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Submission + - Massive Black Hole Devours Star (

H3xx writes: Astronomers have observed a black hole shredding a star and sending a powerful beam of energy towards Earth. When it was first observed March 28th by the Swift spacecraft, it was thought to be the implosion of an aging star, but is now believed to be the result of a star wandering too close to a black hold, imploding and converting 10% of the star's mass into gamma radiation. The energy burst is still visible by telescope more than two-and-a-half months later, the researchers report in the journal Science.

Living Earth Simulator Aims To Simulate Everything 241

H3xx writes "An international group of scientists is aiming to create a simulator — nicknamed The Living Earth Simulator — that will collect data from billions of sources and use it to replicate everything happening on Earth, from global weather patterns and the spread of diseases to international financial transactions or congestion on highways. The project aims to advance the scientific understanding of what is taking place on the planet, encapsulating the human actions that shape societies and the environmental forces that define the physical world. Perhaps this is Asimov's concept of Psychohistory come to fruition."

Coder Accuses IBM of Patenting His Work 249

ttsiod writes "Back in 2001, I coded HeapCheck, a GPL library for Windows (inspired by ElectricFence) that detected invalid read/write accesses on any heap allocations at runtime — thus greatly helping my debugging sessions. I published it on my site, and got a few users who were kind enough to thank me — a Serbian programmer even sent me $250 as a thank you (I still have his mails). After a few years, Microsoft included very similar technology in the operating system itself, calling it PageHeap. I had more or less forgotten this stuff, since for the last 7 years I've been coding for UNIX/Linux, where valgrind superseded Efence/dmalloc/etc. Imagine my surprise when yesterday, Googling for references to my site, I found out that the technology I implemented, of runtime detection of invalid heap accesses, has been patented in the States, and to add insult to injury, even mentions my site (via a non-working link to an old version of my page) in the patent references! After the necessary 'WTFs' and 'bloody hells' I thought this merits (a) a Slashdotting, and (b) a set of honest questions: what should I do about this? I am not an American citizen, but the 'inventors' of this technology (see their names in the top of the patent) have apparently succeeded in passing this ludicrous patent in the States. If my code doesn't count as prior art, Bruce Perens's Efence (which I clearly state my code was inspired from) is at least 12 years prior! Suggestions/cursing patent trolls most welcome."

USB 'Dead Drops' 322

Okian Warrior writes "Aram Bartholl is building a series of USB dead drops in New York City. Billed as 'an anonymous, offline, peer to peer file-sharing network in public space,' he has embedded USB sticks as file cache devices throughout the city. Bartholl says, 'I am "injecting" USB flash drives into walls, buildings and curbs accessible to anybody in public space. You are invited to go to these places (so far 5 in NYC) to drop or find files on a dead drop. Plug your laptop to a wall, house or pole to share your files and data.' Current locations (more to come) include: 87 3rd Avenue, Brooklyn, NY (Makerbot), Empire Fulton Ferry Park, Brooklyn, NY (Dumbo), 235 Bowery, NY (New Museum), Union Square, NY (Subway Station 14th St), and West 21st Street, NY (Eyebeam)"

1928 Time Traveler Caught On Film? 685

Many of you have submitted a story about Irish filmmaker George Clarke, who claims to have found a person using a cellphone in the "unused footage" section of the DVD The Circus, a Charlie Chaplin movie filmed in 1928. To me the bigger mystery is how someone who appears to be the offspring of Ram-Man and The Penguin got into a movie in the first place, especially if they were talking to a little metal box on set. Watch the video and decide for yourself.
Oracle Declares Independence From Oracle, Becomes LibreOffice 648

Google85 writes "The Project has unveiled a major restructuring that separates itself from Oracle and that takes responsibility for OpenOffice away from a single company. From now on, OpenOffice's development and direction will be decided by a steering committee of developers and national language project managers. Driving home the changes, the project is now The Document Foundation, while the suite has been given the temporary name of LibreOffice."

UVB-76 Explained 222

Useful Wheat writes "Recently slashdot covered the reappearance of UVB-76. The function of the mysterious transmitter has been revealed: UVB-76 is used to transfer orders to military personnel, along with the time at which they should be executed. 'Words for the radio messages and code tables are selected mainly from the scientific terms of chemistry (Brohman), Geology (ganomatit), philology (Izafat), geography (Bong), Zoology (kariama), history (Scythian), cooking (drying), sports (krolist) and others, as well as rare Russian words (glashatel).' The page continues to list all 23 transmissions that have been made from the station in the past, showing that UVB-76 may be more active than believed."

UVB-76 Broadcasts New Voice Message 560

Doug52392 writes "Following days of increased activity, the Russian numbers station UVB-76 has sent out a new voice transmission. The transmission, sent out on August 23, 2010 at 9:35AM PST, recited the following in Russian: 'UVB-76, UVB-76 — 93 882 naimina 74 14 35 74 — 9 3 8 8 2 nikolai, anna, ivan, michail, ivan, nikolai, anna, 7, 4, 1, 4, 3, 5, 7, 4' The station, believed to be a part of the former Soviet Union's dead man's switch system, has been continually broadcasting for over twenty years, and its purpose has never been fully explained."

Claimed Proof That UNIX Code Was Copied Into Linux 578

walterbyrd writes "SCO's ex-CEO's brother, a lawyer named Kevin McBride, has finally revealed some of the UNIX code that SCO claimed was copied into Linux. Scroll down to the comments where it reads: 'SCO submitted a very material amount of literal copying from UNIX to Linux in the SCO v. IBM case. For example, see the following excerpts from SCO's evidence submission in Dec. 2005 in the SCO v. IBM case:' There are a number of links to PDF files containing UNIX code that SCO claimed was copied into Linux (until they lost the battle by losing ownership of UNIX)." Many of the snippets I looked at are pretty generic. Others, like this one (PDF), would require an extremely liberal view of the term "copy and paste."

UK Gov't Launches 'Your Freedom' Website To Seek Laws Worth Repealing 332

Firefalcon writes "The UK Government launched Thursday the 'Your Freedom' website, headed by the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, to 'identify laws that should be repealed.' In a recent tweet, Police State UK pointed out an article in the New Statesman which appeals for people to call on the Government to repeal the ill thought-out Digital Economy Act that was rushed through Parliament without sufficient scrutiny. While part of the Act is regarding the digital TV switchover, other sections allow for users to be restricted or disconnected from the Internet at the behest of copyright owners, which goes against the principle of 'innocent until proven guilty' that has been in place since the Magna Carta."

Submission + - Tattoos for the Math and Science Geek 7

An anonymous reader writes: I've been thinking of getting a sleeve of math and science tattoos for quite a while now. With the money saved up, the only question remaining is, what equations/ideas should I get? I know for certain that I'm going to include some of Maxwell's equations, and definitely Ohm's Law. So, if you were going to put a tribute to the great math and science minds on your body forever, which ones would you choose?

Google Gives the US Government Access To Gmail 445

schliz writes "Google condemns the Chinese Government for censoring its results, and Australia for planning to do the same. Meanwhile, its lawyers and security experts have told employees to 'be intentionally vague about whether or not we've given access to end-user accounts,' according to engineer James Tarquin, hinting that Google may be sharing its data with the US government. Perhaps Australia's most hated communications minister, Steven Conroy, could be right in his criticism of Google's privacy record after all."

Google Deducing Wireless Location Data 90

bizwriter writes "When it comes to knowing where wireless users are, the carriers have had a lock on the data. But a patent application shows that Google is trying to deduce the information based on packet headers and estimated transmission rates. This would let it walk right around carriers and become another source of location data to advertisers."

Google Toolbar Tracks Your Browsing, Even When Off 118

garg0yle writes "Google's Toolbar is supposed to allow the user to disable it. However, it was discovered by a researcher that it was still sending information even when disabled. A patch is now available, and Google claims this was just a bug, not a feature."

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When speculation has done its worst, two plus two still equals four. -- S. Johnson