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Science

New Technology Produces Cheaper Tantalum and Titanium 139

Billy the Mountain writes "A small UK company is bringing new technology online that could reduce the prices of tantalum and titanium ten-fold. According to this piece in The Economist: A tantalising prospect, the key is a technique similar to smelting aluminum with a new twist: The metallic oxides are not melted as with aluminum but blended in powder form with a molten salt that serves as a medium and electrolyte. This technology is known as the FFC Cambridge Process. Other metals include Neodymium, Tungsten, and Vanadium."
Earth

Billionaires Secretly Fund Vast Climate Denial Network 848

Hugh Pickens writes writes "Suzanne Goldenberg reports that conservative billionaires used a secretive funding route to channel nearly $120 million to more than 100 groups casting doubt about the science behind climate change, helping build a vast network of think tanks and activist groups working to redefine climate change from neutral scientific fact to a highly polarizing 'wedge issue' for hardcore conservatives. 'We exist to help donors promote liberty which we understand to be limited government, personal responsibility, and free enterprise,' says Whitney Ball, chief executive of the Donors Trust. Ball's organization assured wealthy donors that their funds would never by diverted to liberal causes with a guarantee of complete anonymity for donors who wished to remain hidden. The money flowed to Washington think tanks embedded in Republican party politics, obscure policy forums in Alaska and Tennessee, contrarian scientists at Harvard and lesser institutions, even to buy up DVDs of a film attacking Al Gore. 'The funding of the denial machine is becoming increasingly invisible to public scrutiny. It's also growing. Budgets for all these different groups are growing,' says Kert Davies, research director of Greenpeace, which compiled the data on funding of the anti-climate groups using tax records. 'These groups are increasingly getting money from sources that are anonymous or untraceable.'"
Bug

Driver Trapped In Speeding Car At 125 Mph 1176

Hugh Pickens writes writes "The Guardian reports that Frank Lecerf was driving his Renault Laguna in Northern France when the car's speed jammed at 60mph. Then each time he tried to brake, the car accelerated, eventually reaching 125mph and sticking there. While uncontrollably speeding through the fast lane as other cars swerved out of his way, he managed to call emergency services who immediately dispatched a platoon of police cars. Realizing Lecerf had no choice but to keep racing along until his fuel ran out, they escorted him at high speed across almost 125 miles of French motorway, past Calais and Dunkirk, and over the Belgian border. After about an hour, Lecerf's tank spluttered empty and he managed to swerve into a ditch in Alveringem in Belgium, about 125 miles from his home. 'My life flashed before me,' says Lecerf. 'I just wanted it to stop.' His lawyer says Lecerf will file a legal complaint over 'endangerment of a person's life.'"
Privacy

DHS Can Seize Your Electronics Within 100 Mi.of US Border, Says DHS 597

dreamstateseven writes "In a not-so-unexpected move, the Department of Homeland Security has concluded that travelers along the nation's borders may have their electronics seized and the contents of those devices examined for any reason whatsoever — all in the name of national security. According to legal precedent, the Fourth Amendment — the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures — does not apply along the border. The memo highlights the friction between today's reality that electronic devices have become virtual extensions of ourselves housing everything from e-mail to instant-message chats to photos and our papers and effects — juxtaposed against the government's stated quest for national security. By the way, the government contends the Fourth-Amendment-Free Zone stretches 100 miles inland from the nation's actual border."
Advertising

Racism In Online Ad Targeting 474

An anonymous reader writes "Most of us are familiar with advertisements in online web searching, and by now we've grown accustomed to scrolling past the 'sponsored' results to get to the real responses to our query. And we know the ads are context-sensitive; for example, searching for our favorite Federation Starship will bring up ads for a similarly-named car-rental agency. But now a Harvard University professor has found a more disturbing trend in those contextual ads: racism. 'Sweeney says she has evidence that black identifying names are up to 25 per cent more likely to be served with an arrest-related ad. "There is discrimination in delivery of these ads," she concludes. Sweeney gathered this evidence by collecting over 2000 names that were suggestive of race. For example, first names such as Trevon, Lakisha and Darnell suggest the owner is black while names like Laurie, Brendan and Katie suggest the owner is white. She then entered these plus surnames into Google.com and Reuters.com and examined the ads they returned. Most names generated ads for public records. However, black-identifying names turned out to be much more likely than white-identifying names to generate ads that including the word "arrest" (60 per cent versus 48 per cent).'"
Space

Iran Unveils Its Own Stealth Fighter Jet, the Qaher F-313 260

An anonymous reader writes "Iran has unveiled a new home-made combat aircraft, which officials say can evade radar. The single-seat Qaher F313 (Dominant F313) is the latest design produced by Iran's military since it launched the Azarakhsh (Lightning), in 2007. President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad said it had 'almost all the positive features' of the world's most sophisticated jets.Footage from state TV showed the jet in flight, but not its take-off or landing."
Education

Does US Owe the World an Education At Its Expense? 689

An anonymous reader writes "'Right now, there are brilliant students from all over the world sitting in classrooms at our top universities,' President Obama explained to the nation Tuesday in his pitch for immigration reform. 'They are earning degrees in the fields of the future, like engineering and computer science...We are giving them the skills to figure that out, but then we are going to turn around and tell them to start the business and create those jobs in China, or India, or Mexico, or someplace else. That is not how you grow new industries in America. That is how you give new industries to our competitors. That is why we need comprehensive immigration reform." If the President truly fears that international students will use skills learned at U.S. colleges and universities to the detriment of the United States if they return home (isn't a rising tide supposed to lift all boats?) — an argument NYC Mayor Bloomberg advanced in 2011 ('we are investing millions of dollars [actually billions] to educate these students at our leading universities, and then giving the economic dividends back to our competitors – for free') — then wouldn't another option be not providing them with the skills in the first place?"
The Almighty Buck

The Biggest Financial Fraud of All Time 470

An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from an article at Bloomberg giving an inside look at how the Libor scandal happened: "Every morning, from his desk by the bathroom at the far end of Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc’s trading floor overlooking London’s Liverpool Street station, Paul White punched a series of numbers into his computer. White, who had joined RBS in 1984, was one of the employees responsible for the firm’s submissions for the London interbank offered rate, or Libor, the global benchmark for more than $300 trillion of contracts from mortgages and student loans to interest-rate swaps. Behind him sat Neil Danziger, a derivatives trader who had worked at the bank since 2002. On the morning of March 27, 2008, Tan Chi Min, Danziger’s boss in Tokyo, told him to make sure the next day’s submission in yen would increase, Bloomberg Markets magazine will report in its March issue. 'We need to bump it way up high, highest among all if possible,' [Tan wrote]. ... Events like those that took place on RBS’s trading floor ... are at the heart of what is emerging as the biggest and longest-running scandal in banking history. ... For years, traders at Deutsche Bank AG, UBS AG, Barclays, RBS and other banks colluded with colleagues responsible for setting the benchmark and their counterparts at other firms to rig the price of money, according to documents obtained by Bloomberg and interviews with two dozen current and former traders, lawyers and regulators. UBS traders went as far as offering bribes to brokers to persuade others to make favorable submissions on their behalf, regulatory filings show."
Advertising

The Atlantic's Scientology Advertorial 213

magic maverick writes "The Atlantic recently ran an 'advertorial' for the 'Church of Scientology'. During this time, they filtered comments and removed negative comments. While they have since apologized, incisive.nu has an interesting run down of what they did wrong, from both a moral and business perspective." It turns out these sponsored stories are commonplace, and a serious source of revenue: "Native ads are critical to The Atlantic’s livelihood. They are one element of digital advertising revenue, which in 2012 accounted for a striking 59 percent of the brand’s overall advertising revenue haul. Unclear just how much of the digital advertising revenue stems from sponsor content. We’re working on that."
United States

3D Printable Ammo Clip Skirts New Proposed Gun Laws 1862

Sparrowvsrevolution writes "Over the past weekend, Defense Distributed successfully 3D-printed and tested a magazine for an AR semi-automatic rifle, loading and firing 86 rounds from the 30-round clip. That homemade chunk of curved plastic holds special significance: Between 1994 and 2004, so-called 'high capacity magazines' capable of holding more than 10 bullets were banned from sale. And a new gun control bill proposed by California Senator Dianne Feinstein in the wake of recent shootings would ban those larger ammo clips again. President Obama has also voiced support for the magazine restrictions. Defense Distributed says it hopes to preempt any high capacity magazine ban by showing how impossible it has become to prevent the creation of a simple spring-loaded box in the age of cheap 3D printing. It's posted the 3D-printable magazine blueprints on its website, Defcad.org, and gun enthusiasts have already downloaded files related to the ammo holders more than 2,200 times." Update: 01/15 23:15 GMT by T : Mea culpa; please blame my flu for mistakenly letting through that headline with "clip" where it should say "magazine." I know the difference — and I don't own any clips.
Privacy

New York Paper Uses Public Records To Publish Gun-Owner Map 1232

New submitter Isaac-1 writes "First it was the sex offenders being mapped using public records, now it seems to be gun owners — I wonder who will be next? It seems a newspaper in New York has published an interactive map with the names and addresses of people with [handguns]." It's happened before: In 2007, Virginia's Roanoke Times raised the ire of many gun owners by publishing a database of Virginia's gun permit holders that it assembled based on public records inquiries. (The paper later withdrew that database.) Similarly, WRAL-TV in North Carolina published a database earlier this year with searchable map of (partially redacted) information about permit holders in that state, and Philadelphia made the news for a similar disclosure — complete with interactive map and addresses — of hundreds of gun permit applicants and holders.
Education

Learn Linux the Hard Way 185

An anonymous reader writes "Here is a free interactive beta of Learn Linux The Hard Way; a web-based virtual Linux environment which introduces the command line and other essential Linux concepts in 30 exercises. It's written in the style of Zed A. Shaw's Learn Code the Hard Way lessons. The authors says, 'You will encounter many detailed tables containing lists of many fields. You may think you do not need most of this information, but what I am trying to do here is to teach you the right way to approach all this scary data. And this right way is to interpret this data as mathematical formulas, where every single symbol has its meaning.' Of course, my first entry was rm -rf /* which only produced a stream of errors. I wish I had discovered something like a long time ago."

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