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The Courts

Large Hadron Collider Sparks 'Doomsday' Lawsuit 731

smooth wombat writes "In what can only be considered a bizarre court case, a former nuclear safety officer and others are suing the U.S. Department of Energy, Fermilab, the National Science Foundation and CERN to stop the use of the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) until its safety is reassessed. The plaintiffs cite three possible 'doomsday' scenarios which might occur if the LHC becomes operational: the creation of microscopic black holes which would grow and swallow matter, the creation of strangelets which, if they touch other matter, would convert that matter into strangelets or the creation of magnetic monopoles which could start a chain reaction and convert atoms to other forms of matter. CERN will hold a public open house meeting on April 6 with word having been spread to some researchers to be prepared to answer questions on microscopic black holes and strangelets if asked."
Censorship

China's Battle to Police the Web 171

What_the_deuce writes "For the first time in years, internet browsers are able to visit the BBC's website. In turn, the BBC turns a lens on the Chinese web-browsing experience, exploring one of the government's strongest methods of controlling the communication and information accessible to the public. 'China does not block content or web pages in this way. Instead the technology deployed by the Chinese government, called Golden Shield, scans data flowing across its section of the net for banned words or web addresses. There are five gateways which connect China to the internet and the filtering happens as data is passed through those ports. When the filtering system spots a banned term it sends instructions to the source server and destination PC to stop the flow of data.'"
The Internet

Comcast Makes Nice with BitTorrent 161

An anonymous reader writes "In a dramatic turn-around of relations, cable provider Comcast and BitTorrent are now working together. The deal comes as BitTorrent tries to put its reputation for illegal filesharing behind it. The companies are in talks to collaborate on ways to run BitTorrent's technology more smoothly on Comcast's broadband network. Comcast is actually entertaining the idea of using BitTorrent to transport video files more effectively over its own network in the future, said Tony Warner, Comcast's chief technology officer. '"We are thrilled with this," Ashwin Navin, cofounder and president of BitTorrent, said of the agreement. BitTorrent traffic will be treated the same as that from YouTube Inc., Google Inc. or other Internet companies, he said. It was important that Comcast agreed to expand Internet capacity, because broadband in the United States is falling behind other areas of the world, Navin said. Referring to the clashes with Comcast, he said: "We are not happy about the companies' being in the limelight."'"
Earth

China to Use Silver Iodide & Dry Ice to Control the Weather 387

eldavojohn writes "While we made light of it before, the MIT Review is taking a serious look at China's plans to prevent rain over their open 91,000 seat arena for The Olympics. From the article: 'China's national weather-engineering program is also the world's largest, with approximately 1,500 weather modification professionals directing 30 aircraft and their crews, as well as 37,000 part-time workers — mostly peasant farmers — who are on call to blast away at clouds with 7,113 anti-aircraft guns and 4,991 rocket launchers.' They plan on demonstrating their ability to control the weather to the rest of the world, and expanding on their abilities in the future."
Wireless Networking

City-Provided Wi-Fi Rejected Over "Health Concerns" 360

exphose writes "A small, hippie-friendly town in northern California, Sebastopol, had made an agreement with Sonic.net to provide free Wi-Fi across the downtown area. However, not everyone in town was pleased with the arrangement. According to Sebastopol Mayor Craig Litwin, citizens had voiced concerns that 'create enough suspicion that there may be a health hazard' and so they canceled their contract with Sonic.net. Some more details are at the blog of Sonic.net's CEO."
Microsoft

ODF Editor Says ODF Loses If OOXML Does 268

An anonymous reader writes "The editor of the Open Document Format standard has written a letter (PDF) that strongly supports recognizing Microsoft's OOXML file format as a standard, arguing that if it fails, ODF will suffer. 'As the editor of OpenDocument, I want to promote OpenDocument, extol its features, urge the widest use of it as possible, none of which is accomplished by the anti-OpenXML position in ISO,' Patrick Durusau wrote. 'The bottom line is that OpenDocument, among others, will lose if OpenXML loses... Passage of OpenXML in ISO is going to benefit OpenDocument as much as anyone else.'"
Censorship

China Unblocks the BBC (In English) 158

An anonymous reader writes in with news that China has unblocked the BBC Web site — the English-language version at any rate. No announcement was made, because China has never acknowledged blocking the BBC for the last decade. The Chinese-language version of the site has been blocked since its inception in 1999. The article speculates that the easing of censorship may be tied to the upcoming Olympic Games.
Patents

Seagate May Sue if Solid State Disks Get Popular 242

tero writes "Even though Seagate has announced it will be offering SSD disks of its own in 2008, their CEO Bill Watkins seems to be sending out mixed signals in a recent Fortune interview 'He's convinced, he confides, that SSD makers like Samsung and Intel (INTC) are violating Seagate's patents. (An Intel spokeswoman says the company doesn't comment on speculation.) Seagate and Western Digital (WDC), two of the major hard drive makers, have patents that deal with many of the ways a storage device communicates with a computer, Watkins says. It stands to reason that sooner or later, Seagate will sue — particularly if it looks like SSDs could become a real threat.'"
It's funny.  Laugh.

Nuclear Scanning Catches a Radioactive Cat On I-5 594

Jeff recommends Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat's story from a community meeting with Northwest border control agents. Seems their monitoring for dirty bombs from the median of Interstate 5 caught a car transporting a radioactive cat. "It turns out the feds have been monitoring Interstate 5 for nuclear 'dirty bombs.' They do it with radiation detectors so sensitive it led to the following incident. 'Vehicle goes by at 70 miles per hour... Agent is in the median, a good 80 feet away from the traffic. Signal went off and identified an isotope [in the passing car]. The agent raced after the car, pulling it over not far from the monitoring spot.' Did he find a nuke? 'Turned out to be a cat with cancer that had undergone a radiological treatment three days earlier.'"
Media

Blu-ray BD+ Cracked 521

An anonymous reader writes "In July 2007, Richard Doherty of the Envisioneering Group (BD+ Standards Board) declared: 'BD+, unlike AACS which suffered a partial hack last year, won't likely be breached for 10 years.' Only eight months have passed since that bold statement, and Slysoft has done it again. According to the press release, the latest version of their flagship product AnyDVD HD can automatically remove BD+ protection and allows you to back-up any Blu-ray title on the market."
The Courts

FBI Posts Fake Hyperlinks To Trap Downloaders of Illegal Porn 767

mytrip brings us a story from news.com about an FBI operation in which agents posted hyperlinks which advertised child pornography, recorded the IP addresses of people who clicked the links, and then tracked them down and raided their homes. The article contains a fairly detailed description of how the operation progressed, and it raises questions about the legality and reliability of getting people to click "unlawful" hyperlinks. Quoting: "With the logs revealing those allegedly incriminating IP addresses in hand, the FBI sent administrative subpoenas to the relevant Internet service provider to learn the identity of the person whose name was on the account--and then obtained search warrants for dawn raids. The search warrants authorized FBI agents to seize and remove any "computer-related" equipment, utility bills, telephone bills, any "addressed correspondence" sent through the U.S. mail, video gear, camera equipment, checkbooks, bank statements, and credit card statements. While it might seem that merely clicking on a link wouldn't be enough to justify a search warrant, courts have ruled otherwise. On March 6, U.S. District Judge Roger Hunt in Nevada agreed with a magistrate judge that the hyperlink-sting operation constituted sufficient probable cause to justify giving the FBI its search warrant."
Space

Cassini Finds Evidence For Ocean Inside Titan 79

Riding with Robots writes "NASA reports that by using data from the Cassini probe's radar, scientists established the locations of 50 unique landmarks on the surface of Saturn's planet-size moon Titan. They then searched for these same lakes, canyons and mountains in the data after subsequent Titan flybys. They found that the features had shifted from their expected positions by up to 30 kilometers. NASA says a systematic displacement of surface features would be difficult to explain unless the moon's icy crust was decoupled from its core by an internal ocean, making it easier for the crust to move. If confirmed, this discovery would add to the growing list of moons in the solar system that are icy on the outside and warm and liquid inside, providing potential habitats. We've previously discussed Titan's hydrocarbon lakes and potential cryovolcano."
Privacy

Would a National Biometric Authentication Scheme Work? 178

Ian Lamont writes "The chair of Yale's CS department and Connecticut's former consumer protection commissioner are calling for the creation of a robust biometric authentication system on a national scale. They say the system would safeguard privacy and people's personal data far more effectively than paper-based IDs. They also reference the troubled Real ID program, saying that the debate has centered around forms of ID rather than the central issue of authentication. The authors further suggest that the debate has led to confusion between anonymity and privacy: 'Outside our homes, we have always lived in a public space where our open acts are no longer private. Anonymity has not changed that, but has provided an illusion of privacy and security. ... In public space, we engage in open acts where we have no expectation of privacy, as well as private acts that cannot take place within our homes and therefore require authenticating identity to carve a sphere of privacy.' The authors do not provide any suggestions for specific biometric technologies, nor do they discuss the role of the government in such a system. What do you think of a national or international biometrics-based authentication scheme? Is it feasible? How would it work? What safeguards need to be put in place?"
Wireless Networking

Google a "Happy Loser" In Spectrum Auction 162

Large cell service providers won almost all of the licenses in the recently concluded FCC spectrum auction. Google didn't get any and won't be entering the wireless business. Verizon Wireless was the big winner, laying out $9.4 billion for enough regional licenses in the "C" block to stitch together nationwide coverage, except for Alaska. On this spectrum Verizon will have to allow subscribers to use any compatible wireless device and run any software application they want. AT&T paid $6.6 billion, Qualcomm picked up a few licenses, and Paul Allen's Vulcan Spectrum LLC won a pair of licenses in the "A" block. One analyst called Google a "happy loser" because it got the openness it had pushed for. The AP's coverage does some more of the numbers.
Biotech

Self-Healing Artificial Muscles 90

Valor1016 writes "Researchers in California have developed an artificial muscle that heals itself and generates electricity. 'We've made an artificial muscle that, when you apply electricity to it, it expands, more than 200 percent, the motion and energy is a lot like human muscles,' said Qibing Pei, a scientist at UCLA and study author. The researchers used flexible carbon nanotubes as electrodes. If an area of the carbon nanotube fails, the region around it seals itself by becoming non-conductive and prevents the damage from spreading to other areas. This material also conserves about 70% of the energy you put into it. As the material contracts after an expansion the rearranging of the carbon nanotubes generates a small electric current that can be captured and used to power another expansion or stored in a battery. The research appeared in the January issue of Advanced Materials."

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