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Space

Submission + - Astrophysicists find planet that should not exist (latimes.com)

SpuriousLogic writes: Scientists have discovered a planet that shouldn't exist. The finding, they say, could alter our understanding of orbital dynamics, a field considered pretty well settled since the time of astronomer Johannes Kepler 400 years ago. The planet is known as a "hot Jupiter," a gas giant orbiting the star Wasp-18, about 330 light years from Earth. The planet, Wasp-18b, is so close to the star that it completes a full orbit (its "year") in less than an Earth day, according to the research, which was published in the journal Nature. Of the more than 370 exoplanets — planets orbiting stars other than our sun — discovered so far, this is just the second with such a close orbit. The problem is that a planet that close should be consumed by its parent star in less than a million years, say the authors at Keele University in England. The star Wasp-18 is believed to be about a billion years old, and since stars and the planets around them are thought to form at the same time, Wasp-18b should have been reduced to cinders ages ago.
Sun Microsystems

Submission + - Sun plans security coprocessor for new Ultrasparc (goodgearguide.com.au)

angry tapir writes: "At the Hot Chips conference at Stanford University, Sun presented plans for a security accelerator chip that it said would reduce encryption costs for applications such as VoIP calls and online banking Web sites. The coprocessor will be included on the same silicon as Rainbow Falls, the code name for the follow-on to Sun's multithreaded Ultrasparc T2 processor."
Medicine

Submission + - Depression May Provide Cognitive Advantages 1

Hugh Pickens writes: "Paul W. Andrews and J. Anderson Thomson, Jr. argue in Scientific American that although depression is considered a mental disorder, depression may in fact be a mental adaptation which provides real benefits. This is not to say that depression is not a problem. Depressed people often have trouble performing everyday activities, they can't concentrate on their work, they tend to socially isolate themselves, they are lethargic, and they often lose the ability to take pleasure from such activities such as eating and sex. So what could be so useful about depression? "Depressed people often think intensely about their problems," write the authors. "These thoughts are called ruminations; they are persistent and depressed people have difficulty thinking about anything else. Numerous studies have also shown that this thinking style is often highly analytical. They dwell on a complex problem, breaking it down into smaller components, which are considered one at a time." Various studies have found that people in depressed mood states are better at solving social dilemmas and there is evidence that people who get more depressed while they are working on complex problems in an intelligence test tend to score higher on the test (PDF). "When one considers all the evidence, depression seems less like a disorder where the brain is operating in a haphazard way, or malfunctioning. Instead, depression seems more like the vertebrate eye--an intricate, highly organized piece of machinery that performs a specific function.""
The Almighty Buck

Submission + - Apple Allegedly Sought Non-Poaching Deal with Palm

theodp writes: "A Bloomberg report that Apple CEO Steve Jobs proposed a possibly illegal truce with Palm against poaching their respective employees is sure to pique the interest of the U.S. Department of Justice, which already is investigating whether Google, Yahoo, Apple, Genentech and other tech companies conspired to keep others from stealing their top talent. 'Your proposal that we agree that neither company will hire the other's employees, regardless of the individual's desires, is not only wrong, it is likely illegal,' former Palm CEO Ed Colligan reportedly told Jobs in August 2007. That same summer, Google lectured Congress on why constraints must not be placed on hiring: 'Google's success — like that of technology companies across our nation — absolutely depends on attracting the best and the brightest employees,' testified Google VP for People Operations Laszlo Bock. 'Hiring and retaining the most talented employees,' Bock added, 'is essential to the United States' ability to compete globally.' Good points — be interesting if they come back to haunt Google and the other under-investigation tech giants."
Idle

Submission + - Wired writer disappears, find him and make 5k. (atavistic.org) 5

carp3_noct3m writes: A freelance Wired magazine journalist has decided to see what it is like to disappear from normal life, all while staying on the grid. The catch, is that he is challenging anyone and everyone to find him, take a picture, and speak a special codeword to him. If you can do that, you can make 5000 dollars, which happens to come out of his paycheck for the article he'll be writing. Oh, and to top it all off, whoever gets him gets pictures and interviews in Wired. He has been posting to his Twitter, has been apparently using TOR for internet, and the Wired website will be posting his credit card transactions. So Slashdot, do we have what it takes to show this guy we know our stuff? Hop to it my minions.
Biotech

Submission + - DNA Evidence Can Be Fabricated, Scientists Show

ewlslash writes: Scientists in Israel have demonstrated that it is possible to fabricate DNA evidence, undermining the credibility of what has been considered the gold standard of proof in criminal cases. The scientists fabricated blood and saliva samples containing DNA from a person other than the donor of the blood and saliva. They also showed that if they had access to a DNA profile in a database, they could construct a sample of DNA to match that profile without obtaining any tissue from that person. "You can just engineer a crime scene," said Dan Frumkin, lead author of the paper, which has been published online by the journal Forensic Science International: Genetics. "Any biology undergraduate could perform this." http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/18/science/18dna.html
Wireless Networking

Submission + - Verizon's new download throttle feature 2

fastsynaptic writes: I found out today the reason that my mifi download speed has been drastically reduced and has been no higher than 200kb/s for the past couple of weeks is that a "feature" has been added to my account by Verizon that limits my data transfer rate. The Verizon tech support person I spoke with today informed me that there is an "account investigations team" that throttles accounts that reach some secret threshold or data usage pattern that he could only vaguely explain. I have come close, but not exceeded 5Gb/month, and regardless of data usage I have an unlimited data agreement through my University with Verizon. I laughed at him when he told me it was a "feature" that had been added to my account. He kept repeating that I still had unlimited data usage, I just have a new feature...it would be funny if it wasn't so Orwellian. It's reminiscent of the word game they tried to play before, advertising "unlimited" data plans that were unlimited as long as you didn't exceed 5Gb. I thought that after they had their hand slapped over that they would be more ethical (or at least careful) next time. Apparently there is no way to know they are doing this unless you call and ask, for all I know the support person I talked to wasn't authorized to tell me (he did seem sorry and embarrassed). He told me he had no power to remove my new feature, and that I had to contact the secret team, M-F at 866 221 3979. I don't know how widespread this is and I am going to call first thing Monday.
Education

Submission + - Teaching 3rd Grader Computer Programming

OS24Ever writes: "When I was a youngster, about 30 years ago now, there was a plethora of these things called 'magazines' that you 'paid for' that people would "mail you" once a month. In them, where pages and pages of code for you to type into your computer. In fact, if you can imagine it, they had programs for different brands of computers because the same program didn't work on all of them. They had cool names like Compute! and Byte and for a person with limited math skills it still taught you language structure and lots of debugging because god knows no one types in something from a magazine perfectly. It also taught me to hack. Once I learned that POKEing in the right place changed colors I started customizing my desktop colors every time my trusty Atari 800 turned on.

Recently, I was enjoying an episode of MacBreak Dev and my oldest, who is just about to turn eight, exclaimed on how she HAD to try that. It was an episode of using Quartz Compser and a Wiimote along with some IR LEDs on a pair of glasses. So I sat there realizing that in third grade the Apple IIe at school, and later the Atari 800 (which still works thank you) appeared into my life at the age of eight. I learned how to type in programs from a few of the BASIC manuals, and then I discovered that there were magazines that had these programs in them I could type in. Sure now you have this newfangled copy & paste, and you don't have to go to the library and join the atari users club so you can 'check out' cassette tapes that had BASIC programs on them and realize you can save them to your own tape after you loaded them. Now you download random programs, you can cut/paste code snippets, but the exploration of typing something in off a sheet of paper and pushing a button to see if it works doesn't seem to exist. in fact by the late 80s it really had died out already.

So my question for those of us who have produced spawn or two and would like to encourage this type of thing but may or may not be that good of educating or not sure how to break down concepts are there any resources like that out there? Where you say 'here, type this stuff in and get it to work' and the reward is a lame little game that you finally got to work on your Atari 800 after weeks and weeks of typing and proofreading and losing it to a failed cassette tape that you bounced off the basement wall in frustration."
Portables

Submission + - What should be in a course on Mobile Computing? 1

timothykimball writes: I am an iPhones application developer, and a friend who is a professor at a local university has asked me to teach this course to grad students. I want to look beyond the iPhone and look more broady at the problems of mobile computation — such as hardware constraints, new technologies, how software development is different. How user scenarios are different etc. What I am looking for are ideas or concepts that slashdotters would like to see in such a course. What should these grads learn?
Transportation

Submission + - New battery could change world, 1 house at a time

An anonymous reader writes: In a modest building on the west side of Salt Lake City, a team of specialists in advanced materials and electrochemistry has produced what could be the single most important breakthrough for clean, alternative energy since Socrates first noted solar heating 2,400 years ago. The prize is the culmination of 10 years of research and testing — a new generation of deep-storage battery that's small enough, and safe enough, to sit in your basement and power your home. http://www.heraldextra.com/news/article_b0372fd8-3f3c-11de-ac77-001cc4c002e0.html
Earth

Green Cement Absorbs Carbon 213

Peace Corps Online writes "Concrete accounts for more than 5 percent of human-caused carbon dioxide emissions annually, mostly because cement, the active ingredient in concrete, is made by baking limestone and clay powders under intense heat that is generally produced by the burning of fossil fuels. Now Scientific American reports that British start-up company Novacem has developed a 'carbon-negative' cement that absorbs more carbon dioxide than it emits over its life cycle. The trick is to make cement from magnesium silicates rather than calcium carbonate, or limestone, since this material does not emit CO2 in manufacture and absorbs the greenhouse gas as it ages. 'The building and construction industry knows it has got to do radical things to reduce its carbon footprint and cement companies understand there is not a lot they can do without a technology breakthrough,' says Novacem Chairman Stuart Evans. Novacem estimates that for every ton of Portland cement replaced by its product, around three-quarters of a ton of CO2 is saved, turning the cement industry from a big emitter to a big absorber of carbon. Major cement makers have been working hard to reduce CO2 emissions by investing in modern kilns and using as little carbon-heavy fuel as possible, but reductions to date have been limited. Novacem has raised $1.7M to start a pilot plant that should be up and running in northern England in 2011."
OS X

Submission + - Apple and USB, some serious trouble?

Moritu writes: It seems like Apple is having some more serious problems with its UBS implementation, least for its more recent premium priced laptops... There are lots of reports with the hardware implementation in at least last three models of MacBook Pros (unibody as well as previous designs) that range from devices only working on left or right port or not at all or only with poor performance. On top of that Apple seems to have issues with USB disks randomly disconnecting and no answer in sight ranging from 10.5 to 10.5.7 and its not entirely clear whether thats a hardware or software issue....I myself for example can not use USB as a relaible storage on my 4,1 MacBook Pro. No help so far from support besides the typical "please send in your system.log". One would think that for the preium price one get a premium product...sigh. Seems Apple doesn't care to fix it.... See: http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?messageID=9631008#9631008 http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=1032615&tstart=0 ...describing intermittent problems. And the following describing more hardware related issues: http://blog.fosketts.net/2008/07/04/low-power-usb-ports-haunt-my-macbook-pro/ http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=491154 Do other readers have similar experiences?
Medicine

Submission + - Adjustable Focus Glasses Can Replace Bifocals

Hugh Pickens writes: "The NY Times reports that inventor Stephen Kurtin has developed glasses with a mechanically adjustable focus which he believes can free nearly two billion people around the world from bifocals, trifocals and progressive lenses. Kurtin has spent almost 20 years on his quest to create a better pair of spectacles for people who suffer from presbyopia — the condition that affects almost everyone over the age of 40 as they progressively lose the ability to focus on close objects. The glasses have a tiny adjustable slider on the bridge of the frame that makes it possible to focus alternately on the page of a book, a computer screen or a mountain range in the distance. "For more than 140 years, adjustable focus has been recognized as the Holy Grail for presbyopes," says Kurtin. "It's a blazingly difficult problem." Each "lens" is actually a set of two lenses, one flexible and one firm. The flexible lens (near the eye) has a transparent distensible membrane attached to a clear rigid surface. The pocket between them holds a small quantity of crystal clear fluid. As you move the slider on the bridge, it pushes the fluid and alters the shape of the flexible lens. Kurtin is introducing his product into the market slowly, but he is hopeful that his new fashion look will catch on. He notes that when the members of one of his investor's families get together they like to joke that they look a little bit like a Devo fan club meeting."
Social Networks

Submission + - Twitter apps to implode within 60 days? (daniweb.com)

slfisher writes: "The Twitter Platform Team is recommending to all Twitter developers that they make sure their applications support 64-bit integers because the popular service has almost reached the limit of 32-bit unsigned integers."

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