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Businesses

Submission + - IRS Nails CPA for Copying Steve Jobs, Google Execs 1

theodp writes: Silly rabbit, $1 salaries are for super-wealthy tech execs! The WSJ reports that CPA David Watson incurred the wrath of the IRS by only paying himself $24,000 a year and declaring the rest of his take profit. It's a common tax-cutting maneuver that most computer consultants working through an S Corporation have probably considered. Unlike profit distributions, all salary is subject to a 2.9% Medicare tax and the first $106,800 is subject to a 12.4% Social Security tax (FICA). By reducing his salary, Watson didn't save any income taxes on the $379k in profit distributions he received in 2002 and 2003, but he did save nearly $20,000 in payroll taxes for the two years, the IRS argued, pegging Watson's true pay at $91,044 for each year. Judge Robert W. Pratt agreed that Watson's salary was too low, ruling that the CPA owed the extra tax plus interest and penalties. So why, you ask, don't members of the much-ballyhooed $1 Executive club like Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison, Sergey Brin, Larry Page, and Eric Schmidt get in hot water for their low-ball salaries? After all, how inequitable would it be if billionaires working full-time didn't have to kick in more than 15 cents into the Medicare and Social Security kitty? Sorry kids, the rich are different, and the New Global Elite have much better tax advisors than you!
Science

The Possibility of Paradox-Free Time Travel 421

relliker writes in with word of a paper up on the ArXiv by Seth Lloyd and co-workers, exploring the possibility that "postselection" effects in non-linear quantum mechanics might allow paradox-free time travel. "Lloyd's time machine gets around [the grandfather paradox] because of the probabilistic nature of quantum mechanics: anything that this time machine allows can also happen with finite probability anyway... Another interesting feature of this machine is that it does not require any of the distortions of spacetime that traditional time machines rely on. In these, the fabric of spacetime has to be ruthlessly twisted in a way that allows the time travel to occur. ... Postselection can only occur if quantum mechanics is nonlinear, something that seems possible in theory but has never been observed in practice. All the evidence so far is that quantum mechanics is linear. In fact some theorists propose that the seemingly impossible things that postselection allows is a kind of proof that quantum mechanics must be linear."
Science

World's Smallest Superconductor Discovered 72

arcticstoat writes "One of the barriers to the development of nanoscale electronics has potentially been eliminated, as scientists have discovered the world's smallest superconductor. Made up of four pairs of molecules, and measuring just 0.87nm, the superconductor could potentially be used as a nanoscale interconnect in electronic devices, but without the heat and power dissipation problems associated with standard metal conductors."
Microsoft

Visual Studio 2010 Forces Tab Indenting 390

An anonymous reader writes "For years, Microsoft has allowed Visual Studio users to define arbitrary tab widths, often to the dismay of those viewing the resultant code in other editors. With VS 2010, it appears that they have taken the next step of forcing tab width to be the same as the indent size in code. Two-space tabs anyone?"

Submission + - Contributors Leaving Wikipedia in Record Numbers

Hugh Pickens writes: "CNET reports that the volunteers who create Wikipedia's pages, check facts and adapt the site are abandoning Wikipedia in unprecedented numbers with tens of thousands of editors going “dead” — no longer actively contributing and updating the site — a trend many experts believe could threaten Wikipedia’s future. In the first three months of 2009 the English-language version of Wikipedia suffered a net loss of 49,000 contributors, compared with a loss of about 4,900 during the same period in 2008. “If you don’t have enough people to take care of the project it could vanish quickly," says Felipe Ortega at the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid who created a computer system to analyze the editing history of more than three million active Wikipedia contributors in ten different languages. "We’re not in that situation yet. But eventually, if the negative trends follow, we could be in that situation.” Contributors are becoming disenchanted with the process of adding to the site which is becoming increasingly difficult says Andrew Dalby, author of The World and Wikipedia: How We are Editing Reality and a regular editor of the site. “There is an increase of bureaucracy and rules. Wikipedia grew because of the lack of rules. That has been forgotten. The rules are regarded as irritating and useless by many contributors.” Arguments over various articles have also taken their toll. "Many people are getting burnt out when they have to debate about the contents of certain articles again and again," adds Ortega."

Submission + - Amazing Software Turns Cheap Webcam Into Instant 3 (wired.com)

tugfoigel writes: It is called ProFORMA, or Probabilistic Feature-based On-line Rapid Model Acquisition, but it is way cooler than it sounds. The software, written by a team headed by Qi Pan, a student at the Department of Engineering at Cambridge University in England, turns a regular, cheap webcam into a 3D scanner.

Normally, scanning in 3D requires purpose-made gear and time. ProFORMA lets you rotate any object in front of the camera and it scans it in real time, building a fully 3D texture mapped model as fast as you can turn an object. Even more impressive is what happens after the scan: The camera continues to track the object in space and matches its movement instantly with the on-screen model.

Science

Submission + - Diamonds Deliver Speed Boost To Quantum Computers (gizmag.com)

ElectricSteve writes: Scientists at UC Santa Barbara have made important advances in the field of spintronics by demonstrating the ability to electrically manipulate, at room temperatures, the quantum states of electrons trapped in the atomic structural defects of diamond crystals. Despite previous indications to the contrary, such quantum states can be manipulated very quickly, even at gigahertz frequencies, paving the way to significantly faster quantum computing.
Internet Explorer

Major IE8 Flaw Makes "Safe" Sites Unsafe 83

After this weekend's report of a dangerous flaw in IE (which Microsoft confirmed today), intrudere points out an exclusive report in The Register on a new hole in IE8 that could allow an attacker to pull off cross-site scripting attacks on Web sites that ought, by rights, to be safe from XSS. This is according to two anonymous sources, who told El Reg that Microsoft had been notified of the vulnerability a few months ago.
Medicine

WHO Raises Swine Flu Threat Level 557

Solarch writes "Late in the afternoon on Wednesday, the WHO raised the pandemic threat level for H1N1 "swine flu" to 5. Global media outlets(such as CNN, Fox News, and the BBC) preempted normal broadcast coverage and immediately published stories on their websites. To clarify, the WHO's elevation is mainly a sign to governments that the virus is spreading quickly and that steps should be taken on a governmental level to stage supplies and medicines to combat a possible pandemic. Unfortunately, broadcast coverage focused on phrases like 'pandemic imminent' (CNN marquee). In other news, patient zero, the medical term for the initial human vector of a disease, has been tentatively identified in Mexico."
Image

Biotech Company To Patent Pigs Screenshot-sm 285

Anonymous Swine writes "Monsanto, a US based multinational biotech company, is causing a stir by its plan to patent pig-breeding techniques including the claim on animals born by the techniques. 'Agricultural experts are scrambling to assess how these patents might affect the market, while consumer activists warn that if the company is granted pig-related patents, on top of its tight rein on key feed and food crops, its control over agriculture could be unprecedented. "We're afraid that Monsanto and other big companies are getting control of the world's genetic resources," said Christoph Then, a patent expert with Greenpeace in Germany. The patent applications, filed with the World Intellectual Property Organization, are broad in scope, and are expected to take several years and numerous rewrites before approval.'"
Math

Physicists Propose New Kind of Quantum Tunneling 163

KentuckyFC writes to tell us that scientists from the UK and Germany are proposing a third kind of quantum tunneling. They propose that a quantum particle is capable of changing into a pair of "virtual particles" capable of passing through a potential barrier before changing back. The supposition also provides some interesting methods of possibly testing string theory. So many interesting and useful possibilities, I guess that just means it will be debunked faster than other scientific theories.
Power

Vatican To Build 100 Megawatt Solar Power Plant 447

Karim Y. writes "The Vatican is going solar in a big way. The tiny state recently announced that it intends to spend 660 million dollars to create what will effectively be Europe's largest solar power plant. This massive 100 megawatt photovoltaic installation will provide enough energy to make the Vatican the first solar powered nation state in the world! 'The 100 megawatts unleashed by the station will supply about 40,000 households. That will far outstrip demand by Pope Benedict XVI and the 900 inhabitants of the 0.2 square-mile country nestled across Rome's Tiber River. The plant will cover nine times the needs of Vatican Radio, whose transmission tower is strong enough to reach 35 countries including Asia.'"
Medicine

Stem Cell Treatment To Cure the Most Common Cause of Blindness 126

The Times Online reports that researchers from the Institute of Ophthalmology at University College London and Moorfields eye hospital have developed stem cell therapy that can treat age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the most common cause of blindness. They are currently moving the treatment through the regulatory approval process, and clinical trials are expected to start within two years. Quoting: "Under the new treatment, embryonic stem cells are transformed into replicas of the missing cells. They are then placed on an artificial membrane which is inserted in the back of the retina. ... [Professor Pete Coffey, director of the London Project to Cure Blindness] said the treatment would take 'less than an hour, so it really could be considered as an outpatient procedure. We are trying to get it out as a common therapy.'
Security

Looking To Spammers To Solve Hard AI Problems 271

An anonymous reader writes "With bots getting closer to beating text-based CAPTCHAs for good, New Scientist points out that when they do, OCR technology will at least have advanced. The article goes on to suggest that whatever kind of reverse Turing Test that comes next should be chosen to motivate spammers to solve other pressing AI problems, such as image recognition. Are there any other problems that criminal crowdsourcing could help with?"

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