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Submission + - New Clock May End Time As We Know It (npr.org) 1

SonicSpike writes: At the heart of this new clock is the element strontium. Inside a small chamber, the strontium atoms are suspended in a lattice of crisscrossing laser beams. Researchers then give them a little ping, like ringing a bell. The strontium vibrates at an incredibly fast frequency. It's a natural atomic metronome ticking out teeny, teeny fractions of a second.

This new clock can keep perfect time for 5 billion years.

"It's about the whole, entire age of the earth," says Jun Ye, the scientist here at JILA who built this clock. "Our aim is that we'll have a clock that, during the entire age of the universe, would not have lost a second."

But this new clock has run into a big problem: This thing we call time doesn't tick at the same rate everywhere in the universe. Or even on our planet.

Right now, on the top of Mount Everest, time is passing just a little bit faster than it is in Death Valley. That's because speed at which time passes depends on the strength of gravity. Einstein himself discovered this dependence as part of his theory of relativity, and it is a very real effect.

The relative nature of time isn't just something seen in the extreme. If you take a clock off the floor, and hang it on the wall, Ye says, "the time will speed up by about one part in 1016."

That is a sliver of a second. But this isn't some effect of gravity on the clock's machinery. Time itself is flowing more quickly on the wall than on the floor. These differences didn't really matter until now. But this new clock is so sensitive, little changes in height throw it way off. Lift it just a couple of centimeters, Ye says, "and you will start to see that difference."

This new clock can sense the pace of time speeding up as it moves inch by inch away from the earth's core.

Submission + - International Space Station switching to Linux (extremetech.com) 2

An anonymous reader writes: The United Space Alliance, which manages the computers aboard the International Space Station in association with NASA, has announced that the Windows XP computers aboard the ISS have been switched to Linux.

“We migrated key functions from Windows to Linux because we needed an operating system that was stable and reliable.”

In specific, the “dozens of laptops” will make the change to Debian 6. These laptops will join many other systems aboard the ISS that already run various flavors of Linux, such as RedHat and Scientific Linux. As far as we know, after this transition, there won’t be a single computer aboard the ISS that runs Windows.

Ubuntu

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Is there honestly a reason to use Ubuntu anymore? 6

Trilkin writes: I recently installed Linux Mint on my (non-technically savvy) grandmother's netbook and she's responded very well to it. I'm considering doing the same for her desktop, but my question is this: being that Mint is a fork of Ubuntu, is there any real compelling reason to actually use Ubuntu anymore? It seems so much more bloated. I'm aware that, under the surface, it's basically just a fork of Debian and Linux overall is a OS that can be tinkered with to be the exact environment you need. As an out-of-the-box desktop distribution, though, from my own testing, Ubuntu seems to be the weaker of the two thanks to its continuously growing amount of bloat in order to push its paid-for services. Is there really any real reason to use it over Mint? Outside of the paid-for services, is there anything it offers out of the box that Mint simply doesn't?
Mars

Submission + - Mars Rover is 10 years old (msn.com)

An anonymous reader writes: NASA's Opportunity rover landed on Mars the night of Jan. 24, 2004 PST (just after midnight EST on Jan. 25), three weeks after its twin, Spirit, touched down. Spirit stopped operating in 2010, but Opportunity is still going strong, helping scientists better understand the Red Planet's wetter, warmer past.
Star Wars Prequels

Submission + - Lego accused of racism with Star Wars set (telegraph.co.uk)

Ch_Omega writes: According to this article over at The Telegraph, Lego has been accused of racism by the Turkish community in Austria over a Star Wars model that supposedly resembles one of Istanbul’s most revered mosques.(...) The anger was provoked by “Jabba’s Palace”, a model of the home of Jabba the Hutt from Lego’s Star Wars product range based on the blockbusting series of science fiction films. “The terrorist Jabba the Hutt likes to smoke a hookah and have his victims killed,” said the statement posted on the organisation’s website.
“It is clear that the ugly figure of Jabba and the whole scene smacks of racial prejudice and vulgar insinuations against Asians and Orientals as people with deceitful and criminal personalities.”

Space

Submission + - Earth Avoids Collisions with Pair of Asteroids

Hugh Pickens writes writes: "Science Recorder reports that according to NASA a pair of asteroids — one just over three mile wide — passed Earth Tuesday and early Wednesday avoiding a potentially cataclysmic impact with our home planet. 2012 XE5, estimated at between 50-165 feet across, was discovered just days earlier, missing our planet by only 139,500 miles or slightly more than half the distance to the moon. 4179 Toutatis, just over three miles wide, put on an amazing show for astronomers early Wednesday missing Earth by 18 lunar lengths, while allowing scientists to observe the massive asteroid in detail. Asteroid Toutatis is well known to astronomers. It passes by Earth’s orbit every four years and astronomers say its unique orbit means it is unlikely to impact Earth for at least 600 years. It is one of the largest known potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs), and its orbit is inclined less than half-a-degree from Earth’s. “We already know that Toutatis will not hit Earth for hundreds of years,” says Lance Benner of NASA’s Near Earth Object Program. “These new observations will allow us to predict the asteroid’s trajectory even farther into the future.” Toutatis would inflict devastating damage if it slammed into Earth, perhaps extinguishing human civilization. The asteroid thought to have killed off the dinosaurs 65 million years ago was about 6 miles wide, researchers say.The fact that 2012 XE5 was discovered only a few days before the encounter prompted Minnesota Public Radio to poll its listeners with the following question: If an asteroid were to strike Earth within an hour, would you want to know?"
Input Devices

Submission + - Razer Mouse Crippled Without Online Activation

jones_supa writes: At Overclock.net forums, nickname channelx99 tells a story about a frustrating obstacle when he begun to use a Razer Naga mouse. A software is required to enable the full functionality of the mouse. The user was greeted by a login screen which couldn't be bypassed, and even worse, the account creation didn't work at the time. It turned out that the Razor activation server was down. As result, channelx99 was left out in the cold, and he wraps up 'Nowhere on the box does it say anything about needing an internet connection to "activate" a mouse. If the servers go down in the future, anyone who buys this mouse is out of luck.'
Android

Submission + - Is it time to end our love affair with the QWERTY keyboard? (stuff.co.nz) 3

Master Moose writes: Brisbane-based entrepreneur John Lambie currently has in beta an alternative to what he calls the "dysfunctional" QWERTY keyboard.

Given the way the world is abandoning their keyboards for smartphones he sees now as the perfect time to introduce a new layout.

He calls his new keyboard Dextr and believes it is the natural progression from using a number pad to enter text — This is especially so in developing countries where users have not grown up with QWERTYs on thier phones.

While he is not the first to ever propose an alternate or alphabetical keyboard — Are we locked into QWERTY for familiarities sake, or as we shift to smaller, more mobile and new devices, is Mr Lambie's project coming at the right time?

United States

Submission + - DotCom offers the DoJ a Deal (stuff.co.nz)

Master Moose writes: Kim Dotcom claims the United States criminal case against him is collapsing but he is offering to go there without extradition provided federal authorities unfreeze his millions of dollars.

In a now hallmark style, he made the offer on Twitter.

"Hey DOJ, we will go to the US," he tweeted, "No need for extradition. We want bail, funds unfrozen for lawyers & living expenses."

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter Dotcom says the department knows it does not have a case.

"If they are forced to provide discovery, then there will be no extradition. That's why they don't want to provide discovery. If they had a case, they would not need to hide what they have."

Piracy

Submission + - Attempt to sue Canadians over Hurt Locker abandoned (huffingtonpost.ca)

iONiUM writes: "From the article, 'A landmark attempt to sue Canadians over file-sharing of copyrighted material appears to have been abandoned, with court records showing the lawsuit has been dropped.'.
While no reason is stated, perhaps production companies finally realize suing their customers is not a good way to make money. Or, Canada is just awesome."

Businesses

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: How Have You Handled Illegal Interview Topics (salary.com) 1

kodiaktau writes: Salary.com profiles 14 questions that interviewers may or may not ask during the interview process such as the standards of age, gender and sexual orientation. They also profile several lesser known illegal or border line questions like height/weight, military background, country of origin and family status.

With the recent flap over companies asking potential employees for passwords during the interview process it is important to know and review your legal rights before entering the interview.

Have you been confronted with borderline or illegal interview questions in the past? How have you responded to those questions?

Government

Submission + - New Samsung TV Watches You Watching It (msn.com)

CanHasDIY writes: Straight out of 1984, Samsung has unveiled a new series of telescreens with integrated cameras and microphones, complete with facial and voice recognition software. Best of all, there appears to be no physical indication of the mic and camera's status, so consumers have no way of knowing when they're being monitored, or by whom... and if you don't find the idea of a TV that watches you creepy enough, apparently Samsung's Terms of Service include a clause allowing third-party apps to make use of the monitoring system, and use the data gathered for their own purposes.

Nothing Orwellian about that...

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