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Submission + - NASA's Plutonium Supply Dwindling, ESA to Help (

astroengine writes: NASA's stockpile of the plutonium isotope Pu-238 is at a critical level, causing concern that there won't be enough fuel for future deep space missions. Pellets of Pu-238 are used inside radioisotope thermoelectric generators (or RTGs) to generate electricity for space probes traveling beyond the orbit of Mars — solar energy is too weak for solar arrays at these distances. Blocked by a contract dispute with Russia to supply Pu-238 and the U.S. Department of Energy that has not been granted funds to produce more of the isotope, NASA lacks enough of the radioisotope to fuel the future joint NASA-ESA mission to Europa. However, the head of the European Space Agency (ESA) has announced that they have plans to commence a new nuclear energy program to alleviate the situation.

Submission + - USB cupwarmer might steal your data (

adaviel writes: New Scientist recently reported work by researchers at the Royal Military College of Canada on hardware-based USB trojans. While the concept is not new (I saw a cool demo of an iPod pwning a Mac over Firewire at CanSecWest a few years ago), USB is interesting because of all the goofy "harmless" devices like personal fans, cellphone chargers etc. — an attacker might ask a victim "can I charge my phone on your laptop?", but the "charger" actually emulates a keyboard and headphone, able to execute commands and download data.

Submission + - Antibody Discovery To Boost HIV Vaccines (

fergus07 writes: Research efforts to find individual antibodies that can neutralize HIV strains have been difficult because the virus continuously changes its surface proteins to evade recognition by the immune system. As a consequence of these changes, an enormous number of HIV variants exist worldwide. However, there are a few surface areas that remain nearly constant across all variants of HIV and scientists have now discovered two potent human antibodies that attach to one of these sites and can stop more than 90 percent of known global HIV strains from infecting human cells in the laboratory.

Obama Anti-Trust Chief on Google the Monopoly Threat 364

CWmike writes "The blogosphere regularly excoriates Microsoft for being a monopoly, but Google may be in the cross-hairs of the nation's next anti-trust chief for monopolistic behavior, writes Preston Gralla. Last June, Christine A. Varney, President Obama's nominee to be the next antitrust chief, warned that Google already had a monopoly in online advertising. 'For me, Microsoft is so last century. They are not the problem,' Varney said at a June 19 panel discussion sponsored by the American Antitrust Institute, according to a Bloomberg report. The US economy will 'continually see a problem — potentially with Google' because it already 'has acquired a monopoly in Internet online advertising.' Varney has yet to be confirmed as antitrust chief, and she said all this before she was nominated. Still, it spells potentially bad news for Google. It may be time for the company to start adding to its legal staff."

HP Creates First Hybrid Memristor Chip 155

An anonymous reader writes "HP researchers have built the first functioning hybrid memristor-transistor chip. Lead researcher Stanley Williams and his team built the very first memristor — the '4th fundamental element' of integrated circuits after resistors, capacitors and inductors — back in April. Memristors can remember their resistance, leading to novel electronic capabilities. The new FPGA circuit uses memristors to perform tasks normally carried out by (many more) transistors and is therefore smaller, more power efficient and cheaper to make, HP says. Memristors could also turn out to be a more compact, faster alternative to flash memory."

Comment NSW RFS still uses pagers (Score 1) 584

I'm a volunteer firefighter for the NSW rural fire service. We still use pagers for fire calls and general information. The comment about batteries is absolutely true. I usually don't have to replace my pager batteries more than every 3 months. And that is not because I recharge them. Also the coverage is great. I frequently get pages where no phone has reception. And it allows me to adapt to ignoring my phone over night. The pager is loud and annoying, and as was said previously, it keeps going until I acknowledge the page. With a phone, at best the person trying to contact you needs to keep ringing until you answer. As for where to get them... Motorola make the one I use. Wouldn't know where to buy them though.

China Malware War Gets Personal 35

bcaulfield writes to tell us Zhou Hongyi has filed a 3.6 million yuan ($450,000) defamation suit against Yahoo China. Hongyi, the former president of Yahoo China, filed his suit in response to comments made in a recent Yahoo press conference accusing him of unethical business practices. From the article: "A rift between Mr. Zhou and Yahoo China has been developing since before his departure from Yahoo last year, just prior to Alibaba's takeover of Yahoo's China operations. Mr. Zhou doled out generous bonuses to Yahoo employees in a ploy his detractors derided as a naked purchase of loyalties. Mr. Zhou defended the disbursements. 'Many of these people were longtime Yahoo employees, and they were under no obligation to follow me,' he said. 'It was my money to do with as I wanted.'" Update 08/20/2006 15:01 GMT by SM: Corrected the currency for the suit.

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