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Submission + - Personal history may thrust new Microsoft CEO into visa debate (

dcblogs writes: The personal history of Satya Nadella, Microsoft's new CEO, may draw him into the immigration debate over visas. His background, born in Hyderabad, earning advanced degrees in the U.S., exemplifies the type of STEM expertise that Microsoft's cites for visa liberalization. Microsoft has long argued that U.S. schools do not produce enough computer science grads. Said Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel, "We have imported people, in part, because when we started the 1980s, we didn't have the capacity in our higher education institutions to produce the degrees that would be needed to take these new jobs." But Microsoft's assertions of a skills shortage have long been disputed. "Microsoft's lobbyists and executives have played the leading role in misinforming the public and policymakers about how the H-1B and L-1 visa programs are used in practice," says Ron Hira, a public policy professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology. What is certain is that Indian community in Silicon Valley is "bursting with pride" over Microsoft's new CEO, reports the LA Times.

Submission + - AT&T Is First Olympic Tech Sponsor To Criticise Russian Anti-Gay Law (

judgecorp writes: AT&T has become the first tech firm to come out against the anti-gay laws which have sparked international protest centring on the Winter Olympics in Sochi. The firm sponsors the US Olympic team and has issued a statement in support of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transexual) equality which also strongly criticises Russia's law which bans the "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations", saying it is "harmful to a diverse society". There is now increased pressure on other sponsors for the Olympics, which include McDonalds and Coke, as well as tech firms including Samsung, Panasonic and Atos.

Submission + - Bumblebees Capable of Flying Higher Than Mount Everest (

sciencehabit writes: The last thing you’d expect to see out your airplane window is a bumblebee cruising by. But a new study suggests that the insects might be capable of such high-altitude jaunts. Researchers trapped six male bumblebees living at an altitude of 3250 meters in Sichuan, China, and placed them, one at a time, in a plexiglass flight chamber. Then they slowly pumped air out of the box, simulating the atmospheric conditions at higher and higher altitudes. Impressively, only one bee failed to fly above 8000 meters, and two even remained airborne above 9000 meters—more than 100 meters higher than the peak of Mount Everest.

Submission + - Weird Asteroid Itokawa Has a Dual Personality (

astroengine writes: We care about how asteroids are made, in large part because if one were aiming to smash into us, we’d like to know what we can do about it. The structure of asteroids is also a matter of scientific curiosity, as it tells us a bit about the formation and evolution in our solar system. That is why it is so exciting that the most recent very delicate observations of asteroid 25143 Itokawa reveal some of its secrets. 25143 Itokawa is a relatively small near-Earth asteroid that was visited by the Japanese Habayusa spacecraft in 2005. It has also been monitored by Stephen Lowry of the University of Kent and his colleagues over a twelve year span with the 3.58 meter New Technology Telescope in La Silla, Chile. In that time span, Itokawa has made five near approaches to Earth. And what did they find? The asteroid is composed of two lobes of different densities, suggesting that Itokawa is in fact a merged binary.

Submission + - The birth of Sonic the Hedgehog (

Ben Sillis writes: A new history of Sega has hit Kickstarter, and an extract from the book provides revealing insight — as well as some original artwork — into the creation of the company's legendary mascot. While it's well known that Sega was prompted to come up with a memorable icon to take on Mario as it attempted to gain footing in the US market, what's less well known is how the hedgehog acquired his name — or how Sega almost went with mediocre aliens Toejam and Earl instead.

Submission + - Second World War code-cracking computing hero Colossus turns 70 (

DW100 writes: The Colossus computer that helped the Allies crack messages sent by the Nazis during the Second World War has celebrated its 70th birthday. The machine was a pioneering feat of engineering, able to read 5,000 characters a second to help the team at Bletchley Park crack the German's Lorenz code in rapid time. This helped the Allies gather vital information on the Nazi's plans, and is credited with helping end the war effort early, saving millions of lives.

Submission + - Nanowires record beating of individual heart cells, response to medication (

An anonymous reader writes: Nanotechnology researchers are Hardvard University have fabricated a nanowire electrical probe and used it to penetrate an individual heart cell and record its beating. The development makes use of 'kinked' nanowires that are thin enough and acutely angled enough to enter a cell without killing it while at the same time providing a complete electrical circuit. The tiny dimensions of the probe make it possible to probe specific parts or organelles of the cell. In a demonstration, the scientists used the probe to electronically record the changes in a heart cell's beating in response to blood pressure medication. The technology could accelerate the development of new drugs and help study disease.

Submission + - Adobe Zero Day Targets China; No 'Mask' Connection (

msm1267 writes: Exploits for a newly reported zero-day vulnerability in Adobe’s Flash Player drop a password-grabbing Trojan that targets the email and social media accounts of users and organizations in China, researchers at Kaspersky Lab said today.
The attacks appear to be an isolated campaign and there is no connection between these exploits and a new advanced espionage campaign called The Mask that Kaspersky researchers are expected to unveil next week at the company’s Security Analyst Summit.

Submission + - Rovio Denies Knowledge of NSA Access, Hackers Deface Angry Birds Website Anyway (

Nerval's Lobster writes: Rovio Entertainment, the software company behind the mega-popular “Angry Birds” game franchise, denied in an official statement that it knowingly shares data with the NSA, Britain’s GCHQ, or any other national intelligence agency. But that didn’t stop hackers from briefly defacing the Angry Birds’ Website with an NSA logo and the title “Spying Birds.” Rovio’s troubles began with a The New York Times article, published Jan. 27, that suggested the NSA and GCHQ had installed backdoors in popular apps such as Angry Birds, allowing the agencies to siphon up enormous amounts of user data. The Times drew its information from government whistleblower Edward Snowden, who has leaked hundreds of pages of top-secret documents related to NSA activities over the past few months. “The alleged surveillance may be conducted through third party advertising networks used by millions of commercial web sites and mobile applications across all industries,” Rovio wrote in a statement on its Website. “If advertising networks are indeed targeted, it would appear that no internet-enabled device that visits ad-enabled web sites or uses ad-enabled applications is immune to such surveillance.” The company pledged to evaluate its relationships with those ad networks. The controversy is unlikely to dampen enthusiasm for the Angry Birds franchise, which has enjoyed hundreds of millions of downloads across a multitude of platforms. It could, however, add momentum to continuing discussions about the NSA’s reach into peoples’ lives.

Submission + - 3D Printing of Human Tissue to Spark Ethics Debate ( 2

Lucas123 writes: In a report released today, Gartner predicts that the time is drawing near when 3D-bioprinted human organs will be readily available, an advance almost certain to spark a complex debate involving a variety of political, moral and financial interests. For example, some researchers are using cells from human and non-human organs to create stronger tissue, said Pete Basiliere, a Gartner research director. "In this example, there was human amniotic fluid, canine smooth muscle cells, and bovine cells all being used. Some may feel those constructs are of concern," he said. While regulations in the U.S. and Europe will mean human trials of 3D printed organs will likely take up to a decade, nations with less stringent standards will plow ahead with the technology. For example, last August, the Hangzhou Dianzi University in China announced it had invented the biomaterial 3D printer Regenovo, which printed a small working kidney that lasted four months. Apart from printing tissue, 3D printing may also threaten intellectual property rights. "IP will be ignored and it will be impossible or impractical to enforce. Everything will change when you can make anything." said John Hornick, an IP attorney with Finnegan, Henderson, Farbow, Garrett & Dunner LLP in New York.

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