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Space

Exoplanet Reports Exaggerated 55

The Bad Astronomer writes "The reports of the first direct picture of an exoplanet are misleading. The real news is that an image of a probable exoplanet taken in 2008 using a telescope in Hawaii have been confirmed — it's a planet. In fact, exoplanets have been directly imaged before; the first was in 2005. More images of other planets were released in 2008. To be specific: this new planet is the first to be directly imaged orbiting a sun-like star using observations made from the ground. That's actually still quite a technological achievement, but don't be misled by hyperbolic headlines."
Software

AI Astronomer Aids Effort To Analyze Galaxies 40

kkleiner writes "Scientists are teaching an artificial intelligence how to classify galaxies imaged by telescopes like the Hubble. Manda Banerji at the University of Cambridge, along with researchers at University College London, Johns Hopkins, and elsewhere, has succeeded in getting the program to agree with human analysis at an impressive rate of more than 90%. Banerji used data from Galaxy Zoo, a massive online project that has used more than 250,000 volunteers to analyze more than 60 million galaxies. The new automated astronomer will help with even larger analytical projects on the horizon, taking care of trivial classifications and leaving the tough cases to humans."
Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg, In It To Change the World? 268

schmidt349 submitted a story about Zuckerberg that might fly in the face of what you've heard of the guy in the past. "Award-winning New York Times journalist David Kirkpatrick's new book The Facebook Effect presents readers with a complex view of Facebook's founder and CEO. Primed by hours of conversation and research deep into the history of the social network, Kirkpatrick reaches the conclusion that money isn't a primary motivation for Zuckerberg, 'a coder more than a CEO, a philosopher more than a businessman, a 26-year-old who has consistently avoided selling out because he sees Facebook as his way to change the world.' Kirkpatrick deftly handles the controversy surrounding Facebook's sometimes cavalier attitude toward user privacy, and the result is a much more balanced and less sensationalist account of Facebook's past, present, and future."
Image

Scientists Say Toads Can Predict Earthquakes 66

reillymj writes "Researchers claim toads sensed a severe earthquake last year five days before it hit. Last spring's L'Aquila earthquake devastated the medieval city of the same name in Italy. Five days earlier, a group of biologists noticed some toads behaving strangely in a pond nearby that would later be the quake's epicenter."
Censorship

Venezuela Bans Hostile Videogames and Toys 335

An anonymous reader writes "In an effort to 'help improve child education and prevent misconduct,' the Venezuelan government began enforcing a law on March 3rd banning war videogames and toys, imposing a fine and 2.5 years in prison on the production, distribution, sale, hiring and use of video games and toys inciting violent behavior. Alberto Federico Ravell, former director of opposing news network Globovision, has already come on twitter denouncing the authorities for seizing imported Gameboy, Wii and PlayStation 3 consoles, due to considering them violent."
Operating Systems

FreeBSD 8.0 Released 235

An anonymous reader writes "The FreeBSD Release Engineering Team is pleased to announce the availability of FreeBSD 8 stable release. Some of the highlights: Xen DomU support, network stack virtualization, stack-smashing protection, TTY layer rewrite, much improved ZFS v13, a new USB stack, multicast updates including IGMPv3, vimage — a new virtualization container, Fedora 10 Linux binary compatibility to run Linux software such as Flash 10 and others, trusted BSD MAC (Mandatory Access Control), and rewritten NFS client/server introducing NFSv4. Inclusion of improved device mmap() extensions will allow the technical implementation of a 64-bit Nvidia display driver for the x86-64 platform. The GNOME desktop environment has been upgraded to 2.26.3, KDE to 4.3.1, and Firefox to 3.5.5. There is also an in-depth look at the new features and major architectural changes in FreeBSD 8.0, including a screenshot tour, upgrade instructions are posted here. You can grab the latest version from FreeBSD from the mirrors (main ftp server) or via BitTorrent. Please consider making a donation and help us to spread the word by tweeting and blogging about the drive and release."

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