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The Courts

US Trials Off Track Over Juror Internet Misconduct 405

aesoteric writes "The explosion of blogging, tweeting and other online diversions has reached into US jury boxes, in many cases raising serious questions about juror impartiality and the ability of judges to control their courtrooms. A study by Reuters Legal found that since 1999, at least 90 verdicts have been the subject of challenges because of alleged Internet-related juror misconduct — and that more than half of the cases occurred in the last two years. Courts were fighting back, with some judges now confiscating all phones and computers from jurors when they enter the courtroom."

How 6 Memorable Tech Companies Got Their Names 94

itwbennett writes "If Larry Page and Sergey Brin had stuck with the first name for their search engine, we'd be 'BackRubbing' instead of Googling. But the fun doesn't stop there. The unforgettable Go Daddy was first saddled with the eminently Seussian moniker 'Jomax Technologies.' And as for Yahoo!... its original name just rolled off the tongue: 'Jerry and David's Guide to the World Wide Web.'"

America Versus the UFO Hacker 452

Rob writes "Gary McKinnon, still suffering from Asperger's syndrome, depression, anxiety, and panic attacks, has one last chance to avoid extradition from the UK to the US to face charges of hacking into NASA and Pentagon computers in search of information on UFOs. Will the new UK government keep its word and help him avoid a savage punishment? The New Statesman has a survey of the history and McKinnon's prospects."

Magnetism Can Sway Man's Moral Compass 586

Hugh Pickens writes "Discovery News reports that scientists have identified a region of the brain which appears to control morality and discovered that a powerful magnetic field can scramble the moral center of the brain, impairing volunteers' notion of right and wrong. 'You think of morality as being a really high-level behavior,' says Liane Young, a scientist at MIT and co-author of the article. 'To be able to apply (a magnetic field) to a specific brain region and change people's moral judgments is really astonishing.' Young and her colleagues used functional magnetic resonance imaging to locate an area of the brain just above and behind the right ear known as the right temporo-parietal junction (RTPJ), which other studies had previously related to moral judgments. Volunteers were exposed to transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) for 25 minutes before reading stories involving morally questionable characters, and being asked to judge their actions. The researchers found that when the RTPJ was disrupted volunteers were more likely to judge actions solely on the basis of whether they caused harm — not whether they were morally wrong in themselves. The scientists didn't permanently remove the subjects' moral sensibilities and on the scientists' seven point scale, the difference was about one point, averaging out to about a 15 percent change, 'but it's still striking to see such a change in such high level behavior as moral decision-making.' Young points out that the study was correlation; their work only links the RTJP, morality, and magnetic fields, but doesn't definitively prove that one causes another."
Hardware Hacking

Home-Built Turing Machine 123

stronghawk writes "The creator of the Nickel-O-Matic is back at it and has now built a Turing Machine from a Parallax Propeller chip-based controller, motors, a dry-erase marker and a non-infinite supply of shiny 35mm leader film. From his FAQ: 'While thinking about Turing machines I found that no one had ever actually built one, at least not one that looked like Turing's original concept (if someone does know of one, please let me know). There have been a few other physical Turing machines like the Logo of Doom, but none were immediately recognizable as Turing machines. As I am always looking for a new challenge, I set out to build what you see here.'"

US Sits On Supply of Rare, Tech-Crucial Minerals 324

We've recently discussed China's position as the linchpin of the world's supply of rare earths, and their rumblings about restricting exports of of these materials crucial to the manufacture of everything from batteries to wind turbines. Now an anonymous reader sends this MSNBC piece on the status of the US's supply of rare earths. "China supplies most of the rare earth minerals found in technologies such as hybrid cars, wind turbines, computer hard drives, and cell phones, but the US has its own largely untapped reserves that could safeguard future tech innovation. Those reserves include deposits of both 'light' and 'heavy' rare earths... 'There is already a shortage, because there are companies that already can't get enough material,' said Jim Hedrick, a former USGS rare earth specialist who recently retired. 'No one [in the US] wants to be first to jump into the market because of the cost of building a separation plant,' Hedrick explained. ... [S]uch a plant requires thousands of stainless steel tanks holding different chemical solutions to separate out all the individual rare earths. The upfront costs seem daunting. Hedrick estimated that opening just one mine and building a new separation plant might cost anywhere from $500 million to $1 billion and would require a minimum of eight years. [But the CEO of a rare earth supply company said] 'From what I see, security of supply is going to be more important than the prices.'"

Blazing Fast Password Recovery With New ATI Cards 215

An anonymous reader writes "ElcomSoft accelerates the recovery of Wi-Fi passwords and password-protected iPhone and iPod backups by using ATI video cards. The support of ATI Radeon 5000 series video accelerators allows ElcomSoft to perform password recovery up to 20 times faster compared to Intel top of the line quad-core CPUs, and up to two times faster compared to enterprise-level NVIDIA Tesla solutions. Benchmarks performed by ElcomSoft demonstrate that ATI Radeon HD5970 accelerated password recovery works up to 20 times faster than Core i7-960, Intel's current top of the line CPU unit."

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