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Robotics

Submission + - SPAM: Robotic Bee

ravindra.joisa writes: "A multidisciplinary team of computer scientists, engineers, and biologists at Harvard received a $10 million National Science Foundation (NSF) Expeditions in Computing grant for building small-scale mobile robotic devices. The team at Harvard's Microrobotics Laboratory, aims to create a colony of autonomous, micro-scale flapping wing robots. In the long run, the researchers hope that the project will create more than just a hive of "robobees" as they are known. They propose that the problems that they will have to solve along the way will add insight to everything from search-and-rescue missions, places where MARS rover cannot go, to traffic monitoring."
Link to Original Source
Space

Submission + - Stellar 'Speed Bumps' Could Shape Baby Star Systems (discovery.com)

astroengine writes: "As a vast cloud of gas collapses under its mutual gravity and seeds the birth of a young star, the process of planetary formation begins. But far from it being a neat and tidy formation process, astronomers have uncovered a mechanism that determines why some orbits around the new star may be devoid of planets, whereas others become jammed with planets. And it all begins when the star system is very young — stellar radiation kickstarts a mechanism called photoevaporation, carving out cavities in the protoplanetary disk that can trap gas giant planets as the migrate closer to their parent star."

Submission + - What is the Value of something that can never be sold? (blogspot.com)

ryzvonusef writes: Robert Maas tells us an interesting story about the craziness of the IRS.

The late Ileana Sonnabend recently died, leaving her will's executor's with a dilemma. In her possession was a collage by Robert Rauschenberg called "Canyon", which unfortunately contains a bald eagle, and thus illegal to sale or even transfer abroad, from the United States.

Three independent art valuers have all agreed that this particular problem render the art has having a nil value (basically, worth $0), since it cannot be priced. The IRS disagree.

The insist that, apparently, that the executors should be able to find "a reclusive Chinese billionaire who would buy the artwork on the black market and smuggle it out of the USA in order to hide it away".

This mythical Chinese billionaire recluse would value the art at $65 million in the IRS's estimate, which means IRS is entitled to $29 million of taxes on this illegal sale. The IRS is also penalising $11.7 million for “gross valuation misstatement” in accepting the unanimous view of the three separate professional valuers that the artwork had a nil value.

All this, after paying $471million in estate taxes.

Google

Submission + - Google Steps In To Defend Hotfile From "Overbroad And Ill-Conceived" MPAA Lawsui (techcrunch.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Google has once again stood up in court for the rights of users and services online, this time defending Hotfile from copyright infringement accusations.

Google takes a sort of hard-line approach via the DMCA, telling the court that however the MPAA may try to mislead them, Hotfile is in fact protected under safe harbor provisions. And furthermore, Google suggests that the MPAA’s approach is contrary to the language in and precedents surrounding the DMCA. The onus is on copyright holders to alert a service to the nature and location of an infringement, and the service’s responsibility is to alert the user if possible and remove the material within a reasonable period of time.


Security

Submission + - Kinect The Ultimate Security Device (i-programmer.info)

mikejuk writes: A Lithuanian company has a prototype security system based on a Kinect that indicates how we might interact with the cash dispensers of the future. Instead of having to go through an elaborate authentication procedure involving passwords and pins you simply stand in front of the machine and say a few words. The voice, face and body recognition software do the rest. It is just like the old days when you walked into a bank and were recognized as a regular customer.
With Kinect being so cheap there is no reason why this couldn't be built into cash machines and become a standard security method.
The next question is — how to spoof it? Perhaps this is what 3D printers were invented for?

Cloud

Submission + - New Cheap & Easy Password Cracking Service (securityweek.com)

wiredmikey writes: A new service from security researcher Moxie Marlinspike, expands on the platform developed for WPACracker and offers a way to run billions of words against a given password to test its strength at a low cost.

For just $17, CloudCracker.com lets anyone run their WPA-PSK hashes against a dictionary of 604 million words, or step-up to 1.2 billion words for $34. If one wanted to throw everything at a given hash, including the kitchen sink, then there is an option for $136 that will use 4.8 billion words. Aside from WPA-PSK, CloudCracker can also tackle LAN Manager and NT LAN Manager hashes for a cost of $0.50 per recovered password.
The service is great for penetration testers and network auditors who need to check the security of WPA2-PSK protected wireless networks, crack password hashes, or break document encryption.

Marlinspike now works for Twitter as a result of an acquisition of Whisper Systems in late 2011, a mobile security company he founded.

Science

Submission + - Invasive species turn parasites into hosts (nature.com)

ananyo writes: The arrival of an alien species can turn an ecosystem on its head. Researchers have found an invasive mussel that has caused a complete ecological role reversal, turning a host into a parasite and vice versa. In a new study (abstract http://rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/early/2012/02/08/rsbl.2011.1234), the team focused on ecosystems involving European bitterling (Rhodeus amarus) — small, pale-silver freshwater fish that lay their eggs in the gills of mussels. But an invasive Chinese mussel species, Anodonta woodiana, turns the tables on the would-be-parasite, ejecting bitterling eggs laid in them but colonizing the fish with its larvae.
Software

Submission + - Optimizing your caffeine intake with an app (extremetech.com)

MrSeb writes: "Two doctors at Penn State University have developed Caffeine Zone, a free iOS app that tells you the perfect time to take a coffee break to maintain an optimal amount of caffeine in your blood — and, perhaps more importantly, it also tells you when to stop drinking tea and coffee, so that caffeine doesn’t interrupt your sleep. By reading through lots of peer-reviewed studies, doctors Frank E. Ritter and Kuo-Chuan Yeh found that a caffeine level of between 200 and 400mg in your bloodstream provides optimal mental alertness, and that you should be below 100mg when you try to sleep. Caffeine Zone plots your caffeination level after you consume caffeine, and warns you if that big afternoon coffee will keep you up at night. It also lets you change the 'optimal' and 'sleep' values if you're particularly resistant or weak to caffeine."
News

Submission + - Amateur Radio Gets Secondary MF Allocation at WRC-12 1

dtmos writes: The ARRL is reporting that "delegates attending the 2012 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-12) in Geneva have approved a new 7-kilohertz-wide secondary allocation between 472-479 kHz for the Amateur Radio Service." This band, below the AM broadcast band, will retain its primary ship-to-shore and radionavigation beacon allocation. Due to the unique propagation characteristics of this part of the spectrum, an allocation has long been desired by the amateur radio community. Much as moonbounce and meteor scatter have produced their own amateur digital communication protocols (OSS under the Gnu GPL, of course), I expect the unique channel impairments of this band will lead to the development of dedicated digital communication schemes (beyond QRSS).
NASA

Submission + - NASA shuts down last ever mainframe (itproportal.com)

hypnosec writes: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has ended a remarkable chapter in the organization's information technology history, by shutting down the IBM Z9 mainframe computer — the last one of its kind in NASA. NASA's CIO, Linda Cureton, has stated that the last mainframe computer used by NASA was located at the Marshall Space Flight Center, and after pondering over its future for a prolonged period, the authorities had finally decided in favor of relieving it from its duties. IBM Z9 was an important piece of hardware for NASA, when it came to calculating and solving complicated numerical problems relating to space flight. At the time it was shut down, the IBM Z9 was more or less the same size as a regular refrigerator.
NASA

Submission + - White House wants devatsating cuts to NASA's Mars exploration (discovermagazine.com)

The Bad Astronomer writes: "The White House released its proposed NASA budget for FY13, and while much of it remains the same from last year, one particular program got devastating news: Mars exploration got a crippling $226 million cut, more than 38% of its budget. This means killing two future missions outright and threatening others. The reasons for this are complex, including huge cost overruns on James Webb Space Telescope and the Curiosity Mars rover, but it also points to a political lack of valuing science in America."
Idle

Submission + - Mozart and Bach Handel Subway Station Crime 1

Hugh Pickens writes writes: "The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that transit officials have started to get a handel on subway crime when they started playing Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, and Strauss at the Lake Street light-rail station after neighborhood residents complained about the station becoming a haven for rowdy teens and vagrants. "If it encourages some people to wander away because it's not their favorite type of music, I guess that's OK," says Acting Transit Police Chief A.J. Olson. The program is modeled after one is Portland that has shown early signs of success, though the numbers are so small as to be statistically insignificant and even supporters of the music haven't reached a consensus on whether such environmental changes actually deter crime or just push it down the block. Not everyone is sold on using "lovely lovely Ludwig Van" as a deterrent. "Classical music lovers hate the fact that urban planners use classical music to disperse youth," says Minneapolis City Council Member Gary Schiff. "Does it chase crime away?" adds Olson. "It's hard to measure. But I do think it makes it a more pleasant place to wait for a train.""

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