). But fortunately, our fears were groundless. Over the weekend, hitchBOT arrived at its final destination in Victoria, BC, intact and thriving after meeting dozens of new friends across the country.

Submission + - DARPA Uses Preteen Gamers to Beta Test Tomorrow's Military Software (vice.com)

Daniel_Stuckey writes: But it's here, tucked away on the third floor, that you'll find precisely that: the Center for Game Science, a research lab that makes educational video games for children, and that received the bulk of its funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the wing of the US Department of Defense that supports research into experimental military technology. Why is DARPA the original primary funder of the CGS? According to written and recorded statements from current and former DARPA program managers, as well as other government documents, the DARPA-funded educational video games developed at the CGS have a purpose beyond the pretense of teaching elementary school children STEM skills.

Submission + - This Phony 'Anonymous' Site Was Set Up to Trap Ferguson Hacktivists (vice.com)

Daniel_Stuckey writes: As military police forces gather around Ferguson, trying to quell an angry, frustrated, and betrayed population, some people are taking their fight online. 'OpFerguson', being spear-headed by members of the hacktivism collective Anonymous, launched a couple of days ago. One site popped up that gave those wishing to voice their discontent a helping hand. Opferguson.com allows a user to select a target, including the Ferguson police force and the FBI, and participate in a DDoS attack: a technique that attempts to overwhelm a server by flooding it with traffic. Opferguson.com, however, is not what it seems. Instead of directing a user's traffic to the intended target, it instead collects the IP addresses of whoever logs on. This information, according to the creator, a self-avowed Anonymous opponent, is then open for law enforcement to act upon.

Submission + - Techno-Archaeologists Used an Abandoned McDonald's to Hijack a Satellite (vice.com)

Daniel_Stuckey writes: From an abandoned McDonald's in the backyard of NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, a dozen or so volunteer scientists and engineers have taken control of a decommissioned, still running, 70s-era space satellite, currently some 20,000 kilometers away, by using discarded vintage space computers and a few sweet eBay finds. The so-named "McMoon's" Control Center is some sort of bizarre testament to human ingenuity and what a bunch of very smart people with virtually no budget or proper authorization can pull off. A bit of context: The International Sun-Earth Explorer (ISEE-3) satellite was launched on August 12, 1978, and was originally meant to study the Earth’s magnetosphere from the L1 Lagrangian point between the Sun and the Earth, where the gravity of both bodies cancel each other out.

Submission + - UK Police Won't Admit They're Tracking People's Phone Calls (vice.com)

Daniel_Stuckey writes: You've maybe heard a bit about Stingray. Over the past couple of years, it has emerged that police forces in the US have been using the powerful surveillance tool, which tricks phones into connecting to a dragnet, to track mobile devices, and intercept calls and text messages.

Meanwhile, the London Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) continue to remain tight lipped about their use of the technology, leaving citizens in the dark on what privacy protections, if any, are in place for those who may get swept up by the broad surveillance techniques.

Submission + - The NSA Is Being Sued for Keeping Keith Alexander's Financial History Secret (vice.com)

Daniel_Stuckey writes: Now the NSA has yet another dilemma on its hands: Investigative journalist Jason Leopold is suing the agency for denying him the release of financial disclosure statements attributable to its former director. According to a report by Bloomberg , prospective clients of Alexander's, namely large banks, will be billed $1 million a month for his cyber-consulting services. Recode.net quipped that for an extra million, Alexander would show them the back door (state-installed spyware mechanisms) that the NSA put in consumer routers.

Submission + - Israel Is Outgunning Hamas On Social Media, Too (vice.com)

Daniel_Stuckey writes: While IDF planes drop bombs on Gaza and Hamas fires rockets from inside its borders, both groups are also tweeting, sharing, and promoting the war every step of the way.

The Gaza conflict has offered up its own brand of Twitter war between the Israeli Defense Forces and Hamas, who are squaring off in an online social media battle to match the on-the-ground campaign. And just as in the physical world, in the cyber version playing out in social media, the weaponry the Israelis deploy far outclasses Hamas capabilities.

The IDF has been disseminating a mixture of images, tweets, and YouTube videos designed to both justify their operations and perform the classic strategy of any military PSYOP—defining your enemy in no uncertain terms.

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